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My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design. He called me one morning into his chamber, where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmly with me upon this subject. He asked me what reasons, more than a mere wandering inclination, I had for leaving father's house and my native country, where I might be well introduced, and had a prospect of raising my fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour and sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind.
Mrs. Campbell and her little girls, after many a greeting of this kind, found their way into the town at last; and the children soon forgot everything in the twelfth-cakes which adorned the pastry-cooks' windows, till the sixpence, which was tightly clasped in each little hand, recalled them to their errand, and they joined the busy crowd in the toy-shop.
It was New-year's day; but there was no snow, no bitter cold wind, no beggars shivering in their scanty clothing, none of the scenes of poverty which those accustomed only to an English winter might expect to cast a gloom over the enjoyment of the day. It was a bright sunny morning, every leaf sparkling with dew-drops; groups of neatly-dressed people were to be seen flocking in from the country in every direction; and though the air was fresh enough to incline them to walk briskly along, their hands were not hidden away in muffs and coat-pockets, but were ready for the friendly shake which, with "all the good wishes of the season," awaited them at every step.
It is with one of the little pieces of silver which have just rung in the till that we have to do. It had lain there for about two hours, the same scenes going on around it which we have witnessed with its owner of the morning, when a tall moustachioed young man entered the shop, which was not exclusively devoted to toys, and asked to be shown some gold pencil-cases