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Which Is The Liberal Man?
by [?]

It was a beaming and beautiful summer morning, and the little town of V. was alive with all the hurry and motion of a college commencement. Rows of carriages lined the rural streets, and groups of well-dressed auditors were thronging to the hall of exhibition. All was gayety and animation.

And among them all what heart beat higher with hope and gratified ambition than that of James Stanton? Young, buoyant, prepossessing in person and manners, he was this day, in the presence of all the world, to carry off the highest palm of scholarship in his institution, and to receive, on the threshold of the great world, the utmost that youthful ambition can ask before it enters the arena of actual life. Did not his pulse flutter, and his heart beat thick, when he heard himself announced in the crowded house as the valedictorian of the day? when he saw aged men, and fair, youthful faces, ruddy childhood, and sober, calculating manhood alike bending in hushed and eager curiosity, to listen to his words? Nay, did not his heart rise in his throat as he caught the gleam of his father’s eye, while, bending forward on his staff, with white, reverend locks falling about his face, he listened to the voice of his pride–his first born? And did he not see the glistening tears in his mother’s eye, as with rapt ear she hung upon his every word? Ah, the young man’s first triumph! When, full of confidence and hope, he enters the field of life, all his white glistening as yet unsoiled by the dust of the combat, the unproved world turning towards him with flatteries and promises in both hands, what other triumph does life give so fresh, so full, so replete with hope and joy? So felt James Stanton this day, when he heard his father congratulated on having a son of such promise; when old men, revered for talents and worth, shook hands with him, and bade him warmly God speed in the course of life; when bright eyes cast glances of favor, and from among the fairest were overheard whispers of admiration.

“Your son is designed for the bar, I trust,” said the venerable Judge L. to the father of James, at the commencement dinner. “I have seldom seen a turn of mind better fitted for success in the legal profession. And then his voice! his manner! let him go to the bar, sir, and I prophesy that he will yet outdo us all.”

And this was said in James’s hearing, and by one whose commendation was not often so warmly called forth. It was not in any young heart not to beat quicker at such prospects. Honor, station, wealth, political ambition, all seemed to offer themselves to his grasp; but long ere this, in the solitude of retirement, in the stillness of prayer and self-examination, the young graduate had vowed himself to a different destiny; and if we may listen to a conversation, a few evenings after commencement, with a classmate, we shall learn more of the secret workings of his mind.

“And so, Stanton,” said George Lennox to him, as they sat by their evening fireside, “you have not yet decided whether to accept Judge L.’s offer or not.”

“I have decided that matter long ago,” said James.

“So, then, you choose the ministry.”

“Yes.”

“Well, for my part,” replied George Lennox, “I choose the law. There must be Christians, you know, in every vocation; the law seems to suit my turn of mind. I trust it will be my effort to live as becomes a Christian, whatever be my calling.”

“I trust so,” replied James.

“But really, Stanton,” added the other, after some thought, “it seems a pity to cast away such prospects as open before you. You know your tuition is offered gratis; and then the patronage of Judge L., and such influences as he can command to secure your success–pray, do not these things seem to you like a providential indication that the law is to be your profession? Besides, here in these New England States, the ministry is overflowed already–ministers enough, and too many, if one may judge by the number of applicants for every unoccupied place.”