[Narrative] “Another Story for Boys,” by Orpha (from The Youth’s Companion, January 7, 1846; p. 142)
In a wealthy and flourishing town on the Connecticut river a number of years ago, might be seen a delightfully pleasant village, one long, level street, with rows of two story white houses, arranging regularly on each side of it for a mile in length; fine elm trees also, have been placed with some regard to regularity, in rows on each side of the road through the whole extent, giving it in summer a very rural appearance; and as they have now become so large, that the branches nearly touch each other, they afford not only a pleasant shade for the inhabitants, but a place of resort for the merry songsters of the air; so that those who have a taste for it, have one source of enjoyment, quite unusual in a village.
In this place lived a number of boys, whose parents were quite wealthy. One of these boys, whom we shall call Elijah Wardsworth, was an only son, and heir to a very large property. His parents who were very ambitious were determined to have their darling make a figure in the world; they gave him from his earliest years, every advantage that money could procure. They designed to give him a collegiate education, and fit him for the bar. Their prospects did indeed seem fair, for Elijah was an active boy, of good intellectual powers, and uncommon personal beauty.
With these advantages, it is no wonder that he became the leader of all the boys in the village, taking the precedence which was readily yielded him by the boys, in all their sports. On one thanksgiving season, Elijah who had been absent at school, returned home. The day after, (for in those days the boys did not think of meeting for play on thanksgiving day;) the village boys assembled for a frolic; and many a wild prank was played off—displaying their activity. While they were engaged in their play, they saw Gustave Humot coming towards them.
Now, Gustave did not belong in the village, but in a part of the town, where the people were mostly poor. His father was a poor, but respectable man, and Gustave was a smart intelligent boy, in no respect inferior to the village boys; but they looked down with contempt on the plain people who lived in the outskirts of the town; and such nicknames were given to the different portions of it, as suited the fancy of those who wished to show their importance in that way. To the part where Gustave lived, the name of Little-hope had been given; and the village boys thought it quite beneath them, to associate with one from this place. As soon therefore, as they saw him, they ran, headed by Elijah into a building to which they had access, and fastened the door. Gustave did not understand their feelings, and attempted to go in; but he heard a young voice saying, “we don’t go with Little hopers!”
Gustave could hear no more; but left them, and returned immediately home. When he saw his mother he burst into tears, and told her all his trouble; she endeavored to sooth his wounded feelings, and took that occasion to point out to him the folly and sinfulness of pride, showing him how easily it creeps into our depraved hearts, and how offensive it is in the sight of God; reminding him that it was one of the sins, though not the main one, that brought down that shower of fire on Sodom and the cities of the plain; and that the Bible says, “The lofty look he bringeth it low,—he bringeth it low, even with the ground.” There are many cases in the Bible, with which every child should be familiar, that shows the fulfilment of the above prediction. Instance Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and Hezekiah, king of Israel; and then Gustave was told carefully to guard his heart against this sin, should he ever be in a situation in which he would be tempted to yield to it, yet he was also told that a desire to make himself respectable in the world was not sinful; and that in order to become so, he must be very diligent in his studies, and faithful in the performance of whatever business he engaged in; that knowledge was the sure road to honor and preferment; if that was acquired, combined with industry and a blameless life, the pride of boys or men, would never reach him. In this she was doubtless correct, although we often see men obtain knowledge, and consequently become what the world calls respectable, without that holiness of heart which God requires, and which only can render us acceptable in his sight.
We have no evidence that Gustave had at that time any desires to obtain a new and holy heart, and a knowledge of the Saviour, whose favor is far better than any good this world can bestow—whose loving kindness is better than life, yea, life itself; but he determined to have knowledge, that he might make himself respectable in the world; and from this time, he showed a fixed purpose from which he has never since been turned aside; namely, to study, study. His father perceived his fondness for books, gave up the intention he had formed of putting him to a trade, gave him his time, and rendered him all the assistance in his power.
Gustave found places in the village where he could do chores night and morning for his board and attendance at the Academy. As he grew older, he taught common schools in winter, and thus obtained money for books and clothing; and a few years from the time we have named, he might have been seen teaching the village school, and instructing the brothers of those “who would not associate with a Little-hoper.”
When he had obtained a thorough English education, he attended to Latin and such other branches as were necessary to fit him for a medical profession. He then commenced the study of medicine with a physician of high standing in his own town; and his proficiency gave promise of future eminence. He was, however, by no means easy to learn, for he had not a retentive memory, and had to make up the deficiency in this respect by diligence and close application. He soon stood high in the estimation of those with whom he was acquainted; all were ready to acknowledge him, as one of the most promising young men in the town. Some even went so far as to “guess,” he might one day make as great a man as Elijah Wardsworth. He finished his studies with honor to himself, obtained his diploma at the medical college in Pittsfield, and commenced practice in a country town, with fair prospects.
Gustave is now an eminent physician and surgeon, is married to an accomplished woman, and beloved by those who know him. He is still a close student, though he may be often seen in the evening, sitting in his well furnished parlor, accompanying the sweet strains of his wife’s piano, with his manly voice; or giving instruction to a bright little boy and girl, who call him father.
And now our young friends would no doubt like to hear again from Elijah Wardsworth; but as we have not time to give you his history in detail, you must be satisfied to learn, that he finished his collegiate course, was admitted to the bar, married an interesting young lady, practiced law awhile; forsook it; commenced mercantile business, failed, and nearly ruined his father, who was responsible for him. His father then refused to do any thing for him, unless he would remain with him, and not attempt to do business for himself. He was too proud to do this; he raised money sufficient to carry himself and wife to one of the southern states, and again commenced the practice of law; but he had, when a mere child, acquired a fondness for cards and wine; and his indulgence of these vices, had greatly accelerated his downfall. Now that he was away from the restraint of home and friends, soured by his disappointments, he gave the reins to his appetites; regardless alike of his young wife’s distress, his own reputation, or his eternal well-being, he plunged headlong into the intoxicating bowl, and died, a miserable drunkard, before he was thirty years of age, leaving his heart broken wife destitute, in a land of strangers. Thus we see, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”