Mick and Nick, or, The power of conscience

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Material Information

Title:
Mick and Nick, or, The power of conscience
Alternate Title:
Power of conscience
Physical Description:
104 p., 4 leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 15 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Barth, Christian Gottlob, 1799-1862 ( Author, Primary )
Gall & Inglis ( Publisher )
Publisher:
Gall & Inglis
Place of Publication:
London
Edinburgh
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conscience -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Theft -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Collectors and collecting -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Poverty -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Baldwin -- 1879
Genre:
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
translated from the German of Dr. Barth.
General Note:
Date of publication from inscription.
General Note:
Frontispiece printed in colors.
Funding:
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002221984
notis - ALG2217
oclc - 61707634
System ID:
UF00048306:00001


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MICK AND NICK.




CHAPTER I.

N the 10th of May 183-, about eleven
o'clock in the forenoon, a well-dressed
young man was standing, with several
other persons, on the broad pavement at the
corner of the Angel Inn, in Islington, the
northern district of London, waiting for a
conveyance to the Bank, where he had busi-
ness to transact. The old scavenger who
sweeps the crossings there, and who moves
about on the two wooden stumps that are
substitutes for his legs, too firmly to require
support even from his besom, was exercising
his vocation at his ease, and now and then
looking about for some passenger disposed
to drop a penny into his hat. The stream
of men from Pentonville and Liverpool Street







6 MICK AND NICK ; OR,

had just begun to swell, and several omni-
buses for the City Road and Paddington,
only waited a few additional passengers to
start. At length, one going to the Bank
drove up. The young man, whom we shall
call Alfred, immediately entered it; and sev-
eral others having taken their seats, the
vehicle was soon full. The guard, from his
station behind, gave the call, "All's right!"
which the driver forthwith interpreted in an
intelligible manner to his brown steeds.
As they drove along, Alfred recollected
that he had a memorandum to make, and,
taking out his pocket-book, wrote a few
words as legibly as the jolting of the carriage
on the causeway would permit. During this
operation, several bank-notes, to the amount
of three hundred pounds sterling, which he
was going to change into sovereigns at the
Bank, dropped out, without being noticed
either by himself, or any of his fellow-pas-
sengers. In a quarter-of-an-hour the car-
riage stopped; and on the guard opening the
door, and calling Bank!" Alfred and several
more of the passengers stepped out. Their
places, however, were immediately occupied






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



by others who were waiting for the oppor-
tunity; and the omnibus, without stopping,
proceeded on its way to the Elephant and
Castle.
Alfred entered the Bank, turned through
the passage on the right into the first apart-
ment, and stationed himself at the desk before
one of the tellers. With an important air he
took out his pocket-book; but upon inspect-
ing it, found that the bank-notes were gone!
lie was confounded. The blood rushed to his
face. In the utmost perplexity, he turned
the leaves, and sought in every fold; repeated
the operation again an'd again; but was, at
last, obliged to come to the mortifying con-
clusion, that it is vain to seek where there is
nothing to find. I must have lost the notes
in the omnibus," said he to the clerk; and,
snatching up his pocket-book, hastened into
the street, to see if the vehicle were still there.
It had already set off. In the hope, how-
ever, of overtaking it, and trusting to be able
to recollect the guard, Alfred entered another
omnibus, which was likewise going to the
Elephant and Castle. On reaching that sta-
tion, the one he was in quest of. and which



7






M1CK AkN) NIoH : OR,



he straightway recognTzed, had just started
on its return to Islington. Alfred quickly
paid his sixpence, and pursued it at his
utmost speed; raised his umbrella, as a sign
to the guard that he wished a place; overtook
it, and stepped in.
A new set of passengers occupied the seats.
There were no bank-notes upon the floor; and
the guard, whom he took occasion to question
on the subject, denied all knowledge of them.
The poor youth was now quite overwhelmed.
He was clerk in a mercantile house at Isling-
ton. His employer was an austere and rigid
man, who never parted with either a guinea or
a sixpence, until he had looked at them well
upon both sides. How could Alfred ever dare
to appear in the presence of such a man, and
confess that he had lost three hundred pounds?
No doubt, this confession, however painful,
would have been better than concealment; for
the Lord prospers the upright, and the truth
makes us free. But Alfred was not, as yet,
sufficiently ripe for such a reflection; and in
the perplexity of the moment, the only resolu-
tion he was able to form, was to abscond from
the stern condemnation of his master. He



8






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



accordingly alighted at the Bank, walked to
his lodging, which was a small apartment in
Spencer Street, hastily packed together his
little property, ran to the Albion Terrace for
a cab, and then drove, with all his effects,
through the city, and across the Thames, to
Southwark, where he put up at a little inn.
The first thing he then did was to write to his
employer, informing him of the fate of the
bank-notes, and stating the reasons by which
he was induced to abscond, and thus furtively
bid him farewell. He easily satisfied the
landlord, by telling him that he had lost his
place, and was looking out for another. As
he was respectably dressed, and had, but a
few days before, received his salary, he was
able to pay ready money for his food; and
thus no suspicions were excited.
Alfred was a native of Germany, and had
come to London to acquire practical experi-
ence in mercantile affairs. His parents were
both dead. He had neither brother nor sister,
and his only near relative alive was a grand-
father, who, being in poor circumstances,
could give him no assistance. He had, con-
sequently, little inducement to return to



9







10 MICK AND NICK ; OR,

Germany; and all his desire was, to obtain
another situation in some mercantile town in
England, where he would run no risk of
meeting with his late employer. He accord-
ingly inspected the newspapers, to find
whether any such situation were advertised;
and after several vain applications for places
previously disposed of, he was, at last, suc-
cessful in obtaining one at Leeds, which he
immediately went to occupy.







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



CHAPTER II.

N Alfred's leaving the omnibus at the
Bank, and while the new passengers
"were entering, among those who kept
their seats, the one who had occupied the
place exactly opposite him noticed some pieces
of paper upon the floor; and during the dis-
turbance occasioned by the change, i as able
to put them into his pocket without being
perceived. Indeed, he did not himself suspect
either their nature or value; but rather sup-
posed them to be mere hand-bills, advertising
new books, shops, or companies,-such as, at
every corner of the streets in London, are
thrust into the hand of any one who walks
along. He alighted in Fleet Street, to call
upon a dealer in minerals, who, as he had
been informed, lived thereabout. Being, hoVw-
ever, unsuccessful in his search, he was
obliged to go, by a circuitous way, to Great
Russel Street, where, in the neighbourhood of
the British Museum, he, at length, found the
man. Having purchased some beautiful lead



11







12 AMICK AND NICK; OR,

ores, he pulled out the pieces of paper he had
picked up in the omnibus, to wrap them in,
when, to his great astonishment, he discovered
that they were bank-notes,-two for fifty, and
two for a hundred pounds! He hastily re-
placed them in his pocket without exciting
the dealer's attention, and requested from him
some waste paper. With the utmost speed,
he then ran to his lodging, at the end of the
City Road, and shut himself up in his room
to examine his prize.
This person, whom my readers will con-
sider fortunate, or unfortunate, according as
they view the matter, we must now introduce
to their acquaintance. Mick Ellendon was
the son of a humble farmer in a little village
near Chelmsford, in the county of Essex. His
father had, for a course of years, been servant
in the family of the gentleman to whom the
village belonged; and was greatly beloved
and respected. He was now living on a
small property which his master allowed him
to occupy, in reward for his fidelity. As an
old servant, he had not only constant access
to the mansion, but, in summer, acted as
assistant-gardener; and, during the winter







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



months, which the landlord's family usually
spent in the metropolis, exercised a sort of
superintendence over the place,-his faithful-
ness and experience being well known.
From the time he was ten or twelve years
old, Mick was often employed in going mes-
sages; and being a handsome and clever boy,
who behaved with propriety and modesty in
the company of his superiors, was a general
favourite. While waiting in the library, as
he sometimes required to do, until the baronet
had finished his letters, nothing attracted his
attention so much as a tolerably rich collection
of minerals and shells, arranged in some
glass-cases. By degrees he made himself
acquainted with the form and colour of the
various objects, and even got by heart the
names inscribed upon them, although of these,
being generally in Latin, he had no idea of the
meaning. By the time the landlord became
aware of this turn of mind, which was by
finding him, on one occasion, so absorbed in
contemplation as not to hear his call, Mick
had already made such proficiency, that, with
his face turned away, he could tell the name,
form, and colour of the several specimens,



13






14 MICK AND NICK OR,
and designate their place in the cabinet.
Astonished at the existence of a taste so
singular in an unlettered youth, the gentleman
began to think there might be in him the
germ of a great scholar, and, very benevo-
lently, resolved to furnish him with the means
of prosecuting his education. Mick had
hitherto attended only the Sabbath school of
the village, being occupied, during the week,
with field-work; and yet he was not only the
most distinguished scholar among the boys of
his own age, but had made greater progress
in reading, writing, arithmetic, and general
knowledge, than many much older. The
gentleman kept a private tutor in his family;
and after the matter had been talked over with
the father, Mick received permission to attend
the lessons given to the children. It is true,
he had much to learn before he was sufficiently
advanced to keep pace with the others; but
his ardent zeal and insatiable thirst for know-
ledge compensated for every disadvantage;
and, ere long, the tutor could certify, that he
was not only the ablest, but also the most
diligent of his scholars.
The lessons, however, in which Mick took






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



the deepest interest, were those on natural
history, natural philosophy, and mathematics.
Indeed, so strong was this predilection, that
even during the play-hours, when the other
children hastened into the garden to fish in the
pond, or diverted themselves in the spacious
park with gymnastic exercises, and the com-
mon games of youth, Mick generally asked
permission to remain in the library, where his
favourite lessons were given. These were his
happiest hours; for, as yet, he had no idea of
any higher sort of happiness. He used to take
a chair, and, mounting upon it, examine the
minerals and shells with the greatest attention,
until, at last, they were engraved so deeply
upon his memory, that had they been all
gathered into one promiscuous heap, he could
have restored each specimen to its own proper
place. The tutor, indeed, was not pleased
with him for thus neglecting bodily recreation,
being persuaded how worthless is all partial
education, and mere book-knowledge, which
cannot be applied to the uses of life. On
attempting, however, to force the boy to
accompany the rest, he soon perceived that
the end was not gained. Mick joined in their



15







16 MIOK AND NICK; OR,

games and recreations; but with only half his
heart. His thoughts were elsewhere. To any
question that was asked, he would return the
most absurd answer; or occupy himself in
dissecting a flower with his penknife, in order
to count the stamens, while his companions
regaled themselves with its scent and colour.
Or he would break a stone in pieces with his
hammer, instead of throwing it, like the rest,
at a mark. What will the boy become if
he proceeds in this way?" was a question the
baronet often asked; and to which the tutor
would shake his head, and reply, "I do not
know; but this, at least, is certain, he has a
singular turn, which cannot be subdued, .nd
it would be a pity not to endeavour to give it
a right direction." The baronet was of the
same opinion, and therefore permitted the
studious boy to continue enjoying the advan-
tage in his house.
But how, you will ask, did it fare with
Mick in the winter months? Not at all
pleasantly. At the departure of the family
from the mansion, he was left behind; and,
during their absence in the metropolis, was
obliged to live in his father's humble abode,







THE POWER OF OONBTENCE.



where all manner of domestic occupations
devolved upon him. No wonder, then, that
he longed, with the greatest ardour, for the
return of spring, and, with it, of his school-
fellows. It is true, he was allowed access to
the library and its treasures of natural history,
-and many were the stolen'hours he spent
in it, insensible to the cold of a chamber
without a fire. But he already knew by heart
the whole contents of the cabinet, and hence
it no longer possessed the charm of novelty
for him. Besides, his father was dissatisfied
when he made his escape from work at home,
to follow such an unprofitable trade, as he
qlled it. His greatest comfort was the fine
collection of books which he found in the
library, and diligently read. What a delight
it would have been for him to have now and
then taken a volume home, especially one on
natural history, in order to make copies of
the engravings! But this the father would
not permit.



B



17






18 M1ICK AND NICK; OR.



CHAPTER III.

N Mick's reaching his sixteenth year, the
tutor intimated to the baronet, that
as the lessons must now be adapted
to the other scholars, who were neither so old
nor so clever, they could be of no further
benefit to the youth; and, consequently, that
it would be advisable to provide for him
some other means of instruction. The baronet
having once withdrawn him from a humble
sphere, and rendered him quite unfit for the
occupation of his parents, considered this a
duty still incumbent upon himself. In fact,
not only were Mick's parents too poor to help
him forward, but having no sympathy with
the aspiring views of their son, they were not
even willing. The baronet happened to be
acquainted with a clergyman in the neigh-
bourhood of Cheltenham who was fond of the
study of nature, devoted to it all his spare
time, and possessed an extensive collection of
specimens. It occurred to him to inquire of
this person, whether he would not be disposed






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



to receive a studious youth into his house,
and instruct him in his favourite science ? He
is just the man, thought he, to judge for what
profession Mick might most advantageously
be prepared. Accordingly, in the letter he
wrote, he described the course of the boy's life
and education, his predominating taste for the
study of nature, his distinguished talents, and
pleasing manners. A favourable answer was,
ere long, received. The clergyman intimated
his readiness to take the young man into his
family, and commit to him the charge of his
cabinet, promising, at the same time, to do his
best in carrying on his instruction in all the
branches of natural history. When Mick
heard this intelligence, although rather old
for such feats, he actually leaped for joy.
His parents were not bold enough to make
serious objections to any plan of which their
landlord had signified his approbation; and
thus it happened that, on an early day of
December, he set out, on foot, upon his jour-
ney to Cheltenham, intending there to inquire
for the village where his future preceptor
dwelt. The baronet had generously provided
him with clothes, linen and other necessary



19






20 MICK AND NICK; OR,

articles; and on arriving at the clergyman's, he
found, that, by the help of a country carrier,
his trunk had already reached its destination.
The cabinet at the parsonage was at least
three times as great as the baronet's, and
especially rich and complete in native fos-
sils, particularly metals. Mick here found
beautiful specimens of prismatic Liricorite,
olivenite, lead ore of Mendix, of minium, or
red oxide of lead, and beautifully crystalized
green and blue fusible spar, which many a
private naturalist in Germany would have
envied. He never rested until he had care-
fully examined and compared all that was
new to him, and engraved its shape and
name upon his mind,-a task which, owing
to his capacious memory, was not difficult.
The collection was so large, and the clergy-
man's time so much occupied, that he had
never been able to complete its arrangement.
Here stood several small chests of minerals
to be, for the first time, unpacked and sorted.
There, upon a table, lay heaps of West In-
dian shells, which required to be numbered
and arranged. Beneath, was a great chest,
containing the petrified remains of a saurian,

















I -



"From an early hour in the morning till late at night. I.e
laboured in the cabinet with the utmost zeal."-Page 21,






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



which the clergyman desired to reconstruct
into a whole. Mick accordingly had enough
to do; and no employment in the world
could be more delightful to him. From an
early hour in the morning till late at night,
he laboured in the cabinet with the utmost
zeal. He scarce allowed himself time for
his meals, and could only, with the greatest
difficulty, be persuaded to spend an hour in
walking in the garden. No regular lessons
could be given until the collection was com-
pletely arranged. Even then, the clergyman
could only spare one hour a-day for this pur-
pose. But his lessons were so much to the
point, and, in all respects, so judicious, that
Mick was able to employ himself the rest of
the day in spinning out the thread which
they had jointly commenced in the morning.
Neither was there any want of books; and if
the ladder to heaven, like the stair to the
temple of learning, could have been formed of
volumes, Mick might soon have shaken hands
with his celestial namesake; for of all the
works that related to his own branch, he did
not leave one unperused. But in the heaven-
ward journey, what progress had he made ?



21






"22 MICK AND NICK; OR,



CHAPTER IV.

ICK'S parents were pious country.
people. They attended church twice
evrry Sabbath, trained their child-
ren in the fear and admonition of the Lord,
and had prayer in their family morning and
night. This was also the case in the man-
sion-house, where Mick spent the latter years
of his boyhood. Besides, the instructions of
the tutor there had laid in his mind a good
foundation of Christian knowledge; and in
the house of the clergyman, whose service he
had now entered, pains were taken to build
upon it. Mick had also remained free from
all the more flagrant vices of boyhood. He
passed accordingly for a pious youth, who
could, on the Sabbath, forget his darling pur-
suit, and occupy himself the whole day with
reading the Bible and other religious books.
Occasionally in the church, when the clerk,
who leads the responses of the congregation
in the prayers of the liturgy, happened to be *
taken suddenly ill, and no other substitute






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



was to be had, Mick undertook the duty, and
performed it with a decency that gave general
satisfaction. The clergyman even thought of
gradually training him for the holy office;
and who knows what might have taken place
had that gentleman's life been spared ?
With all this piety, however, acquired, and
even practised without reluctance, it will ap-
pear, on a minute inspection of his case, that
Michael was deficient in obedience even to
the first commandment He feared, and also
loved God; but he had other gods besides
Him, and therefore he did not love Him with
all his heart, and all his strength, and all
his mind. His idolatry was the worship of
nature. Nature, with her charms, had capti-
vated his heart, and, without himself being
conscious of it, his inward inclination and
desire were directed, in the first instance, to
God's works, and only in the second to God
himself. He never went to bed without pray-
ing to the Almighty, and thanking Him for His
gracious care; but while he prayed, crystals
and silver ores were ever and anon glit-
tering in his mind's eye, and dispersing his
thoughts. Often when reading the Bible, his



23







24 MICK AND NICK; OR,



mind would be ravished with the breastplate
of the high-priest, and the precious stones in
the foundation of the New Jerusalem; but
yet the poor rubies and emeralds in the
clergyman's cabinet were, at the bottom, far
dearer to him. He heard with delight of the
beauties of the invisible world; but his heart
clung to those of the visible. In this way
he daily transgressed the first commandment;
and, situated as he was, it was hardly pos-
sible for him to do that without, at the same
time, transgressing the last. I would like to
see the naturalist, possessing a private collec-
tion, who could contemplate the rich presses
of the British Museum, or of the Jardin des
Plantes in Paris, without feeling it necessary
to address to himself the command: "Thou
shalt not covet." How could Michael sur-
vey the well-stored collection of his patron,
and prevent the wish from rising in his heart,
-Oh I that this, or another such, were mine ?
And as he knew, that in order to make an
acquisition of the kind, it is necessary to
commence some time or other, and that the
acquisition is made all the sooner the earlier
we begin, it was quite natural for him tn






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE



think of actually making a small commence-
ment. A totally disinterested contemplation
of such precious treasures was not to be ex-
pected from so passionate an admirer of them
as he was. It is true, there were numerous
doublets. But Michael was well aware, that
collectors by no means consider these as super-
flous, and rather look upon them as a medium
of exchange, to be used for the acquisition of
specimens in which they are deficient. It
was, consequently, long before he ventured to
make known his desire. At last, however, it
became too strong for concealment; and, tak-
ing his heart in his hand, he stammered forth
his request. "Foolish youth!" replied the
clergyman, what need have you of a private
collection ? Is not mine sufficient as a means
of instruction and source of delight?" "It is
very true," said Michael; yours ought to
be enough to satisfy me; but as, in your great
garden, the children have each a little one of
his own, although the great garden ought to
be sufficient to satisfy them; so would I also
like to have a little collection I could call
mine." The clergyman, who, in other respects,
had every reason to be satisfied with Michael,



25






26 MICK AND NICK ; OR,

and had even mentally resolved to leave him
the cabinet as a legacy, yielded to his wish;
and from the department of shells, wherever
he had three, four, and five of the same sort,
selected a little series, to which he afterwards
added a few minerals.
And now you will certainly think Michael's
contentment must have been complete; but
that is a great mistake. All who know the
human heart are aware, that when its desires
are once set upon earthly things, it is insati-
able. Nor is it difficult to understand how
this happens. Our heart really does pant for
an eternal good; and all the fault lies in
mistaking a false for the true. And as that
Scripture text, which says, Whosoever hath,
to him shall be given," is applicable to none
more frequently than to collectors of minerals ;
so of them may it also be said, with still
greater truth, that pe who hath shall have
more abundantly." At first, Mick was de-
lighted to be, at last, in circumstances to call
some of the objects he so dearly loved, his
own. But by degrees he came to think his
collection very small, compared with that of
others; and as, in process of time, it went on






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



enlarging, through the unfailing generosity of
his paternal instructor, the desire of render-
ing it complete also awakened in his breast.
Wishes of this sort have no bounds. For,
supposing your collection to be complete,
others larger than yours exist; and, even
though yours were the largest of all, there
are, here and there, unique specimens, which,
consequently, you cannot possess; so that, at
this rate, you would never be content, with-
out the diamond of the great Mogul, and
that of the king of Portugal, and all other
diamonds besides. Nay, at last, like Alex-
ander of Macedon, you would sit down
and weep, because you could not mineral-
ogize the moon. Michael was strongly pre-
disposed to such foolish and extravagant
wishes; and the clergyman had sufficient
knowledge of character to discover his in-
firmity, and use means to counteract it. In
the midst of these endeavours, however, he
prematurely died; and Michael was left, all
at once, wholly forsaken. The landlord of
his native village had gone into eternity the
year before; and from his parents he could
expect no assistance.



27






28 MICK AND NICK OR,



CHAPTER V.

HAT now would you advise the poor
young man to do? Of no use to him
are the chests full of stones and shells
which, with the indefatigable zeal of a col-
lector, he had amassed. He could not build
a house with the minerals, nor subsist upon
the shells. It is true, he had acquired much
knowledge, and could say by heart whole
books full of names. But he had not learned
any science which could help him to win his
bread, and no London baker would have given
him a single biscuit for his whole nomen-
clature. What must he do? The family of
the clergyman are going to their relatives in
Oxford, so that with them he can no longer
reside; and the death of his patron was too
sudden to allow time for making a will, and
bequeathing the cabinet to Michael. Had
this been done, although only eighteen years
of age, he might have gone to London, and
established a trade in minerals, As matters
stood, however, this was impracticable.






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



Fortunately, he contrived to find for himself
an outlet from his difficulties. As possessor
of a considerable cabinet, to which he was
continually making additions, the deceased
had frequently had transactions with several
of the London dealers in objects of natural
history; and, upon his commission, Michael
himself had sometimes visited the metropolis,
in order to purchase any rarities that were to
be had. He, therefore, lost no time in writ-
ing to the parties whose acquaintance he had
thus made, inquiring, Whether they had any
place as assistant, open, into which hd could
be received ? It happened, that one of them
had just dismissed his former assistant for
embezzling a piece of gold ore; and the situa-
tion being offered to Michael, he entered it
immediately. He, thereupon, hired a small
chamber near the house. During the da he
was usually occupied with the business of his
employer. But his mornings and evenings
were spent in prosecuting the study of natural
history, and in the delightful contemplation
of his collection, which had now swelled to
considerable magnitude; so that there was
not room enough in his little chamber for



29






30 MICK AND NICK OR,

its proper exposition. The clergyman's widow
had presented him, at his departure, with a
considerable sum of money, as a remunera-
tion for his pains in packing the entire collec-
tion of her deceased husband, and in again
unpacking and arranging it at Oxford. The
greater part of this sum, as well as all he
could save from his salary, by restricting him-
self to the merest necessaries, was spent in
increasing his collection; and yet how many
of his wishes remained unsatisfied The price
he paid for a little piece of crystalized copper
arsenic, would have found him three dinners;
andas for gold, silver, and platina ores, poverty
forbade him even to think of them. In spite
of his poverty, however, he did think of them.
Day and night he kept brooding over the
means of gratifying his ardent wishes. Some-
times he would dream that he had found a
chest of gold, and sometimes a sackful of
pearls. On awaking, however, he always dis-
covered it to be a delusion. He also carried on
a little traffic in minerals on his own account;
and as his situation introduced him to the ad-
mirers of these objects, he had the opportunity
of earning many a sovereign, which was im-







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



mediately spent in enriching his cabinet. His
collection of shells had gradually attained to
such completeness, that but six genera were
wanting, and these excessively rare, and only
to be purchased at a high price. Sometimes
he would run to the shell dealers in Wardour
Street; sometimes to the shop in the High
Street; sometimes to the small retailers in the
lanes, to ask for a Panopcea Aldrovandi, or a
Malacotta bivalvis, or a Hipponix mitrata.
"Oh! if I but had money," he would say,
" what a beautiful collection I would soon
possess!" Alas! how foolish are men's wishes!
It may easily happen, that the gratification of
them plunges us into misery. What we deem
the greatest calamity, may issue in our salva-
tion ; and that for which we have been longing
for whole years, become the cause of our ruin.
The reader, no doubt, remembers, that it
was our friend Mick who found the three
hundred pounds sterling in the omnibus, and
will now understand why this prize raised
such a tumult in his bosom. Sore was the
inward conflict that ensued. On the one hand,
he saw the splendid fulfilment of his wishe,
and dreams. What could he not now do ?
C



I31






32 MICK AND NICK ; OR,

Might he not commence a trade in minerals of
his own, gradually become rich, and, with an
affluent fortune, retire into' private life, and
devote himself wholly to the study of nature?
On the other hand, "Stop!" said his con-
science; the money is not thine. What
thou hast found, another must have lost.
Your duty is to restore it to him." Michael
had hitherto lived among strictly honest peo-
ple, and been trained in integrity. He knew
the Word of God. It cost him a painful
struggle; but against the remonstrances of his
conscience he dared not commit a dishonest
act. He accordingly resolved to advertise
that he had found the bank-notes, and try to
discover the owner. He deferred, however,
doing this till next day, although sensible, at
the time, how much pain the loser of the
money must be suffering, and how important
for his comfort to be apprized, as early as pos-
sible, that it had fallen into safe hands. He
wished to continue for one day, at least, the
possessor of three hundred pounds sterling.
Next morning, reflection and the inward con-
flict commenced afresh. On one side it was
said: "The man who carries about in his






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



pocket notes to such an amount, cannot be-
long to the class of the poor. He will be able
to bear the loss; while the money will make
my fortune." But an opposite voice replied:
" Whether he be poor or rich, is of no conse-
quence; enough that the money is not yours.
If, therefore, you keep it, you can expect no
blessing with it." Who knows," said the
tempter again, but you will make a better
use of it than the loser would have done?"
But conscience replied: You are not respons-
ible for his doings, and the end cannot sanc-
tify the means." In this manner, the inward
colloquy in word and thought proceeded till
the hour came for Michael to go to his place
of business. It was, consequently, too late to
insert a notice in that day's newspaper. Un-
fortunately, also, some beautiful fossils, not in
his collection, happened to be that morning
offered for sale by a travelling merchant; and
Mr. Sweetby (for such was the name of his
employer) had kept them, in order to consult
Michael, on whose opinion he greatly relied,
before purchasing. The specimens were rare,
and Michael advised the purchase, notwith-
standing the high price asked. Mr. Sweetby



33






34 MICK AND NICK; OR,



however, said: "Why should I lay out so
much money on what I do not want ? I am
old, and mean, ere long, to sell my business,
and retire to the quiet of the country." This
disclosure took Michael by surprise, and en-
tered his heart like a spark of fire into
a cask of powder. Clear and bright in his
mind's eye flashed forth the thought: "Keep
the three hundred pounds, purchase the busi-
ness, and your fortune is made." That evening
a stone hung at every word when he tried to
pray; and, during the night, he dreamt that
he was strangled by a string of shells which
the Indians call the belt of Wampom. He
awoke, anxious and sad; and, once more,
carefully pondered whether to restore or re-
tain the money. By this time, however, the
scales inclined the wrong way. "It is now too
late," suggested the tempter, as a new reason
" the money was lost the day before yesterday.
You should have advertised it at once. Your
delay to do so until now, will make men doubt
your honesty; and, at the best, suppose your
confession to have been extorted by the fear
of discovery and punishment. Conscience
easily refuted this allegation; but still it left







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



35



a sting behind. Michael found it impossible
to resolve. Another day elapsed, and next
morning the matter was worse than ever.
For the longer a confession is deferred, the
greater becomes the difficulty of making it.
Nor can it be otherwise. By refusing to give
up one sin, we are sure to incur the punish-
ment of falling into another. Michael had
broken the first commandment. That led
him to the breach of the last; and it is
now too probable, that he will also violate
the eighth, which says, "Thou shalt not
steal." For surely I need not remark, that
concealing the thing we find, is just as good,
or rather, as bad, as stealing it,







36 MICK AND NICK; OR,



CHAPTER VI.

HORTLY afterwards we find Michael
negotiating with Mr. Sweetby about
Sthe purchase of his business. How he
contrived wholly to overpower the voice of
his conscience, and of his yet unperverted
sense of right, I do not certainly know. But
I think I can conceive, being, in some measure,
aware in what manner the power of desire
gradually vanquishes, and then stifles reflec-
tion,-as the serpent winds itself round the
lamb, and at last squeezes out its life. He
should have bethought himself, that by yield-
ing to the allurement of desire, he transgressed
several of the commandments. For example,
the fifth says: "Honour thy father and thy
mother;" and, certainly, it was doing no
honour to his parents, to build a house with
money which he had unjustly appropriated.
In the same way, he transgressed the sixth:
" Thou shalt not kill;" for the owner of the
money might, in a fit of despair at its loss,
cast himself into the Thames, or in some other






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



way terminate his life; and for this Michael
would have been responsible. No less did he
break the ninth; for not to bear witness at all,
where duty requires this to be done, is virtu-
ally to bear false witness, inasmuch as the
suspicion of embezzling the money would rest
on Alfred so long as Michael failed to restore
it. Nay, by this one step, he broke not merely
a part, but the whole of the commandments,
for as we fulfil all the law and the prophets
when we keep the two great precepts of lov-
ing God supremely, and loving our neighbour
as ourselves, so, by disregarding these two
precepts, had Michael violated the whole law
and the prophets. Of all this he was perfectly
conscious; and yet the reader, if he know his
own heart, will understand how it is possible,
with the best knowledge, to act such a part.
We fall by little and little into sin. That
delicate sensitiveness about it which takes
alarm at every wrong word, as the invalid
does at the slightest draft of air, becomes
gradually blunted. Desire beguiles the heart
with all manner of illusions, which, as we are
secretly inclined to evil, we do not strictly
investigate. In short, without knowing how



37






38 MICK AND NICK OR,



we get entangled in the net, while merely
sporting with the threads of which it is woven.
Exercise self-observation, and you may have
daily experience of this on a small scale. I
u ill say nothing about what you would do
were you to find three-hundred pounds. But
I do hope, that Michael's history, when you
have read it, will frighten you from ever act-
ing the part that he did.
As we have said, in a few days Michael
was negotiating with Mr. Sweetby for the
purchase of his business; and here occurred a
fresh instance of how one sin leads to another.
Just as Joseph's brethren, after cruelly selling
him, were obliged to resort to falsehood in
order to justify their conduct to their father,
so did Michael find himself driven to say what
was untrue, in order to obviate all suspicion
on the part of Mr. Sweetby. He told him,
that a distant relative had, at his decease,
left him a legacy of three hundred pounds;
and, with the unlimited confidence which Mr.
Sweetby reposed in his assistant, the state-
ment was accepted as sterling coin. This was
the first time Michael had ever demeaned
himself so far as to tell a lie; for, hitherto, as






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



the fruit of his good education, he had felt a
perfect abhorrence of falsehood. But what
may not a man become, even in a very short
time, who once swerves from the path of
life? Mr. Sweetby agreed to take the three
hundred pounds as an instalment, and to
allow the remainder of the thousand pounds,
for which he transferred the business to his
assistant, to remain as a debt upon the stock,
without claiming interest. In this manner,
after a service of five years, Michael, all at
once, became the head and owner of a very
prosperous business, which he expected to be
able to conduct with even greater spirit than
before.
But do you suppose it possible to eat with
impunity of the tree of sin ? No; though you
could line your stomach with leather, you
would feel its fruit to be poison the moment
you swallowed it. Reckon confidently upon
that. No sooner did the first excitement at
his supposed good fortune abate, and give
place to sober reflection, than reflection brought
along with it remorse, and an anxiety of mind
of which he could not divest himself night or
day. It was not so much dread of the dis-



39






40 MICK AND NICK; OR,

pleasure of God, or sorrow at having offended
Him, as apprehension that, in some way or
other, it might come to be known how he got
the money. An evil conscience torments a
man not only with well-founded, but also with
imaginary fears. Perhaps, thought Michael,
some one did observe me pick up the bank-
notes, and if we chance to meet, will indict
me at law. Perhaps the owner had marked
their numbers, and has, since the loss, reported
them to the Bank; so that Mr. Sweetby, on
offering them for change, will be arrested, and
questioned how they came into his possession.
Thoughts like these daily tormented him, and
greatly troubled and impaired even the pas-
sionate delight he felt in his now rich posses-
sions. That best source of consolation, too,
to which, in all their tribulations, the good
resort,-viz., prayer to God,-was shut for
him. He could not pray for rest and peace,
because he was aware, that he ought first to
confess his sin, and make amends for his
dishonesty, in order to appear before God;
and this he was unwilling to do.
One day a circumstance occurred which
gave him great alarm. An old gentleman,







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE. 41

whom, by the singularity of his features, he
recognized as one of his fellow-passengers in
the omnibus on the day he found the money,
entered his shop, and expressed a wish to
purchase a few genuine garnets. While the
bargain was making, this person looked him
in the face, and observed: I think I should
know you." Michael, as yet a novice in the
art of dissimulation, felt the blood rush to his
cheeks; but before his embarrassment allowed
him to reply, the old gentleman proceeded,-
" Did we not lately sit beside each other at
the wax-figure exhibition?" Michael now
drew breath, and answered: "Pardon me, sir,
I was never there." "Oh! then I must be
mistaken,' rejoined the gentleman, and, com-
pleting his bargain, relieved the agitated
youth from his disagreeable presence.







42 MICK AND NICK OR,



CHAPTER VII.

-OMEWHAT more than a twelvemonth
passed in this manner, without Michael
recovering his peace of mind. The
business went admirably. He was thoroughly
master of it, and met with such success, that,
at the end of the year, he was in circumstances
to liquidate a considerable part of his debt.
For the first time, he took it into his head to
visit his parents, who were now advanced
in life. Accordingly, after purchasing a few
presents for them, and his brothers and sisters,
he, one Saturday, shut his shop, took his seat
upon the stage-coach, and arrived in the
evening at his native place. They were
greatly surprised when he made his appear-
ance; for he had long neglected to write to
them. But when he informed them of his
flourishing circumstances, their surprise in-
creased, and, with one accord, they exclaimed:
" How did you contrive to get the business ?"
"Michael, of course, could say nothing of the
three hundred pounds, and was obliged to






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



have recourse to another fiction. He accord-
ingly told them, that his principal, having no
children, and being pleased with his services,
had resigned the business to him for a yearly
sum.
"While he was speaking, the son of his
eldest sister, who had married, and was set-
tled in the village, came running in, and
exclaimed: Grandfather, I have found some-
thing!"-" Well, and what is it?" asked the
old man. "Look here!" replied the boy, pre-
senting a golden brooch, the head of which
was formed of a large brilliant, encircled in a
row of pearls. Michael took the brooch in
his hand, inspected the stone somewhat nar-
rowly, and, with all the importance of a con-
noisseur, said: "The diamond is false, being
what they call a Bohemian, and the pearls are
of no value; the gold, however, appears to be
pure." "May I keep it?" asked the boy.
-" On no account," replied the grandfather.
"Some one has lost it. We must seek to
discover him, and restore it. Keeping a thing
you find is as bad as stealing it." This sat-
isfied the boy. Michael, however, knew not
where to look, in order to conceal his embar-






t4 MICK AND NICK: OR;

rassment. Oh I did he know what thou hast
done," said he to himself, what would thy
father think of thee? Never more would he
suffer thee to cross his threshold. Nay, sor-
row, perhaps, would bring him to the grave.
Alas! I, too, once entertained sentiments like
his own. How could I forget, or, rather, forc-
ibly suppress a truth so simple?" It was a
painful thought to him, to be sitting, a thief
and dissembler, in the midst of his worthy
family, who, under all the toils and hardships
of their lot, had always maintained an honest
reputation.
The next day his father and eldest sister
accompanied him to a village, several miles
distant, to visit an uncle. This person had
formerly been gardener to a family in a neigh-
bouring town, and now inhabited a cottage,
cultivated a small patch of ground, and occa-
sionally dressed the garden of the parish
minister. Indeed, he may be said to have
done that in a double sense. For on Sabbath
evening, after public worship, which no one
frequented more regularly, several of the
neighbours, particularly the young, usually
met at his house, in such numbers as quite to






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE. 40

fill his little parlour,-a room about ten or
twelve feet square, remarkably tidy in appear-
ance, and with even a carpet on the floor. He
then rehearsed with them the discourse which
had been preached by the clergyman, or read
one of Burder's Village Sermons, and sang a
hymn. You will conclude, of course, that the
gardener was a religious man. Among the
first questions he put to his nephew, after
their mutual salutation, was: "In what state
is your heart, Mick? I hope you love the
Saviour." To such a question Michael, of
course, could only answer evasively.
At ten o'clock they set out for church,-the
service beginning about half-an-hour after.
The habitations of the parish lay scattered
around the church, each having a few fields
attached to it, and these enclosed with a
hedge. The church, with the parsonage be-
side it, was situate on a gentle elevation, com-
manding a charming prospect. Towards the
east lay the sea, on which numerous ships
were to be seen sailing up and down; on the
south, the mouth of the Thames; westward,
the environs of London; and on the north,
the wave-shaped hills-of the fertile county of







46 MICK AND NICK; OB,

Essex. But this incomparable view made no
impression upon Michael. He was too much
occupied with himself; and the restraint which
he was obliged to exercise, in order not to
betray his secret, embittered all his enjoy-
ment. The clergyman, after reading the lit-
urgy, preached from Matthew xxiii. 25, 26;
and spoke of how wealth, when dishonestly
acquired, destroys its possessor both in soul
and outward estate, and of hypocrisy seeking
to cover impurity of heart beneath an outward
semblance of rectitude and piety. Michael
could not help thinking that the preacher
must have heard he was there, and knew the
secret history of his heart. Improbable as
this supposition appeared on sober reflection,
he did not dare to look him in the face, or,
indeed, to look up at all; for he imagined,
that not merely the words of the sermon, but
the eyes of the whole audience, were directed
to him. He accordingly hung down his head,
and was in the most painful embarrassment;
for an evil conscience feels itself safe nowhere,
--like a man who, for fear of rain, should put
up his umbrella even in the parlour.
After divine service, Michael returned with







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



his relatives to the village; and in the even-
ing visited the mansion-house, where he had
received his early education. The eldest son
of his deceased benefactor, with whom he had
been brought up, and who had now succeeded
to the property, gave him a cordial welcome.
The evening was whiled away with recollec-
tions of the past, each of which pressed a new
thorn into Michael's wounded breast; so that
he resolved never more to revisit his home,
as all things reminded him of his guilt, and
not a spot but seemed to point to former
years, and to the happiness which he had so
wantonly trifled awaa How much happier
should I now be," said he, to be labouring
as a hireling on this estate!"
Was, then, the way back to the paradise
of innocence really closed against him? By
no means. The key of sincere repentance,
however, and that alone, could open it again;
and when the thought arose in his mind,
" Cast away thy burden and enter in," he
always found himself too weak to carry it
into effect. He returned to London with a
lacerated heart.



D



4T






48 MICK AND NICK : OR,



CHAPTER VI.

E who suffers from the wounds of con-
science, always finds their pain most
"violent and intolerable in solitude.
This Michael experienced in ample measure.
Just as of old his prayers used to be broken
and disturbed by visions of beautiful metallic
ores and glittering gems, so was his occupa-
tion with these objects, in which he now dealt,
embittered by anxious thoughts about the
possible discovery of his dishonesty. While
contemplating a fine rock crystal, the thought
would arise: Ah! were thy heart pure and
tranquil like this beautiful stone !" If he took
in his hand a piece of iron ore, a voice within
him seemed to say: "Thy guilt is heavier
still." If he met with a shell containing the
Bernard crab, he saw in it an emblem of his
own condition. Under these circumstances,
he began to think that it would be an allevi-
ation of his distress to have some one near
with whom he could divert himself in con-






TIIE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



versation, and so put to flight his tormenting
thoughts. The progressive increase of his
business also rendered an assistant necessary.
One day a youth, of about sixteen years
of age, offered himself as errand-boy. He
appeared respectable and honest, and told a
pitiful story about his family, and the recent
death of their father, and how there were seven
children of them, whom their parent, when
alive, had supported by hard labour; but who
were now left altogether destitute, and sub-
jected to the greatest privations. Michael,
deeply affected by the recital, took the youth
into his employment, at a reasonable wage,
and found him so teachable, that, after a few
weeks, he could employ him in any service.
He hoped gradually to train him to be as
useful an assistant to himself as he had been
to Mr. Sweetby. Master Jack, however, was
a cunning fox, and beneath an outward show
of honesty and innocence, was contriving
nothing less than a scheme of robbery. He
belonged, in fact, to a band of thieves, and had
been commissioned by them to insinuate him-
self into the confidence of the mineral vender,
and try to find some way of plundering his



49






50 MICK AND NICK ; OR,
shop. His first proceeding was, during his
master's absence, to take the impressions of
the keys in wax. These he gave to his
accomplices, who, in their secret workshops,
made other keys to correspond. Michael
lodged, not in the house in which he carried
on his business, but in an adjoining street;
and after shutting his shop, which he usually
did at eight o'clock at night, he never saw it
till the same hour next morning. All this
was, of course, observed by prying Jack.
One stormy November evening, a wealthy
merchant in the vicinity, who possessed a fine
collection of shells, and occasionally dealt
with Michael, entered his shop, and accosted
him: "Good evening, neighbour; how do ye
do?"-" Thank you, Mr. Wilmot, tolerably
well; as I hope you also are."-" Oh I yes,
passably. I have called to say, that a lady
of quality, who is separated from her husband,
has, to-day, applied to me for the loan of a
sum of money, and offered this diamond neck-
lace in pledge. I therefore wish to know
whether the diamonds are genuine, and what
may be the worth of the chain. In these
matters you have more skill than I."-" Very







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



good, Mr. Wilmot," replied Michael; "but it
is now night, and the light of day is best
suited for such an examination. If, then,
there be no hurry, I will give you the infor-
mation you desire to-morrow."-" That will
do," said Mr. Wilmot; I shall call at an
early hour."-" Will you take the chain with
you ?"-Oh it is quite safe in your custody."
-" Certainly. I will lock it in this drawer,
and give you the key."-" If you please."
The chain was locked into the drawer, and
the key given to Mr. Wilmot, who returned
home quite satisfied. Shortly after, Michael
closed his shop, and went to his lodgings.
Jack also set out, as he said, to his mother's;
but, ini fact, to the haunt of his accomplices,
whom he immediately told what a treasure
might that night be seized in his master's
shop. "And are the diamonds really genuine?"
"inquired one of the thieves.-" I cannot yet
say," replied Jack; but I can easily test
them. I know how my master does it." The
necessary preparations were instantly made.
Two of the most expert of the band accom-
panied Jack, at midnight, to the shop; and
as the night was stormy, and few people in



51







52 MICK AND NICK ; OR,

the streets, and these passing hurriedly along,
they found no difficulty in entering it with
the help of the false keys. It is true, the
house door was fastened within with a double
bar; but against this obstacle Jack had taken
precautions. He had, this evening, not fas-
tened the shop window inside; and so was
able, at a moment, when there was no one in
the streets, to enter by it and unbar the house
door. Of course there was no leisure to
apply the test to the necklace. It was taken
on trust. The thieves pocketed the ready
money, and packed the platina, gold, and
silver ores, with all the precious stones, pearls,
and other articles of value, into a little box,
not forgetting to make room for the necklace.
They then tied the box with a cord, and,
having again carefully closed the door and
window, decamped in silence.
Michael, whose intercourse with men was
limited to transactions of business-who never
went into society, nor visited a tavern-had,
this evening, as usual, gone straight from his
shop to his lodgings, and taken his simple
supper, consisting of a glass of beer and a bit
of bread and butter. After spending an hour







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



in perusing a book on natural history, he
went to bed, having never habituated himself
to the London vice of turning night into day.
lie had, for a long while, given up the prac-
tice of prayer; for to pray with an evil con-
science, and a determination not to repent,
would have been somewhat like decorating a
summer-house that was just about to be
pulled down. The only prayer which some-
times escaped from his heart was: 0 God,
never let it be discovered that I committed
theft." In offering such a petition, however,
he had no more courage or confidence that it
would reach heaven, than that an arrow, when
shot from a broken bow, will hit the mark.
Ill at ease, as usual, he fell asleep, with the
thought that he had acted imprudently in not
returning the chain to Mr. Wilmot; because,
were it to be stolen that night, he would be a
ruined man. He silently added: "'Tis only
what you deserve." As he slept he had a
dream. It seemed to him that he was in his
shop, and that, through the keyhole of the
door, there entered a manikin, no bigger than
the little finger of a two-years-old child. The
creature, however, was no sooner within the



53







54 MICK AND NICK j OI

apartment than he began to increase in size,
till he reached the stature of a man. Nay, he
at last towered, by a whole head, above
Michael himself, upon whom he fixed a hostile
look. Michael quaked before him to the very
heart. Suddenly the giant exclaimed: Give
me the necklace !" Michael grasped it in his
hand, and held it fast, while he summoned
courage to answer : This necklace has been
committed to my custody, and I will not part
with it." The giant, however, sei-zed it with
his black fist, and began to pull. Hold!"
cried Michael, it will break." The giant,
however, would not desist. At last it snapped
asunder with a crash. Here Michael awoke,
found himself drenched with sweat, and took
some time to collect his senses, and convince
himself that it was but a dream. Feeling it
impossible, however, to compose his mind, he
rose, put on his clothes, liglited a lantern, and
hurried to the shop, to see if all were safe.
On turning the corner, he espied the thieves
in the act of shutting the door and decamping
with their booty. They were but a few steps
in advance of him. He, accordingly, pursued;
and as he could not hope to be a match for



































" The tiiueves, in their extremity, cast away the chest."-Page 5 .






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



three, cried out for help. Fortunately, two
police-officers were, at the moment, approach-
ing from the opposite side, who hastened at
his call. The thieves, in their extremity, cast
away the chest, the weight of which hindered
their flight, and made their escape through a
side street. Michael lifted the chest; and,
accompanied by the police-officers, returned to
his shop, where he shewed them the places
from which the articles had been taken. As
no injury appeared to have been done to any
of the locks, it was easy to infer that these
must have been opened with false keys; and
the suspicion of the policeman lighted at once
upon Jack, although no one had recognized
him as one of the party,-who were all dis-
guised. Michael passed the remainder of the
night in replacing the stolen articles, and
keeping watch over the necklace, from which
he did not dare again to part. The ready
money only was lost, and not even much of
that; for he kept the most of it in the house
in which he lived.
Jack came, as usual, at eight in the morn-
ing, and feigned complete ignorance of what
had taken place. He evinced the utmost



55






56 MICK AND NICK OR,

astonishment and indignation when he heard
how shamelessly the robbers had behaved;
and, on the arrival of the policemen, imme-
diately after, played the part of an innocent
person so well, that Michael was quite per-
suaded their suspicions were unfounded. The
police-officers, however, had more experience
in such matters, and were better acquainted
with men. They questioned Jack where he
had been the preceding night about twelve
o'clock. IIe answered, that, as usual, he had
spent the whole night at his mother's. They
then inquired whereabout she lived, and took
him along with them as their guide to her
house. As they were going through a pass-
age, however, he contrived to make his
escape by a side door, which, on their pursu-
ing him, they found closed. By the time it
was opened, Jack was not to be seen, either
far or near.
But why, it will be asked, had he returned
at all? An adroit thief, as he was, must
have known, that if he voluntarily appeared,
he could not elude the investigation of the
police. On this subject he himself, some
years afterwards, gave the following explana-






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



tion to an officer of the law, who saw him
embarked for Botany Bay:-" On our return
to the haunt, enraged at the miscarriage of
our undertaking, it suddenly occurred to one
of my accomplices, that something had been
left by him in the shop which might lead to
his detection. In order to wrap up some of
the precious stones, he had taken from his
pocket a letter, written to him the day before
by a receiver of stolen property-had torn it in
two, and dropped one of the halves upon the
ground. This he intended afterwards to pick
up, but forgot in his haste; and as it con-
tained the names both 6f the writer and his
correspondent, there was ground to fear that
it might lead to the discovery of all."-Jack,
accordingly, was commissioned to go back to
his master's, and, if it had not been observed,
to fetch the letter away. In the event of his
escaping the hands of the police, he was to
continue some time at his service, as formerly,
and wait for an opportunity of repeating the
attempt. Whereas, in case of the police lay-
ing hold of him, he was to pretend to conduct
them to his mother's house, and, on the way,
to pass that door, which they engaged to keep



57






58 MICK AND NICK; OR,

open for him, and to provide behind it for his
safety. In this manner he had outwitted
their cunning. But the pitcher which goes
long to the fountain, is sure to be broken at
last.











& 6_.






THE POWER OP CONSCIENCE.



CHAPTER LX.

ICIIAEL was now again left to him-
self, and obliged to listen to the voice
of conscience, which, instead of pour-
ing wine and oil, only sprinkled salt upon the
wound. For of this sort were its consolations:
" It must be so. No blessing ever comes on
ill-gotten gain. To enjoy it in peace is im-
possible. Thieves dig for it, and steal from
the possessor what he once stole from others.
Never more wilt thou have rest; and the hand
of justice will seize thee at last." This was
more than the young man could bear; and
shamefully though he had been cheated by his
former assistant, he yet longed for another.
Indeed, his business indispensably required
one. He, accordingly, advertised in a news-
paper, that he would engage a young man
as a servant and apprentice, and offered a
reasonable wage. Several youths applied;
but Michael was determined not to be de-
ceived a second time, and strictly examined
them. One he dismissed for his bad looks;



59






60 MICK AND NICK; OR,

another for his dirty clothes ; a third, because
he demanded too high a wage; a fourth, be-
cause his name was John; and a fifth, because
he could neither read nor write. At length,
one evening, as it was drawing late, and he
was just about to shut his shop, a young man
presented himself, decently dressed, modest in
appearance, and with an air of deep dejection,
and inquired if the situation was still open, as
he had just read the advertisement of it in the
newspapers. The mineral merchant was not,
at first, pleased with the applicant's coming at
so late an hour; but his modest and proper
address, his polite behaviour and melancholy
look, prepossessed him so far in his favour, that
he listened to him with some degree of atten-
tion. What is your name?" said he to the
stranger, who might be about the same age
as himself.-" Nicholas Hilt," was the answer.
"-"Where do you come from?"-" Germany."
-This pleased. What have you learned to
do ?"-" I was educated to be a merchant,
have been employed in an office in a country
town; but lost my situation, and have not
yet succeeded in finding another. My money
is spent, and I am forced to take the first best







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



means of earning as much as will carry me
back to my native country."-" Have you
certificates ?"-" No."-" Then I have no use
for you."-" Do try me. I am honest. Had
I wished to deceive, I might easily have pro-
cured false testimonials."-" I shall think of
it. Return to-morrow at noon."
The following day Nick appeared at the
appointed hour, to receive the decisive an-
swer. His personal appearance again made
a favourable impression upon Michael. Why
do you look so pale ?" said he to him.-" I
have not tasted food since the day before yes-
terday, as my money was all spent," replied
Nick, with downcast eyes. Michael, to whom
it was of the utmost importance to secure the
company and services of an honest man, and
as everything seemed to speak in favour of the
youth, conceived it would be worth while to
risk a little in subjecting his integrity to an
experimental test. He, accordingly, gave him
a guinea, saying: Go to a tavern, procure for
yourself some food, and bring me the change,"
Nick modestly thanked him; while Michael
inwardly resolved : "If he return, I shall con-
clude him to be honest, and take him into
E



61







62 MICK AND NICK; OR,

my house. In half-an-hour Nick made his
appearance, and gave him back nineteen shil-
lings. "What, then, have you had to eat,"
inquired Michael, that there is so large a
balance ?"-" I ordered a bottle of beer, and
a loaf of bread, of which I have still the half
in my pocket," was the reply.
Michael was now convinced beyond all
doubt, that he had to do with-an honest man,
and intimated his willingness to engage him.
Nick knew absolutely nothing of mineralogy.
He had learned to read only in the day-book
and ledger, those great folios of the counting-
house; but not in the still greater volume of
Nature, with its coloured congreve type, and
characters of gold and precious stones, glitter-
ing like the boards of the costly missals in some
rich cathedral. He had no longer the quick
apprehension of youth, nor was his memory
like a rod smeared with bird lime, and to
which every little insect adheres. But he had
a sincere desire to learn what was necessary,
that indefatigable industry which compensates
for many a talent, and all other qualifications
which a merchant can desire in his clerk, or
a teacher in his pupil. Michael became every







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



day more and more persuaded that he had got
a treasure in Nick; for although the young
man was more silent than loquacious, he yet
felt a comfort in his society, to which, for
a long while, he had been a stranger. His
presence had the same sort of effect upon his
troubled mind, as David's harp upon Saul
when the evil spirit made the monarch gloomy.
This was a natural consequence; for Nick was
a Christian, and peace and confidence had
taken up their abode in his heart. The com-
pany of such a person always exerts a tran-
quilizing influence upon anxious minds; just
as the leadership of a brave captain acts up-
on the courage of his soldiers. Do tell me,"
asked Michael Ellendon one day, how it is
that you have always so tranquil and easy a
mind? You must certainly have come through
much distress before we became acquainted
with each other."
Nick.-Indeed I have had many painful
trials; but since I became a Christian, I can
submit more quietly to my lot, and look
upon everything as coming from the Divine
hand



63







64 MICK AND NICK; OR,

Mick.-What were you formerly? Were
you a Jew ?
Nick.-No; rather a heathen. Although a
Christian by name, I lived without God in the
world ; and, like the heathen, only inquired,
What shall I eat, and what shall I drink, and
wherewithal shall I be clothed ?
Mick.-But I also am a Christian; my
circumstances are better than yours; and yet
I have no right peace of mind.
Nick.-Can you pray?
Mick.-Why not?
Nick.-But, in point of fact, do you pray?
Mick.-That is another question, which I
cannot quite answer in the affirmative.
Nick.-What you say, however, is, to a
certain extent, an acknowledgment that you
ought to pray; and, after such an acknow-
ledgment, I am not at all surprised that you
are unhappy.
Mick.-But as you pray more than I do,
how comes it to pass that God suffers you to
be in want ?
Nick.-HIe intends thereby to prove my
infant faith.







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE. 65

Mick.-You have not, then, been a believer
long ?
Nick.-No; only for a few months.
Mick.-How did you become one?
Nick.-I will tell you some other timsa






66 MICK AND NICK; OR,



CHAPTER X.

T HE winter passed away without either
of the two speakers seeking to renew
the conversation. Michael was afraid
of being convinced, and had not fortitude suf-
ficient to act upon his conviction; while Nick
observed that his mind was labouring, and
did not wish, by unseasonable importunity, to
do harm. During the month of May, Ellen-
don one day went down to the Thames, entered
a boat, and desired the waterman to row
him to the place where the Labrador ship,
"Harmony," lay at' anchor. He wished to
commission, by the captain, a small quantity
of rainbow-coloured river spar, or Labrador-
stone, (Astrios Mithrax,)-a mineral which is
likewise found in Finland and Norway; but
of a finer quality in Labrador. The sailors
were busy fitting out the vessel for her next
voyage, on which they were to set out at the
beginning of June. Some were repairing the
sails and cordage; others painting the banis-
ters; others, again, were cleaning the little






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



cabins. The captain happened not to be on
board; but Ellendon met with a missionary,
who, after labouring in Labrador for a course
of years, was now visiting his native country,
and had come to London, in order to embark
again for that cold and inhospitable clime,
and there renew his toils. With this person
Ellendon entered into conversation, gave him
the commission for the captain, and invited
him to visit him at his shop. The missionary
promised to do so, and actually came the next
day. The moment Nick saw him he rushed
towards him, and called out, in German,
"What! are you here, dear cousin?" The
missionary reflected for a moment, and then
said, "Can this, indeed, be Alfred?"-"It
is," replied Nick. After mutual salutations,
Nick told his master that the missionary was
his near relative, and asked leave to take
him, for an hour or two, to his room, in order,
more familiarly, to talk over various matters.
Ellendon, of course, had no objections; and
the two departed together. No one heard
their conversation, and therefore I can tell
you nothing about it.
On Nick's return, Ellendon was thoughtful



67






6S M1ICK AND V'CK; OR,
and silent. The whole day he said only what
lie could not avoid saying; so that Nick could
not imagine what ailed him. On the follow-
ing morning, however, Ellendon, somewhat
embarrassed, began:-" Mr. Hilt, I cannot
conceal from you that I was, yesterday, struck
by the missionary calling you, unless I am
mistaken, Alfred. If that really be your
name, and Hilt one which you have merely
assumed, I should like to know what reason
you have for doing so. Our connexion must
be founded upon mutual confidence. I, there-
fore, hope you will not be offended at my
expressing this wish." Nick blushed, and
immediately replied: I did not think you
would have understood what was spoken in
a foreign tongue. To tell a lie, however, is
unworthy of a Christian; and as you have
remarked what, perhaps, had better remained
concealed, I have no hesitation in disclosing
to you my secret, on the understanding, that
you are not to make a bad use of it. I
therefore require of you an assurance, that
you will consider as strictly confidential, and
keep wholly to yourself, what I shall relate."
Ellendon pledged his word and hand where-






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



upon they sat down together, and Nick spoke
as follows:-
I was born, as you are aware, in Germany,
and am called Alfred Nicholas Erbheld. My
mother's family name was Hilt; and so I
have a certain title to my present appellation
of Nick Hilt. My parents were honest and
reputable people, and brought up their child-
ren in the principles of strict morality and
rectitude. But they were strangers to the
divine life, and did not inculcate upon us the
necessity of a thorough conversion. Nor was
the education I received at school well cal-
culated to supply this defect. Much better
was the instruction given me by one of the
city clergymen, preparatory to my confirma-
tion; and the rite itself made a deep impres-
sion upon my mind. I inwardly resolved that
I would continue to be the Lord's, and faith-
fully serve Him, renouncing the world and its
lusts. Shortly afterwards I entered, as an
apprentice, into a mercantile house in the
capital, where all those good impressions were
effaced. It is true, I did not join the vain
society of my equals in age and station; and
the grace of God preserved me from more
D



69






70 MICK AND NICK; OR,

heinous and secret sins. But I spent all my
leisure hours in reading romances and plays,
which powerfully excited my fancy. I had
no taste, indeed, for works really immoral and
licentious; but only for such as gratified my
passion for the chivalrous and romantic, and
fed my lively fancy, which was ever on the
wing. I became a subscriber to a circulating
library, and devoured all entertaining tales
with a feverish avidity. Indeed, so completely
was I often absorbed in them, that I would
have forgotten my meals if the house-bell had
not regularly recalled me to myself. It is easy
to conceive that, under such circumstances,
the practice of daily prayer, which our minister
had urgently recommended, was laid aside.
I was too avaricious of time to abstract even
a quarter-of-an-hour from my favourite pur-
suit to devote to this sacred duty. And if,
occasionally, I did attempt to pray, my con-
science told me, that as I was not seeking
after God and His Word in other ways, I had
no right to approach Him as a suppliant.
Besides, being, as I thought, in want of no-
thing, I had no outward inducement to do so
I went quite as seldom to church. My master






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



whose only pleasure consisted in counting and
paying, did not urge me to the duty; and the
Sabbath, when I met with no interruption,
and could enjoy in full draughts my heart's
delight, was much too precious to be robbed of
any part of its glory by attendance at church.
At night I used to read in bed as long as my
eyes would keep open; and not until I once
fell asleep without extinguishing the light,
and was awaked by the crackling of the burn-
ing curtains, did I leave off the dangerous
practice. From that time, however, I never
went to bed without first closing my book,
and putting out the candle. So wholly did
my thoughts live and move in the world of
romance, that sometimes, in mercantile trans-
actions, which were too sober to gratify my
fancy, I allowed myself to be carried away by
the most fantastic ideas. For example, I once
wrote in the day-book, Godfrey Bouillon,
instead of Mr. Godfrey Ploeneis, debtor. On
another occasion, I addressed a letter, not as
it should have been, to Philip von Conrad von
der Leyen; but to Philip and Conrad the
wild Lions, having just been reading a ro-
mance in which two characters of that name



71






72 MICk AND NICK; OR,



figured. Mistakes of this sort brought upon
me severe reproofs from my master, who fre-
quently told me I would never make a good
merchant. But my passionate fondness for
reading was already much too strong and
deeply rooted for any such remonstrances to
do me good.
"At the close of my apprenticeship, I
longed to sally forth into the world, in order
to see with my own eyes what my books had
described in such dazzling colours. Want of
means alone hindered the immediate gratifica-
tion of this passion. My parents were both
dead, and had left me no fortune. I had,
consequently, no one to depend upon but
myself. At last, through the intercession of
my master, I obtained a situation in a count-
ing-house at Hamburgh, where I intended to
remain until I had amassed sufficient funds to
take me to London. In London, I proposed,
in like manner, to earn enough for a voyage
to North America; as I had taken it into my
head to visit and explore the scenes which
the novelist, Cowper, has depicted in his tales.
In Hamburgh I prosecuted my reading as
before; and was, perhaps, protected thereby






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



from the many temptations of great mercantile
cities. But I departed farther and farther
from the path of Christian discretion,--
path on which we keep our final destination
continually in view, and direct our course
towards it.
"After having been a year in Hambhrgh,
I had saved enough, as I thought, to venture
on a journey to London, even although I
might there have to wait some time for a
situation. Through the recommendation of an
English firm in Hamburgh, however, I pro-
cured immediate employment in the counting-
house of a Mr. Motherton, in Islington, where
I laboured for several years. This gentleman
was strict and severe; but, in other points,
an excellent man, and liberally remunerated
his clerks when he found them trustworthy,
Perhaps I should have been, to this day, in
his house, had I not met with a misfortune,
which has had a great influence upon my
whole subsequent life. Exactly two years
ago, the day before yesterday, I was sent to
the Bank to procure gold for some notes,
amounting to three hundred pounds sterling.
These notes I dropped from my pocket-book



73






74 MICK AND NICK; OR,

in the omnibus, and, in spite of all my en-
deavours, could never recover them.-But
what ails you, Mr. Ellendon? Have you got
toothache ?"
Ellendon.-Yes, at this moment I did feel
a pang; but it is of no consequence; proceed.
Did you not advertise your loss in the news-
papers?
Alfred.-I certainly did; but without
effect.
Ellendon.--Well, then, go on with your
story.
Alfred continued,-" Under these circum-
stances I did not dare to return to my master.
Collecting all my effects, I stayed, for a short
time, in a little inn at Southwark, and, by
means of letters, endeavoured to find another
situation out of London. In this I at last
succeeded; and was engaged by a mercantile
house at Leeds, although with a small salary.
How I rejoiced, like the bird when again it
finds a nest! My misfortune had the effect
of instantly and thoroughly curing me of my
passion for reading romances. I perceived
that a merchant who intends to succeed must
occupy himself with more serious affairs; and,






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



with the whole force of my mind, I applied
myself to the objects of my calling. My situ.
ation would have been pleasant enough, had
I not been tormented with continual appre-
hension, that some accident might reveal to
my former master my place of abode, and that
he might call me to account. I therefore
shunned all acquaintances, as far as my situ-
ation would permit, stayed almost constantly
at home, and spent my leisure hours in study.
After a lapse of a year, I begah to hope that
the story must be hushed, and became more
secure.
One day, however, a business correspond-
ent, with whom my London master used to
have transactions, entered our counting-house,
and, as he had several times seen me in the
metropolis, recognized me at once. He had,
in fact, visited Mr. Motherton the year before,
immediately after the mishap with the three
hundred pounds, and was much surprised to
find me at Leeds. To myself he said no-
thing; but related the story to my employer
at table, as one of the clerks, who had been
invited to dinner, informed me, in confidence,
the same evening. What opinion was formed



75






76 MICK AND NICK, OR,

respecting It, or what resolution taken, I could
not learn. My evil conscience, however, at
once suggested the worst: 'They will either
arrest you,' thought I, 'and send you off to
London, as your imprudent flight must have
strengthened the suspicion of your dishonesty;
or, if your employer please to act a generous
part, he will beseech the gentleman from
Manchester not to tell; but will dismiss you
instantly from his house, as a person unworthy
of trust.' To neither of these alternatives
could I bring my mind; and in the excess of
my anxiety, again adopted the inconsiderate
resolution of running away.
"As I did not lodge with the family, this
could be accomplished without difficulty. I
had received my salary but a few days before.
My effects were few; so that there seemed no
obstacle to my flight. I knew, that at ten
o'clock in the evening the mail for London
departed; and as I had accidentally heard,
that the merchant from Manchester meant to
set off next day for Birmingham, I was under
no apprehension of having him for a travel-
ling companion. Accordingly, I quickly packed
my effects, conveyed them to the coach-office,







TiE POWEi OF CoNSCIENCE.



and took a place for London,-in the hope, as
the old proverb says, of being least in danger
of the shot when nearest the musket. The
gentleman, however, must have received some
mercantile news, which suddenly induced him
to change his plan; for he was the first per-
son whom, by the light of the gas-lamp, I
saw in the coach, and was also on his way to
London. He was surprised to meet with me,
and, at beholding him, I stood aghast, like a
smuggler when caught by the exciseman. I
had, indeed, concocted an excuse, and told
him, that I was suddenly induced to make the
journey, by receiving the news that a friend
in London had been taken ill, and was at the
point of death. I saw by the man's face,
however, that he did not believe me. A sort
of sarcastic doubt was expressed at the corners
of his mouth; and I was glad that mine was
an outside, and his an inside place.
My resolution was soon taken. I did not
wish to expose myself to the danger of being
arrested as an impostor, which, after abscond-
ing a second time, I would now, more certainly
than ever, appear to be; and although sorry
to lose the money I had paid for my seat all
F



77







78 MICK AND NICK; OR,
the way to London, I saw no other outlet
but once more to disappear. Accordingly, at
the next stage, while the horses were being
changed, I told the guard I had been sud-
denly seized with a violent colick, and required
to alight. He gave me down my luggage,
while the inside passengers were asleep, and
the Manchester gentleman totally unconscious
of what was taking place. I entered the
nearest inn, asked for a room, and went to
bed. It was vain, however, to think of sleep
that night. Indeed, I had to occupy myself
in deliberating what course to take. Being
yet only ten miles distant from Leeds, I was
by no means, as it seemed to me, sufficiently
out of danger. Neither did it appear advis-
able to go to London at the present moment,
when the story was revived afresh. I was,
therefore, obliged to turn to the side. At last
I fell asleep; but upon awakening in the
morning, found I had caught a violent fever,
and that it was necessary to call in a doctor.
The complaint lasted eight days, and left me
in so weak a state, that it was a whole fort-
night before I regained strength sufficient to
prosecute my journey. In this interval I







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



wrote to my master in Leeds, explaining the
whole circumstances, asserting my innocence,
and supplicating him to take no further con-
cern about me. I did not, however, put this
letter into the post-office until the moment of
my departure.
You may easily conceive the misery I
came through during this season of affliction.
On the one hand, I was tormented with
anxiety, lest my employer should accidentally
learn where I was,-the place being at so
small a distance from Leeds. On the other,
I was afraid of raving in my fever, and so
disclosing all my secrets. The affliction,
however, had a salutary effect upon me. I
began, once more, to try what, for ten years,
I had never done,-viz., to pray. Old re-
membrances awoke in my soul. Long for-
gotten texts started up from the chaos in my
mind, as the fish in a pond rise to the surface
when children throw bread to them. The
thought of my confirmation, and of the pro-
mise which I then gave, but had since so
often broken, presented itself to my conscience
with threatening aspect; and, in place of
finding comfort in prayer, it seemed to me as



79







80 MICK ADN NICK; OR,

if I were standing in a forsaken den of robbers,
and had uttered a spell, which evoked from
the ground the spirits of the murdered persons,
who threatened to fall upon, and destroy me.
All the sins of my youth, my omissions and
falsehoods, rushed into view. Even actions
which I had hitherto thought quite pure and
good, now appeared criminal, just as a clear
drop of water, when observed through the solar
microscope, swarms with deformed creatures.
I could not dismiss these threatening images.
My feverish state rendered them still more
tormenting; and on my recovery, I found it
altogether impossible to avoid a sober examin-
ation of my previous course of life. I formed
the resolution, that as soon as I regained a
fixed place of abode, I would attend church,
and daily pray to God. For the present, how-
ever, my outward circumstances too power-
fully demanded my whole attention.
After three weeks, I received leave from
the physician to continue my journey. The
more I reflected, the more it seemed to me
likely that, in the metropolis, among the
mighty flood of human beings, I should best
be able to conceal myself from pursuit. 1






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



accordingly resolved to proceed to London, and
took a place in the mail, which passed the
inn, on its way from Leeds, about eleven
o'clock at night. My effects were packed, and
brought to the coach; and I was in the act of
receiving change for a sovereign, when the
guard blew his horn. 'Quick,' said the land-
lord; 'the coach will not wait!' I hurried
down stairs. Two coaches were standing be-
fore the door. The guard of one of them called
out to me, Come, come, we have no time to
lose' Having taken an inside place, from
apprehension of catching cold in the night air
outside, I hastily entered, wrapped myself in
my mantle, and was soon fast asleep. When
I awoke, it was broad daylight, and my fel-
low-passengers congratulated me on having
enjoyed so long and sound a slumber. I
stretched myself, yawned, and asked, 'Where
are we?'-' By this time, sixty miles from
Leeds,' said one of them ; 'we shall soon reach
Liverpool.' 'Liverpool!' cried I, in amaze-
ment, 'you must be jesting; we are on the way
to London.'-' Oh I no, sir; we are going to
Liverpool!' they all, at once, exclaimed. On
further inquiry, it appeared, that I ought to



81






82 MICK AND NICK; OR,



have taken the other coach, which was the one
going to London, and that the guard of the one
to Liverpool, who was waiting for a passenger,
had supposed me to be him, when he saw me
hasten into the street. It thus happened,
that that person was left behind, contrary to
his wishes, and I carried off in a direction the
very opposite to mine. In this way, too, the
price of my seat was, a second time, as good
as lost. In other respects, it was almost a
matter of indifference to me whether I went
to London or Liverpool; the only disadvan-
tage being, that my luggage was in the other
coach; so that I reached our destination, like
a second Diogenes, with all my property on
my back. Fortunately, I had still a little
money remaining, although my confinement
for three weeks in a sick-bed, and the fare I
had twice paid for a seat in the mail, had
swallowed up the greater part of my means.
From Liverpool, I immediately wrote to the
post office in London, requesting that my
trunk, which had gone by the mail, and bore
the address, 'Nick Hilt, passenger's luggage,
London,' might be sent to me; and, in eight
days' time, I received it in safety.






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



In the meanwhile, upon the first Sabbath
day, I remembered my resolution to attend
church; and having carried it into effect, I
heard a sermon which seemed to have been
purposely designed for me. It fully disclosed
the secrets of my heart, which had hitherto
remained concealed, and, at the same time,
pointed out the way by which relief might be
obtained from the burden that weighed me
down. I was directed to Jesus Christ, the
Saviour of sinners; and when, in compliance
with this direction, I fell upon my knees, and
humbled myself before Him, the first ray of
light entered my heart, and I began to hope
that my sins might be forgiven.
"On the Sabbath evening, I visited the
preacher whose discourse had done me so
much good, and made known to him my
whole situation; for I conceived the most un-
limited confidence towards a man who spoke
so warmly from the heart. He conversed
with me generally respecting my spiritual
state, and said, that the first and most needful
step now was, to be reconciled to God, who
would afterwards, by means of His Spirit,
Himself direct me what course to take. I set



83






84 MICK AND NICK; OR,

about reading the Bible, which, for a long
time, I had never opened, and chiefly perused
the Psalms, finding that these were most in
accordance with my feelings, and supplied me
with language whereby to express my inmost
thoughts. By degrees, my views became clear,
a comfortable sense of the pardon of my sins
was vouchsafed to me, and I could now firmly
believe that God would do all things for my
good. I returned to the preacher, and told
him of the great grace I had obtained. He re-
joiced with me as if I had found a kingdom,
and inquired what I now proposed doing. On
my beseeching his advice, he replied : Dear
friend, I am of opinion that only the whole
truth makes us wholly free. If you wish to
enjoy perfect peace, you must put your affairs
in order with men; for after having received
pardon from God, you must also receive it
from them; or, at least, you must have asked
them to pardon you. Go, then, and present
yourself to your master in London, and sub-
mit to the consequences, whatever they may
be. You now know, that to those who love
God, all things shall work together for good.
If, however, you prefer transacting the matter






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



by letter, I have no objections.' I was already
prepared for the former step, thinking, as I
did with myself, that if God had really for-
given my sins, He would also do away their
consequences, or help me over them. I,
therefore, thankfully bade farewell to the
minister, took a seat upon the mail, and
arrived safely in London.
The first place to which I went was the
house of my master. You imagine, perhaps,
that I must have gone with fear and trem-
bling; but that was not the case. I went
with the utmost composure; for, after the
Heavenly Judge had absolved me from my
guilt, I cared little what others might do.
On entering the house, however, I found, to
my surprise, that it was occupied by another
person; and, by further inquiry, learned as
follows:-My former master, by unfortunate
speculations, and the failure of mercantile
firms with which he had transactions, had
been reduced to the necessity of giving up
business. His friends recommended to him
a composition with his creditors, in order that
he might retain at least some small fund, as
the foundation of a new enterprise. This ad-






86 MICK AND NIOT, OR,
vice, however, by no means satisfied his strict
and honourable mind. Perhaps, also, he was
too proud to ask for any indulgence, so long
as he was in circumstances to fulfil his obliga-
tions. An examination of his affairs shewed
that he could pay all his debts; and this he
did. But after doing it, he had not a single
penny left. The stroke made so deep an
impression upon his mind, that he shortly
afterwards died. His son, who possessed all
the father's honesty, but more gentleness of
character, was now reduced, with his five
children, to the greatest want. He had
friends, who would willingly have supplied
him with money to begin business afresh; but
to this he was not inclined. He, accordingly,
laboured in a counting-house, and, with great
difficulty, earned as much as barely sufficed
for the sustenance of his numerous family. I
had some trouble in finding out his humble
abode in one of the suburbs; and when, at
last, I stood before him, and called to mind
his brilliant circumstances in former years,
and with what humility I used then to look
up to him, my heart failed, and, for a while, I
could not speak for tears. 'Mr. Motherton,'







THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



said I, at last, I am sorry to find you in your
present situation; and the more so, because I
have to own myself your debtor, and also to
confess, that I am not in circumstances to
pay the debt, and thereby alleviate, in some
degree, the hardships you suffer. Be assured,
however, that I will do my utmost to dis-
charge it by degrees, and, in the meantime,
be so good as exercise patience with me.'
Mr. Motherton would not hear of my owing
him anything at all; and said, that if he had
ever doubted my honesty in the loss of the
three hundred pounds, my voluntary appear-
ance had now perfectly convinced him of it.
I could not be at rest, however, until the debt
was discharged; and obliged him to promise,
that he would not refuse the little sums which,
from time to time, I proposed to remit. As
no opportunity occurred of entering, as clerk,
into a counting-house, I employed myself in
copying, laboured daily till midnight, lived
on bread and potatoes, and put every penny I
earned into a savings' box, in order to pay
Mr. Motherton the first instalment as soon
as I had collected five pounds. This sum I
sent by a bank order through the post office;



87







88 MICK AND NICK ; OR,

and, as he did not know my address, it was
impossible for him to return it. Even when,
for several days, I got nothing to write, I did
not venture to touch this money, and pre-
ferred suffering hunger. It was in one of
these intervals that I resolved again to seek
a situation, and found it with you."
Ellendon.-It seems to me, however, that,
in this matter, you have carried conscien-
tiousness to an extreme.
Alfred.-If tried by the common standard,
that may, perhaps, be thought of my conduct.
When, however, I reflect, that it really was
culpable negligence to put the bank-notes so
loosely into my pocket-book as that it was
possible for them to fall out, I cannot but
take blame to myself for losing Mr. Mother-
ton the three hundred pounds, of which he
now stands so much in need.
Ellendon.-It is to be hoped you no longer
live in so poor a way, now that you receive a
fixed income, of which you can lay by a part.
Alfred.-Why should I not confess to
you, who have promised secrecy? I lodge
in a miserable garret. Potatoes and bread
are almost my only food. Seldom do I taste






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE. 89

butcher meat, and as seldom indulge myself
with a glass of beer.
Ellendon.-That is manifestly going too
far. Mr. Motherton himself, if he thinks
equitably, would never consent to your sub-
jecting yourself to privations much greater
than he and his family endure.
Alfred.-I have no doubt he would be
sorry were it to reach his ears. But with
that I have nothing to do. I only know that
I have a debt to pay, and that the sooner it
is paid, the happier I shall be. Besides,
suppose the case of Mr. Motherton, or any
of his family, losing health, and that he were
to be thereby prevented, for a time, from
earning his livelihood, or that he were put
to some unusual expense, and then think
how needful for him it would be, to receive
an extra sum of money, inasmuch as he can
save nothing from his ordinary income!
Ellendon.-Were you the person who had
found the three hundred pounds, it might be
more readily granted that you were under
the obligation you suppose; but I cannot
see how, as the loser of them, you have any
occasion to afflict yourself in the manner






90 MICK AND NICK, OR,

you are doing, more especially as the trans-
action has, in so distressing a way, driven
you out of your career in life.
Alfred.-No doubt, the duty would belong
to the finder in the first instance; but as
he was not honest enough to advertise the
money, I am not exonerated from my obli.
gation.








c--i --






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



CHAPTER XI.

LLENDON had intentionally made the
last remark. He wished to know in
what light his conduct would be viewed
by Alfred, were he to learn that he was the
finder of the lost money. Alfred's answer
rendered any reply superfluous. He inter-
rupted the conversation to speak of some-
thing else, and continued thoughtful the
whole day. On returning to his chamber at
night, he gave free course to the thoughts
which the discovery of the morning had
awakened in his mind. And now, then, by
a remarkable providence, the finder and the
loser of the three hundred pounds are brought
together beneath one roof,-the finder pos-
sessing this advantage, that he was not known
as such to the loser. Michael's still unpaci-
fled conscience, which Alfred's narrative had
so powerfully awakened, now repeated all
its reproaches, as the musical clock does its
tunes when the string is drawn. And so,
owing to thy dishonesty, this poor man has



91






92 MICK AND NICK ; OR,

been obliged to forsake his situation, to travel
from place to place in anguish and want, and
to resolve, at last, to pinch himself with
hunger; while, on the other hand, the right-
ful owner of the money, with which you have
secured an independent business, must, with
his whole family, suffer want, or, at least,
sore privations."
So spake Michael's conscience, and would
listen to no excuse. He laboured to excogi-
tate some expedient by which to satisfy
Alfred's just claim, without being himself
obliged to relinquish his position; or, what
seemed still more important, without con-
fessing his error to him, or to any other.
Neither of these two issues was at all agree-
able; and he had not money enough to
execute the plan which pleased him best.
This would have been to pay Alfred the
three hundred pounds anonymously. He had,
indeed, been able, each of the two past years,
to liquidate a hundred pounds of his debt to
Mr. Sweetby; but five hundred of it still
remained unpaid; and it was of the utmost
importance to have this liability discharged as
soon as possible. At last, after long reflection






THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.



he came to the resolution of lessening, still
more than he had hitherto done, his personal
expenses, and, by this means, saving a yearly
sum, which he would contrive to pass anony-
mously into the hands of his assistant. It is
true, his conscience was not quite satisfied
with this plan, and suggested to him, as a far
better one, to confess all to Alfred, and sup-
plicate, for a little, his leniency and forbear-
ance. But Michael replied, that this was
demanding too much at once. In fact, he
could not bring himself to confess; and so
experienced the truth of the observation, that
"He who is ashamed to do what is good,
becomes the slave of evil." Not in vain has
the Word of God declared : "If we confess our
sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our
sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteous-
ness." He could not but be struck with
Alfred's tranquillity and cheerfulness of mind,
in spite of the many hardships he endured;
while inward sorrow continually tormented
him. He endeavoured, however, to account
for this by the difference of their dispositions.
While Ellendon was thus brooding over
the plan to be adopted for compensating the
G



93






94 MICK AND NICK ; OR,
loss his assistant had sustained, a new cala-
mity befell him. Mr. Sweetby, his former
master, was suddenly cut off by death; and
the distant relatives, who succeeded to his
property, were what are called laughing heirs;
but they only laughed at the sight of money,
and cared very little for the inconvenience of
those who had to pay it. Mr. Sweetby had
promised Michael to be satisfied with the
gradual liquidation of the debt, and never to
enforce payment; but he had, unfortunately,
given him no written document to that effect,
and the heirs insisted on ready-money, of
which they were in need, and paid no regard
to Michael's difficulties. Mr. Wilmot, his
wealthy neighbour, would readily have ad-
vanced the sum required, had it been in
Michael's power to give him security for it
over any fixed property; but Michael pos-
sessed no property of the sort. He rented
both his shop and dwelling-house; and his
collection of minerals, though worth much
more than five hundred pounds, had become
of extremely little value in Mr. Wilmot's
eyes, since the attempt to rob the shop all
but subjected him to the disagreeable neces-