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Let Every Man Mind His Own Business
by [?]

It was not until the cares and duties of a mother began to confine her at home, that she first felt, with a startling sensation of fear, that there was an alteration in her husband, though even then the change was so shadowy and indefinite that it could not be defined by words.

It was known by that quick, prophetic sense which reveals to the heart of woman the first variation in the pulse of affection, though it be so slight that no other touch can detect it.

Edward was still fond, affectionate, admiring; and when he tendered her all the little attentions demanded by her situation, or caressed and praised his beautiful son, she felt satisfied and happy. But when she saw that, even without her, the convivial circle had its attractions, and that he could leave her to join it, she sighed, she scarce knew why. “Surely,” she said, “I am not so selfish as to wish to rob him of pleasure because I cannot enjoy it with him. But yet, once he told me there was no pleasure where I was not. Alas! is it true, what I have so often heard, that such feelings cannot always last?”

Poor Augusta! she knew not how deep reason she had to fear. She saw not the temptations that surrounded her husband in the circles where to all the stimulus of wit and intellect was often added the zest of wine, used far too freely for safety.

Already had Edward become familiar with a degree of physical excitement which touches the very verge of intoxication; yet, strong in self-confidence, and deluded by the customs of society, he dreamed not of danger. The traveller who has passed above the rapids of Niagara may have noticed the spot where the first white sparkling ripple announces the downward tendency of the waters. All here is brilliancy and beauty; and as the waters ripple and dance in the sunbeam, they seem only as if inspired by a spirit of new life, and not as hastening to a dreadful fall. So the first approach to intemperance, that ruins both body and soul, seems only like the buoyancy and exulting freshness of a new life, and the unconscious voyager feels his bark undulating with a thrill of delight, ignorant of the inexorable hurry, the tremendous sweep, with which the laughing waters urge him on beyond the reach of hope or recovery.

It was at this period in the life of Edward that one judicious and manly friend, who would have had the courage to point out to him the danger that every one else perceived, might have saved him. But among the circle of his acquaintances there was none such. ” Let every man mind his own business ” was their universal maxim. True, heads were gravely shaken, and Mr. A. regretted to Mr. B. that so promising a young man seemed about to ruin himself. But one was ” no relation,” of Edward’s, and the other “felt a delicacy in speaking on such a subject,” and therefore, according to a very ancient precedent, they “passed by on the other side.” Yet it was at Mr. A.’s sideboard, always sparkling with the choicest wine, that he had felt the first excitement of extra stimulus; it was at Mr. B.’s house that the convivial club began to hold their meetings, which, after a time, found a more appropriate place in a public hotel. It is thus that the sober, the regular, and the discreet, whose constitution saves them from liabilities to excess, will accompany the ardent and excitable to the very verge of danger, and then wonder at their want of self-control.

It was a cold winter evening, and the wind whistled drearily around the closed shutters of the parlor in which Augusta was sitting. Every thing around her bore the marks of elegance and comfort.