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Aunt Mary
by [?]

Since sketching character is the mode, I too take up my pencil, not to make you laugh, though peradventure it may be–to get you to sleep.

I am now a tolerably old gentleman–an old bachelor, moreover–and, what is more to the point, an unpretending and sober-minded one. Lest, however, any of the ladies should take exceptions against me in the very outset, I will merely remark, en passant, that a man can sometimes become an old bachelor because he has too much heart as well as too little.

Years ago–before any of my readers were born–I was a little good-for-nought of a boy, of precisely that unlucky kind who are always in every body’s way, and always in mischief. I had, to watch over my uprearing, a father and mother, and a whole army of older brothers and sisters. My relatives bore a very great resemblance to other human beings, neither good angels nor the opposite class, but, as mathematicians say, “in the mean proportion.”

As I have before insinuated, I was a sort of family scape-grace among them, and one on whose head all the domestic trespasses were regularly visited, either by real, actual desert or by imputation.

For this order of things, there was, I confess, a very solid and serious foundation, in the constitution of my mind. Whether I was born under some cross-eyed planet, or whether I was fairy-smitten in my cradle, certain it is that I was, from the dawn of existence, a sort of “Murad the Unlucky;” an out-of-time, out-of-place, out-of-form sort of a boy, with whom nothing prospered.

Who always left open doors in cold weather? It was Henry. Who was sure to upset his coffee cup at breakfast, or to knock over his tumbler at dinner, or to prostrate saltcellar, pepper box, and mustard pot, if he only happened to move his arm? Why, Henry. Who was plate breaker general for the family? It was Henry. Who tangled mamma’s silks and cottons, and tore up the last newspaper for papa, or threw down old Ph[oe]be’s clothes horse, with all her clean ironing thereupon? Why, Henry.

Now all this was no “malice prepense” in me, for I solemnly believe that I was the best-natured boy in the world; but something was the matter with the attraction of cohesion, or the attraction of gravitation–with the general dispensation of matter around me–that, let me do what I would, things would fall down, and break, or be torn and damaged, if I only came near them; and my unluckiness in any matter seemed in exact proportion to my carefulness.

If any body in the room with me had a headache, or any kind of nervous irritability, which made it particularly necessary for others to be quiet, and if I was in an especial desire unto the same, I was sure, while stepping around on tiptoe, to fall headlong over a chair, which would give an introductory push to the shovel, which would fall upon the tongs, which would animate the poker, and all together would set in action two or three sticks of wood, and down they would come together, with just that hearty, sociable sort of racket, which showed that they were disposed to make as much of the opportunity as possible.

In the same manner, every thing that came into my hand, or was at all connected with me, was sure to lose by it. If I rejoiced in a clean apron in the morning, I was sure to make a full-length prostration thereupon on my way to school, and come home nothing better, but rather worse. If I was sent on an errand, I was sure either to lose my money in going, or my purchases in returning; and on these occasions my mother would often comfort me with the reflection, that it was well that my ears were fastened to my head, or I should lose them too. Of course, I was a fair mark for the exhortatory powers, not only of my parents, but of all my aunts, uncles, and cousins, to the third and fourth generation, who ceased not to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.