Is it not worth noting that in this chivalry of Arctic adventure, the ships which have been wrecked have been those of the fight or horror? They are the “Fury,” the “Victory,” the “Erebus,” the “Terror.” But the ships which never failed their crews,—which, for all that man knows, are as sound now as ever,—bear the names of peaceful adventure; the “Hecla,” the “Enterprise,” and “Investigator,” the “Assistance” and “Resolute,” the “Pioneer” and “Intrepid,” and our “Advance” and “Rescue” and “Arctic,” never threatened any one, even in their names. And they never failed the men who commanded them or who sailed in them.
MY DOUBLE, AND HOW HE UNDID ME
ONE OF THE INGHAM PAPERS.
[A Boston journal, in noticing this story, called it improbable. I think it is. But I think the moral important. It was first published in the Atlantic Monthly for September, 1859.]
* * * * *
It is not often that I trouble the readers of the Atlantic Monthly. I should not trouble them now, but for the importunities of my wife, who “feels to insist” that a duty to society is unfulfilled, till I have told why I had to have a double, and how he undid me. She is sure, she says, that intelligent persons cannot understand that pressure upon public servants which alone drives any man into the employment of a double. And while I fear she thinks, at the bottom of her heart, that my fortunes will never be remade, she has a faint hope that, as another Rasselas, I may teach a lesson to future publics, from which they may profit, though we die. Owing to the behavior of my double, or, if you please, to that public pressure which compelled me to employ him, I have plenty of leisure to write this communication.
I am, or rather was, a minister, of the Sandemanian connection. I was settled in the active, wide-awake town of Naguadavick, on one of the finest water-powers in Maine. We used to call it a Western town in the heart of the civilization of New England. A charming place it was and is. A spirited, brave young parish had I; and it seemed as if we might have all “the joy of eventful living” to our heart’s content.
Alas! how little we knew on the day of my ordination, and in those halcyon moments of our first house-keeping. To be the confidential friend in a hundred families in the town,—cutting the social trifle, as my friend Haliburton says, “from the top of the whipped syllabub to the bottom of the sponge-cake, which is the foundation,”—to keep abreast of the thought of the age in one’s study, and to do one’s best on Sunday to interweave that thought with the active life of an active town, and to inspirit both and make both infinite by glimpses of the Eternal Glory, seemed such an exquisite forelook into one’s life! Enough to do, and all so real and so grand! If this vision could only have lasted!