Sunt buna, sunt quaedam mediocria,
sunt mala plura
Quae legis hic.
Charles Smith Morris, dime-novelist, historian, and compiler, son of Samuel Pearson Morris and his wife Margaret Burns, was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, October I, 1833. He went to the public schools of Chester and taught there for a while. In 1856 he went to Philadelphia and was for some time professor of languages in an Academy of Ancient and Modern Languages. From 1860 to 1878 he was with a manufacturing house, and at the same time wrote for various periodicals and began contributing short stories, poems, and serials to Beadle's Saturday Journal. After 1878 he devoted himself entirely to literature. Among his historical books are "Historical Tales" in eleven volumes, "The War with Spain," four graded school histories of the United States, a "History of the World," "The Story of Mexico," and a "History of Pennsylvania." He was editor of "Half Hours with the Best American Authors," "Half Hours with the Best British Authors," and other works in the same series (eighteen volumes). He also wrote biographies of Queen Victoria and McKinley, a dictionary of biography, and many other books.
He died, unmarried, at the age of 89, September 6, 1922, in Philadelphia.
Charles Morris wrote under numerous pen names. Miller(1) gives "Redmond Blake," "Edward Lytton," "Jo Pierce," "C. E. Tripp," "R. R. Inman," and "George S. Kaine," used in Beadle publications, and "Paul Preston," "William Murry," "E. L.Vincent," "J. H. Southard," "Roland Dare," "S. M. Frazier," "Hugh Allen," "J. D. Ballard," and "Paul Pastnor," used elsewhere. I have made no attempt to check the authors not on the Beadle list, but "Edward Lytton" was the pen name of E. L. Wheeler, and ""Jo Pierce" that of William H. Manning. There was a "Paul Prescott," and a "Percy Preston" among Beadle authors, the former a nom de plume of Lettie Arley Irons, but no "Paul Preston."
Morris, like Alger, loved to raise boys from the streets to positions of importance, consequently his stories, like Alger's, have a certain sameness.
REFERENCES: Allibone, Supplement, II; Lamb's Biog. Dic., V, 1903, 568; Who's Who, Vols. I to XIII; Banner Weekly, January 9 and 16, 1892: Herringshaw's Enc. Amer. Biog., 1906, 674; Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 7, 1922, 5; The Cyclopedia Americana, XIX, 474.
Saturday Journal. Nos. 355, 365, 383, 405, 521, 539, 653
Beadle's Weekly. Nos. 41, 93, 125, 128, 138, 148
Banner Weekly. Nos. 209, 216, 378, 390, 441, 457, 617, 628
Dime Library. Nos. 330, 589
Half-Dime Library. Nos. 118, 122, 126, 130, 142, 147, 152, 157, 162, 765, 170, 174, 179, 183, 187, 189, 196, 206, 212, 220, 225, 235, 242, 252, 262, 274, 289, 298, 305, 324, 341, 353, 365, 367, 379, 403, 423, 428, 432, 456, 466, 479, 488, 501, 566, 596, 627, 655, 667, 709, 757, S69, 881, 917, 1006, 1012, 1085, 1090 (partim), 1102, 1114
Boy's Library (quarto). Nos. 48, 52, 58, 74, 83, 91,112, 116
Boy's Library (octavo). Nos. 46, 53, 59, 66, 69, 95, 120, 123
Pocket Library. Nos. 62, 69, 74. 93, 105, 118, 128, 134, 138, 149, 156, 161, 166, 170, 176, 181, 187, 196, 203, 209, 220, 226, 237, 246, 255, 265, 275, 286, 295, 303, 316, 322, 333, 340, 346, 352, 379, 395, 401, 408, 421, 432, 444,455
Popular Library. Nos. 27, 33, 43
SPECIMEN OF CHARLES MORRIS' STYLE
"Honest Harry; or, The Country Boy Adrift in the City." Boy's Library (octavo) No. 53, pp. 10-13, 27.
It was remarkable how the boys let Harry Handy alone for the days succeeding his great show of politeness. He was altogether too polite for them, and entirely too handy with his fists for their ideas of sport.
Those who had gained a taste of his mettle kept their distance, but they tried to entice on some others who had not been through the mill.
They wanted companions in misfortune.
But this bit of fun ended, too, after Harry had kicked one of them down a cellar-way, and landed another head-foremost into an empty barrel. His reputation began to spread, and his young enemies concluded that it was best to let little country alone. The sport had been too one-sided for their liking. They bottled up their anger, and waited for a better opportunity to get even with him.
Meanwhile Harry was not quite satisfied with his position in the store of Peter Ernest & Co. And he did not lose much time in saying so.
"I hope you will excuse me; Mr. Ernest," he said to that gentleman. "But I am not quite satisfied here. You have been very kind, and I hope you won't object to my looking for some other kind of work."
"Hey!" cried Mr. Ernest, dropping his newspaper, and screwing sharply around on his chair. "What bee has stung the boy, now! Do you want more money, or less work?"
"The money is all right, sir."
"Then it's the work, eh? Hang me, if I thought you were lazy. You'd better go out and try to make a living by scratching your back against hitching posts. And go to the dogs at a breakneck pace."
Harry colored slightly, and replied in an indignant tone.
"I don't think I am one of that kind, sir. I haven't shown myself lazy."
"Then if it is not the money or the work, what is it?"
"It is only this, sir. I am not earning my wages. You don't keep me busy, and it don't suit me to be loafing. And you are paying me for work you could get done at half the price."
"Hillo! little honesty and industry! So that's where the shoe pinches! Wouldn't it be as well to let us judge what we want done, and what we are ready to pay for it?"
"Not for me, sir. I don't want to sponge on anybody."
Harry's tone was very firm and decided. Mr. Ernest leaned back in his chair and looked at him, as it he had come across a new kind of animal in the great menagerie of the world. He gave one of his short, harsh laughs.
"See here, boy. Where were you brought up!"
"In West Dover, sir."
"And who taught you all these nice points of logic?"
"My father, sir. He taught me two lessons. Never to take money till I had earned it, and never to let any one cheat me out of money I had earned."
"That was a wise father of a wise son," cried the merchant. "He had a mighty apt pupil. So you won't stay with us till we give you more work? Very well. Out in the store there with you, and help roll those bales of wool."
"Much obliged, sir. But I guess not."
"You won't, hey?"
"No. That's work that only takes muscle. I've got some brains, sir, and I want work that takes brains. And I'm going to have it, too. I came to New York to make my fortune, and I'm not going to start from the bottom of the ladder, when I've got a hold halfway up."
Mr. Ernest continued to look at him with a quizzical though somewhat puzzled glance. A boy of this caliber was not to be put in a nut-shell. He was not one of the everyday specimens, that can be picked up by the dozens around the streets.
"Come here. Let's take a closer look at you."
This was in a tone of harsh command, but Harry obeyed, and stood quietly before his stern-spoken employer. The latter looked him over from head to foot.
"Hold out your hand."
Harry did so, and it was inclosed in the firm grasp of the merchant.
"There; it does me good to take an honest boy or an honest man by the hand. That will do, Harry. You will find Mr. Linton in the store. Tell him I want him."
Harry obeyed, without answering.
The two merchants continued for some twenty minutes in conference, during which time the boy stood irresolutely at the door, kicking his heel idly against the jamb, and watching the people passing. Very likely, however, he did not see many of them, for he seemed to be in a brown study.
"Harry!" came a call from the rear of the store.
The boy started from his reverie, and walked briskly back.
"You are wanted in the office," said the clerk who had called.
Harry entered. The two merchants were still in conference. Mr. Ernest looked up in his sharp manner.
"We've been talking you over, boy. You want more work. Very well, you shall have it. Piled on, and rubbed in. It isn't often I get challenged that way, and I'm not going to be backed out of the ring. I want to see what's in those brains you brag of. You can keep at what you've been at. Then we want daily reports from 'Change. You can go on the board every day, and bring us the markets. Any spare time you can put in at the office. It will give you a chance to learn bookkeeping, and that won't go amiss with a great merchant, such as you are going to be one day. How's that? Are you satisfied now?"
"Hey! By George, but this boy is a cormorant! What more do you want?"
Mr. Ernest lay back in his chair, and broke into a shrill whistle. Mr. Linton heartily laughed.
"You are on the other side of the fence now," said Harry, decidedly. "I hadn't work enough for my wages before. Now I'll have too much, I am not afraid of the work, but I want to be paid for it. That's another thing my father taught me."
"Maybe it's as well that wise father of yours is dead. I'm afraid we couldn't get along together if he was on hand to give you any more of those fine spun lessons. No matter. We'll make the wages right. Peter Ernest & Co. never asked boy or man to work for love. Here, take this package of samples to 60 Broadway. On your way back stop and deliver this letter. The address is on it. Wait for an answer. Now, pelt out. You've got your wages to earn, mind."
Harry smiled cheerfully as he resumed his hat.
"If I don't it will not be for want of trying," he remarked, as he left the office.
The merchants looked meaningly at one another. There was a peculiar expression on Mr. Ernest's face.
"Hang it all!" he exclaimed. "I was never so near being ashamed of myself in my life. That confounded boy has taken the starch out of me. I believe I was born honest myself, and I hate to play the rogue with an outspoken little chap like that."
While this somewhat mysterious conference, in which Harry Handy was certainly interested, was going on, the latter was briskly making his way on his errand. . . . He delivered his Broadway package, and turned back to take the letter to its destination.
This took him more up-town, and over to the East river side of the city. The place before which he at length stopped was a quiet-looking eating-house. He looked again at the address. This was the place, and he briskly entered.
He found himself in a long, narrow room, with rows of tables on each side, and partly inclosed booths in the rear. Only a few customers were present.
"Mr. Smith is not in," said the proprietor, taking the letter from Harry's hand. "You're to wait for an answer, eh? Very well. Take a seat somewhere. He will be here very soon. He may possibly be in his room now. I'll see."
He left with the letter in his hand, while Harry helped himself to a chair.
Several persons came and went while he waited, and he amused himself with the odd movements and calls of the waiters.
"Chowder for one!" "Big stew'" "Fish ball and mustard!" "Corn beef and cabbage!" "Ros' beef, very rare!"
So went the medley of cries.
"What'll you have sir?"
"Oyster fry. Quick as lightning, and hot as pepper."
Harry looked curiously at the customer who gave this order, in a tone as if he had been ordering sailors in a storm at sea. It was a tall, but rather slim-built man, with a face of the utmost decision, and a nose that curved like an eagle's beak. He sat drumming impatiently on the table, and humming the verse of a song, while he waited for his order to be filled.
He had seated himself in one of the rear inclosures, near where the boy was waiting for an answer to his letter. Harry grew so interested in this person's face, and in his hasty manner of eating after his order had been filled, that he did not notice what was passing elsewhere.
A familiar voice roused him from this curious observation.
"Mighty glad to see a feller 'joy hisself. Ain't in no hurry nor nothin', hey?"
The cracked, shrill voice, and the tipsy tone, could belong but to one person. Harry looked quickly around, and recognized the wrinkled face and white hair and beard, of old Tom Tupper!
The latter, however, failed to notice him. He looked only toward the person whom Harry had been observing.
"Eh, Tipsy Tom, so it's you?" cried this gentleman, in his sharp way. "Rolling round yet, I see; sparring for whisky."
"Dunno," answered Tom, with a drunken leer. "Ruther have grub than whisky jist now."
"Sit down then. Hey, waiter! steak and gravy. And stir yourself. That's your liking, Tom, isn't it?"
There was the same change of tone which Harry had noticed before. The old beat had suddenly grown young in voice.
"What's the news?" asked the first comer, in a cautious voice. "Anything turned up?"
"Not a hair," answered old Tom, in low accents. "To save me I can't get a foot on the track. And that confounded boy. You're sure you didn't dish that job, in any way, Ned?"
"Not much. You know me too well to ask such a question. Hush! Here's the waiter."
"Blow yer stupid poll, where's the mustard?" cried Tom, as tipsy as ever. "S'pose gemmen takes meat without mustard, blame ye? And fetch a double noggin of ale, d'ye hear?"
The waiter retreated, muttering angrily to himself. Nothing further passed between the two men until after the waiter had filled this last order and disappeared. Harry sat earnestly watching them. He was too open-handed to seek to conceal himself, yet he could not but be anxious to hear the end of this conversation.
"It was a rascally let up, that affair of the boy," continued Tom. "If I could only get eyes on his face again—"
He stopped suddenly, and with a gesture of astonishment. While speaking he had swung around on his seat, and brought himself face to face with Harry. Something very like an oath broke from his lips.
"Suppose you do," said Harry quietly. "What will come of it?"
If ever there was utter astonishment on a human face it was shown on old Tom Tupper's when Harry Handy rose before him like an apparition that had just come through the floor. He quite forgot the part he was playing, and blurted out:
"Singe my whiskers, if here ain't a go! Where in the blue blazes did the boy come from? I'd 'a' bet a cow he was'nt there two minutes ago!"
"You'd lose your bet, then," replied Harry. "I've been here for ten minutes."
"Pinch me, Ned Clark. Let me see if I am awake."
Clark laughed, and drew down his eyelids meaningly.
"Your steak is getting cold, Tom," he said.
This recalled the old fellow to himself. He passed his hand over his face, and it almost seemed as if he had rubbed off his old face and rubbed on a new one. It was tipsy old Tom Tupper again.
"S'pose it does," he hiccuped, "ye don't calk'late I keer. Ther's more on't in the fryin' pan, and I ain't run outer money yit. Come here, little chap. Wasn't it ye as saved the old man from gittin' keel-hauled by them wharf rats?"
"Yes," answered Harry, drawing his chair closer.
"Didn't s'pose ye'd be ongrateful," continued old Tom tipsily. "Arter all I did fur ye that day. Why didn't ye carry my letter, as I axed ye?"
"Because," answered Harry, in his steadiest tone, "I discovered that old Tom Tupper was a fraud, who was playing drunk when he was sober, and old when he was young."
"Hey!" cried the old fellow. "What's that? What's that? Want to insult the old man? Tell ye what, boy—"
"No use, Mr. Sparks. I've had my eye teeth cut, if I am a boy. You might as well get sober. You thought nobody could read French but Mr. Clark here."
I'll be shot if I thought you were that kind of a boy!" ejaculated the assumed old man, in a tone of perfect sobriety. "That's little honesty and innocence, is it? He is given a letter to deliver, and he opens and reads it on the way! I fancied that I was some judge of human nature, yet I was fool enough to trust that honest-looking boy."
"I didn't open it," cried Harry indignantly. "I got into a fight with some boys, and the letter fell out of my pocket, and got trampled on. It was open when I picked it up."
The old man surveyed him from under his bushy gray eyebrows.
"How many fights have you had since you've been in New York?" he asked.
"Haven't kept count. Six or seven," answered Harry mildly.
"Why, you blessed little bruiser! And where have you been since you were kind enough to read my letter?"
"I've been in business," Harry dryly rejoined. "I don't think I'll trouble myself to tell you where. You tried to make a fool of me, Mr. Sparks, but you got hold of the wrong boy. It didn't work. I don't calculate to give you the chance again. I want nothing more to do with you. And when I saw you here to-day I thought I'd tell you that before I left."
Harry spoke with the energy and decision of a man. Sparks looked at him. His face had grown young despite its white hair and beard.
"Take care you don't make a fool of yourself," he growled. "I am working for your good, boy, as you may find out some day. There are such things as friends in the disguise of foes. The time may come when you will wish you had delivered that letter."
"I don't believe it will. I am earning my living, and expect to."
"You will not find out from me."
Old Tom laughed.
"You've the making of a keen one," he ejaculated.
At this moment the proprietor approached, letter in hand.
"Here is Mr. Smith's answer," he said.
He held it so that the address was turned toward Mr. Clark. The latter took the opportunity to read it. An odd expression came upon his face.
"Thank you," answered Harry, as he took the letter. "Good-day, gentlemen. Goodday, Mr. Tom Tupper. Excuse me for saying that your pump is out of order. You worked it hard, but it didn't fetch water." Turning on his heel, with a laugh of boyish satisfaction, he. walked quickly away.
|1||W. C. Miller, Dime Novel Authors, 1860-1900, Grafton, Mass., 1933.|