Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter VII: Piney Grove >> Page 65

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Page 65

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription PINEY GROVE. 65
and as if his legs had been crutches, borrowed from a neigh-
boring tree, rather than limbs of a native growth, and destined
to the performance of his will. Gladly, at all times, would he
prefer to lean upon the shoulders of his neighbor rather than
trust independently to his own thews and sinews. In politics
he could be none other than the truckler to the existing au-
thority, having preferences, however, which he dared not speak,
vacillating between extremes, temporizing with every party,
yet buffeted by all.
The appearance of the troop brought the old gentleman
down his steps to receive, them. Barsfield only advanced,
leaving Clayton to quarter the troop on the edge and within
the enclosure of the park. . Mr. Berkeley's manner was cour-
teous and cordial enough, but marked by trepidation. His
welcome, however, was unconstrained, and seemed habitual.
Like the major part-of the class of which he was a member,
the duties of hospitality never suffered neglect at his bands.
Like them, he delighted in society, and was at all times
ready and pleased at the appearance of a guest. Nor did the
perilous nature of events at the period of which we write, his
own timidity, and the doubtful character of the new-comer,
tend, in any great degree, to chill the freedom and check the
tendency of his habit in this respect. Accustomed always to
wealth and influence, to the familiar association with strangers,
and to a free intercourse with a once thickly-settled and pleas-
ant neighborhood, a frank, open-hearted demeanor became as
much his characteristic as his jealous apprehensions. This was
also his misfortune, since, without doubt, it increased the natu-
ral dependence of his mind. The habit of giving a due con-
sideration to the claims of others, though a good one, doubtless,
has yet its limits, which to pass, though for a moment only, is
to stimulate injustice, and to encourage the growth of a tyranny
to our own injury. In his connection with those around him,
and at the period of which we write, when laws were nominal,
and were administered only at the caprice of power, the virtue
of Mr. Berkeley became a weakness ; and he was accordingly
preyed upon by the profligate, and defied by the daring
compelled to be silent under wrong, or, if he resented it, only