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timent, as both my brother and myself can testify.”
“ Yes,” said Mr. John Fowler, “under a nervous fever, last autumn, brought on, I quite believe, by excitement of mind on account of this vessel, your parting words were often present with me, and proved a more effectual cordial than any suggested by mere medical skill. I hope my dear brother, who then often suggested them to me, will now apply them with equally beneficial influence to himself; for he now, in prospect of the launch, labours under anxiety as intense as mine has been during the progress of the building."
The gentlemen then invited us to walk out, and look at the vessel. My uncle expressed surprise and admiration at the progress that had been made since he last inspected it; as well as at the adaptation, completeness, and beauty of every part, and their exact conformity to the original design. The gentlemen kindly explained to us the uses of the different parts. They readily answered the questions suggested by Frank's intelligence and general knowledge, and even mine, which I felt conscious discovered more of ignorance and stupidity, though not unaccompanied by a desire to gain useful information. My uncle looked at his watch, and said he had business in the town which would fully occupy him until the time that he had appointed for the carriage to meet us. It was not without reluctance that we received the summons; and my uncle and his friends, observing how much we were interested in what was going on, kindly proposed that we should remain there while he went into the town. We also received a general invitation to visit the wharf whenever we felt disposed
to do so, and to be present at the launch of the vessel.
On our way home, as we talked about the vessel and its owners, my uncle observed that a large, well-constructed ship presented one of the finest specimens of human skill and perseverance. “ The vessel,” said he, “which you have just seen, and which is now nearly completed in such admirable style, has been three years in building, and has employed the constant labour of above one hundred
“It must be a very expensive undertaking," observed Frank.
“Yes,” replied my uncle; “not less than 40,0001. have been expended upon it: the contract, I believe, is for 50,0001.”
“I was going to ask you, sir,” said Frank, “whether the yessel was built for the chance of sale, or whether it was done, according to order, for some particular person.”
“ The latter, certainly ; it would be far too great an enterprise to embark in as a mere speculation.”
“Yes, one such concern would be enough to ruin a man, if he did not happen to dispose of it. I thought, perhaps, it was on that ground that the Messrs. Fowler expressed so much anxiety. But that could not be the case, if the vessel was contracted for before it was built.”
“There are, however, in so large an undertaking, many other contingencies which might well occasion serious anxiety, if not painful apprehension. Indeed, I have witnessed their operation on the minds of my friends, both in the progress of this vessel, and on several former occasions, until I have really feared that their health and
mental energies would give way under the excitement. However, you will probably have an opportunity of hearing more than I could tell
about this matter; for, as Saturday is a public holiday, I have prevailed on the Fowlers to give themselves a little recreation, by way of recruiting themselves for the prospect of the launch, which will be a new excitement. I hope they will be able to come to us on Friday evening, and stay till Monday morning."
It was late when these gentlemen arrived; for they had considered it a necessary precaution, before they left the wharf, to see all the workmen clear off, and personally to inspect every part of the vessel and the premises, where any possibility might exist of mischief from fire. This inspection was not to be trusted even to a trusty foreman,
in prospect of both the principals giving a truce of two or three days to care. * And now,” said one of the brothers, addressing himself to my uncle, “having taken every precaution which prudence dictated, and, I trust, habitually committing our concerns to the watchful care of Providence, we must again endeavour to put in practice your golden maxim, Hope humbly, but hope always.'
The subject was then dismissed, and the conversation assumed a general character; though, as I have often observed, my uncle discovered considerable tact in drawing out his guests on topics which he had reason to think would be agreeable to them, and on which they were most likely to impart information. Much passed that evening that, at least to Frank and myself, was new and interesting-about the growth of different kinds of trees; the peculiar properties and adaptations of
each as timber; the importation of timber from foreign parts; the articles of commerce usually furnished in exchange; and the difficulties and hazard attendant on commerce of every kind, and that of timber in particular, in a time of war, compared with the facility, security, and advantages of peace. The difference in price was astonishing, and several instances were mentioned in which the fortune of individuals had been made or ruined by the purchase of a cargo of timber a few days earlier or later ; and thus the conversation glided round again to the favourite vessel. Mr. William Fowler mentioned having been for a fortnight or more in a state of extreme anxiety as to the fate of a vessel, on board which they had a large consignment of foreign timber, and which was supposed to have been captured. It was at a time, he said, when his brother was laid aside by illness; and when he was not only deprived of the solace of having a sharer in his apprehensions and perplexities, but when these were doubled by his efforts to conceal them, lest the intelligence should reach his brother, and aggravate his already threatening malady.
“And what was the result ?” asked my uncle.
“ After more than a fortnight's suspense, we learned that the vessel had safely reached the port of Hull; so we had only to sustain a little additional expense, and a little inconvenience from delay, instead of the heavy and almost ruinous loss which had been apprehended."
“This," observed my uncle, addressing himself to Frank, “ was one of the contingencies to which I alluded the other day, when I spoke of the frequent anxieties experienced in the progress of an undertaking like that of our friends.”
Anxieties, sir!” exclaimed Mr. William Fowler, “our business is one of anxiety from first to
I can scarcely enumerate the seasons when we have had nothing to sustain and cheer us beside your golden maxim, “Hope humbly, but hope always. First, there was the competition for the contract. There were several competitors, most of them confident of success ; some relying on interest ; some on long experience and established reputation in the trade ; some on the extremely low sum proposed in their estimate. On neither of these particulars could we presume.
We had no special interest with the parties proposing the contract, nor with any who were likely to influence them. As comparatively young men, our reputation in large undertakings was yet to be made ; could not afford to propose terms that were not likely to return us a fair remuneration. We could not be very sanguine. We hoped, however, that an established character for integrity, capability, and punctuality in lesser affairs, might recommend us to notice in this; and we hoped further, that if employed, we should be enabled to complete the undertaking to our own credit, and the satisfaction of all parties concerned.”
Yes, my friend, you hoped humbly, and you have not been disappointed.'
“Not hitherto ; but the work is not yet complete, and the launch is still before us.”
“Well, having hoped humbly, it now remains that you should hope always."
Yes, we must endeavour so to hope as to allay distressing and useless anxiety ; but not so as to slacken exertion and vigilance.
“ True; the legitimate influence of hope is to