The Warning: a Narrative of Facts, Addressed to Wives and Mothers (Google Books)

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T H E WA R N I N G:
A TALE OF MARRIED LIFE.

H—

CHAPTER I.

” The men who con-secretes his hours
By vig’rous effort and an honest aim.
At once he draws the sting of life, and dea‘h,
He walks with Wisdom, and her paths are peace.”
Yours.

MOST affectionate, attentive, and thoughtful husband was Robert Cuthbertson, the industrious, thriving, intol— ligent young wheelwright, whose large premises and pleasant house occupied the corner of the Highstreet in the bustling town of Hurtleborougb. If an improving business, a good reputation, a young and frugal wife, and that very important personage—a son and heir,

in the first twelve months of his undisputed sway as

sole baby of the establishment: if all these desirable n

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acquisitions can confer happiness, Robert Cuthbertson was a happy man. _

Constant employment, it is Well known, is a complete antidote to a morbid sensitiveness of disposition; and industry, with its firm supporter, temperance, shed their cheering influence over the serene and happy temper of the young husband. Still, no man who has many sources of happiness of a tender and domestic character, can avoid feeling that in exact proportion to his joys may be his sorrows. Apprehension is ever the shadow that attends love. In fact, the truth of the

philosopher’s remark, that the man who has a wife and ‘

children has “given hostages to fortune,” is more or

less felt by all whose love hovers with tender solicitude ‘

over earthly treasures. The deeper his regard, the more he “ rejoices with fear and trembling.” Slight clouds will gather over the fair expanse of the truest affection—and though but fleeting visitants, that a breath almost serves to dispel, they are shadowy warnings, bidding the exulting heart receive its temporal blessings with equal humility and gratitude. In this subdued and trusting frame of mind did

Robert Cuthbcrtson receive the manifold blessings

whieh a bounteous Providence had bestowed on him: and knowing that personal habits are often a great security for personal and relative happiness and

prosperity, it had been his aim, from earliest youth, ‘

to circumscribe his artificial wants—t0 be “ diligent in ‘

business and fervent in spirit,” and by Divine grace he

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had been favoured to perceive the real meaning of that passage. The fervour of his devotion towards God was the spring of his activity and cheerfulness in his daily duties. From that source flowed the peace that made him work with a willing mind in that station of life in which Providence had placed him, and enabled him to secure, with laudable energy, a fair proportion of this world’s goods,

“Not for to hi’le it in a hedge,
Not for a. train attendant,
But for the glorious privilege
Of being independent.”

A character uniting so much prudence with gene— rosity, and gentleness with firmness, could not of course be expected to be without a few counterbalancing faults, either real or ascribed. Robert Cuthbertson’s friends (and how soon do our most particular friends make similar discoveries?) used to shake their heads knowingly, and whisper, among themselves—“ Ah, Cuthbertson is an excellent young man, I a very excellent young man, but (oh, word of fear) so very eccentric.” If‘any stranger, curious to ascertain, asked in what way this peculiar quality displayed itself –“Oh,” they would reply, “he is an inveterate water-drinker—has been from boyhood—a downright, headstrong, water-drinker—hopelessly obstinate on that point; here all the banter of the wittiest young fellows in the town without fiinching; and though full of spirits (natural, they might have added) and a. very entertaining companion, actually, un

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ceremoniously, neglected every convivial meeting because he “would not countenance ”—yes, that was the word—“he would not countenance such debasing pursuits.” People expect strength of body in youth, but they are sometimes inclined to ridicule or dislike strength of principle.

Most people were satisfied with this explanation of the charge ofeccentricity. As applied to Cuthbertson, it ‘

was a clear case, an undisputed position; and when, in addition to this, they were told by the jovial landlord of the “Clutchem Arms,” who never wearicd of relating the story, what a great loser the obstinate young

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wheelwright had been by his water-drinking, they a

were doubly confirmed in their opinion.

The anecdote in question was a standing jest of Boniface’s; he considered it a warning to all sober men, and never failed to relate it to every fledgeling

drunkard that old decoy-birds brought into his snug ‘

trap of a parlour. His story, in this instance, had another merit besides its moral—it excited interest : for even drunkards were quite curious to know how a man could possibly ruin very good prospects by being a water- drinker. Had his story related similar results of

‘ an opposite description of character, not a single

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he boasted of his temperance), he would rub his hands, chuckle, and say “Ah, Sirs, when that obstinate fellow, Cuthbertson, was a lad, tall and slender as a. champagne bottle, and brisk as my best ale, he had a maiden aunt who was worth a good comfortable sum of money; she had lived in the family cf Sir Frederick Clutchem, the patron of this house, from a child; first, as a sort of

plaything for the Lady, Sir Frederick’s mother, who, ;

after her favourite lap-dog went mad, took to children as less dangerous. When she was grown up, and proved a. shrewd bustling woman, the young lady, the baronet’s wife, came home, and Cuthbertson’s aunt then became housekeeper and favourite; and what with a handsome annuity left her by the old lady, and legacies both from the first and second wives of the baronet, with many years of enormous savings in so wealthy and profuse an establishment, the old girl was not to be sneercd at. She was mortal proud, to be sure! loftier a great deal than either one of the ladies. \Vell, Robert was her only nephew, and a mighty deal of pains his parents took with him to train him up in awe of her, for she liked homage. The boy was always a queer chap; he never learnt well the coaxing ways they taught him, but that was passed over; he grew up a good-looking fellow, and his old aunt was as fond of him, almost, as of her large black parrot; and but for his unlucky water-drinking propensity he might have come into all she was worth.

“The old girl had a great name all over the country

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for making a famous damson wine, and she doctored it so cleverly with alum and logwood, they said it was , equal to the best rough-flavoured port. ’Twas shocking i unwholesome stuff, mind ye, as all them home made wines are—a kind of preserved cholera, or bottled-up doctor’s purveyor; but people praised and tasted. ,lVell, we all like fame. The old lady was prouder/ of her wine than of her high breeding, which is saying a igreat deal; and for any one to drink ‘it and pretend ‘he felt sure . it must he port, was a certain passport to her good graces. I need not tell you, my boys, how her wine had many admirers, and her strong box made many volunteer a colic. But her headstrong nephew always con

, trived to be absent on gala days. At last she retired ‘ from her situation, to the great joy of the servants at the large house, and set up housekeeping on her own account. Her love of money made her give up many things she could well allord, but the famous wine was duly treasured.

“ At her house-warming, Cuthbertson (who had lost his parents, and succeeded to his father’s business) was obliged to be present, and he gave great ofience by refusing to taste the wine. He, however, expressed no particular opinion on its merits, and after a short coolness he was forgiven. Shortly after the reconciliation, he spent the day with the old lady. An old brandy nosed, broken-down, half-pay officer (we called him “Captain in our town), one of the greatest admirers of the spinster’s \‘inous skill, happened to be there. Well,

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after dinner the captain tossed off his glass of damson wine, and, with a grave face, made for the occasion, (kclared he had never tasted such port in England before. Then the flattered old woman began to tell him, for the hundredth time, the story of her , wine and its virtues. Only think of that simpleton, the nephew, refusing still to drink it! and worse than that, getting rather warm under the jeers of the captain, saying, in the heat of conversation, it was poison, or it contained poison—J don’t know which. The captain defied him to prove it; and the simple fellow,

with some domestic apparatus, must needs extract the , spirit, and burn a small part of it, showing them at the ‘

same time the sickly-looking refuse. Oh, poor fool! the spirit of his aunt’s love burnt as blue as the spirit of wine, I promise ye, and went out quite as soon, leaving a black residue of anger. Well, as ill luck would have it,’the parrot’s food stood on a. side—table, ready to put in the cage, and the captain, I’ve reason to think, unperceived, put the remainder of the spirit which had not been burnt, into the parrot’s trough. The anger of the old lady at her nephew’s conduct was so great that she forgot to give Poll her dinner at the usual time, but observing the captain looking at the food, she recollected the omission, and put the trough in the cage. her hands trembling with rage. The bird, hungry with the unusual delay, began to eat voraciously; and Cuthbertson, thinking it best to go, as his aunt looked so much displeased, turned his back upon

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‘ dear cold water for his comfort.

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the house, having done as pretty a day’s work for himself as possible. He had not been gone long before the favourite black parrot, after fluttering wildly on her swing, croaking dismally, fell down to the bottom of the cage, and died. All was tumult, and crying, and running to and fro, in the house. But the old lady’s anger cured her grief when the captain called her attention to the parrot’s food, and she discovered by the residue that the spirit had been put into it. She never for a moment doubted that her nephew had wilfully poisoned the bird. Mind, friends, I think it was because it was spirit extracted out of home-made wine that caused it to be so poisonous: my wines are all good and wholesome.

“Well, from that day to her death, which happened only six months afterwards, she never saw her nephew, or would have him mentioned in her presence.

“And who do you think she left her money to? \Vhy, the captain. Ha! ha! he was a keen fellow! poor Cuthbertson chips away at his wheels with his What d’ye think of that now ? —ha’nt he been a loser by sobriety ?”

The loud laughter of the landlord was generally so infections that his guests forgot, in their merriment, to ask any more questions; and if they had, it is ten to one that he would have told them (fund as he was of telling a story) that within a twelvemonth of the winemaking spinster’s death, most of her dearly-beloved money found its way into the till of “The Clutchem

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.TWA”

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Arms,” whose resources being thus wondrously replenished, her savings added another storey, an orna— mental stuccoed front, and a. huge brilliant lamp to the house; and had also supplied a fit of apoplexy—a coroner’s inquest—a deep grave—and a fine tombstone to the captain! So far the world could see consequences; but the unseen, who could unveil that? or . follow the shuddering soul into “ the blackness of j darknesss for ever and ever ?”

It is no wonder that. with such a story told of him, the good folks of Hurtleborough were fully and finally convinced of Cuthbertson’s eccentricity; and a sorry life he would have led, if it had not been that there was a certain something about him which forbade a person idly jesting with him; the wits therefore were obliged to content themselves with jesting at him, which, if it afl’orded them any amusement, certainly did not in the least annoy the sturdy wheelwright.

Meanwhile great changes were at that time in agitation among the industrious classes. A cry had gone forth, “Because of drunkenness the land mourneth.” A practical remedy was devised for the fatal disease, and in England and America Temperance Societies had been formed to arrest the deadly foe—a voice had sounded over the foamy billows of the broap Atlantic—and many honest English hearts had leapt up at the soundl—myriads of manly voices, “strong in their pure intent,” had echoed back the mighty sound with even redoubled vigour!

soul

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he boasted of his temperance), he would rub his hands, chuckle, and say “Ah, Sirs, when that obstinate fellow, Cuthbertson, was a lad, tall and slender as a. champagne bottle, and brisk as my best ale, he had a maiden aunt who was worth a good comfortable sum of money; she had lived in the family cf Sir Frederick Clutchem, the patron of this house, from a child; first, as a sort of

plaything for the Lady, Sir Frederick’s mother, who, ;

after her favourite lap-dog went mad, took to children as less dangerous. When she was grown up, and proved a. shrewd bustling woman, the young lady, the baronet’s wife, came home, and Cuthbertson’s aunt then became housekeeper and favourite; and what with a handsome annuity left her by the old lady, and legacies both from the first and second wives of the baronet, with many years of enormous savings in so wealthy and profuse an establishment, the old girl was not to be sneercd at. She was mortal proud, to be sure! loftier a great deal than either one of the ladies. \Vell, Robert was her only nephew, and a mighty deal of pains his parents took with him to train him up in awe of her, for she liked homage. The boy was always a queer chap; he never learnt well the coaxing ways they taught him, but that was passed over; he grew up a good-looking fellow, and his old aunt was as fond of him, almost, as of her large black parrot; and but for his unlucky water-drinking propensity he might have come into all she was worth.

“The old girl had a great name all over the country

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for making a famous damson wine, and she doctored it so cleverly with alum and logwood, they said it was , equal to the best rough-flavoured port. ’Twas shocking i unwholesome stuff, mind ye, as all them home made wines are—a kind of preserved cholera, or bottled-up doctor’s purveyor; but people praised and tasted. ,lVell, we all like fame. The old lady was prouder/ of her wine than of her high breeding, which is saying a igreat deal; and for any one to drink ‘it and pretend ‘he felt sure . it must he port, was a certain passport to her good graces. I need not tell you, my boys, how her wine had many admirers, and her strong box made many volunteer a colic. But her headstrong nephew always con

, trived to be absent on gala days. At last she retired ‘ from her situation, to the great joy of the servants at the large house, and set up housekeeping on her own account. Her love of money made her give up many things she could well allord, but the famous wine was duly treasured.

“ At her house-warming, Cuthbertson (who had lost his parents, and succeeded to his father’s business) was obliged to be present, and he gave great ofience by refusing to taste the wine. He, however, expressed no particular opinion on its merits, and after a short coolness he was forgiven. Shortly after the reconciliation, he spent the day with the old lady. An old brandy nosed, broken-down, half-pay officer (we called him “Captain in our town), one of the greatest admirers of the spinster’s \‘inous skill, happened to be there. Well,

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77‘

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after dinner the captain tossed off his glass of damson wine, and, with a grave face, made for the occasion, (kclared he had never tasted such port in England before. Then the flattered old woman began to tell him, for the hundredth time, the story of her , wine and its virtues. Only think of that simpleton, the nephew, refusing still to drink it! and worse than that, getting rather warm under the jeers of the captain, saying, in the heat of conversation, it was poison, or it contained poison—J don’t know which. The captain defied him to prove it; and the simple fellow,

with some domestic apparatus, must needs extract the , spirit, and burn a small part of it, showing them at the ‘

same time the sickly-looking refuse. Oh, poor fool! the spirit of his aunt’s love burnt as blue as the spirit of wine, I promise ye, and went out quite as soon, leaving a black residue of anger. Well, as ill luck would have it,’the parrot’s food stood on a. side—table, ready to put in the cage, and the captain, I’ve reason to think, unperceived, put the remainder of the spirit which had not been burnt, into the parrot’s trough. The anger of the old lady at her nephew’s conduct was so great that she forgot to give Poll her dinner at the usual time, but observing the captain looking at the food, she recollected the omission, and put the trough in the cage. her hands trembling with rage. The bird, hungry with the unusual delay, began to eat voraciously; and Cuthbertson, thinking it best to go, as his aunt looked so much displeased, turned his back upon

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‘ dear cold water for his comfort.

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the house, having done as pretty a day’s work for himself as possible. He had not been gone long before the favourite black parrot, after fluttering wildly on her swing, croaking dismally, fell down to the bottom of the cage, and died. All was tumult, and crying, and running to and fro, in the house. But the old lady’s anger cured her grief when the captain called her attention to the parrot’s food, and she discovered by the residue that the spirit had been put into it. She never for a moment doubted that her nephew had wilfully poisoned the bird. Mind, friends, I think it was because it was spirit extracted out of home-made wine that caused it to be so poisonous: my wines are all good and wholesome.

“Well, from that day to her death, which happened only six months afterwards, she never saw her nephew, or would have him mentioned in her presence.

“And who do you think she left her money to? \Vhy, the captain. Ha! ha! he was a keen fellow! poor Cuthbertson chips away at his wheels with his What d’ye think of that now ? —ha’nt he been a loser by sobriety ?”

The loud laughter of the landlord was generally so infections that his guests forgot, in their merriment, to ask any more questions; and if they had, it is ten to one that he would have told them (fund as he was of telling a story) that within a twelvemonth of the winemaking spinster’s death, most of her dearly-beloved money found its way into the till of “The Clutchem

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.TWA”

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Arms,” whose resources being thus wondrously replenished, her savings added another storey, an orna— mental stuccoed front, and a. huge brilliant lamp to the house; and had also supplied a fit of apoplexy—a coroner’s inquest—a deep grave—and a fine tombstone to the captain! So far the world could see consequences; but the unseen, who could unveil that? or . follow the shuddering soul into “ the blackness of j darknesss for ever and ever ?”

It is no wonder that. with such a story told of him, the good folks of Hurtleborough were fully and finally convinced of Cuthbertson’s eccentricity; and a sorry life he would have led, if it had not been that there was a certain something about him which forbade a person idly jesting with him; the wits therefore were obliged to content themselves with jesting at him, which, if it afl’orded them any amusement, certainly did not in the least annoy the sturdy wheelwright.

Meanwhile great changes were at that time in agitation among the industrious classes. A cry had gone forth, “Because of drunkenness the land mourneth.” A practical remedy was devised for the fatal disease, and in England and America Temperance Societies had been formed to arrest the deadly foe—a voice had sounded over the foamy billows of the broap Atlantic—and many honest English hearts had leapt up at the soundl—myriads of manly voices, “strong in their pure intent,” had echoed back the mighty sound with even redoubled vigour!

of them would have listened ; for they knew very well that shame and ruin had been written on the brow of the drunkard ever since the flood. However, the cosy host was quite as willing to gratit’ y as .to excite curiosity, and sipping his weak negus (For B 2

 

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