Pelham — Volume 04 by Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
This eBook was produced by David Widger
Cum pulchris tunicis sumet nova consilia et spes. --Horace.
And look always that they be shape, What garment that thou shalt make Of him that can best do With all that pertaineth thereto. --Romaunt of the Rose
How well I can remember the feelings with which I entered London, and took possession of the apartments prepared for me at Mivart's. A year had made a vast alteration in my mind; I had ceased to regard pleasure for its own sake, I rather coveted its enjoyments, as the great sources of worldly distinction. I was not the less a coxcomb than heretofore, nor the less a voluptuary, nor the less choice in my perfumes, nor the less fastidious in my horses and my dress; but I viewed these matters in a light wholly different from that in which I had hitherto regarded them. Beneath all the carelessness of my exterior, my mind was close, keen, and inquiring; and under the affectations of foppery, and the levity of a manner almost unique, for the effeminacy of its tone, I veiled an ambition the most extensive in its object, and a resolution the most daring in the accomplishment of its means.
I was still lounging over my breakfast, on the second morning of my arrival, when Mr. N--, the tailor, was announced.
"Good morning, Mr. Pelham; happy to see you returned. Do I disturb you too early? shall I wait on you again?"
"No, Mr. N--, I am ready to receive you; you may renew my measure."
"We are a very good figure, Mr. Pelham; very good figure," replied the Schneider, surveying me from head to foot, while he was preparing his measure; "we want a little assistance though; we must be padded well here; we must have our chest thrown out, and have an additional inch across the shoulders; we must live for effect in this world, Mr. Pelham; a leetle tighter round the waist, eh?"
"Mr. N--," said I, "you will take, first, my exact measure, and, secondly, my exact instructions. Have you done the first?"
"We are done now, Mr. Pelham," replied my man-maker, in a slow, solemn tone.
"You will have the goodness then to put no stuffing of any description in my coat; you will not pinch me an iota tighter across the waist than is natural to that part of my body, and you will please, in your infinite mercy, to leave me as much after the fashion in which God made me, as you possibly can."
"But, Sir, we must be padded; we are much too thin; all the gentlemen in the Life Guards are padded, Sir."
"Mr. N--," answered I, "you will please to speak of us, with a separate, and not a collective pronoun; and you will let me for once have my clothes such as a gentleman, who, I beg of you to understand, is not a Life Guardsman, can wear without being mistaken for a Guy Fawkes on a fifth of November."
Mr. N--looked very discomfited: "We shall not be liked, Sir, when we are made--we sha'n't, I assure you. I will call on Saturday at 11 o'clock. Good morning, Mr. Pelham; we shall never be done justice to, if we do not live for effect; good morning, Mr. Pelham."
Scarcely had Mr. N--retired, before Mr.--, his rival, appeared. The silence and austerity of this importation from Austria, were very refreshing after the orations of Mr. N--.
"Two frock-coats, Mr.--," said I, "one of them brown, velvet collar same colour; the other, dark grey, no stuffing, and finished by Wednesday. Good morning, Mr.--."
"Monsieur B--, un autre tailleur," said Bedos, opening the door after Mr. S.'s departure.
"Admit him," said I. "Now for the most difficult article of dress--the waistcoat."
And here, as I am weary of tailors, let me reflect a little upon that divine art of which they are the professors. Alas, for the instability of all human sciences! A few short months ago, in the first edition of this memorable Work, I laid down rules for costume, the value of which, Fashion begins already to destroy. The thoughts which I shall now embody, shall be out of the reach of that great innovator, and applicable not to one age, but to all. To the sagacious reader, who has already discovered what portions of this work are writ in irony--what in earnest--I fearlessly commit these maxims; beseeching him to believe, with Sterne, that "every thing is big with jest, and has wit in it, and instruction too, if we can but find it out!"
1. Do not require your dress so much to fit, as to adorn you. Nature is not to be copied, but to be exalted by art. Apelles blamed Protogenes for being too natural.
2. Never in your dress altogether desert that taste which is general. The world considers eccentricity in great things, genius; in small things, folly.
3. Always remember that you dress to fascinate others, not yourself.
4. Keep your mind free from all violent affections at the hour of the toilet. A philosophical serenity is perfectly necessary to success. Helvetius says justly, that our errors arise from our passions.
5. Remember that none but those whose courage is unquestionable, can venture to be effeminate. It was only in the field that the Lacedemonians were accustomed to use perfumes and curl their hair.
6. Never let the finery of chains and rings seem your own choice; that which naturally belongs to women should appear only worn for their sake. We dignify foppery, when we invest it with a sentiment.
7. To win the affection of your mistress, appear negligent in your costume--to preserve it, assiduous: the first is a sign of the passion of love; the second, of its respect.
8. A man must be a profound calculator to be a consummate dresser. One must not dress the same, whether one goes to a minister or a mistress; an avaricious uncle, or an ostentatious cousin: there is no diplomacy more subtle than that of dress.
9. Is the great man whom you would conciliate a coxcomb?--go to him in a waistcoat like his own. "Imitation," says the author of Lacon, "is the sincerest flattery."
10. The handsome may be shewy in dress, the plain should study to be unexceptionable; just as in great men we look for something to admire--in ordinary men we ask for nothing to forgive.
11. There is a study of dress for the aged, as well as for the young. Inattention is no less indecorous in one than in the other; we may distinguish the taste appropriate to each, by the reflection that youth is made to be loved--age, to be respected.
12. A fool may dress gaudily, but a fool cannot dress well--for to dress well requires judgment; and Rochefaucault says with truth, "On est quelquefois un sot avec de l'esprit, mais on ne lest jamais avec du jugement."
13. There may be more pathos in the fall of a collar, or the curl of a lock, than the shallow think for. Should we be so apt as we are now to compassionate the misfortunes, and to forgive the insincerity of Charles I., if his pictures had pourtrayed him in a bob wig and a pigtail? Vandyke was a greater sophist than Hume.
14. The most graceful principle of dress is neatness--the most vulgar is preciseness.
15. Dress contains the two codes of morality--private and public. Attention is the duty we owe to others--cleanliness that which we owe to ourselves.
16. Dress so that it may never be said of you "What a well dressed man!"- -but, "What a gentlemanlike man!"
17. Avoid many colours; and seek, by some one prevalent and quiet tint, to sober down the others. Apelles used only four colours, and always subdued those which were more florid, by a darkening varnish.
18. Nothing is superficial to a deep observer! It is in trifles that the mind betrays itself. "In what part of that letter," said a king to the wisest of living diplomatists, "did you discover irresolution?"--"In its ns and gs!" was the answer.
19. A very benevolent man will never shock the feelings of others, by an excess either of inattention or display; you may doubt, therefore, the philanthropy both of a sloven and a fop.
20. There is an indifference to please in a stocking down at heel--but there may be a malevolence in a diamond ring.
21. Inventions in dressing should resemble Addison's definition of fine writing, and consists of "refinements which are natural, without being obvious."
22. He who esteems trifles for themselves, is a trifler--he who esteems them for the conclusions to be drawn from them, or the advantage to which they can be put, is a philosopher.
Tantot, Monseigneur le Marquis a cheval-- Tantot, Monsieur du Mazin de bout! --L'Art de se Promener a Cheval.
My cabriolet was at the door, and I was preparing to enter, when I saw a groom managing, with difficulty, a remarkably fine and spirited horse. As, at that time, I was chiefly occupied with the desire of making as perfect an equine collection as my fortune would allow, I sent my cab boy (vulgo Tiger) to inquire of the groom, whether the horse was to be sold, and to whom it belonged.
"It was not to be disposed of," was the answer, "and it belonged to Sir Reginald Glanville."
The name thrilled through me: I drove after the groom, and inquired Sir Reginald Glanville's address. His house, the groom (whose dark coloured livery was the very perfection of a right judgment) informed me, was at No.--Pall Mall. I resolved to call that morning, but first I drove to Lady Roseville's to talk about Almack's and the beau monde, and be initiated into the newest scandal and satire of the day.
Lady Roseville was at home; I found the room half full of women: the beautiful countess was one of the few persons extant who admit people of a morning. She received me with marked kindness. Seeing that--, who was esteemed, among his friends, the handsomest man of the day, had risen from his seat, next to Lady Roseville, in order to make room for me, I negligently and quietly dropped into it, and answered his grave and angry stare at my presumption, with my very sweetest and most condescending smile. Heaven be praised, the handsomest man of the day is never the chief object in the room, when Henry Pelham and his guardian angel, termed by his enemies, his self-esteem, once enter it.
"Charming collection you have here, dear Lady Roseville," said I, looking round the room; "quite a museum! But who is that very polite, gentlemanlike young man, who has so kindly relinquished his seat to me,-- though it quite grieves me to take it from him?" added I: at the same time leaning back, with a comfortable projection of the feet, and establishing myself more securely in my usurped chair. "Pour l'amour de Dieu, tell me the on dits of the day. Good Heavens! what an unbecoming glass that is! placed just opposite to me, too! Could it not be removed while I stay here? Oh! by the by, Lady Roseville, do you patronize the Bohemian glasses? For my part, I have one which I only look at when I am out of humour; it throws such a lovely flush upon the complexion, that it revives my spirits for the rest of the day. Alas! Lady Roseville, I am looking much paler than when I saw you at Garrett Park; but you--you are like one of those beautiful flowers which bloom the brightest in the winter."
"Thank Heaven, Mr. Pelham," said Lady Roseville, laughing, "that you allow me at last to say one word. You have learned, at least, the art of making the frais of the conversation since your visit to Paris."
"I understand you," answered I; "you mean that I talk too much; it is true--I own the offence--nothing is so unpopular! Even I, the civilest, best natured, most unaffected person in all Europe, am almost disliked, positively disliked, for that sole and simple crime. Ah! the most beloved man in society is that deaf and dumb person, comment s'appelle-t-il?"
"Yes," said Lady Roseville, "Popularity is a goddess best worshipped by negatives; and the fewer claims one has to be admired, the more pretensions one has to be beloved."
"Perfectly true, in general," said I--"for instance, I make the rule, and you the exception. I, a perfect paragon, am hated because I am one; you, a perfect paragon, are idolized in spite of it. But tell me what literary news is there. I am tired of the trouble of idleness, and in order to enjoy a little dignified leisure, intend to set up as a savant."
"Oh, Lady C--B--is going to write a Commentary on Ude; and Madame de Genlis a Proof of the Apocrypha. The Duke of N--e is publishing a Treatise on 'Toleration;'and Lord L--y an Essay on 'Self-knowledge.'As for news more remote, I hear that the Dey of Algiers is finishing an 'Ode to Liberty,'and the College of Caffraria preparing a volume of voyages to the North Pole!"
"Now," said I, "if I retail this information with a serious air, I will lay a wager that I find plenty of believers; for falsehood, uttered solemnly, is much more like probability than truth uttered doubtingly: else how do the priests of Brama and Mahomet live?"
"Ah! now you grow too profound, Mr. Pelham!"
"Tell me," interrupted Lady Roseville, "how it happens that you, who talk eruditely enough upon matters of erudition, should talk so lightly upon matters of levity?"
"Why," said I, rising to depart, "very great minds are apt to think that all which they set any value upon, is of equal importance. Thus Hesiod, who, you know, was a capital poet, though rather an imitator of Shenstone, tells us that God bestowed valour on some men, and on others a genius for dancing. It was reserved for me, Lady Roseville, to unite the two perfections. Adieu!"
"Thus," said I, when I was once more alone--"thus do we 'play the fools with the time,'until Fate brings that which is better than folly; and, standing idly upon the sea-shore, till we can catch the favouring wind which is to waft the vessel of our destiny to enterprise and fortune, amuse ourselves with the weeds and the pebbles which are within our reach!"
There was a youth who, as with toil and travel, Had grown quite weak and grey before his time; Nor any could the restless grief unravel, Which burned within him, withering up his prime, And goading him, like fiends, from land to land. --P. B. Shelley.
From Lady Roseville's I went to Glanville's house. He was at home. I was ushered into a beautiful apartment, hung with rich damask, and interspersed with a profusion of mirrors, which enchanted me to the heart. Beyond, to the right of this room, was a small boudoir, fitted up with books, and having, instead of carpets, soft cushions of dark green velvet, so as to supersede the necessity of chairs. This room, evidently a favourite retreat, was adorned at close intervals with girandoles of silver and mother-of-pearl; and the interstices of the book-cases were filled with mirrors, set in silver: the handles of the doors were of the same metal.
Beyond this library (if such it might be called), and only divided from it by half-drawn curtains of the same colour and material as the cushion, was a bath room. The decorations of this room were of a delicate rose colour: the bath, which was of the most elaborate workmanship, represented, in the whitest marble, a shell, supported by two Tritons. There was, as Glanville afterwards explained to me, a machine in this room which kept up a faint but perpetual breeze, and the light curtains, waving to and fro, scattered about perfumes of the most exquisite odour.
Through this luxurious chamber I was led, by the obsequious and bowing valet, into a fourth room, in which, opposite to a toilet of massive gold, and negligently robed in his dressing-gown, sate Reginald Glanville:--"Good Heavens," thought I, as I approached him, "can this be the man who made his residence par choix, in a miserable hovel, exposed to all the damps, winds, and vapours, that the prolific generosity of an English Heaven ever begot?"
Our meeting was cordial in the extreme. Glanville, though still pale and thin, appeared in much better health than I had yet seen him since our boyhood. He was, or affected to be, in the most joyous spirits; and when his dark blue eye lighted up, in answer to the merriment of his lips, and his noble and glorious cast of countenance shone out, as if it had never been clouded by grief or passion, I thought, as I looked at him, that I had never seen so perfect a specimen of masculine beauty, at once physical and intellectual.
"My dear Pelham," said Glanville, "let us see a great deal of each other: I live very much alone: I have an excellent cook, sent me over from France, by the celebrated gourmand Marechal de--. I dine every day exactly at eight, and never accept an invitation to dine elsewhere. My table is always laid for three, and you will, therefore, be sure of finding a dinner here every day you have no better engagement. What think you of my taste in furnishing?"
"I have only to say," answered I, "that since I am so often to dine with you, I hope your taste in wines will be one half as good."
"We are all," said Glanville, with a faint smile, "we are all, in the words of the true old proverb, 'children of a larger growth.'Our first toy is love--our second, display, according as our ambition prompts us to exert it. Some place it in horses--some in honours, some in feasts, and some--voici un exemple--in furniture. So true it is, Pelham, that our earliest longings are the purest: in love, we covet goods for the sake of the one beloved; in display, for our own: thus, our first stratum of mind produces fruit for others; our second becomes niggardly, and bears only sufficient for ourselves. But enough of my morals--will you drive me out, if I dress quicker than you ever saw man dress before?"
"No," said I; "for I make it a rule never to drive out a badly dressed friend; take time, and I will let you accompany me."
"So be it then. Do you ever read? If so, my books are made to be opened, and you may toss them over while I am at my toilet."
"You are very good," said I, "but I never do read."
"Look--here," said Glanville, "are two works, one of poetry--one on the Catholic Question--both dedicated to me. Seymour--my waistcoat. See what it is to furnish a house differently from other people; one becomes a bel esprit, and a Mecaenas, immediately. Believe me, if you are rich enough to afford it, that there is no passport to fame like eccentricity. Seymour--my coat. I am at your service, Pelham. Believe hereafter that one may dress well in a short time?"
"One may do it, but not two--allons!"
I observed that Glanville was dressed in the deepest mourning, and imagined, from that circumstance, and his accession to the title I heard applied to him for the first time, that his father was only just dead. In this opinion I was soon undeceived. He had been dead for some years. Glanville spoke to me of his family;--"To my mother," said he, "I am particularly anxious to introduce you--of my sister, I say nothing; I expect you to be surprised with her. I love her more than any thing on earth now," and as Glanville said this, a paler shade passed over his face.
We were in the Park--Lady Roseville passed us--we both bowed to her; as she returned our greeting, I was struck with the deep and sudden blush which overspread her countenance. "Can that be for me?" thought I. I looked towards Glanville: his countenance had recovered its serenity, and was settled into its usual proud, but not displeasing, calmness of expression.
"Do you know Lady Roseville well?" said I. "Very," answered Glanville, laconically, and changed the conversation. As we were leaving the Park, through Cumberland Gate, we were stopped by a blockade of carriages; a voice, loud, harsh, and vulgarly accented, called out to Glanville by his name. I turned, and saw Thornton.
"For God's sake, Pelham, drive on," cried Glanville; "let me, for once, escape that atrocious plebeian."
Thornton was crossing the road towards us; I waved my hand to him civilly enough (for I never cut any body), and drove rapidly through the other gate, without appearing to notice his design of speaking to us.
"Thank Heaven!" said Glanville, and sunk back in a reverie, from which I could not awaken him, till he was set down at his own door.
When I returned to Mivart's, I found a card from Lord Dawton, and a letter from my mother.
"My Dear Henry, (began the letter,)
"Lord Dawton having kindly promised to call upon you, personally, with this note, I cannot resist the opportunity that promise affords me, of saying how desirous I am that you should cultivate his acquaintance. He is, you know, among the most prominent leaders of the Opposition; and should the Whigs, by any possible chance, ever come into power, he would have a great chance of becoming prime minister. I trust, however, that you will not adopt that side of the question. The Whigs are a horrid set of people (politically speaking), vote for the Roman Catholics, and never get into place; they give very good dinners, however, and till you have decided upon your politics, you may as well make the most of them. I hope, by the by, that you see a great deal of Lord Vincent: every one speaks highly of his talents; and only two weeks ago, he said, publicly, that he thought you the most promising young man, and the most naturally clever person, he had ever met. I hope that you will be attentive to your parliamentary duties; and, oh, Henry, be sure that you see Cartwright, the dentist, as soon as possible.
"I intend hastening to London three weeks earlier than I had intended, in order to be useful to you. I have written already to dear Lady Roseville, begging her to introduce you at Lady C.'s, and Lady--; the only places worth going to at present. They tell me there is a horrid, vulgar, ignorant book come out, about--. As you ought to be well versed in modern literature, I hope you will read it, and give me your opinion. Adieu, my dear Henry, ever your affectionate mother,
I was still at my solitary dinner, when the following note was brought me from Lady Roseville:--
"Dear Mr. Pelham,
"Lady Frances wishes Lady C--to be made acquainted with you; this is her night, and I therefore enclose you a card. As I dine at--House, I shall have an opportunity of making your eloge before your arrival. Your's sincerely,
I wonder, thought I, as I made my toilet, whether or not Lady Roseville is enamoured with her new correspondent? I went very early, and before I retired, my vanity was undeceived. Lady Roseville was playing at ecarte, when I entered. She beckoned to me to approach. I did. Her antagonist was Mr. Bedford, a natural son of the Duke of Shrewsbury, and one of the best natured and best looking dandies about town: there was, of course, a great crowd round the table. Lady Roseville played incomparably; bets were high in her favour. Suddenly her countenance changed--her hand trembled--her presence of mind forsook her. She lost the game. I looked up and saw just opposite to her, but apparently quite careless and unmoved, Reginald Glanville. We had only time to exchange nods, for Lady Roseville rose from the table, took my arm, and walked to the other end of the room, in order to introduce me to my hostess.
I spoke to her a few words, but she was absent and inattentive; my penetration required no farther proof to convince me that she was not wholly insensible to the attentions of Glanville. Lady--was as civil and silly as the generality of Lady Blanks are: and feeling very much bored, I soon retired to an obscurer corner of the room. Here Glanville joined me.
"It is but seldom," said he, "that I come to these places; to-night my sister persuaded me to venture forth."
"Is she here?" said I.
"She is," answered he; "she has just gone into the refreshment room with my mother, and when she returns, I will introduce you."
While Glanville was yet speaking, three middle-aged ladies, who had been talking together with great vehemence for the last ten minutes, approached us.
"Which is he?--which is he?" said two of them, in no inaudible accents.
"This," replied the third; and coming up to Glanville, she addressed him, to my great astonishment, in terms of the most hyperbolical panegyric.
"Your work is wonderful! wonderful!" said she.
"Oh! quite--quite!" echoed the other two.
"I can't say," recommenced the Coryphoea, "that I like the moral--at least not quite; no, not quite."
"Not quite," repeated her coadjutrices.
Glanville drew himself up with his most stately air, and after three profound bows, accompanied by a smile of the most unequivocal contempt, he turned on his heel, and sauntered away.
"Did your grace ever see such a bear?" said one of the echoes.
"Never," said the duchess, with a mortified air; "but I will have him yet. How handsome he is for an author!"
I was descending the stairs in the last state of ennui, when Glanville laid his hand on my shoulder.
"Shall I take you home?" said he: "my carriage has just drawn up."
I was too glad to answer in the affirmative.
"How long have you been an author?" said I, when we were seated in Glanville's carriage.
"Not many days," he replied. "I have tried one resource after another-- all--all in vain. Oh, God! that for me there could exist such a blessing as fiction! Must I be ever the martyr of one burning, lasting, indelible truth!"
Glanville uttered these words with a peculiar wildness and energy of tone: he then paused abruptly for a minute, and continued, with an altered voice--"Never, my dear Pelham, be tempted by any inducement into the pleasing errors of print; from that moment you are public property; and the last monster at Exeter 'Change has more liberty than you; but here we are at Mivart's. Addio--I will call on you to-morrow, if my wretched state of health will allow me."
And with these words we parted.
Ambition is a lottery, where, however uneven the chances, there are some prizes; but in dissipation, every one draws a blank. --Letters of Stephen Montague.
The season was not far advanced before I grew heartily tired of what are nicknamed its gaieties; I shrunk, by rapid degrees, into a very small orbit, from which I rarely moved. I had already established a certain reputation for eccentricity, coxcombry, and, to my great astonishment, also for talent; and my pride was satisfied with finding myself universally recherche, whilst I indulged my inclinations by rendering myself universally scarce. I saw much of Vincent, whose varied acquirements and great talents became more and more perceptible, both as my own acquaintance with him increased, and as the political events with which that year was pregnant, called forth their exertion and display. I went occasionally to Lady Roseville's, and was always treated rather as a long-known friend, than an ordinary acquaintance; nor did I undervalue this distinction, for it was part of her pride to render her house not only as splendid, but as agreeable, as her command over society enabled her to effect.
At the House of Commons my visits would have been duly paid, but for one trifling occurrence, upon which, as it is a very sore subject, I shall dwell as briefly as possible. I had scarcely taken my seat, before I was forced to relinquish it. My unsuccessful opponent, Mr. Lufton, preferred a petition against me, for what he called undue means. God knows what he meant; I am sure the House did not, for they turned me out, and declared Mr. Lufton duly elected.
Never was there such a commotion in the Glenmorris family before. My uncle was seized with the gout in his stomach, and my mother shut herself up with Tremaine, and one China monster, for a whole week. As for me, though I writhed at heart, I bore the calamity philosophically enough in external appearance, nor did I the less busy myself in political matters: with what address and success, good or bad, I endeavoured to supply the loss of my parliamentary influence, the reader will see, when it suits the plot of this history to touch upon such topics.
Glanville I saw continually. When in tolerable spirits, he was an entertaining, though never a frank nor a communicative companion. His conversation then was lively, yet without wit, and sarcastic, though without bitterness. It abounded also in philosophical reflections and terse maxims, which always brought improvement, or, at the worst, allowed discussion. He was a man of even vast powers--of deep thought--of luxuriant, though dark imagination, and of great miscellaneous, though, perhaps, ill arranged erudition. He was fond of paradoxes in reasoning, and supported them with a subtlety and strength of mind, which Vincent, who admired him greatly, told me he had never seen surpassed. He was subject, at times, to a gloom and despondency, which seemed almost like aberration of intellect. At those hours he would remain perfectly silent, and apparently forgetful of my presence, and of every object around him.
It was only then, when the play of his countenance was vanished, and his features were still and set, that you saw in their full extent, the dark and deep traces of premature decay. His cheek was hollow and hueless; his eye dim, and of that visionary and glassy aspect, which is never seen but in great mental or bodily disease, and which, according to the superstitions of some nations, implies a mysterious and unearthly communion of the soul with the beings of another world. From these trances he would sometimes start abruptly, and renew any conversation broken off before, as if wholly unconscious of the length of his reverie. At others, he would rise slowly from his seat, and retire into his own apartment, from which he never emerged during the rest of the day.
But the reader must bear in mind that there was nothing artificial or affected in his musings, of whatever complexion they might be. Nothing like the dramatic brown studies, and quick starts, which young gentlemen, in love with Lara and Lord Byron, are apt to practise. There never, indeed, was a character that possessed less cant of any description. His work, which was a singular, wild tale--of mingled passion and reflection- -was, perhaps, of too original, certainly of too abstract a nature, to suit the ordinary novel readers of the day. It did not acquire popularity for itself, but it gained great reputation for the author. It also inspired every one who read it, with a vague and indescribable interest to see and know the person who had composed so singular a work.
This interest he was the first to laugh at, and to disappoint. He shrunk from all admiration, and from all sympathy. At the moment when a crowd assembled round him, and every ear was bent to catch the words, which came alike from so beautiful a lip, and so strange and imaginative a mind, it was his pleasure to utter some sentiment totally different from his written opinion, and utterly destructive of the sensation he had excited. But it was very rarely that he exposed himself to these "trials of an author." He went out little to any other house but Lady Roseville's, and it was seldom more than once a week that he was seen even there. Lonely, and singular in mind and habits, he lived in the world like a person occupied by a separate object, and possessed of a separate existence, from that of his fellow-beings. He was luxurious and splendid, beyond all men, in his habits, rather than his tastes. His table groaned beneath a weight of gold, too costly for the daily service even of a prince; but he had no pleasure in surveying it. His wines and viands were of the most exquisite description; but he scarcely tasted them. Yet, what may seem inconsistent, he was averse to all ostentation and show in the eyes of others. He admitted very few into his society--no one so intimately as myself. I never once saw more than three persons at his table. He seemed, in his taste for furniture, in his love of literature, and his pursuit after fame, to be, as he himself said, eternally endeavouring to forget and eternally brought back to remembrance.
"I pity that man even more than I admire him," said Vincent to me, one night when we were walking home from Glanville's house. "His is, indeed, the disease nulla medicabilis herba. Whether it is the past or the present that afflicts him--whether it is the memory of past evil, or the satiety of present good, he has taken to his heart the bitterest philosophy of life. He does not reject its blessings--he gathers them around him, but as a stone gathers moss--cold, hard, unsoftened by the freshness and the greenness which surround it. As a circle can only touch a circle in one place, every thing that life presents to him, wherever it comes from--to whatever portion of his soul it is applied--can find but one point of contact; and that is the soreness of affliction: whether it is the oblivio or the otium that he requires, he finds equally that he is for ever in want of one treasure:--'neque gemmis neque purpura venale nec auro.'"
Mons. Jourdain. Etes-vous fou de l'aller quereller' lui qui entend la tierce et la quarte, et qui sait tuer un homme par raison demonstrative?
Le Maitre a Danser. Je me moque de sa raison demonstrative, et de sa tierce et de sa quarte. --Moliere.
"Hollo, my good friend; how are you?--d--d glad to see you in England," vociferated a loud, clear, good-humoured voice, one cold morning, as I was shivering down Brook-street, into Bond-street. I turned, and beheld Lord Dartmore, of Rocher de Cancale memory. I returned his greeting with the same cordiality with which it was given: and I was forthwith saddled with Dartmore's arm, and dragged up Bond-street, into that borough of all noisy, riotous, unrefined, good fellows--yclept--'s Hotel.
Here we were soon plunged into a small, low apartment, which Dartmore informed me was his room. It was crowded with a score of masculine looking youths, at whose very appearance my gentler frame shuddered from head to foot. However, I put as good a face on the matter as I possibly could, and affected a freedom and frankness of manner, correspondent with the unsophisticated tempers with which I was so unexpectedly brought into contact.
Dartmore was still gloriously redolent of Oxford: his companions were all extracts from Christchurch; and his favourite occupations were boxing and hunting--scenes at the Fives' Court--nights in the Cider Cellar--and mornings at Bowstreet. Figure to yourself a fitter companion for the hero and writer of these adventures! The table was covered with boxing gloves, single sticks, two ponderous pair of dumb bells, a large pewter pot of porter, and four foils; one snapped in the middle.
"Well," cried Dartmore, to two strapping youths, with their coats off, "which was the conqueror?"
"Oh, it is not yet decided," was the answer; and forthwith the bigger one hit the lesser a blow, with his boxing glove, heavy enough to have felled Ulysses, who, if I recollect aright, was rather 'a game blood' in such encounters.
This slight salute was forthwith the prelude to an encounter, which the whole train crowded round to witness. I, among the rest, pretending an equal ardour, and an equal interest, and hiding, like many persons in a similar predicament, a most trembling spirit beneath a most valorous exterior.
When the match (which terminated in favour of the lesser champion) was over, "Come, Pelham," said Dartmore, "let me take up the gloves with you?"
"You are too good!" said I, for the first time using my drawing-room drawl. A wink and a grin went round the room.
"Well, then, will you fence with Staunton, or play at single sticks with me?" said the short, thick, bullying, impudent, vulgar Earl of Calton.
"Why," answered I, "I am a poor hand at the foils, and a still worse at the sticks; but I have no objection to exchange a cut or two at the latter with Lord Calton."
"No, no!" said the good-natured Dartmore;--"no, Calton is the best stick- player I ever knew;" and then, whispering me, he added, "and the hardest hitter--and he never spares, either."
"Really," said I aloud, in my most affected tone, "it is a great pity, for I am excessively delicate; but as I said I would engage him, I don't like to retract. Pray let me look at the hilt: I hope the basket is strong: I would not have my knuckles rapped for the world--now for it. I'm in a deuced fright, Dartmore;" and so saying, and inwardly chuckling at the universal pleasure depicted in the countenances of Calton and the by-standers, who were all rejoiced at the idea of the "dandy being drubbed," I took the stick, and pretended great awkwardness, and lack of grace in the position I chose.
Calton placed himself in the most scientific attitude, assuming at the same time an air of hauteur and nonchalance, which seemed to call for the admiration it met.
"Do we make hard hitting?" said I.
"Oh! by all means," answered Calton, eagerly.
"Well," said I, settling on my own chapeau, "had not you better put on your hat?"
"Oh, no," answered Calton, imperiously; "I can take pretty good care of my head;" and with these words we commenced.
I remained at first nearly upright, not availing myself in the least of my superiority in height, and only acting on the defensive. Calton played well enough for a gentleman; but he was no match for one who had, at the age of thirteen, beat the Life Guardsmen at Angelo's. Suddenly, when I had excited a general laugh at the clumsy success with which I warded off a most rapid attack of Calton's, I changed my position, and keeping Calton at arm's length till I had driven him towards a corner, I took advantage of a haughty imprudence on his part, and by a common enough move in the game, drew back from a stroke aimed at my limbs, and suffered the whole weight of my weapon to fall so heavily upon his head, that I felled him to the ground in an instant.
I was sorry for the severity of the stroke, the moment after it was inflicted; but never was punishment more deserved. We picked up the discomfited hero, and placed him on a chair to recover his senses; meanwhile I received the congratulations of the conclave with a frank alteration of manner which delighted them; and I found it impossible to get away, till I had promised to dine with Dartmore, and spend the rest of the evening in the society of his friends.
Heroes mischievously gay, Lords of the street and terrors of the way, Flush'd as they are with folly, youth, and wine. --Johnson's London.
Hol. Novi hominem tanquam te--his humour is lofty, his discourse peremptory, his tongue filed, his eye ambitious, his gait majestical, and his general behaviour vain, ridiculous, and thrasonical. --Shakspeare.
I went a little after seven o'clock to keep my dinner engagement at---'s; for very young men are seldom unpunctual at dinner. We sat down, six in number, to a repast at once incredibly bad, and ridiculously extravagant; turtle without fat--venison without flavour--champagne with the taste of a gooseberry, and hock with the properties of a pomegranate. [Note: Pomum valde purgatorium.] Such is the constant habit of young men: they think any thing expensive is necessarily good, and they purchase poison at a dearer rate than the most medicine-loving hypochondriac in England.
Of course, all the knot declared the dinner was superb; called in the master to eulogize him in person, and made him, to his infinite dismay, swallow a bumper of his own hock. Poor man, they mistook his reluctance for his diffidence, and forced him to wash it away in another potation. With many a wry face of grateful humility, he left the room, and we then proceeded to pass the bottle with the suicidal determination of defeated Romans. You may imagine that we were not long in arriving at the devoutly wished for consummation of comfortable inebriety; and with our eyes reeling, our cheeks burning, and our brave spirits full ripe for a quarrel, we sallied out at eleven o'clock, vowing death, dread, and destruction to all the sober portion of his majesty's subjects.
We came to a dead halt in Arlington-street, which, as it was the quietest spot in the neighbourhood, we deemed a fitting place for the arrangement of our forces. Dartmore, Staunton, (a tall, thin, well formed, silly youth,) and myself, marched first, and the remaining three followed. We gave each other the most judicious admonitions as to propriety of conduct, and then, with a shout that alarmed the whole street, we renewed our way. We passed on safely enough till we got to Charing-Cross, having only been thrice upbraided by the watchmen, and once threatened by two carmen of prodigious size, to whose wives or sweethearts we had, to our infinite peril, made some gentle overtures. When, however, we had just passed the Opera Colonnade, we were accosted by a bevy of buxom Cyprians, as merry and as drunk as ourselves. We halted for a few minutes in the midst of the kennel, to confabulate with our new friends, and a very amicable and intellectual conversation ensued. Dartmore was an adept in the art of slang, and he found himself fairly matched, by more than one of the fair and gentle creatures by whom we were surrounded. Just, however, as we were all in high glee, Staunton made a trifling discovery, which turned the merriment of the whole scene into strife, war, and confusion. A bouncing lass, whose hands were as ready as her charms, had quietly helped herself to a watch which Staunton wore, a la mode, in his waistcoat pocket. Drunken as the youth was at that time, and dull as he was at all others, he was not without the instinctive penetration with which all human bipeds watch over their individual goods and chattels. He sprung aside from the endearments of the syren, grasped her arm, and in a voice of querulous indignation, accused her of the theft.
"Then rose the cry of women--shrill As shriek of gosshawk on the hill."
Never were my ears so stunned. The angry authors in the adventures of Gil Blas, were nothing to the disputants in the kennel at Charing Cross; we rowed, swore, slanged with a Christian meekness and forbearance, which would have rejoiced Mr. Wilberforce to the heart, and we were already preparing ourselves for a more striking engagement, when we were most unwelcomely interrupted by the presence of three watchmen.
"Take away this--this--d--d woman," hiccuped out Staunton, "She has sto-- len--(hiccup)--my watch"--(hiccup.)
"No such thing, watchman," hallooed out the accused, "the b--counter- skipper never had any watch! he only filched a twopenny-halfpenny gilt chain out of his master, Levi, the pawnbroker's window, and stuck it in his eel-skin to make a show: ye did, ye pitiful, lanky-chopped son of a dog-fish, ye did."
"Come, come," said the watchman, "move on, move on."
"You be d--d, for a Charley!" said one of our gang.
"Ho! ho! master jackanapes, I shall give you a cooling in the watch- house, if you tips us any of your jaw. I dare say the young oman here, is quite right about ye, and ye never had any watch at all, at all."
"You are a d--d liar," cried Staunton; "and you are all in with each other, like a pack of rogues as you are."
"I'll tell ye what, young gemman," said another watchman, who was a more potent, grave, and reverend senior than his comrades, "if you do not move on instantly, and let those decent young omen alone, I'll take you all up before Sir Richard."
"Charley, my boy," said Dartmore, "did you ever get thrashed for impertinence?"
The last mentioned watchman took upon himself the reply to this interrogatory by a very summary proceeding: he collared Dartmore, and his companions did the same kind office to us. This action was not committed with impunity: in an instant two of the moon's minions, staffs, lanterns, and all, were measuring their length at the foot of their namesake of royal memory; the remaining Dogberry was, however, a tougher assailant; he held Staunton so firmly in his gripe, that the poor youth could scarcely breathe out a faint and feeble d--ye of defiance, and with his disengaged hand he made such an admirable use of his rattle, that we were surrounded in a trice.
As when an ant-hill is invaded, from every quarter and crevice of the mound arise and pour out an angry host, of whose previous existence the unwary assailant had not dreamt; so from every lane, and alley, and street, and crossing, came fast and far the champions of the night.
"Gentlemen," said Dartmore, "we must fly--sauve qui peut." We wanted no stronger admonition, and, accordingly, all of us who were able, set off with the utmost velocity with which God had gifted us. I have some faint recollection that I myself headed the flight. I remember well that I dashed up the Strand, and dashed down a singular little shed, from which emanated the steam of tea, and a sharp, querulous scream of "All hot--all hot! a penny a pint." I see, now, by the dim light of retrospection, a vision of an old woman in the kennel, and a pewter pot of mysterious ingredients precipitated into a greengrocer's shop, "te virides inter lauros," as Vincent would have said. On we went, faster and faster, as the rattle rung in our ears, and the tramp of the enemy echoed after us in hot pursuit.
"The devil take the hindmost," said Dartmore, breathlessly (as he kept up with me).
"The watchman has saved his majesty the trouble," answered I, looking back and seeing one of our friends in the clutch of the pursuers.
"On, on!" was Dartmore's only reply.
At last, after innumerable perils, and various immersements into back passages, and courts, and alleys, which, like the chicaneries of law, preserved and befriended us, in spite of all the efforts of justice, we fairly found ourselves in safety in the midst of a great square.
Here we paused, and after ascertaining our individual safeties, we looked round to ascertain the sum total of the general loss. Alas! we were wofully fully shorn of our beams--we were reduced onehalf: only three out of the six survived the conflict and the flight.
"Half," (said the companion of Dartmore and myself, whose name was Tringle, and who was a dabbler in science, of which he was not a little vain) "half is less worthy than the whole; but the half is more worthy than nonentity."
"An axiom," said I, "not to be disputed; but now that we are safe, and have time to think about it, are you not slightly of opinion that we behaved somewhat scurvily to our better half, in leaving it so quietly in the hands of the Philistines?"
"By no means," answered Dartmore. "In a party, whose members make no pretensions to sobriety, it would be too hard to expect that persons who are scarcely capable of taking care of themselves, should take care of other people. No; we have, in all these exploits, only the one maxim of self-preservation."
"Allow me," said Tringle, seizing me by the coat, "to explain it to you on scientific principles. You will find, in hydrostatics, that the attraction of cohesion is far less powerful in fluids than in solids; viz. that persons who have been converting their 'solid flesh' into wine skins, cannot stick so close to one another as when they are sober."
"Bravo, Tringle!" cried Dartmore; "and now, Pelham, I hope your delicate scruples are, after so luminous an eclaircissement, set at rest for ever."
"You have convinced me," said I; "let us leave the unfortunates to their fate, and Sir Richard. What is now to be done?"
"Why, in the first place," answered Dartmore, "let us reconnoitre. Does any one know this spot?"
"Not I," said both of us. We inquired of an old fellow, who was tottering home under the same Bacchanalian auspices as ourselves, and found we were in Lincoln's Inn Fields.
"Which shall we do?" asked I, "stroll home; or parade the streets, visit the Cider-Cellar, and the Finish, and kiss the first lass we meet in the morning bringing her charms and carrots to Covent Garden Market?"
"The latter," cried Dartmore and Tringle, "without doubt."
"Come, then," said I, "let us investigate Holborn, and dip into St. Giles's, and then find our way into some more known corner of the globe."
"Amen!" said Dartmore, and accordingly we renewed our march. We wound along a narrow lane, tolerably well known, I imagine, to the gentlemen of the quill, and entered Holborn. There was a beautiful still moon above us, which cast its light over a drowsy stand of hackney coaches, and shed a 'silver sadness' over the thin visages and sombre vestments of two guardians of the night, who regarded us, we thought, with a very ominous aspect of suspicion.
We strolled along, leisurely enough, till we were interrupted by a miserable-looking crowd, assembled round a dull, dingy, melancholy shop, from which gleamed a solitary candle, whose long, spinster-like wick was flirting away with an east wind, at a most unconscionable rate. Upon the haggard and worn countenances of the by-standers, was depicted one general and sympathizing expression of eager, envious, wistful anxiety, which predominated so far over the various characters of each, as to communicate something of a likeness to all. It was an impress of such a seal as you might imagine, not the arch-fiend, but one of his subordinate shepherds, would have set upon each of his flock.
Amid this crowd, I recognized more than one face which I had often seen in my equestrian lounges through town, peering from the shoulders of some intrusive, ragamuffin, wagesless lackey, and squealing out of its wretched, unpampered mouth, the everlasting query of "Want your oss held, Sir?" The rest were made up of unfortunate women of the vilest and most ragged description, aged itinerants, with features seared with famine, bleared eyes, dropping jaws, shivering limbs, and all the mortal signs of hopeless and aidless, and, worst of all, breadless infirmity. Here and there an Irish accent broke out in the oaths of national impatience, and was answered by the shrill, broken voice of some decrepit but indefatigable votaress of pleasure--(Pleasure! good God!) but the chief character of the meeting was silence;--silence, eager, heavy, engrossing; and, above them all, shone out the quiet moon, so calm, so holy, so breathing of still happiness and unpolluted glory, as if it never looked upon the traces of human passion, and misery, and sin. We stood for some moments contemplating the group before us, and then, following the steps of an old, withered crone, who, with a cracked cup in her hand, was pushing her way through the throng, we found ourselves in that dreary pandaemonium, at once the origin and the refuge of humble vices--a Gin- shop.
"Poor devils," said Dartmore, to two or three of the nearest and eagerest among the crowd, "come in, and I will treat you."
The invitation was received with a promptness which must have been the most gratifying compliment to the inviter; and thus Want, which is the mother of Invention, does not object, now and then, to a bantling by Politeness.
We stood by the counter while our proteges were served, in silent observation. In low vice, to me, there is always something too gloomy, almost too fearful for light mirth; the contortions of the madman are stranger than those of the fool, but one does not laugh at them; the sympathy is for the cause--not the effect.
Leaning against the counter at one corner, and fixing his eyes deliberately and unmovingly upon us, was a man about the age of fifty, dressed in a costume of singular fashion, apparently pretending to an antiquity of taste, correspondent with that of the material. This person wore a large cocked-hat, set rather jauntily on one side,--a black coat, which seemed an omnium gatherum of all abominations that had come in its way for the last ten years, and which appeared to advance equal claims (from the manner it was made and worn), to the several dignities of the art military and civil, the arma and the toga:--from the neck of the wearer hung a blue ribbon of amazing breadth, and of a very surprising assumption of newness and splendour, by no means in harmony with the other parts of the tout ensemble; this was the guardian of an eye-glass of block tin, and of dimensions correspondent with the size of the ribbon. Stuck under the right arm, and shaped fearfully like a sword, peeped out the hilt of a very large and sturdy looking stick, "in war a weapon, in peace a support."
The features of the man were in keeping with his garb; they betokened an equal mixture of the traces of poverty, and the assumption of the dignities reminiscent of a better day. Two small, light-blue eyes were shaded by bushy, and rather imperious brows, which lowered from under the hat, like Cerberus out of his den. These, at present, wore the dull, fixed stare of habitual intoxication, though we were not long in discovering that they had not yet forgotten to sparkle with all the quickness, and more than the roguery of youth. His nose was large, prominent, and aristocratic; nor would it have been ill formed, had not some unknown cause pushed it a little nearer towards the left ear, than would have been thought, by an equitable judge of beauty, fair to the pretensions of the right. The lines in the countenance were marked as if in iron, and had the face been perfectly composed, must have given to it a remarkably stern and sinister appearance; but at that moment, there was an arch leer about the mouth, which softened, or at least altered, the expression the features habitually wore.
"Sir," said he, (after a few minutes of silence,) "Sir," said he, approaching me, "will you do me the honour to take a pinch of snuff?" and so saying, he tapped a curious copper box, with a picture of his late majesty upon it.
"With great pleasure," answered I, bowing low, "since the act is a prelude to the pleasure of your acquaintance."
My gentleman of the gin-shop opened his box with an air, as he replied-- "It is but seldom that I meet, in places of this description, gentlemen of the exterior of yourself and your friends. I am not a person very easily deceived by the outward man. Horace, Sir, could not have included me, when he said, specie decipimur. I perceive that you are surprised at hearing me quote Latin. Alas! Sir, in my wandering and various manner of life, I may say, with Cicero and Pliny, that the study of letters has proved my greatest consolation. 'Gaudium mihi,' says the latter author, 'et solatium in literis: nihil tam laete quod his non laetius, nihil tam triste quid non per hos sit minus triste.' God d--n ye, you scoundrel, give me my gin! ar'n't you ashamed of keeping a gentleman of my fashion so long waiting?" This was said to the sleepy dispenser of the spirituous potations, who looked up for a moment with a dull stare, and then replied, "Your money first, Mr. Gordon--you owe us seven-pence halfpenny already."
"Blood and confusion! speakest thou to me of halfpence! Know that thou art a mercenary varlet; yes, knave, mark that, a mercenary varlet." The sleepy Ganymede replied not, and the wrath of Mr. Gordon subsided into a low, interrupted, internal muttering of strange oaths, which rolled and grumbled, and rattled in his throat, like distant thunder.
At length he cheered up a little--"Sir," said he, addressing Dartmore, "it is a sad thing to be dependant on these low persons; the wise among the ancients were never so wrong as when they panegyrized poverty: it is the wicked man's tempter, the good man's perdition, the proud man's curse, the melancholy man's halter."
"You are a strange old cock," said the unsophisticated Dartmore, eyeing him from head to foot; "there's half a sovereign for you."
The blunt blue eyes of Mr. Gordon sharpened up in an instant; he seized the treasure with an avidity, of which the minute after, he seemed somewhat ashamed; for he said, playing with the coin, in an idle, indifferent manner--"Sir, you show a consideration, and, let me add, Sir, a delicacy of feeling, unusual at your years. Sir, I shall repay you at my earliest leisure, and in the meanwhile allow me to say, that I shall be proud of the honour of your acquaintance."
"Thank-ye, old boy," said Dartmore, putting on his glove before he accepted the offered hand of his new friend, which, though it was tendered with great grace and dignity, was of a marvellously dingy and soapless aspect.
"Harkye! you d--d son of a gun!" cried Mr. Gordon, abruptly turning from Dartmore, after a hearty shake of the hand, to the man at the counter-- "Harkye! give me change for this half sovereign, and be d--d to you--and then tip us a double gill of your best; you whey-faced, liverdrenched, pence-griping, belly-griping, paupercheating, sleepy-souled Arismanes of bad spirits. Come, gentlemen, if you have nothing better to do, I'll take you to my club; we are a rare knot of us, there--all choice spirits; some of them are a little uncouth, it is true, but we are not all born Chesterfields. Sir, allow me to ask the favour of your name?"
"Mr. Dartmore, you are a gentleman. Hollo! you Liquorpond-street of a scoundrel--having nothing of liquor but the name, you narrow, nasty, pitiful alley of a fellow, with a kennel for a body, and a sink for a soul; give me my change and my gin, you scoundrel! Humph, is that all right, you Procrustes of the counter, chopping our lawful appetites down to your rascally standard of seven-pence half-penny? Why don't you take a motto, you Paynim dog? Here's one for you--'Measure for measure, and the devil to pay!' Humph, you pitiful toadstool of a trader, you have no more spirit than an empty water-bottle; and when you go to h--ll, they'll use you to cool the bellows. I say, you rascal, why are you worse off than the devil in a hip bath of brimstone?--because, you knave, the devil then would only be half d--d, and you are d--d all over! Come, gentlemen, I am at your service."
The history of a philosophical vagabond, pursuing novelty, and losing content. --Vicar of Wakefield.
We followed our strange friend through the crowd at the door, which he elbowed on either side with the most aristocratic disdain, perfectly regardless of their jokes at his dress and manner; he no sooner got through the throng, than he stopped short (though in the midst of the kennel) and offered us his arm. This was an honour of which we were by no means desirous; for, to say nothing of the shabbiness of Mr. Gordon's exterior, there was a certain odour in his garments which was possibly less displeasing to the wearer than to his acquaintance. Accordingly, we pretended not to notice this invitation, and merely said, we would follow his guidance.
He turned up a narrow street, and after passing some of the most ill favoured alleys I ever had the happiness of beholding, he stopped at a low door; here he knocked twice, and was at last admitted by a slip-shod, yawning wench, with red arms, and a profusion of sandy hair. This Hebe, Mr. Gordon greeted with a loving kiss, which the kissee resented in a very unequivocal strain of disgustful reproach.
"Hush! my Queen of Clubs; my Sultana Sootina!" said Mr. Gordon; "hush! or these gentlemen will think you in earnest. I have brought three new customers to the club."
This speech somewhat softened the incensed Houri of Mr. Gordon's Paradise, and she very civilly asked us to enter.
"Stop!" said Mr. Gordon with an air of importance, "I must just step in and ask the gentlemen to admit you;--merely a form--for a word from me will be quite sufficient." And so saying, he vanished for about five minutes.
On his return, he said, with a cheerful countenance, that we were free of the house, but that we must pay a shilling each as the customary fee. This sum was soon collected, and quietly inserted in the waistcoat pocket of our chaperon, who then conducted us up the passage into a small back room, where were sitting about seven or eight men, enveloped in smoke, and moistening the fever of the Virginian plant with various preparations of malt. On entering, I observed Mr. Gordon deposit, at a sort of bar, the sum of three-pence, by which I shrewdly surmised he had gained the sum of two and nine-pence by our admission. With a very arrogant air, he proceeded to the head of the table, sat himself down with a swagger, and called out, like a lusty royster of the true kidney, for a pint of purl and a pipe. Not to be out of fashion, we ordered the same articles of luxury.
After we had all commenced a couple of puffs at our pipes, I looked round at our fellow guests; they seemed in a very poor state of body, as might naturally be supposed; and, in order to ascertain how far the condition of the mind was suited to that of the frame, I turned round to Mr. Gordon, and asked him in a whisper to give us a few hints as to the genus and characteristics of the individual components of his club. Mr. Gordon declared himself delighted with the proposal, and we all adjourned to a separate table at the corner of the room, where Mr. Gordon, after a deep draught at the purl, thus began:--"You observe yon thin, meagre, cadaverous animal, with rather an intelligent and melancholy expression of countenance--his name is Chitterling Crabtree: his father was an eminent coal-merchant, and left him L10,000. Crabtree turned politician. When fate wishes to ruin a man of moderate abilities and moderate fortune, she makes him an orator. Mr. Chitterling Crabtree attended all the meetings at the Crown and Anchor--subscribed to the aid of the suffering friends of freedom--harangued, argued, sweated, wrote--was fined and imprisoned--regained his liberty, and married--his wife loved a community of goods no less than her spouse, and ran off with one citizen, while he was running on to the others. Chitterling dried his tears; and contented himself with the reflection, that, in 'a proper state of things,' such an event could not have occurred.
"Mr. Crabtree's money and life were now half gone. One does not subscribe to the friends of freedom and spout at their dinners for nothing. But the worst drop was yet in the cup. An undertaking, of the most spirited and promising nature, was conceived by the chief of the friends, and the dearest familiar of Mr. Chitterling Crabtree. Our worthy embarked his fortune in a speculation so certain of success;--crash went the speculation, and off went the friend--Mr. Crabtree was ruined. He was not, however, a man to despair at trifles. What were bread, meat, and beer, to the champion of equality! He went to the meeting that very night: he said he gloried in his losses--they were for the cause: the whole conclave rang with shouts of applause, and Mr. Chitterling Crabtree went to bed happier than ever. I need not pursue his history farther; you see him here--verbum sat. He spouts at the 'Ciceronian,' for half a crown a night, and to this day subscribes sixpence a week to the cause of 'liberty and enlightenment all over the world.'"
"By Heaven!" cried Dartmore, "he is a fine fellow, and my father shall do something for him."
Gordon pricked up his ears, and continued,--"Now, for the second person, gentlemen, whom I am about to describe to you. You see that middle-sized, stout man, with a slight squint, and a restless, lowering, cunning expression?"
"What! him in the kerseymere breeches and green jacket?" said I.
"The same," answered Gordon. "His real name, when he does not travel with an alias, is Job Jonson. He is one of the most remarkable rogues in Christendom; he is so noted a cheat, that there is not a pick-pocket in England who would keep company with him if he had anything to lose. He was the favourite of his father, who intended to leave him all his fortune, which was tolerably large. He robbed him one day on the high road; his father discovered it, and disinherited him. He was placed at a merchant's office, and rose, step by step, to be head clerk, and intended son-in-law. Three nights before his marriage, he broke open the till, and was turned out of doors the next morning. If you were going to do him the greatest favour in the world, he could not keep his hands out of your pocket till you had done it. In short, he has rogued himself out of a dozen fortunes, and a hundred friends, and managed, with incredible dexterity and success, to cheat himself into beggary and a pot of beer."
"I beg your pardon," said I, "but I think a sketch of your own life must be more amusing than that of any one else: am I impertinent in asking for it?"
"Not at all," replied Mr. Gordon; "you shall have it in as few words as possible."
"I was born a gentleman, and educated with some pains; they told me I was a genius, and it was not very hard to persuade me of the truth of the assertion. I wrote verses to a wonder--robbed orchards according to military tactics--never played at marbles, without explaining to my competitors the theory of attraction--and was the best informed, mischievous, little rascal in the whole school. My family were in great doubt what to do with so prodigious a wonder; one said the law, another the church, a third talked of diplomacy, and a fourth assured my mother, that if I could but be introduced at court, I should be lord chamberlain in a twelvemonth. While my friends were deliberating, I took the liberty of deciding; I enlisted, in a fit of loyal valour, in a marching regiment; my friends made the best of a bad job, and bought me an ensigncy.
"I recollect I read Plato the night before I went to battle; the next morning they told me I ran away. I am sure it was a malicious invention, for if I had, I should have recollected it; whereas I was in such a confusion that I cannot remember a single thing that happened in the whole course of that day. About six months afterwards, I found myself out of the army, and in gaol; and no sooner had my relations released me from the latter predicament, than I set off on my travels. At Dublin, I lost my heart to a rich widow (as I thought); I married her, and found her as poor as myself. God knows what would have become of me, if I had not taken to drinking; my wife scorned to be outdone by me in any thing; she followed my example, and at the end of a year I followed her to the grave. Since then I have taken warning, and been scrupulously sober.-- Betty, my love, another pint of purl.
"I was now once more a freeman in the prime of my life; handsome, as you see, gentlemen, and with the strength and spirit of a young Hercules. Accordingly I dried my tears, turned marker by night, at a gambling house, and buck by day, in Bond-street (for I had returned to London). I remember well one morning, that his present Majesty was pleased, en passant, to admire my buckskins--tempora mutantur. Well, gentlemen, one night at a brawl in our salon, my nose met with a rude hint to move to the right. I went, in a great panic to the surgeon, who mended the matter, by moving it to the left. There, thank God! it has rested in quiet ever since. It is needless to tell you the nature of the quarrel in which this accident occurred; however, my friends thought it necessary to remove me from the situation I then held. I went once more to Ireland, and was introduced to 'a friend of freedom.' I was poor; that circumstance is quite enough to make a patriot. They sent me to Paris on a secret mission, and when I returned, my friends were in prison. Being always of a free disposition, I did not envy them their situation: accordingly I returned to England. Halting at Liverpool, with a most debilitated purse, I went into a silversmith's shop to brace it, and about six months afterwards, I found myself on a marine excursion to Botany Bay. On my return from that country, I resolved to turn my literary talents to account. I went to Cambridge, wrote declamations, and translated Virgil at so much a sheet. My relations (thanks to my letters, neither few nor far between) soon found me out; they allowed me (they do so still) half a guinea a week; and upon this and my declamations, I manage to exist. Ever since, my chief residence has been at Cambridge. I am an universal favourite with both graduates and under-graduates. I have reformed my life and my manners, and have become the quiet, orderly person you behold me. Age tames the fiercest of us--
"'Non sum qualis eram.'
"Betsy, bring me my purl, and be d--d to you.
"It is now vacation time, and I have come to town with the idea of holding lectures on the state of education. Mr. Dartmore, your health. Gentlemen, yours. My story is done, and I hope you will pay for the purl."
I hate a drunken rogue. --Twelfth Night.
We took an affectionate leave of Mr. Gordon, and found ourselves once more in the open air; the smoke and the purl had contributed greatly to the continuance of our inebriety, and we were as much averse to bed as ever. We conveyed ourselves, laughing and rioting all the way, to a stand of hackney-coaches. We entered the head of the flock, and drove to Piccadilly. It set us down at the corner of the Haymarket.
"Past two!" cried the watchman, as we sauntered by him.
"You lie, you rascal," said I, "you have passed three now."
We were all merry enough to laugh at this sally; and seeing a light gleam from the entrance of the Royal Saloon, we knocked at the door, and it was opened unto us. We sat down at the only spare table in the place, and looked round at the smug and varment citizens with whom the room was filled.
"Hollo, waiter!" cried Tringle, "some red wine negus--I know not why it is, but the devil himself could never cure me of thirst. Wine and I have a most chemical attraction for each other. You know that we always estimate the force of attraction between bodies by the force required to separate them!"
While we were all three as noisy and nonsensical as our best friends could have wished us, a new stranger entered, approached, looked round the room for a seat, and seeing none, walked leisurely up to our table, and accosted me with a--"Ha! Mr. Pelham, how d'ye do? Well met; by your leave I will sip my grog at your table. No offence, I hope--more the merrier, eh?--Waiter, a glass of hot brandy and water--not too weak. D'ye hear?"
Need I say that this pithy and pretty address proceeded from the mouth of Mr. Tom Thornton. He was somewhat more than half drunk, and his light prying eyes twinkled dizzily in his head. Dartmore, who was, and is, the best natured fellow alive, hailed the signs of his intoxication as a sort of freemasonry, and made way for him beside himself. I could not help remarking, that Thornton seemed singularly less sleek than heretofore: his coat was out at the elbows, his linen was torn and soiled; there was not a vestige of the vulgar spruceness about him which was formerly one of his most prominent characteristics. He had also lost a great deal of the florid health formerly visible in his face; his cheeks seemed sunk and haggard, his eyes hollow, and his complexion sallow and squalid, in spite of the flush which intemperance spread over it at the moment. However, he was in high spirits, and soon made himself so entertaining that Dartmore and Tringle grew charmed with him.
As for me, the antipathy I had to the man sobered and silenced me for the rest of the night; and finding that Dartmore and his friend were eager for an introduction to some female friends of Thornton's, whom he mentioned in terms of high praise, I tore myself from them, and made the best of my way home.
Illi mors gravis incubat Qui notus nimis omnibus Ignotus moritus sibi. --Seneca.
Nous serons par nos lois les juges des ouvrages. --Les Femmes Savantes.
Vincent called on me the next day. "I have news for you," said he, "though somewhat of a lugubrious nature. Lugete Veneres Cupidinesque. You remember the Duchesse de Perpignan!"
"I should think so," was my answer.
"Well then," pursued Vincent, "she is no more. Her death was worthy of her life. She was to give a brilliant entertainment to all the foreigners at Paris: the day before it took place a dreadful eruption broke over her complexion. She sent for the doctors in despair. 'Cure me against to- morrow,' she said, 'and name your own reward.' 'Madame, it is impossible to do so with safety to your health.' 'Au diable! with your health,' said the duchesse, 'what is health to an eruption?' The doctors took the hint; an external application was used--the duchesse woke in the morning as beautiful as ever--the entertainment took place--she was the Armida of the scene. Supper was announced. She took the arm of the--ambassador, and moved through the crowd amidst the audible admiration of all. She stopped for a moment at the door; all eyes were upon her. A fearful and ghastly convulsion passed over her countenance, her lips trembled, she fell on the ground with the most terrible contortions of face and frame. They carried her to bed. She remained for some days insensible; when she recovered, she asked for a looking-glass. Her whole face was drawn on one side, not a wreck of beauty was left;--that night she poisoned herself!"
I cannot express how shocked I was at this information. Much as I had cause to be disgusted with the conduct of that unhappy woman, I could find in my mind no feeling but commiseration and horror at her death; and it was with great difficulty that Vincent persuaded me to accept an invitation to Lady Roseville's for the evening, to meet Glanville and himself.
However, I cheered up as the night came on; and though my mind was still haunted with the tale of the morning, it was neither in a musing nor a melancholy mood that I entered the drawing-room at Lady Roseville's--"So runs the world away."
Glanville was there in his "customary mourning," and looking remarkably handsome.
"Pelham," he said, when he joined me, "do you remember at Lady--'s one night, I said I would introduce you to my sister? I had no opportunity then, for we left the house before she returned from the refreshment room. May I do so now?"
I need not say what was my answer. I followed Glanville into the next room; and to my inexpressible astonishment and delight, discovered in his sister the beautiful, the never-forgotten stranger I had seen at Cheltenham.
For once in my life I was embarrassed--my bow would have shamed a major in the line, and my stuttered and irrelevant address, an alderman in the presence of His Majesty. However, a few moments sufficed to recover me, and I strained every nerve to be as agreeable and seduisant as possible.
After I had conversed with Miss Glanville for some time, Lady Roseville joined us. Stately and Juno-like as was that charming personage in general, she relaxed into a softness of manner to Miss Glanville, that quite won my heart. She drew her to a part of the room, where a very animated and chiefly literary conversation was going on--and I, resolving to make the best of my time, followed them, and once more found myself seated beside Miss Glanville. Lady Roseville was on the other side of my beautiful companion; and I observed that, whenever she took her eyes from Miss Glanville, they always rested upon her brother, who, in the midst of the disputation and the disputants, sat silent, gloomy, and absorbed.
The conversation turned upon Scott's novels; thence on novels in general; and finally on the particular one of Anastasius.
"It is a thousand pities" said Vincent, "that the scene of that novel is so far removed from us. Could the humour, the persons, the knowledge of character, and of the world, come home to us, in a national, not an exotic garb, it would be a more popular, as it is certainly a more gifted work, than even the exquisite novel of Gil Blas. But it is a great misfortune for Hope that--
"'To learning he narrowed his mind, And gave up to the East what was meant for mankind.'
"One often loses, in admiration at the knowledge of peculiar costume, the deference one would have paid to the masterly grasp of universal character."
"It must require," said Lady Roseville, "an extraordinary combination of mental powers to produce a perfect novel."
"One so extraordinary," answered Vincent, "that, though we have one perfect epic poem, and several which pretend to perfection, we have not one perfect novel in the world. Gil Blas approaches more to perfection than any other (owing to the defect I have just mentioned in Anastasius); but it must be confessed that there is a want of dignity, of moral rectitude, and of what I may term moral beauty, throughout the whole book. If an author could combine the various excellencies of Scott and Le Sage, with a greater and more metaphysical knowledge of morals than either, we might expect from him the perfection we have not yet discovered since the days of Apuleius."
"Speaking of morals," said Lady Roseville, "do you not think every novel should have its distinct but, and inculcate, throughout, some one peculiar moral, such as many of Marmontel's and Miss Edgeworth's?"
"No!" answered Vincent, "every good novel has one great end--the same in all--viz. the increasing our knowledge of the heart. It is thus that a novel writer must be a philosopher. Whoever succeeds in shewing us more accurately the nature of ourselves and species, has done science, and, consequently, virtue, the most important benefit; for every truth is a moral. This great and universal end, I am led to imagine, is rather crippled than extended by the rigorous attention to the one isolated moral you mention.
"Thus Dryden, in his Essay on the Progress of Satire, very rightly prefers Horace to Juvenal, so far as instruction is concerned; because the miscellaneous satires of the former are directed against every vice-- the more confined ones of the latter (for the most part) only against one. All mankind is the field the novelist should cultivate--all truth, the moral he should strive to bring home. It is in occasional dialogue, in desultory maxims, in deductions from events, in analysis of character, that he should benefit and instruct. It is not enough--and I wish a certain novelist who has lately arisen would remember this--it is not enough for a writer to have a good heart, amiable sympathies, and what are termed high feelings, in order to shape out a moral, either true in itself, or beneficial in its inculcation. Before he touches his tale, he should be thoroughly acquainted with the intricate science of morals, and the metaphysical, as well as the more open, operations of the mind. If his knowledge is not deep and clear, his love of the good may only lead him into error; and he may pass off the prejudices of a susceptible heart for the precepts of virtue. Would to God that people would think it necessary to be instructed before they attempt to instruct. 'Dire simplement que la vertu est vertu parce qu'elle est bonne en son fonds, et le vice tout au contraire, ce n'est pas les faire connoitre.' For me, if I was to write a novel, I would first make myself an acute, active, and vigilant observer of men and manners. Secondly, I would, after having thus noted effects by action in the world, trace the causes by books, and meditation in my closet. It is then, and not till then, that I would study the lighter graces of style and decoration; nor would I give the rein to invention, till I was convinced that it would create neither monsters of men nor falsities of truth. For my vehicles of instruction or amusement, I would have people as they are--neither worse nor better--and the moral they should convey, should be rather through jest or irony, than gravity and seriousness. There never was an imperfection corrected by portraying perfection; and if levity or ridicule be said so easily to allure to sin, I do not see why they should not be used in defence of virtue. Of this we may be sure, that as laughter is a distinct indication of the human race, so there never was a brute mind or a savage heart that loved to indulge in it." [Note: The Philosopher of Malmesbury express a very different opinion of the origin of laughter, and, for my part, I think his doctrine, in great measure, though not altogether--true.--See Hobbes on Human Nature, and the answer to him in Campbell's Rhetoric.]
"Thank you, my lord," said Lady Roseville, as she took Miss Glanville's arm and moved from the table. "For once you have condescended to give us your own sense, and not other people's; you have scarce made a single quotation."
"Accept," answered Vincent, rising--
"'Accept a miracle instead of wit.'"
Oh! I love!--Methinks This word of love is fit for all the world, And that for gentle hearts, another name Should speak of gentler thoughts than the world owns. --P. B. Shelley.
For me, I ask no more than honour gives, To think me yours, and rank me with your friends, --Shakspeare
Callous and worldly as I may seem, from the tone of these memoirs, I can say, safely, that one of the most delicious evenings I ever spent, was the first of my introduction to Miss Glanville. I went home intoxicated with a subtle spirit of enjoyment that gave a new zest and freshness to life. Two little hours seemed to have changed the whole course of my thoughts and feelings.
There was nothing about Miss Glanville like a heroine--I hate your heroines. She had none of that "modest ease," and "quiet dignity," and "English grace" (Lord help us!) of which certain writers speak with such applause. Thank Heaven, she was alive. She had great sense, but the playfulness of a child; extreme rectitude of mind, but with the tenderness of a gazelle: if she laughed, all her countenance, lips, eyes, forehead, cheeks laughed too: "Paradise seemed opened in her face:" if she looked grave, it was such a lofty and upward, yet sweet and gentle gravity, that you might (had you been gifted with the least imagination,) have supposed, from the model of her countenance, a new order of angels between the cherubim and the seraphim, the angels of Love and Wisdom. She was not, perhaps, quite so silent in society as my individual taste would desire; but when she spoke, it was with a propriety of thought and diction which made me lament when her voice had ceased. It was as if something beautiful in creation had stopped suddenly.
Enough of this now. I was lazily turning (the morning after Lady Roseville's) over some old books, when Vincent entered. I observed that his face was flushed, and his eyes sparkled with more than their usual brilliancy. He looked carefully round the room, and then approaching his chair towards mine, said, in a low tone--"Pelham, I have something of importance on my mind which I wish to discuss with you; but let me entreat you to lay aside your usual levity, and pardon me if I say affectation; meet me with the candour and plainness which are the real distinctions of your character."
"My Lord Vincent," I replied, "there is, in your words, a depth and solemnity which pierce me, through one of N--'s best stuffed coats, even to the very heart. Let me ring for my poodle and some eau de Cologne, and I will hear you as you desire, from the alpha to the omega of your discourse."
Vincent bit his lip, but I rung, had my orders executed, and then settling myself and my poodle on the sofa, I declared my readiness to attend to him.
"My dear friend," said he, "I have often seen that, in spite of all your love of pleasure, you have your mind continually turned towards higher and graver objects; and I have thought the better of your talents, and of your future success, for the little parade you make of the one, and the little care you appear to pay to the other: for
"''tis a common proof, That lowliness is young Ambition's ladder.'
"I have also observed that you have, of late, been much to Lord Dawton's; I have even heard that you have been twice closeted with him. It is well known that that person entertains hopes of leading the Opposition to the grata arva of the Treasury benches; and notwithstanding the years in which the Whigs have been out of office, there are some persons who pretend to foresee the chance of a coalition between them and Mr. Gaskell, to whose principles it is also added that they have been gradually assimilating."
Here Vincent paused a moment, and looked full at me. I met his eye with a glance as searching as his own. His look changed, and he continued.
"Now, listen to me, Pelham: such a coalition never can take place. You smile; I repeat it. It is my object to form a third party; perhaps while the two great sects 'anticipate the cabinet designs of fate,' there may suddenly come by a third, 'to whom the whole shall be referred.' Say that you think it not impossible that you may join us, and I will tell you more."
I paused for three minutes before I answered Vincent. I then said--"I thank you very sincerely for your proposal: tell me the names of two of your designed party, and I will answer you."
"Lord Lincoln and Lord Lesborough."
"What!" said I--"the Whig, who says in the Upper House, that whatever may be the distresses of the people, they shall not be gratified at the cost of one of the despotic privileges of the aristocracy. Go to!--I will have none of him. As to Lesborough, he is a fool and a boaster--who is always puffing his own vanity with the windiest pair of oratorical bellows that ever were made by air and brass, for the purpose of sound and smoke, 'signifying nothing.' Go to!--I will have none of him either."
"You are right in your judgment of my confreres," answered Vincent; "but we must make use of bad tools for good purposes."
"No--no!" said I; "the commonest carpenter will tell you the reverse."
Vincent eyed me suspiciously. "Look you!" said he: "I know well that no man loves better than you place, power, and reputation. Do you grant this?"
"I do!" was my reply.
"Join with us; I will place you in the House of Commons immediately: if we succeed, you shall have the first and the best post I can give you. Now--'under which king, Bezonian, speak or die!'"
"I answer you in the words of the same worthy you quote," said I--"'A foutra for thine office.'--Do you know, Vincent, that I have, strange as it may seem to you, such a thing as a conscience? It is true I forget it now and then; but in a public capacity, the recollection of others would put me very soon in mind of it. I know your party well. I cannot imagine- -forgive me--one more injurious to the country, nor one more revolting to myself; and I do positively affirm, that I would sooner feed my poodle on paunch and liver, instead of cream and fricassee, than be an instrument in the hands of men like Lincoln and Lesborough; who talk much, who perform nothing--who join ignorance of every principle of legislation to indifference for every benefit to the people:--who are full of 'wise saws,' but empty of 'modern instances'--who level upwards, and trample downwards--and would only value the ability you are pleased to impute to me, in the exact proportion that a sportsman values the ferret, that burrows for his pleasure, and destroys for his interest. Your party sha'n't stand!"
Vincent turned pale--"And how long," said he, "have you learnt 'the principles of legislation,' and this mighty affection for the 'benefit of the people?'"
"Ever since," said I, coldly, "I learnt any thing! The first piece of real knowledge I ever gained was, that my interest was incorporated with that of the beings with whom I had the chance of being cast: if I injure them, I injure myself: if I can do them any good, I receive the benefit in common with the rest. Now, as I have a great love for that personage who has now the honour of addressing you, I resolved to be honest for his sake. So much for my affection for the benefit of the people. As to the little knowledge of the principles of legislation, on which you are kind enough to compliment me, look over the books on this table, or the writings in this desk, and know, that ever since I had the misfortune of parting from you at Cheltenham, there has not been a day in which I have spent less than six hours reading and writing on that sole subject. But enough of this--will you ride to-day?"
Vincent rose slowly--
"'Gli arditi (said he) tuoi voti Gia noti mi sono; Ma inveno a quel trono, Tu aspiri con me Trema per te!'"
"'Io trema' (I replied out of the same opera)--'Io trema--di te!'"
"Well," answered Vincent, and his fine high nature overcame his momentary resentment and chagrin at my reception of his offer--"Well, I honour your for your sentiments, though they are opposed to my own. I may depend on your secrecy?"
"You may," said I.
"I forgive you, Pelham," rejoined Vincent: "we part friends."
"Wait one moment," said I, "and pardon me, if I venture to speak in the language of caution to one in every way so superior to myself. No one, (I say this with a safe conscience, for I never flattered my friend in my life, though I have often adulated my enemy)--no one has a greater admiration for your talents than myself; I desire eagerly to see you in the station most fit for their display; pause one moment before you link yourself, not only to a party, but to principles that cannot stand. You have only to exert yourself, and you may either lead the opposition, or be among the foremost in the administration. Take something certain, rather than what is doubtful; or at least stand alone:--such is my belief in your powers, if fairly tried, that if you were not united to those men, I would promise you faithfully to stand or fall by you alone, even if we had not through all England another soldier to our standard; but--"
"I thank you, Pelham," said Vincent, interrupting me; "till we meet in public as enemies, we are friends in private--I desire no more.-- Farewell."
Il vaut mieux employer notre esprit a supporter les infortunes qui nous arrivent, qu'a prevoir celle qui nous peuvent arriver. --Rochefoucault.
No sooner had Vincent departed, than I buttoned my coat, and sallied out through a cold easterly wind to Lord Dawton's. It was truly said by the political quoter, that I had been often to that nobleman's, although I have not thought it advisable to speak of my political adventures hitherto. I have before said that I was ambitious; and the sagacious have probably already discovered, that I was somewhat less ignorant than it was my usual pride and pleasure to appear. Heaven knows why! but I had established among my uncle's friends, a reputation for talent, which I by no means deserved; and no sooner had I been personally introduced to Lord Dawton, than I found myself courted by that personage in a manner equally gratifying and uncommon. When I lost my seat in Parliament, Dawton assured me that before the session was over, I should be returned for one of his boroughs; and though my mind revolted at the idea of becoming dependant on any party, I made little scruple of promising conditionally to ally myself to his. So far had affairs gone, when I was honoured with Vincent's proposal. I found Lord Dawton in his library, with the Marquess of Clandonald, (Lord Dartmore's father, and, from his rank and property, classed among the highest, as, from his vanity and restlessness, he was among the most active members of the Opposition.) Clandonald left the room when I entered. Few men in office are wise enough to trust the young; as if the greater zeal and sincerity of youth did not more than compensate for its appetite for the gay, or its thoughtlessness of the serious.
When we were alone, Dawton said to me, "We are in great despair at the motion upon the--, to be made in the Lower House. We have not a single person whom we can depend upon, for the sweeping and convincing answer we ought to make; and though we should at least muster our full force in voting, our whipper-in, poor--, is so ill, that I fear we shall make but a very pitiful figure."
"Give me," said I, "full permission to go forth into the high-ways and by-ways, and I will engage to bring a whole legion of dandies to the House door. I can go no farther; your other agents must do the rest."
"Thank you, my dear young friend," said Lord Dawton, eagerly; "thank you a thousand times: we must really get you in the House as soon as possible; you will serve us more than I can express."
I bowed, with a sneer I could not repress. Dawton pretended not to observe it. "Come," said I, "my lord, we have no time to lose. I shall meet you, perhaps, at Brookes's, to morrow evening, and report to you respecting my success."
Lord Dawton pressed my hand warmly, and followed me to the door.
"He is the best premier we could have," thought I; "but he deceives himself, if he thinks Henry Pelham will play the jackall to his lion. He will soon see that I shall keep for myself what he thinks I hunt for him." I passed through Pall Mall, and thought of Glanville. I knocked at his door: he was at home. I found him leaning his cheek upon his hand, in a thoughtful position; an open letter was before him.
"Read that," he said, pointing to it.
I did so. It was from the agent to the Duke of--, and contained his appointment to an opposition borough.
"A new toy, Pelham," said he, faintly smiling; "but a little longer, and they will all be broken--the rattle will be the last."
"My dear, dear Glanville," said I, much affected, "do not talk thus; you have every thing before you."
"Yes," interrupted Glanville, "you are right, for every thing left for me is in the grave. Do you imagine that I can taste one of the possessions which fortune has heaped upon me, that I have one healthful faculty, one sense of enjoyment, among the hundred which other men are 'heirs to?' When did you ever see me for a moment happy? I live, as it were, on a rock, barren, and herbless, and sapless, and cut off from all human fellowship and intercourse. I had only a single object left to live for, when you saw me at Paris; I have gratified that, and the end and purpose of my existence is fulfilled. Heaven is merciful; but a little while, and this feverish and unquiet spirit shall be at rest."
I took his hand and pressed it.
"Feel," said he, "this dry, burning skin; count my pulse through the variations of a single minute, and you will cease either to pity me, or to speak to me of life. For months I have had, night and day, a wasting-- wasting fever, of brain, and heart, and frame; the fire works well, and the fuel is nearly consumed."
He paused, and we were both silent. In fact, I was shocked at the fever of his pulse, no less than affected at the despondency of his words. At last I spoke to him of medical advice.
"'Canst thou,'" he said, with a deep solemnity of voice and manner, "'administer to a mind diseased--pluck from the memory'--Ah! away with the quotation and the reflection." And he sprung from the sofa, and going to the window, opened it, and leaned out for a few moments in silence. When he turned again towards me, his manner had regained its usual quiet. He spoke about the important motion approaching on the--, and promised to attend; and then, by degrees, I led him to talk of his sister.
He mentioned her with enthusiasm. "Beautiful as Ellen is," he said, "her face is the very faintest reflection of her mind. Her habits of thought are so pure, that every impulse is a virtue. Never was there a person to whom goodness was so easy. Vice seems something so opposite to her nature, that I cannot imagine it possible for her to sin."
"Will you not call with me at your mother's?" said I. "I am going there to-day."
Glanville replied in the affirmative, and we went at once to Lady Glanville's, in Berkeley-square. We were admitted into his mother's boudoir. She was alone with Miss Glanville. Our conversation soon turned from common-place topics to those of a graver nature; the deep melancholy of Glanville's mind imbued all his thoughts when he once suffered himself to express them.
"Why," said Lady Glanville, who seemed painfully fond of her son, "why do you not go more into the world? You suffer your mind to prey upon itself, till it destroys you. My dear, dear son, how very ill you seem."
Ellen, whose eyes swam in tears, as they gazed upon her brother, laid her beautiful hand upon his, and said, "For my mother's sake, Reginald, do take more care of yourself: you want air, and exercise, and amusement."
"No," answered Glanville, "I want nothing but occupation, and thanks to the Duke of--, I have now got it. I am chosen member for--."
"I am too happy," said the proud mother; "you will now be all I have ever predicted for you;" and, in her joy at the moment, she forgot the hectic of his cheek, and the hollowness of his eye.
"Do you remember," said Reginald, turning to his sister, "those beautiful lines in my favourite Ford--
'"Glories Of human greatness are but pleasing dreams, And shadows soon decaying. On the stage Of my mortality, my youth has acted Some scenes of vanity, drawn out at length By varied pleasures--sweetened in the mixture, But tragical in issue. Beauty, pomp, With every sensuality our giddiness Doth frame an idol--are inconstant friends When any troubled passion makes us halt On the unguarded castle of the mind.'"
"Your verses," said I, "are beautiful, even to me, who have no soul for poetry, and never wrote a line in my life. But I love not their philosophy. In all sentiments that are impregnated with melancholy, and instil sadness as a moral, I question the wisdom, and dispute the truth. There is no situation in life which we cannot sweeten, or embitter, at will. If the past is gloomy, I do not see the necessity of dwelling upon it. If the mind can make one vigorous exertion, it can another: the same energy you put forth in acquiring knowledge, would also enable you to baffle misfortune. Determine not to think upon what is painful; resolutely turn away from every thing that recals it; bend all your attention to some new and engrossing object; do this, and you defeat the past. You smile, as if this were impossible; yet it is not an iota more so, than to tear one's self from a favourite pursuit, and addict one's self to an object unwelcome to one at first. This the mind does continually through life: so can it also do the other, if you will but make an equal exertion. Nor does it seem to me natural to the human heart to look much to the past; all its plans, its projects, its aspirations, are for the future; it is for the future, and in the future, that we live. Our very passions, when most agitated, are most anticipative. Revenge, avarice, ambition, love, the desire of good and evil, are all fixed and pointed to some distant goal; to look backwards, is like walking backwards--against our proper formation; the mind does not readily adopt the habit, and when once adopted, it will readily return to its natural bias. Oblivion is, therefore, an easier obtained boon than we imagine. Forgetfulness of the past is purchased by increasing our anxiety for the future."
I paused for a moment, but Glanville did not answer me; and, encouraged by a look from Ellen, I continued--"You remember that, according to an old creed, if we were given memory as a curse, we were also given hope as a blessing. Counteract the one by the other. In my own life, I have committed many weak, many wicked actions; I have chased away their remembrance, though I have transplanted their warning to the future. As the body involuntarily avoids what is hurtful to it, without tracing the association to its first experience, so the mind insensibly shuns what has formerly afflicted it, even without palpably recalling the remembrance of the affliction. The Roman philosopher placed the secret of human happiness in the one maxim--'not to admire.' I never could exactly comprehend the sense of the moral: my maxim for the same object would be- -'never to regret.'"
"Alas! my dear friend," said Glanville--"we are great philosophers to each other, but not to ourselves; the moment we begin to feel sorrow, we cease to reflect on its wisdom. Time is the only comforter; your maxims are very true, but they confirm me in my opinion--that it is in vain for us to lay down fixed precepts for the regulation of the mind, so long as it is dependent upon the body. Happiness and its reverse are constitutional in many persons, and it is then only that they are independent of circumstances. Make the health, the frames of all men alike--make their nerves of the same susceptibility--their memories of the same bluntness, or acuteness--and I will then allow, that you can give rules adapted to all men; till then, your maxim, 'never to regret,' is as idle as Horace's 'never to admire.' It may be wise to you--it is impossible to me!"
With these last words, Glanville's voice faltered, and I felt averse to push the argument further. Ellen's eye caught mine, and gave me a look so kind, and almost grateful, that I forgot every thing else in the world. A few moments afterwards a friend of Lady Glanville's was announced, and I left the room.
Intus et in jecore aegro, Nascuntur domini. --Persius.
The next two or three days I spent in visiting all my male friends in the Lower House, and engaging them to dine with me, preparatory to the great act of voting on--'s motion. I led them myself to the House of Commons, and not feeling sufficiently interested in the debate to remain, as a stranger, where I ought, in my own opinion, to have acted as a performer, I went to Brookes's to wait the result. Lord Gravelton, a stout, bluff, six-foot nobleman, with a voice like a Stentor, was "blowing up" the waiters in the coffee-room. Mr.--, the author of T--, was conning the Courier in a corner; and Lord Armadilleros, the haughtiest and most honourable peer in the calendar, was monopolizing the drawing-room, with his right foot on one hob and his left on the other. I sat myself down in silence, and looked over the "crack article" in the Edinburgh. By and by, the room got fuller; every one spoke of the motion before the House, and anticipated the merits of the speeches, and the numbers of the voters.
At last a principal member entered--a crowd gathered round him. "I have heard," he said, "the most extraordinary speech, for the combination of knowledge and imagination, that I ever recollect to have listened to."
"From Gaskell, I suppose?" was the universal cry.
"No," said Mr.--, "Gaskell has not yet spoken. It was from a young man who has only just taken his seat. It was received with the most unanimous cheers, and was, indeed, a remarkable display."
"What is his name?" I asked, already half foreboding the answer.
"I only just learnt it as I left the House," replied Mr.--: "the speaker was Sir Reginald Glanville."
Then every one whom I had often before heard censure Glanville for his rudeness, or laugh at him for his eccentricity, opened their mouths in congratulations to their own wisdom, for having long admired his talents and predicted his success.
I left the "turba Remi sequens fortunam;" I felt agitated and feverish; those who have unexpectedly heard of the success of a man for whom great affection is blended with greater interest, can understand the restlessness of mind with which I wandered into the streets. The air was cold and nipping. I was buttoning my coat round my chest, when I heard a voice say, "You have dropped your glove, Mr. Pelham."
The speaker was Thornton. I thanked him coldly for his civility, and was going on, when he said, "If your way is up Pall Mall, I have no objection to join you for a few minutes."
I bowed with some hauteur; and as I seldom refuse any opportunity of knowing more perfectly individual character, I said I should be happy of his company so long as our way lay together.
"It is a cold night, Mr. Pelham," said Thornton, after a pause. "I have been dining at Hatchett's, with an old Paris acquaintance: I am sorry we did not meet more often in France, but I was so taken up with my friend Mr. Warburton."
As Thornton uttered that name, he looked hard at me, and then added, "By the by, I saw you with Sir Reginald Glanville the other day; you know him well, I presume?"
"Tolerably well," said I, with indifference.
"What a strange character he is," rejoined Thornton; "I also have known him for some years," and again Thornton looked pryingly into my countenance. Poor fool, it was not for a penetration like his to read the cor inscrutabile of a man born and bred like me, in the consummate dissimulation of bon ton.
"He is very rich, is he not?" said Thornton, after a brief silence.
"I believe so," said I.
"Humph!" answered Thornton. "Things have grown better with him, in proportion as they grew worse with me, who have had 'as good luck as the cow that stuck herself with her own horn.' I suppose he is not too anxious to recollect me--'poverty parts fellowship.' Well, hang pride, say I; give me an honest heart all the year round, in summer or winter, drought or plenty. Would to God, some kind friend would lend me twenty pounds."
To this wish I made no reply. Thornton sighed.
"Mr. Pelham," renewed he, "it is true I have known you but a short time-- excuse the liberty I take--but if you could lend me a trifle, it would really assist me very much."
"Mr. Thornton," said I, "if I knew you better, and could serve you more, you might apply to me for a more real assistance than any bagatelle I could afford you would be. If twenty pounds would really be of service to you, I will lend it you, upon this condition, that you never ask me for another farthing."
Thornton's face brightened. "A thousand, thousand--" he began.
"No," interrupted I, "no thanks, only your promise."
"Upon my honour," said Thornton, "I will never ask you for another farthing."
"There is honour among thieves," thought I, and so I took out the sum mentioned, and gave it to him. In good earnest, though I disliked the man, his threadbare garments and altered appearance moved me to compassion. While he was pocketing the money, which he did with the most unequivocal delight, a tall figure passed us rapidly. We both turned at the same instant, and recognised Glanville. He had not gone seven yards beyond us, before we observed his steps, which were very irregular, pause suddenly; a moment afterwards he fell against the iron rails of an area; we hastened towards him, he was apparently fainting. His countenance was perfectly livid, and marked with the traces of extreme exhaustion. I sent Thornton to the nearest public-house for some water; before he returned, Glanville had recovered.
"All--all--in vain," he said, slowly and unconsciously, "death is the only Lethe."
He started when he saw me. I made him lean on my arm, and we walked on slowly.
"I have already heard of your speech," said I. Glanville smiled with the usual faint and sicklied expression, which made his smile painful even in its exceeding sweetness.
"You have also already seen its effects; the excitement was too much for me."
"It must have been a proud moment when you sat down," said I.
"It was one of the bitterest I ever felt--it was fraught with the memory of the dead. What are all honours to me now?--O God! O God! have mercy upon me!"
And Glanville stopped suddenly, and put his hand to his temples.
By this time Thornton had joined us. When Glanville's eyes rested upon him, a deep hectic rose slowly and gradually over his cheeks. Thornton's lip curled with a malicious expression. Glanville marked it, and his brow grew on the moment as black as night.
"Begone!" he said, in a loud voice, and with a flashing eye, "begone instantly; I loathe the very sight of so base a thing."
Thornton's quick, restless eye, grew like a living coal, and he bit his lip so violently that the blood gushed out. He made, however, no other answer than--"You seem agitated to-night, Sir Reginald; I wish your speedy restoration to better health. Mr. Pelham, your servant."
Glanville walked on in silence till we came to his door: we parted there; and for want of any thing better to do, I sauntered towards the M--Hell. There were only about ten or twelve persons in the rooms, and all were gathered round the hazard table--I looked on silently, seeing the knaves devour the fools, and younger brothers make up in wit for the deficiencies of fortune.
The Honourable Mr. Blagrave came up to me; "Do you never play?" said he.
"Sometimes," was my brief reply.
"Lend me a hundred pounds!" rejoined my kind acquaintance.
"I was just going to make you the same request," said I.
Blagrave laughed heartily. "Well," said he, "be my security to a Jew, and I'll be yours. My fellow lends me money at only forty per cent. My governor is a d--d stingy old fellow, for I am the most moderate son in the universe. I neither hunt, nor race, nor have I any one favourite expense, except gambling, and he won't satisfy me in that--now I call such conduct shameful!"
"Unheard-of barbarity," said I; "and you do well to ruin your property by Jews, before you have it; you could not avenge yourself better on 'the governor.'"
"No, d--me," said Blagrave, "leave me alone for that! Well, I have got five pounds left, I shall go and slap it down."
No sooner had he left me than I was accosted by Mr. Goren, a handsome little adventurer, who lived the devil knew how, for the devil seemed to take excellent care of him.
"Poor Blagrave!" said he, eyeing the countenance of that ingenious youth. "He is a strange fellow--he asked me the other day, if I ever read the History of England, and told me there was a great deal in it about his ancestor, a Roman General, in the time of William the Conqueror, called Caractacus. He told me at the last New-market, that he had made up a capital book, and it turned out that he had hedged with such dexterity, that he must lose one thousand pounds, and he might lose two. Well, well," continued Goren, with a sanctified expression; "I would sooner see those real fools here, than the confounded scoundrels, who pillage one under a false appearance. Never, Mr. Pelham, trust to a man at a gaming- house; the honestest look hides the worst sharper! Shall you try your luck to-night?"
"No," said I, "I shall only look on."
Goren sauntered to the table, and sat down next to a rich young man, of the best temper and the worst luck in the world. After a few throws, Goren said to him, "Lord--, do put your money aside--you have so much on the table, that in interferes with mine--and that is really so unpleasant. Suppose you put some of it in your pocket."
Lord--took a handful of notes, and stuffed them carelessly in his coat pocket. Five minutes afterwards I saw Goren insert his hand, empty, in his neighbour's pocket, and bring it out full--and half an hour afterwards he handed over a fifty pound note to the marker, saying, "There, Sir, is my debt to you. God bless me, Lord--, how you have won; I wish you would not leave all your money about--do put it in your pocket with the rest."
Lord--(who had perceived the trick, though he was too indolent to resent it), laughed. "No, no, Goren," said he, "you must let me keep some!"
Goren coloured, and soon after rose. "D--n my luck!" said he, as he passed me. "I wonder I continue to play--but there are such sharpers in the room. Avoid a gaming house, Mr. Pelham, if you wish to live."
"And let live," thought I.
I was just going away, when I heard a loud laugh on the stairs, and immediately afterwards Thornton entered, joking with one of the markers. He did not see me; but approaching the table, drew out the identical twenty pound note I had given him, and asked for change with the air of a millionaire. I did not wait to witness his fortune, good or ill; I cared too little about it. I descended the stairs, and the servant, on opening the door for me, admitted Sir John Tyrrell. "What," I thought, "is the habit still so strong?" We stopped each other, and after a few words of greeting, I went, once more, up stairs with him.
Thornton was playing as eagerly with his small quota as Lord C--with his ten thousands. He nodded with an affected air of familiarity to Tyrrell, who returned his salutation with the most supercilious hauteur; and very soon afterwards the baronet was utterly engrossed by the chances of the game. I had, however, satisfied my curiosity, in ascertaining that there was no longer any intimacy between him and Thornton, and accordingly once more I took my departure.
The times have been That when the brains were out, the man would die, And there an end--but now they rise again. --Macbeth.
It was a strange thing to see a man like Glanville, with costly tastes, luxurious habits, great talents, peculiarly calculated for display, courted by the highest members of the state, admired for his beauty and genius by half the women in London, yet living in the most ascetic seclusion from his kind, and indulging in the darkest and most morbid despondency. No female was ever seen to win even his momentary glance of admiration. All the senses seemed to have lost, for his palate, their customary allurements. He lived among his books, and seemed to make his favourite companions amidst the past. At nearly all hours of the night he was awake and occupied, and at day-break his horse was always brought to his door. He rode alone for several hours, and then, on his return, he was employed till the hour he went to the House, in the affairs and politics of the day. Ever since his debut, he had entered with much constancy into the more leading debates, and his speeches were invariably of the same commanding order which had characterised his first.
It was singular that, in his parliamentary display, as in his ordinary conversation, there were none of the wild and speculative opinions, or the burning enthusiasm of romance, in which the natural inclination of his mind seemed so essentially to delight. His arguments were always remarkable for the soundness of the principles on which they were based, and the logical clearness with which they were expressed. The feverish fervour of his temperament was, it is true, occasionally shown in a remarkable energy of delivery, or a sudden and unexpected burst of the more impetuous powers of oratory; but these were so evidently natural and spontaneous, and so happily adapted to be impressive of the subject, rather than irrelevant from its bearings, that they never displeased even the oldest and coldest cynics and calculators of the House.
It is no uncommon contradiction in human nature (and in Glanville it seemed peculiarly prominent) to find men of imagination and genius gifted with the strongest common sense, for the admonition or benefit of others, even while constantly neglecting to exert it for themselves. He was soon marked out as the most promising and important of all the junior members of the House; and the coldness with which he kept aloof from social intercourse with the party he adopted, only served to increase their respect, though it prevented their affection.
Lady Roseville's attachment to him was scarcely a secret; the celebrity of her name in the world of ton made her least look or action the constant subject of present remark and after conversation; and there were too many moments, even in the watchful publicity of society, when that charming but imprudent person forgot every thing but the romance of her attachment. Glanville seemed not only perfectly untouched by it, but even wholly unconscious of its existence, and preserved invariably, whenever he was forced into the crowd, the same stern, cold, unsympathizing reserve, which made him, at once, an object of universal conversation and dislike.
Three weeks after Glanville's first speech in the House, I called upon him, with a proposal from Lord Dawton. After we had discussed it, we spoke on more familiar topics, and, at last, he mentioned Thornton. It will be observed that we had never conversed respecting that person; nor had Glanville once alluded to our former meetings, or to his disguised appearance and false appellation at Paris. Whatever might be the mystery, it was evidently of a painful nature, and it was not, therefore, for me to allude to it. This day he spoke of Thornton with a tone of indifference.
"The man," he said, "I have known for some time; he was useful to me abroad, and, notwithstanding his character, I rewarded him well for his services. He has since applied to me several times for money, which is spent at the gambling-house as soon as it is obtained. I believe him to be leagued with a gang of sharpers of the lowest description; and I am really unwilling any farther to supply the vicious necessities of himself and his comrades. He is a mean, mercenary rascal, who would scruple at no enormity, provided he was paid for it!"
Glanville paused for a few moments, and then added, while his cheek blushed, and his voice seemed somewhat hesitating and embarrassed--"You remember Mr. Tyrrell, at Paris?"
"Yes," said I--"he is, at present, in London, and--" Glanville started as if he had been shot.
"No, no," he exclaimed, wildly--"he died at Paris, from want--from starvation."
"You are mistaken," said I; "he is now Sir John Tyrrell, and possessed of considerable property. I saw him myself, three weeks ago."
Glanville, laying his hand upon my arm, looked in my face with a long, stern, prying gaze, and his cheek grew more ghastly and livid with every moment. At last he turned, and muttered something between his teeth; and at that moment the door opened, and Thornton was announced. Glanville sprung towards him and seized him by the throat!
"Dog!" he cried, "you have deceived me--Tyrrell lives!"
"Hands off!" cried the gamester, with a savage grin of defiance--"hands off! or, by the Lord that made me, you shall have gripe for gripe!"
"Ho, wretch!" said Glanville, shaking him violently, while his worn and slender, yet still powerful frame, trembled with the excess of his passion; "dost thou dare to threaten me!" and with these words he flung Thornton against the opposite wall with such force, that the blood gushed out of his mouth and nostrils. The gambler rose slowly, and wiping the blood from his face, fixed his malignant and fiery eye upon his aggressor, with an expression of collected hate and vengeance, that made my very blood creep.
"It is not my day now," he said, with a calm, quiet, cold voice, and then, suddenly changing his manner, he approached me with a sort of bow, and made some remark on the weather.
Meanwhile, Glanville had sunk on the sofa, exhausted, less by his late effort than the convulsive passion which had produced it. He rose in a few moments, and said to Thornton, "Pardon my violence; let this pay your bruises;" and he placed a long and apparently well filled purse in Thornton's hand. That veritable philosophe took it with the same air as a dog receives the first caress from the hand which has just chastised him; and feeling the purse between his short, hard fingers, as if to ascertain the soundness of its condition, quietly slid it into his breeches pocket, which he then buttoned with care, and pulling his waistcoat down, as if for further protection to the deposit, he turned towards Glanville, and said, in his usual quaint style of vulgarity--"Least said, Sir Reginald, the soonest mended. Gold is a good plaister for bad bruises. Now, then, your will:--ask and I will answer, unless you think Mr. Pelham un de trop."
I was already at the door, with the intention of leaving the room, when Glanville cried, "Stay, Pelham, I have but one question to ask Mr. Thornton. Is John Tyrrell still living?"
"He is!" answered Thornton, with a sardonic smile.
"And beyond all want!" resumed Glanville.
"He is!" was the tautological reply.
"Mr. Thornton," said Glanville, with a calm voice, "I have now done with you--you may leave the room!"
Thornton bowed with an air of ironical respect, and obeyed the command.
I turned to look at Glanville. His countenance, always better adapted to a stern, than a soft expression, was perfectly fearful; every line in it seemed dug into a furrow; the brows were bent over his large and flashing eyes with a painful intensity of anger and resolve; his teeth were clenched firmly as if by a vice, and the thin upper lip, which was drawn from them with a bitter curl of scorn, was as white as death. His right hand had closed upon the back of the massy chair, over which his tall nervous frame leant, and was grasping it with an iron force, which it could not support: it snapped beneath his hand like a hazel stick. This accident, slight as it was, recalled him to himself. He apologized with apparent self-possession for his disorder; and, after a few words of fervent and affectionate farewell on my part, I left him to the solitude which I knew he desired.
While I seemed only intent upon pleasure, I locked in my heart the consciousness and vanity of power; in the levity of the lip, I disguised the knowledge and the workings of the brain; and I looked, as with a gifted eye, upon the mysteries of the hidden depths, while I seemed to float an idler with the herd only upon the surface of the stream. --Falkland.
As I walked home, revolving the scene I had witnessed, the words of Tyrrell came into my recollection--viz. that the cause of Glanville's dislike to him had arisen in Tyrrell's greater success in some youthful liaison. In this account I could not see much probability. In the first place, the cause was not sufficient to produce such an effect; and, in the second, there was little likelihood that the young and rich Glanville, possessed of the most various accomplishments, and the most remarkable personal beauty, should be supplanted by a needy spendthrift (as Tyrrell at that time was), of coarse manners, and unpolished mind; with a person not, indeed, unprepossessing, but somewhat touched by time, and never more comparable to Glanville's than that of the Satyr to Hyperion.
While I was meditating over a mystery which excited my curiosity more powerfully than anything, not relating to himself, ought ever to occupy the attention of a wise man, I was accosted by Vincent: the difference in our politics had of late much dissevered us, and when he took my arm, and drew me up Bond-street, I was somewhat surprised at his condescension.
"Listen to me, Pelham," he said; "once more I offer you a settlement in our colony. There will be great changes soon: trust me, so radical a party as that you have adopted can never come in: our's, on the contrary, is no less moderate than liberal. This is the last time of asking; for I know you will soon have exposed your opinions in public more openly than you have yet done, and then it will be too late. At present I hold, with Hudibras, and the ancients, that it is--
"'More honourable far, servare Civem than slay an adversary.'"
"Alas, Vincent," said I, "I am marked out for slaughter, for you cannot convince me by words, and so, I suppose, you must conquer me by blows. Adieu, this is my way to Lord Dawton's: where are you going?"
"To mount my horse, and join the parca juventus," said Vincent, with a laugh at his own witticism, as we shook hands, and parted.
I grieve much, my beloved reader, that I cannot unfold to thee all the particulars of my political intrigue. I am, by the very share which fell to my lot, bound over to the strictest secrecy, as to its nature, and the characters of the chief agents in its execution. Suffice it to say, that the greater part of my time was, though furtively, employed in a sort of home diplomacy, gratifying alike to the activity of my tastes, and the vanity of my mind; and there were moments when I ventured to grasp in my imagination the highest honours of the state, and the most lucrative offices of power. I had filled Dawton, and his coadjutors, with an exaggerated opinion of my abilities; but I knew well how to sustain it. I rose by candle-light, and consumed, in the intensest application, the hours which every other individual of our party wasted in enervating slumbers, from the hesternal dissipation or debauch. Was there a question in political economy debated, mine was the readiest and the clearest reply. Did a period in our constitution become investigated, it was I to whom the duty of expositor was referred. From Madame D'Anville, with whom (though lost as a lover) I constantly corresponded as a friend, I obtained the earliest and most accurate detail of the prospects and manoeuvres of the court in which her life was spent, and in whose more secret offices her husband was employed. I spared no means of extending my knowledge of every the minutest point which could add to the reputation I enjoyed. I made myself acquainted with the individual interests and exact circumstances of all whom it was our object to intimidate or to gain. It was I who brought to the House the younger and idler members, whom no more nominally powerful agent could allure from the ball-room or the gaming-house.
In short, while, by the dignity of my birth, and the independent hauteur of my bearing, I preserved the rank of an equal amongst the highest of the set, I did not scruple to take upon myself the labour and activity of the most subordinate. Dawton declared me his right hand; and, though I knew myself rather his head than his hand, I pretended to feel proud of the appellation. In truth, I only waited for my entree into the House, to fix my eye and grasp upon the very situation that nobleman coveted for himself.
Meanwhile, it was my pleasure to wear in society the coxcombical and eccentric costume of character I had first adopted, and to cultivate the arts which won from women the smile which cheered and encouraged me in my graver contest with men. It was only to Ellen Glanville, that I laid aside an affectation, which I knew was little likely to attract a taste so refined and unadulterated as her's. I discovered in her a mind which, while it charmed me by its tenderness and freshness, elevated me by its loftiness of thought. She was, at heart, perhaps, as ambitious as myself; but while my aspirations were concealed by affectation, her's were softened by her timidity, and purified by her religion. There were moments when I opened myself to her, and caught a new spirit from her look of sympathy and enthusiasm.
"Yes," thought I, "I do long for honours, but it is that I may ask her to share and ennoble them." In fine, I loved as other men loved--and I fancied a perfection in her, and vowed an emulation in myself, which it was reserved for Time to ratify or deride.
Where did I leave myself? as the Irishman said--on my road to Lord Dawton's. I was lucky enough to find that personage at home; he was writing at a table covered with pamphlets and books of reference.
"Hush! Pelham," said his lordship, who is a quiet, grave, meditative little man, always ruminating on a very small cud--"hush! or do oblige me by looking over this history, to find out the date of the Council of Pisa."
"That will do, my young friend," said his lordship, after I had furnished him with the information he required--"I wish to Heaven, I could finish this pamphlet by to-morrow: it is intended as an answer to--. But I am so perplexed with business, that--"
"Perhaps," said I, "if you will pardon my interrupting you, I can throw your observations together--make your Sibylline leaves into a book. Your lordship will find the matter, and I will not spare the trouble."
Lord Dawton was profuse in his thanks; he explained the subject, and left the arrangement wholly to me. He could not presume to dictate. I promised him, if he lent me the necessary books, to finish the pamphlet against the following evening.
"And now," said Lord Dawton--"that we have settled this affair--what news from France?"--
"I wish," sighed Lord Dawton, as we were calculating our forces, "that we could gain over Lord Guloseton."
"What, the facetious epicure?" said I.
"The same," answered Dawton: "we want him as a dinner-giver; and, besides, he has four votes in the Lower House."
"Well," said I, "he is indolent and independent--it is not impossible."
"Do you know him?" answered Dawton.
"No:" said I.
Dawton sighed.--"And young A--?" said the statesman, after a pause.
"Has an expensive mistress, and races. Your lordship might be sure of him, were you in power, and sure not to have him while you are out of it."
"And B.?" rejoined Dawton.