Зображення сторінки

existing circumstances, I cannot when we see it fall, causes but a with propriety divulge.”

momentary shudder, and the afflic"You have said quite enough, tion that we feel for the loss of our Sinclair, to satisfy me," replied Mr departed friends is softened into Osborné. “Well, don't forget, at a gentle memory ere yet the first any rate, to send me cards. What! daisies have withered on their -blushing ? Nay, nay, my good graves—their images, engraved on boy, you must forgive the old gentle- our hearts, are preserved from obliman his joke, more especially as vion, until we likewise receive the you have just been asking his in- summons to pass from time into dulgence for one of a more serious eternity. And, indeed, Mr Osborne description ! Quite right-marry was a man not likely to be forgotten and retire! It is amazing with what by any who had passed even a single ardour a man returns to work after hour in his company; for he postwo years of a cottage and honey- sessed, in a remarkable degree, the suckles ! But I hear the gong for faculty of discerning motives, of selunch. Let us pledge each other parating the true from the factitinot, I hope, for the last time—in a ous, and of detecting hypocrisy, no glass of particular Madeira.”

matter how artfully disguised. Yet As I cannot lay claim to the pri- this singular power did not, as vilege of the novelist or dramatic might have been the case with an author, who usually preserve intact inferior nature, engender a suspitheir staff of characters to the last cious habit. To the man in whom he even though their function has been had once reposed his trust, he was exhausted, in order that they may as open as day; but he trusted not appear in the grand tableau with on the strength of mere asseverawhich the performance concludes, I tion alone. Plausibility, especially shall now ask the reader to dispense of that kind which it seems to be with the further attendance of Mr the fashion for the modern race of Osborne and of Attie Faunce. It statesmen to assume, he regarded is not my duty to chronicle the with extreme abhorrence,-mainnuptials that took place some two taining always that a breach of good months afterwards, Attie having faith, either with the public or with by that time completely re-estab- a political party, was the most serilished himself in the favour of his ous crime that a Minister could comuncle ; still less to be communica- mit, and certain in the long-run to tive as to the particulars of his sub- lead to his degradation and dissequent career. Attie Faunce is no grace. Applying the same principle figment, but a gentleman of real to the transactions of private life, flesh and blood, though he must be he deplored the mad precipitation sought for in the columns of the with which mercantile affairs are Directory under a different name; now too commonly conducted, the and heaven forbid that I should in- rash speculations fostered by an interfere with the publication of his ordinate desire for gain, and the autobiography, if he has the courage consequent decay of that high feeland perseverance to commit his me- ing of integrity which was once the morabilia to paper!

proud characteristic of the British But good, dear, kind Mr Osborne merchant. Belonging, and proud to -my early friend and patron-of belong, to the middle class of sohim at least I may be permitted to ciety, he was almost nervously jeasay a final word. In the fulness of lous lest the prevalent tone of its his years, but before the sturdy morals should become deteriorated frame was bowed by decrepitude or corrupted; for, though honouring or the acute intellect impaired, he the aristocracy as an institution, he was taken to his rest; and though was fully impressed with the convicthe phantom of Death is so familiar tion that the stability of the empire to us that the stroke of his dart, must for the future depend upon

the prudence, wisdom, and tempe- that there could be no worse enemy rance of that mighty untitled order, to the commonwealth than the the varied interests of which are re- man who, for party considerations presented in the House of Commons.or for the sake of gratifying his Therefore he dreaded, more perhaps own wretched ambition, tampered than anything else, the possible with the constitution of his counspread of democracy, which he ever try. maintained to be far more hostile Farewell, old friend! Many there and destructive to the wellbeing of are around me yet whom I love, rea nation than the existence of feu- spect, and honour; but never have I dal privileges, or the exercise of known a kinder heart or a wiser head irresponsible power; and he held than thine!


After what had taken place, I felt creditable perhaps to the gentleman, embarrassed at the thought of meet but not very flattering to the lady. ing Lumley; for although no fur- Then again I committed a serious ther explanations were now required, error in estimating the nature of or indeed were likely to be made, Lumley's attachment by the vehewe stood towards each other in mence of my own. He was an older rather an anomalous position. After man than I was, had seen much giving due weight to all that Carl- more of the world, and had.outlived ton had urged regarding the gene the period when passion is at its rosity and so forth that had been highest flow. Advancing years exhibited by our mutual friend, I generate a philosophic habit even could not account for his extreme where the affections are concerned. facility in giving way, so soon as he Pericles may love well and faithascertained that there was a rival in fully, but he loves not with the the field.

ardour of Alcibiades; for he has ** Surely," thought I, “ this man's ceased to be a dreamer and an enlove, if he really did entertain such thusiast, and he will not permit one a feeling, must have been of the sole engrossing thought to make a weakest and most evanescent kind, monopoly of his mind. I say not else he never would have foregone that the passion of Alcibiades is to the splendid advantages which his be preferred to the constancy of position and fortune secured to him, Pericles. Far from it! But Periwithout at least hazarding a re- cles could resign without a struggle fusal !" and I began, in spite of what Alcibiades would risk his life myself, to entertain a suspicion that, to obtain. throughout the whole affair, Lumley Heaven forbid that I should liken had been actuated rather by caprice myself in any way to “the curled than by any consistent motive. son of Clinias,” who, with all his

I now know that I was wrong in energy and accomplishments, was thinking so, but lovers seldom rea- anything but a reputable character! son calmly. I did not reflect that Neither is it within the compass of Lumley, by abstaining from paying ingenuity to construct even a tolerhis addresses to Mary Beaton while able parallelism between Lumley she was universally reputed to be the insouciant, and Pericles the wise an heiress, had in some measure administrator. All I mean to say lessened his right to advance a sub- is, that the experienced senior feels, sequent claim. At all events he thinks, and acts differently from the had lost an opportunity; for a pro- more impulsive junior, and is capposal now would have been con- able of making sacrifices which to strued by the malicious world into the other seem absolutely imposan act of chivalrous condescension, sible.

[ocr errors]


Norman Sinclair.Part XVII.

[July, But, whatever interpretation I There was no company beyond might put upon his conduct, I could ourselves; and we sat down to a not evade the conviction that I was dainty repast at a round table, in really under a deep obligation to the centre of which was that adLumley : and I felt assured that, mirable invention of a former age after another meeting, all traces which modern stupidity has too geof embarrassment would disappear. nerally discarded-a dumb waiter. So, as I had for the present plenty Lumley was in high spirits, which of leisure—indeed, more than was gradually extended their influence altogether agreeable, considering the to both Carlton and myself; so that, uncertainty that still hung over me before the business of eating was - I thought it best to lose no time in over, the real object of the visit was effecting so desirable an object, and accomplished, and we felt altogether accordingly intimated to Carlton at our ease. There never was a my wish that we should at once better Amphytrion than Lumley. avail ourselves of Lumley's prof. His wit sparkled as brightly as the fered hospitality. Carlton, who, I champagne, and the flavour of the believe, was more annoyed than he entrées did not suffer from the adliked to show by the reminiscence ditional zest of his anecdotes. of his somewhat incautious revela- After the servants had withdrawn, tions, caught eagerly at the pro- the conversation flowed on unimposal ; and a day or so afterwards peded, through general topics at we repaired by appointment to first, but presently we approached Lumley's quarters in Park Street. more familiar themes; and Lumley,

I make no doubt that it must be somewhat to my surprise, made ala delightful thing to be lodged in lusion, though in the most delicate a palace surrounded by the appur- manner, to our position as being tenances of state ; but for comfort, both of us men engaged and comelegance, and luxury combined, mitted to matrimony. I believe he commend me to the house of a Lon- did this from deliberation, with the don bachelor of cultivated taste and view of satisfying me that, whatever ample fortune. There are not many his feelings might have been, he such, I know, for the clubs have had entirely succeeded in mastering sadly lessened the number of those them; and certainly there was noexquisite Apician domiciles ; still, thing of chagrin or disappointment there do exist a few, and among in his tone. these, Lumley's was acknowledged “I regard you both," said he, “as to be the most perfect of its kind. fortunate fellows in being able to The study, with its small but cost marry at a reasonably early period ly library, and one or two master- of life. If a man does not happen pieces of Venetian art, was indeed to hit the exact medium, marriage liable to this objection, that it was is rather a questionable step. Mere far too seductively arranged to serve boys make the worst of husbands. its ostensible purpose. At all events, They don't know their own minds, I should have found it very diffi- and they cannot control their temcult to pursue any sort of serious pers, or those of the unhappy girls. study, surrounded by so many ob- they have chosen ; and as years roll jects of almost irresistible attraction. on, the indifference that succeeds Our thoughts are apt enough at any to love often changes into positive time to wander, without being ex- aversion. On the other hand, if a posed to special temptation, and man postponies the event too long, sure I am that, had John Bunyan he is apt to become confirmed in been quartered in a palace instead his bachelor habits; and if that of being shut up in Bedford jail, he mode of life is not actually disnever could have conceived or de tasteful to him, he is reluctant to scribed the glories of the Heavenly try the perilous experiment of a City.


" It is no wonder if you should pray, fill your glasses; and let the feel some such reluctance," said dumb-waiter revolve whilst I give Carlton. " The possession of such utterance to my sorrows. a snuggery as this is a real impedi- “No joyful peal of bells, such as ment to marriage."

rings on the birth of an heir, greeted "Ah, well!" said Lumley, “ that me when I first opened my eyes in is one view certainly, and, generally this world. No steer was roasted, speaking, there may be some truth no barrels were tapped in honour in what you say. But I demur to of that auspicious event. Esau had the notion that a single man ought preceded Jacob. My elder brother to practise asceticism, I am haunt- Percy had, some three years before, ed by a taste; and as I have no lack been exhibited to the admiring and of money, why should I hesitate to thirsty tenantry as their future landgratify it? I won't deny that I am lord. fond of pictures, books, good living, “ Although I am a stickler for wine, and luxury; and were it not the maintenance of the law of prifor a confounded feeling of satiety mogeniture, I must needs admit that sometimes comes over me, I that the situation of a younger son think I should be tolerably con- in a wealthy family is a trying one. tented.”

He is brought up in the midst of “ An admission," said I, “ which luxury, perhaps of splendour, and proves that you have stretched the yet is told, so soon as he is capable tether of philosophy to the utmost; of receiving distinct impressions, for when did you ever meet with the that the things which he is allowed man who professed to be entirely in the mean time to taste and encontented 1 "

joy cannot permanently be his. He “ I, at least, have never stumbled is desired to keep in mind that the on such a phenomenon," replied day will arrive when he must go Lumley. “But do not let us run forth an exile from the halls of his away from the subject. In any case fathers to conquer fortune for himI cannot plead bachelor habits as an self, carrying with him slight proexcuse for remaining single. I am vision for the future beyond that simply a veteran trout who has been share of energy and intellect with so often pricked in the mouth that which he has been gifted, and which he will not rise to any lure.”

he is exhorted to improve. Under “I wish you would favour us such circumstances, clearly the best neophytes with some account of thing that can be done for the lad your experiences,” said Carlton. is to quarter him out as early as

A quoi bon, mon cher?" replied possible, so that he may feel betimes Lumley. “ Long ago enlisted by that he has to work his own way, that smart serjeant Cupid, you are a lesson not easily acquired in the about to join the honourable com- midst of every indulgence. My pany of Hymen. Why should I excellent father, however, had notrouble you with the history of my thing of the Roman in him, and was misadventures?”

far too fond of his children to “If for nothing else, at least to banish them even for their good. explain to us how it happens that So I was brought up as if I were to the gay and gallant Lumley has be a gentleman at large; was early never entered the service ?”

trained to country sports, for which “Nay, if you seriously wish to I had a peculiar aptitude; studied hear the narrative of my woes, I after a kind of fashion under the don't care if I inflict some part of superintendence of a cultivated tumy tediousness upon you. Observe, tor, who was too much of a scholar however, I hold myself in no way to be a pedant; and when I was responsible if the effect of my dis- sent to the university, received an course should be to throw both of allowance that might have satisfied you into a magnetic trance. So, the heir to a peerage. The consequence was that I became somewhat occupy had been appropriated by a dissipated, ran into debt, and failed monster manufacturer, whose appein materially advancing the classi- tite for bacon was so enormous, that, cal reputation of my college.

for several days previous to the “At length the time arrived when election, the price of a flitch was the grand question of a future ca- considerably above thirty guineas. reer had to be settled in a family So there was an end to my hopes divan. I was assured of a good of parliamentary distinction and living if I would agree to take or- office. ders; but I was far too conscien- “My brother Percy and I were tious to practise such base hypo- on tolerable fraternal terms, but we crisy. A commission in the Guards had not much community of sentiwould have suited me exactly; but ment. He was reserved, cautious, that arm of the service was deemed and calculating, with decided notoo expensive, and I recoiled from tions of thrift, bordering on the the prospect of country quarters verge of avarice; whereas I was an and long years of colonial expatria- outspoken, improvident fellow, partion. The advantages of the legal taking much more of the nature of profession were then elaborately dis- the butterfly than of the bee. Since cussed. I was desired to look for- then, time has wrought a mighty ward to the woolsack looming in the alteration. I am now feelingly distance; but my eyesight was weak, alive to the charm of a large baand I failed to obtain even a glimpse lance at my banker's ; and in a few of that very comfortable Pisgah. years I expect to attain to the repu. Had I seen it ever so clearly, I do tation of a screw. not believe that I could have mus- “ Percy, I make no doubt, would tered sufficient courage to force my have cheerfully presented me, now way through the intervening desert, and then, with a cheque for a hunand face the gorgons and chimeras dred pounds, if I had asked him for that haunt the Blackstonian Sahara. such a favour; for he set much Would I go into Parliament? If store on his dignity as head of the so, in a year or two a seat would house, and was fond of delivering a probably be vacant, which family lecture, for which there can be no influence might secure for me; better opportunity than a proposal and it was not unreasonable tó for a pecuniary advance. But I did expect that I might be able to ex- not choose to lay myself under any tract a plum from the public pud- such obligation; and he was not ding. With this latter proposal I generous enough, though he knew closed, the rather because it afford- my straitened circumstances, to ed me a temporary respite ; and I make a spontaneous offer of an resolved in the meanwhile to ob- annual allowance. So I had to live serve life and study diplomacy at as I best could upon a mere pitParis and Vienna.

tance, and practise economy, in “While I was abroad I received which I succeeded so far that I did the mournful intelligence of the not annually expend much more death of the best of fathers ; and than twice the amount of my inalso a communication from the fa- come. mily solicitors, apprising me that “If I had been prudent, I should eight thousand pounds was all I have gone into chambers and read; had to depend on. Of that sum but I liked society, and detervery nearly a third was forestalled mined to enjoy it so long as that by debts I had contracted, so that was within my power. I possessed I had to solve the difficult problem the art of making myself agreeable, of maintaining myself like a gentle and had the entrée to all the best man on an income of two hundred houses. I was patronised by dowa-year. I had also the mortification agers who had ceased to be shepto learn that the seat I expected to herdesses of a flock ; but mammas,

« НазадПродовжити »