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13. All have had, and still have their foibles; all have some possession, upon which they pride themselves, and I was proud of my jack-knife! Spirit of Socrates', forgive me! was there no pride in dying like a philosopher'? Spirit of Demosthenes', forgive me! was there no pride in your addresses to the boundless and roaring ocean'? Spirit of David'! was there no pride in the deadly hurling of the smooth pebble, which sank deep into the forehead of your enemy'?
14. But I must take my jack-knife and cut short this digression. Let no man say this or that occurrence "will make no difference fifty years hence," a common, but dangerous phrase. I am now a man of three-score years. I can point my finger here to my ships, there to my warehouse. My name is well known in two hemispheres. I have drank deeply of intellectual pleasures, have served my country in many important stations, have had my gains and my losses.
15. I have seen many, who started with fairer prospects, but with no compass, wrecked before me; but I have been impelled in my operations, no matter how extensive, by the same spirit which conceived and executed the purchase of the jack-knife. And I have found my reward in it; and, perhaps, in after years, there will be those who will say that the predictions of my father were fulfilled in their case; and that, from small beginnings, by "honesty, selfdenial, well-directed industry, and perseverance," they, also, BECAME TRULY
QUESTIONS-1. How did this boy obtain his first jack-knife? 2. What did his father say to him, when he told how he had earned it? 3. What use did he make of his knife? 4. What is said about aristocracy? 5. What is said of this boy when he came to be three-score years old ?
1. CAPTAIN JOHN HULL was the mint-master of Massachusetts, and coined all the money that was made there. This was a new line of business; for, in the earlier days of the colony, the current coinage consisted of gold and silver money of England, Portugal, and Spain.
2. These coins being scarce, the people were often forced to barter their commodities, instead of selling them. For instance, if a man wanted to buy a coat, he, perhaps, exchanged a bear-skin for it. If he wished for a barrel of molasses, he might purchase it with a pile of pine-boards. Musket-bullets were used instead of farthings.
3. The Indians had a sort of money, called wampum, which was made of clam-shells; and this strange sort of specie was, likewise, taken in payment of debts, by the English settlers. Bank-bills had never been heard of. There was not money enough of any kind, in many parts of the country, to pay the salaries of the ministers; so that they sometimes had to take quintals of fish, bushels of corn, or cords of wood, instead of silver or gold.
4. As the people grew more numerous, and their trade one with another increased, the want of current money was still more sensibly felt. To supply the demand, the general
court passed a law for establishing a coinage of shillings, sixpences, and threepences. Captain John Hull was appointed to manufacture this money, and was to have one shilling, out of every twenty, to pay him for the trouble of making them.
5. Hereupon, all the old silver in the colony was handed over to Captain John Hull. The battered silver cans, and tankards, and silver-buckles, and broken spoons, and silverbuttons of worn-out coats, and silver hilts of swords that had figured at courts, all such curious old articles were, doubtless, thrown into the melting-pot together.
But by far the greater part of the silver consisted of bullion from the mines of South America, which the English buccaneers, (who were little better than pirates,) had taken from the Spaniards, and brought to Massachusetts.
6. All this old and new silver being melted down and coined, the result was an immense amount of splendid shillings, sixpences, and threepences. Each had the date, 1652, on the one side, and the figure of a pine-tree on the other. Hence, they were called pine-tree shillings. And, for every twenty shillings that he coined, you will remember, Captain John Hull was entitled to put one shilling into his own ⚫ pocket.
7. The magistrates soon began to suspect that the mintmaster would have the best of the bargain. They offered him a large sum of money, if he would but give up that twentieth shilling, which he was continually dropping into his own pocket. But Captain Hull declared himself perfectly satisfied with the shilling. And well he might be; for, so diligently did he labor, that, in a few years, his pockets, his money-bags, and his strong box, were overflowing with pine-tree shillings. This was probably the case when he came into possession of Grandfather's chair; and,
as he had worked so hard at the mint, it was certainly proper that he should have a comfortable chair to rest himself in.
8. When the mint-master had grown very rich, a young man, Samuel Sewell by name, fell in love with his only daughter. His daughter, whom we will call Betsey, was a fine, hearty damsel, by no means so slender as some young ladies of our own days. As Samuel was a young man of good character, industrious in his business, and a member of the church, the mint-master very readily gave his consent.
9. "Yes; you may take her," said he, in his rough way; "and you'll find her a heavy burden enough!" On the wedding-day, we may suppose that honest John Hull dressed himself in a plum-colored coat, all the buttons of which were made of pine-tree shillings. The buttons of his waistcoat were sixpences; and the knees of his small-clothes were buttoned with silver threepences.
10. Thus attired, he sat with great dignity in Grandfather's chair; and, being a portly old gentleman, he completely filled it from elbow to elbow. On the opposite side of the room, between her bridemaids, sat Miss Betsey, blushing like a full-blown piony.
11. There, too, was the bridegroom, dressed in a fine purple coat, and gold-lace waistcoat, with as much other finery as the Puritan laws and customs would allow him to put on. His hair was cropped close to his head, because Governor Endicott had forbidden any man to wear it below the ears. But he was a very personable young man; and so thought the bridemaids and Miss Betsey herself.
12. The mint-master, also, was pleased with his new sonin-law; especially as he had courted Miss Betsey out of pure love, and had said nothing at all about her portion. So, when the marriage ceremony was over, Captain Hull
whispered a word to two of his men-servants, who immediately went out, and soon returned, lugging in a large pair of scales. They were such a pair as wholesale merchants use for weighing bulky commodities; and quite a bulky commodity was now to be weighed in them.
13: "Daughter Betsey," said the mint-master, " get into oe side of these scales." Miss Betsey, or Mrs. Sewell, as we must now call her, did as she was bid, like a dutiful child, without any question of the why and wherefore. But what her father could mean, unless to make her husband pay for her by the pound, (in which case she would have been a dear bargain,) she had not the least idea.
14. "And now," said honest John Hull to the servants, "bring that box hither." The box, to which the mintmaster pointed, was a huge, square, iron-bound, oaken chest. The servants tugged with might and main; but could not lift this enormous receptacle, and were finally obliged to drag it across the floor.
15. Captain Hull then took a key from his girdle, unlocked the chest, and lifted its ponderous lid. Behold! it was full to the brim of bright pine-tree shillings, fresh from the mint; and Samuel Sewell began to think that his father-in-law had got possession of all the money in the Massachusetts' treasury. But it was only the mint-master's honest share of the coinage.
16. Then the servants, at Captain Hull's command, heaped double handfuls of shillings into one side of the scales, while Betsey remained in the other. Jingle, jingle, went the shillings, as handful after handful was thrown in, till, plump and ponderous as she was, they fairly weighed the young lady from the floor.
17. 66 There, son Samuel," said the honest mint-master, resuming his seat in Grandfather's chair, take these shil