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ambulated the busiest streets in the city, inquiring at every shop, "do you want a laddie?" I remember that day well: many answered me roughly, "no,"—some said they were sorry they could not employ me, having sufficient assistance already, while others, who were in need of help, wanted a boy of riper age and more strength than I possessed. It was nearly night; I had wandered all day—I was hopeless, tired, and hungry, yet I would not utterly despair. The sun had almost set, when I entered a linen draper's shop in * * * street; I liked the looks of the man; there was something so kind and fatherly in his face. I told my story, artless, you may be assured it was, and on being questioned, I related the history of my peregrinations on that weary day. In a word, the gentleman hired me to sweep the shop and run errands, at the rate of eighteen pence a week, with a promise that, if I gave satisfaction, my wages would in a few months be advanced to two shillings. I was now as happy as a king; my little heart bounded so much, that my bosom seemed scarcely large enough to contain it; I thought myself a man! This was my first step in life. I asked permission to return to my mother; it was granted, and home I hurried. I wish I could now feel the exquisite delight that I experienced then! I found my worthy mother in tears; she thought I had lost my way, or that some dreadful accident had befallen me. In hopes of finding her missing callan, she had searched for me, all over town, in vain, and her weaver relation had been despatched on the same errand, but had not yet returned.
I told my adventures; my kind good hearted mother was as happy as a queen, and caressed me with unspeakable affection. In a very short time, a cog of " parritch" was placed before me, and while I was eagerly devouring my supper, in came the weaver, who, on hearing of my success, predicted that I would be a merchant and a rich man. The prophecy, "merchant and rich man," rung inmy ears; I knew not the meaning of the words, and, timid child as I was, I dared not ask an interpretation—but the prophecy haunted me through life like a shadow—I think I hear it still. That night I dreamed of my adventures, and many pleasing visions floated athwart my sleeping mind. By day-break in the morning I was in the linen draper's shop: there I attended faithfully. To serve and please my employer was my only thought. I remember when Saturday night came, and I went home to my mother with my first earnings—I gave her every fraction, and told her it was her's. She wept for joy. For years I continued in that linen draper's shop. I must have given satisfaction, for my wages were soon increased to two shillings. When I reached my fifteenth year, my employer was so well pleased with my industry and attention, that he made a bargain with my mother, that I should receive five shillings a week, and sufficient "barn" to keep me in shirts, to enable me to appear more respectable. With this my mother was delighted, but I, overheariiig the bargain, said " I dinna understan' the word ' sufficient;' we may hanker about that as weel as the quality, name a given quantity." This precision, I believe, pleased my employer, for he readily consented to give me one piece a year, at the value of nineteen pence a yard. In time I discovered I could do with a less quantity than that specified, and I asked my employer if he would give me in money, the value of the "harn;" he consented, and out of that I saved a small sum yearly—thus you see that at a very early age, I adopted a rule of rigid economy. Every Saturday night I carried the full amount of my earnings to my mother; she still continued to " ca pirns," and never having changed the humble style of living, she had a good many bank notes, hained for a rainy day, as the phrase is. It was about this time, that she showed me her little store, and asked if I did not want to live better, now that I was growing to be a man. I knew not then what it was to live better, and being perfectly satisfied with my condition, I answered in the negative: she wished me to take a sum weekly for pocket money, but never having spent a shilling in my life, I could not conceive what use there was for pocket money. At this time I felt an inward satisfaction, which I could not express, for the prophecy "merchant and rich man" rung louder in my ears, and now that I comprehended the words, I thought I was fairly on the road to fulfil the prediction.
From the conversation of people who frequented my employer's shop, whether to purchase goods or pass an idle hour, I now began to perceive a difference between man and man,—that more attention was paid to one than another. I discovered too, that the opinions of one man claimed more respect than those of another, that his advice was more eagerly sought after, and his wish more implicitly obeyed: I racked my brain to find a cause for this. Though artless and innocent, the mystery was soon revealed—gold was the talisman—yet I was entirely ignorant of the amount it required to make a man rich and respected. This thought perplexed me. About this time having grown stout, (though I was so small, that the callans used to call me familiarly "wee Johnny,") I was often despatched to the houses of customers, with such articles as they might have purchased at the linen draper's shop—then I caught a glance of a splendour, which was entirely new to me. I saw spacious halls, large parlours, covered with beautiful carpets, and filled with elegant furniture: I contrasted my small garret room with the lordly mansion. I live humbly because I am poor, was my thought;—the owner of that house luxuriously because he is rich. This it is tn be i iVii. I too shall be rich and live sumptuously. That evening when I went home to my mother, I told her of my thoughts and the determination I had formed. In amazement she exclaimed, "the chiel's gane clean gyte." Then I imagined, if I were only worth a thousand pounds, I would be independent and outshine the lordliest: I could not conceive of a greater amount of wealth; my mother too thought it was a prodigious sum. I made a notch in the door post of our garret room, exactly as high from the floor as I was tall, and marked there £1000. Now, mother, I said, never shall I rest till I have reached that mark. This, however, only made my mother exclaim the louder " the chiel's gane clean gyte." From that day to this, I have never closed my eyes on a Saturday night, that I was not richer than on the preceding Saturday. I toiled incessantly, and never increased my expenses, but, bent on reaching my mark, I made-many small speculations, which added to my capital; my associates generally were more extravagant than I was—they often wanted money, while I always had some to spare. I lent them small sums from week to week, and from month to month, for a certain premium; I was at the same time assiduous in my attention to business, always picking up something new, always gaining some useful information; at length I became an excellent judge of linens, a good salesman, a tolerable writer, and a correct accountant. I now allowed myself a pint of porter or beer and a spelding on Saturday nights; I felt as if I could afford that luxury, and growing almost to manhood, I thought it necessary for the advancement of my future prospects to mingle with the world. How I did enjoy that Saturday night's repast! When I reached my twenty-first birth day, and entered on the first year of manhood, I had saved and earned some hundred pounds, but I was still a long way from the mark. My wages were now increased to one guinea a week: this was indeed a great sum. My mother now believed I would be a rich man, and did not think me quite so gyte, as in her opinion I was a few years before. When the weaver relation was informed of my good fortune, he exclaimed, with a significant shrug of his shoulders, like all other exceedingly wise people, "I tell't ye that."
I remember well a circumstance that occurred about this time, which was a great incentive to my ambition. One day as I was taking a parcel to the house of a customer, I met in the street a gentleman, a frequent visitor at my employer's shop, and who, while there, always treated me with politeness. I bowed courteously to him: he did not return my salutation. This insult stung me to the heart. I am poor, but proud, said I to myself, you are both rich and proud, and therefore pass me with scorn: I shall live to 3ec the day when I shall be as rich as you are now; and then I shall treat you with as much indignity as you have this day treated me— I have had my revenge O it was then I felt the power that money gives, and the respect it brings to man: yet even then, when I ardently thirsted for wealth, I cursed the grovelling souls who claimed for that alone, the privilege to insult their superiors in heart and mind.
Two or three years after this, being possessed of about five hundred pounds, and moreover being a most essential fixture of the shop, the worthy linen draper proposed to take me into partnership. I told my mother of the offer; she consulted the weaver relation, and on their advice I accepted the proposal. Now I was a merchant; one half of the prophecy was fulfilled. This same weaver relation often said that he was, more by his good advice, than I by my own exertions, the artificer of my fortune: I never disputed the point with him. For a long time I considered that the mark of one thousand pounds would certainly be the acme of my ambition, but the nearer I advanced to that sum, the more my mind wavered. At length I reached it; I was not satisfied. I now made another mark much higher than the last—it was five thousand pounds. This induced my mother to think, that good fortune had again made me gyte; she consulted with her weaver relation, and they both came to the absolute conclusion that I was gyte. Having reached my first mark, I thought I might be warranted in a little improvement in my mode of living; I would no longer permit my worthy mother to "ca' pirns," and I moved into better apartments. Say as you will, the richer a man becomes, the more his taste and desire for luxuries increase. An improved style of living, and a more careful regard to my dress, gradually brought me the respect of my associates, and also of a class of men from whom I little expected it. Mysociety was courted, and my opinion solicited—butnothing could divert my mind from its object—I had set the mark at five thousand pounds. I sought assiduously to accumulate wealth, my object (T may express it in the lines of Burns,) was
"Not for to hide it in a hedge,
Nor for a train attendant;
Of being independent."
Years rolled on. I reached my second mark of five thousand
pounds that did not satisfy me. I told my mother I would make
one mark more, and that certainly the last—it was ten thousand pounds—which whenever I reached, I promised nothing would tempt me farther. She consulted the weaver relation, who told her, that if tver I expected to make so large a fortune, I must go to America, where the air breathed perfume—the trees bore golden fruit, and the streets were paved with diamonds. On hearing this, 1 answered that as much money was to be made within the sound of St Mungo's bell, as either in America or the Indies.
I was now something turned of thirty, and esteemed a rich man —but I never felt younger in all my life. About this time my worthy patron and partner died: I purchased from his widow her interest in the establishment. Now I was sole owner of that shop, which something more than twenty years before, 1 entered a poor, ignorant, and untutored callan. You may wonder that in giving you a sketch of my life, 1 have not said a word of love. The truth '-. 1 lutd no time to spare from the pursuit of my ambition, to devote to courtship. From six in the morning till ten at night I was in the shop—it is an old and a true adage, that nobody can attend to a man's business like himself. I had before the period of which I now treat, seen many beautiful and intelligent faces that gave me a momentary twinge at the heart, but I had no time to bestow on any one those delicate and nameless attentions which captivate the female fancy. Our weaver relation—he was a man of some consequence in his way—had a daughter; she was a beautiful child, and grew up in perfect loveliness. He dwelt in a neighbouring barony, at some distance from my shop, yet often on Sundays after church time, I would visit him. I looked upon his child for a long time more as a daughter than as a sweetheart—for she was ten or fifteen years younger than myself; but when she reached womanhood, ten years or fifteen made no very seeming disparity in our ages—and I believe, that unconsciously, I was a more steady visitor and a kinder in the family than heretofore. The weaver consulted my mother on the subject; both concluded that I seemed to have serious intentions and neither could see any insurmountable objections to the match: still neither would interfere with the matter, but resolved to leave the whole affair to the " young folks."
Isabel was truly a bonny heartsome lassie—and even yet, she is a tolerably good looking woman. I wish I had words to describe her to you, as she appeared to me in her twentieth year: she was the admiration of all, far and near; as modest as timid maiden ever was, and as perfectly unconscious of her charms as a child. She was in stature about the middle height, approaching to what we call sonsie; of such exquisite proportions that a fastidious connoiseur, whose greatest merit is in finding fault, would have been somewhat perplexed in his vocation. Her hair was of light auburn, and fell in delightful ringlets over a neck purer than alabaster. A light blue eye, beamed a cheerful glance on all, and her cheek was more beautiful than the peach—there the rose and lily strove to outvie each other;