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existing circumstances, I cannot with propriety divulge."
"You have said quite enough, Sinclair, to satisfy me," replied Mr Osborne. "Well, don't forget, at any rate, to send me cards. What! -blushing? Nay, nay, my good boy, you must forgive the old gentleman his joke, more especially as you have just been asking his indulgence for one of a more serious description! Quite right-marry and retire! It is amazing with what ardour a man returns to work after two years of a cottage and honeysuckles! But I hear the gong for lunch. Let us pledge each othernot, I hope, for the last time-in a glass of particular Madeira."
As I cannot lay claim to the privilege of the novelist or dramatic author, who usually preserve intact their staff of characters to the last, even though their function has been exhausted, in order that they may appear in the grand tableau with which the performance concludes, I shall now ask the reader to dispense with the further attendance of Mr Osborne and of Attie Faunce. It is not my duty to chronicle the nuptials that took place some two months afterwards, Attie having by that time completely re-established himself in the favour of his uncle; still less to be communicative as to the particulars of his subsequent career. Attie Faunce is no figment, but a gentleman of real flesh and blood, though he must be sought for in the columns of the Directory under a different name; and heaven forbid that I should interfere with the publication of his autobiography, if he has the courage and perseverance to commit his memorabilia to paper!
when we see it fall, causes but a momentary shudder, and the affliction that we feel for the loss of our departed friends is softened into a gentle memory ere yet the first daisies have withered on their graves-their images, engraved on our hearts, are preserved from oblivion, until we likewise receive the summons to pass from time into eternity. And, indeed, Mr Osborne was a man not likely to be forgotten by any who had passed even a single hour in his company; for he possessed, in a remarkable degree, the faculty of discerning motives, of separating the true from the factitious, and of detecting hypocrisy, no matter how artfully disguised. Yet this singular power did not, as might have been the case with an inferior nature, engender a suspicious habit. To the man in whom he had once reposed his trust, he was as open as day; but he trusted not on the strength of mere asseveration alone. Plausibility, especially of that kind which it seems to be the fashion for the modern race of statesmen to assume, he regarded with extreme abhorrence, -maintaining always that a breach of good faith, either with the public or with a political party, was the most serious crime that a Minister could commit, and certain in the long-run to lead to his degradation and disgrace. Applying the same principle to the transactions of private life, he deplored the mad precipitation with which mercantile affairs are now too commonly conducted, the rash speculations fostered by an inordinate desire for gain, and the consequent decay of that high feeling of integrity which was once the proud characteristic of the British merchant. Belonging, and proud to belong, to the middle class of society, he was almost nervously jealous lest the prevalent tone of its morals should become deteriorated or corrupted; for, though honouring the aristocracy as an institution, he was fully impressed with the conviction that the stability of the empire must for the future depend upon
But good, dear, kind Mr Osborne -my early friend and patron-of him at least I may be permitted to say a final word. In the fulness of his years, but before the sturdy frame was bowed by decrepitude or the acute intellect impaired, he was taken to his rest; and though the phantom of Death is so familiar to us that the stroke of his dart,
the prudence, wisdom, and temperance of that mighty untitled order, the varied interests of which are represented in the House of Commons. Therefore he dreaded, more perhaps than anything else, the possible spread of democracy, which he ever maintained to be far more hostile and destructive to the wellbeing of a nation than the existence of feudal privileges, or the exercise of irresponsible power; and he held
After what had taken place, I felt embarrassed at the thought of meeting Lumley; for although no further explanations were now required, or indeed were likely to be made, we stood towards each other in rather an anomalous position. After giving due weight to all that Carlton had urged regarding the generosity and so forth that had been exhibited by our mutual friend, I could not account for his extreme facility in giving way, so soon as he ascertained that there was a rival in the field.
CHAPTER LVI.-LUMLEY'S AMATORY EXPERIENCES.
"Surely," thought I," this man's love, if he really did entertain such a feeling, must have been of the weakest and most evanescent kind, else he never would have foregone the splendid advantages which his position and fortune secured to him, without at least hazarding a refusal!" and I began, in spite of myself, to entertain a suspicion that, throughout the whole affair, Lumley had been actuated rather by caprice than by any consistent motive.
that there could be no worse enemy to the commonwealth than the man who, for party considerations or for the sake of gratifying his own wretched ambition, tampered with the constitution of his country.
I now know that I was wrong in thinking so, but lovers seldom reason calmly. I did not reflect that Lumley, by abstaining from paying his addresses to Mary Beaton while she was universally reputed to be an heiress, had in some measure lessened his right to advance a subsequent claim. At all events he had lost an opportunity; for a proposal now would have been construed by the malicious world into an act of chivalrous condescension,
Farewell, old friend! Many there are around me yet whom I love, respect, and honour; but never have I known a kinder heart or a wiser head than thine!
creditable perhaps to the gentleman, but not very flattering to the lady. Then again I committed a serious error in estimating the nature of Lumley's attachment by the vehemence of my own. He was an older man than I was, had seen much more of the world, and had.outlived the period when passion is at its highest flow. Advancing years generate a philosophic habit even where the affections are concerned. Pericles may love well and faithfully, but he loves not with the ardour of Alcibiades; for he has ceased to be a dreamer and an enthusiast, and he will not permit one sole engrossing thought to make a monopoly of his mind. I say not that the passion of Alcibiades is to be preferred to the constancy of Pericles. Far from it! But Pericles could resign without a struggle what Alcibiades would risk his life to obtain.
Heaven forbid that I should liken myself in any way to "the curled son of Clinias," who, with all his energy and accomplishments, was anything but a reputable character! Neither is it within the compass of ingenuity to construct even a tolerable parallelism between Lumley the insouciant, and Pericles the wise administrator. All I mean to say is, that the experienced senior feels, thinks, and acts differently from the more impulsive junior, and is capable of making sacrifices which to the other seem absolutely impossible.
But, whatever interpretation I might put upon his conduct, I could not evade the conviction that I was really under a deep obligation to Lumley; and I felt assured that, after another meeting, all traces of embarrassment would disappear. So, as I had for the present plenty of leisure-indeed, more than was altogether agreeable, considering the uncertainty that still hung over me -I thought it best to lose no time in effecting so desirable an object, and accordingly intimated to Carlton my wish that we should at once avail ourselves of Lumley's proffered hospitality. Carlton, who, I believe, was more annoyed than he liked to show by the reminiscence of his somewhat incautious revelations, caught eagerly at the proposal; and a day or so afterwards we repaired by appointment to Lumley's quarters in Park Street.
There was no company beyond ourselves; and we sat down to a dainty repast at a round table, in the centre of which was that admirable invention of a former age which modern stupidity has too generally discarded-a dumb waiter. Lumley was in high spirits, which gradually extended their influence to both Carlton and myself; so that, before the business of eating was over, the real object of the visit was accomplished, and we felt altogether at our ease. There never was a better Amphytrion than Lumley. His wit sparkled as brightly as the champagne, and the flavour of the entrées did not suffer from the additional zest of his anecdotes.
I make no doubt that it must be a delightful thing to be lodged in a palace surrounded by the appurtenances of state; but for comfort, elegance, and luxury combined, commend me to the house of a London bachelor of cultivated taste and ample fortune. There are not many such, I know, for the clubs have sadly lessened the number of those exquisite Apician domiciles; still, there do exist a few, and among these, Lumley's was acknowledged to be the most perfect of its kind. The study, with its small but costly library, and one or two masterpieces of Venetian art, was indeed liable to this objection, that it was far too seductively arranged to serve its ostensible purpose. At all events, I should have found it very difficult to pursue any sort of serious study, surrounded by so many objects of almost irresistible attraction. Our thoughts are apt enough at any time to wander, without being exposed to special temptation; and sure I am that, had John Bunyan been quartered in a palace instead of being shut up in Bedford jail, he never could have conceived or described the glories of the Heavenly City.
After the servants had withdrawn, the conversation flowed on unimpeded, through general topics at first, but presently we approached more familiar themes; and Lumley, somewhat to my surprise, made allusion, though in the most delicate manner, to our position as being both of us men engaged and committed to matrimony. I believe he did this from deliberation, with the view of satisfying me that, whatever his feelings might have been, he had entirely succeeded in mastering them; and certainly there was nothing of chagrin or disappointment in his tone.
"I regard you both," said he, as fortunate fellows in being able to marry at a reasonably early period of life. If a man does not happen to hit the exact medium, marriage is rather a questionable step. Mere boys make the worst of husbands. They don't know their own minds, and they cannot control their tempers, or those of the unhappy girlsthey have chosen; and as years roll on, the indifference that succeeds to love often changes into positive aversion. On the other hand, if a man postpones the event too long, he is apt to become confirmed in his bachelor habits; and if that mode of life is not actually distasteful to him, he is reluctant to try the perilous experiment of a change."
"It is no wonder if you should feel some such reluctance," said Carlton. "The possession of such a snuggery as this is a real impediment to marriage."
"Ah, well!" said Lumley, "that is one view certainly, and, generally speaking, there may be some truth in what you say. But I demur to the notion that a single man ought to practise asceticism. I am haunted by a taste; and as I have no lack of money, why should I hesitate to gratify it? I won't deny that I am fond of pictures, books, good living, wine, and luxury; and were it not for a confounded feeling of satiety that sometimes comes over me, I think I should be tolerably contented."
pray, fill your glasses; and let the dumb-waiter revolve whilst I give utterance to my sorrows.
"No joyful peal of bells, such as rings on the birth of an heir, greeted me when I first opened my eyes in this world. No steer was roasted, no barrels were tapped in honour of that auspicious event. Esau had preceded Jacob. My elder brother Percy had, some three years before, been exhibited to the admiring and thirsty tenantry as their future landlord.
Although I am a stickler for the maintenance of the law of primogeniture, I must needs admit that the situation of a younger son in a wealthy family is a trying one. He is brought up in the midst of luxury, perhaps of splendour, and yet is told, so soon as he is capable of receiving distinct impressions, that the things which he is allowed in the mean time to taste and enjoy cannot permanently be his. He is desired to keep in mind that the day will arrive when he must go forth an exile from the halls of his fathers to conquer fortune for himself, carrying with him slight provision for the future beyond that share of energy and intellect with which he has been gifted, and which he is exhorted to improve. Under such circumstances, clearly the best thing that can be done for the lad is to quarter him out as early as possible, so that he may feel betimes that he has to work his own way, a lesson not easily acquired in the midst of every indulgence. My excellent father, however, had nothing of the Roman in him, and was far too fond of his children to banish them even for their good. So I was brought up as if I were to be a gentleman at large; was early trained to country sports, for which I had a peculiar aptitude; studied after a kind of fashion under the superintendence of a cultivated tutor, who was too much of a scholar to be a pedant; and when I was sent to the university, received an allowance that might have satisfied the heir to a peerage. The conse
quence was that I became somewhat dissipated, ran into debt, and failed in materially advancing the classical reputation of my college.
'At length the time arrived when the grand question of a future career had to be settled in a family divan. I was assured of a good living if I would agree to take orders; but I was far too conscientious to practise such base hypocrisy. A commission in the Guards would have suited me exactly; but that arm of the service was deemed too expensive, and I recoiled from the prospect of country quarters and long years of colonial expatriation. The advantages of the legal profession were then elaborately discussed. I was desired to look forward to the woolsack looming in the distance; but my eyesight was weak, and I failed to obtain even a glimpse of that very comfortable Pisgah. Had I seen it ever so clearly, I do not believe that I could have mustered sufficient courage to force my way through the intervening desert, and face the gorgons and chimeras that haunt the Blackstonian Sahara. Would I go into Parliament? If so, in a year or two a seat would probably be vacant, which family influence might secure for me; and it was not unreasonable to expect that I might be able to extract a plum from the public pudding. With this latter proposal I closed, the rather because it afforded me a temporary respite; and I resolved in the meanwhile to observe life and study diplomacy at Paris and Vienna.
occupy had been appropriated by a monster manufacturer, whose appetite for bacon was so enormous, that, for several days previous to the election, the price of a flitch was considerably above thirty guineas. So there was an end to my hopes of parliamentary distinction and office.
"While I was abroad I received the mournful intelligence of the death of the best of fathers; and also a communication from the family solicitors, apprising me that eight thousand pounds was all I had to depend on. Of that sum very nearly a third was forestalled by debts I had contracted, so that I had to solve the difficult problem of maintaining myself like a gentleman on an income of two hundred a-year. I had also the mortification to learn that the seat I expected to
"My brother Percy and I were on tolerable fraternal terms, but we had not much community of sentiment. He was reserved, cautious, and calculating, with decided notions of thrift, bordering_on_the verge of avarice; whereas I was an outspoken, improvident fellow, partaking much more of the nature of the butterfly than of the bee. Since then, time has wrought a mighty alteration. I am now feelingly alive to the charm of a large balance at my banker's; and in a few years I expect to attain to the reputation of a screw.
Percy, I make no doubt, would have cheerfully presented me, now and then, with a cheque for a hundred pounds, if I had asked him for such a favour; for he set much store on his dignity as head of the house, and was fond of delivering a lecture, for which there can be no better opportunity than a proposal for a pecuniary advance. But I did not choose to lay myself under any such obligation; and he was not generous enough, though he knew my straitened circumstances, to make a spontaneous offer of an annual allowance. So I had to live as I best could upon a mere pittance, and practise economy, in which I succeeded so far that I did not annually expend much more than twice the amount of my in
"If I had been prudent, I should have gone into chambers and read; but I liked society, and determined to enjoy it so long as that was within my power. I possessed the art of making myself agreeable, and had the entrée to all the best houses. I was patronised by dowagers who had ceased to be shepherdesses of a flock; but mammas,