Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

rection I had before inflicted, if ever I detected him engaged in any future action calculated to bring disgrace upon our father's name. The result was as we anticipated. Dashington offered no further open provocation ; but, with that Jesuit spirit of concealed hostility which, I am sorry to own, is his characteristic, he has ever since laboured to induce a quarrel with my friend Fitzgeorge ; and hence the ungenerous, unprovoked hostility of that doubtful personage, Lord Avonshire, at our social meeting this night.'

“Noble ! Capital ! Excellent !” exclaimed Sydney, Primrose, and Pogey. “But," continued the first, “you have not yet informed us of the stratagem by which he obtained possession of Mary Jessop.”

“ By brute force,” said Tom, “They—that is, Dashington, Lewis, and a couple of well paid bargees from St. Thomas's—haying watched their opportunity, when old Frank Jessop and his man were gone to Stourbridge fair, obtained a post-chaise and a driver, upon whose secrecy they could rely; then, pretending they wanted horses for Bagley Wood hunt early in the morning, they induced Mary Jessop to enter the counting-house, with a view of making out the tickets and receiving the money. While in the act of doing so, she was seized by the two ruffian bargees, forced into the post-chaise, where Dashington sat ready to receive her, and driven off by the back road, with the intention of securing her in some profligate receptacle, already advised thereof, in the neighbourhood of London.”

"By the holy brotherhood of bishop swillers, you have acted nobly, Tom,” said Primrose. “ This action of thine shall gain thee a hundred brothers for the estranged one. It will raise the Gown fifty per cent. in the estimation of the Town, and improve our moral condition with the Domini a hundred-fold. You shall be dubbed Knight of the Tuft, in a grand conclave at my rooms, and we will do homage to your gallantry, old fellow, not forgetting thy trusty squire, John Stubbs.”

A stream of light, forcing its way through the curtains, indicated the golden morn had arrived, when " the glorious party," as Sydney designated it, must separate ; but, with the parting glass, he invoked another song from Primose:

“ THE UNION OF WOMEN AND WINE.
“Said pretty Miss Venus to Bacchus, one day,

If truly we both might incline,
We might govern the world, in our own merry way,

By the union of Women and Wine.'
“Said the jolly god, laughing, Miss Venus, I trow

The partnership you would design ;
'Tis Woman, dear Woman, you very well know,

Inspires the liquor divine.
" • Hock, Claret, Canary, or sparkling Champagne,

May the heart's better feelings refine ;
But true evation of mind to attain

Springs from Woman, dear Woman divine.'
" Venus blushed, and, in blushing, a dimple displayed ;

Bacchus lovingly laughed at the sign-
Quick pressing the lips of the myrtle-breath'd maid,

Sealed the union of Women and Wine."

CHAPTER X.-THE FREEBORN, OR Julius Fitz GEORGE.

“The nobly great may hold to scorn

The man that is but nobly born."

The Child of Providence-Injustice of English Laws–Torture of the Heart-The

Mysterious Student-The Father of the Village, a true story. Fitzgeorge was a child of Providence ; an offspring formed more by circumstance than cultivation. Cast upon the world an orphan at an early age, he had never known the endearments of parental affection. No brother shared his regard or his sports, or condoled with him in confidence. No sister hung upon his arm, looked up to him for protection, or blessed him with her virgin love. For him there was no home, where joyous welcome with bright-eyed smiles and outstretched arms and cheerful voices might hail the wanderer's return to the happy scenes of his boyhood. On the civilized surface of the earth there was no spot made more dear to him than another by the magical chain of life's associations : look where he would, and all was vacancy to him. The link which bound others to kindred, home, and friends was wanting.

Alone he stood, on the world's broad base,

No parent, no friend, to guide him ;
Freeborn, he felt his birth's disgrace,

All legal claims denied him. That it was so was owing to circumstances over which he could have no control. His isolated position depended much upon himself—more upon good fortune, in creating ties of consanguinity, and friendships as dear as those which the law of man, opposing the law of nature, had at first denied him.

To a proud spirit like Fitzgeorge there was agony in the contemplation of his position. Must he always bear about

him the reptile asp that had poisoned the current of his blood? Was he to be branded for no crime, at least of his own committing ; punished for the sins of his parents, without appeal to justice or hope of deliverance ? Oh, that man, frail and sinful from his birth, should blaspheme his Creator by assuming that awful power claimed by Almighty Omniscience, of visiting upon the guiltless offspring more severe penalties than those inflicted upon the authors of his misfortune! The English law of illegitimacy is a refinement of cruelty more horrible in its tortuous operation upon innocent and unoffending victims than all the hideous machinery that the blood-stained savages of the Inquisition could ever put in motion. It is the breaking of the spirit, the torture of the heart by slow degrees upon the wheel of life ; and so Fitzgeorge felt it to be. In his instance it had already subjected him to the sneer of contempt, the coldness of neglect, the venomous pity and malignant compassion of those unfeeling beings who delight in wounding a noble nature adorned with genius, talent, and virtue they affect to admire, but which, from envy and apprehension, they wish to render powerless and depress.

The mystery which enshrouded Fitzgeorge's birth was not less inexplicable to himself than it was incomprehensible to others. Had he

[ocr errors]

been a person of less popular character his origin or history would never have been inquired into ; but the natural qualifications of his mind, his elastic temperament and erratic spirit, all conspired to render him a more distinguished mark for the envy and malevolence of those who could not appreciate his attractive qualities or comprehend the friendship with which he was regarded by the (almost) exclusive circle of university tufts.

Among these there were not wanting some few ignoble-minded distinctives who spoke of him, in his absence, sneeringly, as “ the gentleman with the royal prefix to his name ;' he, of Norman nomenclature;" or, in derision of circumstances, “ the princely parvenue :" a species of dastardly sarcasm which, as they dare not adopt in his presence from fear of the severity of his resentment, his noble friends invariably denounced as mean, cowardly, and unworthy of the station and attainments of his detractors ; but

" What can ennoble fools and cowards?

Not all the blood of all the Howards." Thus the favour shown to Fitzgeorge by the élite of the social circle of aristocracy led to frequent differences and hostile feelings, which occasionally ended in menace or personal rencontre, and left bitter reproach behind.

Algernon Sydney sock to-night at six,” said the Hon. Tom Sparkle to Fitzgeorge. You are invited ; and if the devil or the domini does not scent us out, we shall have a glorious spread."

• I had rather not go," replied Fitz. “ Hot meats are forbidden fruits : hot liquors fever the blood, and fiery discussions follow.”

A truce with your philosophy, Fitz ; I'll have none of it, unless it be the philosophy of laughter. Come, man; never flinch a good feed. Masticate and be merry. That was my great uncle's motto, and the old fellow lived to four score and eight.

“ He did not eat his terms at Oxford then, Tom ; or • drown the night in drinking deep, the bishop from the bowl.'"

He was orthodox, Fitz ; a good Christian and a great fox-hunter. It is true, he was not college crammed.' All his knowledge of mathematics and metaphysics consisted in living within his rent-roll, and making poverty scarce with the surplus."

“ He was of that age, Tom, when the fine old English gentleman' had not been electrotyped with a superficial coating of mock morality, false pride, and counterfeit refinement.”

He lived a man to all the country dear ;' and when he died, he left behind him a name engraved by charity upon the baptismal font of goodness, the waters whereof will flow on to eternity, supplied from the spring of his generosity. “ Such should be the good man's epitaph,” said Fitz.

" I remember when quite a boy, being at Whittlesea-Mere when the funeral of a singular character, of your uncle's sort, took place. It was that of the father of the village."

“ Is the story long ?” inquired Sparkle ; “ if so, we must reserve it for to-morrow after matins.”

• It is not quite so brief as an alderman's grace before meat,” said Fitz ; “ but more holy in principle.”

66

[ocr errors]

THE POCKET AND THE STUD.

BY HARRY HIEOVER.

PREFACE.

" Prologue precedes the piece, in mournful verse,

As undertakers walk before the hearse.”

In something like these words commences the prologue to a play : why should they not serve for a commencement or a preface to these sheets —not being so inapt to the subject as they may at first appear ? First, then, in commencing I am an undertaker ; and in beginning its preface I am an undertaker still. There is, however, this differeuce in our ideas of what will best suit public taste ; I endeavour to make my work go on as cheerfully as I possibly can—my brother undertaker makes his proceed as mournfully as possible. In another way our ideas of respect to those who patronise us differ. He feels it his duty to walk before his work : now I do not see any advantage in my walking before mine, though I shall feel much flattered if others will only be kind enough to walk after it; not that inducing them to walk is by any means its purport-quite the contrary, its aim is to tell them how to ride with as little waste of money as possible. In this I trust I lay myself under no imputation of conceit or arrogance ; inasmuch as the chief part of the advice I give is, that they should act on that of others. In so doing I have, to the best of my judgment, done one of my duties to my readers. I suspect the wishes of my brother undertaker and my own differ materially as regards our friends, as I sincerely hope the day is far distant when I shall do my last duty by them.

H. H.

Whatever may be a man's pursuit in life, or whatever his possessions, there can be no doubt but that (setting aside the common contingencies of luck) the carrying on his pursuits with advantage to himself, and also probably to that of others, depends chiefly on the proper and judicious mode in which he carries that pursuit on; and in like manner the rendering his possessions as valuable as their nature will allow, depends as chiefly on the manner in which they are treated.

A vast number of persons find themselves so situated that their possessions (be they of what kind they may), so far from affording them pleasure or profit, produce but little of either ; although they spare no expense in the management of them. It might be supposed that such persons would, at least, gain experience, as some equivalent for their money ; if they did, the dearness or its reverse of the purchase would depend on how much that experience had cost, and how much it had been wanted by that particular individual. To many it would be cheap

D

at one-half their fortune, for it might save the other. A great many do not get it so cheap. I know some who have spent about eighty per cent. of their capital, and, so far as I can perceive, have not yet got hold of any of this valuable commodity (experience); or, at least, if they have, they do not seem to make use of it. I conclude they excuse themselves for doing this, as a well-known character in Leicestershire did for not stopping, on his friend getting a most desperate fall. Being asked if his friend was not seriously hurt :—" I should think he was killed,” said he, “ from the

way

I saw him lie ; but the pace was too good to stop."

Now with respect to gaining experience by constant loss, the fact is, many do gain it ; but what they do gain is not of the right or useful sort. They merely gain that which tells them they are losing money ; but they do not gain that which would make them act more judiciously. And why they do not is very easily accounted for. Instead of attributing their losses or disappointments to any error in their management, they will generally impute it to their ill-luck, and in a certain degree they are right; but their ill-luck lies in a different way to that in which they would wish it to be thought to exist. The ill-luck is their not knowing how to manage better. This they never will know, so long as they hold so erroneous an idea as to the nature of their ill-luck ; for while any man can flatter himself that he is managing anything as well as it can be managed, he would conceive it not only to be an act of supererogation, but one of absolute folly, to attempt to manage it better. For there is nothing hypothetical in the idea, that if a thing is done as well as it can be done, it cannot be done better ; and this conviction is very rife amongst persons who do anything, when estimating their own attributes.

This very prevalent idea may appear to border very closely on overweening vanity on the part of those who entertain it, but candour must induce us to exculpate many of such persons from so serious a charge ; for, if we fairly consider the case, it requires a good deal of time, practice, observation, and modesty, to teach a man that he really is managing anything badly. He may find that what he manages does not answer bis wishes or expectations ; but unless he has, or seeks the opportunity of seeing another person's mode of managing the same thing, and also sees it succeed under a different management, what is to tell him his own is and has been wrong? Practice and good sense combined may in time, certainly, show him his errors, and teach him to adopt other modes, and perhaps better ones ; but this does not even follow by any means as a matter of course—" cælum animum non mutant qui trans mare currunt.' A man in doing anything may change his mode ; but if acting only on the suggestions of his own mind and invention, he must be more fortunate than his neighbours if he does not find it necessary to make several alterations in his plans before he produces one solid improvement. Practice and experience, though very sure, are generally very slow and very expensive teachers ; and if a man sets out with general mismanagement of anything, though time and practice may eventually get him in the right road, he will find a strong purse also necessary to back him on his journey ; and with all this, lie will still remain in error if he continues to attribute his failure to ill-luck. He would, under such impression, only blunder on in the

« ForrigeFortsett »