The Advertisement by Jonathan F. Kelley
Sit down for a moment, we will not detain you long, our story will
interest you, we are sure, for it is most commendable, brief,
A poor widow, in the city of Philadelphia, was the mother of three
pretty children, orphans of a ship-builder, who lost his life in the
corvette Kensington, a naval vessel, built in Kensington for one of the
South American republics, and launched in 1826. The South Americans
being short of funds, the Kensington, after years of delay, was sold to
the emperor of all the Russias, and sailed for Constradt in 1830. Some
forty of the carpenters, who had built the vessel, went out in her; she
had immense, but symmetrical sparscarried vast clouds of canvasswas
caught off Cape Henlopen in a squallher spars came thundering to the
deck, and poor Glenn, the ship builder, was among the slain.
The widow was allowed but a brief time to mourn for the departed;
pinching poverty was at her door; upon her own exertions now devolved
the care and toil of rearing her three children. Cynthia, the eldest,
was a pretty brunette, of thirteen; the neighbors thought Cynthia could
go out to work; the next eldest, Martin, a fine, sturdy and
intelligent boy, could go to a trade; and the youngest, Rosa, one of
the most beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde little girls of seven years,
poetical fancy ever realized, the neighbors thought, ought to be
given to somebody, to raise. The mother was but a feeble woman; it
would be a task for her to obtain her own living, they thought; and so,
kind, generous souls, with that peculiar readiness with which
disinterested friends console or advise the unfortunate, the
neighbors became very eloquent and argumentative. But though the
mother's hands were weak, her heart was strong, and her love for her
children still stronger.
It is rather a singular trait in the human character, it appears to
us, that people possessing the ordinary attributes of sane Christians,
should so readily advise others to attempt, or do, that from which
they would instinctively recoil; the mass of Widow Glenn's advisers
might have been far more serviceable to her, by contributing their
mites towards preserving the unity of her little and precious family,
than thus savagely advising its disbanding.
Newspapers, at this day, were far less numerous very expensive, and
circulated to a very limited degree, indeed. But the widow took a
paper, a family, weekly journal; and while casting her vacant eye over
the columns, at the close of a Saturday eve, after a severe week's toil
for the bread her little and precious ones had eaten, the widow's
attention was called to an advertisement, as follows:
A Housekeeper Wanted.An elderly gentleman desires a
pleasantly-disposed, tidy and industrious American woman, to
charge and conduct the domestic affairs of his household. A
reasonable compensation allowed. Good reference required,
applicant to have no incumbrances. Apply at this office,
The eager smile, that seemed to warm the wan features of the widow,
as she glanced over the advertisement, was dimmed and darkened, as the
shining river of summer is shadowed by the heavy passing cloud, when
she came to the chilling wordsthe applicant to have no
No incumbrances, moaned the widow, shall none but God deign to
smile or have mercy on the helpless orphans; are they to be feared,
shunned, hated, because helpless? Must they perishdie with me
alonestruggling against our woes, poverty, wretchedness? No! I know
there is a God, he is good, powerful, merciful; he will turn the hearts
of some towards the widow and the orphan; and though basilisk-like
words warn me to hope not, I will applyI will attempt to win
attention, work, slave, toil, toil, toil, until my poor hands shall
wear to the bone, and my eyes no longer do their officeif he will
only have mercy, pity for my poor, poor orphansGod bless them! and
in melting tenderness and emotion, the poor woman dropped her face upon
her lap and wepther tears were the showers of hope, to the almost
parched soil of her heart, and as the gentle dews of heaven fall to the
earth, so fell the widow's tears in balmy freshness upon her visions of
a brighter somethingin the future.
It was yet early in the evening; her children slept; the poor woman
put on her bonnet and shawl, and started at once for the office of the
news_paper. The publisher was just closing his sanctum, but he gave the
information the widow required, and favorably impressed with Mrs.
Glenn's appearance and manner, the publisher, a quaker, interrogated
her on various points of her present condition, prospects, &c.; and
observed, that but for her children, he had no doubt of the widow's
suiting the old man exactly.
But thee must not be neglected, or discarded from honest industry,
because of thy responsibilities, which God hath given thee, said the
quaker. If thy lad is stout of his age, and a good boy, I will provide
for him; he may learn our business, and be off thy charge, and thee may
be enabled to keep thy two female children about thee.
On the following Monday, the widow signified her intention of
writing a few lines as an applicant for the situation of housekeeper,
and afterwards to consult with the publisher in regard to her boy,
Martin, and then bidding the courteous quaker farewell, she sought her
humble domicil, with a much lighter heart than she had lately carried
from her distressed and lonely home.
In an ancient part of the Quaker city, facing the broad and
beautiful Delaware river, stood a venerable mansion; but few of this
class now remain in Philadelphia, and the one of which we now speak,
but recently passed away, in the great conflagration that visited the
city in 1850. In this substantial and stately brick edifice, lived one
of the wealthy and retired ship brokers of Quakerdom. He was very
wealthy, very eccentric, very good-hearted, but passionate, plethoric,
gouty, and seventy years of age. Mr. Job Carson had lived long and seen
much; he had been so engrossed in clearing his fortune, that from
twenty-five to forty, he had not bethought him of that almost
indispensable appendage to a man's comfort in this worlda wife. He
was the next ten years considering the matter over, and then, having
built and furnished himself a costly mansion, which he peopled with
servants, headed by a maiden sister as housekeeper, Job thought, upon
the wholeto which his sister added her strong consentthat matrimony
would greatly increase his cares, and perhaps add more noise and
confusion to his household, than it might counterbalance or offset by
probable comfort in wedded happiness, so temptingly set forth to old
No, said Job, at fifty, I'll not marry, not trade off my single
blessedness yet; at least, there's time enough, there's women enough;
I'm young, hale, hearty, in the prime of life; no, I'll not give up the
ship to woman yet.
Another ten years rolled along, and the thing turned up in the
retired merchant's mind againhe was now sixty, and one, at least, of
the objections to his entering the wedded state, removedfor a man at
sixty is scarcely too young to marry, surely.
Ah, it's all up, quoth Job Carson. I'm spoiled now. I've had my
own way so long, I could not think of surrendering to petticoats,
turning my house into a nursery, and turning my back on the joys, quiet
and comforts of bachelorhood. No, no, Job Carsonmatrimony be hanged.
You'll none of it. And so ten years more passednow age and luxury do
O, that infernal twinge in my toe. O, there it is
againhang the goat, it can't be gout. Dr. Bleedem swears I'm getting
the gout. Blockheadnone of my kith or kin ever had such an infernal
complaint. O, ah-h-h, that infernal window must be sand-bagged, given
me this pain in the back, andBanquo! Where the deuce is that
Yis, massa, here I is, said a good-natured, fat, black and
sleek-looking old darkey, poking his shining, grinning face into the
old gentleman's study, sitting, playing or smoking room.
Here you are? Where? You black sarpint, come here; go to Jackplane,
the carpenter, and tell him to come here and make my sashes tight, d'ye
Yis, massa, dem's 'em; I'se off.
No, you ain'tcome here, Banquo, you woolly son of Congo, you; go
open my liquor case, bring the brandy and some cool water. There, now
Yis, massa, I'se gone, dis time
No, you ain't, come back; go to old Joe Winepipes, and tell him I
send my compliments to him, and if he wants to continue that game of
chess, let him come over this afternoon, d'ye hear?
Yis, massa, dem's 'em, I'se gone dis timeshuah!
Well, away with you.
Old Job Carson was yet a rugged looking old gentleman. He had
survived nearly all his blood, kith and kin; his sister had paid the
last debt of nature some months before, and in hopes of finding some
one to fill her station, in his domestic concerns, his advertisement
had appeared in the Weekly Bulletin.
Ah, me, it's no use crying about spilt milk, sighed the old gent
over his glass. I suppose I've been a fool; out-lived everybody,
everything useful to me. Made a fortune first, nobody to spend
it last. Yes, yes, continued the old man, in a thoughtful
strain, old Job Carson will soon slip off the handle; 'poor old
devil,' some bloodsucker may say, as he grabs Job's worldly effects,
'he's gone, had a hard scrabble to get together these things, and now,
we'll pick his bones.' Well, let 'em, let 'em; serves me right; ought
to have known it before, but blast and rot 'em, if they only enjoy the
pillage as much as I did the struggles to keep it together, why, ait
will be about an even thing with us, after all.
Yis, massa, here I is, chuckled Banquo, again putting his black
bullet pate in at the door.
You are, eh? Well, clear yourselfno, come back; go down to
Oatmeal's store, and tell him to let old Mrs. Dougherty, and the old
blind man, and the sailor's wife, andandthe rest of them, have
their groceries, again, this weekonly another week, mind, for I'm not
going to support the whole neighborhood any longertell him so.
Yis, massa, I'se gone.
Wait, come here, Banquo; well, never mindclear out.
But Banquo returned in a moment, saying:
Dar's a lady at the doo-ah, sah; says she wants to see you, sah,
'bout 'ticlar business, sah.
Is, eh? Well, call her into the parlor, I'll be downah-h, that
infernal twinge again, ah-h-h-h, ah-h! What a stupid ass a man
is to hang around in this world until he's a nuisance to himself and
every body else! grunted old Job, as he groped his way down stairs,
and into the parlor.
Good morning, ma'am, said he, as he confronted the widow, who, in
the utmost taste of simple neatness, had arranged her spare dress, to
meet the umpire of her future fate.
Mrs. Glenn respectfully acknowledged the salutation, and at once
opened her business to the bluff old man.
Yes, yes; I'm a poor, unfortunate creature, ma'am; I'm nothing,
nobody, any more. I want somebody to see that I'm not robbed, or
poisoned, and that I may have a bed to lie upon, and a clean piece of
linen to my back occasionally, and athat's all I want, ma'am.
The widow feigned to hope she knew the duties of a housekeeper, and
situated as she was, it was a labor of love to worktoil, for those
misfortune had placed in her charge.
Eh? what's thathaven't got incumbrances, have you, ma'am?
I have three children, sir, meekly said the widow.
Three children? gruffly responded the old gentleman; ah, umph,
what business have you, ma'am, with three children?
[Illustration: Three children? gruffly responded the old
gentleman. Ah, umph, what business have you, ma'am, with three
The widow, not apparently able to answer such a poser, the old
Poor widows, poor people of any kind, have no business with
incumbrances, ma'am; no excuse at all, ma'am, for 'em.
So, alas! said Mrs. Glenn, I find the world tootoo much
inclined to reason; but I shall trust to the mercy and providence of
the Lord, if denied the kind feelings of mortals.
Ah, yes, yes, that's it, ma'am; it's all very fine, ma'am; but too
many poor, foolish creatures get themselves in a scrape, then depend
upon the Lord to help 'em out. This shifting the responsibility to the
shoulders of the Lord isn't right. I don't wonder the Lord shuts his
ears to half he's asked to do, ma'am.
Well, sir, I thought I would call, though I feared my
children would be an objection to
Yes, yes,I don't want incumbrances, ma'am.
But II athe widow's heart was too full for utterance; she
moved towards the door. Good morning, sir.
Stop, come back, ma'am, sit down; it's a pityyou've no business,
ma'am, as I said before, to have incumbrances, when you haven't got any
visible means of support. Now, if you only had one, one
incumbranceand that you'd no business to havesaid the old gent,
doggedly, tapping an antique tortoise-shell snuff box, and applying
the pungent grains of titillating dust, as Pope observes, to his
proboscis, if you had only one incumbrancebut you've got a
house full, ma'am.
No, sir, only three! answered widow Glenn.
Three, only three? God bless me, ma'am, I wouldn't be a poor woman
with twono, with one incumbrance at my petticoat tailsfor the
biggest ship and cargo old Steve Girard ever owned, ma'am.
I might, meekly said the widow, put my son with the printer, sir;
he has offered to take my poor boy.
Two girls and a boy? inquiringly asked the old gent, applying the
dust, and manipulating his box. How old? Eldest thirteen, eh?boy
eleven, and the youngest seven, eh? and working a traverse, or solving
some problematic point, Job Carson stuck his hands under his morning
gown, and strode over the floor; after a few evolutions of the kind, he
stoppedfumbled in a drawer of a secretary, and placing a ten dollar
note in the widow's hand, he said:
There, ma'am; I don't know that I shall want you, but to-morrow
morning, if you have time, from other and more important business, call
in, bring your children with you; good morning, ma'amBanquo!
Yis, sah; I'se heah.
Show the lady outgood morning, ma'am, good morning.
I like that woman's looks, said old Job, continuing his walk;
she's plain and tidy; she's industrious, I'll warrant; if she only
hadn't that raft of incumbrances; what do these people have
incumbrances for, anyway?
Lady at the doo-ah, sah, said Banquo.
Show her in. Good morning, ma'am; Banquo, a seat for the lady; yes,
ma'am, I did; I want a housekeeper. I advertised for one. How many
servants do I keep? Well, ma'am, I keep as many as I want. Have
visitors? Of course I have. What and where are my rooms? Why,
madam, I own the house, every brick and lath in it. I go to bed, and
get up, and go round; come in and out, when I feel like it. What church
do I worship in? I've assisted in building a number, own a half
of one, and a third of several; but, ma'am, between you and II don't
want to be rude to a lady, ma'am, but I do think, this
examination ain't to my likingyou don't think the place would suit
you, eh? Well, I think your ladyship wouldn't suit me,
ma'am, so I'll bid your ladyship good morning, said old Job, bowing
very obsequiously to the stiff-starched and acrimonious dame, who,
returning the old gentleman's bow with the same high pressure
order, seized her skirts in one hand, and agitating her fan with the
other, she stepped out, or finikined along to the hall door, and
as Banquo flew around, and put on the extras to let her ladyship
out, she gave the darkey a pat on the head with her fan, and looking
crab-apples at the poor negro, she rushed down the steps and
Tank you, ma'am; come again, eb you pleaseof'n! said the pouting
Yes, sah; here's nudder lady, sah, says Banquo, ushering in a
rather ruddy, jolly-looking and perfectly-at-home daughter of the gim
o' the sae. The old gentleman eyed her liberal proportions; consulting
his snuff-box, he answered yes to the woman's inquiry, if he
was the gintleman wanting the housekeeper.
Did you read my advertisement, ma'am?
Me rade it? Not I, faix. Mr. Mullony, our landlord, was saying till
Are you married, too?
Married two? Do I look like a woman as would marry two? No,
sur; I'm a dacent woman, sur; my name is Hannah Geaughey, Jimmy
Geaughey's my husband, sur; he, poor man, wrought in the board-yard
till he was sun sthruck, by manes of falling from a cuart, sur.
Well, ma'am, that will do, I'm sorry for your husbandone dollar,
there it is; you wouldn't suit me at all; good morning, ma'am. Banquo,
show the good woman to the door.
But, sur, I want the place!
I don't want yougood morning.
Dis way, ma'am, said Banquo, marshalling the woman to the hall.
Stand away, ye nager; it's your masther I'm spakin' wid.
Go along, go along, woman, go, go, go! roared the old gent.
But, as I was saying, Mr. Mullony saidsays hewho the divil you
push'n, you black nager? said the woman, grabbing Banquo's woolly
Dis way, ma'am, persevered Banquo, quartering towards the door.
Mr. Mullony was sayin', sur
Dis way, ma'am, continued the darkey, crowding Mrs. Geaughey,
while his master was gesticulating furiously to keep on crowding
her. Finally, Banquo vanquished the Irish woman, and received orders
from his master to admit no more applicantsthe place was filled.
That afternoon, old Captain Winepipesa retired merchant and
ship-master, an old bachelor, too, who was in the habit of exchanging
visits with Job Carson, sipping brandy and water, talking over old
times and playing chesscame to finish a litigated game, and Job and
he discussed the matter of taking care of the widow and children of the
dead ship-builder. At length, it was settled that, if the second
interview with the widow, and an exhibition of her children, proved
satisfactory to Job Carson, he should take them in; if found more than
Job could attend to
Why aI'll go you halves, Job, said Captain Winepipes.
Next day, Widow Glenn and her pretty children appeared at the door
of Carson's mansion; and Banquo, full of pleasant anticipations,
ushered them into the retired merchant's presence.
It was evident, at the first glance the old gentleman gave the
group, that the battle was more than half won.
Fine boy, that; come here, sireleven years of age, eh? Your
name's MartinMartin Glenn, eh? Well, Martin, my lad, you've got a big
world before youa fussing, fuming world, not worth finding out, not
worth the powder that would blow it up. You've got to take your
position in the ranks, too, mean and contemptible as they are; but you
may make a good man; if the world don't benefit you, why ayou can
benefit it; that's the way I've donebeen obliged to do it, ain't
sorry for it, neither, said the old man, with evident emotion.
Your name is Cynthia, eh? And you are a fine grown girl for your
age, surely. Cynthia, you'll soon be capable of 'keeping house,' too;
you've got a world before you, too, my dear; a wicked, scandalous
world; a world full of deceit and miserylook at your mother,
look at me! Ah, well, it's all our own fault; yours, madam, for having
thesethese incumbrances, and mine, poor devilfor not having
'em. Cynthia, you're a fine girl; a good girl, I know. Ah, here's
mamma's pet, I suppose; Rose Glenn, very pretty name, pretty girl, too,
very pretty. Lips and cheeks like cherries, eyes brighter than Brazil
diamonds. Ma'am, you've got great treasures here; a man must be a
stupid ass to call these incumbrances. They are jewels of
inestimable value. What's my filthy bank accounts, dollars and cents,
houses, goods and chattels, that fire may destroy, and thieves
stealto these blessings thatthat God has given the lone widow to
strengthen hercheer her in the dark path of life? God is great,
generous, and just; I see it now, plainer than I ever did before.
Yis'r, I'se here, massa.
Go tell Counsellor Prime to call on me immediately; tell Captain
Winepipes to come overI want to see him. I'm going to make a fool of
myself, I believe.
Yes, sah, I'se gone; gorry, I guess dere's suffin gwoin to happen
to dat lady and dem chil'nsshuah! said Banquo, rushing out of the
The fate of the ship-builder's family was fixed. Job Carson
proposedand the widow, of course, consentedthat Martin Glenn should
become the adopted son of the old gentleman, Job Carson; and that he
should choose a trade or profession, which he should then, or later,
learn, making the old gentleman's house as much his home as
circumstances would permit; the two girls were to remain under the same
roof with the mother, who was at once installed as housekeeper for the
bluff and generous old gentleman.
Old Captain Winepipes insisted on a share in the settlement, to wit:
that both girls should be educated at his expense, which was finally
acceded to, adding, that in case heCaptain Joseph Winepipesshould
live to see Rose Glenn a bride, he should provide for her wedding, and
give her a dowry.
Set that down in black and white, Mr. Prime, said Job, and that
I, Job Carson, do agree, should I live to see Cynthia Glenn a wife, to
give her a comfortable start in the worldset that down, for I will do
it, yes, I will, said the old gent, with an emphatic rap on his
* * * * *
Ten years passed away; Captain Winepipes has paid the debt of
nature; he did not live to see Rose Glenn a wife; but, nevertheless, he
left a clause in his will, that fully carried out his expressed
intentions when Rose did marry, some two years after she arrived at the
age of sweet seventeen. Martin Glenn Carson graduated in the printing
office, and very recently filled one of the most important stations in
the judiciary of Illinois, as well as a chivalrous part in the recent
war with Mexico. Cynthia was wedded to a well known member of the
Philadelphia bar, an event that Job Carson barely lived to see, and, as
he agreed to, donated a sum, quite munificent, towards making things
agreeable in the progress of her married life. Widow Glenn remained a
faithful servant and friend to the old merchant, and, upon his death,
she became heir to the family mansion, and means to keep it up at the
usual bountiful rate. Large bequests were made in Job Carson's will, to
charitable institutes, but the bulk of his fortune fell to his adopted
son, Martin, who proved not unworthy of his good fortune. Banquo ended
his days in the service of the widow, who had cause for and took
pleasure in blessing the vehicle that conveyed to herself and orphans
their rare good fortune, in guise of a NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENT.