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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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CHAPTER XXIV. Arrival at New York, and departure therefrom; with many other matters.

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As soon as I landed, I hastened immediately
to the office of Marisett & Co., in South street.
I found Mr. Bargin dressed as neatly, and looking
as stately as ever. He expressed a great
deal of pleasure at seeing me, and inquired
very coolly about the cotton market in New Orleans.

I cast my eyes towards Mr. Garvey's desk; it
was covered with dust, and appeared to have been
some time without an occupant. Mr. Marisett's
mahogany arm chair was wheeled up into one corner,
and his desk was closed. I shook my head,
and remarked, that “a very few months had effected
very great changes.”

“Quite so,” replied Mr. Bargin.

I inquired after all the clerks in the office, and
then, last of all, I inquired after those who were
first in my affections.

“And Mr. Marisett? Is he well?” I said.

“Very much so, or at least he was when he
left,” said Mr. Bargin.

“Left!” I said; “pray has he gone?”

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“It is more than a month since he left,” replied
Mr. Bargin,

“Of course he will soon return?” said I, inquiringly.

But Mr. Bargin shrugged his shoulders ominously.
“I am afraid,” he said, “I shall never
see him again. His reverses have completely upset
him; he will never be fit to do business again,
at all events.”

“And where has he gone?” I asked.

Mr. Bargin shrugged his shoulders again, and
said, “no one knows here where he has gone; he
would tell nobody; he assigned all his property
for the benefit of his creditors, and they discharged
him from his liabilities. I never saw a man
so completely broke down; he couldn't survive
the loss of his credit, and he went off in search
of an unfrequented spot, where he could end his
days in quiet; where there would be nothing to
remind him of his misfortunes.”

“Of course, Miss De Lancey remains in NewYork,”
I said.

“No; she would go with him, contrary to the
advice of her friends,” said Mr. Bargin, coolly.

How my heart sunk at this intelligence! “Melancholy!
melancholy fate!” I exclaimed, unconsciously.

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“Very much so, indeed,” said Mr. Bargin,
“but it was as well for her to go. She had lost
all her property; her uncle had employed it in
a speculation, in which every copper was used up;
and she, woman-like, would stick by him in his

“Happy, happy man,” I said, “to have a gentle
spirit like hers to console him.”

I inquired after Mrs. Butler, and having obtained
her address, I bade Mr. Bargin good day,
and went in search of the old housekeeper. I
found her in the upper part of the city; she was
delighted at seeing me, and although she could tell
me many things about Georgiana and Mr. Marisett,
yet she could give me no information respecting
their present place of abode. Neither could I discover
from any other source the least clue to their

I was occupied almost a week in settling my
affairs with Mr. Bargin; and after I had arranged
my business with him, I renewed my endeavors to
discover the retreat of those who were most dear
to me, but without success. The obstacle which
had previously existed, to prevent my union with
Miss De Lancey, was now, I hoped, removed; the
scales had fallen from my eyes, my tongue was
loosed, and my ears were unsealed. But I did

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not repine that an obstacle still existed to prevent
that which I wished for so fervently; if we could
not be united here, I had a blissful hope that we
should be united hereafter. It was some consolation
to me to frequent those places which had been
hallowed by the presence of Georgiana; but most
of all, the abodes of poverty and wretchedness,
where I accompanied her when she went to dispense
her charities. I went in search, one day,
of the wretched hovel where I had seen her, from
my place of concealment, kneel down at the bedside
of the dying woman, and pour out her soul
in prayer. The former occupants of the place
were gone, and its present tenants were hardly
less wretched. I gave them my mite, and left
them. As I came out of the narrow passage
which led into the hovel, I met a shabbily dressed
man, whose aspect had in it something of gentility,
notwithstanding his rags and dirt. As soon as
he perceived me, he exclaimed,

“Where in the world did you come from?
How are you; how do you do? I have called at
Mr. Stewpy's fifty times, but without ever seeing
you. Let Rome in Tiber melt.”

It was the poet, the author of the ballad; he
opened his arms as if he would embrace me, but I
contented myself with a shake of the hand. He

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did not look quite as respectable as he did when
I saw him last. His coat was more than thread
bare, and it was buttoned close up to his throat,
or rather pinned up, for the top buttons were all
gone; his gloves were ragged, and his boots were
heel-less; his cap, as usual, was drawn very much
over his eyes.

“I have been very anxious to see you,” said
the poet; “I want to read you a serious composition
of mine. My ballad was criticized most awfully.
The fact is, sir, the age is not yet prepared
for those things; it is a sad thing to be in advance
of the age; it is much better for one's own comfort,
to be behind it. To be in advance of the
age, is to be an advanced guard; you are sure of
getting the first compliments of the enemy, while
those who are in the rear, or in the baggage
wagons, generally meet with a safe deliverance.
But I flatter myself I have this time got into the
main body of the army. I have taken to serious
writing; the world, I believe, is getting pious.
But this is an unpleasant place to talk in; we shall
get upset by a litter of pigs; let us walk in here
and sit down.”

So saying, the poet led the way into a door,
over which was suspended an enormously large red

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ball, on which was emblazoned the word O Y ST
E R S.

This place was one of those licensed nurseries,
which are under the particular protection of the
Mayor and Aldermen of the city, and without
which the office of a police magistrate would soon
become a sinecure; black eyes and red noses
would soon go out of fashion, and perhaps fewer
heart-broken wives would be beaten by their husbands,
and fewer children starve, from the neglect
of their parents. But these are not matters of
much importance; a few thousands of men and
women cheated of their rightful happiness in this
world, and endangered in their prospects of happiness
hereafter, cannot materially affect the public
at large. The corporation derives a revenue
from licensing places of this kind, and the vote of
a brothel keeper is as good as a banker's.

Miserable, filthy abodes they are, where every
thing that is mean, and vicious, and brutalizing,
may be seen. Vice can hardly be said to spring
up in such places, for it must have attained to its
full growth before it could seek such a spot. The
whole aspect of the place which we entered, was
blear eyed; the atmosphere was impregnated with
the fumes of tobacco, mingled with a thousand
congenial odors; the inmates of the hole were

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pale and sickly, and a young man, dressed in filthy
finery, was standing behind the bar to wait upon
customers. Mirth, cheerfulness, and good-fellowship,
were strangers here; and contentment, with
his honest face, and charity, with her open hands,
had never crossed the threshold of the door. A
placard, stuck upon the walls, conveyed the intelligence
that this was the democratic head quarters
of the ward.

“Don't be alarmed, Mister,” said the poet, addressing
himself to the bar-keeper, “I am not going
to preach; I am not one of those pious individuals,
who having repented of his own sins, has
nothing to do but to rebuke the evil doings of
others;” and then turning to me, he said, “button
up your pockets, and keep your hand upon
your watch; these are none of your Bulwerian
scoundrels, who talk sentiment and pick your
pockets, but regular honest rascals, who pretend
to be no better than they really are.”

The poet sat down, and taking off his cap,
drew therefrom a small roll of paper, and recited
the following lines, premising first, that he cared
nothing at all about newspaper critics.

“Why should I?” said the poet; “did not
all the great luminaries in the literary world attain
to their perihelion before the press itself had an

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existence? and now the press sets up for a dispenser
of fame; but presumption is the sin of a

An old man blind and gray,
Waiting in hope his Saviour's face to see,
When his allotted hours should pass away,
And set him free.
A young man strong and fair,
His dream of life in youth's warm colors traced,
His vision bounded by the earth, and there
His hopes were based.
Thus spake the youth: “old man
High in the Heavens the sun is shining now,—
As when his first diurnal course he ran,—
Gilding thy brow,
“Crowning thy head with light;
Yet his revealings fair thou canst not scan,
This summer day to thee is blackest night,
Alas, old man!
“Myriads of beauteous flowers,
Of myriad hues, in this fair scene abound,
And fields of ripening grain, and pleasant bowers,
Are all around.
“And flocks of snowy sheep,
Like fleecy clouds which sometimes dot the sky,
Upon you hillock's green and gentle steep,
Are feeding nigh.
“And frolic children gay,
A troop of loves from tedious school turned out,
Hark! as they vig'rous hasten to their play,
They joyous shout.

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“The distant city's spires,
Dim in the horizon, just meet the view,
And dusky smoke, raised from a thousand fires,
Looks aerial blue.
“And hast thou never known
A bright joy-giving scene, old man, like this,
Or hast thou groped in darkness all alone,
Deprived of bliss.
“And hast thou never seen
God's best bestowal, worthless all beside,
Earth's fairest flower, man's heart-enthroned queen,
Helpmeet and bride.”
“Aught of this goodly earth,”
Thus spake the Eld; “to me was ne'er revealed,
By sense of sight, mine eyes were, at my birth,
In darkness sealed.
“Nought have I ever seen,
Not e'en the lineaments of my own race,
Never a look of love, nor, thought most keen!
A mother's face.
“But let not pity's sigh
For me be breathed, nor pity's tear be shed,
Although I cannot see the bright blue sky
Above me spread.
“For God hath goodness shown,
In giving darkness for my portion here;
And distant glories to my faith made known
In visions clear.
“My soul awaits that day,
When the first object that my eyes shall see,—
My spirit freed from this all blinding clay,—
My God shall be.”

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As he repeated the concluding stanzas, to give
impressiveness to them, he struck his fist fiercely
on the table, which was in the centre of the room,
and with such force that he disturbed the dreamy
fancies of a man who had been snoring with his
head resting on a pile of newspapers; he started
up, and looking round, muttered a curse on the
intruder who had roused him from his sleep. The
voice startled me; I looked at the man—it was
my scornful cousin! But he was strangely altered
in his appearance; his dress was shabby, and
his face pale and haggard; his eyes were red, and
his long black hair gave him a singularly wild and
desperate look.

I could not help exclaiming, “can it be possible
that you have come to this!”

“Who is that,” he cried, starting upon his feet;
“ha! is it you? What in the name of h—
brought you here?”

What a luxury it would have been to my evil
heart once, to have encountered him thus; but now
my pride of heart was gone; I no longer envied
him, and how could I exult over him in his degradation?
I could not, and my heart smote me
for having nursed a passion of hatred against him.
He was my cousin, and I could freely forgive him
the wrong he had done me. I advanced towards

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him with my hand extended, but he caught hold
of a chair, and raising it above his head, said,
“don't come near me; don't lay the weight of
your finger upon me, or I will kill you this time.”
And so saying, he would, perhaps, have put his
threat into execution; but the poet jumped in between
us, and the bar-keeper leaped over the bar
and caught hold of my arm, although I had not
made the slightest attempt at defence. A slight
scuffle ensued, which caused a mob of negroes
and noisy women to collect about the door, but
I contrived to extricate myself, and make my
escape, without any serious damage to my person,
although I suffered some in my clothes.

On my return to my lodgings, I found letters
from home; they were full of pleasant news, and
one of them, from my father, contained a considerable
remittance in bank bills. It appeared that,
notwithstanding the hard times, the improvements
in our village had been carried on; the track of a
railroad had been carried through my father's
garden, which had enhanced the value of his property
almost a hundred fold; a joint stock company
had purchased the family mansion, and altered
it into a classic temple, by adding a row of wooden
pillars and a pediment, and giving it a coat of
white paint; it had been christened Franco Hall,

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and lithographed views of it were hung up in all
the taverns in the county, and my sister wrote that
it was to be in one of the annuals. My father had
suddenly become a man of consequence, and there
were rumors of his being nominated for Congress.
It is wonderful how soon a man's abilities are discovered,
when it is known that he has made a
fortunate speculation.

I must acknowledge that I was not altogether
indifferent to this accession of wealth in the family,
for although the estimate which I once put upon
worldly prosperity was greatly reduced, I was
by no means insensible to the advantages which
a moderate competence confers; and more especially
at this time, I could not but reflect on the
happiness it would give me, if it should ever be
in my power to render any aid to my benefactor
and my friend. I hardly dared to trust myself to
think of Georgiana, for my heart bled at the bare
idea of her ever being in want.

The news I had received from home, made me
more anxious than ever to see my parents and my
sister, but I could not prevail upon myself to leave
New York until I had gained some intelligence of
Mr. Marisett and his niece; but week after week
wore away, and all my exertions proved fruitless.
At last I was on the point of abandoning the hope

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of ever hearing from them again, when I discovered,
by a lucky accident, that Georgiana had inherited,
from a relation of her father's, a small estate
in North Carolina; thither I doubted not she had
gone with her uncle; in what part of the state her
property was located, I knew not, but I determined
on setting out immediately to discover. It was
enough for me to know that there was a probability
of her being in the state; it appeared an easy
matter to visit every town in it, and indeed every
house, until I discovered her. I told Mr. Bargin
of my intentions, and he endeavored to dissuade
me from attempting to carry my plan into execution.
He advised me to write to every post master
in the state, and make inquiries concerning
them; but my heart yearned after them, and I
could not wait for so tedious a messenger as the
mail. A steamboat was to leave for Charleston in
the morning, and without heeding his advice, I
engaged a passage in her, intending to commence
at the southern extremity of the state, and so travel
northwards on horseback, until I should meet with
the object of my search. Assuredly it was a wild
undertaking; but any thing would have seemed
reasonable and easy of performance, if Georgiana
had been the object to be obtained by its accomplishment.

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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