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Which Is The Liberal Man?
by [?]

“Nay,” replied James, “my place is not here. I know, if all accounts are true, that my profession is not overflowed in our Western States, and there I mean to go.”

“And is it possible that you can contemplate such an entire sacrifice of your talents, your manners, your literary and scientific tastes, your capabilities for refined society, as to bury yourself in a log cabin in one of our new states? You will never be appreciated there; your privations and sacrifices will be entirely disregarded, and you placed on a level with the coarsest and most uneducated sectaries. I really do not think you are called to this.”

“Who, then, is called?” replied James.

“Why, men with much less of all these good things–men with real coarse, substantial, backwoods furniture in their minds, who will not appreciate, and of course not feel, the want of all the refinements and comforts which you must sacrifice.”

“And are there enough such men ready to meet the emergencies in our western world, so that no others need be called upon?” replied James. “Men of the class you speak of may do better than I; but, if after all their efforts I still am needed, and can work well, ought I not to go? Must those only be drafted for religious enterprises to whom they involve no sacrifice?”

“Well, for my part,” replied the other, “I trust I am willing to do any thing that is my duty; yet I never could feel it to be my duty to bury myself in a new state, among stumps and log cabins. My mind would rust itself out; and, missing the stimulus of such society as I have been accustomed to, I should run down completely, and be useless in body and in mind.”

“If you feel so, it would be so,” replied James. “If the work there to be done would not be stimulus and excitement enough to compensate for the absence of all other stimulus,–if the business of the ministry, the saving of human souls, is not the one all-absorbing purpose, and desire, and impulse of the whole being,–then woe to the man who goes to preach the gospel where there is nothing but human souls to be gained by it.”

“Well, Stanton,” replied the other, after a pause of some seriousness, “I cannot say that I have attained to this yet. I don’t know but I might be brought to it; but at present I must confess it is not so. We ought not to rush into a state and employment which we have not the moral fortitude to sustain well. In short, for myself, I may make a respectable, and, I trust, not useless man in the law, when I could do nothing in the circumstances which you choose. However, I respect your feelings, and heartily wish that I could share them myself.”

A few days after this conversation the young friends parted for their several destinations–the one to a law school, the other to a theological seminary.

* * * * *

It was many years after this that a middle-aged man, of somewhat threadbare appearance and restricted travelling conveniences, was seen carefully tying his horse at the outer enclosure of an elegant mansion in the town of —-, in one of our Western States; which being done, he eyed the house rather inquisitively, as people sometimes do when they are doubtful as to the question of entering or not entering. The house belonged to George Lennox, Esq., a lawyer reputed to be doing a more extensive business than any other in the state, and the threadbare gentleman who plies the knocker at the front door is the Reverend Mr. Stanton, a name widely spread in the ecclesiastical circles of the land. The door opens, and the old college acquaintances meet with a cordial grasp of the hand, and Mr. Stanton soon finds himself pressed to the most comfortable accommodations in the warm parlor of his friend; and even the slight uneasiness which the wisest are not always exempt from, when conscious of a little shabbiness in exterior, was entirely dissipated by the evident cordiality of his reception. Since the conversation we have alluded to, the two friends pursued their separate courses with but few opportunities of personal intercourse. In the true zeal of the missionary, James Stanton had thrown himself into the field, where it seemed hardest and darkest, and where labor seemed most needed. In neighborhoods without churches, without school houses, without settled roads, among a population of disorganized and heterogeneous material, he had exhorted from house to house, labored individually with one after another, till he had, in place after place, brought together the elements of a Christian church. Far from all ordinances, means of grace, or Christian brotherhood, or cooeperation, he had seemed to himself to be merely the lonely, solitary ” voice of one crying in the wilderness,” as unassisted, and, to human view, as powerless. With poverty, and cold, and physical fatigue he had daily been familiar; and where no vehicle could penetrate the miry depths of the forest, where it was impracticable even to guide a horse, he had walked miles and miles, through mud and rain, to preach. With a wife in delicate health, and a young and growing family, he had more than once seen the year when fifty dollars was the whole amount of money that had passed through his hands; and the whole of the rest of his support had come in disconnected contributions from one and another of his people. He had lived without books, without newspapers, except as he had found them by chance snatches here and there,[1] and felt, as one so circumstanced only can feel, the difficulty of maintaining intellectual vigor and energy in default of all those stimulants to which cultivated minds in more favorable circumstances are so much indebted. At the time that he is now introduced to the reader, he had been recently made pastor in one of the most important settlements in the state, and among those who, so far as worldly circumstances were concerned, were able to afford him a competent support. But among communities like those at the west, settled for expressly money-making purposes, and by those who have for years been taught the lesson to save, and have scarcely begun to feel the duty to give, a minister, however laborious, however eloquent and successful, may often feel the most serious embarrassments of poverty. Too often is his salary regarded as a charity which may be given or retrenched to suit every emergency of the times, and his family expenditures watched with a jealous and censorious eye.