Mr. Francis, said the head clerk, with his usual formal inclination of the head, and a slight elevation of his right hand, which he had acquired by a habit of sticking his pen behind his ear before he spokeMr. Francis seems to understand the fundamental principle of all moral accounting, the great ethic rule of three. Let A do to B as he would have B do to him; the product will give the rule of conduct required.
My father smiled at this reduction of the golden rule to arithmetical form, but instantly proceeded.
All this signifies nothing, Frank; you have been throwing away your time like a boy, and in future you must learn to live like a man. I shall put you under Owens care for a few months, to recover the lost ground.
I was about to reply, but Owen looked at me with such a supplicatory and warning gesture, that I was involuntarily silent.
We will then, continued my father, resume the subject of mine of the 1st ultimo, to which you sent me an answer which was unadvised and unsatisfactory. So now, fill your glass, and push the bottle to Owen.
Want of courageof audacity, if you willwas never my failing. I answered firmly, I was sorry that my letter was unsatisfactory, unadvised it was not; for I had given the proposal his goodness had made me my instant and anxious attention, and it was with no small pain that I found myself obliged to decline it.
My father bent his keen eye for a moment on me, and instantly withdrew it. As he made no answer, I thought myself obliged to proceed, though with some hesitation, and he only interrupted me by monosyllables.
It is impossible, sir, for me to have higher respect for any character than I have for the commercial, even were it not yours.
It connects nation with nation, relieves the wants, and contributes to the wealth of all; and is to the general commonwealth of the civilised world what the daily intercourse of ordinary life is to private society, or rather, what air and food are to our bodies.
And yet, sir, I find myself compelled to persist in declining to adopt a character which I am so ill qualified to support.
I will take care that you acquire the qualifications necessary. You are no longer the guest and pupil of Dubourg.
But, my dear sir, it is no defect of teaching which I plead, but my own inability to profit by instruction.
Nonsense; have you kept your journal in the terms I desired?
Be pleased to bring it here.
The volume thus required was a sort of commonplace book, kept by my fathers recommendation, in which I had been directed to enter notes of the miscellaneous information which I had acquired in the course of my studies. Foreseeing that he would demand inspection of this record, I had been attentive to transcribe such particulars of information as he would most likely be pleased with, but too often the pen had discharged the task without much correspondence with the head. And it had also happened, that, the book being the receptacle nearest to my hand, I had occasionally jotted down memoranda
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