The Adventures of Philip on his way through the World

Shewing Who Robbed Him, Who Helped Him, and Who Passed Him By


William Makepeace Thackeray

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Table of Contents

Volume I.

  1. Doctor Fell.
  2. At School and at Home.
  3. A Consultation.
  4. A Genteel Family.
  5. The Noble Kinsman.
  6. Brandon’s.
  7. Impletur Veteris Bacchi.
  8. Will Be Pronounced to Be Cynical by the Benevolent.
  9. Contains One Riddle which is Solved, and Perhaps Some More.
  10. In which We Visit the “Admiral Byng.”
  11. In which Philip is Very ILL-Tempered.
  12. Damocles.
  13. Love Me Love My Dog.
  14. Contains Two of Philip’s Mishaps.
  15. Contains Two of Philip’s Mishaps.
  16. Samaritans.
  17. In which Philip Shows His Mettle.

Volume II.

  1. Brevis Esse Laboro.
  2. Drum Ist’s So Wohl Mir in Der Welt.
  3. Qu’on Est Bien a Vingt Ans.
  4. Course of True Love.
  5. Treats of Dancing, Dining, Dying.
  6. Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus.
  7. In which We Still Hover About the Elysian Fields.
  8. Nec Dulces Amores Sperne, Puer, Neque Tu Choreas.
  9. Infandi Dolores.
  10. Contains a Tug of War.
  11. I Charge You, Drop Your Daggers!
  12. In which Mrs. Macwhirter has a New Bonnet.
  13. In the Departments of Seine, Loire, and Styx (InfÉRieur).

Volume III.

  1. Returns to Old Friends.
  2. Narrates that Famous Joke About Miss Grigsby.
  3. Ways and Means.
  4. Describes a Situation Interesting but Not Unexpected.
  5. In which I Own that Philip Tells an Untruth.
  6. Res Angusta Domi.
  7. In which the Drawing Rooms are Not Furnished After All.
  8. Nec Plena Cruoris Hirudo.
  9. The Bearer of the Bowstring.
  10. In which Several People have Their Trials.
  11. In which the Luck Goes Very Much Against Us.
  12. In which We Reach the Last Stage but One of this Journey.
  13. The Realms of Bliss.

Volume I.

Chapter 1

Doctor Fell.

“Not attend her own son when he is ill!” said my mother. “She does not deserve to have a son!” And Mrs. Pendennis looked towards her own only darling whilst uttering this indignant exclamation. As she looked, I know what passed through her mind. She nursed me: she dressed me in little caps and long-clothes: she attired me in my first jacket and trousers: she watched at my bedside through my infantile and juvenile ailments: she tended me through all my life: she held me to her heart with infinite prayers and she held me to her heart with infinite prayers and blessings. She is no longer with us to bless and pray; but from heaven, where she is, I know her love pursues me; and often and often I think she is here, only invisible.

“Mrs. Firmin would be of no good,” growled Dr. Goodenough. “She would have hysterics, and the nurse would have two patients to look after.”

“Don’t tell me,” cries my mother, with a flush on her cheeks. “Do you suppose if that child” (meaning, of course, her paragon) “were ill, I would not go to him?”

“My dear, if that child were hungry, you would chop off your head to make him broth,” says the doctor, sipping his tea.

“Potage à la bonne femme,” says Mr. Pendennis. “Mother, we have it at the club. You would be done with milk, eggs, and a quantity of vegetables. You would be put to simmer for many hours in an earthen pan, and — ”

“Don’t be horrible, Arthur!” cries a young lady, who was my mother’s companion of those happy days.

“And people when they knew you would like you very much.”

My uncle looked as if he did not understand the allegory.

“What is this you are talking about? potage à la — what d’ye call ’em?” says he. “I thought we were speaking of Mrs. Firmin, of Old Parr Street. Mrs. Firmin is doosid delicate woman,” interposed the major. “All the females of that family are. Her mother died early. Her sister, Mrs. Twysden, is very delicate. She would be of no more use in a sick room than a — than a bull in a china-shop, begad! and she might catch the fever, too.”

“And so might you, major!” cries the doctor. “Aren’t you talking to me, who have just come from the boy? Keep your distance, or I shall bite you.”

The old gentleman gave a little backward movement with his chair.

“Gad, it’s no joking matter,” says he; “I’ve known fellows catch fevers at — at ever so much past my age. At any rate, the boy is no boy of mine, begad! I dine at Firmin’s house, who has married into a good family, though he is only a doctor, and — ”

“And pray what was my husband?” cried Mrs. Pendennis.

“Only a doctor, indeed!” calls out Goodenough. “My dear creature, I have a great mind to give him the scarlet fever this minute!”

“My father was a surgeon and apothecary, I have heard,” says the widow’s son.

“And what then? And I should like to know if a man of one of the most ancient families in the kingdom — in the empire, begad! — hasn’t a right to pursoo a learned, a useful, an honourable profession. My brother John was — ”

“A medical practitioner!” I say, with a sigh.

And my uncle arranges his hair, puts his handkerchief to his teeth, and says —

“Stuff! nonsense — no patience with these personalities, begad! Firmin is a doctor, certainly — so are you — so are others. But Firmin is a university man, and a gentleman. Firmin has travelled. Firmin is intimate with some of the best people in England, and has married into one of the first families. Gad, sir, do you suppose that a woman bred up in the lap of luxury — in the very lap, sir — at Ringwood and Whipham, and at Ringwood House in Walpole Street, where she was absolute mistress, begad — do you suppose such a woman is fit to be nurse-tender in a sick room? She never was fit for that, or for anything except — ” (here the major saw smiles on the countenances of some of his audience) “except, I say, to preside at Ringwood House and — and adorn society, and that sort of thing. And if such a woman chooses to run away with her uncle’s doctor, and marry below her rank — why, I don’t think it’s a laughing matter, hang me if I do.”

“And so she stops at the Isle of Wight, whilst the poor boy remains at the school,” sighs my mother.

“Firmin can’t come away. He is in attendance on the Grand Dook. The prince is never easy without Firmin. He has given him his Order of the Swan. They are moving heaven and earth in high quarters; and I bet you even, Goodenough, that that boy whom you have been attending will be a baronet — if you don’t kill him off with your confounded potions and pills, begad!”

Dr. Goodenough only gave a humph and contracted his great eyebrows.

My uncle continued —

“I know what you mean. Firmin is a gentlemanly man — a handsome man. I remember his father, Brand Firmin, at Valenciennes with the Dook of York — one of the handsomest men in Europe. Firebrand Firmin, they used to call him — a red-headed fellow — a tremendous duellist: shot an Irishman — became serious in after life, and that sort of thing — quarelled with his son, who was doosid wild in early days. Gentlemanly man, certainly, Firmin. Black hair: his father had red. So much the better for the doctor; but — but — we understand each other, I think, Goodenough? and you and I have seen some queer fishes in our time.”

And the old gentleman winked and took his snuff graciously, and, as it were, puffed the Firmin subject away.

“Was it to show me a queer fish that you took me to Dr. Firmin’s house in Parr Street?” asked Mr. Pendennis of his uncle. “The house was not very gay, nor the mistress very wise, but they were all as kind as might be; and I am very fond of the boy.”

“So did Lord Ringwood, his mother’s uncle, like him,” cried Major Pendennis. “That boy brought about a reconciliation between his mother and her uncle, after her runaway match. I suppose you know she ran away with Firmin, my dear?”

My mother said “she had heard something of the story.” And the major once more asserted that Dr. Firmin was a wild fellow twenty years ago. At the time of which I am writing he was Physician to the Plethoric Hospital, Physician to the Grand Duke of Gröningen, and knight of his order of the Black Swan, member of many learned societies, the husband of a rich wife, and a person of no small consideration.

As for his son, whose name figures at the head of these pages, you may suppose he did not die of the illness about which we had just been talking. A good nurse waited on him, though his mamma was in the country. Though his papa was absent, a very competent physician was found to take charge of the young patient, and preserve his life for the benefit of his family, and the purpose of this history.

We pursued our talk about Philip Firmin and his father, and his grand-uncle the earl, whom Major Pendennis knew intimately well, until Dr. Goodenough’s carriage was announced, and our kind physician took leave of us, and drove back to London. Some who spoke on that summer evening are no longer here to speak or listen. Some who were young then have topped the hill and are descending towards the valley of the shadows. “Ah,” said old Major Pendennis, shaking his brown curls, as the doctor went away; “did you see, my good soul, when I spoke about his confrère, how glum Goodenough looked? They don’t love each other, my dear. Two of a trade don’t agree, and besides I have no doubt the other doctor-fellows are jealous of Firmin, because he lives in the best society. A man of good family, my dear. There has already been a great rapprochement; and if Lord Ringwood is quite reconciled to him, there’s no knowing what luck that boy of Firmin’s may come to”

Although Dr. Goodenough might think but lightly of his confrère, a great portion of the public held him in much higher estimation: and especially in the little community of Grey Friars, of which the kind reader has heard in previous works of the present biographer, Dr. Brand Firmin was a very great favourite, and received with much respect and honour. Whenever the boys at that school were afflicted with the common ailments of youth, Mr. Sprat, the school apothecary, provided for them; and by the simple, though disgusting remedies which were in use in those times, generally succeeded in restoring his young patients to health. But if young Lord Egham, (the Marquis of Ascot’s son, as my respected reader very likely knows) happened to be unwell, as was frequently the case, from his lordship’s great command of pocket-money and imprudent fondness for the contents of the pastrycook’s shop; or if any very grave case of illness occurred in the school, then, quick, the famous Dr. Firmin, of Old Parr Street, Burlington Gardens, was sent for; and an illness must have been very severe, if he could not cure it. Dr Firmin had been a school-fellow, and remained a special friend, of the head-master. When young Lord Egham, before mentioned (he was our only lord, and therefore we were a little proud and careful of our darling youth), got the erysipelas, which swelled his head to the size of a pumpkin, the doctor triumphantly carried him through his illness, and was complimented by the head-boy in his Latin oration on the annual speech-day for his superhuman skill and godlike delight salutem hominibus dando. The head-master turned towards Dr. Firmin, and bowed: the governors and bigwigs buzzed to one another, and looked at him: the boys looked at him: the physician held his handsome head down towards his shirt-frill. His modest eyes would not look up from the spotless lining of the broad-brimmed hat on his knees. A murmur of applause hummed through the ancient hall, a scuffling of young feet, a rustling of new cassocks among the masters, and a refreshing blowing of noses ensued, as the orator polished off his period, and then passed to some other theme.

Amidst the general enthusiasm, there was one member of the auditory scornful and dissentient. This gentleman whispered to his comrade at the commencement of the phrase concerning the doctor the (I believe of Eastern derivation) monosyllable “Bosh!” and he added sadly, looking towards the object of all this praise, “He can’t construe the Latin — though it is all a parcel of humbug.”

“Hush, Phil!” said his friend; and Phil’s face flushed red, as Dr. Firmin, lifting up his eyes, looked at him for one moment; for the recipient of all this laudation was no other than Phil’s father.

The illness of which we spoke had long since passed away. Philip was a schoolboy no longer, but in his second year at the university, and one of half-a-dozen young men, ex-pupils of the school, who had come up for the annual dinner. The honours of this year’s dinner were for Dr. Firmin, even more than for Lord Ascot in his star and ribbon, who walked with his arm in the doctor’s into chapel. His lordship faltered when, in his after-dinner speech, he alluded to the inestimable services and skill of his tried old friend, whom he had known as a fellow-pupil in those walls — (loud cheers) — whose friendship had been the delight of his life — a friendship which he prayed might be the inheritance of their children. (Immense applause; during which Dr. Firmin struggled with his emotion.)

The doctor’s speech was perhaps a little commonplace; the Latin quotations which he used were not exactly novel; but Phil need not have been so angry or illbehaved. He went on sipping sherry, glaring at his father, and muttering observations that were anything but complimentary to his parent. “Now look,” says he, “he is going to be overcome by his feelings. He will put his handkerchief up to his mouth, and show his diamond ring. I told you so! It’s too much. I can’t swallow this — this sherry. I say, you fellows, let us come out of this, and smoke somewhere.” And Phil rose up and quitted the dining-room, just as his father was declaring what a joy, and a pride, and a delight it was to him to think that the friendship with which his noble friend honoured him was likely to be transmitted to their children, and that when he had passed away from this earthly scene (cries of “No, no!” “May you live a thousand years!") it would be his joy to think that his son would always find a friend and protector in the noble, the princely house of Ascot.

We found the carriages waiting outside Grey Friars’ Gate, and Philip Firmin, pushing me into his father’s, told the footman to drive home, and that the doctor would return in Lord Ascot’s carriage. Home then to Old Parr Street we went, where many a time as a boy I had been welcome. And we retired to Phil’s private den in the back buildings of the great house: and over our cigars we talked of the Founder’s -day Feast, and the speeches delivered; and of the old Cistercians of our time; and how Thompson was married, and Johnson was in the army; and Jackson (not red-haired Jackson, pig-eyed Jackson,) was first in his year, and so forth; and in this twaddle we were most happily engaged, when Phil’s father flung open the tall door of the study.

“Here’s the governor!” growled Phil; and in an undertone, “what does he want?”

“The governor,” as I looked up, was not a pleasant object to behold. Dr. Firmin had very white false teeth, which perhaps were a little too large for his mouth, and these grinned in the gas-light very fiercely. On his cheeks were black whiskers, and over his glaring eyes fierce black eyebrows, and his bald head glittered like a billiard-ball. You would hardly have known that he was the original of that melancholy philosophic portrait which all the patients admired in the doctor’s waiting-room.

“I find, Philip, that you took my carriage,” said the father; “and Lord Ascot and I had to walk ever so far for a cab!”

“Hadn’t he got his own carriage? I thought, of course, he would have his carriage on a State-day, and that you would come home with the lord,” said Philip.

“I had promised to bring him home, sir!” said the father.

“Well, sir, I’m very sorry,” continued the son, curtly.

“Sorry!” growls the other.

“I can’t say any more, sir, and I am very sorry,” answers Phil; and he knocked the ash of his cigar into the stove.

The stranger within the house hardly knew how to look on its master or his son. There was evidently some dire quarrel between them. The old man glared at the young one, who calmly looked his father in the face. Wicked rage and hate seemed to flash from the doctor’s eyes, and anon came a look of wild pitiful supplication towards the guest, which was most painful to bear. In the midst of what dark family mystery was I? What meant this cruel spectacle of the father’s terrified anger, and the son’s scorn?

“I— I appeal to you, Pendennis,” says the doctor, with a choking utterance and ghastly face.

“Shall we begin ab ovo, sir?” says Phil. Again the ghastly look of terror comes over the father’s face.

“I— I promise to bring one of the first noblemen in England,” gasps the doctor, “from a public dinner, in my carriage; and my son takes it, and leaves me and Lord Ascot to walk! — Is it fair, Pendennis? Is it the conduct of a gentleman to a gentleman; of a son to a father?”

“No, sir,” I said gravely, “nothing can excuse it.” Indeed I was shocked at the young man’s obduracy and undutifulness.

“I told you it was a mistake!” cries Phil, reddening. “I heard Lord Ascot order his own carriage; I made no doubt he would bring my father home. To ride in a chariot with a footman behind me, is no pleasure to me, and I would far rather have a Hansom and a cigar. It was a blunder, and I am sorry for it — there! And if I live to a hundred I can’t say more.”

“If you are sorry, Philip,” said the father, “it is enough.” “You remember, Pendennis, when — when my son and I were not on this — on this footing,” and he looked up for a moment at a picture which was hanging over Phil’s head — a portrait of Phil’s mother; the lady of whom my own mother spoke, on that evening when we had talked of the boy’s illness. Both the ladies had passed from the world now, and their images were but painted shadows on the wall.

The father had accepted an apology, though the son had made none. I looked at the elder Firmin’s face, and the character written on it. I remembered such particulars of his early history as had been told to me; and I perfectly recalled that feeling of doubt and misliking which came over my mind when I first saw the doctor’s handsome face some few years previously, when my uncle first took me to the doctor’s in Old Parr Street; little Phil being then a flaxen-headed, pretty child, who had just assumed his first trousers, and I a fifth-form boy at school.

My father and Dr. Firmin were members of the medical profession. They had been bred up as boys at the same school, whither families used to send their sons from generation to generation, and long before people had ever learned that the place was unwholesome. Grey Friars was smoky, certainly; I think in the time of the plague great numbers of people were buried there. But had the school been situated in the most picturesque swamp in England, the general health of the boys could not have been better. We boys used to hear of epidemics occurring in other schools, and were almost sorry that they did not come to ours, so that we might shut up, and get longer vacations. Even that illness which subsequently befel Phil Firmin himself attacked no one else — the boys all luckily going home for the holidays on the very day of poor Phil’s seizure; but of this illness more anon. When it was determined that little Phil Firmin was to go to Grey Friars, Phil’s father bethought him that Major Pendennis, whom he met in the world and society, had a nephew at the place, who might protect the little fellow, and the major took his nephew to see Dr. and Mrs. Firmin one Sunday after church, and we had lunch at Old Parr Street, and there little Phil was presented to me, whom I promised to take under my protection. He was a simple little man; an artless child, who had not the least idea of the dignity of a fifth-form boy. He was quite unabashed in talking to me and other persons, and has remained so ever since. He asked my uncle how he came to have such odd hair. He partook freely of the delicacies on the table. I remember he hit me with his little fist once or twice, which liberty at first struck me with a panic of astonishment, and then with a sense of the ridiculous so exquisitely keen, that I burst out into a fit of laughter. It was, you see, as if a stranger were to hit the Pope in the ribs, and call him “Old boy;” as if Jack were to tweak one of the giants by the nose; or Ensign Jones to ask the Duke of Wellington to take wine. I had a strong sense of humour, even in those early days, and enjoyed this joke accordingly.

“Philip!” cries mamma, “you will hurt Mr. Pendennis.”

“I will knock him down!” shouts Phil. Fancy knocking me down, — ME, a fifth-form boy!

“The child is a perfect Hercules,” remarks the mother.

“He strangled two snakes in his cradle,” says the doctor, looking at me. (It was then, as I remember, I felt Dr. Fell towards him.)

“La, Dr. Firmin!” cries mamma, “I can’t bear snakes. I remember there was one at Rome, when we were walking one day; a great, large snake, and I hated it, and I cried out, and I nearly fainted; and my uncle Ringwood said I ought to like snakes, for one might be an agreeable rattle; and I have read of them being charming in India, and I dare say you have, Mr. Pendennis, for I am told you are very clever; and I am not in the least; I wish I were; but my husband is, very — and so Phil will be. Will you be a very clever boy, dear? He was named after my dear papa, who was killed at Busaco when I was quite, quite a little thing, and we wore mourning, and we went to live with my uncle Ringwood afterwards; but Maria and I had both our own fortunes; and I am sure I little thought I should marry a physician — la, one of uncle Ringwood’s grooms, I should as soon have thought of marrying him! — but, you know, my husband is one of the cleverest men in the world. Don’t tell me, — you are, dearest, and you know it; and when a man is clever I don’t value his rank in life; no, not if he was that fender; and I always said to uncle Ringwood, ‘Talent I will marry, for talent I adore;’ and I did marry you, Dr. Firmin, you know I did, and this child is your image. And you will be kind to him at school,” says the poor lady, turning to me, her eyes filling with tears, “for talent is always kind, except uncle Ringwood, and he was very — ”

“A little more wine, Mr. Pendennis?” said the doctor — Doctor Fell still, though he was most kind to me. “I shall put my little man under your care, and I know you will keep him from harm. I hope you will do us the favour to come to Parr Street whenever you are free. In my father’s time we used to come home of a Saturday from school, and enjoyed going to the play.” And the doctor shook me cordially by the hand, and, I must say, continued his kindness to me as long as ever I knew him. When we went away, my uncle Pendennis told me many stories about the great earl and family of Ringwood, and how Dr. Firmin had made a match — a match of the affections — with this lady, daughter of Philip Ringwood, who was killed at Busaco; and how she had been a great beauty, and was a perfect grande dame always; and, if not the cleverest, certainly one of the kindest and most amiable women in the world.

In those days I was accustomed to receive the opinions of my informant with such respect that I at once accepted this statement as authentic. Mrs. Firmin’s portrait, indeed, was beautiful: it was painted by young Mr. Harlowe, that year he was at Rome, and when in eighteen days he completed a copy of the Transfiguration, to the admiration of all the Academy; but I, for my part, only remember a lady weak, and thin, and faded, who never came out of her dressing-room until a late hour in the afternoon, and whose superannuated smiles and grimaces used to provoke my juvenile sense of humour. She used to kiss Phil’s brow; and, as she held the boy’s hand in one of her lean ones, would say, “Who would suppose such a great boy as that could be my son?” “Be kind to him when I am gone,” she sighed to me, one Sunday evening, when I was taking leave of her, as her eyes filled with tears, and she placed the thin hand in mine for the last time. The doctor, reading by the fire, turned round and scowled at her from under his tall shining forehead. “You are nervous, Louisa, and had better go to your room, I told you you had,” he said, abruptly. “Young gentlemen, it is time for you to be off to Grey Friars. Is the cab at the door, Brice?” And he took out his watch — his great shining watch, by which he had felt the pulses of so many famous personages, whom his prodigious skill had rescued from disease. And at parting, Phil flung his arms round his poor mother, and kissed her under the glossy curls; the borrowed curls; and he looked his father resolutely in the face (whose own glance used to fall before that of the boy), and bade him a gruff goodnight, ere we set forth for Grey Friars.

Chapter 2

At School and at Home.

I dined yesterday with three gentlemen, whose time of life may be guessed by their conversation, a great part of which consisted of Eton reminiscences and lively imitations of Dr. Keate. Each one, as he described how he had been flogged, mimicked to the best of his power the manner and the mode of operating of the famous doctor. His little parenthetical remarks during the ceremony were recalled with great facetiousness: the very hwhish of the rods was parodied with thrilling fidelity, and after a good hour’s conversation the subject was brought to a climax by a description of that awful night when the doctor called up squad after squad of boys from their beds in their respective boardinghouses, whipped through the whole night, and castigated I don’t know how many hundred rebels. All these mature men laughed, prattled, rejoiced, and became young again, as they recounted their stories; and each of them heartily and eagerly bade the stranger to understand how Keate was a thorough gentleman. Having talked about their floggings, I say, for an hour at least, they apologized to me for dwelling upon a subject which after all was strictly local: but, indeed, their talk greatly amused and diverted me, and I hope, and am quite ready, to hear all their jolly stories over again.

Be not angry, patient reader of former volumes by the author of the present history, if I am garrulous about Grey Friars, and go back to that ancient place of education to find the heroes of our tale. We are but young once. When we remember that time of youth, we are still young. He over whose head eight or nine lustres have passed, if he wishes to write of boys, must recall the time when he himself was a boy. Their habits change; their waists are longer or shorter; their shirt-collars stick up more or less; but the boy is the boy in King George’s time as in that of his royal niece — once our maiden queen, now the anxious mother of many boys. And young fellows are honest, and merry, and idle, and mischievous, and timid, and brave, and studious, and selfish, and generous, and mean, and false, and truth-telling, and affectionate, and good, and bad, now as in former days. He with whom we have mainly to do is a gentleman of mature age now walking the street with boys of his own. He is not going to perish in the last chapter of these memoirs — to die of consumption with his love weeping by his bedside, or to blow his brains out in despair, because she has been married to his rival, or killed out of a gig, or otherwise done for in the last chapter but one. No, no; we will have no dismal endings. Philip Firmin is well and hearty at this minute, owes no man a shilling, and can enjoy his glass of port in perfect comfort. So, my dear miss, if you want a pulmonary romance, the present won’t suit you. So, young gentleman, if you are for melancholy, despair, and sardonic satire, please to call at some other shop. That Philip shall have his trials, is a matter of course — may they be interesting, though they do not end dismally! That he shall fall and trip in his course sometimes, is pretty certain. Ah, who does not upon this life-journey of ours? Is not our want the occasion of our brother’s charity, and thus does not good come out of that evil? When the traveller (of whom the Master spoke) fell among the thieves, his mishap was contrived to try many a heart beside his own — the Knave’s who robbed him, the Levite’s and Priest’s who passed him by as he lay bleeding, the humble Samaritan’s whose hand poured oil into his wound, and held out its pittance to relieve him.

So little Philip Firmin was brought to school by his mamma in her carriage, who entreated the housekeeper to have a special charge of that angelic child; and as soon as the poor lady’s back was turned, Mrs. Bunce emptied the contents of the little boy’s trunk into one of sixty or seventy little cupboards, wherein reposed other boys’ clothes and haberdashery: and then Mrs. Firmin requested to see the Rev. Mr. X., in whose house Philip was to board, and besought him, and explained many things to him, such as the exceeding delicacy of the child’s constitution, and Mr. X., who was very good-natured, patted the boy kindly on the head, and sent for the other Philip, Philip Ringwood, Phil’s cousin, who had arrived at Grey Friars an hour or two before; and Mr. X. told Ringwood to take care of the little fellow; and Mrs. Firmin, choking behind her pocket-handkerchief, gurgled out a blessing on the grinning youth, and at one time had an idea of giving Master Ringwood a sovereign, but paused, thinking he was too big a boy, and that she might not take such a liberty, and presently she was gone; and little Phil Firmin was introduced to the long-room and his schoolfellows of Mr. X.’s house; and having plenty of money, and naturally finding his way to the pastrycook’s, the next day after school, he was met by his cousin Ringwood and robbed of half the tarts which he had purchased. A fortnight afterwards, the hospitable doctor and his wife asked their young kinsman to Old Parr Street, Burlington Gardens, and the two boys went; but Phil never mentioned anything to his parents regarding the robbery of tarts, being deterred, perhaps, from speaking by awful threats of punishment which his cousin promised to administer when they got back to school, in case of the little boy’s confession. Subsequently, Master Ringwood was asked once in every term to Old Parr Street; but neither Mrs. Firmin, nor the doctor, nor Master Firmin liked the baronet’s son, and Mrs. Firmin pronounced him a violent, rude boy.

I, for my part, left school suddenly and early, and my little protégé behind me. His poor mother, who had promised herself to come for him every Saturday, did not keep her promise. Smithfield is a long way from Piccadilly; and an angry cow once scratched the panels of her carriage, causing her footman to spring from his board into a pig-pen, and herself to feel such a shock, that no wonder she was afraid of visiting the City afterwards. The circumstances of this accident she often narrated to us. Her anecdotes were not numerous, but she told them repeatedly. In imagination, sometimes, I can hear her ceaseless, simple cackle; see her faint eyes, as she prattles on unconsciously, and watch the dark looks of her handsome, silent husband, scowling from under his eyebrows and smiling behind his teeth. I daresay he ground those teeth with suppressed rage sometimes. I daresay to bear with her endless volubility must have tasked his endurance. He may have treated her ill, but she tried him. She, on her part, may have been a not very wise woman, but she was kind to me. Did not her housekeeper make me the best of tarts, and keep goodies from the company dinners for the young gentlemen when they came home? Did not her husband give me of his fees? I promise you, after I had seen Dr. Fell a few times, that first unpleasing impression produced by his darkling countenance and sinister good looks wore away. He was a gentleman. He had lived in the great world, of which he told anecdotes delightful to boys to hear; and he passed the bottle to me as if I was a man.

I hope and think I remembered the injunction of poor Mrs. Firmin to be kind to her boy. As long as we stayed together at Grey Friars, I was Phil’s champion, whenever he needed my protection, though of course I could not always be present to guard the little scapegrace from all the blows which were aimed at his young face by pugilists of his own size. There were seven or eight years’ difference between us (he says ten, which is absurd, and which I deny); but I was always remarkable for my affability, and, in spite of our disparity of age, would often graciously accept the general invitation I had from his father for any Saturday and Sunday when I would like to accompany Philip home.

Such an invitation is welcome to any schoolboy. To get away from Smithfield, and show our best clothes in Bond Street, was always a privilege. To strut in the Park on Sunday, and nod to the other fellows who were strutting there too, was better than remaining at school, “doing Diatessaron,” as the phrase used to be, having that endless roast beef for dinner, and hearing two sermons in chapel. There may have been more lively streets in London than Old Parr Street; but it was pleasanter to be there than to look at Goswell Street over Grey Friars’ wall; and so the present biographer and reader’s very humble servant found Dr. Firmin’s house an agreeable resort. Mamma was often ailing, or, if well, went out into the world with her husband; in either case, we boys had a good dinner provided for us, with the special dishes which Phil loved; and after dinner we adjourned to the play, not being by any means too proud to sit in the pit with Mr. Brice, the doctor’s confidential man. On Sunday we went to church at Lady Whittlesea’s, and back to school in the evening; when the doctor almost always gave us a fee. If he did not dine at home (and I own his absence did not much damp our pleasure), Brice would lay a small enclosure on the young gentlemen’s coats, which we transferred to our pockets. I believe schoolboys disdain fees in the present disinterested times.

Everything in Dr. Firmin’s house was as handsome as might be, and yet somehow the place was not cheerful. One’s steps fell noiselessly on the faded Turkey carpet; the room was large, and all save the dining-table in a dingy twilight. The picture of Mrs. Firmin looked at us from the wall, and followed us about with wild violet eyes. Philip Firmin had the same violet odd bright eyes, and the same coloured hair of an auburn tinge; in the picture it fell in long wild masses over the lady’s back as she leaned with bare arms on a harp. Over the sideboard was the doctor, in a black velvet coat and a fur collar, his hand on a skull, like Hamlet. Skulls of oxen, horned, with wreaths, formed the cheerful ornaments of the cornice. On the side-table glittered a pair of cups, given by grateful patients, looking like receptacles rather for funereal ashes than for festive flowers or wine. Brice, the butler, wore the gravity and costume of an undertaker. The footman stealthily moved hither and thither, bearing the dinner to us; we always spoke under our breath whilst we were eating it. “The room don’t look more cheerful of a morning when the patients are sitting here, I can tell you,” Phil would say; indeed, we could well fancy that it was dismal. The drawing-room had a rhubarb-coloured flock paper (on account of the governor’s attachment to the shop, Master Phil said), a great piano, a harp smothered in a leather bag in the corner, which the languid owner now never touched; and everybody’s face seemed scared and pale in the great looking-glasses, which reflected you over and over again into the distance, so that you seemed to twinkle off right through the Albany into Piccadilly.

Old Parr Street has been a habitation for generations of surgeons and physicians. I suppose the noblemen for whose use the street was intended in the time of the early Georges fled, finding the neighbourhood too dismal, and the gentlemen in black coats came and took possession of the gilded, gloomy chambers which the sacred mode vacated. These mutations of fashion have always been matters of profound speculation to me. Why shall not one moralize over London, as over Rome, or Baalbec, or Troy town? I like to walk among the Hebrews of Wardour Street, and fancy the place, as it once was, crowded with chairs and gilt chariots, and torches flashing in the hands of the running footmen. I have a grim pleasure in thinking that Golding Square was once the resort of the aristocracy, and Monmouth Street the delight of the genteel world. What shall prevent us Londoners from musing over the decline and fall of city sovereignties, and drawing our cockney morals? As the late Mr. Gibbon meditated his history leaning against a column in the Capitol, why should not I muse over mine, reclining under an arcade of the Pantheon? Not the Pantheon at Rome, in the Cabbage Market by the Piazza Navona, where the immortal gods were worshipped, — the immortal gods who are now dead; but the Pantheon in Oxford Street, ladies, where you purchase feeble pomatums, music, glassware, and baby-linen; and which has its history too. Have not Selwyn, and Walpole, and March, and Carlisle figured there? Has not Prince Florizel flounced through the hall in his rustling domino, and danced there in powdered splendour? and when the ushers refused admission to lovely Sophy Baddeley, did not the young men, her adorers, draw their rapiers and vow to slay the doorkeepers; and, crossing the glittering blades over the head of the enchantress, make a warlike triumphal arch for her to pass under, all flushed, and smiling, and perfumed, and painted? The lives of streets are as the lives of man, and shall not the streetpreacher, if so minded, take for the text of his sermon the stones in the gutter? That you were once the resort of the fashion, O Monmouth Street! by the invocation of blessed St. Giles shall I not improve that sweet thought into a godly discourse, and make the ruin edifying? O mes frères! There were splendid thoroughfares, dazzling company, bright illuminations, in our streets when our hearts were young: we entertained in them a noble youthful company of chivalrous hopes and lofty ambitions; of blushing thoughts in snowy robes spotless and virginal. See, in the embrasure of the window, where you sate looking to the stars and nestling by the soft side of your first-love, hang Mr. Moses’ moseum of turned old clothes, very cheap; of worn old boots, bedraggled in how much and how many people’s mud; a great bargain. See! along the street, strewed with flowers once mayhap — a fight of beggars for the refuse of an apple-stall, or a tipsy basket-woman, reeling shrieking to the station. O me! O my beloved congregation! I have preached this stale sermon to you for ever so many years. O my jolly companions, I have drunk many a bout with you, and always found vanitas vanitatum written on the bottom of the pot!

I choose to moralize now when I pass the place. The garden has run to seed, the walks are mildewed, the statues have broken noses, the gravel is dank with green moss, the roses are withered, and the nightingales have ceased to make love. It is a funereal street, Old Parr Street, certainly; the carriages which drive there ought to have feathers on the roof, and the butlers who open the doors should wear weepers — so the scene strikes you now as you pass along the spacious empty pavement. You are bilious, my good man. Go and pay a guinea to one of the doctors in those houses; there are still doctors there. He will prescribe taraxacum for you, or pil: hydrarg: Bless you! in my time, to us gentlemen of the fifth form, the place was bearable. The yellow fogs didn’t damp our spirits — and we never thought them too thick to keep us away from the play: from the chivalrous Charles Kemble, I tell you, my Mirabel, my Mercutio, my princely Falconbridge: from his adorable daughter (O my distracted heart!): from the classic Young: from the glorious Long Tom Coffin: from the unearthly Vanderdecken — “Return, O my love, and we’ll never, never part” (where art thou, sweet singer of that most thrilling ditty of my youth?): from the sweet, sweet Victorine and the Bottle Imp. Oh, to see that Bottle Imp again, and hear that song about the “Pilgrim of Love!” Once, but — hush! — this is a secret — we had private boxes, the doctor’s grand friends often sending him these; and finding the opera rather slow, we went to a concert in M— d — n Lane, near Covent Garden, and heard the most celestial glees, over a supper of fizzing sausages and mashed potatoes, such as the world has never seen since. We did no harm; but I daresay it was very wrong. Brice, the butler, ought not to have taken us. We bullied him, and made him take us where we liked. We had rum-shrub in the housekeeper’s room, where we used to be diverted by the society of other butlers of the neighbouring nobility and gentry, who would step in. Perhaps it was wrong to leave us so to the company of servants. Dr. Firmin used to go to his grand parties, Mrs. Firmin to bed. “Did we enjoy the performance last night?” our host would ask at breakfast. “Oh, yes, we enjoyed the performance!” But my poor Mrs. Firmin fancied that we enjoyed Semiramide or the Donna del Lago; whereas we had been to the pit at the Adelphi (out of our own money), and seen that jolly John Reeve, and laughed — laughed till we were fit to drop — and stayed till the curtain was down. And then we would come home, and, as aforesaid, pass a delightful hour over supper, and hear the anecdotes of Mr. Brice’s friends, the other butlers. Ah, that was a time indeed! There never was any liquor so good as rum-shrub, never; and the sausages had a flavour of Elysium. How hushed we were when Dr. Firmin, coming home from his parties, let himself in at the street-door! Shoeless, we crept up to our bedrooms. And we came down to breakfast with innocent young faces — and let Mrs. Firmin, at lunch, prattle about the opera; and there stood Brice and the footman behind us, looking quite grave, the abominable hypocrites!

Then, sir, there was a certain way, out of the study window, or though the kitchen, and over the leads, to a building, gloomy, indeed, but where I own to have spent delightful hours of the most flagitious and criminal enjoyment of some delicious little Havannahs, ten to the shilling. In that building there were stables once, doubtless occupied by great Flemish horses and rumbling gold coaches of Walpole’s time; but a celebrated surgeon, when he took possession of the house, made a lecture-room of the premises, — “And this door,” says Phil, pointing to one leading into the mews, “was very convenient for having the bodies in and out” — a cheerful reminiscence. Of this kind of furniture there was now very little in the apartment, except a dilapidated skeleton in a corner, a few dusty casts of heads, and bottles of preparations on the top of an old bureau, and some mildewed harness hanging on the walls. This apartment became Mr. Phil’s smoking-room when, as he grew taller, he felt himself too dignified to sit in the kitchen regions: the honest butler and housekeeper themselves pointing out to their young master that his place was elsewhere than among the servants. So there, privately and with great delectation, we smoked many an abominable cigar in this dreary back-room, the gaunt walls and twilight ceilings of which were by no means melancholy to us, who found forbidden pleasures the sweetest, after the absurd fashion of boys. Dr. Firmin was an enemy to smoking, and ever accustomed to speak of the practice with eloquent indignation. “It was a low practice — the habit of cabmen, pot-house frequenters, and Irish apple-women,” the doctor would say, as Phil and his friend looked at each other with a stealthy joy. Phil’s father was ever scented and neat, the pattern of handsome propriety. Perhaps he had a clearer perception regarding manners than respecting morals; perhaps his conversation was full of platitudes, his talk (concerning people of fashion chiefly) mean and uninstructive, his behaviour to young Lord Egham rather fulsome and lacking of dignity. Perhaps, I say, the idea may have entered into young Mr. Pendennis’s mind that his hospitable entertainer and friend, Dr. Firmin, of Old Parr Street, was what at the present day might be denominated an old humbug; but modest young men do not come quickly to such unpleasant conclusions regarding their seniors. Dr. Firmin’s manners were so good, his forehead was so high, his frill so fresh, his hands so white and slim, that for some considerable time we ingenuously admired him; and it was not without a pang that we came to view him as he actually was — no, not as he actually was — no man whose early nurture was kindly can judge quite impartially the man who has been kind to him in boyhood.

I quitted school suddenly, leaving my little Phil behind me, a brave little handsome boy, endearing himself to old and young by his good looks, his gaiety, his courage, and his gentlemanly bearing. Once in a way a letter would come from him, full of that artless affection and tenderness which fills boys’ hearts, and is so touching in their letters. It was answered with proper dignity and condescension on the senior boy’s part. Our modest little country home kept up a friendly intercourse with Dr. Firmin’s grand London mansion, of which, in his visits to us, my uncle, Major Pendennis, did not fail to bring news. A correspondence took place between the ladies of each house. We supplied Mrs. Firmin with little country presents, tokens of my mother’s good-will and gratitude towards the friends who had been kind to her son. I went my way to the university, having occasional glimpses of Phil at school. I took chambers in the Temple, which he found great delight in visiting; and he liked our homely dinner from Dick’s, and a bed on the sofa, better than the splendid entertainments in Old Parr Street and his great gloomy chamber there. He had grown by this time to be ever so much taller than his senior, though he always persists in looking up to me unto the present day.

A very few weeks after my poor mother passed that judgment on Mrs. Firmin, she saw reason to regret and revoke it. Phil’s mother, who was afraid, or perhaps was forbidden, to attend her son in his illness at school, was taken ill herself, and the doctor sent for his boy.

Phil returned to Grey Friars in a deep suit of black; the servants on the carriage wore black too; and a certain tyrant of the place, beginning to laugh and jeer because Firmin’s eyes filled with tears at some ribald remark, was gruffly rebuked by Sampson major, the cock of the whole school; and with the question, “Don’t you see the poor beggar’s in mourning, you great brute?” was kicked about his business.

When Philip Firmin and I met again, there was crape on both our hats. I don’t think either could see the other’s face very well. I went to see him in Parr Street, in the vacant, melancholy house, where the poor mother’s picture was yet hanging in her empty drawing-room.

“She was always fond of you, Pendennis,” said Phil. “God bless you for being so good to her. You know what it is to lose — to lose what loves you best in the world. I didn’t know how — how I loved her, till I had lost her.” And many a sob broke his words as he spoke.

Her picture was removed from the drawing-room presently into Phil’s own little study — the room in which he sate and defied his father. What had passed between them? The young man was very much changed. The frank looks of old days were gone, and Phil’s face was haggard and bold. The doctor would not let me have a word more with his son after he had found us together, but, with dubious appealing looks, followed me to the door, and shut it upon me. I felt that it closed upon two unhappy men.

Chapter 3

A Consultation.

Should I peer into Firmin’s privacy, and find the key to that secret? What skeleton was there in the closet? We know that such skulls are locked up in many gentlemen’s hearts and memories. Bluebeard, for instance, had a whole museum of them — as that imprudent little last wife of his found out to her cost. And, on the other hand, a lady, we suppose, would select hers of the sort which had carried beards when in the flesh. Given a neat locked skeleton cupboard, belonging to a man of a certain age, to ascertain the sex of the original owner of the bones, you have not much need of a picklock or a blacksmith. There is no use in forcing the hinge, or scratching the pretty panel. We know what is inside — we arch rogues and men of the world. Murders, I suppose, are not many — enemies and victims of our hate and anger, destroyed and trampled out of life by us, and locked out of sight: but corpses of our dead loves, my dear sir — my dear madam — have we not got them stowed away in cupboard after cupboard, in bottle after bottle? Oh, fie! And young people! What doctrine is this to preach to them, who spell your book by papa’s and mamma’s knee? Yes, and how wrong it is to let them go to church, and see and hear papa and mamma publicly on their knees, calling out, and confessing to the whole congregation, that they are sinners! So, though I had not the key, I could see through the panel and the glimmering of the skeleton inside.

Although the elder Firmin followed me to the door, and his eyes only left me as I turned the corner of the street, I felt sure that Phil ere long would open his mind to me, or give me some clue to that mystery. I should hear from him why his bright cheeks had become hollow, why his fresh voice, which I remember so honest and cheerful, was now harsh and sarcastic, with tones that often grated on the hearer, and laughter that gave pain. It was about Philip himself. that my anxieties were. The young fellow had inherited from his poor mother a considerable fortune — some eight or nine hundred a year, we always understood. He was living in a costly, not to say extravagant manner. I thought Mr. Philip’s juvenile remorses were locked up in the skeleton closet, and was grieved to think he had fallen in mischief’s way. Hence, no doubt, might arise the anger between him and his father. The boy was extravagant and headstrong; and the parent remonstrant and irritated.

I met my old friend Dr. Goodenough at the club one evening; and as we dined together I discoursed with him about his former patient, and recalled to him that day, years back, when the boy was ill at school, and when my poor mother and Phil’s own were yet alive.

Goodenough looked very grave.

“Yes,” he said, “the boy was very ill; he was nearly gone at that time — at that time — when his mother was in the Isle of Wight, and his father dangling after a prince. We thought one day it was all over with him; but — ”

“But a good doctor interposed between him and pallida mors.”

“A good doctor? a good nurse! The boy was delirious, and had a fancy to walk out of window, and would have done so, but for one of my nurses. You know her.”

“What! the Little Sister?”

“Yes, the Little Sister.”

“And it was she who nursed Phil through his fever, and saved his life? I drink her health. She is a good little soul.”

“Good!” said the doctor, with his gruffest voice and frown. — (He was always most fierce when he was most tender-hearted.) “Good, indeed! Will you have some more of this duck? — Do. You have had enough already, and it’s very unwholesome. Good, sir? But for women, fire and brimstone ought to come down and consume this world. Your dear mother was one of the good ones. I was attending you when you were ill, at those horrible chambers you had in the Temple, at the same time when young Firmin was ill at Grey Friars. And I suppose I must be answerable for keeping two scapegraces in the world.”

“Why didn’t Dr. Firmin come to see him?”

“Hm! his nerves were too delicate. Besides, he did come. Talk of the — ”

The personage designated by asterisks was Phil’s father, who was also a member of our club, and who entered the dining-room, tall, stately, and pale, with his stereotyped smile, and wave of his pretty hand. By the way, that smile of Firmin’s was a very queer contortion of the handsome features. As you came up to him, he would draw his lips over his teeth, causing his jaws to wrinkle (or dimple if you will) on either side. Meanwhile his eyes looked out from his face, quite melancholy and independent of the little transaction in which the mouth was engaged. Lips said, “I am a gentleman of fine manners and fascinating address, and I am supposed to be happy to see you. How do you do?” Dreary, sad, as into a great blank desert, looked the dark eyes. I do know one or two, but only one or two faces of men, when oppressed with care, which can yet smile all over.

Goodenough nods grimly to the smile of the other doctor, who blandly looks at our table, holding his chin in one of his pretty hands.

“How do?” growls Goodenough. “Young Hopeful well?”

“Young Hopeful sits smoking cigars till morning with some friends of his,” says Firmin, with the sad smile directed towards me this time. “Boys will be boys.” And he pensively walks away from us with a friendly nod towards me; examines the dinner-card in an attitude of melancholy grace; points with the jewelled hand to the dishes which he will have served, and is off, and simpering to another acquaintance at a distant table.

“I thought he would take that table,” says Firmin’s cynical confrère.

“In the draught of the door? Don’t you see how the candle flickers? It is the worst place in the room!”

“Yes; but don’t you see who is sitting at the next table?”

Now at the next table was a n-blem-n of vast wealth, who was growling at the quality of the mutton cutlets, and the half-pint of sherry which he had ordered for his dinner. But as his lordship has nothing to do with the ensuing history, of course we shall not violate confidence by mentioning his name. We could see Firmin smiling on his neighbour with his blandest melancholy, and the waiters presently bearing up the dishes which the doctor had ordered for his own refection. He was no lover of mutton-chops and coarse sherry, as I knew, who had partaken of many a feast at his board. I could see the diamond twinkle on his pretty hand, as it daintily poured out creaming wine from the ice-pail by his side — the liberal hand that had given me many a sovereign when I was a boy.

“I can’t help liking him,” I said to my companion, whose scornful eyes were now and again directed towards his colleague.

“This port is very sweet. Almost all port is sweet now,” remarks the doctor.

“He was very kind to me in my school-days; and Philip was a fine little fellow.”

“Handsome a boy as ever I saw. Does he keep his beauty? Father was a handsome man — very. Quite a lady-killer — I mean out of his practice!” adds the grim doctor. “What is the boy doing?”

“He is at the university. He has his mother’s fortune. He is wild and unsettled, and I fear he is going to the bad a little.”

“Is he? Shouldn’t wonder!” grumbles Goodenough.

We had talked very frankly and pleasantly until the appearance of the other doctor, but with Firmin’s arrival Goodenough seemed to button up his conversation. He quickly stumped away from the dining-room to the drawing-room, and sate over a novel there until time came when he was to retire to his patients or his home.

That there was no liking between the doctors, that there was a difference between Philip and his father, was clear enough to me: but the causes of these differences I had yet to learn. The story came to me piecemeal; from confessions here, admissions there, deductions of my own. I could not, of course, be present at many of the scenes which I shall have to relate as though I had witnessed them; and the posture, language, and inward thoughts of Philip and his friends, as here related, no doubt are fancies of the narrator in many cases; but the story is as authentic as many histories, and the reader need only give such an amount of credence to it as he may judge that its verisimilitude warrants.

Well, then, we must not only revert to that illness which befell when Philip Firmin was a boy at Grey Friars, but go back yet farther in time to a period which I cannot precisely ascertain.

The pupils of old Gandish’s painting academy may remember a ridiculous little man, with a great deal of wild talent, about the ultimate success of which his friends were divided. Whether Andrew was a genius, or whether he was a zany, was always a moot question among the frequenters of the Greek Street billiard-rooms, and the noble disciples of the Academy and St. Martin’s Lane. He may have been crazy and absurd; he may have had talent, too: such characters are not unknown in art or in literature. He broke the Queen’s English; he was ignorant to a wonder; he dressed his little person in the most fantastic raiment and queerest cheap finery; he wore a beard, bless my soul! twenty years before beards were known to wag in Britain. He was the most affected little creature, and, if you looked at him, would pose in attitudes of such ludicrous dirty dignity, that if you had had a dun waiting for money in the hall of your lodging-house, or your picture refused at the Academy — if you were suffering under ever so much calamity — you could not help laughing. He was the butt of all his acquaintances; the laughing-stock of high and low; and he had as loving, gentle, faithful, honourable a heart as ever beat in a little bosom. He is gone to his rest now; his palette and easel are waste timber; his genius, which made some little flicker of brightness, never shone much, and is extinct. In an old album, that dates back for more than a score of years, I sometimes look at poor Andrew’s strange wild sketches. He might have done something had he continued to remain poor; but a rich widow, whom he met at Rome, fell in love with the strange errant painter, pursued him to England, and married him in spite of himself. His genius drooped under the servitude: he lived but a few short years, and died of a consumption, of which the good Goodenough’s skill could not cure him.

One day, as he was driving with his wife in her splendid barouche through the Haymarket, he suddenly bade the coachman stop, sprang over the side of the carriage before the steps could be let fall, and his astonished wife saw him shaking the hands of a shabbily-dressed little woman who was passing — shaking both her hands, and weeping, and gesticulating. and twisting his beard and mustachios, as his wont was when agitated. Mrs. Montfitchet (the wealthy Mrs. Carrickfergus she had been, before she married the painter), the owner of a young husband, who had sprung from her side, and out of her carriage, in order to caress a young woman passing in the street, might well be disturbed by this demonstration; but she was a kind-hearted woman, and when Montfitchet, on reascending into the family coach, told his wife the history of the person of whom he had just taken leave, she cried plentifully too. She bade the coachman drive straightway to her own house: she rushed up to her own apartments, whence she emerged, bearing an immense bag full of wearing apparel, and followed by a panting butler, carrying a bottle-basket and a pie: and she drove off, with her pleased Andrew by her side, to a court in St. Martin’s Lane, where dwelt the poor woman with whom he had just been conversing.

It had pleased heaven, in the midst of dreadful calamity, to send her friends and succour. She was suffering under misfortune, poverty, and cowardly desertion. A man, who had called himself Brandon when he took lodgings in her father’s house, had married her, brought her to London, tired of her, and left her. She had reason to think he had given a false name when he lodged with her father: he fled, after a few months, and his real name she never knew. When he deserted her, she went back to her father, a weak man, married to a domineering woman, who pretended to disbelieve the story of her marriage, and drove her from the door. Desperate, and almost mad, she came back to London, where she still had some little relics of property that her fugitive husband left behind him. He promised, when he left her, to remit her money; but he sent none, or she refused it — or, in her wildness and despair, lost the dreadful paper which announced his desertion, and that he was married before, and that to pursue him would ruin him, and he knew she never would do that — no, however much he might have wronged her.

She was penniless then — deserted by all — having made away with the last trinket of her brief days of love, having sold the last little remnant of her poor little stock of clothing — alone, in the great wilderness of London, when it pleased God to send her succour in the person of an old friend who had known her, and even loved her, in happier days. When the Samaritans came to this poor child, they found her sick and shuddering with fever. They brought their doctor to her, who is never so eager as when he runs up a poor man’s stair. And, as he watched by the bed where her kind friends came to help her, he heard her sad little story of trust and desertion.

Her father was a humble person, who had seen better days; and poor little Mrs. Brandon had a sweetness and simplicity of manner which exceedingly touched the good doctor. She had little education, except that which silence, long-suffering, seclusion, will sometimes give. When cured of her illness, there was the great and constant evil of poverty to meet and overcome. How was she to live? Goodenough got to be as fond of her as of a child of his own. She was tidy, thrifty, gay at times, with a little simple cheerfulness. The little flowers began to bloom as the sunshine touched them. Her whole life hitherto had been cowering under neglect, and tyranny, and gloom.

Mr. Montfitchet was for coming so often to look after the little outcast whom he had succoured that I am bound to say Mrs. M. became hysterically jealous, and waited for him on the stairs as he came down swathed in his Spanish cloak, pounced on him, and called him a monster. Goodenough was also, I fancy, suspicious of Montfitchet, and Montfitchet of Goodenough. Howbeit, the doctor vowed that he never had other than the feeling of a father towards his poor little protégée, nor could any father be more tender. He did not try to take her out of her station in life. He found, or she found for herself, a work which she could do. “Papa used to say no one ever nursed him so nice as I did,” she said. “I think I could do that better than anything, except my needle, but I like to be useful to poor sick people best. I don’t think about myself then, sir.” And for this business good Mr. Goodenough had her educated and employed.

The widow died in course of time whom Mrs. Brandon’s father had married, and her daughters refused to keep him, speaking very disrespectfully of this old Mr. Gann, who was, indeed, a weak old man. And now Caroline came to the rescue of her old father. She was a shrewd little Caroline. She had saved a little money. Goodenough gave up a country-house, which he did not care to use, and lent Mrs. Brandon the furniture. She thought she could keep a lodging-house and find lodgers. Montfitchet had painted her. There was a sort of beauty about her which the artists admired. When Ridley the Academician had the small-pox, she attended him, and caught the malady. She did not mind; not she. “It won’t spoil my beauty,” she said. Nor did it. The disease dealt very kindly with her little modest face. I don’t know who gave her the nickname, but she had a good roomy house in Thornhaugh Street, an artist on the first and second floor; and there never was a word of scandal against the Little Sister, for was not her father in permanence sipping gin-and-water in the ground-floor parlour? As we called her “the Little Sister,” her father was called “the Captain” — a bragging, lazy, good-natured old man — not a reputable captain — and very cheerful, though the conduct of his children, he said, had repeatedly broken his heart.

I don’t know how many years the Little Sister had been on duty when Philip Firmin had his scarlet fever. It befell him at the end of the term, just when all the boys were going home. His tutor and his tutor’s wife wanted their holidays, and sent their own children out of the way. As Phil’s father was absent, Dr. Goodenough came, and sent his nurse in. The case grew worse, so bad that Dr. Firmin was summoned from the Isle of Wight, and arrived one evening at Grey Friars — Grey Friars so silent now, so noisy at other times with the shouts and crowds of the playground.

Dr. Goodenough’s carriage was at the door when Dr. Firmin’s carriage drove up.

“How was the boy?”

“He had been very bad. He had been wrong in the head all day, talking and laughing quite wild-like,” the servant said.

The father ran up the stairs.

Phil was in a great room, in which were several empty beds of boys gone home for the holidays. The windows were opened into Grey Friars Square. Goodenough heard his colleague’s carriage drive up, and rightly divined that Phil’s father had arrived. He came out, and met Firmin in the anteroom.

“Head has wandered a little. Better now, and quiet;” and the one doctor murmured to the other the treatment which he had pursued.

Firmin step in gently towards the patient, near whose side the Little Sister was standing.

“Who is it?” asked Phil.

“It is I, dear. Your father,” said Dr. Firmin, with real tenderness in his voice.

The Little Sister turned round once, and fell down like a stone by the bedside.

“You infernal villain!” said Goodenough, with an oath, and a step forward. “You are the man!”

“Hush! The patient, if you please, Dr. Goodenough,” said the other physician.

Chapter 4

A Genteel Family.

Have you made up your mind on the question of seeming and being in the world? I mean, suppose you are poor, is it right for you to seem to be well off? Have people an honest right to keep up appearances? Are you justified in starving your dinner-table in order to keep a carriage; to have such an expensive house that you can’t by any possibility help a poor relation; to array your daughters in costly milliners’ wares because they live with girls whose parents are twice as rich? Sometimes it is hard to say where honest pride ends and hypocrisy begins. To obtrude your poverty is mean and slavish; as it is odious for a beggar to ask compassion by showing his sores. But to simulate prosperity — to be wealthy and lavish thrice a year when you ask your friends, and for the rest of the time to munch a crust and sit by one candle — are the folks who practise this deceit worthy of applause or a whipping? Sometimes it is noble pride, sometimes shabby swindling. When I see Eugenia with her dear children exquisitely neat and cheerful; not showing the slightest semblance of poverty, or uttering the smallest complaint; persisting that Squanderfield, her husband, treats her well, and is good at heart; and denying that he leaves her and her young ones in want; I admire and reverence that noble falsehood — that beautiful constancy and endurance which disdains to ask compassion. When I sit at poor Jezebella’s table, and am treated to her sham bounties and shabby splendour, I only feel anger for the hospitality, and that dinner, and guest, and host, are humbugs together.

Talbot Twysden’s dinner-table is large, and the guests most respectable. There is always a bigwig or two present, and a dining dowager who frequents the greatest houses. There is a butler who offers you wine; there’s a menu du dîner before Mrs. Twysden; and to read it you would fancy you were at a good dinner. It tastes of chopped straw. Oh, the dreary sparkle of that feeble champagne; the audacity of that public-house sherry; the swindle of that acrid claret; the fiery twang of that clammy port! I have tried them all, I tell you! It is sham wine, a sham dinner, a sham welcome, a sham cheerfulness, among the guests assembled. I feel that that woman eyes and counts the cutlets as they are carried off the tables; perhaps watches that one which you try to swallow. She has counted and grudged each candle by which the cook prepares the meal. Does her big coachman fatten himself on purloined oats and beans, and Thorley’s food for cattle? Of the rinsings of those wretched bottles the butler will have to give a reckoning in the morning. Unless you are of the very great monde, Twysden and his wife think themselves better than you are, and seriously patronize you. They consider it is a privilege to be invited to those horrible meals to which they gravely ask the greatest folks in the country. I actually met Winton there — the famous Winton — the best dinner-giver in the world (ah, what a position for a man!) I watched him, and marked the sort of wonder which came over him as he tasted and sent away dish after dish, glass after glass. “Try that Château Margaux, Winton!” calls out the host. “It is some that Bottleby and I imported.” Imported! I see Winton’s face as he tastes the wine, and puts it down. He does not like to talk about that dinner. He has lost a day. Twysden will continue to ask him every year; will continue to expect to be asked in return, with Mrs. Twysden and one of his daughters; and will express his surprise loudly at the club, saying, “Hang Winton! Deuce take the fellow! He has sent me no game this year!” When foreign dukes and princes arrive, Twysden straightway collars them, and invites them to his house. And sometimes they go once — and then ask, “Qui donc est ce Monsieur Tvisden, qui est si droôle?” And he elbows his way up to them at the Minister’s assemblies, and frankly gives them his hand. And calm Mrs. Twysden wriggles, and works, and slides, and pushes, and tramples if need be, her girls following behind her, until she too has come up under the eyes of the great man, and bestowed on him a smile and a curtsey. Twysden grasps prosperity cordially by the hand. He says to success, “Bravo!” On the contrary, I never saw a man more resolute in not knowing unfortunate people, or more daringly forgetful of those whom he does not care to remember. If this Levite met a wayfarer, going down from Jerusalem, who had fallen among thieves, do you think he would stop to rescue the fallen man? He would neither give wine, nor oil, nor money. He would pass on perfectly satisfied with his own virtue, and leave the other to go, as best he might, to Jericho.

What is this? Am I angry because Twysden has left off asking me to his vinegar and chopped hay? No. I think not. Am I hurt because Mrs. Twysden sometimes patronizes my wife, and sometimes cuts her? Perhaps. Only women thoroughly know the insolence of women towards one another in the world. That is a very stale remark. They receive and deliver stabs, smiling politely. Tom Sayers could not take punishment more gaily than they do. If you could but see under the skin, you would find their little hearts scarred all over with little lancet digs. I protest I have seen my own wife enduring the impertinence of this woman, with a face as calm and placid as she wears when old Twysden himself is talking to her, and pouring out one of his maddening long stories. Oh, no! I am not angry at all. I can see that by the way in which I am writing of these folks. By the way, whilst I am giving this candid opinion of the Twysdens, do I sometimes pause to consider what they think of me? What do I care? Think what you like. Meanwhile we bow to one another at parties. We smile at each other in a sickly way. And as for the dinners in Beaunash Street, I hope those who eat them enjoy their food.

Twysden is one of the chiefs now of the Powder and Pomatum Office (the Pigtail branch was finally abolished in 1833, after the Reform Bill, with a compensation to the retiring under-secretary), and his son is a clerk in the same office. When they came out, the daughters were very pretty — even my wife allows that. One of them used to ride in the Park with her father or brother daily; and knowing what his salary and wife’s fortune were, and what the rent of his house in Beaunash Street, everybody wondered how the Twysdens could make both ends meet. They had horses, carriages, and a great house fit for at least five thousand a year; they had not half as much, as everybody knew; and it was supposed that old Ringwood must make his niece an allowance. She certainly worked hard to get it. I spoke of stabs anon, and poor little breasts and sides scarred all over. No nuns, no monks, no fakeers take whippings more kindly than some devotees of the world; and, as the punishment is one for edification, let us hope the world lays smartly on to back and shoulders, and uses the thong well.

When old Ringwood, at the close of his lifetime, used to come to visit his dear niece and her husband and children, he always brought a cat-of-nine-tails in his pocket, and administered it to the whole household. He grinned at the poverty, the pretence, the meanness of the people, as they knelt before him and did him homage. The father and mother trembling brought the girls up for punishment, and, piteously smiling, received their own boxes on the ear in presence of their children. “Ah!” the little French governess used to say, grinding her white teeth, “I like milor to come. All day you vip me. When milor come, he vip you, and you kneel down and kiss de rod.”

They certainly knelt and took their whipping with the most exemplary fortitude. Sometimes the lash fell on papa’s back, sometimes on mamma’s: now it stung Agnes, and now it lighted on Blanche’s pretty shoulders. But I think it was on the heir of the house, young Ringwood Twysden, that my lord loved best to operate. Ring’s vanity was very thin-skinned, his selfishness easily wounded, and his contortions under punishment amused the old tormentor.

As my lord’s brougham drives up — the modest little brown brougham, with the noble horse, the lord chancellor of a coachman, and the ineffable footman — the ladies, who know the whirr of the wheels, and may be quarrelling in the drawing-room, call a truce to the fight, and smooth down their ruffled tempers and raiment. Mamma is writing at her table in that beautiful, clear hand which we all admire; Blanche is at her book; Agnes is rising from the piano quite naturally. A quarrel between those gentle, smiling, delicate creatures! Impossible! About your most common piece of hypocrisy how men will blush and bungle: how easily, how gracefully, how consummately, women will perform it!

“Well,” growls my lord, “you are all in such pretty attitudes, I make no doubt you have been sparring. I suspect, Maria, the men must know what devilish bad tempers the girls have got. Who can have seen you fighting? You’re quiet enough here, you little monkeys. I tell you what it is. Ladies’-maids get about and talk to the valets in the housekeeper’s room, and the men tell their masters. Upon my word I believe it was that business last year at Whipham which frightened Greenwood off. Famous match. Good house in town and country. No mother alive. Agnes might have had it her own way, but for that — ”

“We are not all angels in our family, uncle!” cries Miss Agnes, reddening.

“And your mother is too sharp. The men are afraid of you, Maria. I’ve heard several young men say so. At White’s they talk about it quite freely. Pity for the girls. Great pity. Fellows come and tell me. Jack Hall, and fellows who go about everywhere.”

“I’m sure I don’t care what Captain Hall says about me — odious little wretch!” cries Blanche.

“There you go off in a tantrum! Hall never has any opinion of his own. He only fetches and carries what other people say. And he says, fellows say they are frightened of your mother. La bless you! Hall has no opinion. A fellow might commit murder, and Hall would wait at the door. Quite a discreet man. But I told him to ask about you. And that’s what I hear. And he says that Agnes is making eyes at the doctor’s boy.”

“It’s a shame,” cries Agnes, shedding tears under her martyrdom.

“Older than he is; but that’s no obstacle. Good-looking boy, I suppose you don’t object to that? Has his poor mother’s money, and his father’s: must be well to do. A vulgar fellow, but a clever fellow, and a determined fellow, the doctor — and a fellow who, I suspect, is capable of anything. Shouldn’t wonder at that fellow marrying some rich dowager. Those doctors get an immense influence over women; and unless I’m mistaken in my man, Maria, your poor sister got hold of a — ”

“Uncle!” cries Mrs. Twysden, pointing to her daughters, “before these — ”

“Before those innocent lambs! Hem! Well, I think Firmin is of the wolf sort:” and the old noble laughed, and showed his own fierce fangs as he spoke.

“I grieve to say, my lord, I agree with you,” remarks Mr. Twysden. I don’t think Firmin a man of high principle. A clever man? Yes. An accomplished man? Yes. A good physician? Yes. A prosperous man? Yes. But what’s a man without principle?”

“You ought to have been a parson, Twysden.”

“Others have said so, my lord. My poor mother often regretted that I didn’t choose the Church. When I was at Cambridge, I used to speak constantly at the Union. I practised. I do not disguise from you that my aim was public life. I am free to confess I think the House of Commons would have been my sphere; and, had my means permitted, I should certainly have come forward.”

Lord Ringwood smiled, and winked to his niece —

“He means, my dear, that he would like to wag his jaws at my expense, and that I should put him in for Whipham.”

“There are, I think, worse members of Parliament,” remarked Mr. Twysden.

“If there was a box of ’em like you, what a cage it would be!” roared my lord. “By George, I’m sick of jaw. And I would like to see a king of spirit in this country, who would shut up the talking shops, and gag the whole chattering crew!”

“I am a partisan of order — but a lover of freedom,” continues Twysden. “I hold that the balance of our constitution — ”

I think my lord would have indulged in a few of those oaths with which his old-fashioned conversation was liberally garnished; but the servant, entering at this moment, announces Mr. Philip Firmin; and ever so faint a blush flutters up in Agnes’ cheek, who feels that the old lord’s eye is upon her.

“So, sir, I saw you at the opera last night,” says Lord Ringwood.

“I saw you, too,” says downright Phil.

The women looked terrified, and Twysden scared. The Twysdens had Lord Ringwood’s box sometimes. But there were boxes in which the old man sate, and in which they never could see him.

“Why don’t you look at the stage, sir, when you go to the opera, and not me? When you go to church you ought to look at the parson, oughtn’t you?” growled the old man. “I’m about as good to look at as the fellow who dances first in the ballet — and very nearly as old. But if I were you, I should think looking at the Ellsler better fun.”

And now you may fancy of what old, old times we are writing — times in which those horrible old male dancers yet existed — hideous old creatures, with low dresses and short sleeves, and wreaths of flowers, or hats and feathers round their absurd old wigs — who skipped at the head of the ballet. Let us be thankful that those old apes have almost vanished off the stage, and left it in possession of the beauteous bounders of the other sex. Ah, my dear young friends, time will be when these too will cease to appear more than mortally beautiful! To Philip, at his age, they yet looked as lovely as houris. At this time the simple young fellow, surveying the ballet from his stall at the opera, mistook carmine for blushes, pearl powder for native snows, and cotton-wool for natural symmetry; and I dare say when he went into the world, he was not more clear-sighted about its rouged innocence, its padded pretension, and its painted candour.

Old Lord Ringwood had a humorous pleasure in petting and coaxing Philip Firmin before Philip’s relatives of Beaunash Street. Even the girls felt a little plaintive envy at the partiality which uncle Ringwood exhibited for Phil; but the elder Twysdens and Ringwood Twysden, their son, writhed with agony at the preference which the old man sometimes showed for the doctor’s boy. Phil was much taller, much handsomer, much stronger, much better tempered, and much richer, than young Twysden. He would be the sole inheritor of his father’s fortune, and had his mother’s thirty thousand pounds. Even when they told him his father would marry again, Phil laughed, and did not seem to care — “I wish him joy of his new wife,” was all he could be got to say: “when he gets one, I suppose I shall go into chambers. Old Parr Street is not as gay as Pall Mall.” I am not angry with Mrs. Twysden for having a little jealousy of her nephew. Her boy and girls were the fruit of a dutiful marriage; and Phil was the son of a disobedient child. Her children were always on their best behaviour before their great uncle; and Phil cared for him no more than for any other man; and he liked Phil the best. Her boy was as humble and eager to please as any of his lordship’s humblest henchmen; and Lord Ringwood snapped at him, browbeat him, and trampled on the poor darling’s tenderest feelings, and treated him scarcely better than a lacquey. As for poor Mr. Twysden, my lord not only yawned unreservedly in his face (that could not be helped — poor Talbot’s talk set many of his acquaintance asleep) — but laughed at him, interrupted him, and told him to hold his tongue. On this day as the family sat together, at the pleasant hour — the before dinner hour — the fireside and tea-table hour — Lord Ringwood said to Phil —

“Dine with me to-day, sir?”

“Why does he not ask me, with my powers of conversation?” thought old Twysden to himself.

“Hang him, he always asks that beggar,” writhed young Twysden, in his corner.

“Very sorry, sir, can’t come. Have asked some fellows to dine at the Blue Posts,” says Phil.

“Confound you, sir, why don’t you put ’em off?” cries the old lord. “You’d put ’em off, Twysden, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh, sir!” The heart of father and son both beat.

“You know you would; and you quarrel with this boy for not throwing his friends over. Good-night, Firmin, since you won’t come.”

And with this my lord was gone.

The two gentlemen of the house glumly looked from the window, and saw my lord’s brougham drive swiftly away in the rain.

“I hate your dining at those horrid taverns,” whispered a young lady to Philip.

“It is better fun than dining at home,” Philip remarks.

“You smoke and drink too much. You come home late, and you don’t live in a proper monde, sir!” continues the young lady.

“What would you have me do?”

“Oh, nothing! You must dine with those horrible men,” cries Agnes; else you might have gone to Lady Pendleton’s to-night.”

“I can throw over the men easily enough, if you wish,” answered the young man.

“I? I have no wish of the sort. Have you not already refused uncle Ringwood?”

“You are not Lord Ringwood,” says Phil, with a tremor in his voice. “I don’t know there is much I would refuse you.”

“You silly boy! What do I ever ask you to do that you ought to refuse? I want you to live in our world, and not with your dreadful wild Oxford and Temple bachelors. I don’t want you to smoke. I want you to go into the world of which you have the entrée — and you refuse your uncle on account of some horrid engagement at a tavern!”

“Shall I stop here? Aunt, will you give me some dinner — here?” asks the young man.

“We have dined: my husband and son dine out,” said gentle Mrs. Twysden.

There was cold mutton and tea for the ladies; and Mrs. Twysden did not like to seat her nephew, who was accustomed to good fare and high living, to that meagre meal.

“You see I must console myself at the tavern,” Philip said. “We shall have a pleasant party there.”

“And pray who makes it?” asks the lady.

“There is Ridley, the painter.”

“My dear Philip! Do you know that his father was actually — ”

“In the service of Lord Todmorden? He often tells us so. He is a queer character, the old man.”

“Mr. Ridley is a man of genius, certainly. His pictures are delicious, and he goes everywhere — but — but you provoke me, Philip, by your carelessness; indeed you do. Why should you be dining with the sons of footmen, when the first houses in the country might be open to you? You pain me, you foolish boy.”

“For dining in company of a man of genius? Come, Agnes!” And the young man’s brow grew dark. “Besides,” he added, with a tone of sarcasm in his voice, which Miss Agnes did not like at all — “besides, my dear, you know he dines at Lord Pendleton’s .”

“What is that you are talking of Lady Pendleton, children?” asked watchful mamma from her corner.

“Ridley dines there. He is going to dine with me at a tavern to-day. And Lord Halden is coming — and Mr. Winton is coming — having heard of the famous beefsteaks.”

“Winton! Lord Halden! Beefsteaks! Where? By George! I have a mind to go, too! Where do you fellows dine? au cabaret? Hang me, I’ll be one,” shrieked little Twysden, to the terror of Philip, who knew his uncle’s awful powers of conversation. But Twysden remembered himself in good time, and to the intense relief of young Firmin. “Hang me. I forgot! Your aunt and I dine with the Bladeses. Stupid old fellow, the admiral, and bad wine — which is unpardonable; but we must go — on n’a que sa parole, hey? Tell Winton that I had meditated joining him, and that I have still some of that Château Margaux he liked. Halden’s father I know well. Tell him so. Bring him here. Maria, send a Thursday card to Lord Halden! You must bring him here to dinner, Philip. That’s the best way to make acquaintance, my boy!” And the little man swaggers off, waving a bed-candle, as if he was going to quaff a bumper of sparkling spermaceti.

The mention of such great personages as Lord Halden and Mr. Winton silenced the reproofs of the pensive Agnes.

“You won’t care for our quiet fireside whilst you live with those fine people, Philip,” she sighed. There was no talk now of his throwing himself away on bad company.

So Philip did not dine with his relatives: but Talbot Twysden took good care to let Lord Ringwood know how young Firmin had offered to dine with his aunt that day after refusing his lordship. And everything to Phil’s discredit, and every act of extravagance or wildness which the young man committed, did Phil’s uncle, and Phil’s cousin Ringwood Twysden, convey to the old nobleman. Had not these been the informers, Lord Ringwood would have been angry; for he exacted obedience and servility from all round about him. But it was pleasanter to vex the Twysdens than to scold and browbeat Philip, and so his lordship chose to laugh and be amused at Phil’s insubordination. He saw, too, other things of which he did not speak. He was a wily old man, who could afford to be blind upon occasion.

What do you judge from the fact that Philip was ready to make or break engagements at a young lady’s instigation? When you were twenty years old, had no young ladies an influence over you? Were they not commonly older than yourself? Did your youthful passion lead to anything, and are you very sorry now that it did not? Suppose you had had your soul’s wish and married her, of what age would she be now? And now when you go into the world and see her, do you on your conscience very much regret that the little affair came to an end? Is it that (lean, or fat, or stumpy, or tall) woman with all those children whom you once chose to break your heart about; and do you still envy Jones? Philip was in live with his cousin, no doubt, but at the university had he not been previously in love with the Tomkinsian professor’s daughter, Miss Budd; and had he not already written verses to Miss Flower, his neighbour’s daughter in Old Parr Street? And don’t young men always begin by falling in love with ladies older than themselves? Agnes certainly was Philip’s senior, as her sister constantly took care to inform him.

And Agnes might have told stories about Blanche, if she choose — as you may about me, and I about you. Not quite true stories, but stories with enough alloy of lies to make them serviceable coin; stories such as we hear daily in the world; stories such as we read in the most learned and conscientious history-books, which are told by the most respectable persons, and perfectly authentic until contradicted. It is only our histories that can’t be contradicted (unless, to be sure, novelists coantradict themselves, as sometimes they will). What we say about people’s virtues, failings, characters, you may be sure is all true. And I defy any man to assert that my opinion of the Twysden family is malicious, or unkind, or unfounded in any particular. Agnes wrote verses, and set her own and other writers’ poems to music. Blanche was scientific, and attended the Albemarle Street lectures sedulously. They are both clever women as times go; well educated and accomplished, and very well-mannered when they choose to be pleasant. If you were a bachelor, say, with a good fortune, or a widower who wanted consolation, or a lady giving very good parties and belonging to the monde, you would find them agreeable people. If you were a little Treasury clerk, or a young barrister with no practice, or a lady old or young, not quite of the monde, your opinion of them would not be so favourable. I have seen them cut, and scorn, and avoid, and caress, and kneel down and worship the same person. When Mrs. Lovel first gave parties, don’t I remember the shocked countenances of the Twysden family? Were ever shoulders colder than yours, dear girls? Now they love her; they fondle her step-children; they praise her to her face and behind her handsome back; they take her hand in public; they call her by her Christian name; they fall into ecstasies over her toilettes, and would fetch coals for her dressing-room fire if she but gave them the word. She is not changed. She is the same lady who once was a governess, and no colder and no warmer since then. But you see her prosperity has brought virtues into evidence, which people did not perceive when she was poor. Could people see Cinderella’s beauty when she was in rags by the fire, or until she stepped out of her fairy coach in her diamonds? How are you to recognize a diamond in a dusthole? Only very clever eyes can do that. Whereas a lady, in a fairy coach and eight, naturally creates a sensation; and enraptured princes come and beg to have the honour of dancing with her.

In the character of infallible historian, then, I declare that if Miss Twysden at three-and-twenty feels ever so much or little attachment for her cousin who is not yet of age, there is no reason to be angry with her. A brave, handsome, blundering, downright young fellow, with broad shoulders, high spirits, and quite fresh blushes on his face, with very good talents (though he has been wofully idle, and requested to absent himself temporarily from his university), the possessor of a competent fortune and the heir of another, may naturally make some impression on a lady’s heart with whom kinsmanship and circumstance bring him into daily communion. When had any sound so hearty as Phil’s laugh been heard in Beaunash Street? His jolly frankness touched his aunt, a clever woman. She would smile and say, “My dear Philip, it is not only what you say, but what you are going to say next, which keeps me in such a perpetual tremor.” There may have been a time once when she was frank and cordial herself: ever so long ago, when she and her sister were two blooming girls, lovingly clinging together, and just stepping forth into the world. But if you succeed in keeping a fine house on a small income; in showing a cheerful face to the world though oppressed with ever so much care; in bearing with dutiful reverence an intolerable old bore of a husband (and I vow it is this quality in Mrs. Twysden for which I most admire her); in submitting to defeats patiently; to humiliations with smiles, so as to hold your own in your darling monde; you may succeed, but you must give up being frank and cordial. The marriage of her sister to the doctor gave Maria Ringwood a great panic, for Lord Ringwood was furious when the news came. Then, perhaps, she sacrificed a little private passion of her own: then she set her cap at a noble young neighbour of my lord’s, who jilted her: then she took up with Talbot Twysden, Esquire, of the Powder and Pomatum Office, and made a very faithful wife to him, and was a very careful mother to his children. But as for frankness and cordiality, my good friend, accept from a lady what she can give you — good manners, pleasant talk, and decent attention. If you go to her breakfast-table, don’t ask for a roc’s egg, but eat that moderately fresh hen’s egg which John brings you. When Mrs. Twysden is in her open carriage in the Park, how prosperous, handsome, and jolly she looks — the girls how smiling and young (that is, you know, considering all things); the horses look fat, the coachman and footman wealthy and sleek; they exchange bows with the tenants of other carriages — well-known aristocrats. Jones and Brown, leaning over the railings, and seeing the Twysden equipage pass, have not the slightest doubt that it contains people of the highest wealth and fashion. “I say, Jones, my boy, what noble family has the motto, Wel done Twys done? and what clipping girls there were in that barouche!” B. remarks to J., “and what a handsome young swell that is riding the bay mare, and leaning over and talking to the yellow-haired girl!” And it is evident to one of those gentlemen, at least, that he has been looking at your regular first-rate tiptop people.

As for Phil Firmin on his bay mare with his geranium in his button-hole, there is no doubt that Philippus looks as handsome, and as rich, and as brave as any lord. And I think Jones must have felt a little pang when his friend told him, “That a lord! Bless you, it’s only a swell doctor’s son.” But while J. and B. fancy all the little party very happy, they do not hear Phil whisper to his cousin, “I hope you liked your partner last night?” and they do not see how anxious Mrs. Twysden is under her smiles, how she perceives Colonel Shafto’s cab coming up (the dancer in question), and how she would rather have Phil anywhere than by that particular wheel of her carriage; how Lady Braglands has just passed them by without noticing them — Lady Braglands, who has a ball, and is determined not to ask that woman and her two endless girls; and how, though Lady Braglands won’t see Mrs. Twysden in her great staring equipage, and the three faces which have been beaming smiles at her, she instantly perceives Lady Lovel, who is passing ensconced in her little brougham, and kisses her fingers twenty times over. How should poor J. and B., who are not, vous comprenez, du monde, understand these mysteries?

“That’s young Firmin, is it, that handsome young fellow?” says Brown to Jones.

“Doctor married the Earl of Ringwood’s niece — ran away with her, you know.”

“Good practice?”

“Capital. First-rate. All the tiptop people. Great ladies’ doctor. Can’t do without him. Makes a fortune, besides what he had with his wife.”

“We’ve seen his name — the old man’s — on some very queer paper,” says B. with a wink to J. By which I conclude they are city gentlemen. And they look very hard at friend Philip, as he comes to talk and shake hands with some pedestrians who are gazing over the railings at the busy and pleasant Park scene.

Chapter 5

The Noble Kinsman.

Having had occasion to mention a noble earl once or twice, I am sure no polite reader will consent that his lordship should push through this history along with the crowd of commoner characters, and without a special word regarding himself. If you are in the least familiar with Burke or Debrett, you know that the ancient family of Ringwood has long been famous for its great possessions, and its loyalty to the British crown.

In the troubles which unhappily agitated this kingdom after the deposition of the late reigning house, the Ringwoods were implicated with many other families, but on the accession of his Majesty George III. these differences happily ended, nor had the monarch any subject more loyal and devoted than Sir John Ringwood, Baronet, of Wingate and Whipham Market. Sir John’s influence sent three members to Parliament; and during the dangerous and vexatious period of the American war, this influence was exerted so cordially and consistently in the cause of order and the crown, that his Majesty thought fit to advance Sir John to the dignity of Baron Ringwood. Sir John’s brother, Sir Francis Ringwood, of Appleshaw, who followed the profession of the law, was promoted to be a Baron of his Majesty’s Court of Exchequer. The first baron, dying A.D. 1786, was succeeded by the eldest of his two sons — John, second Baron and first Earl of Ringwood. His lordship’s brother, the Honourable Colonel Philip Ringwood, died gloriously, at the head of his regiment and in the defence of his country, in the battle of Busaco, 1810, leaving two daughters, Louisa and Maria.

The Earl of Ringwood had but one son, Charles Viscount Cinqbars, who, unhappily, died of a decline, in his twenty-second year. And thus the descendants of Sir Francis Ringwood became heirs to the earl’s great estates of Wingate and Whipham Market, though not of the peerages which had been conferred on the earl and his father.

Lord Ringwood had, living with him, two nieces, daughters of his late brother Colonel Philip Ringwood, who fell in the Peninsular War. Of these ladies, the youngest, Louisa, was his lordship’s favourite; and though both the ladies had considerable fortunes of their own, it was supposed their uncle would further provide for them, especially as he was on no very good terms with his cousin, Sir John of the Shaw, who took the Whig side in politics, whilst his lordship was a chief of the Tory party.

Of these two nieces, the eldest, Maria, never any great favourite with her uncle, married, 1824, Talbot Twysden, Esq., a Commissioner of Powder and Pomatum Tax; but the youngest, Louisa, incurred my lord’s most serious anger by eloping with George Brand Firmin, Esq., M.D., a young gentleman of Cambridge University, who had been with Lord Cinqbars when he died at Naples, and had brought home his body to Wingate Castle.

The quarrel with the youngest niece, and the indifference with which he generally regarded the elder (whom his lordship was in the habit of calling an old schemer), occasioned at first a little rapprochement between Lord Ringwood and his heir, Sir John of Appleshaw; but both gentlemen were very firm, not to say obstinate, in their natures. They had a quarrel with respect to the cutting off of a small entailed property, of which the earl wished to dispose; and they parted with much rancour and bad language on his lordship’s part, who was an especially free-spoken nobleman, and apt to call a spade a spade, as the saying is.

After this difference, and to spite his heir, it was supposed that the Earl of Ringwood would marry. He was little more than seventy years of age, and had once been of a very robust constitution. And though his temper was violent and his person not at all agreeable (for even in Sir Thomas Lawrence’s picture his countenance is very ill-favoured), there is little doubt he could have found a wife for the asking among the young beauties of his own county, or the fairest of May Fair.

But he was a cynical nobleman, and perhaps morbidly conscious of his own ungainly appearance. “Of course, I can buy a wife” (his lordship would say). “Do you suppose people won’t sell their daughters to a man of my rank and means? Now look at me, my good sir, and say whether any woman alive could fall in love with me? I have been married, and once was enough. I hate ugly women, and your virtuous women, who tremble and cry in private, and preach at a man, bore me. Sir John Ringwood of Appleshaw is an ass, and I hate him; but I don’t hate him enough to make myself miserable for the rest of my days, in order to spite him. When I drop, I drop. Do you suppose I care what comes after me?” And with much sardonical humour this old lord used to play off one good dowager after another who would bring her girl in his way. He would send pearls to Emily, diamonds to Fanny, opera-boxes to lively Kate, books of devotion to pious Selinda, and, at the season’s end, drive back to his lonely great castle in the west. They were all the same, such was his lordship’s opinion. I fear, a wicked and corrupt old gentleman, my dears. But ah, would not a woman submit to some sacrifices to reclaim that unhappy man; to lead that gifted but lost being into the ways of right; to convert to a belief in woman’s purity that erring soul? They tried him with high-church altar-cloths for his chapel at Wingate; they tried him with low-church tracts; they danced before him; they jumped fences on horseback; they wore bandeaux, or ringlets, according as his taste dictated; they were always at home when he called, and poor you and I were gruffly told they were engaged; they gushed in gratitude over his bouquets; they sang for him, and their mothers, concealing their sobs, murmured, “What an angel that Cecilia of mine is!” Every variety of delicious chaff they flung to that old bird. But he was uncaught at the end of the season: he winged his way back to his western hills. And if you dared to say that Mrs. Netley had tried to take him, or Lady Trapboys had set a snare for him, you know you were a wicked, gross calumniator, and notorious everywhere for your dull and vulgar abuse of women.

In the year 1830, this great nobleman was seized with a fit of the gout, which had very nearly consigned his estates to his kinsman the Baronet of Appleshaw. A revolution took place in a neighbouring State. An illustrious reigning family was expelled from its country, and projects of reform (which would pretty certainly end in revolution) were rife in ours. The events in France, and those pending at home, so agitated Lord Ringwood’s mind, that he was attacked by one of the severest fits of gout under which he ever suffered. His shrieks, as he was brought out of his yacht at Ryde to a house taken for him in the town, were dreadful; his language to all persons about him was frightfully expressive, as Lady Quamley and her daughter, who had sailed with him several times, can vouch. An ill return that rude old man made for all their kindness and attention to him. They had danced on board his yacht; they had dined on board his yacht; they had been out sailing with him, and cheerfully braved the inconveniences of the deep in his company. And when they ran to the side of his chair — as what would they not do to soothe an old gentleman in illness and distress? — when they ran up to his chair as it was wheeled along the pier, he called mother and daughter by the most

vulgar and opprobrious names, and roared out to them to go to a place which I certainly shall not more particularly mention.

Now it happened, at this period, that Dr. and Mrs. Firmin were at Ryde with their little boy, then some three years of age. The doctor was already taking his place as one of the most fashionable physicians then in London, and had begun to be celebrated for the treatment of this especial malady. (Firmin on Gout and Rheumatism was, you remember, dedicated to his Majesty George IV.) Lord Ringwood’s valet bethought him of calling the doctor in, and mentioned how he was present in the town. Now Lord Ringwood was a nobleman who never would allow his angry feelings to stand in the way of his present comforts or ease. He instantly desired Mr. Firmin’s attendance, and submitted to his treatment; a part of which was a hauteur to the full as great as that which the sick man exhibited. Firmin’s appearance was so tall and grand, that he looked vastly more noble than a great many noblemen. Six feet, a high manner, a polished forehead, a flashing eye, a snowy shirt-frill, a rolling velvet collar, a beautiful hand appearing under a velvet cuff — all these advantages he possessed and used. He did not make the slightest allusion to bygones, but treated his patient with a perfect courtesy and an impenetrable self-possession.

This defiant and darkling politeness did not always displease the old man. He was so accustomed to slavish compliance and eager obedience from all people round about him, that he sometimes wearied of their servility, and relished a little independence. Was it from calculation, or because he was a man of high spirit, that Firmin determined to maintain an independent course with his lordship? From the first day of their meeting he never departed from it, and had the satisfaction of meeting with only civil behaviour from his noble relative and patient, who was notorious for his rudeness and brutality to almost every person who came in his way.

From hints which his lordship gave in conversation, he showed the doctor that he was acquainted with some particulars of the latter’s early career. It had been wild and stormy. Firmin had incurred debts; had quarrelled with his father; had left the university and gone abroad; had lived in a wild society, which used dice and cards every night, and pistols sometimes in the morning; and had shown a fearful dexterity in the use of the latter instrument, which he employed against the person of a famous Italian adventurer, who fell under his hand at Naples. When this century was five-and-twenty years younger, the crack of the pistol-shot might still occasionally be heard in the suburbs of London in the very early morning; and the dice-box went round in many a haunt of pleasure. The knights of the Four Kings travelled from capital to capital, and engaged each other, or made prey of the unwary. Now, the times are changed. The cards are coffined in their boxes. Only sous-officiers, brawling in their provincial cafés over ther dominos, fight duels. “Ah, dear me,” I heard a veteran punter sigh the other day, at Bays’s, “isn’t it a melancholy thing to think, that if I wanted to amuse myself with a fifty-pound note, I don’t know the place in London where I could go and lose it?” And he fondly recounted the names of twenty places where he could have cheerfully staked and lost his money in his young time.

After a somewhat prolonged absence abroad, Mr. Firmin came back to this country, was permitted to return to the university, and left it with the degree of Bachelor of Medicine. We have told how he ran away with Lord Ringwood’s niece, and incurred the anger of that nobleman. Beyond abuse and anger his lordship was powerless. The young lady was free to marry whom she liked, and her uncle to disown or receive him; and accordingly she was, as we have seen, disowned by his lordship, until he found it convenient to forgive her. What were Lord Ringwood’s intentions regarding his property, what were his accumulations, and who his heirs would be, no one knew. Meanwhile, of course, there were those who felt a very great interest on the point. Mrs. Twysden and her husband and children were hungry and poor. If uncle Ringwood had money to leave, it would be very welcome to those three darlings, whose father had not a great income like Dr. Firmin. Philip was a dear, good, frank, amiable, wild fellow, and they all loved him. But he had his faults — that could not be concealed — and so poor Phil’s faults were pretty constantly canvassed before uncle Ringwood, by dear relatives who knew them only too well. The dear relatives! How kind they are! I don’t think Phil’s aunt abused him to my lord. That quiet woman calmly and gently put forward the claims of her own darlings, and affectionately dilated on the young man’s present prosperity, and magnificent future prospects. The interest of thirty thousand pounds now, and the inheritance of his father’s great accumulations! What young man could want for more? Perhaps he had too much already. Perhaps he was too rich to work. The sly old peer acquiesced in his niece’s statements, and perfectly understood the point towards which they tended. “A thousand a year! What’s a thousand a year,” growled the old lord. “Not enough to make a gentleman, more than enough to make a fellow idle.”

“Ah, indeed, it was but a small income,” sighed Mrs. Twysden. “With a large house, a good establishment, and Mr. Twysden’s salary from his office — it was but a pittance.”

“Pittance! Starvation,” growls my lord, with his usual frankness. “Don’t I know what housekeeping costs, and see how you screw? Butlers and footmen, carriages and job-horses, rent and dinners — though yours, Maria, are not famous.”

“Very bad — I know they are very bad,” says the contrite lady, “I wish we could afford any better.”

“Afford any better? Of course you can’t. You are the crockery pots, and you swim down-stream with the brass pots. I saw Twysden the other day walking down St. James’s Street with Rhodes — that tall fellow.” (Here my lord laughed, and showed many fangs, the exhibition of which gave a peculiarly fierce air to his lordship when in good-humour.) “If Twysden walks with a big fellow, he always tries to keep step with him. You know that.” Poor Maria naturally knew her husband’s peculiarities; but she did not say that she had no need to be reminded of them.

“He was so blown he could hardly speak,” continued uncle Ringwood; “but he would stretch his little legs, and try and keep up. He has a little body, le cher mari, but a good pluck. Those little fellows often have. I’ve seen him half dead out shooting, and plunging over the ploughed fields after fellows with twice his stride. Why don’t men sink in the world, I want to know? Instead of a fine house, and a parcel of idle servants, why don’t you have a maid and a leg of mutton, Maria? You go half crazy in trying to make both ends meet. You know you do. It keeps you awake of nights; I know that very well. You’ve got a house fit for people with four times your money. I lend you my cook and so forth; but I can’t come and dine with you unless I send the wine in. Why don’t you have a pot of porter, and a joint, or some tripe? — tripe’s a famous good thing. The miseries which people entail on themselves in trying to live beyond their means are perfectly ridiculous, by George! Look at that fellow who opened the door to me; he’s as tall as one of my own men. Go and live in a quiet little street in Belgravia somewhere, and have a neat little maid. Nobody will think a penny the worse of you — and you will be just as well off as if you lived here with an extra couple of thousand a year. The advice I am giving you is worth half that, every shilling of it.”

“It is very good advice; but I think, sir, I should prefer the thousand pounds,” said the lady.

“Of course you would. That is the consequence of your false position. One of the good points about that doctor is, that he is as proud as Lucifer, and so is his boy. They are not always hungering after money. They keep their independence; though he’ll have his own too, the fellow will. Why, when I first called him in, I thought, as he was a relation, he’d doctor me for nothing; but he wouldn’t. He would have his fee, by George! and wouldn’t come without it. Confounded independent fellow Firmin is. And so is the young one.”

But when Twysden and his son (perhaps inspirited by Mrs. Twysden) tried once or twice to be independent in the presence of this lion, he roared, and he rushed at them, and he rent them, so that they fled from him howling. And this reminds me of an old story I have heard — quite an old, old story, such as kind old fellows at clubs love to remember — of my lord, when he was only Lord Cinqbars, insulting a half-pay lieutenant, in his own country, who horsewhipped his lordship in the most private and ferocious manner. It was said Lord Cinqbars had had a rencontre with poachers; but it was my lord who was poaching and the lieutenant who was defending his own dovecote. I do not say that this was a model nobleman; but that, when his own passions or interests did not mislead him, he was a nobleman of very considerable acuteness, humour, and good sense; and could give quite good advice on occasion. If men would kneel down and kiss his boots, well and good. There was the blacking, and you were welcome to embrace toe and heel. But those who would not, were free to leave the operation alone. The Pope himself does not demand the ceremony from Protestants; and if they object to the slipper, no one thinks of forcing it into their mouths. Phil and his father probably declined to tremble before the old man, not because they knew he was a bully who might be put down, but because they were men of spirit, who cared not whether a man was bully or no.

I have told you I like Philip Firmin, though it must be confessed that the young fellow had many faults, and that his career, especially his early career, was by no means exemplary. Have I ever excused his conduct to his father, or said a word in apology of his brief and inglorious university life? I acknowledge his shortcomings with that candour which my friends exhibit in speaking of mine. Who does not see a friend’s weaknesses, and is so blind that he cannot perceive that enormous beam in his neighbour’s eye? Only a woman or two, from time to time. And even they are undeceived some day. A man of the world, I write about my friends as mundane fellow-creatures. Do you suppose there are many angels here? I say again, perhaps a woman or two. But as for you and me, my good sir, are there any signs of wings sprouting from our shoulder-blades? Be quiet. Don’t pursue your snarling, cynical remarks, but go on with your story.

As you go through life, stumbling, and slipping, and staggering to your feet again, ruefully aware of your own wretched weakness, and praying, with a contrite heart let us trust, that you may not be led into temptation, have you not often looked at other fellow-sinners, and speculated with an awful interest on their career? Some there are on whom, quite in their early lives, dark Ahrimanes has seemed to lay his dread mark: children, yet corrupt, and wicked of tongue; tender of age, yet cruel; who should be truth-telling and generous yet (they were at their mothers’ bosoms yesterday), but are false, and cold, and greedy before their time. Infants almost, they practise the art and selfishness of old men. Behind their candid faces are wiles and wickedness, and a hideous precocity of artifice. I can recal such, and in the vista of far-off, unforgotten boyhood, can see marching that sad little procession of enfans perdus. May they be saved, pray heaven! Then there is the doubtful class, those who are still on trial; those who fall and rise again; those who are often worsted in life’s battle; beaten down, wounded, imprisoned; but escape and conquer sometimes. And then there is the happy class about whom there seems no doubt at all: the spotless and white-robed ones, to whom virtue is easy; in whose pure bosoms faith nestles, and cold doubt finds no entrance; who are children, and yet good; young men, and good; husbands and fathers, and yet good. Why could the captain of our school write his Greek Iambics without an effort, and without an error? Others of us blistered the page with unavailing tears and blots, and might toil ever so, and come in lag last at the bottom of the from. Our friend Philip belongs to the middle class, in which you and I probably are, my dear sir — not yet, I hope, irredeemably consigned to that awful third class whereof mention has been made.

But, being homo, and liable to err, there is no doubt Mr. Philip exercised his privilege, and there was even no little fear at one time that he should overdraw his account. He went from school to the university, and there distinguished himself certainly, but in a way in which very few parents would choose that their sons should excel. That he should hunt, that he should give parties, that he should pull a good oar in one of the best boats on the river, that he should speak at the Union — all these were very well. But why should he speak such awful radicalism and republicanism — he with noble blood in his veins, and the son of a parent whose interest at least it was to keep well with people of high station?

“Why, Pendennis,” said Dr. Firmin to me, with tears in his eyes, and much genuine grief exhibited on his handsome pale face — “why should it be said that Philip Firmin — both of whose grandfathers fought nobly for their king — should be forgetting the principles of his family, and — and, I haven’t words to tell you how deeply he disappoints me. Why, I actually heard of him at that horrible Union advocating the death of Charles the First! I was wild enough myself when I was at the university, but I was a gentleman.”

“Boys, sir, are boys,” I urged. “They will advocate anything for an argument: and Philip would have taken the other side quite as readily.”

“Lord Axminster and Lord St. Dennis told me of it at the club. I can tell you it has made a most painful impression,” cried the father. “That my son should be a radical and a republican, is a cruel thought for a father; and I, who had hoped for Lord Ringwood’s borough for him — who had hoped — who had hoped very much better things for him and from him — He is not a comfort to me. You saw how he treated me one night? A man might live on different terms, I think, with his only son!” And with a breaking voice, a pallid cheek, and a real grief at his heart, the unhappy physician moved away.

How had the doctor bred his son, that the young man should be thus unruly? Was the revolt the boy’s fault, or the father’s? Dr. Firmin’s horror seemed to be because his noble friends were horrified by Phil’s radical doctrine. At that time of my life, being young and very green, I had a little mischievous pleasure in infuriating Squaretoes, and causing him to pronounce that I was “a dangerous man.” Now, I am ready to say that Nero was a monarch with many elegant accomplishments, and considerable natural amiability of disposition. I praise and admire success wherever I meet it. I make allowance for faults and shortcomings, especially in my superiors; and feel that, did we know all, we should judge them very differently. People don’t believe me, perhaps, quite so much as formerly. But I don’t offend: I trust I don’t offend. Have I said anything painful? Plague on my blunders! I recal the expression. I regret it. I contradict it flat.

As I am ready to find excuses for everybody, let poor Philip come in for the benefit of this mild amnesty; and if he vexed his father, as he certainly did, let us trust — let us be thankfully sure — he was not so black as the old gentleman depicted him. Phil was unruly because he was bold, and wild, and young. His father was hurt, naturally hurt, because of the boy’s extravagances and follies. They will come together again, as father and son should. These little differences of temper will be smoothed and equalized anon. The boy has led a wild life. He has been obliged to leave college. He has given his father hours of anxiety and nights of painful watching. But stay, father, what of you? Have you shown to the boy the practice of confidence, the example of love and honour? Did you accustom him to virtue, and teach truth to the child at your knee? “Honour your father and mother.” Amen. May his days be long who fulfils the command: but implied, though unwritten on the table, is there not the order, “Honour your son and daughter?” Pray heaven that we, whose days are already not few in the land, may keep this ordinance too.

What had made Philip wild, extravagant, and insubordinate? Cured of that illness in which we saw him, he rose up, and from school went his way to the university, and there entered on a life such as wild young men will lead. From that day of illness his manner towards his father changed, and regarding the change the elder Firmin seemed afraid to question his son. He used the house as if his own, came and absented himself at will, ruled the servants, and was spoilt by them; spent the income which was settled on his mother and her children, and gave of it liberally to poor acquaintances. To the remonstrances of old friends he replied that he had a right to do as he chose with his own; that other men who were poor might work, but that he had enough to live on, without grinding over classics and mathematics. He was implicated in more rows than one; his tutors saw him not, but he and the proctors became a great deal too well acquainted. If I were to give a history of Mr. Philip Firmin at the university, it would be the story of an Idle Apprentice, of whom his pastors and masters were justified in prophesying evil. He was seen on lawless London excursions, when his father and tutor supposed him unwell in his rooms in college. He made acquaintance with jolly companions, with whom his father grieved that he should be intimate. He cut the astonished uncle Twysden in London street, and blandly told him that he must be mistaken — he one Frenchman, he no speak English. He stared the master of his own college out of countenance, dashed back to college with a Turpin-like celerity, and was in rooms with a ready proved alibi when inquiries were made. I am afraid there is no doubt that Phil screwed up his tutor’s door; Mr. Okes discovered him in the fact. He had to go down, the young prodigal. I wish I could say he was repentant. But he appeared before his father with the utmost nonchalance; said that he was doing no good at the university, and should be much better away, and then went abroad on a dashing tour to France and Italy, whither it is by no means our business to follow him. Something had poisoned the generous blood. The once kindly, honest lad was wild and reckless. He had money in sufficiency, his own horses and equipage, and free quarters in his father’s house. But father and son scarce met, and seldom took a meal together. “I know his haunts, but I don’t know his friends, Pendennis,” the elder man said. “I don’t think they are vicious, so much as low. I do not charge him with vice, mind you; but with idleness, and a fatal love of low company, and a frantic, suicidal determination to fling his chances in life away. Ah, think where he might be, and where he is!”

Where he was? Do not be alarmed. Philip was only idling. Philip might have been much more industriously, more profitably, and a great deal more wickedly employed. What is now called Bohemia had no name in Philip’s young days, though many of us knew the country very well. A pleasant land, not fenced with drab stucco, like Tyburnia or Belgravia; not guarded by a huge standing army of footmen; not echoing with noble chariots; not replete with polite chintz drawing-rooms and neat tea-tables; a land over which hangs an endless fog, occasioned by much tobacco; a land of chambers, billiard-rooms, supper-rooms, oysters; a land of song; a land where soda-water flows freely in the morning; a land of tin dish-covers from taverns, and frothing porter; a land of lotos-eating (with lots of cayenne pepper), of pulls on the river, of delicious reading of novels, magazines, and saunterings in many studios; a land where men call each other by their Christian names; where most are poor, where almost all are young, and where if a few oldsters do enter, it is because they have preserved more tenderly and carefully than other folks their youthful spirits, and the delightful capacity to be idle. I have lost my way to Bohemia now, but it is certain that Prague is the most picturesque city in the world.

Having long lived there, and indeed only lately quitted the Bohemian land at the time whereof I am writing, I could not quite participate in Dr. Firmin’s indignation at his son persisting in his bad courses and wild associates. When Firmin had been wild himself, he had fought, intrigued, and gambled in good company. Phil chose his friends amongst a banditti never heard of in fashionable quarters. Perhaps he liked to play the prince in the midst of these associates, and was not averse to the flattery which a full purse brought him among men most of whose pockets had a meagre lining. He had not emigrated to Bohemia, and settled there altogether. At school and in his brief university career he had made some friends who lived in the world, and with whom he was still familiar. “These come and knock at my front door, my father’s door,” he would say, with one of his old laughs; “the Bandits, who have the signal, enter only by the dissecting-room. I know which are the most honest, and that it is not always the poor Freebooters who best deserve to be hanged.”

Like many a young gentleman who has no intention of pursuing legal studies seriously, Philip entered at an inn of court, and kept his terms duly, though he vowed that his conscience would not allow him to practise (I am not defending the opinions of this squeamish moralist — only stating them). His acquaintance here lay amongst the Temple Bohemians. He had part of a set of chambers in Parchment Buildings, to be sure, and you might read on a door, “Mr. Cassidy, Mr. P. Firmin, Mr. Vanjohn;” but were these gentlemen likely to advance Philip in life? Cassidy was a newspaper reporter, and young Vanjohn a betting man who was always attending races. Dr. Firmin had a horror of newspaper men, and considered they belonged to the dangerous classes, and treated them with a distant affability.

“Look at the governor, Pen,” Philip would say to the present chronicler. “He always watches you with a secret suspicion, and has never got over his wonder at your being a gentleman. I like him when he does the Lord Chatham business, and condescends towards you, and gives you his hand to kiss. He considers he is your better, don’t you see? Oh, he is a paragon of a père noble, the governor is! and I ought to be a young Sir Charles Grandison.” And the young scapegrace would imitate his father’s smile, and the doctor’s manner of laying his hand to his breast and putting out his neat right leg, all of which movements or postures were, I own, rather pompous and affected.

Whatever the paternal faults were, you will say that Philip was not the man to criticize them; nor in this matter shall I attempt to defend him. My wife has a little pensioner whom she found wandering in the street, and singing a little artless song. The child could not speak yet — only warble its little song; and had thus strayed away from home, and never once knew of her danger. We kept her for a while, until the police found her parents. Our servants bathed her, and dressed her, and sent her home in such neat clothes as the poor little wretch had never seen until fortune sent her in the way of those good-natured folks. She pays them frequent visits. When she goes away from us, she is always neat and clean; when she comes to us, she is in rags and dirty. A wicked little slattern! And, pray, whose duty is it to keep her clean? and has not the parent in this case forgotten to honour her daughter? Suppose there is some reason which prevents Philip from loving his father — that the doctor has neglected to cleanse the boy’s heart, and by carelessness and indifference has sent him erring into the world. If so, woe be to that doctor! If I take my little son to the tavern to dinner, shall I not assuredly pay? If I suffer him in tender youth to go astray, and harm comes to him, whose is the fault?

Perhaps the very outrages and irregularities of which Phil’s father complained, were in some degree occasioned by the elder’s own faults. He was so laboriously obsequious to great men, that the son in a rage defied and avoided them. He was so grave, so polite, so complimentary, so artificial, that Phil, in revolt at such hypocrisy, chose to be frank, cynical, and familiar. The grave old bigwigs whom the doctor loved to assemble, bland and solemn men of the ancient school, who dined solemnly with each other at their solemn old houses — such men as Lord Botley, Baron Bumpsher, Cricklade (who published Travels in Asia Minor, 4to, 1804), the Bishop of St. Bees, and the like — wagged their old heads sadly when they collogued in clubs, and talked of poor Firmin’s scapegrace of a son. He would come to no good; he was giving his good father much pain; he had been in all sorts of rows and disturbances at the university, and the Master of Boniface reported most unfavourably of him. And at the solemn dinners in Old Parr Street — the admirable, costly, silent dinners — he treated these old gentlemen with a familiarity which caused the old heads to shake with surprise and choking indignation. Lord Botley and Baron Bumpsher had proposed and seconded Firmin’s boy at the Megatherium club. The pallid old boys toddled away in alarm when he made his appearance there. He brought a smell of tobacco-smoke with him. He was capable of smoking in the drawing-room itself. They trembled before Philip, who, for his part, used to relish their senile anger; and loved, as he called it, to tie all their pigtails together.

In no place was Philip seen or heard to so little advantage as in his father’s house. “I feel like a humbug myself amongst those old humbugs,” he would say to me. “Their old jokes, and their old compliments, and their virtuous old conversation sicken me. Are all old men humbugs, I wonder?” It is not pleasant to hear misanthropy from young lips, and to find eyes that are scarce twenty years old already looking out with distrust on the world.

In other houses than his own I am bound to say Philip was much more amiable, and he carried with him a splendour of gaiety and cheerfulness which brought sunshine and welcome into many a room which he frequented. I have said that many of his companions were artists and journalists, and their clubs and haunts were his own. Ridley the Academician had Mrs. Brandon’s rooms in Thornhaugh Street, and Philip was often in J. J.‘s studio, or in the widow’s little room below. He had a very great tenderness and affection for her; her presence seemed to purify him; and in her company the boisterous, reckless young man was invariably gentle and respectful. Her eyes used to fill with tears when she spoke about him; and when he was present, followed and watched him with sweet motherly devotion. It was pleasant to see him at her homely little fireside, and hear his jokes and prattle, with a fatuous old father, who was one of Mrs. Brandon’s lodgers. Philip would play cribbage for hours with this old man, frisk about him with a hundred harmless jokes, and walk out by his invalid chair, when the old captain went to sun himself in the New Road. He was an idle fellow, Philip, that’s the truth. He had an agreeable perseverance in doing nothing, and would pass half a day in perfect contentment over his pipe, watching Ridley at his easel. J. J. painted that charming head of Philip, which hangs in Mrs. Brandon’s little room — with the fair hair, the tawny beard and whiskers, and the bold blue eyes.

Phil had a certain after-supper song of “Garryowen na Gloria,” which it did you good to hear, and which, when sung at his full pitch, you might hear for a mile round. One night I had been to dine in Russell Square, and was brought home in his carriage by Dr. Firmin, who was of the party. As we came through Soho, the windows of a certain club-room called the “Haunt” were open, and we could hear Philip’s song booming through the night, and especially a certain wild Irish war-whoop with which it concluded, amidst universal applause and enthusiastic battering of glasses.

The poor father sank back in the carriage as though a blow had struck him. “Do you hear his voice?” he groaned out. “Those are his haunts. My son, who might go anywhere, prefers to be captain in a pothouse, and sing songs in a taproom!”

I tried to make the best of the case. I knew there was no harm in the place; that clever men of considerable note frequented it. But the wounded father was not to be consoled by such commonplaces; and a deep and natural grief oppressed him, in consequence of the faults of his son.

What ensued by no means surprised me. Among Dr. Firmin’s patients was a maiden lady of suitable age and large fortune, who looked upon the accomplished doctor with favourable eyes. That he should take a companion to cheer him in his solitude was natural enough, and all his friends concurred in thinking that he should marry. Every one had cognizance of the quiet little courtship, except the doctor’s son, between whom and his father there were only too many secrets.

Some man in a club asked Philip whether he should condole with him or congratulate him on his father’s approaching marriage? His what? The younger Firmin exhibited the greatest surprise and agitation on hearing of this match. He ran home: he awaited his father’s return. When Dr. Firmin came home and betook himself to his study, Philip confronted him there. “This must be a lie, sir, which I have heard to-day,” the young man said, fiercely.

“A lie! what lie, Philip” asked the father. They were both very resolute and courageous men.

“That you are going to marry Miss Benson.”

“Do you make my house so happy, that I don’t need any other companion?” asked the father.

“That’s not the question,” said Philip, hotly. “You can’t and mustn’t marry that lady, sir.”

“And why not, sir?”

“Because in the eyes of God and heaven you are married already, sir. And I swear I will tell Miss Benson the story to-morrow, if you persist in your plan.”

“So you know that story?” groaned the father.

“Yes. God forgive you,” said the son.

“It was a fault of my youth that has been bitterly repented.”

“A fault! — a crime!” said Philip.

“Enough, sir! Whatever my fault, it is not for you to charge me with it.”

“If you won’t guard your own honour, I must. I shall go to Miss Benson now.”

“If you go out of this house, you don’t pretend to return to it?”

“Be it so. Let us settle our accounts, and part, sir.”

“Philip, Philip! you break my heart,” cried the father.

“You don’t suppose mine is very light, sir?” said the son.

Philip never had Miss Benson for a mother-in-law. But father and son loved each other no better after their dispute.

Chapter 6

Brandon’s.

Thornhaugh Street is but a poor place now, and the houses look as if they had seen better days: but that house with the cut centre drawing-room window, with the name of Brandon on the door, was as neat as any house in the quarter, and the brass plate always shone like burnished gold. About Easter time many fine carriages stop at that door, and splendid people walk in, introduced by a tidy little maid, or else by an athletic Italian, with a glossy black beard and gold earrings, who conducts them to the drawing-room floor, where Mr. Ridley, the painter, lives, and where his pictures are privately exhibited before they go to the Royal Academy.

As the carriages drive up, you will often see a red-faced man, in an olive-green wig, smiling blandly over the blinds of the parlour, on the ground-floor. That is Captain Gann, the father of the lady who keeps the house. I don’t know how he came by the rank of captain, but he has borne it so long and gallantly that there is no use in any longer questioning the title. He does not claim it, neither does he deny it. But the wags who call upon Mrs. Brandon can always, as the phrase is, “draw” her father, by speaking of Prussia, France, Waterloo, or battles in general, until the Little Sister says, “Now, never mind about the battle of Waterloo, papa” (she says Pa — her h’s are irregular — I can’t help it) — “Never mind about Waterloo, papa; you’ve told them all about it. And don’t go on, Mr. Beans, don’t, please, go on in that way.”

Young Beans has already drawn “Captain Gann (assisted by Shaw, the Life-Guardsman) killing twenty-four French cuirassiers at Waterloo.” “Captain Gann defending Hugoumont.” “Captain Gann, called upon by Napoleon Buonaparte to lay down his arms, saying, ‘A captain of militia dies, but never surrenders.’” “The Duke of Wellington pointing to the advancing Old Guard, and saying, ‘Up, Gann, and at them.’” And these sketches are so droll, that even the Little Sister, Gann’s own daughter, can’t help laughing at them. To be sure, she loves fun, the Little Sister; laughs over droll books; laughs to herself, in her little quiet corner at work; laughs over pictures; and, at the right place, laughs and sympathizes too. Ridley says, he knows few better critics of pictures than Mrs. Brandon. She has a sweet temper, a merry sense of humour, that makes the cheeks dimple and the eyes shine; and a kind heart, that has been sorely tried and wounded, but is still soft and gentle. Fortunate are they whose hearts, so tried by suffering, yet recover their health. Some have illnesses from which there is no recovery, and drag through life afterwards, maimed and invalided.

But this Little Sister, having been subjected in youth to a dreadful trial and sorrow, was saved out of them by a kind Providence, and is now so thoroughly restored as to own that she is happy, and to thank God that she can be grateful and useful. When poor Montfitchet died, she nursed him through his illness as tenderly as his good wife herself. In the days of her own chief grief and misfortune, her father, who was under the domination of his wife, a cruel and blundering woman, thrust out poor little Caroline from his door, when she returned to it the broken-hearted victim of a scoundrel’s seduction; and when the old captain was himself in want and houseless, she had found him, sheltered and fed him. And it was from that day her wounds had begun to heal, and, from gratitude for this immense piece of good fortune vouchsafed to her, that her happiness and cheerfulness returned. Returned? There was an old servant of the family, who could not stay in the house because she was so abominably disrespectful to the captain, and this woman, said she had never known Miss Caroline so cheerful, nor so happy, nor so good-looking, as she was now.

So Captain Gann came to live with his daughter, and patronized her with much dignity. He had a very few yearly pounds, which served to pay his club expenses, and a portion of his clothes. His club, I need not say, was at the “Admiral Byng,” Tottenham Court Road, and here the captain met frequently a pleasant little society, and bragged unceasingly about his former prosperity.

I have heard that the country-house in Kent, of which he boasted, was a shabby little lodging-house at Margate, of which the furniture was sold in execution; but if it had been a palace the captain would not have been out of place there, one or two people still rather fondly thought. His daughter, amongst others, had tried to fancy all sorts of good of her father, and especially that he was a man of remarkably good manners. But she had seen one or two gentlemen since she knew the poor old father — gentlemen with rough coats and good hearts, like Dr. Goodenough; gentlemen with superfine coats and superfine double-milled manners, like Dr. Firmin, and hearts — well, never mind about that point; gentlemen of no h’s, like the good, dear, faithful benefactor who had rescued her at the brink of despair; men of genius, like Ridley; great, hearty, generous, honest gentlemen, like Philip; — and this illusion about Pa, I suppose, had vanished along with some other fancies of her poor little maiden youth. The truth is, she had an understanding with the “Admiral Byng:” the landlady was instructed as to the supplies to be furnished to the captain; and as for his stories, poor Caroline knew them a great deal too well to believe in them any more.

I would not be understood to accuse the captain of habitual inebriety. He was a generous officer, and his delight was, when in cash, to order “glasses round” for the company at the club, to whom he narrated the history of his brilliant early days, when he lived in some of the tiptop society of this city, sir — a society in which, we need not say, the custom always is for gentlemen to treat other gentlemen to rum-and-water. Never mind — I wish we were all as happy as the captain. I see his jolly face now before me as it blooms through the window in Thornhaugh Street, and the wave of the somewhat dingy hand which sweeps me a gracious recognition.

The clergyman of the neighbouring chapel was a very good friend of the Little Sister, and has taken tea in her parlour; to which circumstance the captain frequently alluded, pointing out the very chair on which the divine sate. Mr. Gann attended his ministrations regularly every Sunday, and brought a rich, though somewhat worn, bass voice to bear upon the anthems and hymns at the chapel. His style was more florid than is general now among church singers, and, indeed, had been acquired in a former age and in the performance of rich Bacchanalian chants, such as delighted the contemporaries of our Incledons and Brahams. With a very little entreaty, the captain could be induced to sing at the club; and I must own that Phil Firmin would draw the captain out, and extract from him a song of ancient days; but this must be in the absence of his daughter, whose little face wore an air of such extreme terror and disturbance when her father sang, that he presently ceased from exercising his musical talents in her hearing. He hung up his lyre, whereof it must be owned that time had broken many of the once resounding chords.

With a sketch or two contributed by her lodgers — with a few gimcracks from the neighbouring Wardour Street presented by others of her friends — with the chairs, tables, and bureaux as bright as bees’-wax and rubbing could make them — the Little Sister’s room was a cheery little place, and received not a little company. She allowed Pa’s pipe. “It’s company to him,” she said. “A man can’t be doing much harm when he is smoking his pipe.” And she allowed Phil’s cigar. Anything was allowed to Phil, the other lodgers declared, who professed to be quite jealous of Philip Firmin. She had a very few books. “When I was a girl I used to be always reading novels,” she said; “but, la, they’re mostly nonsense. There’s Mr. Pendennis, who comes to see Mr. Ridley. I wonder how a married man can go on writing about love, and all that stuff!” And, indeed, it is rather absurd for elderly fingers to be still twanging Dan Cupid’s toy bow and arrows. Yesterday is gone — yes, but very well remembered; and we think of it the more now we know that To-morrow is not going to bring us much.

Into Mrs. Brandon’s parlour Mr. Ridley’s old father would sometimes enter of evenings, and share the bit of bread and cheese, or the modest supper of Mrs. Brandon and the captain. The homely little meal has almost vanished out of our life now, but in former days it assembled many a family round its kindly board. A little modest supper-tray — a little quiet prattle — a little kindly glass that cheered and never inebriated. I can see friendly faces smiling round such a meal, at a period not far gone, but how distant! I wonder whether there are any old folks now in old quarters of old country towns, who come to each other’s houses in sedan-chairs, at six o’clock, and play at quadrille until supper-tray time? Of evenings Ridley and the captain, I say, would have a solemn game at cribbage, and the Little Sister would make up a jug of something good for the two oldsters. She liked Mr. Ridley to come, for he always treated her father so respectful, and was quite the gentleman. And as for Mrs. Ridley, Mr.R.’s “good lady," — was she not also grateful to the Little Sister for having nursed her son during his malady? Through their connection they were enabled to procure Mrs. Brandon many valuable friends; and always were pleased to pass an evening with the captain, and were as civil to him as they could have been had he been at the very height of his prosperity and splendour. My private opinion of the old captain, you see, is that he was a worthless old captain, but most fortunate in his early ruin, after which he had lived very much admired and comfortable, sufficient whisky being almost always provided for him.

Old Mr. Ridley’s respect for her father afforded a most precious consolation to the Little Sister. Ridley liked to have the paper read to him. He was never quite easy with print, and to his last days, many words to be met with in newspapers and elsewhere used to occasion the good butler much intellectual trouble. The Little Sister made his lodger’s bills out for him (Mr. R., as well as the captain’s daughter, strove to increase a small income by the letting of furnished apartments), or the captain himself would take these documents in charge; he wrote a noble mercantile hand, rendered now somewhat shaky by time, but still very fine in flourishes and capitals, and very much at worthy Mr. Ridley’s service. Time was, when his son was a boy, that J. J. himself had prepared these accounts, which neither his father nor his mother were very competent to arrange. “We were not in our young time, Mr. Gann,” Ridley remarked to his friend, “brought up to much scholarship; and very little book learning was given to persons in my rank of life. It was necessary and proper for you gentlemen, of course, sir.” “Of course, Mr. Ridley,” winks the other veteran over his pipe. “But I can’t go and ask my son John James to keep his old father’s books now as he used to do — which to do so is, on the part of you and Mrs. Brandon, the part of true friendship, and I value it, sir, and so do my son John James reckonize and value it, sir.” Mr. Ridley had served gentlemen of the bonne école. No nobleman could be more courtly and grave than he was. In Mr. Gann’s manner there was more humorous playfulness, which in no way, however, diminished the captain’s high-breeding. As he continued to be intimate with Mr. Ridley, he became loftier and more majestic. I think each of these elders acted on the other, and for good; and I hope Ridley’s opinion was correct, that Mr. Gann was ever the gentleman. To see these two good fogies together was a spectacle for edification. Their tumblers kissed each other on the table. Their elderly friendship brought comfort to themselves, and their families. A little matter of money once created a coolness between the two old gentlemen. But the Little Sister paid the outstanding account between her father and Mr. Ridley; there never was any further talk of pecuniary loans between them; and when they went to the “Admiral Byng,” each paid for himself.

Phil often heard of that nightly meeting at the “Admiral Byng,” and longed to be of the company. But even when he saw the old gentlemen in the Little Sister’s parlour, they felt dimly that he was making fun of them. The captain would not have been able to brag so at ease had Phil been continually watching him. “I have’ad the honour of waiting on your worthy father at my Lord Todmorden’s table. Our little club ain’t no place for you, Mr. Philip, nor for my son, though he’s a good son, and proud me and his mother is of him, which he have never gave us a moment’s pain, except when he was ill, since he have came to man’s estate, most thankful am I, and with my hand on my heart, for to be able to say so. But what is good for me and Mr. Gann, won’t suit you young gentlemen. You ain’t a tradesman, sir, else I’m mistaken in the family, which I thought the Ringwoods one of the best in England, and the Firmins, a good one likewise.” Mr. Ridley loved the sound of his own voice. At the festive meetings of the club, seldom a night passed in which he did not compliment his brother Byngs and air his own oratory. Under this reproof Phil blushed, and hung his conscious head with shame. “Mr. Ridley,” says he, “you shall find I won’t come where I am not welcome; and if I come to annoy you at the ‘Admiral Byng,’ may I be taken out on the quarterdeck and shot.” On which Mr. Ridley pronounced Philip to be a “most sing’lar, astrornary, and asentric young man. A good heart, sir. Most generous to relieve distress. Fine talent, sir; but I fear — I fear it won’t come to much good, Mr. Gann — saving your presence, Mrs. Brandon, m’m, which, of course, you always stand up for him.”

When Philip Firmin had had his pipe and his talk with the Little Sister in her parlour, he would ascend, and smoke his second, third, tenth pipe in J. J. Ridley’s studio. He would pass hours before J. J.‘s easel, pouring out talk about politics, about religion, about poetry, about women, about the dreadful slavishness and meanness of the world; — unwearied in talk and idleness, as placid J. J. was in listening and labour. The painter had been too busy in life over his easel to read many books. His ignorance of literature smote him with a frequent shame. He admired book-writers, and young men of the university who quoted their Greek and their Horace glibly. He listened with deference to their talk on such matters; no doubt got good hints from some of them; was always secretly pained and surprised when the university gentlemen were beaten in argument, or loud and coarse in conversation, as sometimes they would be. “J. J. is a very clever fellow of course,” Mr. Jarman would say of him, “and the luckiest man in Europe. He loves painting, and he is at work all day. He loves toadying fine people, and he goes to a tea-party every night.” You all knew Jarman of Charlotte Street, the miniature-painter? He was one of the kings of the Haunt. His tongue spared no one. He envied all success, and the sight of prosperity made him furious: but to the unsuccessful he was kind; to the poor eager with help and prodigal of compassion; and that old talk about nature’s noblemen and the glory of Iabour was very fiercely and eloquently waged by him. His friends admired him: he was the soul of independence, and thought most men sneaks who wore clean linen and frequented gentlemen’s society: but it must be owned his landlords had a bad opinion of him, and I have heard of one or two of his pecuniary transactions which certainly were not to Mr. Jarman’s credit. Jarman was a man of remarkable humour. He was fond of the widow, and would speak of her goodness, usefulness, and honesty with tears in his eyes. She was poor and struggling yet. Had she been wealthy and prosperous, Mr. Jarman would not have been so alive to her merit.

We ascended to the room on the first-floor, where the centre window has been heightened, so as to afford an upper light, and under that stream of radiance we behold the head of an old friend, Mr. J. J. Ridley, the R. Academician. Time has somewhat thinned his own copious locks, and prematurely streaked the head with silver. His face is rather wan; the eager, sensitive hand which poises brush and palette, and quivers over the picture, is very thin: round his eyes are many lines of ill-health and, perhaps, care, but the eyes are as bright as ever, and when they look at the canvas, or the model which he transfers to it, clear, and keen, and happy. He has a very sweet singing voice, and warbles at his work, or whistles at it, smiling. He sets his hand little feats of skill to perform, and smiles with a boyish pleasure at his own matchless dexterity. I have seen him, with an old pewter mustard-pot for a model, fashion a splendid silver flagon in one of his pictures; paint the hair of an animal, the folds and flowers of a bit of brocade, and so forth, with a perfect delight in the work he was performing; a delight lasting from morning till sun-down, during which time he was too busy to touch the biscuit and glass of water which was prepared for his frugal luncheon. He is greedy of the last minute of light, and never can be got from his darling pictures without a regret. To be a painter, and to have your hand in perfect command, I hold to be one of life’s summa bona. The happy mixture of hand and head work must render the occupation supremely pleasant. In the day’s work must occur endless delightful difficulties and occasions for skill. Over the details of that armour, that drapery, or what not, the sparkle of that eye, the downy blush of that cheek, the jewel on that neck, there are battles to be fought and victories to be won. Each day there must occur critical moments of supreme struggle and triumph, when struggle and victory must be both invigorating and exquisitely pleasing — as a burst across country is to a fine rider perfectly mounted, who knows that his courage and his horse will never fail him. There is the excitement of the game, and the gallant delight in winning it. Of this sort of admirable reward for their labour, no men, I think, have a greater share than painters (perhaps a violin-player perfectly and triumphantly performing his own beautiful composition may be equally happy). Here is occupation: here is excitement: here is struggle and victory: and here is profit. Can man ask more from fortune? Dukes and Rothschilds may be envious of such a man.

Though Ridley has had his trials and troubles, his art has mastered them all. Black care may have sat in crupper on that Pegasus, but has never unhorsed the rider. In certain minds, art is dominant and superior to all beside — stronger than love, stronger than hate, or care, or penury. As soon as the fever leaves the hand free, it is seizing and fondling the pencil. Love may frown and be false, but the other mistress never will. She is always true: always new: always the friend, companion, inestimable consoler. So John James Ridley sat at his easel from breakfast till sun-down, and never left his work quite willingly. I wonder are men of other trades so enamoured of theirs; whether lawyers cling to the last to their darling reports; or writers prefer their desk and inkstands to society, to friendship, to dear idleness? I have seen no men in life loving their profession so much as painters, except, perhaps, actors, who, when not engaged themselves, always go to the play.

Before this busy easel Phil would sit for hours, and pour out endless talk and tobacco-smoke. His presence was a delight to Ridley’s soul; his face a sunshine; his voice a cordial. Weakly himself, and almost infirm of body, with sensibilities tremulously keen, the painter most admired amongst men strength, health, good spirits, good breeding. Of these, in his youth, Philip had a wealth of endowment; and I hope these precious gifts of fortune have not left him in his maturer age. I do not say that with all men Philip was so popular. There are some who never can pardon good fortune, and in the company of gentlemen are on the watch for offence; and, no doubt, in his course through life, poor downright Phil trampled upon corns enough of those who met him in his way. “Do you know why Ridley is so fond of Firmin?” asked Jarman. “Because Firmin’s father hangs on to the nobility by the pulse, whilst Ridley, you know, is connected with them through the sideboard.” So Jarman had the double horn for his adversary: he could despise a man for not being a gentleman, and insult him for being one. I have met with people in the world with whom the latter offence is an unpardonable crime — a cause of ceaseless doubt, division, and suspicion. What more common or natural, Bufo, than to hate another for being what you are not? The story is as old as frogs, bulls, and men.

Then, to be sure, besides your enviers in life, there are your admirers. Beyond wit, which he understood — beyond genius which he had — Ridley admired good looks and manners, and always kept some simple hero whom he loved secretly to cherish and worship. He loved to be amongst beautiful women and aristocratical men. Philip Firmin, with his republican notions, and downright bluntness of behaviour to all men of rank superior to him, had a grand high manner of his own; and if he had scarce twopence in his pocket, would have put his hands in them with as much independence as the greatest dandy who ever sauntered on Pall Mall pavement. What a coolness the fellow had! Some men may, not unreasonably, have thought it impudence. It fascinated Ridley. To be such a man; to have such a figure and manner; to be able to look society in the face, slap it on the shoulder, if you were so minded, and hold it by the button — what would not Ridley give for such powers and accomplishments? You will please to bear in mind, I am not saying that J. J. was right, only that he was as he was. I hope we shall have nobody in this story without his little faults and peculiarities. Jarman was quite right when he said Ridley loved fine company. I believe his pedigree gave him secret anguishes. He would rather have been gentleman than genius ever so great; but let you and me, who have no weaknesses of our own, try and look charitably on this confessed foible of my friend.

J. J. never thought of rebuking Philip for being idle. Phil was as the lilies of the field, in the painter’s opinion. He was not called upon to toil or spin; but to take his ease, and grow and bask in sunshine, and be arrayed in glory. The little clique of painters knew what Firmin’s means were. Thirty thousand pounds of his own. Thirty thousand pounds down, sir; and the inheritance of his father’s immense fortune! A splendour emanated from this gifted young man. His opinions, his jokes, his laughter, his song, had the weight of thirty thousand down, sir; and What call had he to work? Would you set a young nobleman to be an apprentice? Philip was free to be as idle as any lord, if he liked. He ought to wear fine clothes, ride fine horses, dine off plate, and drink champagne every day. J. J. would work quite cheerfully till sunset, and have an eightpenny plate of meat in Wardour Street and a glass of porter for his humble dinner. At the Haunt, and similar places of Bohemian resort, a snug place near the fire was always found for Firmin. Fierce republican as he was, Jarman had a smile for his lordship, and used to adopt particularly dandified airs when he had been invited to Old Parr Street to dinner. I daresay Philip liked flattery. I own that he was a little weak in this respect, and that you and I, my dear sir, are, of course, far his superiors. J. J., who loved him, would have had him follow his aunt’s and cousin’s advice, and live in better company; but I think the painter would not have liked his pet to soil his hands with too much work, and rather admired Mr. Phil for being idle.

The Little Sister gave him advice, to be sure, both as to the company he should keep and the occupation which was wholesome for him. But when others of his acquaintance hinted that his idleness would do him harm, she would not hear of their censure. “Why should he work if he don’t choose?” she asked. “He has no call to be scribbling and scrabbling. You wouldn’t have him sitting all day painting little dolls’ heads on canvas, and working like a slave. A pretty idea, indeed! His uncle will get him an appointment. That’s the thing he should have. He should be secretary to an ambassador abroad, and he will be!” In fact, Phil, at this period, used to announce his wish to enter the diplomatic service, and his hope that Lord Ringwood would further his views in that respect. Meanwhile he was the king of Thornhaugh Street. He might be as idle as he chose, and Mrs. Brandon had always a smile for him. He might smoke a great deal too much, but she worked dainty little cigar cases for him. She hemmed his fine cambric pocket-handkerchiefs, and embroidered his crest at the corners. She worked him a waistcoat so splendid that he almost blushed to wear it, gorgeous as he was in apparel at this period, and sumptuous in chains, studs, and haberdashery. I fear Dr. Firmin, sighing out his disappointed hopes in respect of his son, has rather good cause for his dissatisfaction. But of these remonstrances the Little Sister would not hear. “Idle, why not? Why should he work? Boys will be boys. I daresay his grumbling old Pa was not better than Philip when he was young!” And this she spoke with a heightened colour in her little face, and a defiant toss of her head, of which I did not understand all the significance then; but attributed her eager partisanship to that admirable injustice which belongs to all good women, and for which let us be daily thankful. I know, dear ladies, you are angry at this statement. But, even at the risk of displeasing you, we must tell the truth. You would wish to represent yourselves as equitable, logical, and strictly just. So, I daresay, Dr. Johnson would have liked Mrs. Thrale to say to him, “Sir, your manners are graceful; your person elegant, cleanly, and eminently pleasing; your appetite small (especially for tea), and your dancing equal to the Violetta’s;” which, you perceive, is merely ironical. Women equitable, logical, and strictly just! Mercy upon us! If they were, population would cease, the world would be a howling wilderness. Well, in a word, this Little Sister petted and coaxed Philip Firmin in such an absurd way, that every one remarked it — those who had no friends, no sweethearts, no mothers, no daughters, no wives, and those who were petted, and coaxed, and spoiled at home themselves; as I trust, dearly beloved, is your case.

Now, again, let us admit that Philip’s father had reason to be angry with the boy, and deplore his son’s taste for low company; but excuse the young man, on the other hand, somewhat for his fierce revolt and profound distaste at much in his home circle which annoyed him. “By heaven!” (he would roar out, pulling his hair and whiskers, and with many fierce ejaculations, according to his wont,) “the solemnity of those humbugs sickens me so, that I should like to crown the old bishop with the soup tureen, and box Baron Bumpsher’s ears with the saddle of mutton. At my aunt’s, the humbug is just the same. It’s better done, perhaps; but, O Pendennis! if you could but know the pangs which tore into my heart, sir, the vulture which gnawed at this confounded liver, when I saw women — women who ought to be pure — women who ought to be like angels — women who ought to know no art but that of coaxing our griefs away and soothing our sorrows — fawning, and cringing, and scheming; cold to this person, humble to that, flattering to the rich, and indifferent to the humble in station. I tell you I have seen all this, Mrs. Pendennis! I won’t mention names, but I have met with those who have made me old before my time — a hundred years old! The zest of life is passed from me” (here Mr. Phil would gulp a bumper from the nearest decanter at hand). “But if I like what your husband is pleased to call low society, it is because I have seen the other. I have dangled about at fine parties, and danced at fashionable balls. I have seen mothers bring their virgin daughters up to battered old rakes, and ready to sacrifice their innocence for fortune or a title. The atmosphere of those polite drawing-rooms stifles me. I can’t bow the knee to the horrible old Mammon. I walk about in the crowds as lonely as if I was in a wilderness; and don’t begin to breathe freely until I get some honest tobacco to clear the air. As for your husband” (meaning the writer of this memoir), “he cannot help himself; he is a worldling, of the earth, earthy. If a duke were to ask him to dinner to-morrow, the parasite owns that he would go. Allow me, my friends, my freedom, my rough companions, in their work-day clothes. I don’t hear such lies and flatteries come from behind pipes, as used to pass from above whitechokers when I was in the world.” And he would tear at his cravat, as though the mere thought of the world’s conventionality well nigh strangled him.

This, to be sure, was in a late stage of his career, but I take up the biography here and there, so as to give the best idea I may of my friend’s character. At this time — he is out of the country just now, and besides, if he saw his own likeness staring him in the face, I am confident he would not know it — Mr. Philip, in some things, was as obstinate as a mule, and in others as weak as a woman. He had a childish sensibility for what was tender, helpless, pretty, or pathetic; and a mighty scorn of imposture, wherever he found it. He had many good purposes, which were often very vacillating, and were but seldom performed. He had a vast number of evil habits, whereof, you know, idleness is said to be the root. Many of these evil propensities he coaxed and cuddled with much care; and though he roared out peccavi most frankly, when charged with his sins, this criminal would fall to peccation very soon after promising amendment. What he liked he would have. What he disliked he could with the greatest difficulty be found to do. He liked good dinners, good wine, good horses, good clothes, and late hours; and in all these comforts of life (or any others which he fancied, or which were within his means) he indulged himself with perfect freedom. He hated hypocrisy on his own part, and hypocrites in general. He said everything that came into his mind about things and people; and, of course, was often wrong and often prejudiced, and often occasioned howls of indignation or malignant whispers of hatred by his free speaking. He believed everything that was said to him until his informant had misled him once or twice, after which he would believe nothing. And here you will see that his impetuous credulity was as absurd as the subsequent obstinacy of his unbelief. My dear young friend, the profitable way in life is the middle way. Don’t quite believe anybody, for he may mislead you; neither disbelieve him, for that is uncomplimentary to your friend. Black is not so very black; and as for white, bon Dieu! in our climate, what paint will remain white long? If Philip was self-indulgent, I suppose other people are self-indulgent likewise: and besides, you know, your faultless heroes have ever so long gone out of fashion. To be young, to be good-looking, to be healthy, to be hungry three times a day, to have plenty of money, a great alacrity of sleeping, and nothing to do — all these, I daresay, are very dangerous temptations to a man, but I think I know some who would like to undergo the dangers of the trial. Suppose there be holidays, is there not work-time too? Suppose to-day is feast-day; may not tears and repentance come to-morrow? Such times are in store for Master Phil, and so please to let him have rest and comfort for a chapter or two.

Chapter 7

Impletur Veteris Bacchi.

That time, that merry time, of Brandon’s, of Bohemia, of oysters, of idleness, of smoking, of song at night and profuse soda-water in the morning, of a pillow, lonely and bachelor it is true, but with few cares for bed-fellows, of plenteous pocket-money, of ease for to-day and little heed for to-morrow, was often remembered by Philip in after days. Mr. Phil’s views of life were not very exalted, were they? The fruits of this world, which he devoured with such gusto, I must own were of the common kitchen-garden sort; and the lazy rogue’s ambition went no farther than to stroll along the sunshiny wall, eat his fill, and then repose comfortably in the arbour under the arched vine. Why did Phil’s mother’s parents leave her thirty thousand pounds? I daresay some misguided people would be glad to do as much for their sons; but, if I have ten, I am determined they shall either have a hundred thousand apiece, or else bare bread and cheese. “Man was made to labour, and to be lazy,” Phil would affirm, with his usual energy of expression. “When the Indian warrior goes on the hunting path, he is sober, active, indomitable. No dangers fright him, and no labours tire. He endures the cold of the winter; he couches on the forest leaves; he subsists on frugal roots or the casual spoil of his bow. When he returns to his village, he gorges to repletion; he sleeps, perhaps, to excess. When the game is devoured, and the fire-water exhausted, again he sallies forth into the wilderness; he outclimbs the possum and he throttles the bear. I am the Indian: and this haunt is my wigwam! Barbara, my squaw, bring me oysters; bring me a jug of the frothing black beer of the palefaces, or I will hang up thy scalp on my tent-pole?” And old Barbara, the good old attendant of this Haunt of Bandits, would say, “Law, Mr. Philip, how you do go on, to be sure!” Where is the Haunt now? and where are the merry men all who there assembled? The sign is down; the song is silent; the sand is swept from the floor; the pipes are broken, and the ashes are scattered.

A little more gossip about his merry days, and we have done. He, Philip, was called to the bar in due course, and at his call-supper we assembled a dozen of his elderly and youthful friends. The chambers in Parchment Buildings were given up to him for this day. Mr. Vanjohn, I think, was away attending a steeplechase; but Mr. Cassidy was with us, and several of Philip’s acquaintances of school, college, and the world. There was Philip’s father, and Philip’s uncle Twysden, and I, Phil’s revered and respectable school senior, and others of our ancient seminary. There was Burroughs, the second wrangler of his year, great in metaphysics, greater with the knife and fork. There was Stackpole, Eblana’s favourite child — the glutton of all learning, the master of many languages, who stuttered and blushed when he spoke his own. There was Pinkerton, who, albeit an ignoramus at the university, was already winning prodigious triumphs at the Parliamentary bar, and investing in Consols to the admiration of all his contemporaries. There was Rosebury the beautiful, the May Fair pet and delight of Almack’s, the cards on whose mantelpiece made all men open the eyes of wonder, and some of us dart the scowl of envy. There was my Lord Ascot, Lord Egham of former days. There was Tom Dale, who, having carried on his university career too splendidly, had come to grief in the midst of it, and was now meekly earning his bread in the Reporters’ Gallery, alongside of Cassidy. There was Macbride, who, having thrown up his Fellowship and married his cousin, was now doing a brave battle with poverty, and making literature feed him until law should reward him more splendidly. There was Haythorn, the country gentleman, who ever remembered his old college chums and kept the memory of that friendship up by constant reminders of pheasants and game in the season. There were Raby and Maynard from the Guards’ Club (Maynard sleeps now under Crimean snows), who preferred arms to the toga; but carried into their military life the love of their old books, the affection of their old friends. Most of these must be mute personages in our little drama. Could any chronicler remember the talk of all of them?

Several of the guests present were members of the Inn of Court (the Upper Temple), which had conferred on Philip the degree of Barrister-at-Law. He had dined in his wig and gown (Blackmore’s wig and gown) in the hall that day, in company with other members of his inn; and, dinner over, we adjourned to Phil’s chambers in Parchment Buildings, where a dessert was served, to which Mr. Firmin’s friends were convoked.

The wines came from Dr. Firmin’s cellar. His servants were in attendance to wait upon the company. Father and son both loved splendid hospitalities, and, as far as creature comforts went, Philip’s feast was richly provided. “A supper, I love a supper, of all things! And in order that I might enjoy yours, I only took a single mutton-chop for dinner!” cried Mr. Twysden, as he greeted Philip. Indeed, we found him, as we arrived from Hall, already in the chambers, and eating the young barrister’s dessert. “He’s been here ever so long,” says Mr. Brice, who officiated as butler, “pegging away at the olives and maccaroons. Shouldn’t wonder if he has pocketed some.” There was small respect on the part of Brice for Mr. Twysden, whom the worthy butler frankly pronounced to be a stingy ‘umbug. Meanwhile, Talbot believed that the old man respected him, and always conversed with Brice, and treated him with a cheerful cordiality.

The outer Philistines quickly arrived, and but that the wine and men were older, one might have fancied oneself at a college wine-party. Mr. Twysden talked for the whole company. He was radiant. He felt himself in high spirits. He did the honours of Philip’s table. Indeed, no man was more hospitable with other folk’s wine. Philip himself was silent and nervous. I asked him if the awful ceremony, which he had just undergone, was weighing on his mind?

He was looking rather anxiously towards the door; and, knowing somewhat of the state of affairs at home, I thought that probably he and his father had had one of the disputes which of late days had become so frequent between them.

The company were nearly all assembled and busy with their talk, and drinking the doctor’s excellent claret, when Brice entering, announced Dr. Firmin and Mr. Tufton Hunt.

“Hang Mr. Tufton Hunt,” Philip grumbled; but he started up, went forward to his father, and greeted him very respectfully. He then gave a bow to the gentleman introduced as Mr. Hunt, and they found places at the table, the doctor taking his with his usual handsome grace.

The conversation, which had been pretty brisk until Dr. Firmin came, drooped a little after his appearance. “We had an awful row two days ago,” Philip whispered to me. “We shook hands and are reconciled, as you see. He won’t stay long. He will be sent for in half an hour or so. He will say he has been sent for by a duchess, and go and have tea at the club.”

Dr. Firmin bowed, and smiled sadly at me, as Philip was speaking. I daresay I blushed somewhat, and felt as if the doctor knew what his son was saying to me. He presently engaged in conversation with Lord Ascot; he hoped his good father was well?

“You keep him so, doctor. You don’t give a fellow a chance,” says the young lord.

“Pass the bottle, you young men! Hey! We intend to see you all out!” cries Talbot Twysden, on pleasure bent and of the frugal mind.

“Well said, sir,” says the stranger introduced as Mr. Hunt; “and right good wine. Ha, Firmin! I think I know the tap!” and he smacked his lips over the claret. “It’s your twenty-five, and no mistake.”

“The red-nosed individual seems a connoisseur,” whispered Rosebury at my side.

The stranger’s nose, indeed, was somewhat rosy. And to this I may add that his clothes were black, his face pale, and not well shorn, his white neckcloth dingy, and his eyes bloodshot.

“He looks as if he had gone to bed in his clothes, and carries a plentiful flue about his person. Who is your father’s esteemed friend?” continues the wag, in an under voice.

“You heard his name, Rosebury,” says the young barrister, gloomily.

“I should suggest that your father is in difficulties, and attended by an officer of the sheriff of London, or perhaps subject to mental aberration, and placed under the control of a keeper.”

“Leave me alone, do!” groaned Philip. And here Twysden, who was longing for an opportunity to make a speech, bounced up from his chair, and stopped the facetious barrister’s further remarks by his own eloquence. His discourse was in praise of Philip, the

new-made barrister. “What! if no one else will give that toast, your uncle will, and many a heartfelt blessing go with you too, my boy!” cried the little man. He was prodigal of benedictions. He dashed aside the teardrop of emotion. He spoke with perfect fluency, and for a considerable period. He really made a good speech, and was greeted with deserved cheers when at length he sat down.

Phil stammered a few words in reply to his uncle’s voluble compliments; and then Lord Ascot, a young nobleman of much familiar humour, proposed Phil’s father, his health, and song. The physician made a neat speech from behind his ruffled shirt. He was agitated by the tender feelings of a paternal heart, he said, glancing benignly at Phil, who was cracking filberts. To see his son happy; to see him surrounded by such friends; to know him embarked this day in a profession which gave the greatest scope for talents, the noblest reward for industry, was a proud and happy moment to him, Dr. Firmin. What had the poet observed? “Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes” (hear, hear!) “emollit mores," — yes, “emollit mores.” He drank a bumper to the young barrister (he waved his ring, with a thimbleful of wine in his glass). He pledged the young friends whom he saw assembled to cheer his son on his onward path. He thanked them with a father’s heart! He passed his emerald ring across his eyes for a moment, and lifted them to the ceiling, from which quarter he requested a blessing on his boy. As though spirits (of whom, perhaps, you have read in the Cornhill Magazine) approved of his invocation, immense thumps came from above, along with the plaudits which saluted the doctor’s speech from the gentlemen round the table. But the upper thumps were derisory, and came from Mr. Buffers, of the third floor, who chose this method of mocking our harmless little festivities.

I think these cheers from the facetious Buffers, though meant in scorn of our party, served to enliven it and make us laugh. Spite of all the talking, we were dull; and I could not but allow the force of my neighbour’s remark, that we were sate upon and smothered by the old men. One or two of the younger gentlemen chafed at the licence for tobacco-smoking not being yet accorded. But Philip interdicted this amusement as yet.

“Don’t,” he said; “my father don’t like it. He has to see patients to-night; and they can’t bear the smell of tobacco by their bedsides.”

The impatient youths waited with their cigar-cases by their sides. They longed for the withdrawal of the obstacle to their happiness.

“He won’t go, I tell you. He’ll be sent for,” growled Philip to me.

The doctor was engaged in conversation to the right and left of him, and seemed not to think of a move. But, sure enough, at a few minutes after ten o’clock, Dr. Firmin’s footman entered the room with a note, which Firmin opened and read, as Philip looked at me, with a grim humour in his face. I think Phil’s father knew that we knew he was acting. However, he went through the comedy quite gravely.

“A physician’s time is not his own,” he said, shaking his handsome melancholy head. “Good-by, my dear lord! Pray remember me at home! Good-night, Philip, my boy, and good speed to you in your career! Pray, pray don’t move.”

And he is gone, waving the fair hand and the broad-brimmed hat, with the beautiful white lining. Phil conducted him to the door, and heaved a sigh as it closed upon his father — a sigh of relief, I think, that he was gone.

“Exit Governor. What’s the Latin for Governor?” says Lord Ascot, who possessed much native humour, but not very profound scholarship. “A most venerable old parent, Firmin. That hat and appearance would command any sum of money.”

“Excuse me,” lisps Rosebury, “but why didn’t he take his elderly friend with him — the dilapidated clerical gentleman who is drinking claret so freely? And also, why did he not remove your avuncular orator? Mr. Twysden, your interesting young neophyte has provided us with an excellent specimen of the cheerful produce of the Gascon grape.”

“Well, then, now the old gentleman is gone, let us pass the bottle and make a night of it. Hey, my lord?” cries Twysden. “Philip, your claret is good! I say, do you remember some Château Margaux I had, which Winton liked so? It must be good if he praised it, I can tell you. I imported it myself, and gave him the address of the Bordeaux merchant; and he said he had seldom tasted any like it. Those were his very words. I must get you fellows to come and taste it some day.”

“Some day! What day? Name it, generous Amphitryon!” cries Rosebury.

“Some day at seven o’clock. With a plain, quiet dinner — a clear soup, a bit of fish, a couple of little entrées, a and a nice little roast. That’s my kind of dinner. And we’ll taste that claret, young men. It is not a heavy wine. It is not a first-class wine. I don’t mean even to say it is a dear wine, but it has a bouquet and a pureness. What, you will smoke, you fellows?”

“We will do it, Mr. Twysden. Better do as the rest of us do. Try one of these.”

The little man accepts the proffered cigar from the young nobleman’s box, lights it, hems and hawks, and lapses into silence.

“I thought that would do for him,” murmurs the facetious Ascot. “It is strong enough to blow his old head off, and I wish it would. That cigar,” he continues, “was given to my father by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who had it out of the Queen of Spain’s own box. She smokes a good deal, but naturally likes ’em mild. I can give you a stronger one.”

“Oh, no. I dare say this is very fine. Thank you!” says poor Talbot.

“Leave him alone, can’t you?” says Philip. “Don’t make a fool of him before the young men, Ascot.”

Philip still looked very dismal in the midst of the festivity. He was thinking of his differences with his absent parent.

We might all have been easily consoled, if the doctor had taken away with him the elderly companion whom he had introduced to Phil’s feast. He could not have been very welcome to our host, for Phil scowled at his guest, and whispered, “Hang Hunt!” to his neighbour.

“Hang Hunt” — the Reverend Tufton Hunt was his name — was in nowise disconcerted by the coolness of his reception. He drank his wine very freely; addressed himself to his neighbours affably; and called out a loud “Hear, hear,” to Twysden, when that gentleman announced his intention of making a night of it. As Mr. Hunt warmed with wine he spoke to the table. He talked a great deal about the Ringwood family, had been very intimate at Wingate, in old days, as he told Mr. Twysden, and an intimate friend of poor Cinqbars, Lord Ringwood’s only son. Now, the memory of the late Lord Cinqbars was not an agreeable recollection to the relatives of the house of Ringwood. He was in life a dissipated and disreputable young lord. His name was seldom mentioned in his family; never by his father, with whom he had had many quarrels.

“You know I introduced Cinqbars to your father, Philip?” calls out the dingy clergyman.

“I have heard you mention the fact,” says Philip.

“They met at a wine in my rooms in Corpus. Brummell Firmin we used to call your father in those days. He was the greatest buck in the university — always a dressy man, kept hunters, gave the best dinners in Cambridge. We were a wild set. There was Cinqbars, Brand Firmin, Beryl, Toplady, about a dozen of us, almost all noblemen or fellow-commoners — fellows who all kept their horses and had their private servants.”

This speech was addressed to the company, who yet did not seem much edified by the college recollections of the dingy elderly man.

“Almost all Trinity men, sir! We dined with each other week about. Many of them had their tandems. Desperate fellow across country your father was. And, but we won’t tell tales out of school, hey?”

“No; please don’t sir,” said Philip, clenching his fists, and biting his lips. The shabby, ill-bred, swaggering man was eating Philip’s salt; Phil’s lordly ideas of hospitality did not allow him to quarrel with the guest under his tent.

“When he went out in medicine, we were all of us astonished. Why, sir, Brand Firmin, at one time, was the greatest swell in the university,” continued Mr. Hunt, “and such a plucky fellow! So was poor Cinqbars, though he had no stamina. He, I, and Firmin, fought for twenty minutes before Caius’ Gate with about twenty bargemen, and you should have seen your father hit out! I was a handy one in those days, too, with my fingers. We learned the noble art of self-defence in my time, young gentlemen! We used to have Glover, the boxer, down from London, who gave us lessons. Cinqbars was a pretty sparrer — but no stamina. Brandy killed him, sir — brandy killed him! Why, this is some of your governor’s wine! He and I have been drinking it to-night in Parr Street, and talking over old times.”

“I am glad, sir, you found the wine to your taste,” says Philip, gravely.

“I did, Philip, my boy! And when your father said he was coming to your wine, I said I’d come to.”

“I wish somebody would fling him out of window,” groaned Philip.

“A most potent, grave, and reverend senior,” whispered Rosebury to me. “I read billards, Boulogne, gambling-houses, in his noble lineaments. Has he long adorned your family circle, Firmin?”

“I found him at home about a month ago, in my father’s ante-room, in the same clothes, with a pair of mangy moustaches on his face; and he has been at our house every day since.”

“Échappé de Toulon,” says Rosebury, blandly, looking towards the stranger. “Cela se voit. Homme parfaitement distingué. You are quite right, sir. I was speaking of you; and asking our friend Philip where it was I had the honour of meeting you abroad last year? This courtesy,” he gently added, “will disarm tigers.”

“I was abroad, sir, last year,” said the other, nodding his head.

“Three to one he was in Boulogne gaol, or perhaps officiating chaplain at a gambling-house. Stop, I have it! Baden Baden, sir?”

“I was there, safe enough,” says the clergyman. “It is a very pretty place; but the air of the Après kills you. Ha! ha! Your father used to shake his elbow when he was a youngster, too, Philip! I can’t help calling you Philip. I’ve known your father these thirty years. We were college chums, you know.”

“Ah! what would I give,” sighs Rosebury, “if that venerable being would but address me by my Christian name! Philip, do something to make your party go. The old gentlemen are throttling it? Sing something, somebody! or let us drown our melancholy in wine. You expressed your approbation of this claret, sir, and claimed a previous acquaintance with it?”

“I’ve drunk two dozen of it in the last month,” says Mr. Hunt, with a grin.

“Two dozen and four, sir,” remarks Mr. Brice, putting a fresh bottle on the table.

“Well said, Brice! I make the Firmin Arms my head-quarters; and honour the landlord with a good deal of my company,” remarks Mr. Hunt.

“The Firmin Arms are honoured by having such supporters!” says Phil, glaring and with a heaving chest. At each moment he was growing more and more angry with that parson.

At a certain stage of conviviality Phil was fond of talking of his pedigree; and, though a professor of very liberal opinions, was not a little proud of some of his ancestors.

“Oh, come, I say! Sink the heraldry!” cries Lord Ascot.

“I am very sorry! I would do anything to oblige you, but I can’t help being a gentleman!” growls Philip.

“Oh, I say! If you intend to come King Richard III. over us — ” breaks out my lord.

“Ascot! your ancestors were sweeping counters when mine stood by King Richard in that righteous fight!” shouts Philip.

That monarch had conferred lands upon the Ringwood family. Richard III. was Philip’s battle-horse; when he trotted it after dinner he was splendid in his chivalry.

“Oh, I say! If you are to saddle White Surrey, fight Bosworth Field, and murder the kids in the Tower!” continues Lord Ascot.

“Serve the little brutes right!” roars Phil. “They were no more heirs of the blood royal of England than — ”

“I daresay! Only I’d rather have a song now the old boy is gone. I say; you fellows; chant something, — do now! Bar all this row about Bosworth Field and Richard the Third! Always does it when he’s beer on board — always does it, give you my honour!” whispers the young nobleman to his neighbour.

“I am a fool! I am a fool!” cries Phil, smacking his forehead. “There are moments when the wrongs of my race will intervene. It’s not your fault, Mr. What-d’ye-call-’em, that you alluded to my arms in a derisive manner. I bear you no malice! Nay, I ask your pardon! Nay! I pledge you in this claret, which is good, though it’s my governor’s. In our house everything isn’t, hum — Bosh! it’s twenty-five claret, sir! Ascot’s father gave him a pipe of it for saving a life which might be better spent; and I believe the apothecary would have pulled you through, Ascot, just as well as my governor. But the wine’s good! Good! Brice, some more claret! A song! Who spoke of a song? Warble us something, Tom Dale! A song, a song, a song!”

Whereupon the exquisite ditty of “Moonlight on the Tiles” was given by Tom Dale with all his accustomed humour. Then politeness demanded that our host should sing one of his songs, and as I have heard him perform it many times, I have the privilege of here reprinting it: premising that the tune and chorus were taken from a German song-book, which used to delight us melodious youth in bygone days. Philip accordingly lifted up his great voice and sang:—

DOCTOR LUTHER.

“For the souls’ edification Of this decent congregation, Worthy people! by your grant, I will sing a holy chant, I will sing a holy chant. If the ditty sound but oddly, ’Twas a father, wise and godly, Sang it so long ago. Then sing as Doctor Luther sang, As Doctor Luther sang, Who loves not wine, woman, and song, He is a fool his whole life long.

“He, by custom patriarchal, Loved to see the beaker sparkle, And he thought the wine improved, Tasted by the wife he loved, By the kindly lips he loved. Friends! I wish this custom pious Duly were adopted by us, To combine love, song, wine; And sing as Doctor Luther sang, As Doctor Luther sang, Who loves not wine, woman, and song, He is a fool his whole life long.

“Who refuses this our credo, And demurs to drink as we do, Were he holy as John Knox, I’d pronounce him heterodox, I’d pronounce him heterodox. And from out this congregation, With a solemn commination, Banish quick the heretic, Who would not sing as Luther sang, As Doctor Luther sang, Who loves not wine, woman, and song, He is a fool his whole life long.” The reader’s humble servant was older than most of the party assembled at this symposium; but as I listened to the noise, the fresh laughter, the songs remembered out of old university days, the talk and cant phrases of the old school of which most of us had been disciples, dear me, I felt quite young again, and when certain knocks came to the door about midnight, enjoyed quite a refreshing pang of anxious interest for a moment, deeming the proctors were rapping, having heard our shouts in the court below. The late comer, however, was only a tavern waiter, bearing a supper-tray; and we were free to speechify, shout, quarrel, and be as young as we liked, with nobody to find fault, except, perchance, the bencher below, who, I daresay, was kept awake with our noise.

When that supper arrived, poor Talbot Twysden, who had come so far to enjoy it, was not in a state to partake of it. Lord Ascot’s cigar had proved too much for him; and the worthy gentleman had been lying on a sofa, in a neighbouring room, for some time past in a state of hopeless collapse. He had told us, whilst yet capable of speech, what a love and regard he had for Philip; but between him and Philip’s father there was but little love. They had had that worst and most irremediable of quarrels, a difference about twopence half-penny in the division of the property of their late father-in-law. Firmin still thought Twysden a shabby curmudgeon; and Twysden considered Firmin an unprincipled man. When Mrs. Firmin was alive, the two poor sisters had had to regulate their affections by the marital orders, and to be warm, cool, moderate, freezing, according to their husbands’ state for the time being. I wonder are there many real reconciliations? Dear Tomkins and I are reconciled, I know. We have met and dined at Jones’s . And ah! how fond we are of each other! Oh, very! So with Firmin and Twysden. They met, and shook hands with perfect animosity. So did Twysden junior and Firmin junior. Young Twysden was the elder, and thrashed and bullied Phil as a boy, until the latter arose and pitched his cousin downstairs. Mentally, they were always kicking each other downstairs. Well, poor Talbot could not partake of the supper when it came, and lay in a piteous state on the neighbouring sofa of the absent Mr. Vanjohn.

Who would go home with him, where his wife must be anxious about him? I agreed to convoy him, and the parson said he was going our way, and would accompany us. We supported this senior through the Temple, and put him on the front seat of a cab. The cigar had disgracefully overcome him; and any lecturer on the evils of smoking might have pointed his moral on the helpless person of this wretched gentleman.

The evening’s feasting had only imparted animation to Mr. Hunt, and occasioned an agreeable abandon in his talk. I had seen the man before in Dr. Firmin’s house, and own that his society was almost as odious to me as to doctor’s son Philip. On all subjects and persons, Phil was accustomed to speak his mind out a great deal too openly; and Mr. Hunt had been an object of special dislike to him ever since he had known Hunt. I tried to make the best of the matter. Few men of kindly feeling and good station are without a dependent or two. Men start together in the race of life; and Jack wins, and Tom falls by his side. The successful man succours and reaches a friendly hand to the unfortunate competitor. Remembrance of early times gives the latter a sort of right to call on his luckier comrade; and a man finds himself pitying, then enduring, then embracing a companion for whom, in old days, perhaps, he never had had any regard or esteem. A prosperous man ought to have followers: if he has none, he has a hard heart.

This philosophizing was all very well. It was good for a man not to desert the friends of his boyhood. But to live with such a cad as that — with that creature, low, servile, swaggering, besotted — How could his father, who had fine tastes, and loved grand company, put up with such a fellow? asked Phil. “I don’t know when the man is the more odious, when he is familiar or when he is respectful; when he is paying compliments to my father’s guests in Parr Street, or telling hideous old stale stories, as he did at my call-supper.”

The wine of which Mr. Hunt freely partook on that occasion made him, as I have said, communicative. “Not a bad fellow, our host,” he remarked, on his part, when we came away together. “Bumptious, goodlooking, speaks his mind, hates me, and I don’t care. He must be well to do in the world, Master Philip.”

I said I hoped and thought so.

“Brummell Firmin must make four or five thousand a year. He was a wild fellow in my time, I can tell you — in the days of the wild Prince and Poyns — stuck at nothing, spent his own money, ruined himself, fell on his legs somehow, and married a fortune. Some of us have not been so lucky. I had nobody to pay my debts. I missed my Fellowship by idling and dissipating with those confounded hats and silver-laced gowns. I liked good company in those days — always did when I could get it. If you were to write my adventures, now, you would have to tell some queer stories. I’ve been everywhere; I’ve seen high and low — ‘specially low. I’ve tried schoolmastering, bear-leading, newspapering, America, West Indies. I’ve been in every city in Europe. I haven’t been as lucky as Brummell Firmin. He rolls in his coach, he does, and I walk in my highlows. Guineas drop into his palm every day, and are uncommonly scarce in mine, I can tell you; and poor old Tufton Hunt is not much better off at fifty odd than he was when he was an undergraduate at eighteen. How do you do, old gentleman? Air do you good? Here we are at Beaunash Street; hope you’ve got the key, and missis won’t see you.” A large butler, too well bred to express astonishment at any event which occurred out of doors, opened Mr. Twysden’s and let in that lamentable gentleman. He was very pale and solemn. He gasped out a few words, intimating his intention to fix a day to ask us to come and dine soon, and taste that wine that Winton liked so. He waved an unsteady hand to us. If Mrs. Twysden was on the stairs to see the condition of her lord, I hope she took possession of the candle. Hunt grumbled as we came out: “He might have offered us some refreshment after bringing him all that way home. It’s only half-past one. There’s no good in going to bed so soon as that. Let us go and have a drink somewhere. I know a very good crib close by. No, you wont? I say” (here he burst into a laugh which startled the sleeping street), “I know what you’ve been thinking all the time in the cab. You are a swell, — you are, too! You have been thinking, ‘This dreary old parson will try and borrow money from me.’ But I won’t, my boy. I’ve got a banker. Look here! Fee, faw, fum. You understand. I can get the sovereigns out of my medical swell in Old Parr Street. I prescribe bleeding for him — I drew him to-night. He is a very kind fellow, Brummell Firmin is. He can’t deny such a dear old friend anything. Bless him!” And as he turned away to some midnight haunt of his own, he tossed up his hand in the air. I heard him laughing through the silent street, and policeman X, tramping on his beat, turned round and suspiciously eyed him.

Then I thought of Dr. Firmin’s dark, melancholy face and eyes. Was a benevolent remembrance of old times the bond of union between these men? All my house had long been asleep, when I opened and gently closed my house door. By the twinkling night-lamp I could dimly see child and mother softly breathing. Oh, blessed they on whose pillow no remorse sits! Happy you who have escaped temptation!

I may have been encouraged in my suspicions of the dingy clergyman by Philip’s own surmises regarding him, which were expressed with the speaker’s usual candour. “The fellow calls for what he likes at the Firmin Arms,” said poor Phil; “and when my father’s bigwigs assemble, I hope the reverend gentleman dines with them. I should like to see him hobnobbing with old Bumpsher, or slapping the bishop on the back. He lives in Sligo Street, round the corner, so as to be close to our house and yet preserve his own elegant independence. Otherwise, I wonder he has not installed himself in Old Parr Street, where my poor mother’s bedroom is vacant. The doctor does not care to use that room. I remember now how silent they were when together, and how terrified she always seemed before him. What has he done? I know of one affair in his early life. Does this Hunt know of any more. They have been accomplices in some conspiracy, sir; I daresay with that young Cinqbars, of whom Hunt is for ever bragging: the worthy son of the worthy Ringwood. I say, does wickedness run in the blood? My grandfathers, I have heard, were honest men. Perhaps they were only not found out; and the family taint will show in me some day. There are times when I feel the devil so strong within me, that I think some day he must have the mastery. I’m not quite bad yet: but I tremble lest I should go. Suppose I were to drown, and go down? It’s not a jolly thing, Pendennis, to have such a father as mine. Don’t humbug me with your charitable palliations and soothing surmises. You put me in mind of the world then, by Jove, you do! I laugh, and I drink, and I make merry, and sing, and smoke endless tobacco; and I tell you I always feel as if a little sword was dangling over my skull which will fall some day and split it. Old Parr Street is mined, sir, — mined! And some morning we shall be blown into blazes — into blazes, sir; mark my words! That’s why I’m so careless and so idle, for which you fellows are always bothering and scolding me. There’s no use in settling down until the explosion is over, don’t you see? Incedo per ignes suppositos, and, by George! sir, I feel my bootsoles already scorching. Poor thing! poor mother” (he apostrophized his mother’s picture which hung in the room where we were talking,)“were you aware of the secret, and was it the knowledge of that which made your poor eyes always look so frightened! She was always fond of you, Pen. Do you remember how pretty and graceful she used to look as she lay on her sofa upstairs, or smiled out of her carriage as she kissed her hand to us boys? I say, what if a woman marries, and is coaxed and wheedled by a soft tongue, and runs off, and afterwards finds her husband has a cloven foot?”

“Ah, Philip!”

“What is to be the lot of the son of such a man? Is my hoof cloven, too?” It was on the stove, as he talked, extended in American fashion. “Suppose there’s no escape for me, and I inherit my doom, as another man does gout or consumption? Knowing this fate, what is the use, then, of doing anything in particular? I tell you, sir, the whole edifice of our present life will crumble in and smash.” (Here he flings his pipe to the ground with an awful shatter.) “And until the catastrophe comes, what on earth is the use of setting to work, as you call it? You might as well have told a fellow, at Pompeii, to select a profession the day before the eruption.”

“If you know that Vesuvius is going to burst over Pompeii,” I said, somewhat alarmed, “why not go to Naples, or farther, if you will?”

“Were there not men in the sentry-boxes at the city gates,” asked Philip, “who might have run, and yet remained to be burned there? Suppose, after all, the doom isn’t hanging over us, — and the fear of it is only a nervous terror of mine? Suppose it comes, and I survive it? The risk of the game gives a zest to it, old boy. Besides, there is Honour: and some One Else is in the case, from whom a man could not part in an hour of danger.” And here he blushed a fine red, heaved a great sigh, and emptied a bumper of claret.

Chapter 8

Will Be Pronounced to Be Cynical by the Benevolent.

Gentle readers will not, I trust, think the worse of their most obedient, humble servant for the confession that I talked to my wife on my return home regarding Philip and his affairs. When I choose to be frank, I hope no man can be more open than myself: when I have a mind to be quiet, no fish can be more mute. I have kept secrets so ineffably, that I have utterly forgotten them, until my memory was refreshed by people who also knew them. But what was the use of hiding this one from the being to whom I open all, or almost all — say all, excepting just one or two — of the closets of this heart? So I say to her, “My love; it is as I suspected. Philip and his cousin Agnes are carrying on together.”

“Is Agnes the pale one, or the very pale one?” asks the joy of my existence.

“No, the elder is Blanche. They are both older than Mr. Firmin: but Blanche is the elder of the two.”

“Well, I am not saying anything malicious, or contrary to the fact, am I, sir?”

No. Only I know by her looks, when another lady’s name is mentioned, whether my wife likes her or not. And I am bound to say, though this statement may meet with a denial, that her countenance does not vouchsafe smiles at the mention of all ladies’ names.

“You don’t go to the house? You and Mrs. Twysden have called on each other, and there the matter has stopped? Oh, I know! It is because poor Talbot brags so about his wine, and gives such abominable stuff, that you have such an un-Christian feeling for him!”

“That is the reason, I daresay,” says the lady.

“No. It is no such thing. Though you do know sherry from port, I believe upon my conscience you do not avoid the Twysdens because they give bad wine. Many others sin in that way, and you forgive them. You like your fellow-creatures better than wine — some fellow-creatures — and you dislike some fellow-creatures worse than medicine. You swallow them, madam. You say nothing, but your looks are dreadful. You make wry faces: and when you have taken them, you want a piece of sweetmeat to take the taste out of your mouth.”

The lady, thus wittily addressed, shrugs her lovely shoulders. My wife exasperates me in many things; in getting up at insane hours to go to early church, for instance; in looking at me in a particular way at dinner, when I am about to eat one of those entrées which Dr. Goodenough declares disagree with me; in nothing more than in that obstinate silence, which she persists in maintaining sometimes when I am abusing people, whom I do not like, whom she does not like, and who abuse me. This reticence makes me wild. What confidence can there be between a man and his wife, if he can’t say to her, “Confound So-and-so, I hate him; “ or, “What a prig What-d’-you-call-em is!” or, “What a bloated aristocrat Thingamy has become, since he got his place!” or what you will?

“No,” I continue, “I know why you hate the Twysdens, Mrs. Pendennis. You hate them because they move in a world which you can only occasionally visit. You envy them because they are hand in glove with the great: because they possess an easy grace, and a frank and noble elegance with which common country people and apothecaries’ sons are not endowed.”

“My dear Arthur, I do think you are ashamed of being an apothecary’s son. You talk about it so often,” says the lady. Which was all very well: but you see she was not answering my remarks about the Twysdens.

“You are right, my dear,” I say then. “I ought not to be censorious, being myself no more virtuous than my neighbour.”

“I know people abuse you, Arthur; but I think you are a very good sort of man,” says the lady, over her little tea-tray.

“And so are the Twysdens very good people — very nice, artless, unselfish, simple, generous, well-bred people. Mr. Twysden is all heart: Twysden’s conversational powers are remarkable and pleasing; and Philip is eminently fortunate in getting one of those charming girls for a wife.”

“I’ve no patience with them,” cries my wife, losing that quality to my great satisfaction: for then I knew I had found the crack in Madam Pendennis’s armour of steel, and had smitten her in a vulnerable little place.

“No patience with them? Quiet, lady-like young women!” I cry.

“Ah,” sighs my wife, “what have they got to give Philip in return for — ”

“In return for his thirty thousand? They will have ten thousand pounds a piece when their mother dies.”

“Oh! I wouldn’t have our boy marry a woman like one of those, not if she had a million. I wouldn’t, my child and my blessing!” (This is addressed to a little darling who happens to be eating sweet cakes, in a high chair, off the little table by his mother’s side, and who, though he certainly used to cry a good deal at the period, shall be a mute personage in this history.)

“You are alluding to Blanche’s little affair with — ”

“No, I am not, sir!”

“How do you know which one I meant, then? — Or that notorious disappointment of Agnes, when Lord Farintosh became a widower? If he wouldn’t, she couldn’t, you know, my dear. And I am sure she tried her best: at least, everybody said so.”

“Ah! I have no patience with the way in which you people of the world treat the most sacred of subjects — the most sacred, sir. Do you hear me? Is a woman’s love to be pledged, and withdrawn every day? Is her faith and purity only to be a matter of barter, and rank, and social consideration? I am sorry, because I don’t wish to see Philip, who is good, and honest, and generous, and true as yet — however great his faults may be — because I don’t wish to see him given up to — Oh! it’s shocking, shocking!”

Given up to what? to anything dreadful in this world, or the next? Don’t imagine that Philip’s relations thought they were doing Phil any harm by condescending to marry him, or themselves any injury. A doctor’s son, indeed! Why, the Twysdens were far better placed in the world than their kinsmen of Old Parr Street; and went to better houses. The year’s levée and drawing-room would have been incomplete without Mr. and Mrs. Twysden. There might be families with higher titles, more wealth, higher positions; but the world did not contain more respectable folks than the Twysdens: of this every one of the family was convinced, from Talbot himself down to his heir. If somebody or some Body of savans would write the history of the harm that has been done in the world by people who believe themselves to be virtuous, what a queer, edifying book it would be, and how poor oppressed rogues might look up! Who burns the Protestants? — the virtuous Catholics to be sure. Who roasts the Catholics? — the virtuous Reformers. Who thinks I am a dangerous character, and avoids me at the club? — the virtuous Squaretoes. Who scorns? who persecutes? who doesn’t forgive? — the virtuous Mrs. Grundy. She remembers her neighbour’s peccadilloes to the third and fourth generation; and, if she finds a certain man fallen in her path, gathers up her affrighted garments with a shriek, for fear the muddy, bleeding wretch should contaminate her, and passes on.

I do not seek to create even surprises in this modest history, or condescend to keep candid readers in suspense about many matters which might possibly interest them. For instance, the matter of love has interested novel-readers for hundreds of years past, and doubtless will continue so to interest them. Almost all young people read love books and histories with eagerness, as oldsters read books of medicine, and whatever it is — heart complaint, gout, liver, palsy — cry, “Exactly so, precisely my case!” Phil’s first love affair, to which we are now coming, was a false start. I own it at once. And in this commencement of his career I believe he was not more or less fortunate than many and many a man and woman in this world. Suppose the course of true love always did run smooth, and everybody married his or her first love. Ah! what would marriage be?

A generous young fellow comes to market with a heart ready to leap out of his waistcoat, for ever thumping and throbbing, and so wild that he can’t have any rest till he has disposed of it. What wonder if he falls upon a wily merchant in Vanity Fair, and barters his all for a stale bauble not worth sixpence? Phil chose to fall in love with his cousin; and I warn you that nothing will come of that passion, except the influence which it had upon the young man’s character. Though my wife did not love the Twysdens, she loves sentiment, she loves love affairs — all women do. Poor Phil used to bore me after dinner with endless rodomontades about his passion and his charmer; but my wife was never tired of listening. “You are a selfish, heartless, blasé man of the world, you are,” he would say. “Your own immense and undeserved good fortune in the matrimonial lottery has rendered you hard, cold, crass, indifferent. You have been asleep, sir, twice to-night, whilst I was talking. I will go up and tell madam everything. She has a heart.” And presently engaged with my book or my after-dinner doze, I would hear Phil striding and creaking overhead, and plunging energetic pokers in the drawing-room fire.

Thirty thousand pounds to begin with; a third part of that sum coming to the lady from her mother; all the doctor’s savings and property; — here certainly was enough in possession and expectation to satisfy many young couples; and as Phil is twenty-two, and Agnes (must I own it?) twenty-five, and as she has consented to listen to the warm outpourings of the eloquent and passionate youth, and exchange for his fresh, new-minted, golden sovereign heart, that used little three-penny-piece, her own — why should they not marry at once, and so let us have an end of them and this history? They have plenty of money to pay the parson and the postchaise; they may drive off to the country, and live on their means, and lead an existence so humdrum and tolerably happy that Phil may grow quite too fat, lazy, and unfit for his present post of hero of a novel. But stay — there are obstacles; coy, reluctant, amorous delays. After all, Philip is a dear, brave, handsome, wild, reckless, blundering boy, treading upon everybody’s dress skirts, smashing the little Dresden ornaments and the pretty little decorous gimcracks of society, life, conversation; — but there is time yet. Are you so very sure about that money of his mother’s? and how is it that his father the doctor has not settled accounts with him yet! C’est louche. A family of high position and principle must look to have the money matters in perfect order, before they consign a darling accustomed to every luxury to the guardianship of a confessedly wild and eccentric, though generous and amiable, young man. Besides — ah! besides — besides!

. . . “It’s horrible, Arthur! It’s cruel, Arthur! It’s a shame to judge a woman, or Christian people so! Oh! my loves! my blessings! would I sell you?” says this young mother, clutching a little belaced, befurbelowed being to her heart, infantine, squalling, with blue shoulder-ribbons, a mottled little arm that has just been vaccinated, and the sweetest red shoes. “Would I sell you?” says mamma. Little Arty, I say, squalls; and little Nelly looks up from her bricks with a wondering, whimpering expression.

Well, I am ashamed to say what the “besides” is; but the fact is, that young Woolcomb of the Life Guards Green, who has inherited immense West India property, and, we will say, just a teaspoonful of that dark blood which makes a man naturally partial to blonde beauties, has cast his opal eyes very warmly upon the golden-haired Agnes of late; has danced with her not a little; and when Mrs. Twysden’s barouche appears by the Serpentine, you may not unfrequently see a pair of the neatest little yellow kid gloves just playing with the reins, a pair of the prettiest little boots just touching the stirrup, a magnificent horse dancing, and tittupping, and tossing, and performing the most graceful caracoles and gambadoes, and on the magnificent horse a neat little man with a blazing red flower in his bosom, and glancing opal eyes, and a dark complexion, and hair so very black and curly, that I really almost think in some of the Southern States of America he would be likely to meet with rudeness in a railway car.

But in England we know better. In England Grenville Woolcomb is a man and a brother. Half of Arrowroot Island, they say, belongs to him; besides Mangrove Hall, in Hertfordshire; ever so much property in other counties, and that fine house in Berkeley Square. He is called the Black Prince behind the scenes of many theatres: ladies nod at him from those broughams which, you understand, need not be particularized. The idea of his immense riches is confirmed by the known fact that he is a stingy black Prince, and most averse to parting with his money except for his own adornment or amusement. When he receives at his country house, his entertainments are, however, splendid. He has been flattered, followed, caressed all his life, and allowed by a fond mother to have his own way; and as this has never led him to learning, it must be owned that his literary acquirements are small, and his writing defective. But in the management of his pecuniary affairs he is very keen and clever. His horses cost him less than any young man’s in England who is so well mounted. No dealer has ever been known to get the better of him; and, though he is certainly close about money, when his wishes have very keenly prompted him, no sum has been known to stand in his way.

Witness the purchase of the — . But never mind scandal. Let bygones be bygones. A young doctor’s son, with a thousand a year for a fortune, may be considered a catch in some circles, but not, vous concevez, in the upper regions of society. And dear woman — dear, angelic, highly accomplished, respectable woman — does she not know how to pardon many failings in our sex? Age? psha! She will crown my bare old poll with the roses of her youth. Complexion? What contrast is sweeter and more touching than Desdemona’s golden ringlets on swart Othello’s shoulder. A past life of selfishness and bad company? Come out from among the swine, my prodigal, and I will purify thee!

This is what is called cynicism, you know. Then I suppose my wife is a cynic, who clutches her children to her pure heart, and prays gracious heaven to guard them from selfishness, from worldliness, from heartlessness, from wicked greed.

Chapter 9

Contains One Riddle which is Solved, and Perhaps Some More.

Mine is a modest muse, and as the period of the story arrives when a description of love-making is justly due, my Mnemosyne turns from the young couple, drops a little curtain over the embrasure where they are whispering, heaves a sigh from her elderly bosom, and lays a finger on her lip. Ah, Mnemosyne dear! we will not be spies on the young people. We will not scold them. We won’t talk about their doings much. When we were young, we too, perhaps, were taken in under Love’s tent; we have eaten of his salt, and partaken of his bitter, his delicious bread. Now we are padding the hoof lonely in the wilderness, we will not abuse our host, will we? We will couch under the stars, and think fondly of old times, and to-morrow resume the staff and the journey.

And yet, if a novelist may chronicle any passion, its flames, its raptures, its whispers, its assignations, its sonnets, its quarrels, sulks, reconciliations, and so on, the history of such a love as this first of Phil’s may be excusable in print, because I don’t believe it was a real love at all, only a little brief delusion of the senses, from which I give you warning that our hero will recover before many chapters are over. What! my brave boy, shall we give your heart away for good and all, for better or for worse, till death do you part? What! my Corydon and sighing swain, shall we irrevocably bestow you upon Phyllis, who, all the time you are piping and paying court to her, has Meliboeus in the cupboard, and ready to be produced should he prove to be a more eligible shepherd than t’other? I am not such a savage towards my readers or hero, as to make them undergo the misery of such a marriage.

Philip was very little of a club or society man. He seldom or ever entered the Megatherium, or when there stared and scowled round him savagely, and laughed strangely at the ways of the inhabitants. He made but a clumsy figure in the world, though, in person, handsome, active, and proper enough; but he would for ever put his great foot through the World’s flounced skirts, and she would stare, and cry out, and hate him. He was the last man who was aware of the Woolcomb flirtation, when hundreds of people, I dare say, were simpering over it.

“Who is that little man who comes to your house, and whom I sometimes see in the park, aunt — that little man with the very white gloves and the very tawny complexion?” asks Philip.

“That is Mr. Woolcomb, of the Life Guards Green,” aunt remembers.

“An officer, is he?” says Philip, turning round to the girls. “I should have thought he would have done better for the turban and cymbals.” And he laughs, and thinks he has said a very clever thing. Oh, those good things about people and against people! Never, my dear young friend, say them to anybody — not to a stranger, for he will go away and tell; not to the mistress of your affections, for you may quarrel with her, and then she will tell; not to your son, for the artless child will return to his schoolfellows and say: “Papa says Mr. Blenkinsop is a muff.” My child, or what not, praise everybody: smile on everybody: and everybody will smile on you in return, a sham smile, and hold you out a sham hand; and, in a word, esteem you as you deserve. No. I think you and I will take the ups and the downs, the roughs and the smooths of this daily existence and conversation. We will praise those whom we like, though nobody repeat our kind sayings; and say our say about those whom we dislike, though we are pretty sure our words will be carried by tale-bearers, and increased, and multiplied, and remembered long after we have forgotten them. We drop a little stone — a little stone that is swallowed up, and disappears, but the whole pond is set in commotion, and ripples in continually-widening circles long after the original little stone has popped down and is out of sight. Don’t your speeches of ten years ago — maimed, distorted, bloated, it may be out of all recognition — come strangely back to their author?

Phil, five minutes after he had made the joke, so entirely forgot his saying about the Black Prince and the cymbals, that, when Captain Woolcomb scowled at him with his fiercest eyes, young Firmin thought that this was the natural expression of the captain’s swarthy countenance, and gave himself no further trouble regarding it. “By George! sir,” said Phil afterwards, speaking of this officer, “I remarked that he grinned, and chattered, and showed his teeth; and remembering it was the nature of such baboons to chatter and grin, had no idea that this chimpanzee was more angry with me than with any other gentleman. You see, Pen, I am a white-skinned man, I am pronounced even red-whiskered by the ill-natured. It is not the prettiest colour. But I had no idea that I was to have a Mulatto for a rival. I am not so rich, certainly, but I have enough. I can read and spell correctly, and write with tolerable fluency. I could not, you know, could I, reasonably suppose that I need fear competition, and that the black horse would beat the bay one? Shall I tell you what she used to say to me? There is no kissing and telling, mind you. No, by George. Virtue and prudence were for ever on her lips! She warbled little sermons to me; hinted gently that I should see to safe investments of my property, and that no man, not even a father, should be the sole and uncontrolled guardian of it. She asked me, sir, scores and scores of little sweet, timid, innocent questions about the doctor’s property, and how much did I think it was, and how had he laid it out? What virtuous parents that angel had! How they brought her up, and educated her dear blue eyes to the main chance! She knows the price of housekeeping, and the value of railway shares; she invests capital for herself in this world and the next. She mayn’t do right always, but wrong? O fie, never! I say, Pen, an undeveloped angel with wings folded under her dress, not perhaps your mighty, snow-white, flashing pinions that spread out and soar up to the highest stars, but a pair of good, serviceable, drab, dove-coloured wings, that will support her gently and equably just over our heads, and help to drop her softly when she condescends upon us. When I think, sir, that I might have been married to a genteel angel, and am single still, — oh! it’s despair, it’s despair!”

But Philip’s little story of disappointed hopes and bootless passion must be told in terms less acrimonious and unfair than the gentleman would use, naturally of a sanguine swaggering talk, prone to exaggerate his own disappointments, and call out, roar — I daresay swear — if his own corn was trodden upon, as loudly as some men who may have a leg taken off.

This I can vouch for Miss Twysden, Mrs. Twysden, and all the rest of the family:— that if they, what you call, jilted Philip, they did so without the slightest hesitation or notion that they were doing a dirty action. Their actions never were dirty or mean: they were necessary, I tell you, and calmly proper. They ate cheese-parings with graceful silence: they cribbed from board-wages; they turned hungry servants out of doors; they remitted no chance in their own favour; they slept gracefully under scanty coverlids; they lighted niggard fires; they locked the caddy with the closest lock, and served the teapot with the smallest and least frequent spoon. But you don’t suppose they thought they were mean, or that they did wrong? Ah! it is admirable to think of many, many, ever so many respectable families of your acquaintance and mine, my dear friend, and how they meet together and humbug each other! “My dear, I have cribbed half an inch of plush out of James’s small-clothes.” “My love, I have saved a half-penny out of Mary’s beer. Isn’t it time to dress for the duchess’s; and don’t you think John might wear that livery of Thomas’s who only had it a year, and died of the small-pox? It’s a little tight for him, to be sure, but,” What is this? I profess to be an impartial chronicler of poor Phil’s fortunes, misfortunes, friendships, and what-nots, and am getting almost as angry with these Twysdens as Philip ever was himself.

Well, I am not mortally angry with poor Traviata tramping the pavement, with the gas-lamp flaring on her poor painted smile, else my indignant virtue and squeamish modesty would never walk Piccadilly, or get the air. But Lais, quite moral, and very neatly, primly, and straitly laced; — Phryne, not the least dishevelled, but with a fixature for her hair, and the best stays, fastened by mamma; — your High Church or Evangelical Aspasia, the model of all proprieties, and owner of all virgin purity blooms, ready to sell her cheek to the oldest old fogey who has money and a title; — these are the Unfortunates, my dear brother and sister sinners, whom I should like to see repentant and specially trounced first. Why, some of these are put into reformatories in Grosvenor Square. They wear a prison dress of diamonds and Chantilly lace. Their parents cry, and thank heaven as they sell them; and all sorts of revered bishops, clergy, relations, dowagers, sign the book, and ratify the ceremony. Come! let us call a midnight meeting of those who have been sold in marriage, I say; and what a respectable, what a genteel, what a fashionable, what a brilliant, what an imposing, what a multitudinous assembly we will have; and where’s the room in all Babylon big enough to hold them?

Look into that grave, solemn, dingy, somewhat naked but elegant drawing-room, in Beaunash Street, and with a little fanciful opera-glass you may see a pretty little group or two engaged at different periods of the day. It is after lunch, and before Rotten Row ride time (this story, you know, relates to a period ever so remote, and long before folks thought of riding in the park in the forenoon). After lunch, and before Rotten Row time, saunters into the drawing-room a fair-haired young fellow with large feet and chest, careless of gloves, with auburn whiskers blowing over a loose collar, and — must I confess it? — a most undeniable odour of cigars about his person. He breaks out regarding the debate of the previous night, or the pamphlet of yesterday, or the poem of the day previous, or the scandal of the week before, or upon the street-sweeper at the corner, or the Italian and monkey before the door — upon whatever, in a word, moves his mind for the moment. If Philip has had a bad dinner yesterday (and happens to remember it), he growls, grumbles, nay, I daresay, uses the most blasphemous language against the cook, against the waiters, against the steward, against the committee, against the whole society of the club where he has been dining. If Philip has met an organ girl with pretty eyes and a monkey in the street, he has grinned and wondered over the monkey; he has wagged his head, and sung all the organ’s tunes; he has discovered that the little girl is the most ravishing beauty eyes ever looked on, and that her scoundrelly Savoyard father is most likely an Alpine miscreant who has bartered away his child to a pedlar of the beggarly cheesy valleys, who has sold her to a friend qui fait la traite des hurdigurdies, and has disposed of her in England. If he has to discourse on the poem, pamphlet, magazine article — it is written by the greatest genius, or the greatest numskull that the world now exhibits. He write! A man who makes fire rhyme with Marire! This vale of tears and world which we inhabit does not contain such an idiot. Or have you seen Dobbins’s poem? Agnes, mark my words for it, there is a genius in Dobbins which some day will show what I have always surmised, what I have always imagined possible, what I have always felt to be more than probable, what, by George, I feel to be perfectly certain, and any man is a humbug who contradicts it, and a malignant miscreant, and the world is full of fellows who will never give another man credit, and I swear that to recognize and feel merit in poetry, painting, music, rope-dancing, anything, is the greatest delight and joy of my existence. I say — what was I saying?

“You were saying, Philip, that you love to recognize the merits of all men whom you see,” says gentle Agnes, “and I believe you do.”

“Yes!” cries Phil, tossing about the fair locks. “I think I do. Thank heaven, I do. I know fellows who can do many things better than I do — everything better than I do.”

“Oh, Philip!” sighs the lady.

“But I don’t hate ’em for it.”

“You never hated any one, sir. You are too brave! Can you fancy Philip hating any one, mamma?”

Mamma is writing, “Mr. and Mrs. Talbot Twysden request the honour of Admiral and Mrs. Davis Locker’s company at dinner on Thursday the so-and-so.” “Philip what?” says mamma, looking up from her card. “Philip hating any one! Philip eating any one! Philip! we have a little dinner on the 24th. We shall ask your father to dine. We must not have too many of the family. Come in afterwards, please.”

“Yes, aunt,” says downright Phil, “I’ll come, if you and the girls wish. You know tea is not my line; and I don’t care about dinners, except in my own way, and with — ”

“And with your own horrid set, sir!”

“Well,” says Sultan Philip, flinging himself out on the sofa, and lording on the ottoman, “I like mine ease and mine inn.”

“Ah, Philip! you grow more selfish every day. I mean men do,” sighed Agnes.

You will suppose mamma leaves the room at this juncture. She has that confidence in dear Philip and the dear girls, that she sometimes does leave the room when Agnes and Phil are together. She will leave Reuben, the eldest born, with her daughters: but my poor dear little younger son of a Joseph, if you suppose she will leave the room and you alone in it — O my dear Joseph, you may just jump down the well at once! Mamma, I say, has left the room at last, bowing with a perfect sweetness and calm grace and gravity; and she has slipped down the stairs, scarce more noisy than the shadow that slants over the faded carpet — (oh! the faded shadow, the faded sunshine!) — mamma is gone, I say, to the lower regions, and with perfect good breeding is torturing the butler on his bottle-rack — is squeezing the housekeeper in her jam-closet — is watching the three cold cutlets, shuddering in the larder behind the wires — is blandly glancing at the kitchen-maid until the poor wench fancies the piece of bacon is discovered which she gave to the crossing-sweeper — and calmly penetrating John until he feels sure his inmost heart is revealed to her, as it throbs within his worsted-laced waistcoat, and she knows about that pawning of master’s old boots (beastly old highlows!), and — and, in fact, all the most intimate circumstances of his existence. A wretched maid, who has been ironing collars, or what not, gives her mistress a shuddering curtsey, and slinks away with her laces; and meanwhile our girl and boy are prattling in the drawing-room.

About what? About everything on which Philip chooses to talk. There is nobody to contradict him but himself, and then his pretty hearer vows and declares he has not been so very contradictory. He spouts his favourite poems. “Delightful! Do, Philip, read us some Walter Scott! He is, as you say, the most fresh, the most manly, the most kindly of poetic writers — not of the first class, certainly; in fact, he has written most dreadful bosh, as you call it so drolly; and so has Wordsworth, though he is one of the greatest of men, and has reached sometimes to the very greatest height and sublimity of poetry; but now you put it, I must confess he is often an old bore, and I certainly should have gone to sleep during the Excursion, only you read it so nicely. You don’t think the new composers as good as the old ones, and love mamma’s old-fashioned playing? Well, Philip, it is delightful, so ladylike, so feminine!” Or, perhaps, Philip has just come from Hyde Park, and says, “As I passed by Apsley House, I saw the Duke come out, with his old blue frock and white trousers and clear face. I have seen a picture of him in an old European Magazine, which I think I like better than all — gives me the idea of one of the brightest men in the world. The brave eyes gleam at you out of the picture; and there’s a smile on the resolute lips, which seems to ensure triumph. Agnes, Assaye must have been glorious!”

“Glorious, Philip!” says Agnes, who had never heard of Assaye before in her life. “Arbela, perhaps; Salamis, Marathon, Agincourt, Blenheim, Busaco — where dear grandpapa was killed — Waterloo, Armageddon; but Assaye? What on earth is Assaye?”

“Think of that ordinarily prudent man, and how greatly he knew how to dare when occasion came! I should like to have died after winning such a game. He has never done anything so exciting since.”

“A game? I thought it was a battle just now,” murmurs Agnes in her mind; but there may be some misunderstanding. “Ah, Philip,” she says, “I fear excitement is too much the life of all young men now. When will you be quiet and steady, sir?”

“And go to an office every day, like my uncle and cousin; and read the newspaper for three hours, and trot back and see you.”

“Well, sir! that ought not to be such very bad amusement,” says one of the ladies.

“What a clumsy wretch I am! My foot is always trampling on something or somebody!” groans Phil.

“You must come to us, and we will teach you to dance, Bruin!” says gentle Agnes, smiling on him. I think, when very much agitated, her pulse must have gone up to forty. Her blood must have been a light pink. The heart that beat under that pretty white chest, which she exposed so liberally, may have throbbed pretty quickly once or twice with waltzing, but otherwise never rose or fell beyond its natural gentle undulation. It may have had throbs of grief at a disappointment occasioned by the milliner not bringing a dress home; or have felt some little fluttering impulse of youthful passion when it was in short frock, and Master Grimsby at the dancing-school showed some preference for another young pupil out of the nursery. But feelings, and hopes, and blushes, and passions, now? Psha! They pass away like nursery dreams. Now there are only proprieties. What is love, young heart? It is two thousand a year, at the very lowest computation; and with the present rise in wages and house-rent, that calculation can’t last very long. Love? Attachment? Look at Frank Maythorn, with his vernal blushes, his leafy whiskers, his sunshiny, laughing face, and all the birds of spring carolling in his jolly voice; and old General Pinwood hobbling in on his cork leg, with his stars and orders, and leering round the room from under his painted eyebrows. Will my modest nymph go to Maythorn, or to yonder leering Satyr, who totters towards her in his white and rouge? Nonsense. She gives her garland to the old man, to be sure. He is ten times as rich as the young one. And so they went on in Arcadia itself, really. Not in that namby-pamby ballet and idyll world, where they tripped up to each other in rhythm, and talked hexameters; but in the real, downright no-mistake country — Arcadia — where Tityrus, fluting to Amaryllis in the shade, had his pipe very soon put out when Meliboeus (the great grazier) performed on his melodious, exquisite, irresistible cow-horn; and where Daphne’s mother dressed her up with ribbons and drove her to market, and sold her, and swapped her, and bartered her like any other lamb in the fair. This one has been trotted to the market so long now that she knows the way herself. Her baa has been heard for — do not let us count how many seasons. She has nibbled out of countless hands; frisked in many thousand dances; come quite harmless away from goodness knows how many wolves. Ah! ye lambs and raddled innocents of our Arcadia! Ah, old Ewe! Is it of your ladyship this fable is narrated? I say it is as old as Cadmus, and man-and muttonkind.

So, when Philip comes to Beaunash Street, Agnes listens to him most kindly, sweetly, gently, and affectionately. Her pulse goes up very nearly half a beat when the echo of his horse’s heels is heard in the quiet street. It undergoes a corresponding depression when the daily grief of parting is encountered and overcome. Blanche and Agnes don’t love each other very passionately. If I may say as much regarding those two lambkins, they butt at each other — they quarrel with each other — but they have secret understandings. During Phil’s visits the girls remain together, you understand, or mamma is with the young people. Female friends may come in to call on Mrs. Twysden, and the matrons whisper together, and glance at the cousins, and look knowing. “Poor orphan boy!” mamma says to a sister matron. “I am like a mother to him since my dear sister died. His own home is so blank, and ours so merry, so affectionate! There may be intimacy, tender regard, the utmost confidence between cousins — there may be future and even closer ties between them — but you understand, dear Mrs. Matcham, no engagement between them. He is eager, hot-headed, impetuous, and imprudent, as we all know. She has not seen the world enough — is not sure of herself, poor dear child. Therefore, every circumspection, every caution, is necessary. There must be no engagement — no letters between them. My darling Agnes does not write to ask him to dinner without showing the note to me or her father. My dearest girls respect themselves.”

“Of course, my dear Mrs. Twysden, they are admirable, both of them. Bless you, darlings! Agnes, you look radiant! Ah, Rosa, my child, I wish you had dear Blanche’s complexion!”

“And isn’t it monstrous keeping that poor boy hanging on until Mr. Woolcomb has made up his mind about coming forward?” says dear Mrs. Matcham to her own daughter, as her brougham-door closes on the pair. Here he comes! Here is his cab. Maria Twysden is one of the smartest women in England — that she is.”

“How odd it is, mamma, that the beau cousin and Captain Woolcomb are always calling, and never call together!” remarks the ingénue.

“They might quarrel if they met. They say young Mr. Firmin is very quarrelsome and impetuous!” says mamma.

“But how are they kept apart?”

“Chance, my dear! mere chance!” says mamma. And they agree to say it is chance — and they agree to pretend to believe one another. And the girl and the mother know everything about Woolcomb’s property, everything about Philip’s property and expectations, everything about all the young men in London, and those coming on. And Mrs. Matcham’s girl fished for Captain Woolcomb last year in Scotland, at Lochhookey; and stalked him to Paris; and they went down on their knees to Lady Banbury when they heard of the theatricals at the Cross; and pursued that man about until he is forced to say, “Confound me! hang me! it’s too bad of that woman and her daughter, it is now, I give you my honour it is! And all the fellows chaff me! And she took a house in Regent’s Park, opposite our barracks, and asked for her daughter to learn to ride in our school — I’m blest if she didn’t, Mrs. Twysden! and I thought my black mare would have kicked her off one day — I mean the daughter — but she stuck on like grim death; and the fellows call them Mrs. Grim Death and her daughter. Our surgeon called them so, and a doocid rum fellow — and they chaff me about it, you know — ever so many of the fellows do — and I’m not going to be had in that way by Mrs. Grim Death and her daughter! No, not as I knows, if you please!”

“You are a dreadful man, and you gave her a dreadful name, Captain Woolcomb!” says mamma.

“It wasn’t me. It was the surgeon, you know, Miss Agnes: a doocid funny and witty fellow, Nixon is — and sent a thing once to Punch, Nixon did. I heard him make the riddle in Albany Barracks, and it riled Foker so! You’ve no idea how it riled Foker, for he’s in it!”

“In it?” asks Agnes, with the gentle smile, the candid blue eyes — the same eyes, expression, lips, that smile and sparkle at Philip.

“Here it is! Captain! Took it down. Wrote it into my pocket-book at once as Nixon made it. ‘All doctors like my first, that’s clear!’ Doctor Firmin does that. Old Parr Street party! Don’t you see, Miss Agnes? Fee! Don’t you see?”

“Fee! Oh, you droll thing!” cries Agnes, smiling, radiant, very much puzzled.

“‘My second,’” goes on the young officer — "‘My second gives us Foker’s beer!’”

“‘My whole’s the shortest month in all the year!’ Don’t you see, Mrs. Twysden? Fee-Brewery, don’t you see? February! A doocid good one, isn’t it now? and I wonder Punch never put it in. And upon my word, I used to spell it Febuary before, I did; and I daresay ever so many fellows do still. And I know the right way now, and all from that riddle which Nixon made.”

The ladies declare he is a droll man, and full of fun. He rattles on, artlessly telling his little stories of sport, drink, adventure, in which the dusky little man himself is a prominent figure. Not honey-mouthed Plato would be listened to more kindly by those three ladies. A bland, frank smile shines over Talbot Twysden’s noble face, as he comes in from his office, and finds the creole prattling. “What! you here, Woolcomb? Hey! Glad to see you!” And the gallant hand goes out and meets and grasps Woolcomb’s tiny kid glove.

“He has been so amusing, papa! He has been making us die with laughing! Tell papa that riddle you made, Captain Woolcomb?”

“That riddle I made? That riddle Nixon, our surgeon, made. ‘All doctors like my first, that’s clear,’”

And da capo. And the family, as he expounds this admirable rebus, gather round the young officer in a group, and the curtain drops.

As in a theatre booth at a fair there are two or three performances in a day, so in Beaunash Street a little genteel comedy is played twice:— at four o’clock with Mr. Firmin, at five o’clock with Mr. Woolcomb; and for both young gentlemen same smiles, same eyes, same voice, same welcome. Ah, bravo! ah, encore!

Chapter 10

In which We Visit the “Admiral Byng.”

From long residence in Bohemia, and fatal love of bachelor ease and habits, Master Philip’s pure tastes were so destroyed, and his manners so perverted, that he was actually indifferent to the pleasures of the refined home we have just been describing; and, when Agnes was away, sometimes even when she was at home, was quite relieved to get out of Beaunash Street. He is hardly twenty yards from the door, when out of his pocket there comes a case; out of the case there jumps an aromatic cigar, which is scattering fragrance around as he is marching briskly northwards to his next house of call. The pace is even more lively now than when he is hastening on what you call the wings of love to Beaunash Street. At the house whither he is now going, he and the cigar are always welcome. There is no need of munching orange chips, or chewing scented pills, or flinging your weed away half a mile before you reach Thornhaugh Street — the low, vulgar place. I promise you Phil may smoke at Brandon’s, and find others doing the same. He may set the house on fire, if so minded, such a favourite is he there; and the Little Sister, with her kind, beaming smile, will be there to bid him welcome. How that woman loved Phil, and how he loved her, is quite a curiosity; and both of them used to be twitted with this attachment by their mutual friends, and blush as they acknowledged it. Ever since the little nurse had saved his life as a schoolboy, it was à la vie à la mort between them. Phil’s father’s chariot used to come to Thornhaugh Street sometimes — at rare times — and the doctor descend thence and have colloquies with the Little Sister. She attended a patient or two of his. She was certainly very much better off in her money matters in these late years, since she had known Dr. Firmin. Do you think she took money from him? As a novelist, who knows everything about his people, I am constrained to say, Yes. She took enough to pay some little bills of her weak-minded old father, and send the bailiff’s hand from his old collar. But no more. “I think you owe him as much as that,” she said to the doctor. But as for compliments between them — “Dr. Firmin, I would die rather than be beholden to you for anything,” she said, with her little limbs all in a tremor, and her eyes flashing anger. “How dare you, sir, after old days, be a coward, and pay compliments to me; I will tell your son of you, sir!” and the little woman looked as if she could have stabbed the elderly libertine there as he stood. And he shrugged his handsome shoulders: blushed a little too, perhaps: gave her one of his darkling looks, and departed. She had believed him once. She had married him as she fancied. He had tired of her; forsaken her: left her — left her even without a name. She had not known his for long years after her trust and his deceit. “No, sir, I wouldn’t have your name now, not if it were a lord’s, I wouldn’t, and a coronet on your carriage. You are beneath me now, Mr. Brand Firmin!” she had said.

How came she to love the boy so? Years back, in her own horrible extremity of misery, she could remember a week or two of a brief, strange, exquisite happiness, which came to her in the midst of her degradation and desertion, and for a few days a baby in her arms, with eyes like Philip’s . It was taken from her, after a few days — only sixteen days. Insanity came upon her, as her dead infant was carried away:— insanity, and fever, and struggle — ah! who knows how dreadful? She never does. There is a gap in her life which she never can recal quite. But George Brand Firmin, Esq., M.D., knows how very frequent are such cases of mania, and that women who don’t speak about them often will cherish them for years after they appear to have passed away. The Little Sister says, quite gravely, sometimes, “They are allowed to come back. They do come back. Else what’s the good of little cherubs bein’ born, and smilin’, and happy, and beautiful — say, for sixteen days, and then an end? I’ve talked about it to many ladies in grief sim’lar to mine was, and it comforts them. And when I saw that child on his sick bed, and he lifted his eyes, I knew him, I tell you, Mrs. Ridley. I don’t speak about it; but I knew him, ma’am; my angel came back again. I know him by the eyes. Look at ’em. Did you ever see such eyes? They look as if they had seen heaven. His father’s don’t.” Mrs. Ridley believes this theory solemnly, and I think I know a lady, nearly connected with myself, who can’t be got quite to disown it. And this secret opinion to women in grief and sorrow over their new-born lost infants Mrs. Brandon persists in imparting. “I know a case,” the nurse murmurs, “of a poor mother who lost her child at sixteen days old; and sixteen years after, on the very day, she saw him again.”

Philip knows so far of the Little Sister’s story, that he is the object of this delusion, and, indeed, it very strangely and tenderly affects him. He remembers fitfully the illness through which the Little Sister tended him, the wild paroxysms of his fever, his head throbbing on her shoulders — cool tamarind drinks which she applied to his lips — great gusty night shadows flickering through the bare school dormitory — the little figure of the nurse gliding in and out of the dark. He must be aware of the recognition, which we know of, and which took place at his bedside, though he has never mentioned it — not to his father, not to Caroline. But he clings to the woman and shrinks from the man. Is it instinctive love and antipathy? The special reason for his quarrel with his father the junior Firmin has never explicitly told me then or since. I have known sons much more confidential, and who, when their fathers tripped and stumbled, would bring their acquaintances to jeer at the patriarch in his fall.

One day, as Philip enters Thornhaugh Street, and the Sister’s little parlour there, fancy his astonishment on finding his father’s dingy friend, the Rev. Tufton Hunt, at his ease by the fireside.

“Surprised to see me here, eh?” says the dingy gentleman, with a sneer at Philip’s lordly face of wonder and disgust. “Mrs. Brandon and I turn out to be very old friends.”

“Yes, sir, old acquaintances,” says the Little Sister, very gravely.

“The captain brought me home from the club at the Byngs. Jolly fellows the Byngs. My service to you, Mr. Gann and Mrs. Brandon.” And the two persons addressed by the gentleman, who is “taking some refreshment,” as the phrase is, make a bow, in acknowledgment of this salutation.

“You should have been at Mr. Philip’s call supper, Captain Gann,” the divine resumes. “That was a night! Tiptop swells — noblemen — first-rate claret. That claret of your father’s, Philip, is pretty nearly drunk down. And your song was famous. Did you ever hear him sing, Mrs. Brandon?”

“Who do you mean by him?” says Philip, who always boiled with rage before this man.

Caroline divines the antipathy. She lays a little hand on Philip’s arm. “Mr. Hunt has been having too much, I think,” she says. “I did know him ever so long ago, Philip!”

“What does he mean by Him?” again says Philip, snorting at Tufton Hunt.

“Him? — Dr. Luther’s hymn! ‘Wein, Weiber und Gesang,’ to be sure!” cries the clergyman, humming the tune. “I learned it in Germany myself — passed a good deal of time in Germany, Captain Gann — six months in a specially shady place — Quod Strasse, in Frankfort-on-the-Maine — being persecuted by some wicked Jews there. And there was another poor English chap in the place, too, who used to chirp that song behind the bars, and died there and disappointed the Philistines. I’ve seen a deal of life, I have; and met with a precious deal of misfortune; and borne it pretty stoutly, too, since your father and I were at college together, Philip. You don’t do anything in this way? Not so early, eh? It’s good rum, Gann, and no mistake.” And again the chaplain drinks to the captain, who waves the dingy hand of hospitality towards his dark guest.

For several months past Hunt had now been a resident in London, and a pretty constant visitor to Dr. Firmin’s house. He came and went at his will. He made the place his house of call; and in the doctor’s trim, silent, orderly mansion, was perfectly free, talkative, dirty, and familiar. Philip’s loathing for the man increased till it reached a pitch of frantic hatred. Mr. Phil, theoretically a Radical, and almost a Republican (in opposition, perhaps, to his father, who of course held the highly-respectable line of politics) — Mr. Sansculotte Phil was personally one of the most aristocratic and overbearing of young gentlemen; and had a contempt and hatred for mean people, for base people, for servile people, and especially for too familiar people, which was not a little amusing sometimes, which was provoking often, but which he never was at the least pains of disguising. His uncle and cousin Twysden, for example, he treated not half so civilly as their footmen. Little Talbot humbled himself before Phil, and felt not always easy in his company. Young Twysden hated him, and did not disguise his sentiments at the club, or to their mutual acquaintance behind Phil’s broad back. And Phil, for his part, adopted towards his cousin a kick-me-down-stairs manner, which I own must have been provoking to that gentleman, who was Phil’s senior by three years, a clerk in a public office, a member of several good clubs, and altogether a genteel member of society. Phil would often forget Ringwood Twysden’s presence, and pursue his own conversation entirely regardless of Ringwood’s observations. He was very rude, I own. We have all of us our little failings, and one of Philip’s was an ignorant impatience of bores, parasites, and pretenders.

So no wonder my young gentleman was not very fond of his father’s friend, the dingy gaol chaplain. I, who am the most tolerant man in the world, as all my friends know, liked Hunt little better than Phil did. The man’s presence made me uneasy. His dress, his complexion, his teeth, his leer at women — Que sais-je? — everything was unpleasant about this Mr. Hunt, and his gaiety and familiarity more specially disgusting than even his hostility. The wonder was that battle had not taken place between Philip and the gaol clergyman, who, I suppose, was accustomed to be disliked, and laughed with cynical good-humour at the other’s disgust.

Hunt was a visitor of many tavern parlours; and one day, strolling out of the “Admiral Byng,” he saw his friend Dr. Firmin’s well-known equipage stopping at a door in Thornhaugh Street, out of which the doctor presently came. “Brandon” was on the door. Brandon, Brandon! Hunt remembered a dark transaction of more than twenty years ago — of a woman deceived by this Firmin, who then chose to go by the name of Brandon. He lives with her still, the old hypocrite, or he has gone back to her, thought the parson. Oh, you old sinner! And the next time he called in Old Parr Street on his dear old college friend, Mr. Hunt was specially jocular, and frightfully unpleasant and familiar.

“Saw your trap Tottenham Court Road way,” says the slang parson, nodding to the physician.

“Have some patients there. People are ill in Tottenham Court Road,” remarks the doctor.

“Pallida mors æquo pede — hey, doctor? What used Flaccus to say, when we were undergrads?”

“Æquo pede,” sighs the doctor, casting up his fine eyes to the ceiling.

“Sly old fox! Not a word will he say about her!” thinks the clergyman. “Yes, yes, I remember. And, by Jove! Gann was the name.”

Gann was also the name of that queer old man who frequented the “Admiral Byng,” where the ale was so good — the old boy whom they called the Captain. Yes; it was clear now. That ugly business was patched up. The astute Hunt saw it all. The doctor still kept up a connection with the — the party. And that is her old father, sure enough. “The old fox, the old fox! I’ve earthed him, have I? This is a good game. I wanted a little something to do, and this will excite me,” thinks the clergyman.

I am describing what I never could have seen or heard, and can guarantee only verisimilitude, not truth, in my report of the private conversation of these worthies. The end of scores and scores of Hunt’s conversations with his friend was the same — an application for money. If it rained when Hunt parted from his college chum, it was, “I say, doctor, I shall spoil my new hat, and I am blest if I have any money to take a cab. Thank you, old boy. Au revoir.” If the day was fine, it was, “My old blacks show the white seams so, that you must out of your charity rig me out with a new pair. Not your tailor: he is too expensive. Thank you — a couple of sovereigns will do.” And the doctor takes two from the mantelpiece, and the divine retires, jingling the gold in his greasy pocket.

The doctor is going after the few words about pallida mors, and has taken up that well-brushed broad hat with that ever-fresh lining, which we all admire in him — “Oh, I say, Firmin!” breaks out the clergyman. “Before you go out, you must lend me a few sovs, please. They’ve cleaned me out in Air Street. That confounded roulette! It’s a madness with me.”

“By George!” cries the other, with a strong execration, “you are too bad, Hunt. Every week of my life you come to me for money. You have had plenty. Go elsewhere. I won’t give it you.”

“Yes, you will, old boy,” says the other, looking at him a terrible look; “for — ”

“For what?” says the doctor, the veins of his tall forehead growing very full.

“For old times’ sake,” says the clergyman. “There’s seven of ’em on the table in bits of paper — that’ll do nicely.” And he sweeps the fees with a dirty hand into a dirty pouch. “Halloa! Swearin’ and cursin’ before a clergyman. Don’t cut up rough, old fellow! Go and take the air. It’ll cool you.”

“I don’t think I would like that fellow to attend me, if I was sick,” says Hunt, shuffling away, rolling the plunder in his greasy hand. “I don’t think I’d like to meet him by moonlight alone, in a very quiet lane. He’s a determined chap. And his eyes mean miching malecho, his eyes do. Phew!” And he laughs, and makes a rude observation about Dr. Firmin’s eyes.

That afternoon the gents who used the “Admiral Byng” remarked the reappearance of the party who looked in last evening, and who now stood glasses round, and made himself uncommon agreeable to be sure. Old Mr. Ridley says he is quite the gentleman. “Hevident have been in foring parts a great deal, and speaks the languages. Probbly have ‘ad misfortunes, which many ‘av ‘ad them. Drinks rum-and-water tremenjous. ‘Ave scarce no heppytite. Many get into this way from misfortunes. A plesn man, most well informed on almost every subjeck. Think he’s a clergyman. He and Mr. Gann have made quite a friendship together, he and Mr. Gann ‘ave. Which they talked of Watloo, and Gann is very fond of that, Gann is, most certny.” I imagine Ridley delivering these sentences, and alternate little volleys of smoke, as he sits behind his sober calumet and prattles in the tavern parlour.

After Dr. Firmin has careered through the town, standing by sick-beds with his sweet sad smile; fondled and blessed by tender mothers who hail him as the saviour of their children; touching ladies’ pulses with a hand as delicate as their own; patting little fresh cheeks with courtly kindness — little cheeks that owe their roses to his marvellous skill; after he has soothed and comforted my lady, shaken hands with my lord, looked in at the club, and exchanged courtly salutations with brother bigwigs, and driven away in the handsome carriage with the noble horses — admired, respecting, respectful, saluted, saluting — so that every man says, “Excellent man, Firmin. Excellent doctor, excellent man. Safe man. Sound man. Man of good family. Married a rich wife. Lucky man.” And so on — After the day’s triumphant career, I fancy I see the doctor driving homeward, with those sad, sad eyes, that haggard smile.

He comes whirling up Old Parr Street just as Phil saunters in from Regent Street, as usual, cigar in mouth. He flings away the cigar as he sees his father, and they enter the house together.

“Do you dine at home, Philip?” the father asks.

“Do you, sir? I will if you do,” says the son, “and if you are alone.”

“Alone? Yes. That is, there’ll be Hunt, I suppose, whom you don’t like. But the poor fellow has few places to dine at. What? D— Hunt? That’s a strong expression about a poor fellow in misfortune, and your father’s old friend.”

I am afraid Philip had used that wicked monosyllable whilst his father was speaking, and at the mention of the clergyman’s detested name. “I beg your pardon, father. It slipped out in spite of me. I can’t help it. I hate the fellow.”

“You don’t disguise your likes or dislikes, Philip,” says, or rather groans, the safe man, the sound man, the prosperous man, the lucky man, the miserable man. For years and years he has known that his boy’s heart has revolted from him, and detected him, and gone from him; and with shame, and remorse, and sickening feeling, he lies awake in the night-watches, and thinks how he is alone — alone in the world. Ah! Love your parents, young ones! O Father Beneficent! strengthen our hearts: strengthen and purify them, so that we may not have to blush before our children!

“You don’t disguise your likes and dislikes, Philip,” says the father then, with a tone that smites strangely and keenly on the young man.

There is a great tremor in Philip’s voice, as he says, “No, father, I can’t bear that man, and I can’t disguise my feelings. I have just parted from the man. I have just met him.”

“Where?”

“At — at Mrs. Brandon’s, father.” He blushes like a girl as he speaks.

At the next moment he is scared by the execration which hisses from his father’s lips, and the awful look of hate which the elder’s face assumes — that fatal, forlorn, fallen, lost look which, man and boy, has often frightened poor Phil. Philip did not like that look, nor indeed that other one, which his father cast at Hunt, who presently swaggered in.

“What, you dine here? We rarely do papa the honour of dining with him,” says the parson, with his knowing leer. “I suppose, doctor, it is to be fatted-calf day now the prodigal has come home. There’s worse things than a good fillet of veal; eh?”

Whatever the meal might be, the greasy chaplain leered and winked over it as he gave it his sinister blessing. The two elder guests tried to be lively and gay, as Philip thought, who took such little trouble to disguise his own moods of gloom or merriment. Nothing was said regarding the occurrences of the morning when my young gentleman had been rather rude to Mr. Hunt; and Philip did not need his father’s caution to make no mention of his previous meeting with their guest. Hunt, as usual, talked to the butler, made side-long remarks to the footman, and garnished his conversation with slippery double-entendre and dirty old-world slang. Betting-houses, gambling-houses, Tattersall’s, fights, and their frequenters, were his cheerful themes, and on these he descanted as usual. The doctor swallowed this dose, which his friend poured out, without the least expression of disgust. On the contrary, he was cheerful: he was for an extra bottle of claret — it never could be in better order than it was now.

The bottle was scarce put on the table, and tasted and pronounced perfect, when — oh! disappointment! the butler reappears with a note for the doctor. One of his patients. He must go. She has little the matter with her. She lives hard by, in May Fair. “You and Hunt finish this bottle, unless I am back before it is done; and if it is done, we’ll have another,” says Dr. Firmin, jovially. “Don’t stir, Hunt” — and Dr. Firmin is gone, leaving Philip alone with the guest to whom he had certainly been rude in the morning.

“The doctor’s patients often grow very unwell about claret time,” growls Mr. Hunt, some few minutes after. “Never mind. The drink’s good — good! as somebody said at your famous call supper, Mr. Philip — won’t call you Philip, as you don’t like it. You were uncommon crusty to me in the morning, to be sure. In my time there would have been bottles broke, or worse, for that sort of treatment.”

“I have asked your pardon,” Philip said. “I was annoyed about — no matter what — and had no right to be rude to Mrs. Brandon’s guest.”

“I say, did you tell the governor that you saw me in Thornhaugh Street?” asks Hunt.

“I was very rude and ill-tempered, and again I confess I was wrong,” says Phil, boggling and stuttering, and turning very red. He remembered his father’s injunction.

“I say again, sir, did you tell your father of our meeting this morning?” demands the clergyman.

“And pray, sir, what right have you to ask me about my private conversation with my father?” asks Philip, with towering dignity.

“You won’t tell me? Then you have told him. He’s a nice man, your father is, for a moral man.”

“I am not anxious for your opinion about my father’s morality, Mr. Hunt,” says Philip, gasping in a bewildered manner, and drumming the table. “I am here to replace him in his absence, and treat his guest with civility.”

“Civility! Pretty civility!” says the other, glaring at him.

“Such as it is, sir, it is my best, and — I— I have no other,” groans the young man.

“Old friend of your father’s, a university man, a Master of Arts, a gentleman born, by Jove! a clergyman — though I sink that — ”

“Yes, sir, you do sink that,” says Philip.

“Am I a dog,” shrieks out the clergyman, “to be treated by you in this way? Who are you? Do you know who you are?”

“Sir, I am striving with all my strength to remember,” says Philip.

“Come! I say! don’t try any of your confounded airs on me!” shrieks Hunt, with a profusion of oaths, and swallowing glass after glass from the various decanters before him. “Hang me, when I was a young man, I would have sent one — two at your nob, though you were twice as tall! Who are you, to patronize your senior, your father’s old pal — a university man:— you confounded, supercilious — ”

“I am here to pay every attention to my father’s guest,” says Phil; “but, if you have finished your wine, I shall be happy to break up the meeting, as early as you please.”

“You shall pay me; I swear you shall,” said Hunt.

“Oh, Mr. Hunt!” cried Philip, jumping up, and clenching his great fists, “I should desire nothing better.”

The man shrank back, thinking Philip was going to strike him (as Philip told me in describing the scene), and made for the bell. But when the butler came, Philip only asked for coffee; and Hunt, uttering a mad oath or two, staggered out of the room after the servant. Brice said he had been drinking before he came. He was often so. And Phil blessed his stars that he had not assaulted his father’s guest then and there, under his own roof-tree.

He went out into the air. He gasped and cooled himself under the stars. He soothed his feelings by his customary consolation of tobacco. He remembered that Ridley in Thornhaugh Street held a divan that night; and jumped into a cab, and drove to his old friend.

The maid of the house, who came to the door as the cab was driving away, stopped it; and as Phil entered the passage, he found the Little Sister and his father talking together in the hall. The doctor’s broad hat shaded his face from the hall-lamp, which was burning with an extra brightness, but Mrs. Brandon’s was very pale, and she had been crying.

She gave a little scream when she saw Phil. “Ah! is it you, dear?” she said. She ran up to him: seized both his hands: clung to him, and sobbed a thousand hot tears on his hand. “I never will. Oh, never, never, never!” she murmured.

The doctor’s broad chest heaved as with a great sigh of relief. He looked at the woman and at his son with a strange smile; — not a sweet smile.

“God bless you, Caroline,” he said, in his pompous, rather theatrical, way.

“Good-night, sir,” said Mrs. Brandon, still clinging to Philip’s hand, and making the doctor a little humble curtsey. And when he was gone, again she kissed Philip’s hand, and dropped her tears on it, and said, “Never, my dear; no, never, never!”

Chapter 11

In which Philip is Very ILL-Tempered.

Philip had long divined a part of his dear little friend’s history. An uneducated young girl had been found, cajoled, deserted by a gentleman of the world. And poor Caroline was the victim, and Philip’s own father the seducer. He easily guessed as much as this of the sad little story. Dr. Firmin’s part in it was enough to shock his son with a thrill of disgust, and to increase the mistrust, doubt, alienation, with which the father had long inspired the son. What would Philip feel, when all the pages of that dark book were opened to him, and he came to hear of a false marriage, and a ruined and outcast woman, deserted for years by the man to whom he himself was most bound? In a word, Philip had considered this as a mere case of early libertinism, and no more: and it was as such, in the very few words which he may have uttered to me respecting this matter, that he had chosen to regard it. I knew no more than my friend had told me of the story as yet; it was only by degrees that I learned it, and as events, now subsequent, served to develop and explain it.

The elder Firmin, when questioned by his old acquaintance, and, as it appeared, accomplice of former days, regarding the end of a certain intrigue at Margate, which had occurred some four or five and twenty years back, and when Firmin, having reason to avoid his college creditors, chose to live away and bear a false name, had told the clergyman a number of falsehoods, which appeared to satisfy him. What had become of that poor little thing about whom he had made such a fool of himself? Oh, she was dead, dead ever so many years before. He had pensioned her off. She had married, and died in Canada — yes, in Canada. Poor little thing! Yes, she was a good little thing, and, at one time, he had been very soft about her. I am sorry to have to state of a respectable gentleman, that he told lies, and told lies habitually and easily. But, you see, if you commit a crime, and break a seventh commandment let us say, or an eighth, or choose any number you will — you will probably have to back the lie of action by the lie of the tongue, and so you are fairly warned, and I have no help for you. If I murder a man, and the policeman inquires, “Pray, sir, did you cut this here gentleman’s throat?” I must bear false witness, you see, out of self-defence, though I may be naturally a most reliable, truth-telling man. And so with regard to many crimes which gentlemen commit — it is painful to have to say respecting gentlemen, but they become neither more nor less than habitual liars, and have to go lying on through life to you, to me, to the servants, to their wives, to their children, to — oh, awful name! I bow and humble myself. May we kneel, may we kneel, nor strive to speak our falsehoods before Thee!

And so, my dear sir, seeing that after committing any infraction of the moral laws, you must tell lies in order to back yourself out of your scrape, let me ask you, as a man of honour and a gentleman, whether you had not better forego the crime, so as to avoid the unpleasant, and daily-recurring necessity of the subsequent perjury? A poor young girl of the lower orders, cajoled, or ruined, more or less, is of course no great matter. The little baggage is turned out of doors — worse luck for her — or she gets a place, or she marries one of her own class, who does not care to remember bygones, — and there is an end of her. But if you marry her privately and irregularly yourself, and then throw her off, and then marry somebody else, you are brought to book in all sorts of unpleasant ways. I am writing of quite an old story, be pleased to remember. The first part of the history, I myself printed some twenty years ago; and if you fancy I allude to any more modern period, madam, you are entirely out in your conjecture.

It must have been a most unpleasant duty for a man of fashion, honour, and good family, to lie to a poor tipsy, disreputable bankrupt merchant’s daughter, such as Caroline Gann; but George Brand Firmin, Esq., M.D., had no other choice, and when he lied, — as in severe cases, when he administered calomel — he thought it best to give the drug freely. Thus he lied to Hunt, saying that Mrs. Brandon was long since dead in Canada; and he lied to Caroline, prescribing for her the very same pill, as it were, and saying that Hunt was long since dead in Canada too. And I can fancy few more painful and humiliating positions for a man of rank and fashion and reputation, than to have to demean himself so far as to tell lies to a little low-bred person, who gets her bread as nurse of the sick, and has not the proper use of her h’s .

“Oh, yes, Hunt!” Firmin had said to the Little Sister, in one of those sad little colloquies which sometimes took place between him and his victim, his wife of old days. “A wild, bad man, Hunt was — in days when I own I was little better! I have deeply repented since, Caroline; of nothing more than of my conduct to you; for you were worthy of a better fate, and you loved me truly — madly.”

“Yes,” says Caroline.

“I was wild, then! I was desperate! I had ruined my fortunes, estranged my father from me, was hiding from my creditors under an assumed name — that under which I saw you. Ah, why did I ever come to your house, my poor child? The mark of the demon was upon me. I did not dare to speak of marriage before my father. You have yours, and tend him with your ever constant goodness. Do you know that my father would not see me when he died? Oh, it’s a cruel thing to think of!” And the suffering creature slaps his tall forehead with his trembling hand; and some of his grief about his own father, I dare say, is sincere, for he feels the shame and remorse of being alienated from his own son.

As for the marriage — that it was a most wicked and unjustifiable deceit, he owned; but he was wild when it took place, wild with debt and with despair at his father’s estrangement from him — but the fact was, it was no marriage.

“I am glad of that!” sighed the poor Little Sister.

“Why?” asked the other eagerly. His love was dead, but his vanity was still hale and well. “Did you care for somebody else, Caroline? Did you forget your George, whom you used to — ”

“No!” said the little woman, bravely. “But I couldn’t live with a man who behaved to any woman so dishonest as you behaved to me. I liked you because I thought you was a gentleman. My poor painter was, whom you used to despise and trample to hearth — and my dear, dear Philip is, Mr. Firmin. But gentlemen tell the truth! Gentlemen don’t deceive poor innocent girls, and desert ’em without a penny!”

“Caroline! I was driven by my creditors. I— ”

“Never mind. It’s over now. I bear you no malice, Mr. Firmin, but I wouldn’t marry you, no, not to be doctor’s wife to the queen!”

This had been the Little Sister’s language when there was no thought of the existence of Hunt, the clergyman who had celebrated their marriage; and I don’t know whether Firmin was most piqued or pleased at the divorce which the little woman pronounced of her own decree. But when the ill-omened Hunt made his appearance, doubts and terrors filled the physician’s mind. Hunt was needy, greedy, treacherous, unscrupulous, desperate. He could hold this marriage over the doctor. He could threaten, extort, expose, perhaps invalidate Philip’s legitimacy. The first marriage, almost certainly, was null, but the scandal would be fatal to Firmin’s reputation and practice. And the quarrel with his son entailed consequences not pleasant to think of. You see George Firmin, Esq., M.D., was a man with a great development of the back head; when he willed a thing, he willed it so fiercely that he must have it, never mind the consequences. And so he had willed to make himself master of poor little Caroline: and so he had willed, as a young man, to have horses, splendid entertainments, roulette and écarté, and so forth; and the bill came at its natural season, and George Firmin, Esq., did not always like to pay. But for a grand, prosperous, highly-bred gentleman in the best society — with a polished forehead and manners, and universally looked up to — to have to tell lies to a poor little timid, un-complaining, sick-room nurse, it was humiliating, wasn’t it? And I can feel for Firmin.

To have to lie to Hunt was disgusting: but somehow not so exquisitely mean and degrading as to have to cheat a little trusting, humble, houseless creature, over the bloom of whose gentle young life his accursed foot had already trampled. But then this Hunt was such a cad and ruffian that there need be no scruple about humbugging him; and if Firmin had had any humour he might have had a grim sort of pleasure in leading the dirty clergyman a dance thoro’ bush thoro’ briar. So, perhaps (of course I have no means of ascertaining the fact), the doctor did not altogether dislike the duty which now devolved on him of hoodwinking his old acquaintance and accomplice. I don’t like to use such a vulgar phrase regarding a man in Doctor Firmin’s high social position, as to say of him and the gaol-chaplain that it was “thief catch thief;” but at any rate Hunt is such a low, graceless, friendless vagabond, that if he comes in for a few kicks, or is mystified, we need not be very sorry. When Mr. Thurtell is hung we don’t put on mourning. His is a painful position for the moment; but, after all, he has murdered Mr. William Weare.

Firmin was a bold and courageous man, hot in pursuit, fierce in desire, but cool in danger, and rapid in action. Some of his great successes as a physician arose from his daring and successful practice in sudden emergency. While Hunt was only lurching about the town an aimless miscreant, living from dirty hand to dirty mouth, and as long as he could get drink, cards, and shelter, tolerably content, or at least pretty easily appeased by a guinea-dose or two — Firmin could adopt the palliative system; soothe his patient with an occasional bounty; set him to sleep with a composing draught of claret or brandy; and let the day take care of itself. He might die; he might have a fancy to go abroad again; he might be transported for forgery or some other rascaldom, Dr. Firmin would console himself; and he trusted to the chapter of accidents to get rid of his friend. But Hunt, aware that the woman was alive whom he had actually, though unlawfully, married to Firmin, became an enemy whom it was necessary to subdue, to cajole, or to bribe, and the sooner the doctor put himself on his defence the better. What should the defence be? Perhaps the most effectual was a fierce attack on the enemy; perhaps it would be better to bribe him. The course to be taken would be best ascertained after a little previous reconnoitring.

“He will try and inflame Caroline,” the doctor thought, “by representing her wrongs and her rights to her. He will show her that, as my wife, she has a right to my name and a share of my income. A less mercenary woman never lived than this poor little creature. She disdains money, and, except for her father’s sake, would have taken none of mine. But to punish me for certainly rather shabby behaviour; to claim and take her own right and position in the world as an honest woman, may she not be induced to declare war against me, and stand by her marriage? After she left home, her two Irish half-sisters deserted her and spat upon her; and when she would have returned, the heartless women drove her from the door. Oh, the vixens! And now to drive by them in her carriage, to claim a maintenance from me, and to have a right to my honourable name, would she not have her dearest revenge over her sisters by so declaring her marriage?”

Firmin’s noble mind misgave him very considerably on this point. He knew women, and how those had treated their little sister. Was it in human nature not to be revenged? These thoughts rose straightway in Firmin’s mind, when he heard that the much dreaded meeting between Caroline and the chaplain had come to pass.

As he ate his dinner with his guest, his enemy, opposite to him, he was determining on his plan of action. The screen was up, and he was laying his guns behind it, so to speak. Of course he was as civil to Hunt as the tenant to his landlord when he comes with no rent. So the doctor laughed, joked, bragged, talked his best, and was thinking the while what was to be done against the danger.

He had a plan which might succeed. He must see Caroline immediately. He knew the weak point of her heart, and where she was most likely to be vulnerable. And he would act against her as barbarians of old acted against their enemies, when they brought the captive wives and children in front of the battle, and bade the foe strike through them. He knew how Caroline loved his boy. It was through that love he would work upon her. As he washes his pretty hands for dinner, and bathes his noble brow, he arranges his little plan. He orders himself to be sent for soon after the second bottle of claret — and it appears the doctor’s servants were accustomed to the delivery of these messages from their master to himself. The plan arranged, now let us take our dinner and our wine, and make ourselves comfortable until the moment of action. In his wild-oats days, when travelling abroad with wild and noble companions, Firmin had fought a duel or two, and was always remarkable for his gaiety of conversation and the fine appetite which he showed at breakfast before going on to the field. So, perhaps, Hunt, had he not been stupefied by previous drink, might have taken the alarm by remarking Firmin’s extra courtesy and gaiety, as they dined together. It was nunc vinum, cras æquor.

When the second bottle of claret was engaged, Dr. Firmin starts. He has an advance of half-an-hour at least on his adversary, or on the man who may be his adversary. If the Little Sister is at home, he will see her — he will lay bare his candid heart to her, and make a clean breast of it. The Little Sister was at home.

“I want to speak to you very particularly about that case of poor Lady Humandhaw,” says he, dropping his voice.

“I will step out, my dear, and take a little fresh air,” says Captain Gann; meaning that he will be off to the “Admiral Byng;” and the two are together.

“I have had something on my conscience. I have deceived you, Caroline,” says the doctor, with the beautiful shining forehead and hat.

“Ah, Mr. Firmin,” says she, bending over her work; “you’ve used me to that.”

“A man whom you knew once, and who tempted me for his own selfish ends to do a very wrong thing by you — a man whom I thought dead is alive:— Tufton Hunt, who performed that — that illegal ceremony at Margate, of which so often and often on my knees I have repented, Caroline!”

The beautiful hands are clasped, the beautiful deep voice thrills lowly through the room; and if a tear or two can be squeezed out of the beautiful eyes, I daresay the doctor will not be sorry.

“He has been here to-day. Him and Mr. Philip was here and quarrelled. Philip has told you, I suppose, sir?”

“Before heaven, on the word of a gentleman, when I said he was dead, Caroline, I thought he was dead! Yes, I declare, at our college, Maxwell — Dr. Maxwell — who had been at Cambridge with us, told me that our old friend Hunt had died in Canada.” (This, my beloved friends and readers, may not have been the precise long bow which George Firmin, Esq., M.D., pulled; but that he twanged a famous lie out, whenever there was occasion for the weapon, I assure you is an undoubted fact.) “Yes, Dr. Maxwell told me our old friend was dead. Our old friend? My worst enemy and yours! But let that pass. It was he, Caroline, who led me into crimes which I have never ceased to deplore.”

“Ah, Mr. Firmin,” sighs the Little Sister, “since I’ve known you, you was big enough to take care of yourself in that way.”

“I have not come to excuse myself, Caroline,” says the deep sweet voice. “I have done you enough wrong, and I feel it here — at this heart. I have not come to speak about myself, but of some one I love the best of all the world — the only being I do love — some one you love, you good and generous soul — about Philip.”

“What is it about Philip?” asks Mrs. Brandon, very quickly.

“Do you want harm to happen to him?”

“Oh, my darling boy, no!” cries the Little Sister, clasping her little hands.

“Would you keep him from harm?”

“Ah, sir, you know I would. When he had the scarlet fever, didn’t I pour the drink down his poor throat, and nurse him, and tend him, as if, as if — as a mother would her own child?”

“You did, you did, you noble, noble woman; and heaven bless you for it! A father does. I am not all heartless, Caroline, as you deem me, perhaps.”

“I don’t think it’s much merit, your loving him,” says Caroline, resuming her sewing. And, perhaps, she thinks within herself, “What is he a coming to?” You see she was a shrewd little person, when her passions and partialities did not overcome her reason; and she had come to the conclusion that this elegant Dr. Firmin whom she had admired so once was a — not altogether veracious gentleman. In fact, I heard her myself say afterwards, “La! he used to talk so fine, and slap his hand on his heart, you know; but I usedn’t to believe him, no more than a man in a play.” “It’s not much merit your loving that boy,” says Caroline, then. “But what about him, sir?”

Then Firmin explained. This man Hunt was capable of any crime for money or revenge. Seeing Caroline was alive —

“I ‘spose you told him I was dead too, sir,” says she, looking up from the work.

“Spare me, spare me! Years ago, perhaps, when I had lost sight of you, I may, perhaps, have thought — ”

“And it’s not to you, George Brandon — it’s not to you,” cries Caroline, starting up, and speaking with her sweet, innocent, ringing voice; “it’s to kind, dear friends, — it’s to my good God that I owe my life, which you had flung it away. And I paid you back by guarding your boy’s dear life, I did, under — under Him who giveth and taketh. And bless His name!”

“You are a good woman, and I am a bad, sinful man, Caroline,” says the other. “You saved my Philip’s — our Philip’s life, at the risk of your own. Now I tell you that another immense danger menaces him, and may come upon him any day as long as yonder scoundrel is alive. Suppose his character is assailed; suppose, thinking you dead, I married another — ”

“Ah, George, you never thought me dead; though, perhaps, you wished it, sir. And many would have died,” added the poor Little Sister.

“Look, Caroline! If I was married to you, my wife — Philip’s mother — was not my wife, and he is her natural son. The property he inherits does not belong to him. The children of his grandfather’s other daughter claim it, and Philip is a beggar. Philip, bred as he has been — Philip, the heir to a mother’s large fortune.”

“And — and his father’s, too?” asks Caroline, anxiously.

“I daren’t tell you — though, no, by heavens! I can trust you with everything. My own great gains have been swallowed up in speculations which have been almost all fatal. There has been a fate hanging over me, Caroline — a righteous punishment for having deserted you. I sleep with a sword over my head, which may fall and destroy me. I walk with a volcano under my feet, which may burst any day and annihilate me. And people speak of the famous Dr. Firmin, the rich Dr. Firmin, the prosperous Dr. Firmin! I shall have a title soon, I believe. I am believed to be happy, and I am alone, and the wretchedest man alive.”

“Alone, are you?” said Caroline. “There was a woman once would have kept by you, only you — you flung her away. Look here, George Brandon. It’s over with us. Years and years ago it lies where a little cherub was buried. But I love my Philip; and I won’t hurt him, no, never, never, never.”

And as the doctor turned to go away, Caroline followed him wistfully into the hall, and it was there that Philip found them.

Caroline’s tender “never, never,” rang in Philip’s memory as he sat at Ridley’s party, amidst the artists and authors there assembled. Phil was thoughtful and silent. He did not laugh very loud. He did not praise or abuse anybody outrageously, as was the wont of that most emphatic young gentleman. He scarcely contradicted a single person; and perhaps, when Larkins said Scumble’s last picture was beautiful, or Bogle, the critic of the Connoisseur, praised Bowman’s last novel, contented himself with a scornful “Ho!” and a pull at his whiskers by way of protest and denial. Had he been in his usual fine spirits, and enjoying his ordinary flow of talk, he would have informed Larkins and the assembled company not only that Scumble was an impostor, but that he, Larkins, was an idiot for admiring him. He would have informed Bogle that he was infatuated about that jackass Bowman, that cockney, that wretched ignoramus, who didn’t know his own or any other language. He would have taken down one of Bowman’s stories from the shelf, and proved the folly, imbecility, and crass ignorance of that author. (Ridley has a simple little stock of novels and poems in an old cabinet in his studio, and reads them still with much artless wonder and respect.) Or, to be sure, Phil would have asserted propositions the exact contrary of those here maintained, and declared that Bowman was a genius, and Scumble a most accomplished artist. But then, you know, somebody else must have commenced by taking the other side. Certainly a more paradoxical, and provoking, and obstinate, and contradictory disputant than Mr. Phil, I never knew. I never met Dr. Johnson, who died before I came up to town; but I do believe Phil Firmin would have stood up and argued even with him.

At these Thursday divans the host provided the modest and kindly refreshment, and Betsy the maid, or Virgilio the model, travelled to and fro with glasses and water. Each guest brought his own smoke, and I promise you there were such liberal contributions of the article, that the studio was full of it; and new comers used to be saluted by a roar of laughter as you heard, rather than saw, them entering, and choking in the fog. It was, “Holloa, Prodgers! is that you, old boy?” and the beard of Prodgers (that famous sculptor) would presently loom through the cloud. It was, “Newcome, how goes?” and Mr. Clive Newcome (a mediocre artist I must own, but a famous good fellow, with an uncommonly pretty villa and pretty and rich wife at Wimbledon) would make his appearance, and be warmly greeted by our little host. It was, “Is that you, F. B.? would you like a link, old boy, to see you through the fog?” And the deep voice of Frederick Bayham, Esquire (the eminent critic on Art), would boom out of the tobaccomist, and would exclaim, “A link? I would like a drink.” Ah, ghosts of youth, again ye draw near! Old figures glimmer through the cloud. Old songs echo out of the distance. What were you saying anon about Dr. Johnson, boys? I am sure some of us must remember him. As for me, I am so old, that I might have been at Edial school — the other pupil along with little Davy Garrick and his brother.

We had a bachelor’s supper in the Temple so lately that I think we must pay but a very brief visit to a smoking party in Thornhaugh Street, or the ladies will say that we are too fond of bachelor habits, and keep our friends away from their charming and amiable society. A novel must not smell of cigars much, nor should its refined and genteel page be stained with too frequent brandy and water. Please to imagine, then, the prattle of the artists, authors, and amateurs assembled at Ridley’s divan. Fancy Jarman, the miniature painter, drinking more liquor than any man present, asking his neighbour (sub voce) why Ridley does not give his father (the old butler) five shillings to wait; suggesting that perhaps the old man is gone out, and is getting seven-and-sixpence elsewhere; praising Ridley’s picture aloud, and sneering at it in an undertone; and when a man of rank happens to enter the room, shambling up to him, and fawning on him, and cringing to him with fulsome praise and flattery. When the gentleman’s back is turned, Jarman can spit epigrams at it. I hope he will never forgive Ridley, and always continue to hate him; for hate him Jarman will, as long as he is prosperous, and curse him as long as the world esteems him. Look at Pym, the incumbent of Saint Bronze hard by, coming in to join the literary and artistic assembly, and choking in his white neckcloth to the diversion of all the company who can see him! Sixteen, eighteen, twenty men are assembled. Open the windows, or sure they will all be stifled with the smoke! Why, it fills the whole house so, that the Little Sister has to open her parlour window on the ground-floor, and gasp for fresh air.

Phil’s head and cigar are thrust out from a window above, and he lolls there, musing about his own affairs, as his smoke ascends to the skies. Young Mr. Philip Firmin is known to be wealthy, and his father gives very good parties in Old Parr Street, so Jarman sidles up to Phil and wants a little fresh air too. He enters into conversation by abusing Ridley’s picture that is on the easel.

“Everybody is praising it; what do you think of it, Mr. Firmin? Very queer drawing about those eyes, isn’t there?”

“Is there?” growls Phil.

“Very loud colour.”

“Oh!” says Phil.

“The composition is so clearly prigged from Raphael.”

“Indeed!”

“I beg your pardon. I don’t think you know who I am,” continues the other, with a simper.

“Yes, I do,” says Phil, glaring at him. “You’re a painter, and your name is Mr. Envy.”

“Sir!” shrieks the painter; but he is addressing himself to the tails of Phil’s coat, the superior half of Mr. Firmin’s body is stretching out of the window. Now, you may speak of a man behind his back, but not to him. So Mr. Jarman withdraws, and addresses himself, face to face, to somebody else in the company. I daresay he abuses that upstart, impudent, bumptious young doctor’s son. Have I not owned that Philip was often very rude? and to-night he is in a specially bad humour.

As he continues to stare into the street, who is that who has just reeled up to the railings below, and is talking in at Mrs. Brandon’s window? Whose black-guard voice and laugh are those which Phil recognizes with a shudder? It is the voice and laugh of our friend Mr. Hunt, whom Philip left, not very long since, near his father’s house in Old Parr Street; and both of those familiar sounds are more vinous, more odious, more impudent than they were even two hours ago.

“Holloa! I say!” he calls out with a laugh and a curse. “Pst! Mrs. Whatdyoucallem! Hang it! don’t shut the window. Let a fellow in!” and as he looks towards the upper window, where Philip’s head and bust appear dark before the light, Hunt cries out, “Holloa! what game’s up now, I wonder? Supper and ball. Shouldn’t be surprised.” And he hiccups a waltz tune, and clatters time to it with his dirty boots.

“Mrs. Whadyoucall! Mrs. B—!” the sot then recommences to shriek out. “Must see you — most particular business. Private and confidential. Hear of something to your advantage.” And rap, rap, rap, he is now thundering at the door. In the clatter of twenty voices few hear Hunt’s noise except Philip; or, if they do, only imagine that another of Ridley’s guests is arriving.

At the hall door there is talk and altercation, and the high shriek of a well-known odious voice. Philip moves quickly from his window, shoulders friend Jarman at the studio door, and hustling past him obtains, no doubt, more good wishes from that ingenious artist. Philip is so rude and overbearing that I really have a mind to depose him from his place of hero, only, you see, we are committed. His name is on the page overhead, and we can’t take it down and put up another. The Little Sister is standing in her hall by the just opened door, and remonstrating with Mr. Hunt, who appears to wish to force his way in.

“Pooh! shtuff, my dear! If he’s here I musht see him — particular business — get out of that!” and he reels forward against little Caroline’s shoulder.

“Get away, you brute, you!” cries the little lady. “Go home, Mr. Hunt; you are worse than you were this morning.” She is a resolute little woman, and puts out a firm little arm against this odious invader. She has seen patients in hospital raging in fever: she is not frightened by a tipsy man. “La! is it you, Mr. Philip? Whoever will take this horrid man? He ain’t fit to go upstairs among the gentlemen; indeed he ain’t.”

“You said Firmin was here — and it isn’t the father. It’s the cub! I want the doctor. Where’s the doctor?” hiccups the chaplain, lurching against the wall; and then he looks at Philip with bloodshot eyes, that twinkle hate. “Who wantsh you, I shlike to know? Had enough of you already to-day. Conceited brute. Don’t look at me in that sortaway! I ain’t afraid of you — ain’t afraid anybody. Time was when I was a young man fight you as soon as look at you. I say, Philip!”

“Go home, now. Do go home, there’s a good man,” says the landlady.

“I say! Look here — hic — hi! Philip! On your word as a gentleman, your father’s not here? He’s a sly old boots, Brummell Firmin is — Trinity man — I’m not a Trinity man — Corpus man. I say, Philip, give us your hand. Bear no malice. Look here — something very particular. After dinner — went into Air Street — you know — rouge gagne, et couleur — cleaned out, on the honour of a gentleman and Master of Arts of the university of Cambridge. So was your father — no, he went out in medicine. I say, Philip, hand us out five sovereigns, and let’s try the luck again! What, you won’t? It’s mean, I say. Don’t be mean.

“Oh, here’s five shillings! Go and have a cab. Fetch a cab for him, Virgilio, do!” cries the mistress of the house.

“That’s not enough, my dear!” cries the chaplain, advancing towards Mrs. Brandon, with such a leer and air, that Philip, half choked with passion, runs forward, grips Hunt by the collar, and crying out, “You filthy scoundrel; as this is not my house, I may kick you out of it!" — in another instant has run Hunt through the passage, hurled him down the steps, and sent him sprawling into the kennel.

“Row down below,” says Rosebury, placidly, looking from above. “Personal conflict. Intoxicated individual — in gutter. Our impetuous friend has floored him.”

Hunt, after a moment, sits up and glares at Philip. He is not hurt. Perhaps the shock has sobered him. He thinks, perhaps, Philip is going to strike again. “Hands off, BASTARD!” shrieks out the prostrate wretch.

“O Philip, Philip! He’s mad, he’s tipsy!” cries out the Little Sister, running into the street. She puts her arms round Philip. “Don’t mind him, dear — he’s mad! Policeman! The gentleman has had too much. Come in, Philip; come in!”

She took him into her little room. She was pleased with the gallantry of the boy. she Liked to see him just now, standing over her enemy, courageous, victorious, her champion. “La! how savage he did look; and how brave and strong you are! But the little wretch ain’t fit to stand before such as you!” And she passed her little hand down his arm, of which the muscles were all in a quiver from the recent skirmish.

“What did the scoundrel mean by calling me bastard?” said Philip, the wild blue eyes glaring round about with more than ordinary fierceness.

“Nonsense, dear! Who minds anything he says, that beast? His language is always horrid; he’s not a gentleman. He had had too much this morning when he was here. What matters what he says? He won’t know anything about it to-morrow. But it was kind of my Philip to rescue his poor little nurse, wasn’t it? Like a novel. Come in, and let me make you some tea. Don’t go to no more smoking: you have had enough. Come in and talk to me.”

And, as a mother, with sweet pious face, yearns to her little children from her seat, she fondles him, she watches him; she fills her teapot from her singing kettle. She talks — talks in her homely way, and on this subject and that. It is a wonder how she prattles on, who is generally rather silent. She won’t see Phil’s eyes, which are following her about very strangely and fiercely. And when again he mutters, “What did he mean by — ” “La, my dear, how cross you are!” she breaks out. “It’s always so; you won’t be happy without your cigar. Here’s a cheeroot, a beauty! Pa brought it home from the club. A China captain gave him some. You must light it at the little end. There!” And if I could draw the picture which my mind sees of her lighting Phil’s cheroot for him, and smiling the while, — of the little innocent Dalilah coaxing and wheedling this young Samson, I know it would be a pretty picture. I wish Ridley would sketch it for me.

Chapter 12

Damocles.

On the next morning, at an hour so early that Old Parr Street was scarce awake, and even the maids who wash the broad steps of the houses of the tailors and medical gentlemen who inhabit that region had not yet gone down on their knees before their respective doors, a ring was heard at Dr. Firmin’s night-bell, and when the door was opened by the yawning attendant, a little person in a grey gown and a black bonnet made her appearance, handed a note to the servant, and said the case was most urgent and the doctor must come at once. Was not Lady Humandhaw the noble person whom we last mentioned, as the invalid about whom the doctor and the nurse had spoken a few words on the previous evening? The Little Sister, for it was she, used the very same name to the servant, who retired grumbling to waken up his master and deliver the note.

Nurse Brandon sate awhile in the great gaunt dining-room where hung the portrait of the doctor in his splendid black collar and cuffs, and contemplated this masterpiece until an invasion of housemaids drove her from the apartment, when she took refuge in that other little room to which Mrs. Firmin’s portrait had been consigned.

“That’s like him ever so many years and years ago,” she thinks. “It is a little handsomer; but it has his wicked look that I used to think so killing, and so did my sisters both of them — they were ready to tear out each other’s eyes for jealousy. And that’s Mrs. Firmin’s! Well, I suppose the painter haven’t flattered her. If he have she could have been no great things, Mrs. F. couldn’t.” And the doctor, entering softly by the opened door and over the thick Turkey carpet, comes up to her noiseless, and finds the Little Sister gazing at the portrait of the departed lady.

“Oh, it’s you, is it? I wonder whether you treated her no better than you treated me, Dr. F.? I’ve a notion she’s not the only one. She don’t look happy, poor thing,” says the little lady.

“What is it, Caroline?” asks the deep-voiced doctor; “and what brings you so early?”

The Little Sister then explains to him. “Last night after he went away Hunt came, sure enough. He had been drinking. He was very rude, and Philip wouldn’t bear it. Philip had a good courage of his own and a hot blood. And Philip thought Hunt was insulting her, the Little Sister. So he up with his hand, and down goes Mr. Hunt on the pavement. Well, when he was down he was in a dreadful way, and he called Philip a deadful name.”

“A name? what name?” Then Caroline told the doctor the name Mr. Hunt had used; and if Firmin’s face usually looked wicked, I daresay it did not seem very angelical when he heard how this odious name had been applied to his son. “Can he do Philip a mischief?” Caroline continued. “I thought I was bound to tell his father. Look here, Dr. F., I don’t want to do my dear boy a harm. — But suppose what you told me last night isn’t true — as I don’t think you much mind! — mind — saying things as are incorrect you know, when us women are in the case. But suppose when you played the villain, thinking only to take in a poor innocent girl of sixteen, it was you who were took in, and that I was your real wife after all? There would be a punishment!”

“I should have an honest and good wife, Caroline,” said the doctor, with a groan.

“This would be a punishment, not for you, but for my poor Philip,” the woman goes on. “What has he done, that his honest name should be took from him — and his fortune perhaps? I have been lying broad awake all night thinking of him. Ah, George Brandon! Why, why did you come to my poor old father’s house, and bring this misery down on me, and on your child unborn?”

“On myself, the worst of all,” says the doctor.

“You deserve it. But it’s us innocent that has had, or will have to suffer most. O George Brandon! Think of a poor child, flung away, and left to starve and die, without even so much as knowing your real name! Think of your boy, perhaps brought to shame and poverty through your fault!”

“Do you suppose I don’t often think of my wrong?” says the doctor. “That it does not cause me sleepless nights, and hours of anguish? Ah! Caroline!” and he looks in the glass. — “I am not shaved, and it’s very unbecoming,” he thinks; that is, if I may dare to read his thoughts, as I do to report his unheard words.

“You think of your wrong now it may be found out, I daresay!” says Caroline. “Suppose this Hunt turns against you? He is desperate; mad for drink and money; has been in gaol — as he said this very night to me and my papa. He’ll do or say anything. If you treat him hard, and Philip have treated him hard — not harder than served him right though — he’ll pull the house down and himself under it, but he’ll be revenged. Perhaps he drank so much last night, that he may have forgot. But I fear he means mischief, and I came here to say so, and hoping that you might be kept on your guard, Doctor F., and if you have to quarrel with him, I don’t know what you ever will do, I am sure — no more than if you had to fight a chimney-sweep in the street. I have been awake all night thinking, and as soon as ever I saw the daylight, I determined I would run and tell you.”

“When he called Philip that name, did the boy seem much disturbed?” asked the doctor.

“Yes; he referred to it again and again — though I tried to coax him out of it. But it was on his mind last night, and I am sure he will think of it the first thing this morning. Ah, yes, doctor! conscience will sometimes let a gentleman doze; but after discovery has come, and opened your curtains, and said, ‘You desired to be called early!’ there’s little use in trying to sleep much. You look very much frightened, Doctor F.” the nurse continues. “You haven’t such a courage as Philip has; or as you had when you were a young man, and came a leading poor girls astray. You used to be afraid of nothing then. Do you remember that fellow on board the steamboat in Scotland in our wedding-trip? and, la, I thought you was going to kill him. That poor little Lord Cinqbars told me ever so many stories then about your courage and shooting peple. It wasn’t very courageous, leaving a poor girl without even a name, and scarce a guinea, was it? But I ain’t come to call up old stories — only to warn you. Even in old times, when he married us, and I thought he was doing a kindness, I never could abide this horrible man. In Scotland, when you was away shooting with your poor little lord, the things Hunt used to say and look was deadful. I wonder how ever you, who were gentlemen, could put up with such a fellow! Ah, that was a sad honeymoon of ours! I wonder why I’m a thinking of it now? I suppose it’s from having seen the picture of the other one — poor lady!”

“I have told you, Caroline, that I was so wild and desperate at that unhappy time, I was scarcely accountable for my actions. If I left you, it was because I had no other resource but flight. I was a ruined penniless man, but for my marriage with Louisa Ringwood. You don’t suppose the marriage was happy? Happy! when have I ever been happy? My lot is to be wretched, and bring wretchedness down on those I love! — on you, on my father, on my wife, on my boy — I am a doomed man. Ah, that the innocent should suffer for me!” And our friend looks askance in the glass, at the blue chin and hollow eyes which make his guilt look the more haggard.

“I never had my lines,” the little sister continued, “I never knew there were papers, or writings, or anything but a ring and a clergyman, when you married me. But I’ve heard tell that people in Scotland don’t want a clergyman at all; and if they call themselves man and wife, they are man and wife. Now, sir, Mr. and Mrs. Brandon certainly did travel together in Scotland — witness that man whom you were going to throw into the lake for being rude to your wife — and . . . La! Don’t fly out so! It wasn’t me, a poor girl of sixteen, who did wrong. It was you, a man of the world, who was years and years older.”

When Brandon carried off his poor little victim and wife, there had been a journey to Scotland, where Lord Cinqbars, then alive, had sporting quarters. His lordship’s chaplain, Mr. Hunt, had been of the party, which fate very soon afterwards separated. Death seized on Cinqbars at Naples. Debt caused Firmin — Brandon, as he called himself then — to fly the country. The chaplain wandered from gaol to gaol. And as for poor little Caroline Brandon, I suppose the husband who had married her under a false name thought that to escape her, leave her, and disown her altogether was an easier and less dangerous plan than to continue relations with her. So one day, four months after their marriage, the young couple being then at Dover, Caroline’s husband happened to go out for a walk. But he sent away a portmanteau by the back door when he went out for the walk, and as Caroline was waiting for her little dinner some hours after, the porter who carried the luggage came with a little note from her dearest G. B.; and it was full of little fond expressions of regard and affection, such as gentlemen put into little notes; but dearest G. B. said the bailiffs were upon him, and one of them had arrived that morning, and he must fly: and he took half the money he had, and left half for his little Carry. And he would be back soon, and arrange matters; or tell her where to write and follow him. And she was to take care of her little health, and to write a great deal to her Georgy. And she did not know how to write very well then; but she did her best, and improved a great deal; for, indeed, she wrote a great deal, poor thing. Sheets and sheets of paper she blotted with ink and tears. And then the money was spent; and the next money; and no more came, and no more letters. And she was alone at sea, sinking, sinking, when it pleased heaven to send that friend who rescued her. It is such a sad, sad little story, that in fact I don’t like dwelling on it; not caring to look upon poor innocent, trusting creatures in pain.

. . . Well, then, when Caroline exclaimed, “La! don’t fly out so, Dr. Firmin!” I suppose the doctor had been crying out, and swearing fiercely, at the recollections of his friend Mr. Brandon, and at the danger which possibly hung over that gentleman. Marriage ceremonies are dangerous risks in jest or in earnest. You can’t pretend to marry even a poor old bankrupt lodging-house-keeper’s daughter without some risk of being brought subsequently to book. If you have a vulgar wife alive, and afterwards choose to leave her and marry an earl’s niece, you will come to trouble, however well connected you are and highly placed in society. If you have had thirty thousand pounds with wife No. 2, and have to pay it back on a sudden, the payment may be inconvenient. You may be tried for bigamy, and sentenced, goodness knows to what punishment. At any rate, if the matter is made public, and you are a most respectable man, moving in the highest scientific and social circles, those circles may be disposed to request you to walk out of their circumference. A novelist, I know, ought to have no likes, dislikes, pity, partiality for his characters; but I declare I cannot help feeling a respectful compassion for a gentleman, who, in consequence of a youthful, and, I am sure, sincerely regretted folly, may be liable to lose his fortune, his place in society, and his considerable practice. Punishment hasn’t a right to come with such a pede claudo. There ought to be limitations; and it is shabby and revengeful of Justice to present her little bill when it has been more than twenty years owing . . . Having had his talk out with the Little Sister, having a long past crime suddenly taken down from the shelf; having a remorse, long since supposed to be dead and buried, suddenly starting up in the most blustering, boisterous, inconvenient manner; having a rage and terror tearing him within; I can fancy this most respectable physician going about his day’s work, and most sincerely sympathize with him. Who is to heal the physician? Is he not more sick at heart than most of his patients that day? He has to listen to Lady Megrim cackling for half an hour at least, and describing her little ailments. He has to listen, and never once to dare to say, “Confound you, old chatterbox! What are you prating about your ailments to me, who am suffering real torture whilst I am smirking in your face?” He has to wear the inspiriting smile, to breathe the gentle joke, to console, to whisper hope, to administer remedy; and all day, perhaps, he sees no one so utterly sick, so sad, so despairing, as himself.

The first person on whom he had to practise hypocrisy that day was his own son, who chose to come to breakfast — a meal of which son and father seldom now partook in company. “What does he know, and what does he suspect?” are the father’s thoughts; but a louring gloom is on Philip’s face, and the father’s eyes look into the son’s, but cannot penetrate their darkness.

“Did you stay late last night, Philip?” says papa.

“Yes, sir, rather late,” answers the son.

“Pleasant party?”

“No, sir, stupid. Your friend Mr. Hunt wanted to come in. He was drunk, and rude to Mrs. Brandon, and I was obliged to put him out of the door. He was dreadfully violent and abusive.”

“Swore a good deal, I suppose?”

“Fiercely, sir, and called names.”

I daresay Philip’s heart beat so when he said these last words, that they were inaudible: at all events, Philip’s father did not appear to pay much attention to the words, for he was busy reading the Morning Post, and behind that sheet of fashionable news hid whatever expression of agony there might be on his face. Philip afterwards told his present biographer of this breakfast meeting and dreary tête-á-tête. “I burned to ask what was the meaning of that scoundrel’s words of the past night,” Philip said to his biographer; “but I did not dare, somehow. You see, Pendennis, it is not pleasant to say point-blank to your father, ‘Sir, are you a confirmed scoundrel, or are you not? Is it possible that you have made a double marriage, as yonder other rascal hinted; and that my own legitimacy and my mother’s fair fame, as well as poor, harmless Caroline’s honour and happiness, have been destroyed by your crime?’ But I had lain awake all night thinking about that scoundrel Hunt’s words, and whether there was any meaning beyond drunken malice in what he said.” So we find that three people had passed a bad night in consequence of Mr. Firmin’s evil behaviour of five-and-twenty years back, which surely was a most unreasonable punishment for a sin of such old date. I wish, dearly beloved brother sinners, we could take all the punishment for our individual crimes on our individual shoulders: but we drag others down with us — that is the fact; and when Macheath is condemned to hang, it is Polly and Lucy who have to weep and suffer and wear piteous mourning in their hearts long after the dare-devil rogue has jumped off the Tyburn ladder.

“Well, sir, he did not say a word,” said Philip, recounting the meeting to his friend; “not a word, at least, regarding the matter both of us had on our heart. But about fashion, parties, politics, he discoursed much more freely than was usual with him. He said I might have had Lord Ringwood’s seat for Whipham but for my unfortunate politics. What made a radical of me, he asked, who was naturally one of the most haughty men? (and that, I think, perhaps I am,” says Phil, “and a good many liberal fellows are”). I should calm down, he was sure — I should calm down, and be of the politics des hommes du monde.”

Philip could not say to his father, “Sir, it is seeing you cringe before great ones that has set my own back up.” There were countless points about which father and son could not speak; and an invisible, unexpressed, perfectly unintelligible mistrust, always was present when those two were tête-à-tête.

Their meal was scarce ended when entered to them Mr. Hunt, with his hat on. I was not present at the time, and cannot speak as a certainty; but I should think at his ominous appearance Philip may have turned red and his father pale. “Now is the time,” both, I daresay, thought; and the doctor remembered his stormy young days of foreign gambling, intrigue, and duel, when he was put on his ground before his adversary, and bidden, at a given signal, to fire. One, two, three! Each man’s hand was armed with malice and murder. Philip had plenty of pluck for his part, but I should think on such an occasion might be a little nervous and fluttered, whereas his father’s eye was keen, and his aim rapid and steady.

“You and Philip had a difference last night, Philip tells me,” said the doctor.

“Yes, and I promised he should pay me,” said the clergyman.

“And I said I should desire no better,” says Mr. Phil.

“He struck his senior, his father’s friend — a sick man, a clergyman,” gasped Hunt.

“Were you to repeat what you did last night, I should repeat what I did,” said Phil. “You insulted a good woman.”

“It’s a lie, sir!” cries the other.

“You insulted a good woman, a lady in her own house, and I turned you out of it,” said Phil.

“I say, again, it is a lie, sir!” screams Hunt, with a stamp on the table.

“That you should give me the lie, or otherwise, is perfectly immaterial to me. But whenever you insult Mrs. Brandon, or any harmless woman in my presence, I shall do my best to chastise you,” cries Philip of the red moustaches, curling them with much dignity.

“You hear him, Firmin?” says the parson.

“Faith, I do, Hunt!” says the physician; “and I think he means what he says, too.”

“Oh! you take that line, do you?” cries Hunt of the dirty hands, the dirty teeth, the dirty neckcloth.

“I take what you call that line; and whenever a rudeness is offered to that admirable woman in my son’s hearing, I shall be astonished if he does not resent it,” says the doctor. “Thank you, Philip!”

The father’s resolute speech and behaviour gave Philip great momentary comfort. Hunt’s words of the night before had been occupying the young man’s thoughts. Had Firmin been criminal, he could not be so bold.

“You talk this way in presence of your son? You have been talking over the matter together before?” asks Hunt.

“We have been talking over the matter before — yes. We were engaged on it when you came into breakfast,” said the doctor. “Shall we go on with the conversation where we left it off?”

“Well, do — that is, if you dare,” said the clergyman, somewhat astonished.

“Philip, my dear, it is ill for a man to hide his head before his own son; but if I am to speak — and speak I must one day or the other — why not now?”

“Why at all, Firmin?” asks the clergyman, astonished at the other’s rather sudden resolve.

“Why? Because I am sick and tired of you, Mr. Tufton Hunt,” cries the physician, in his most lofty manner, “of you and your presence in my house; your blackguard behaviour and your rascal extortions — because you will force me to speak one day or the other — and now, Philip, if you like, shall be the day.”

“Hang it, I say! Stop a bit!” cries the clergyman.

“I understand you want some more money from me.”

“I did promise Jacobs I would pay him to-day, and that was what made me so sulky last night; and, perhaps, I took a little too much. You see my mind was out of order; and what’s the use of telling a story that is no good to any one, Firmin — least of all to you,” cries the parson, darkly.

“Because, you ruffian, I’ll bear with you no more,” cries the doctor, the veins of his forehead swelling as he looks fiercely at his dirty adversary. “In the last nine months, Philip, this man has had nine hundred pounds from me.”

“The luck has been so very bad, so bad, upon my honour, now,” grumbles the parson.

“To-morrow he will want more; and the next day more; and the next day more; and, in fine, I won’t live with this accursed man of the sea round my neck. You shall have the story; and Mr. Hunt shall sit by and witness against his own crime and mine. I had been very wild at Cambridge, when I was a young man. I had quarrelled with my father, lived with a dissipated set, and beyond my means; and had had my debts paid so often by your grandfather, that I was afraid to ask for more. He was stern to me; I was not dutiful to him. I own my fault. Mr. Hunt can bear witness to what I say.

“I was in hiding at Margate, under a false name. You know the name.”

“Yes, sir, I think I know the name,” Philip said, thinking he liked his father better now than he had ever liked him in his life, and sighing, “Ah, if he had always been frank and true with me!”

“I took humble lodgings with an obscure family.” (If Dr. Firmin had a prodigious idea of his own grandeur and importance, you see I cannot help it — and he was long held to be such a respectable man.) “And there I found a young girl — one of the most innocent beings that ever a man played with and betrayed. Betrayed, I own it, heaven forgive me! The crime has been the shame of my life, and darkened my whole career with misery. I got a man worse than myself, if that could be. I got Hunt for a few pounds, which he owed me, to make a sham marriage between me and poor Caroline. My money was soon gone. My creditors were after me. I fled the country, and I left her.”

“A sham marriage! a sham marriage!” cries the clergyman. “Didn’t you make me perform it by holding a pistol to my throat? A fellow won’t risk transportation for nothing. But I owed him money for cards, and he had my bill, and he said he would let me off, and that’s why I helped him. Never mind. I am out of the business now, Mr. Brummell Firmin, and you are in it. I have read the Act, sir. The clergyman who performs the marriage is liable to punishment, if informed against within three years, and it’s twenty years or more. But you, Mr. Brummell Firmin — your case is different; and you, my young gentleman, with the fiery whiskers, who strike down old men of a night — you may find some of us know how to revenge ourselves, though we are down.” And with this, Hunt rushed to his greasy hat, and quitted the house, discharging imprecations at his hosts as he passed through the hall.

Son and father sate awhile silent, after the departure of their common enemy. At last the father spoke.

“This is the sword that has always been hanging over my head, and it is now falling, Philip.”

“What can the man do? Is the first marriage a good marriage?” asked Philip, with alarmed face.

“It’s is no marriage. It is void to all intents and purposes. You may suppose I have taken care to learn the law about that. Your legitimacy is safe, sure enough. But that man can ruin me, or nearly so. He will try to-morrow, if not to-day. As long as you or I can give him a guinea, he will take it to the gambling-house. I had the mania on me myself once. My poor father quarrelled with me in consequence, and died without seeing me. I married your mother — Heaven help her, poor soul! and forgive me for being but a harsh husband to her — with a view of mending my shattered fortunes. I wished she had been more happy, poor thing. But do not blame me utterly, Philip. I was desperate, and she wished for the marriage so much! I had good looks and high spirits in those days. People said so.” (And here he glances obliquely at his own handsome portrait.) “Now I am a wreck, a wreck!”

“I conceive, sir, that this will annoy you; but how can it ruin you?” asked Philip.

“What becomes of my practice as a family physician? The practice is not now what it was, between ourselves, Philip, and the expenses greater than you imagine. I have made unlucky speculations. If you count upon much increase of wealth from me, my boy, you will be disappointed; though you were never mercenary, no, never. But the story bruited about by this rascal, of a physician of eminence engaged in two marriages, do you suppose my rivals won’t hear it, and take advantage of it — my patients hear it, and avoid me?”

“Make terms with the man at once, then, sir, and silence him.”

“To make terms with a gambler is impossible. My purse is always there open for him to thrust his hand into when he loses. No man can withstand such a temptation. I am glad you have never fallen into it. I have quarrelled with you sometimes for living with people below your rank: perhaps you were right, and I was wrong. I have liked, always did, I don’t disguise it, to live with persons of station. And these, when I was at the university, taught me play and extravagance; and in the world haven’t helped me much. Who would? Who would?” and the doctor relapsed into meditation.

A little catastrophe presently occurred, after which Mr. Philip Firmin told me the substance of this story. He described his father’s long acquiescence in Hunt’s demands, and sudden resistance to them, and was at a loss to account for the change. I did not tell my friend in express terms, but I fancied I could account for the change of behaviour. Dr. Firmin, in his interviews with Caroline, had had his mind set at rest about one part of his danger. The doctor need no longer fear the charge of a double marriage. The Little Sister resigned her claims past, present, future.

If a gentleman is sentenced to be hung, I wonder is it a matter of comfort to him or not to know beforehand the day of the operation? Hunt would take his revenge. When and how? Dr. Firmin asked himself. Nay, possibly, you will have to learn that this eminent practitioner walked about with more than one danger hanging imminent over him. Perhaps it was a rope: perhaps it was a sword: some weapon of execution, at any rate, as we presently may see. A day passes: no assassin darts at the doctor as he threads the dim opera-colonnade passage on his way to his club. A week goes by: no stiletto is plunged into his well-wadded breast as he steps from his carriage at some noble patient’s door. Philip says he never knew his father more pleasant, easy, good-humoured, and affable than during this period, when he must have felt that a danger was hanging over him of which his son at this time had no idea. I dined in Old Parr Street once in this memorable period (memorable it seemed to me from immediately subsequent events). Never was the dinner better served: the wine more excellent: the guests and conversation more gravely respectable than at this entertainment: and my neighbour remarked with pleasure how the father and son seemed to be on much better terms than ordinary. The doctor addressed Philip pointedly once or twice; alluded to his foreign travels; spoke of his mother’s family — it was most gratifying to see the pair together. Day after day passes so. The enemy has disappeared. At least, the lining of his dirty hat is no longer visible on the broad marble table of Dr. Firmin’s hall.

But one day — it may be ten days after the quarrel — a little messenger comes to Philip, and says, “Philip dear, I am sure there is something wrong; that horrible Hunt has been here with a very quiet, soft-spoken old gentleman, and they have been going on with my poor Pa about my wrongs and his — his, indeed! — and they have worked him up to believe that somebody has cheated his daughter out of great fortune; and who can that somebody be but your father? And whenever they see me coming, papa and that horrid Hunt go off to the ‘Admiral Byng:’ and one night when Pa came home he said, ‘Bless you, bless you, my poor, innocent, injured child; and blessed you will be, mark a fond father’s words!’ They are scheming something against Philip and Philip’s father. Mr. Bond the soft-spoken old gentleman’s name is: and twice there has been a Mr. Walls to inquire if Mr. Hunt was at our house.”

“Mr. Bond? — Mr. Walls? — A gentleman of the name of Bond was uncle Twysden’s attorney. An old gentleman, with a bald head, and one eye bigger than the other?”

“Well, this old man has one smaller than the other, I do think,” says Caroline. “First man who came was Mr. Walls — a rattling young fashionable chap, always laughing, talking about theatres, operas, everything — came home from the ‘Byng’ along with Pa and his new friend — oh! I do hate him, that man, that Hunt! — then he brought the old man, this Mr. Bond. What are they scheming against you, Philip? I tell you this matter is all about you and your father.”

Years and years ago, in the poor mother’s lifetime, Philip remembred an outbreak of wrath on his father’s part, who called uncle Twysden a swindling miser, and this very Mr. Bond a scoundrel who deserved to be hung, for interfering in some way in the management of a part of the property which Mrs. Twysden and her sister inherited from their own mother. That quarrel had been made up, as such quarrels are. The brothers-in-law had continued to mistrust each other; but there was no reason why the feud should descend to the children; and Philip and his aunt, and one of her daughters at least, were on good terms together. Philip’s uncle’s lawyers engaged with his father’s debtor and enemy against Dr. Firmin: the alliance boded no good.

“I won’t tell you what I think, Philip,” said the father. “You are fond of your cousin?”

“Oh! for ev — ”

“For ever, of course! At least until we change our mind, or one of us grows tired, or finds a better mate.”

“Ah, sir!” cries Philip, but suddenly stops in his remonstrance.

“What were you going to say, Philip, and why do you pause?”

“I was going to say, father, if I might without offending, that I think you judge hardly of women. I know two who have been very faithful to you.”

“And I traitor to both of them. Yes; and my remorse, Philip, my remorse!” says his father in his deepest tragedy voice, clutching his hand over a heart that I believe beat very coolly. But, psha! why am I, Philip’s biographer, going out of the way to abuse Philip’s papa? Is not the threat of bigamy and exposure enough to disturb any man’s equanimity? I say again, suppose there is another sword — a rope, if you will so call it — hanging over the head of our Damocles of Old Parr Street? . . . Howbeit, the father and the son met and parted in these days with unusual gentleness and cordiality. And these were the last days in which they were to meet together. Nor could kindness and cordiality.

Why were these the last days son and father were to pass together? Dr. Firmin is still alive. Philip is a very tolerably prosperous gentleman. He and his father parted good friends, and it is the biographer’s business to narrate how and wherefore. When Philip told his father that Messrs. Bond and Selby, his uncle Twysden’s attorneys, were suddenly interested about Mr. Brandon and his affairs, the father instantly guessed, though the son was too simple as yet to understand how it was that these gentlemen interfered. If Mr. Brandon-Firmin’s marriage with Miss Ringwood was null, her son was illegitimate, and her fortune went to her sister. Painful as such a duty might be to such tender-hearted people as our Twysden acquaintances to deprive a dear nephew of his fortune, yet, after all, duty is duty, and a parent must sacrifice everything for justice and his own children. “Had I been in such a case,” Talbot Twysden subsequently and repeatedly declared, “I should never have been easy a moment if I thought I possessed wrongfully a beloved nephew’s property. I could not have slept in peace; I could not have shown my face at my own club, or to my own conscience, had I the weight of such an injustice on my mind.” In a word, when he found that there was a chance of annexing Philip’s share of the property to his own, Twysden saw clearly that his duty was to stand by his own wife and children.

The information upon which Talbot Twysden, Esq., acted, was brought to him at his office by a gentleman in dingy black, who, after a long interview with him, accompanied him to his lawyer, Mr. Bond, before mentioned. Here, in South Square, Gray’s Inn, the three gentlemen held a consultation, of which the results began quickly to show themselves. Messrs. Bond and Selby had an exceedingly lively, cheerful, jovial, and intelligent confidential clerk, who combined business and pleasure with the utmost affability, and was acquainted with a thousand queer things, and queer histories about queer people in this town; who lent money; who wanted money; who was in debt; and who was outrunning the constable; whose diamonds were in pawn; whose estates were over-mortgaged; who was over-building himself; who was casting eyes of longing at what pretty opera dancer — about races, fights, bill brokers, quicquid agunt homines. This Tom Walls had a deal of information, and imparted it so as to make you die of laughing.

The Reverend Tufton Hunt brought this jolly fellow first to the “Admiral Byng,” where his amiability won all hearts at the club. At the “Byng” it was not very difficult to gain Captain Gann’s easy confidence. And this old man was, in the course of a very trifling consumption of rum-and-water, brought to see that his daughter had been the object of a wicked conspiracy, and was the rightful and most injured wife of a man who ought to declare her fair fame before the world and put her in possession of a portion of his great fortune.

A great fortune? How great a fortune? Was it three hundred thousand, say? Those doctors, many of them, had fifteen thousand a year. Mr. Walls (who perhaps knew better) was not at liberty to say what the fortune was: but it was a shame that Mrs. Brandon was kept out of her rights, that was clear.

Old Gann’s excitement, when this matter was first broached to him (under vows of profound secrecy), was so intense, that his old reason tottered on its rickety old throne. He well nigh burst with longing to speak upon this mystery. Mr. and Mrs. Oves, the esteemed landlord and lady of the “Byng,” never saw him so excited. He had a great opinion of the judgment of his friend, Mr. Ridley; in fact, he must have gone to Bedlam, unless he had talked to somebody on this most nefarious transaction, which might make the blood of every Briton curdle with horror — as he was free to say.

Old Mr. Ridley was of a much cooler temperament, and altogether a more cautious person. The doctor rich? He wished to tell no secrets, nor to meddle in no gentleman’s affairs: but he have heard very different statements regarding Dr. Firmin’s affairs.

When dark hints about treason, wicked desertion, rights denied, “and a great fortune which you are kept out of, my poor Caroline, by a rascally wolf in sheep’s clothing, you are; and I always mistrusted him, from the moment I saw him, and said to your mother, ‘Emily, that Brandon is a bad fellow, Brandon is;’ and bitterly, bitterly I’ve rued ever receiving him under my roof:" — when speeches of this nature were made to Mrs. Caroline, strange to say, the little lady made light of them. “Oh, nonsense, Pa! Don’t be bringing that sad old story up again. I have suffered enough from it already. If Mr. F. left me, he wasn’t the only one who flung me away; and I have been able to live, thank mercy, through it all.”

This was a hard hit, and not to be parried. The truth is, that when poor Caroline, deserted by her husband, had come back, in wretchedness, to her father’s door, the man, and the wife who then ruled him, had thought fit to thrust her away. And she had forgiven them: and had been enabled to heap a rare quantity of coals on that old gentleman’s head.

When the captain remarked his daughter’s indifference and unwillingness to reopen this painful question of her sham marriage with Firmin, his wrath was moved and his suspicion excited. “Ha!” says he, “have this man been a tampering with you again?”

“Nonsense, Pa!” once more says Caroline. “I tell you, it is this fine-talking lawyer’s clerk has been tampering with you. You’re made a tool of, Pa! and you’ve been made a tool of all your life!”

“Well, now, upon my honour, my honour, my good madam!” interposes Mr. Walls.

“Don’t talk to me, sir! I don’t want any lawyers’ clerks to meddle in my business!” cries Mrs. Brandon, very briskly. “I don’t know what you’re come about. I don’t want to know, and I’m most certain it is for no good.”

I suppose it was the ill success of his ambassador that brought Mr. Bond himself to Thornhaugh Street; and a more kind, fatherly little man never looked than Mr. Bond, although he may have had one eye smaller than the other. “What is this, my dear madam, I hear from my confidential clerk, Mr. Walls?” he asked of the Little Sister. “You refuse to give him your confidence because he is only a clerk? I wonder whether you will accord it to me, as a principal?”

“She may, sir, she may — every confidence!” says the captain, laying his hand on that snuffy satin waistcoat which all his friends so long admired on him. “She might have spoken to Mr. Walls.”

“Mr. Walls is not a family man. I am. I have children at home, Mrs. Brandon, as old as you are,” says the benevolent Bond. “I would have justice done them, and for you too.”

“You’re very good to take so much trouble about me all of a sudden, to be sure,” says Mrs. Brandon demurely. “I suppose you don’t do it for nothing.”

“I should not require much fee to help a good woman to her rights; and a lady I don’t think needs much persuasion to be helped to her advantage,” remarks Mr. Bond.

“That depends who the helper is.”

“Well, if I can do you no harm, and help you possibly to a name, to a fortune, to a high place in the world, I don’t think you need be frightened. I don’t look very wicked or very artful, do I?”

“Many is that don’t look so. I’ve learned as much as that about you gentlemen,” remarks Mrs. Brandon.

“You have been wronged by one man, and doubt all.”

“Not all. Some, sir!”

“Doubt about me if I can by any possibility injure you. But how and why should I? Your good father knows what has brought me here. I have no secret from him. Have I, Mr. Gann, or Captain Gann, as I have heard you addressed?”

“Mr., sir, — plain Mr. — No, sir; your conduct have been most open, honourable, and like a gentleman. Neither would you, sir, do aught to disparage Mrs. Brandon; neither would I, her father. No ways, I think, would a parent do harm to his own child. May I offer you any refreshment, sir?” and a shaky, a dingy, but a hospitable hand, is laid upon the glossy cupboard, in which Mrs. Brandon keeps her modest little store of strong waters.

“Not one drop, thank you! You trust me, I think, more than Mrs. Firm — I beg your pardon — Mrs. Brandon, is disposed to do.”

At the utterance of that monosyllable Firm, Caroline became so white, and trembled so, that her interlocutor stopped, rather alarmed at the effect of his word — his word! — his syllable of a word.

The old lawyer recovered himself with much grace.

“Pardon me, madam,” he said; “I know your wrongs; I know your most melancholy history; I know your name, and was going to use it, but it seemed to renew painful recollections to you, which I would not needlessly recal.”

Captain Gann took out a snuffy pocket-handkerchief, wiped two red eyes and a shirt-front, and winked at the attorney, and gasped in a pathetic manner.

“You know my story and name, sir, who are a stranger to me. Have you told this old gentleman all about me and my affairs, Pa?” asks Caroline, with some asperity. “Have you told him that my Ma never gave me a word of kindness — that I toiled for you and her like a servant — and when I came back to you, after being deceived and deserted, that you and Ma shut the door in my face? You did! you did! I forgive you; but a hundred thousand billion years can’t mend that injury, father, while you broke a poor child’s heart with it that day! My Pa has told you all this, Mr. What’s-your-name? I’m s’prized he didn’t find something pleasanter to talk about, I’m sure!”

“My love!” interposed the captain.

“Pretty love! to go and tell a stranger in a public-house, and ever so many there beside, I suppose, your daughter’s misfortunes, Pa. Pretty love! That’s what I’ve had from you!”

“Not a soul, on the honour of a gentleman, except me and Mr. Walls.”

“Then what do you come to talk about me at all for? and what scheme on hearth are you driving at? and what brings this old man here?” cries the landlady of Thornhaugh Street, stamping her foot.

“Shall I tell you frankly, my good lady? I called you Mrs. Firmin now because, on my honour and word, I believe such to be your rightful name — because you are the lawful wife of George Brand Firmin. If such be your lawful name, others bear it who have no right to bear it — and inherit property to which they can lay no just claim. In the year 1827, you, Caroline Gann, a child of sixteen, were married by a clergyman whom you know, to George Brand Firmin, calling himself George Brandon. He was guilty of deceiving you; but you were guilty of no deceit. He was a hardened and wily man; but you were an innocent child out of a school-room. And though he thought the marriage was not binding upon him, binding it is by Act of Parliament and judges’ decision; and you are as assuredly George Firmin’s wife, madam, as Mrs. Bond is mine!”

“You have been cruelly injured, Caroline,” says the captain, wagging his old nose ever his handkerchief.

Caroline seemed to be very well versed in the law of the transaction. “You mean, sir,” she said slowly, “that if me and Mr. Brandon was married to each other, he knwoing that he was only playing at marriage, and me believing that it was all for good, we are really married.”

“Undoubtedly you are, madam — my client has — that is, I have had advice on the point.”

“But if we both knew that it was — was only a sort of a marriage — an irregular marriage, you know?”

“Then the Act says that to all intents and purposes the marriage is null and void.”

“But you didn’t know, my poor innocent child!” cries Mr. Gann. “How should you? How old was you? She was a child in the nursery, Mr. Bond, when the villain inveigled her away from her poor old father. She knew nothing of irregular marriages.”

“Of course she didn’t the poor creature,” cries the old gentleman, rubbing his hands together with perfect good-humour. “Poor young thing, poor young thing!”

As he was speaking, Caroline, very pale and still, sate looking at Ridley’s sketch of Philip, which hung in her little room. Presently she turned round on the attorney, folding her little hands over her work.

“Mr. Bond,” she said, “girls, though they may be ever so young, know more than some folks fancy. I was more than sixteen when that — that business happened. I wasn’t happy at home, and was eager to get away. I knew that a gentleman of rank wouldn’t be likely really to marry a poor Cinderella out of a lodging-house, like me. If the truth must be told, I— I knew it was no marriage — never thought it was a marriage — not for good, you know.”

And she folds her little hands together as she utters the words, and I daresay once more looks at Philip’s portrait.

“Gracious goodness, madam, you must be under some error!” cries the attorney. “How should a child like you know that the marriage was irregular?”

“Because I had no lines!” cries Caroline quickly. “Never asked for none! And our maid we had then said to me, ‘Miss Carry, where’s your lines? And it’s no good without.’ And I knew it wasn’t! And I’m ready to go before the Lord Chancellor to-morrow and say so!” cries Caroline, to the bewilderment of her father and her cross-examinant.

“Pause, pause! my good madam!” exclaims the meek old gentleman, rising from his chair.

“Go and tell this to them as sent you, sir!” cries Caroline, very imperiously, leaving the lawyer amazed, and her father’s face in a bewilderment, over which we will fling his snuffy old pocket-handkerchief.

“If such is unfortunately the case — if you actually mean to abide by this astonishing confession — which deprives you of a high place in society — and — and casts down the hope we had formed of redressing your injured reputation — I have nothing for it! I take my leave, madam! Good morning, Mr. Hum! — Mr. Gann!” And the old lawyer walks out of the Little Sister’s room.

“She won’t own to the marriage! She is fond of some one else — the little suicide!” thinks the old lawyer, as he clatters down the street to a neighbouring house, where his anxious principal is waiting. “She’s fond of some one else!”

Yes. But the some one else whom Caroline loved was Brand Firmin’s son: and it was to save Philip from ruin that the poor Little Sister chose to forget her marriage to his father.

Chapter 13

Love Me Love My Dog.

Whilst the battle is raging, the old folks and ladies peep over the battlements, to watch the turns of the combat and the behaviour of the knights. To princesses in old days, whose lovely hands were to be bestowed upon the conqueror, it must have been a matter of no small interest to know whether the slim young champion with the lovely eyes on the milk-white steed should vanquish, or the dumpy, elderly, square-shouldered, squinting, carroty whiskerando of a warrior who was laying about him so savagely; and so in this battle, on the issue of which depended the keeping or losing of poor Philip’s inheritance, there were several non-combatants deeply interested. Or suppose we withdraw the chivalrous simile (as, in fact, the conduct and views of certain parties engaged in the matter were anything but what we call chivalrous), and imagine a wily old monkey who engages a cat to take certain chestnuts out of the fire, and pussy putting her paw through the bars, seizing the nut and then dropping it? Jacko is disappointed and angry, shows his sharp teeth, and bites if he dares. When the attorney went down to do battle for Philip’s patrimony, some of those who wanted it were spectators of the fight, and lurking up a tree hard by. When Mr. Bond came forward to try and seize Phil’s chestnuts, there was a wily old monkey who thrust the cat’s paw out, and proposed to gobble up the smoking prize.

If you have ever been at the “Admiral Byng,” you know, my dear madam, that the parlour where the club meets is just behind Mrs. Oves’s bar; so that by lifting up the sash of the window which communicates between the two apartments, that good-natured woman may put her face into the club-room, and actually be one of the society. Sometimes, for company, old Mr. Ridley goes and sits with Mrs. O— in her bar, and reads the paper there. He is slow at his reading. The long words puzzle the worthy gentleman. As he has plenty of time to spare, he does not grudge it to the study of his paper.

On the day when Mr. Bond went to persuade Mrs. Brandon in Thornhaugh Street to claim Dr. Firmin for her husband, and to disinherit poor Philip, a little gentleman wrapt most solemnly and mysteriously in a great cloak appeared at the bar of the “Admiral Byng,” and said in an aristocratic manner, “You have a parlour; show me to it:” and being introduced to the parlour (where there are fine pictures of Oves, and Mrs. O — and Spotty-nose, their favourite defunct bull-dog), sat down and called for a glass of sherry and a newspaper.

The civil and intelligent potboy of the “Byng” took the party The Advertiser of yesterday (which to-day’s paper was in ‘and); and when the gentleman began to swear over the old paper, Frederick gave it as his opinion to his mistress that the new comer was a harbitrary gent — as, indeed, he was, with the omission, perhaps, of a single letter; a man who bullied everybody who would submit to be bullied. In fact, it was our friend Talbot Twysden, Esq., Commissioner of the Powder and Pomatum Office; and I leave those who know him to say whether he is arbitrary or not.

To him presently came that bland old gentleman, Mr. Bond, who also asked for a parlour and some sherry and water; and this is how Philip and his veracious and astute biographer came to know for a certainty that dear uncle Talbot was the person who wished to — to have Philip’s chestnuts.

Mr. Bond and Mr. Twysden had been scarcely a minute together, when such a storm of imprecations came clattering through the glass-window which communicates with Mrs. Oves’s bar, that I daresay they made the jugs and tumblers clatter on the shelves, and Mr. Ridley, a very modest-spoken man, reading his paper, lay it down with a scared face, and say, “Well, I never.” Nor did he often, I dare to say.

This volley was fired by Talbot Twysden, in consequence of his rage at the news which Mr. Bond brought him.

“Well, Mr. Bond; well, Mr. Bond! What does she say?” he asked of his emissary.

“She will have nothing to do with the business, Mr. Twysden. We can’t touch it; and I don’t see how we can move her. She denies the marriage as much as Firmin does: says she knew it was a mere sham when the ceremony was performed.”

“Sir you didn’t bribe her enough,” shrieked Mr. Twysden. “You have bungled this business; by George, you have, sir.”

“Go and do it yourself, sir, if you are not ashamed to appear in it,” says the lawyer. “You don’t suppose I did it because I liked it; or want to take that poor young fellow’s inheritance from him, as you do?”

“I wish justice and the law, sir. If I were wrongfully detaining his property I would give it up. I would be the first to give it up. I desire justice and law, and employ you because you are a law agent. Are you not?”

“And I have been on your errand, and shall send in my bill in due time; and there will be an end of my connection with you as your law agent, Mr. Twysden,” cried the old lawyer.

“You know, sir, how badly Firmin acted to me in the last matter.”

“Faith, sir, if you ask my opinion as a law agent, I don’t think there was much to choose between you. How much is the sherry and water? — keep the change. Sorry I’d no better news to bring you, Mr. T., and as you are dissatisfied, again recommend you to employ another law agent.”

“My good sir, I— ”

“My good sir, I have had other dealings with your family, and am no more going to put up with your highti-tightiness than I would with Lord Ringwood’s, when I was one of his law agents. I am not going to tell Mr. Philip Firmin that his uncle and aunt propose to ease him of his property; but if anybody else does — that good little Mrs. Brandon — or that old goose Mr. Whatdyoucallem, her father — I don’t suppose he will be over well pleased. I am speaking as a gentleman now, not as a law agent. You and your nephew had each a half share of Mr. Philip Firmin’s grand-father’s property, and you wanted it all, that’s the truth, and set a law agent to get it for you; and swore at him because he could not get it from its right owner. And so, sir, I wish you a good morning, and recommend you to take your papers to some other agent, Mr. Twysden.” And with this, exit Mr. Bond. And now, I ask you, if that secret could be kept which was known through a trembling glass-door to Mrs. Oves of the “Admiral Byng,” and to Mr. Ridley, the father of J. J., and the obsequious husband of Mrs. Ridley.? On that very afternoon, at tea-time, Mrs. Ridley was made acquainted by her husband (in his noble and circumlo cutory manner) with the conversation which he had overheard. It was agreed that an embassy should be sent to J. J. on the business, and his advice taken regarding it; and J. J.’s opinion was that the conversation certainly should be reported to Mr. Philip Firmin, who might afterwards act upon it as he should think best.

What? His own aunt, cousins, and uncle agreed in a scheme to overthrow his legitimacy, and deprive him of his grandfather’s inheritance? It seemed impossible. Big with the tremendous news, Philip came to his adviser, Mr. Pendennis, of the Temple, and told him what had occurred on the part of father, uncle, and Little Sister. Her abnegation had been so noble, that you may be sure Philip appreciated it; and a tie of friendship was formed between the young man and the little lady even more close and tender than that which had bound them previously. But the Twysdens, his kinsfolk, to employ a lawyer in order to rob him of his inheritance! — Oh, it was dastardly! Philip bawled and stamped, and thumped his sense of the wrong in his usual energetic manner. As for his cousin Ringwood Twysden, Phil had often entertained a strong desire to wring his neck and pitch him downstairs. As for uncle Talbot: that he is an old pump, that he is a pompous old humbug, and the queerest old sycophant, I grant you; but I couldn’t have believed him guilty of this. And as for the girls — oh, Mrs. Pendennis, you who are good, you who are kind, although you hate them, I know you do — you can’t say, you won’t say, that they were in the conspiracy?

“But suppose Twysden was asking only for what he conceives to be his rights?” asked Mr. Pendennis. “Had your father been married to Mrs. Brandon, you would not have been Dr. Firmin’s legitimate son. Had you not been his legitimate son, you had no right to a half-share of your grandfather’s property. Uncle Talbot acts only the part of honour and justice in the transaction. He is Brutus, and he orders you off to death, with a bleeding heart.”

“And he orders his family out of the way,” roars Phil, “so that they mayn’t be pained by seeing the execution! I see it all now. I wish somebody would send a knife through me at once, and put an end to me. I see it all now. Do you know that for the last week I have been to Beaunash Street, and found nobody? Agnes had the bronchitis, and her mother was attending to her; Blanche came for a minute or two, and was as cool — as cool as I have seen Lady Iceberg be cool to her. Then they must go away for change of air. They have been gone these three days: whilst uncle Talbot and that viper of a Ringwood have been closeted with that nice new friend, Mr. Hunt. O conf —! I beg your pardon, ma’am; but I know you always allow for the energy of my language.”

“I should like to see that Little Sister, Mr. Firmin. She has not been selfish, or had any scheme but for your good,” remarks my wife.

“A little angel who drops her h’s — a little heart, so good and tender that I melt as I think of it,” says Philip, drawing his big hand over his eyes. “What have men done to get the love of some women? We don’t earn it; we don’t deserve it, perhaps. We don’t return it. They bestow it on us. I have given nothing back for all this love and kindness, but I look a little like my father of old days, for whom — for whom she had an attachment. And see now how she would die to serve me! You are wonderful, women are! your fidelities and your ficklenesses alike marvellous. What can any woman have found to adore in the doctor? Do you think my father could ever have been adorable, Mrs. Pendennis? And yet I have heard my poor mother say she was obliged to marry him. She knew it was a bad match, but she couldn’t resist it. In what was my father so irresistible? He is not to my taste. Between ourselves, I think he is a — well, never mind what.”

“I think we had best not mind what,” says my wife, with a smile.

“Quite right — quite right; only I blurt out everything that is on my mind. Can’t keep it in,” cries Phil, gnawing his mustachios. “If my fortune depended on my silence I should be a beggar, that’s the fact. And, you see, if you had such a father as mine, you yourself would find it rather difficult to hold your tongue about him. But now, tell me: this ordering away of the girls and aunt Twysden, whilst the little attack upon my property is being carried on — isn’t it queer?”

“The question is at an end,” said Mr. Pendennis. “You are restored to your atavis regibus and ancestral honours. Now that uncle Twysden can’t get the property without you, have courage, my boy — he may take it, along with the encumbrance.”

Poor Phil had not known — but some of us, who are pretty clear-sighted when our noble selves are not concerned, had perceived that Philip’s dear aunt was playing fast and loose with the lad, and when his back was turned was encouraging a richer suitor for her daughter.

Hand on heart I can say of my wife, that she meddles with her neighbours as little as any person I ever knew; but when treacheries in love affairs are in question, she fires up at once, and would persecute to death almost the heartless male or female criminal who would break love’s sacred laws. The idea of a man or woman trifling with that holy compact awakens in her a flame of indignation. In curtain confidences (of which let me not vulgarize the arcana), she had given me her mind about some of Miss Twysden’s behaviour with that odious blackamoor, as she chose to call Captain Woolcomb, who, I own, had a very slight tinge of complexion; and when, quoting the words of Hamlet regarding his father and, mother, I asked, “Could she on this fair mountain leave to feed, and batten on this Moor?” Mrs. Pendennis cried out that this matter was all too serious for jest, and wondered how her husband could make word-plays about it. Perhaps she has not the exquisite sense of humour possessed by some folks; or is it that she has more reverence? In her creed, if not in her church, marriage is a sacrament; and the fond believer never speaks of it without awe.

Now, as she expects both parties to the marriage engagement to keep that compact holy, she no more understands trifling with it than she could comprehend laughing and joking in a church. She has no patience with flirtations as they are called. “Don’t tell me, sir,” says the enthusiast, “a light word between a man and a married woman ought not to be permitted.” And this is why she is harder on the woman than the man, in cases where such dismal matters happen to fall under discussion. A look, a word from a woman, she says, will check a libertine thought or word in a man; and these cases might be stopped at once if the woman but showed the slightest resolution. She is thus more angry (I am only mentioning the peculiarities, not defending the ethics of this individual moralist) — she is, I say, more angrily disposed towards the woman than the man in such delicate cases; and, I am afraid, considers that women are for the most part only victims because they choose to be so.

Now, we had happened during this season to be at several entertainments, routs, and so forth, where poor Phil, owing to his unhappy Bohemian preferences and love of tobacco, was not present — and where we saw Miss Agnes Twysden carrying on such a game with the tawny Woolcomb, as set Mrs. Laura in a tremor of indignation. What though Agnes’s blue-eyed mamma sat near her blue-eyed daughter and kept her keen clear orbs perfectly wide open and cognizant of all that happened? So much the worse for her, the worse for both. It was a shame and a sin that a Christian English mother should suffer her daughter to deal lightly with the most holy, the most awful of human contracts; should be preparing her child who knows for what after misery of mind and soul. Three months ago, you saw how she encouraged poor Philip, and now see her with this mulatto!

“Is he not a man and a brother, my dear?” perhaps at this Mr. Pendennis interposes.

“Oh, for shame, Pen, no levity on this — no sneers and laughter on this the most sacred subject of all.” And here, I daresay, the woman falls to caressing her own children and hugging them to her heart as her manner was when moved. Que voulez-vous? There are some women in the world to whom love and truth are all in all here below. Other ladies there are who see the benefit of a good jointure, a town and country house, and so forth, and who are not so very particular as to the character, intellect, or complexion of gentlemen who are in a position to offer their dear girls these benefits. In fine, I say that regarding this blue-eyed mother and daughter, Mrs. Laura Pendennis was in such a state of mind, that she was ready to tear their blue eyes out.

Nay, it was with no little difficulty that Mrs. Laura could be induced to hold her tongue upon the matter and not give Philip her opinion. “What?” she would ask, “the poor young man is to be deceived and cajoled; to be taken or left as it suits these people; to be made miserable for life certainly if she marries him; and his friends are not to dare to warn him? The cowards! The cowardice of you men, Pen, upon matters of opinion, of you masters and lords of creation, is really despicable, sir! You dare not have opinions, or holding them you dare not declare them, and act by them. You compromise with crime every day because you think it would be officious to declare yourself and interfere. You are not afraid of outraging morals, but of inflicting ennui upon society, and losing your popularity. You are as cynical as — as, what was the name of the horrid old man who lived in the tub — Demosthenes? — well, Diogenes, then, and the name does not matter a pin, sir. You are as cynical, only you wear fine ruffled shirts and wristbands, and you carry your lantern dark. It is not right to ‘put your oar in,’ as you say in your jargon (and even your slang is a sort of cowardice, sir, for you are afraid to speak the feelings of your heart:— ) it is not right to meddle and speak the truth, not right to rescue a poor soul who is drowning — of course not. What call have you fine gentlemen of the world to put your oar in? Let him perish! What did he in that galley? That is the language of the world, baby darling. And, my poor, poor child, when you are sinking, nobody is to stretch out a hand to save you!” As for that wife of mine, when she sets forth the maternal plea, and appeals to the exuberant school of philosophers, I know there is no reasoning with her. I retire to my books, and leave her to kiss out the rest of the argument over the children.

Philip did not know the extent of the obligation which he owed to his little friend and guardian, Caroline; but he was aware that he had no better friend than herself in the world; and, I daresay, returned to her, as the wont is in such bargains between man and woman — woman and man, at least — a sixpence for that pure gold treasure, her sovereign affection. I suppose Caroline thought her sacrifice gave her a little authority to counsel Philip; for she it was who, I believe, first bid him to inquire whether that engagement which he had virtually contracted with his cousin was likely to lead to good, and was to be binding upon him but not on her? She brought Ridley to add his doubts to her remonstrances. She showed Philip that not only his uncle’s conduct, but his cousin’s, was interested, and set him to inquire into it further.

That peculiar form of bronchitis under which poor dear Agnes was suffering was relieved by absence from London. The smoke, the crowded parties and assemblies, the late hours, and, perhaps, the gloom of the house in Beaunash Street, distressed the poor dear child; and her cough was very much soothed by that fine, cutting east wind, which blows so liberally along the Brighton cliffs, and which is so good for coughs, as we all know. But there was one fault in Brighton which could not be helped in her bad case; it is too near London. The air, that chartered libertine, can blow down from London quite easily; or people can come from London to Brighton, bringing, I dare say, the insidious London fog along with them. At any rate, Agnes, if she wished for quiet, poor thing, might have gone farther and fared better. Why, if you owe a tailor a bill, he can run down and present it in a few hours. Vulgar, inconvenient acquaintances thrust themselves upon you at every moment and corner. Was ever such a tohubohu of people as there assembles? You can’t be tranquil, if you will. Organs pipe and scream without cease at your windows. Your name is put down in the papers when you arrive; and everybody meets everybody ever so many times a day.

On finding that his uncle had set lawyers to work, with the charitable purpose of ascertaining whether Philip’s property was legitimately his own, Philip was a good deal disturbed in mind. He could not appreciate that high sense of moral obligation by which Mr. Twysden was actuated. At least, he thought that these inquiries should not have been secretly set a-foot; and as he himself was perfectly open — a great deal too open, perhaps — in his words and his actions, he was hard with those who attempted to hoodwink or deceive him.

It could not be; ah! no, it never could be, that Agnes the pure and gentle was privy to this conspiracy. But then, how very — very often of late she had been from home; how very, very cold aunt Twysden’s shoulder had somehow become. Once, when he reached the door, a fishmonger’s boy was leaving a fine salmon at the kitchen, — a salmon and a tub of ice. Once, twice, at five o’clock, when he called, a smell of cooking pervaded the hall, — that hall which culinary odours very seldom visited. Some of those noble Twysden dinners were on the tapis, and Philip was not asked. Not to be asked. was no great deprivation; but who were the guests? To be sure, these were trifles light as air; but Philip smelt mischief in the steam of those Twysden dinners. He chewed that salmon with a bitter sauce as he saw it sink down the area steps and disappear (with its attendant lobster) in the dark kitchen regions.

Yes; eyes were somehow averted that used to look into his very frankly; a glove somehow had grown over a little hand which once used to lie very comfortably in his broad palm. Was anybody else going to seize it, and was it going to paddle in that blackamoor’s unblest fingers? Ah! fiends and tortures! a gentleman may cease to love, but does he like a woman to cease to love him? People carry on ever so long for fear of that declaration that all is over. No confession is more dismal to make. The sun of love has set. We sit in the dark — I mena you, dear madam, and Corydon, or I and Amaryllis — uncomfortabley, with nothing more to say to one another; with the night dew falling, and a risk of catching cold, drearily contemplating the fading west, with “the cold remains of lustre gone, of fire long past away.” Sink, fire of love! Rise, gentle moon, and mists of chilly evening. And, my good Madam Amaryllis, let us go home to some tea and a fire.

So Philip determined to go and seek his cousin. Arrived at his hotel (and if it were the — I can’t conceive Philip in much better quarters), he had the opportunity of inspecting those delightful newspaper arrivals, a perusal of which has so often edified us at Brighton. Mr. and Mrs. Penfold, he was informed, continued their residence, No. 96, Horizontal Place; and it was with those guardians he knew his Agnes was staying. He speeds to Horizontal Place. Miss Twysden is out. He heaves a sigh, and leaves a card. Has it ever happened to you to leave a card at that house — that house which was once THE house — almost your own; where you were ever welcome; where the kindest hand was ready to grasp yours, the brightest eye to greet you? And now your friendship has dwindled away to a little bit of pasteboard, shed once a year, and poor dear Mrs. Jones (it is with J. you have quarrelled) still calls on the ladies of your family and slips her husband’s ticket upon the hall table. O life and time, that it should have come to this! O gracious powers! Do you recal the time when Arabella Briggs was Arabella Thompson? You call and talk fadaises to her (at first she is rather nervous, and has the children in); you talk rain and fine weather; the last novel; the next party. Thompson in the City? Yes, Mr. Thompson is in the City. He’s pretty well, thank you. Ah! Daggers, ropes, and poisons, has it come to this? You are talking about the weather, and another man’s health, and another man’s children, of which she is mother, to her? Time was the weather, was all a burning sunshine, in which you and she basked; or if clouds gathered, and a storm fell, such a glorious rainbow haloed round you, such delicious tears fell and refreshed you, that the storm was more ravishing than the calm. And now another man’s children are sitting on her knee — their mother’s knee; and once a year Mr. and Mrs. John Thompson request the honour of Mr. Brown’s company at dinner; and once a year you read in The Times, “In Nursery Street, the wife of J. Thompson, Esq., of a Son.” To come to the once-beloved one’s door, and find the knocker tied up with a white kid glove, is humiliating — say what you will, it is humiliating.

Philip leaves his card, and walks on to the Cliff, and of course, in three minutes, meets Clinker. Indeed, who ever went to Brighton for half an hour without meeting Clinker?

“Father pretty well? His old patient, Lady Geminy, is down here with the children; what a number of them there are, to be sure! Come to make any stay? See your cousin, Miss Twysden, is here with the Penfolds. Little party at the Grigsons’ last night; she looked uncommonly well; danced ever so many times with the Black Prince, Woolcomb of the Greens. Suppose I may congratulate you. Six thousand five hundred a year now, and thirteen thousand when his grandmother dies; but those negresses live for ever. I suppose the thing is settled. I saw them on the pier just now, and Mrs. Penfold was reading a book in the arbour. Book of sermons it was — pious woman, Mrs. Penfold. I dare say they are on the pier still.” Striding with hurried steps Philip Firmin makes for the pier. The breathless Clinker cannot keep alongside of his face. I should like to have seen it when Clinker said that “the thing” was settled between Miss Twysden and the cavalry gentleman.

There were a few nursery governesses, maids, and children, paddling about at the end of the pier; and there was a fat woman reading a book in one of the arbours — but no Agnes, no Woolcomb. Where can they be? Can they be weighing each other? or buying those mad pebbles, which people are known to purchase? or having their silhouettes done in black? Ha! ha! Woolcomb would hardly have his face done in black. The idea would provoke odious comparisons. I see Philip is in a dreadfully bad sarcastic humour.

Up there comes from one of those trap-doors which lead down from the pier-head to the green sea-waves ever restlessly jumping below — up there comes a little Skye-terrier dog with a red collar, who, as soon as she sees Philip, sings, squeaks, whines, runs, jumps, flumps up on him, if I may use the expression, kisses his hands, and with eyes, tongue, paws, and tail shows him a thousand marks of welcome and affection. What, Brownie, Brownie! Philip is glad to see the dog, an old friend who has many a time licked his hand and bounced upon his knee.

The greeting over, Brownie, wagging her tail with prodigious activity, trots before Philip — trots down an opening, down the steps under which the waves shimmer greenly, and into quite a quiet remote corner just over the water, whence you may command a most beautiful view of the sea, the shore, the Marine Parade, and the Albion Hotel, and where, were I five-and-twenty say, with nothing else to do, I would gladly pass a quarter of an hour talking about Glaucus or the Wonders of the Deep with the object of my affections.

Here, amongst the labyrinth of piles, Brownie goes flouncing along till she comes to a young couple who are looking at the view just described. In order to view it better, the young man has laid his hand, a pretty little hand most delicately gloved, on the lady’s hand; and Brownie comes up and nuzzles against her, and whines and talks, as much as to say, “Here’s somebody,” and the lady says, “Down, Brownie, miss.”

“It’s no good, Agnes, that dog,” says the gentleman (he has very curly, not to say woolly hair, under his natty little hat). “I’ll give you a pug with a nose you can hang your hat on. I do know of one now. My man Rummins knows of one. Do you like pugs?”

“I adore them,” says the lady.

“I’ll give you one, if I have to pay fifty pounds for it. And they fetch a good figure, the real pugs do, I can tell you. Once in London there was an exhibition of ’em, and — ”

“Brownie, Brownie, down!” cries Agnes. The dog was jumping at a gentleman, a tall gentleman with red mustachios and beard, who advances through the chequered shade, under the ponderous beams, over the translucent sea.

“Pray don’t mind, Brownie won’t hurt me,” says a perfectly well-known voice, the sound of which sends all the colours shuddering out of Miss Agnes’ pink cheeks.

“You see I gave my cousin this dog, Captain Woolcomb,” says the gentleman; “and the little slut remembers me. Perhaps Miss Twysden likes the pug better.”

“Sir!”

“If it has a nose you can hang your hat on, it must be a very pretty dog, and I suppose you intend to hang your hat on it a good deal.”

“Oh, Philip!” says the lady; but an attack of that dreadful coughing stops further utterance.

Chapter 14

Contains Two of Philip’s Mishaps.

You know that, in some parts of India, infanticide is the common custom. It is part of the religion of the land, as, in other districts, widow-burning used to be. I can’t imagine that ladies like to destroy either themselves or their children, though they submit with bravery, and even cheerfulness, to the decrees of that religion which orders them to make away with their own or their young ones’ lives. Now, suppose you and I, as Europeans, happened to drive up where a young creature was just about to roast herself, under the advice of her family and the highest dignitaries of her church; what could we do? Rescue her? No such thing. We know better than to interfere with her, and the laws and usages of her country. We turn away with a sigh from the mournful scene; we pull out our pocket-handkerchiefs, tell coachman to drive on, and leave her to her sad fate.

Now about poor Agnes Twysden: how, in the name of goodness, can we help her? You see she is a well brought up and religious young woman of the Brahminical sect. If she is to be sacrificed, that old Brahmin her father, that good and devout mother, that most special Brahmin her brother, and that admirable girl her strait-laced sister, all insist upon her undergoing the ceremony, and deck her with flowers ere they lead her to that dismal altar flame. Suppose, I say, she has made up her mind to throw over poor Philip, and take on with some one else? What sentiment ought our virtuous bosoms to entertain towards her? Anger? I have just been holding a conversation with a young fellow in rags and without shoes, whose bed is commonly a dry arch, who has been repeatedly in prison, whose father and mother were thieves, and whose grandfathers were thieves; — are we to be angry with him for following the paternal profession? With one eye brimming with pity, the other steadily keeping watch over the family spoons, I listen to his artless tale. I have no anger against that child; nor towards thee, Agnes, daughter of Talbot the Brahmin.

For though duty is duty, when it comes to the pinch, it is often hard to do. Though dear papa and mamma say that here is a gentleman with ever so many thousands a year, an undoubted part in So-and-So-shire, and whole islands in the western main, who is wildly in love with your fair skin and blue eyes, and is ready to fling all his treasures at your feet; yet, after all, when you consider that he is very ignorant though very cunning; very stingy though very rich; very ill-tempered, probably, if faces and eyes and mouths can tell truth: and as for Philip Firmin — though actually his legitimacy is dubious, as we have lately heard, in which case his maternal fortune is ours — and as for his paternal inheritance, we don’t know whether the doctor is worth thirty thousand pounds or a shilling; — yet, after all — as for Philip — he is a man; he is a gentleman; he has brains in his head, and a great honest heart of which he has offered to give the best feelings to his cousin; — I say, when a poor girl has to be off with that old love, that honest and fair love, and be on with the new one, the dark one, I feel for her; and though the Brahmins are, as we know, the most genteel sect in Hindostan, I rather wish the poor child could have belonged to some lower and less rigid sect. Poor Agnes! to think that he has sat for hours, with mamma and Blanche or the governess, of course, in the room (for, you know, when she and Philip were quite wee wee things dear mamma had little amiable plans in view); has sat for hours by Miss Twysden’s side pouring out his heart to her; has had, mayhap, little precious moments of confidential talk — little hasty whispers in corridors, on stairs, behind window curtains, and — and so forth in fact. She must remember all this past; and can’t, without some pang, listen on the same sofa, behind the same window-curtains, to her dark suitor pouring out his artless tales of barracks, boxing, horseflesh, and the tender passion. He is dull, he is mean, he is ill-tempered, he is ignorant, and the other was . . .; but she will do her duty: oh, yes! she will do her duty! Poor Agnes! C’est à fendre le coeur. I declare I quite feel for her.

When Philip’s temper was roused, I have been compelled, as his biographer, to own how very rude and disagreeable he could be; and you must acknowledge that a young man has some reason to be displeased, when he finds the girl of his heart hand in hand with another young gentleman in an occult and shady recess of the woodwork of Brighton Pier. The green waves are softly murmuring: so is the officer of the Life Guards Green. The waves are kissing the beach. Ah, agonizing thought! I will not pursue the simile, which may be but a jealous man’s mad fantasy. Of this I am sure, no pebble on that beach is cooler than polished Agnes. But, then, Philip drunk with jealousy is not a reasonable being like Philip sober. “He had a dreadful temper,” Philip’s dear aunt said of him afterwards, — “I trembled for my dear, gentle child, united for ever to a man of that violence. Never, in my secret mind, could I think that their union could be a happy one. Besides, you know, the nearness of their relationship. My scruples on that score, dear Mrs. Candour, never, never could be quite got over.” And these scruples came to weigh whole tons, when Mangrove Hall, the house in Berkeley Square, and Mr. Woolcomb’s West India island were put into the scale along with them.

Of course there was no good in remaining amongst those damp, reeking timbers, now that the pretty little tête-à-tête was over. Little Brownie hung fondling and whining round Philip’s ankles, as the party ascended to the upper air. “My child, how pale you look!” cries Mrs. Penfold, putting down her volume. Out of the captain’s opal eyeballs shot lurid flames, and hot blood burned behind his yellow cheeks. In a quarrel, Mr. Philip Firmin could be particularly cool and self-possessed. When Miss Agnes rather piteously introduced him to Mrs. Penfold, he made a bow as polite and gracious as any performed by his royal father. “My little dog knew me,” he said, caressing the animal. “She is a faithful little thing, and she led me down to my cousin; and — Captain Woolcomb, I think, is your name, sir?”

As Philip curls his moustache and smiles blandly, Captain Woolcomb pulls his and scowls fiercely. “Yes, sir,” he mutters, “my name is Woolcomb.” Another bow and a touch of the hat from Mr. Firmin. A touch? — a gracious wave of the hat; acknowledged by no means so gracefully by Captain Woolcomb.

To these remarks, Mrs. Penfold says, “Oh!” In fact, “Oh!” is about the best thing that could be said under the circumstances.

“My cousin, Miss Twysden, looks so pale because she was out very late dancing last night. I hear it was a very pretty ball. But ought she to keep such late hours, Mrs. Penfold, with her delicate health? Indeed, you ought not, Agnes! Ought she to keep late hours, Brownie? There — don’t, you little foolish thing! I gave my cousin the dog: and she’s very fond of me — the dog is — still. You were saying, Captain Woolcomb, when I came up, that you would give Miss Twysden a dog on whose nose you could hang your — I beg pardon?”

Mr. Woolcomb, as Philip made this second allusion to the peculiar nasal formation of the pug, ground his little white teeth together, and let slip a most improper monosyllable. More acute bronchial suffering was manifested on the part of Miss Twysden. Mrs. Penfold said, “The day is clouding over. I think, Agnes, I will have my chair, and go home.”

“May I be allowed to walk with you as far as your house?” says Philip, twiddling a little locket which he wore at his watch-chain. It was a little gold locket, with a little pale hair inside. Whose hair could it have been that was so pale and fine? As for the pretty hieroglyphical A. T. at the back, those letters might indicate Alfred Tennyson, or Anthony Trollope, who might have given a lock of their golden hair to Philip, for I know he is an admirer of their works.

Agnes looked guiltily at the little locket. Captain Woolcomb pulled his moustache so, that you would have thought he would have pulled it off; and his opal eyes glared with fearful confusion and wrath.

“Will you please to fall back and let me speak to you, Agnes? Pardon me, Captain Woolcomb, I have a private message for my cousin; and I came from London expressly to deliver it.”

“If Miss Twysden desires me to withdraw, I fall back in one moment,” says the captain, clenching the little lemon-coloured gloves.

“My cousin and I have lived together all our lives, and I bring her a family message. Have you any particular claim to hear it, Captain Woolcomb?”

“Not if Miss Twysden don’t want me hear it. . . . D— the little brute.”

“Don’t kick poor little harmless Brownie! He shan’t kick you, shall he, Brownie?”

“If the brute comes between my shins, I’ll kick her!” shrieks the captain. “Hang her, I’ll throw her into the sea!”

“Whatever you do to my dog, I swear I will do to you!” whispers Philip to the captain.

“Where are you staying?” shrieks the captain. “Hang you, you shall hear from me.”

“Quiet — Bedford Hotel. Easy, or I shall think you want the ladies to overhear.”

“Your conduct is horrible, sir,” says Agnes, rapidly, in the French language. “Mr. does not comprehend it.”

“ — it! If you have any secrets to talk, I’ll withdraw fast enough, Miss Agnes,” says Othello.

“Oh, Grenville! can I have any secrets from you? Mr. Firmin is my first-cousin. We have lived together all our lives. Philip, I— I don’t know whether mamma announced to you my — my engagement with Captain Grenville Woolcomb.” The agitation has brought on another severe bronchial attack. Poor, poor little Agnes! What it is to have a delicate throat!

The pier tosses up to the skies, as though it had left its moorings — the houses on the cliff dance and reel, as though an earthquake was driving them — the sea walks up into the lodging-houses — and Philip’s legs are failing from under him: it is only for a moment. When you have a large, tough double tooth out, doesn’t the chair go up to the ceiling, and your head come off too? But, in the next instant, there is a grave gentleman before you, making you a bow, and concealing something in his right sleeve. The crash is over. You are a man again. Philip clutches hold of the chain pier for a minute: it does not sink under him. The houses, after reeling for a second or two, reassume the perpendicular, and bulge their bow windows towards the main. He can see the people looking from the windows, the carriages passing, Professor Spurrier riding on the cliff with eighteen young ladies, his pupils. In long after days he remembers those absurd little incidents with a curious tenacity.

“This news, “Philip says, “was not — not altogether unexpected. I congratulate my cousin, I am sure. Captain Woolcomb, had I known this for certain, I am sure I should not have interrupted you. You were going, perhaps, to ask me to your hospitable house, Mrs. Penfold?”

“Was she though?” cries the captain.

“I have asked a friend to dine with me at the Bedford, and shall go to town, I hope, in the morning. Can I take anything for you, Agnes? Good-by:” and he kisses his hand in quite a dégagé manner, as Mrs. Penfold’s chair turns eastward and he goes to the west. Silently the tall Agnes sweeps along, a fair hand laid upon her friend’s chair.

It’s over! it’s over! She has done it. He was bound, and kept his honour, but she did not: it was she who forsook him. And I fear very much Mr. Philip’s heart leaps with pleasure and an immense sensation of relief at thinking he is free. He meets half a dozen acquaintances on the cliff. He laughs, jokes, shakes hands, invites two or three to dinner in the gayest manner. He sits down on that green, not very far from his inn, and is laughing to himself, when he suddenly feels something nestling at his knee, — rubbing, and nestling, and whining plaintively. “What, is that you?” It is little Brownie, who has followed him. Poor little rogue!

Then Philip bent down his head over the dog, and as it jumped on him, with little bleats, and whines, and innocent caresses, he broke out into a sob, and a great refreshing rain of tears fell from his eyes. Such a little illness! Such a mild fever! Such a speedy cure! Some people have the complaint so mildly that they are scarcely ever kept to their beds. Some bear its scars for ever.

Philip sat resolutely at the hotel all night, having given special orders to the porter to say that he was at home, in case any gentleman should call. He had a faint hope, he afterwards owned, that some friend of Captain Woolcomb might wait on him on that officer’s part. He had a faint hope that a letter might come explaining that treason, — as people will have a sick, gnawing, yearning, foolish desire for letters — letters which contain nothing, which never did contain anything — letters which, nevertheless, you — You know, in fact, about those letters, and there is no earthly use in asking to read Philip’s . Have we not all read those love-letters which, after love-quarrels, come into court sometimes? We have all read them; and how many have written them? Nine o’clock. Ten o’clock. Eleven o’clock. No challenge from the captain; no explanation from Agnes. Philip declares he slept perfectly well. But poor little Brownie the dog made a piteous howling all night in the stables. She was not a well-bred dog. You could not have hung the least hat on her nose.

We compared anon our dear Agnes to a Brahmin lady, meekly offering herself up to sacrifice according to the practice used in her highly respectable caste. Did we speak in anger or in sorrow? — surely in terms of respectful grief and sympathy. And if we pity her, ought we not likewise to pity her highly respectable parents? When the notorious Brutus ordered his sons to execution, you can’t suppose he was such a brute as to be pleased? All three parties suffered by the transaction: the sons, probably, even more than their austere father; but it stands to reason that the whole trio were very melancholy. At least, were I a poet or musical composer depicting that business, I certainly should make them so:— the sons, piping in a very minor key indeed; the father’s manly basso, accompanied by deep wind instruments, and interrupted by appropriate sobs. Though pretty fair Agnes is being led to execution, I don’t suppose she likes it, or that her parents are happy, who are compelled to order the tragedy.

That the rich young proprietor of Mangrove Hall should be fond of her, was merely a coincidence, Mrs. Twysden afterwards always averred. Not for mere wealth — ah, no! not for mines of gold — would they sacrifice their darling child. But when that sad Firmin affair happened, you see it also happened that Captain Woolcomb was much struck by dear Agnes, whom he met everywhere. Her scapegrace of a cousin would go nowhere. He preferred his bachelor associates, and horrible smoking and drinking habits, to the amusements and pleasures of more refined society. He neglected Agnes. There is not the slightest doubt he neglected and mortified her, and his wilful and frequent absence showed how little he cared for her. Would you blame the dear girl for coldness to a man who himself showed such indifference to her? “No, my good Mrs. Candour. Had Mr. Firmin been ten times as rich as Mr. Woolcomb, I should have counselled my child to refuse him. I take the responsibility of the measure entirely on myself — I, and her father, and her brother.” So Mrs. Twysden afterwards spoke, in circles where an absurd and odious rumour ran, that the Twysdens had forced their daughter to jilt young Mr. Firmin in order to marry a young quadroon. People will talk, you know, de me, de te. If Woolcomb’s dinners had not gone off so after his marriage, I have little doubt the scandal would have died away, and he and his wife might have been pretty generally respected and visited.

Nor must you suppose, as we have said, that dear Agnes gave up her first love without a pang. That bronchitis showed how acutely the poor thing felt her position. It broke out very soon after Mr. Woolcomb’s attentions became a little particular; and she actually left London in consequence. It is true that he could follow her without difficulty, but so, for the matter of that, could Philip, as we have seen, when he came down and behaved so rudely to Captain Woolcomb. And before Philip came, poor Agnes could plead, “My father pressed me sair,” as in the case of the notorious Mrs. Robin Gray.

Father and mother both pressed her sair. Mrs. Twysden, I think I have mentioned, wrote an admirable letter, and was aware of her accomplishment. She used to write reams of gossip regularly every week to dear uncle Ringwood when he was in the country: and when her daughter Blanche married, she is said to have written several of her new son’s sermons. As a Christian mother, was she not to give her daughter her advice at this momentous period of her life? That advice went against poor Philip’s chances with his cousin, who was kept acquainted with all the circumstances of the controversy of which we have just seen the issue. I do not mean to say that Mrs. Twysden gave an impartial statement of case. What parties in a lawsuit do speak impartily on their own side or their adversaries’? Mrs. Twysden’s view, as I have learned subsequently, and as imparted to her daughter, was this:— That most unprincipled man, Dr. Firmin, who had already attempted, and unjustly, to deprive the Twysdens of a part of their property, had commenced in quite early life his career of outrage and wickedness against the Ringwood family. He had led dear Lord Ringwood’s son, poor dear Lord Cinqbars, into a career of vice and extravagance which caused the premature death of that unfortunate young nobleman. Mr. Firmin had then made a marriage, in spite of the tears and entreaties of Mrs. Twysden, with her late unhappy sister, whose whole life had been made wretched by the doctor’s conduct. But the climax of outrage and wickedness was, that when he — he, a low, penniless adventurer — married Colonel Ringwood’s daughter, he was married already, as could be sworn by the repentant clergyman who had been forced, by threats of punishment which Dr. Firmin held over him, to perform the rite! “The mind” — Mrs. Talbot Twysden’s fine mind — “shuddered at the thought of such wickedness.” But most of all (for to think ill of any one whom she had once loved gave her pain) there was reason to believe that the unhappy Philip Firmin was his father’s accomplice, and that he knew of his own illegitimacy, which he was determined to set aside by any fraud or artifice — (she trembled, she wept to have to say this: O heaven! that there should be such perversity in thy creatures!) And so little store did Philip set by his mother’s honour, that he actually visited the abandoned woman who acquiesced in her own infamy, and had brought such unspeakable disgrace on the Ringwood family! The thought of this crime had caused Mrs. Twysden and her dear husband nights of sleepless anguish — had made them years and years older — had stricken their hearts with a grief which must endure to the end of their days. With people so unscrupulous, so grasping, so artful as Dr. Firmin and (must she say?) his son, they were bound to be on their guard; and though they had avoided Philip, she had deemed it right, on the rare occasions when she and the young man whom she must now call her illegitimate nephew met, to behave as though she knew nothing of this most dreadful controversy.

“And now, dearest child” . . . Surely the moral is obvious? The dearest child “must see at once that any foolish plans which were formed in childish days and under former delusions must be cast aside for ever as impossible, as unworthy of a Twysden — of a Ringwood. Be not concerned for the young man himself,” wrote Mrs. Twysden — “I blush that he should bear that dear father’s name who was slain in honour on Busaco’s glorious field. P. F. has associates amongst whom he has ever been much more at home than in our refined circle, and habits which will cause him to forget you only too easily. And if near you is one whose ardour shows itself in his every word and action, whose wealth and property may raise you to a place worthy of my child, need I say, a mother’s, a father’s blessing go with you.” This letter was brought to Miss Twysden, at Brighton, by a special messenger; and the superscription announced that it was “honoured by Captain Grenville Woolcomb.”

Now when Miss Agnes has had a letter to this effect, from a mother in whose prudence and affection a child could surely confide; when she remembers all the abuse her brother lavishes against Philip, as, heaven bless some of them! dear relatives can best do; when she thinks how cold he has of late been — how he will come smelling of cigars — how he won’t conform to the usages du monde, and has neglected all the decencies of society — how she often can’t understand his strange rhapsodies about poetry, painting, and the like, nor how he can live with such associates as those who seem to delight him — and now how he is showing himself actually unprincipled and abetting his horrid father; when we consider mither pressing sair, and all these points in mither’s favour, I don’t think we can order Agnes to instant execution for the resolution to which she is coming. She will give him up — she will give him up. Good-by, Philip. Good-by the past. Be forgotten, be forgotten, fond words spoken in not unwilling ears! Be still and breathe not, eager lips, that have trembled so near to one another! Unlock, hands, and part for ever, that seemed to be formed for life’s long journey! Ah, to part for ever is hard; but harder and more humiliating still to part without regret!

That papa and mamma had influenced Miss Twysden in her behaviour my wife and I could easily imagine, when Philip, in his wrath and grief, came to us and poured out the feelings of his heart. My wife is a repository of men’s secrets, and untiring consoler and comforter; and she knows many a sad story which we are not at liberty to tell, like this one of which this person, Mr. Firmin, has given us possession.

“Father and mother’s orders,” shouts Philip, “I daresay, Mrs. Pendennis; but the wish was father to the thought of parting, and it was for the blackamoor’s parks and acres that the girl jilted me. Look here. I told you just now that I slept perfectly well on that infernal night after I had said farewell to her. Well, I didn’t. It was a lie. I walked ever so many times the whole length of the cliff, from Hove to Rottingdean almost, and then went to bed afterwards, and slept a little out of sheer fatigue. And as I was passing by Horizontal Place ( — I happened to pass by there two or three times in the moonlight, like a great jackass — ) you know those verses of mine which I have hummed here sometimes?” (hummed! he used to roar them!) “‘When the locks of burnished gold, lady, shall to silver turn!’ Never mind the rest. You know the verses about fidelity and old age? She was singing them on that night, to that negro. And I heard the beggar’s voice say, ‘Bravo!’ through the open windows.”

“Ah, Philip! it was cruel,” says my wife, heartily pitying our friend’s anguish and misfortune. “It was cruel indeed. I am sure we can feel for you. But think what certain misery a marriage with such a person would have been! Think of your warm heart given away for ever to that heartless creature.”

“Laura, Laura, have you not often warned me not to speak ill of people?” says Laura’s husband.

“I can’t help it sometimes,” cries Laura in a transport. “I try and do my best not to speak ill of my neighbours; but the worldliness of those people shocks me so that I can’t bear to be near them. They are so utterly tied and bound by conventionalities, so perfectly convinced of their own excessive high-breeding, that they seem to me more odious and more vulgar than quite low people; and I am sure Mr. Philip’s friend, the Little Sister, is infinitely more ladylike than his dreary aunt or either of his supercilious cousins!” Upon my word, when this lady did speak her mind, there was no mistaking her meaning.

I believe Mr. Firmin took a considerable number of people into his confidence regarding this love affair. He is one of those individuals who can’t keep their secrets; and when hurt he roars so loudly that all his friends can hear. It has been remarked that the sorrows of such persons do not endure very long; nor surely was there any great need in this instance that Philip’s heart should wear a lengthened mourning. Ere long he smoked his pipes, he played his billiards, he shouted his songs; he rode in the Park for the pleasure of severely cutting his aunt and cousins when their open carriage passed, or of riding down Captain Woolcomb or his cousin Ringwood, should either of those worthies come in his way.

One day, when the old Lord Ringwood came to town for his accustomed spring visit, Philip condescended to wait upon him, and was announced to his lordship just as Talbot Twysden and Ringwood his son were taking leave of their noble kinsman. Philip looked at them with a flashing eye and a distended nostril, according to his swaggering wont. I daresay they on their part bore a very mean and hangdog appearance; for my lord laughed at their discomfiture, and seemed immensely amused as they slunk out of the door when Philip came hectoring in.

“So, sir, there has been a family row. Heard all about it: at least, their side. Your father did me the favour to marry my niece, having another wife already?”

“Having no other wife already, sir — though my dear relations wish to show that he had.”

“Wanted your money; thirty thousand pounds is not a trifle. Ten thousand apiece for those children. And no more need of any confounded pinching and scraping, as they have to do at Beaunash Street. Affair off between you and Agnes? Absurd affair. So much the better.”

“Yes, sir, so much the better.”

“Have ten thousand apiece. Would have twenty thousand if they got yours. Quite natural to want it.”

“Quite.”

“Woolcomb a sort of negro, I understand. Fine property here: besides the West India rubbish. Violent man — so people tell me. Luckily Agnes seems a cool, easy-going woman, and must put up with the rough as well as the smooth in marrying a property like that. Very lucky for you that that woman persists there was no marriage with your father. Twysden says the doctor bribed her. Take it he’s not got much money to bribe, unless you gave some of yours.”

“I don’t bribe people to bear false witness, my lord — and if —

“Don’t be in a huff; I didn’t say so. Twysden says so — perhaps thinks so. When people are at law they believe anything of one another.”

“I don’t know what other people may do, sir. If I had another man’s money, I should not be easy until I had paid him back. Had my share of my grandfather’s property not been lawfully mine — and for a few hours I thought it was not — please God, I would have given it up to its rightful owners — at least, my father would.”

“Why, hang it all, man, you don’t mean to say your father has not settled with you?”

Philip blushed a little. He had been rather surprised that there had been no settlement between him and his father.

“I am only of age a few months, sir. I am not under any apprehension. I get my dividends regularly enough. One of my grandfather’s trustees, General Baynes, is in India. He is to return almost immediately, or we should have sent a power of attorney out to him. There’s no hurry about the business.”

Philip’s maternal grandfather, and Lord Ringwood’s brother, the late Colonel Philip Ringwood, had died possessed of but trifling property of his own; but his wife had brought him a fortune of sixty thousand pounds, which was settled on their children, and in the names of trustees — Mr. Briggs, a lawyer, and Colonel Baynes, an East India officer, and friend of Mrs. Philip Ringwood’s family. Colonel Baynes had been in England some eight years before; and Philip remembered a kind old gentleman coming to see him at school, and leaving tokens of his bounty behind. The other trustee, Mr. Briggs, a lawyer of considerable county reputation, was dead long since, having left his affairs in an involved condition. During the trustee’s absence and the son’s minority, Philip’s father received the dividends on his son’s property, and liberally spent them on the boy, Indeed, I believe that for some little time at college, and during his first journeys abroad, Mr. Philip spent rather more than the income of his maternal inheritance, being freely supplied by his father, who told him not to stint himself. He was a sumptuous man, Dr.Firmin — openhanded — subscribing to many charities — a lover of solemn good cheer. The doctor’s dinners and the doctor’s equipages were models in their way; and I remember the sincere respect with which my uncle the major (the family guide in such matters) used to speak of Dr. Firmin’s taste. “No duchess in London, sir,” he would say, “drove better horses than Mrs. Firmin. Sir George Warrender, sir, could not give a better dinner, sir, than that to which we sat down yesterday.” And for the exercise of these civic virtues the doctor had the hearty respect of the good major.

“Don’t tell me, sir,” on the other hand, Lord Ringwood would say; “I dined with the fellow once — a swaggering fellow, sir; but a servile fellow. The way he bowed and flattered was perfectly absurd. Those fellows think we like it — and we may. Even at my age, I like flattery — any quantity of it; and not what you call delicate, but strong, sir. I like a man to kneel down and kiss my shoestrings. I have my own opinion of him afterwards, but that is what I like — what all men like; and that is what Firmin gave in quantities. But you could see that his house was monstrously expensive. His dinner was excellent, and you saw it was good every day — not like your dinners, my good Maria; not like your wines, Twysden, which, hang it, I can’t swallow, unless I send ’em in myself. Even at my own house, I don’t give that kind of wine on common occasions which Firmin used to give. I drink the best myself, of course, and give it to some who know; but I don’t give it to common fellows, who come to hunting dinners, or to girls and boys who are dancing at my balls.”

“Yes; Mr. Firmin’s dinners were very handsome — and a pretty end came of the handsome dinners!” sighed Mrs. Twysden.

“That’s not the question; I am only speaking about the fellow’s meat and drink, and they were both good. And it’s my opinion, that fellow will have a good dinner wherever he goes.”

I had the fortune to be present at one of these feasts, which Lord Ringwood attended, and at which I met Philip’s trustee, General Baynes, who had just arrived from India. I remember now the smallest details of the little dinner, — the brightness of the old plate, on which the doctor prided himself, and the quiet comfort, not to say splendour, of the entertainment. The general seemed to take a great liking to Philip, whose grandfather had been his special friend and comrade in arms. He thought he saw something of Philip Ringwood in Philip Firmin’s face.

“Ah, indeed!” growls Lord Ringwood.

“You ain’t a bit like him,” says the downright general. “Never saw a handsomer or more openlooking fellow than Philip Ringwood.”

“Oh! I daresay I looked pretty open myself forty years ago,” said my lord; “now I’m shut, I suppose. I don’t see the least likeness in this young man to my brother.”

“That is some sherry as old as the century,” whispers the host; “it is the same the Prince Regent liked so at a Mansion House dinner, five-and-twenty years ago.”

“Never knew anything about wine; was always tippling liqueurs and punch. What do you give for this sherry, doctor?”

The doctor sighed, and looked up to the chandelier. “Drink it while it lasts, my good lord; but don’t ask me the price. The fact is, I don’t like to say what I gave for it.”

“You need not stint yourself in the price of sherry, doctor,” cries the general gaily; “you have but one son, and he has a fortune of his own, as I happen to know. You haven’t dipped it, master Philip?”

“I fear, sir, I may have exceeded my income sometimes, in the last three years; but my father has helped me.”

“Exceeded nine hundred a-year! Upon my word! When I was a sub, my friends gave me fifty pounds a year, and I never was a shilling in debt! What are men coming to now?”

“If doctors drink Prince Regent’s sherry at ten guineas a dozen, what can you expect of their sons, General Baynes?” grumbles my lord.

“My father gives you his best, my lord,” says Philip gaily; “if you know of any better, he will get it for you. Si non, his utere mecum! Please to pass me that decanter, Pen!”

I thought the old lord did not seem ill pleased at the young man’s freedom; and now, as I recal it, think I can remember, that a peculiar silence and anxiety seemed to weigh upon our host — upon him whose face was commonly so anxious and sad.

The famous sherry, which had made many voyages to Indian climes before it acquired its exquisite flavour, had travelled some three or four times round the doctor’s polished table, when Brice, his man, entered with a letter on his silver tray. Perhaps Philip’s eyes and mine exchanged glances in which ever so small a scintilla of mischief might sparkle. The doctor often had letters when he was entertaining his friends; and his patients had a knack of falling ill at awkward times.

“Gracious heavens!” cries the doctor, when he read the despatch — it was a telegraphic message. “The poor Grand Duke!”

“What Grand Duke?” asks the surly lord of Ringwood.

“My earliest patron and friend — the Grand Duke of Groningen! Seized this morning at eleven at Potzendorff! Has sent for me. I promised to go to him if ever he had need of me. I must go! I can save the night-train yet. General! our visit to city must be deferred till my return. Get a portmanteau, Brice; and call a cab at once. Philip will entertain my friends for the evening. My dear lord, you won’t mind an old doctor leaving you to attend an old patient? I will write from Groningen. I shall be there on Friday morning. Farewell, gentlemen! Brice, another bottle of that sherry! I pray, don’t let anybody stir! God bless you, Philip, my boy!” And with this the doctor went up, took his son by the hand, and laid the other very kindly on the young man’s shoulder. Then he made a bow round the table to his guests — one of his graceful bows, for which he was famous. I can see the sad smile on his face now, and the light from the chandelier over the dining-table glancing from his shining forehead, and casting deep shadows on to his cheek from his heavy brows.

The departure was a little abrupt, and, of course, cast somewhat of a gloom upon the company.

“My carriage ain’t ordered till ten — must go on sitting here, I suppose. Confounded life doctor’s must be! Called up any hour in the night! Get their fees! Must go!” growled the great man of the party.

“People are glad enough to have them when they are ill, my lord. I think I have heard that once, when you were at Ryde — ”

The great man started back as if a little shock of cold water had fallen on him; and then looked at Philip with not unfriendly glances. “Treated for gout — so he did. Very well, too!” said my lord; and whispered, not inaudibly, “Cool hand, that boy!” And then his lordship fell to talk with General Baynes about his campaigning, and his early acquaintance with his own brother, Philip’s grandfather.

The general did not care to brag about his own feats of arms, but was loud in praises of his old comrade. Philip was pleased to hear his grandsire so well spoken of. The general had known Dr. Firmin’s father also, who likewise had been a colonel in the famous old Peninsular army. “A Tartar that fellow was, and no mistake!” said the good officer. “Your father has a strong look of him; and you have a glance of him at times. But you remind me of Philip Ringwood not a little; and you could not belong to a better man.”

“Ha!” says my lord. There has been differences between him and his brother. He may have been thinking of days when they were friends. Lord Ringwood now graciously asked if General Baynes was staying in London? But the general had only come to do this piece of business, which must now be delayed. He was too poor to live in London. He must look out for a country place, where he and his children could live cheaply. “Three boys at school, and one at college, Mr. Philip — you know what that must cost; though, thank my stars, my college boy does not spend nine hundred a year. Nine hundred! Where should we be if he did?” In fact, the days of nabobs are long over, and the general had come back to his native country with only very small means for the support of a great family.

When my lord’s carriage came, he departed, and the other guests presently took their leave. The general, who was a bachelor for the nonce, remained awhile, and we three prattled over cheroots in Philip’s smokingroom. It was a night like a hundred I have spent there, and yet how well I remember it! We talked about Philip’s future prospects, and he communicated his intentions to us in his lordly way. As for practising at the bar: No, sir! he said, in reply to General Baynes’ queries, he should not make much hand of that: shouldn’t if he were ever so poor. He had his own money, and his father’s, and he condescended to say that he might, perhaps, try for Parliament, should an eligible opportunity offer. “Here’s a fellow born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” says the general, as we walked away together. “A fortune to begin with; a fortune to inherit. My fortune was two thousand pounds and the price of my two first commissions; and when I die my children will not be quite so well off as their father was when he began!”

Having parted with the old officer at his modest sleeping quarters near his club, I walked to my own home, little thinking that yonder cigar, of which I had shaken some of ashes in Philip’s smoking-room, was to be the last tobacco I ever should smoke there. The pipe was smoked out. The wine was drunk. When that door closed on me, it closed for the last time — at least, was never more to admit me as Philip’s, as Dr. Firmin’s, guest and friend. I pass the place often now. My youth comes back to me as I gaze at those blank, shining windows. I see myself a boy, and Philip a child; and his fair mother; and his father, the hospitable, the melancholy, the magnificent. I wish I could have helped him. I wish somehow he had borrowed money. He never did. He gave me his often. I have never seen him since that night when his own door closed upon him.

On the second day after the doctor’s departure, as I was at breakfast with my family, I received the following letter:—

My dear Pendennis,

Could I have seen you in private on Tuesday night, I might have warned you of the calamity which was hanging over my house. But to what good end? That you should know a few weeks, hours before, what all the world will ring with to-morrow? Neither you nor I, nor one whom we both love, would have been the happier for knowing my misfortunes a few hours sooner. In four-and-twenty hours every club in London will be busy with talk of the departure of the celebrated Dr. Firmin — the wealthy Dr. Firmin; a few months more and (I have strict and confidential reason to believe) hereditary rank would have been mine, but Sir George Firmin would have been an insolvent man, and his son Sir Philip a beggar. Perhaps the thought of this honour has been one of the reasons which has determined me on expatriating myself sooner than I otherwise needed to have done.

George Firmin, the honoured, the wealthy physician, and his son a beggar? I see you are startled at the news! You wonder how, with a great practice, and no great ostensible expenses, such ruin should have come upon me — upon him. It has seemed as if for years past Fate has been determined to make war upon George Brand Firmin; and who can battle against Fate? A man universally admitted to be of good judgment, I have embarked in mercantile speculations the most promising. Everything upon which I laid my hand has crumbled to ruin; but I can say with the Roman bard, “Impavidum ferient ruinæ.” And, almost penniless, almost aged, an exile driven from my country, I seek another where I do not despair — I even have a firm belief that I small be enabled to repair my shattered fortunes! My race has never been deficient in courage, and Philip and Philip’s father must use all theirs, so as to be enabled to face the dark times which menace them. Si celeres quatit pennas Fortuna, we must resign what she gave us, and bear our calamity with unshaken hearts!

There is a man, I own to you, whom I cannot, I must not face. General Baynes has just come from India, with but very small savings, I fear; and these are jeopardized by his imprudence and my most cruel and unexpected misfortune. I need not tell you that my all would have been my boy’s . My will, made long since, will be found in the tortoiseshell secretaire standing in my consulting-room under the picture of Abraham offering up Isaac. In it you will see that everything, except annuities to old and deserving servants and a legacy to one excellent and faithful woman whom I own I have wronged — my all, which once was considerable, is left to my boy.

I am now worth less than nothing, and have compromised Philip’s property along with my own. As a man of business, General Baynes, Colonel Ringwood’s old companion in arms, was culpably careless, and I— alas! that I must own it — deceived him. Being the only surviving trustee (Mrs. Philip Ringwood’s other trustee was an unprincipled attorney who has been long dead), General B. signed a paper authorizing, as he imagined, my bankers to receive Philip’s dividends, but, in fact, giving me the power to dispose of the capital sum. On my honour, as a man, as a gentleman, as a father, Pendcnnis, I hoped to replace it! I took it; I embarked it in speculations in which it sank down with ten times the amount of my own private property. Half-year after halfyear, with straitened means and with the greatest difficulty to myself, my poor boy has had his dividend; and he at least has never known what was want or anxiety until now. Want? Anxiety? Pray heaven he never may suffer the sleepless anguish, the racking care which has pursued me! “Post equitem sedet atra cura,” our favourite poet says. Ah! how truly, too, does he remark, “Patriæ quis exul se quoque fugit?” Think you where I go grief and remorse will not follow me? They will never leave me until I shall return to this country — for that I shall return, my heart tells me — until I can reimburse General Baynes, who stands indebted to Philip through his incautiousness and my overpowering necessity; and my heart — an erring but fond father’s heart — tells me that my boy will not eventually lose a penny by my misfortune.

I own, between ourselves, that this illness of the Grand Duke of Groningen was a pretext which I put forward. You will hear of me cre long from the place whither for some time past I have determined on bending my steps. I placed 2001. on Saturday, to Philip’s credit, at his banker’s I take little more than that sum with me; depressed, yet full of hope; having done wrong, yet determined to retrieve it, and vowing that ere I die my poor boy shall not have to blush at bearing the name of

George Brand Firmin.

Good-by, dear Philip! Your old friend will tell you of my misfortunes. When I write again, it will be to tell you where to address me; and wherever I am, or whatever misfortunes oppress me, think of me always as your fond.

Father.

I had scarce read this awful letter when Philip Firmin himself came into our breakfast-room, looking very much disturbed.

Chapter 15

Contains Two of Philip’s Mishaps.

You know that, in some parts of India, infanticide is the common custom. It is part of the religion of the land, as, in other districts, widow-burning used to be. I can’t imagine that ladies like to destroy either themselves or their children, though they submit with bravery, and even cheerfulness, to the decrees of that religion which orders them to make away with their own or their young ones’ lives. Now, suppose you and I, as Europeans, happened to drive up where a young creature was just about to roast herself, under the advice of her family and the highest dignitaries of her church; what could we do? Rescue her? No such thing. We know better than to interfere with her, and the laws and usages of her country. We turn away with a sigh from the mournful scene; we pull out our pocket-handkerchiefs, tell coachman to drive on, and leave her to her sad fate.

Now about poor Agnes Twysden: how, in the name of goodness, can we help her? You see she is a well brought up and religious young woman of the Brahminical sect. If she is to be sacrificed, that old Brahmin her father, that good and devout mother, that most special Brahmin her brother, and that admirable girl her strait-laced sister, all insist upon her undergoing the ceremony, and deck her with flowers ere they lead her to that dismal altar flame. Suppose, I say, she has made up her mind to throw over poor Philip, and take on with some one else? What sentiment ought our virtuous bosoms to entertain towards her? Anger? I have just been holding a conversation with a young fellow in rags and without shoes, whose bed is commonly a dry arch, who has been repeatedly in prison, whose father and mother were thieves, and whose grandfathers were thieves; — are we to be angry with him for following the paternal profession? With one eye brimming with pity, the other steadily keeping watch over the family spoons, I listen to his artless tale. I have no anger against that child; nor towards thee, Agnes, daughter of Talbot the Brahmin.

For though duty is duty, when it comes to the pinch, it is often hard to do. Though dear papa and mamma say that here is a gentleman with ever so many thousands a year, an undoubted part in So-and-So-shire, and whole islands in the western main, who is wildly in love with your fair skin and blue eyes, and is ready to fling all his treasures at your feet; yet, after all, when you consider that he is very ignorant though very cunning; very stingy though very rich; very ill-tempered, probably, if faces and eyes and mouths can tell truth: and as for Philip Firmin — though actually his legitimacy is dubious, as we have lately heard, in which case his maternal fortune is ours — and as for his paternal inheritance, we don’t know whether the doctor is worth thirty thousand pounds or a shilling; — yet, after all — as for Philip — he is a man; he is a gentleman; he has brains in his head, and a great honest heart of which he has offered to give the best feelings to his cousin; — I say, when a poor girl has to be off with that old love, that honest and fair love, and be on with the new one, the dark one, I feel for her; and though the Brahmins are, as we know, the most genteel sect in Hindostan, I rather wish the poor child could have belonged to some lower and less rigid sect. Poor Agnes! to think that he has sat for hours, with mamma and Blanche or the governess, of course, in the room (for, you know, when she and Philip were quite wee wee things dear mamma had little amiable plans in view); has sat for hours by Miss Twysden’s side pouring out his heart to her; has had, mayhap, little precious moments of confidential talk — little hasty whispers in corridors, on stairs, behind window curtains, and — and so forth in fact. She must remember all this past; and can’t, without some pang, listen on the same sofa, behind the same window-curtains, to her dark suitor pouring out his artless tales of barracks, boxing, horseflesh, and the tender passion. He is dull, he is mean, he is ill-tempered, he is ignorant, and the other was . . .; but she will do her duty: oh, yes! she will do her duty! Poor Agnes! C’est à fendre le coeur. I declare I quite feel for her.

When Philip’s temper was roused, I have been compelled, as his biographer, to own how very rude and disagreeable he could be; and you must acknowledge that a young man has some reason to be displeased, when he finds the girl of his heart hand in hand with another young gentleman in an occult and shady recess of the woodwork of Brighton Pier. The green waves are softly murmuring: so is the officer of the Life Guards Green. The waves are kissing the beach. Ah, agonizing thought! I will not pursue the simile, which may be but a jealous man’s mad fantasy. Of this I am sure, no pebble on that beach is cooler than polished Agnes. But, then, Philip drunk with jealousy is not a reasonable being like Philip sober. “He had a dreadful temper,” Philip’s dear aunt said of him afterwards, — “I trembled for my dear, gentle child, united for ever to a man of that violence. Never, in my secret mind, could I think that their union could be a happy one. Besides, you know, the nearness of their relationship. My scruples on that score, dear Mrs. Candour, never, never could be quite got over.” And these scruples came to weigh whole tons, when Mangrove Hall, the house in Berkeley Square, and Mr. Woolcomb’s West India island were put into the scale along with them.

Of course there was no good in remaining amongst those damp, reeking timbers, now that the pretty little tête-à-tête was over. Little Brownie hung fondling and whining round Philip’s ankles, as the party ascended to the upper air. “My child, how pale you look!” cries Mrs. Penfold, putting down her volume. Out of the captain’s opal eyeballs shot lurid flames, and hot blood burned behind his yellow cheeks. In a quarrel, Mr. Philip Firmin could be particularly cool and self-possessed. When Miss Agnes rather piteously introduced him to Mrs. Penfold, he made a bow as polite and gracious as any performed by his royal father. “My little dog knew me,” he said, caressing the animal. “She is a faithful little thing, and she led me down to my cousin; and — Captain Woolcomb, I think, is your name, sir?”

As Philip curls his moustache and smiles blandly, Captain Woolcomb pulls his and scowls fiercely. “Yes, sir,” he mutters, “my name is Woolcomb.” Another bow and a touch of the hat from Mr. Firmin. A touch? — a gracious wave of the hat; acknowledged by no means so gracefully by Captain Woolcomb.

To these remarks, Mrs. Penfold says, “Oh!” In fact, “Oh!” is about the best thing that could be said under the circumstances.

“My cousin, Miss Twysden, looks so pale because she was out very late dancing last night. I hear it was a very pretty ball. But ought she to keep such late hours, Mrs. Penfold, with her delicate health? Indeed, you ought not, Agnes! Ought she to keep late hours, Brownie? There — don’t, you little foolish thing! I gave my cousin the dog: and she’s very fond of me — the dog is — still. You were saying, Captain Woolcomb, when I came up, that you would give Miss Twysden a dog on whose nose you could hang your — I beg pardon?”

Mr. Woolcomb, as Philip made this second allusion to the peculiar nasal formation of the pug, ground his little white teeth together, and let slip a most improper monosyllable. More acute bronchial suffering was manifested on the part of Miss Twysden. Mrs. Penfold said, “The day is clouding over. I think, Agnes, I will have my chair, and go home.”

“May I be allowed to walk with you as far as your house?” says Philip, twiddling a little locket which he wore at his watch-chain. It was a little gold locket, with a little pale hair inside. Whose hair could it have been that was so pale and fine? As for the pretty hieroglyphical A. T. at the back, those letters might indicate Alfred Tennyson, or Anthony Trollope, who might have given a lock of their golden hair to Philip, for I know he is an admirer of their works.

Agnes looked guiltily at the little locket. Captain Woolcomb pulled his moustache so, that you would have thought he would have pulled it off; and his opal eyes glared with fearful confusion and wrath.

“Will you please to fall back and let me speak to you, Agnes? Pardon me, Captain Woolcomb, I have a private message for my cousin; and I came from London expressly to deliver it.”

“If Miss Twysden desires me to withdraw, I fall back in one moment,” says the captain, clenching the little lemon-coloured gloves.

“My cousin and I have lived together all our lives, and I bring her a family message. Have you any particular claim to hear it, Captain Woolcomb?”

“Not if Miss Twysden don’t want me hear it. . . . D— the little brute.”

“Don’t kick poor little harmless Brownie! He shan’t kick you, shall he, Brownie?”

“If the brute comes between my shins, I’ll kick her!” shrieks the captain. “Hang her, I’ll throw her into the sea!”

“Whatever you do to my dog, I swear I will do to you!” whispers Philip to the captain.

“Where are you staying?” shrieks the captain. “Hang you, you shall hear from me.”

“Quiet — Bedford Hotel. Easy, or I shall think you want the ladies to overhear.”

“Your conduct is horrible, sir,” says Agnes, rapidly, in the French language. “Mr. does not comprehend it.”

“ — it! If you have any secrets to talk, I’ll withdraw fast enough, Miss Agnes,” says Othello.

“Oh, Grenville! can I have any secrets from you? Mr. Firmin is my first-cousin. We have lived together all our lives. Philip, I— I don’t know whether mamma announced to you my — my engagement with Captain Grenville Woolcomb.” The agitation has brought on another severe bronchial attack. Poor, poor little Agnes! What it is to have a delicate throat!

The pier tosses up to the skies, as though it had left its moorings — the houses on the cliff dance and reel, as though an earthquake was driving them — the sea walks up into the lodging-houses — and Philip’s legs are failing from under him: it is only for a moment. When you have a large, tough double tooth out, doesn’t the chair go up to the ceiling, and your head come off too? But, in the next instant, there is a grave gentleman before you, making you a bow, and concealing something in his right sleeve. The crash is over. You are a man again. Philip clutches hold of the chain pier for a minute: it does not sink under him. The houses, after reeling for a second or two, reassume the perpendicular, and bulge their bow windows towards the main. He can see the people looking from the windows, the carriages passing, Professor Spurrier riding on the cliff with eighteen young ladies, his pupils. In long after days he remembers those absurd little incidents with a curious tenacity.

“This news, “Philip says, “was not — not altogether unexpected. I congratulate my cousin, I am sure. Captain Woolcomb, had I known this for certain, I am sure I should not have interrupted you. You were going, perhaps, to ask me to your hospitable house, Mrs. Penfold?”

“Was she though?” cries the captain.

“I have asked a friend to dine with me at the Bedford, and shall go to town, I hope, in the morning. Can I take anything for you, Agnes? Good-by:” and he kisses his hand in quite a dégagé manner, as Mrs. Penfold’s chair turns eastward and he goes to the west. Silently the tall Agnes sweeps along, a fair hand laid upon her friend’s chair.

It’s over! it’s over! She has done it. He was bound, and kept his honour, but she did not: it was she who forsook him. And I fear very much Mr. Philip’s heart leaps with pleasure and an immense sensation of relief at thinking he is free. He meets half a dozen acquaintances on the cliff. He laughs, jokes, shakes hands, invites two or three to dinner in the gayest manner. He sits down on that green, not very far from his inn, and is laughing to himself, when he suddenly feels something nestling at his knee, — rubbing, and nestling, and whining plaintively. “What, is that you?” It is little Brownie, who has followed him. Poor little rogue!

Then Philip bent down his head over the dog, and as it jumped on him, with little bleats, and whines, and innocent caresses, he broke out into a sob, and a great refreshing rain of tears fell from his eyes. Such a little illness! Such a mild fever! Such a speedy cure! Some people have the complaint so mildly that they are scarcely ever kept to their beds. Some bear its scars for ever.

Philip sat resolutely at the hotel all night, having given special orders to the porter to say that he was at home, in case any gentleman should call. He had a faint hope, he afterwards owned, that some friend of Captain Woolcomb might wait on him on that officer’s part. He had a faint hope that a letter might come explaining that treason, — as people will have a sick, gnawing, yearning, foolish desire for letters — letters which contain nothing, which never did contain anything — letters which, nevertheless, you — You know, in fact, about those letters, and there is no earthly use in asking to read Philip’s . Have we not all read those love-letters which, after love-quarrels, come into court sometimes? We have all read them; and how many have written them? Nine o’clock. Ten o’clock. Eleven o’clock. No challenge from the captain; no explanation from Agnes. Philip declares he slept perfectly well. But poor little Brownie the dog made a piteous howling all night in the stables. She was not a well-bred dog. You could not have hung the least hat on her nose.

We compared anon our dear Agnes to a Brahmin lady, meekly offering herself up to sacrifice according to the practice used in her highly respectable caste. Did we speak in anger or in sorrow? — surely in terms of respectful grief and sympathy. And if we pity her, ought we not likewise to pity her highly respectable parents? When the notorious Brutus ordered his sons to execution, you can’t suppose he was such a brute as to be pleased? All three parties suffered by the transaction: the sons, probably, even more than their austere father; but it stands to reason that the whole trio were very melancholy. At least, were I a poet or musical composer depicting that business, I certainly should make them so:— the sons, piping in a very minor key indeed; the father’s manly basso, accompanied by deep wind instruments, and interrupted by appropriate sobs. Though pretty fair Agnes is being led to execution, I don’t suppose she likes it, or that her parents are happy, who are compelled to order the tragedy.

That the rich young proprietor of Mangrove Hall should be fond of her, was merely a coincidence, Mrs. Twysden afterwards always averred. Not for mere wealth — ah, no! not for mines of gold — would they sacrifice their darling child. But when that sad Firmin affair happened, you see it also happened that Captain Woolcomb was much struck by dear Agnes, whom he met everywhere. Her scapegrace of a cousin would go nowhere. He preferred his bachelor associates, and horrible smoking and drinking habits, to the amusements and pleasures of more refined society. He neglected Agnes. There is not the slightest doubt he neglected and mortified her, and his wilful and frequent absence showed how little he cared for her. Would you blame the dear girl for coldness to a man who himself showed such indifference to her? “No, my good Mrs. Candour. Had Mr. Firmin been ten times as rich as Mr. Woolcomb, I should have counselled my child to refuse him. I take the responsibility of the measure entirely on myself — I, and her father, and her brother.” So Mrs. Twysden afterwards spoke, in circles where an absurd and odious rumour ran, that the Twysdens had forced their daughter to jilt young Mr. Firmin in order to marry a young quadroon. People will talk, you know, de me, de te. If Woolcomb’s dinners had not gone off so after his marriage, I have little doubt the scandal would have died away, and he and his wife might have been pretty generally respected and visited.

Nor must you suppose, as we have said, that dear Agnes gave up her first love without a pang. That bronchitis showed how acutely the poor thing felt her position. It broke out very soon after Mr. Woolcomb’s attentions became a little particular; and she actually left London in consequence. It is true that he could follow her without difficulty, but so, for the matter of that, could Philip, as we have seen, when he came down and behaved so rudely to Captain Woolcomb. And before Philip came, poor Agnes could plead, “My father pressed me sair,” as in the case of the notorious Mrs. Robin Gray.

Father and mother both pressed her sair. Mrs. Twysden, I think I have mentioned, wrote an admirable letter, and was aware of her accomplishment. She used to write reams of gossip regularly every week to dear uncle Ringwood when he was in the country: and when her daughter Blanche married, she is said to have written several of her new son’s sermons. As a Christian mother, was she not to give her daughter her advice at this momentous period of her life? That advice went against poor Philip’s chances with his cousin, who was kept acquainted with all the circumstances of the controversy of which we have just seen the issue. I do not mean to say that Mrs. Twysden gave an impartial statement of case. What parties in a lawsuit do speak impartily on their own side or their adversaries’? Mrs. Twysden’s view, as I have learned subsequently, and as imparted to her daughter, was this:— That most unprincipled man, Dr. Firmin, who had already attempted, and unjustly, to deprive the Twysdens of a part of their property, had commenced in quite early life his career of outrage and wickedness against the Ringwood family. He had led dear Lord Ringwood’s son, poor dear Lord Cinqbars, into a career of vice and extravagance which caused the premature death of that unfortunate young nobleman. Mr. Firmin had then made a marriage, in spite of the tears and entreaties of Mrs. Twysden, with her late unhappy sister, whose whole life had been made wretched by the doctor’s conduct. But the climax of outrage and wickedness was, that when he — he, a low, penniless adventurer — married Colonel Ringwood’s daughter, he was married already, as could be sworn by the repentant clergyman who had been forced, by threats of punishment which Dr. Firmin held over him, to perform the rite! “The mind” — Mrs. Talbot Twysden’s fine mind — “shuddered at the thought of such wickedness.” But most of all (for to think ill of any one whom she had once loved gave her pain) there was reason to believe that the unhappy Philip Firmin was his father’s accomplice, and that he knew of his own illegitimacy, which he was determined to set aside by any fraud or artifice — (she trembled, she wept to have to say this: O heaven! that there should be such perversity in thy creatures!) And so little store did Philip set by his mother’s honour, that he actually visited the abandoned woman who acquiesced in her own infamy, and had brought such unspeakable disgrace on the Ringwood family! The thought of this crime had caused Mrs. Twysden and her dear husband nights of sleepless anguish — had made them years and years older — had stricken their hearts with a grief which must endure to the end of their days. With people so unscrupulous, so grasping, so artful as Dr. Firmin and (must she say?) his son, they were bound to be on their guard; and though they had avoided Philip, she had deemed it right, on the rare occasions when she and the young man whom she must now call her illegitimate nephew met, to behave as though she knew nothing of this most dreadful controversy.

“And now, dearest child” . . . Surely the moral is obvious? The dearest child “must see at once that any foolish plans which were formed in childish days and under former delusions must be cast aside for ever as impossible, as unworthy of a Twysden — of a Ringwood. Be not concerned for the young man himself,” wrote Mrs. Twysden — “I blush that he should bear that dear father’s name who was slain in honour on Busaco’s glorious field. P. F. has associates amongst whom he has ever been much more at home than in our refined circle, and habits which will cause him to forget you only too easily. And if near you is one whose ardour shows itself in his every word and action, whose wealth and property may raise you to a place worthy of my child, need I say, a mother’s, a father’s blessing go with you.” This letter was brought to Miss Twysden, at Brighton, by a special messenger; and the superscription announced that it was “honoured by Captain Grenville Woolcomb.”

Now when Miss Agnes has had a letter to this effect, from a mother in whose prudence and affection a child could surely confide; when she remembers all the abuse her brother lavishes against Philip, as, heaven bless some of them! dear relatives can best do; when she thinks how cold he has of late been — how he will come smelling of cigars — how he won’t conform to the usages du monde, and has neglected all the decencies of society — how she often can’t understand his strange rhapsodies about poetry, painting, and the like, nor how he can live with such associates as those who seem to delight him — and now how he is showing himself actually unprincipled and abetting his horrid father; when we consider mither pressing sair, and all these points in mither’s favour, I don’t think we can order Agnes to instant execution for the resolution to which she is coming. She will give him up — she will give him up. Good-by, Philip. Good-by the past. Be forgotten, be forgotten, fond words spoken in not unwilling ears! Be still and breathe not, eager lips, that have trembled so near to one another! Unlock, hands, and part for ever, that seemed to be formed for life’s long journey! Ah, to part for ever is hard; but harder and more humiliating still to part without regret!

That papa and mamma had influenced Miss Twysden in her behaviour my wife and I could easily imagine, when Philip, in his wrath and grief, came to us and poured out the feelings of his heart. My wife is a repository of men’s secrets, and untiring consoler and comforter; and she knows many a sad story which we are not at liberty to tell, like this one of which this person, Mr. Firmin, has given us possession.

“Father and mother’s orders,” shouts Philip, “I daresay, Mrs. Pendennis; but the wish was father to the thought of parting, and it was for the blackamoor’s parks and acres that the girl jilted me. Look here. I told you just now that I slept perfectly well on that infernal night after I had said farewell to her. Well, I didn’t. It was a lie. I walked ever so many times the whole length of the cliff, from Hove to Rottingdean almost, and then went to bed afterwards, and slept a little out of sheer fatigue. And as I was passing by Horizontal Place ( — I happened to pass by there two or three times in the moonlight, like a great jackass — ) you know those verses of mine which I have hummed here sometimes?” (hummed! he used to roar them!) “‘When the locks of burnished gold, lady, shall to silver turn!’ Never mind the rest. You know the verses about fidelity and old age? She was singing them on that night, to that negro. And I heard the beggar’s voice say, ‘Bravo!’ through the open windows.”

“Ah, Philip! it was cruel,” says my wife, heartily pitying our friend’s anguish and misfortune. “It was cruel indeed. I am sure we can feel for you. But think what certain misery a marriage with such a person would have been! Think of your warm heart given away for ever to that heartless creature.”

“Laura, Laura, have you not often warned me not to speak ill of people?” says Laura’s husband.

“I can’t help it sometimes,” cries Laura in a transport. “I try and do my best not to speak ill of my neighbours; but the worldliness of those people shocks me so that I can’t bear to be near them. They are so utterly tied and bound by conventionalities, so perfectly convinced of their own excessive high-breeding, that they seem to me more odious and more vulgar than quite low people; and I am sure Mr. Philip’s friend, the Little Sister, is infinitely more ladylike than his dreary aunt or either of his supercilious cousins!” Upon my word, when this lady did speak her mind, there was no mistaking her meaning.

I believe Mr. Firmin took a considerable number of people into his confidence regarding this love affair. He is one of those individuals who can’t keep their secrets; and when hurt he roars so loudly that all his friends can hear. It has been remarked that the sorrows of such persons do not endure very long; nor surely was there any great need in this instance that Philip’s heart should wear a lengthened mourning. Ere long he smoked his pipes, he played his billiards, he shouted his songs; he rode in the Park for the pleasure of severely cutting his aunt and cousins when their open carriage passed, or of riding down Captain Woolcomb or his cousin Ringwood, should either of those worthies come in his way.

One day, when the old Lord Ringwood came to town for his accustomed spring visit, Philip condescended to wait upon him, and was announced to his lordship just as Talbot Twysden and Ringwood his son were taking leave of their noble kinsman. Philip looked at them with a flashing eye and a distended nostril, according to his swaggering wont. I daresay they on their part bore a very mean and hangdog appearance; for my lord laughed at their discomfiture, and seemed immensely amused as they slunk out of the door when Philip came hectoring in.

“So, sir, there has been a family row. Heard all about it: at least, their side. Your father did me the favour to marry my niece, having another wife already?”

“Having no other wife already, sir — though my dear relations wish to show that he had.”

“Wanted your money; thirty thousand pounds is not a trifle. Ten thousand apiece for those children. And no more need of any confounded pinching and scraping, as they have to do at Beaunash Street. Affair off between you and Agnes? Absurd affair. So much the better.”

“Yes, sir, so much the better.”

“Have ten thousand apiece. Would have twenty thousand if they got yours. Quite natural to want it.”

“Quite.”

“Woolcomb a sort of negro, I understand. Fine property here: besides the West India rubbish. Violent man — so people tell me. Luckily Agnes seems a cool, easy-going woman, and must put up with the rough as well as the smooth in marrying a property like that. Very lucky for you that that woman persists there was no marriage with your father. Twysden says the doctor bribed her. Take it he’s not got much money to bribe, unless you gave some of yours.”

“I don’t bribe people to bear false witness, my lord — and if —

“Don’t be in a huff; I didn’t say so. Twysden says so — perhaps thinks so. When people are at law they believe anything of one another.”

“I don’t know what other people may do, sir. If I had another man’s money, I should not be easy until I had paid him back. Had my share of my grandfather’s property not been lawfully mine — and for a few hours I thought it was not — please God, I would have given it up to its rightful owners — at least, my father would.”

“Why, hang it all, man, you don’t mean to say your father has not settled with you?”

Philip blushed a little. He had been rather surprised that there had been no settlement between him and his father.

“I am only of age a few months, sir. I am not under any apprehension. I get my dividends regularly enough. One of my grandfather’s trustees, General Baynes, is in India. He is to return almost immediately, or we should have sent a power of attorney out to him. There’s no hurry about the business.”

Philip’s maternal grandfather, and Lord Ringwood’s brother, the late Colonel Philip Ringwood, had died possessed of but trifling property of his own; but his wife had brought him a fortune of sixty thousand pounds, which was settled on their children, and in the names of trustees — Mr. Briggs, a lawyer, and Colonel Baynes, an East India officer, and friend of Mrs. Philip Ringwood’s family. Colonel Baynes had been in England some eight years before; and Philip remembered a kind old gentleman coming to see him at school, and leaving tokens of his bounty behind. The other trustee, Mr. Briggs, a lawyer of considerable county reputation, was dead long since, having left his affairs in an involved condition. During the trustee’s absence and the son’s minority, Philip’s father received the dividends on his son’s property, and liberally spent them on the boy, Indeed, I believe that for some little time at college, and during his first journeys abroad, Mr. Philip spent rather more than the income of his maternal inheritance, being freely supplied by his father, who told him not to stint himself. He was a sumptuous man, Dr.Firmin — openhanded — subscribing to many charities — a lover of solemn good cheer. The doctor’s dinners and the doctor’s equipages were models in their way; and I remember the sincere respect with which my uncle the major (the family guide in such matters) used to speak of Dr. Firmin’s taste. “No duchess in London, sir,” he would say, “drove better horses than Mrs. Firmin. Sir George Warrender, sir, could not give a better dinner, sir, than that to which we sat down yesterday.” And for the exercise of these civic virtues the doctor had the hearty respect of the good major.

“Don’t tell me, sir,” on the other hand, Lord Ringwood would say; “I dined with the fellow once — a swaggering fellow, sir; but a servile fellow. The way he bowed and flattered was perfectly absurd. Those fellows think we like it — and we may. Even at my age, I like flattery — any quantity of it; and not what you call delicate, but strong, sir. I like a man to kneel down and kiss my shoestrings. I have my own opinion of him afterwards, but that is what I like — what all men like; and that is what Firmin gave in quantities. But you could see that his house was monstrously expensive. His dinner was excellent, and you saw it was good every day — not like your dinners, my good Maria; not like your wines, Twysden, which, hang it, I can’t swallow, unless I send ’em in myself. Even at my own house, I don’t give that kind of wine on common occasions which Firmin used to give. I drink the best myself, of course, and give it to some who know; but I don’t give it to common fellows, who come to hunting dinners, or to girls and boys who are dancing at my balls.”

“Yes; Mr. Firmin’s dinners were very handsome — and a pretty end came of the handsome dinners!” sighed Mrs. Twysden.

“That’s not the question; I am only speaking about the fellow’s meat and drink, and they were both good. And it’s my opinion, that fellow will have a good dinner wherever he goes.”

I had the fortune to be present at one of these feasts, which Lord Ringwood attended, and at which I met Philip’s trustee, General Baynes, who had just arrived from India. I remember now the smallest details of the little dinner, — the brightness of the old plate, on which the doctor prided himself, and the quiet comfort, not to say splendour, of the entertainment. The general seemed to take a great liking to Philip, whose grandfather had been his special friend and comrade in arms. He thought he saw something of Philip Ringwood in Philip Firmin’s face.

“Ah, indeed!” growls Lord Ringwood.

“You ain’t a bit like him,” says the downright general. “Never saw a handsomer or more openlooking fellow than Philip Ringwood.”

“Oh! I daresay I looked pretty open myself forty years ago,” said my lord; “now I’m shut, I suppose. I don’t see the least likeness in this young man to my brother.”

“That is some sherry as old as the century,” whispers the host; “it is the same the Prince Regent liked so at a Mansion House dinner, five-and-twenty years ago.”

“Never knew anything about wine; was always tippling liqueurs and punch. What do you give for this sherry, doctor?”

The doctor sighed, and looked up to the chandelier. “Drink it while it lasts, my good lord; but don’t ask me the price. The fact is, I don’t like to say what I gave for it.”

“You need not stint yourself in the price of sherry, doctor,” cries the general gaily; “you have but one son, and he has a fortune of his own, as I happen to know. You haven’t dipped it, master Philip?”

“I fear, sir, I may have exceeded my income sometimes, in the last three years; but my father has helped me.”

“Exceeded nine hundred a-year! Upon my word! When I was a sub, my friends gave me fifty pounds a year, and I never was a shilling in debt! What are men coming to now?”

“If doctors drink Prince Regent’s sherry at ten guineas a dozen, what can you expect of their sons, General Baynes?” grumbles my lord.

“My father gives you his best, my lord,” says Philip gaily; “if you know of any better, he will get it for you. Si non, his utere mecum! Please to pass me that decanter, Pen!”

I thought the old lord did not seem ill pleased at the young man’s freedom; and now, as I recal it, think I can remember, that a peculiar silence and anxiety seemed to weigh upon our host — upon him whose face was commonly so anxious and sad.

The famous sherry, which had made many voyages to Indian climes before it acquired its exquisite flavour, had travelled some three or four times round the doctor’s polished table, when Brice, his man, entered with a letter on his silver tray. Perhaps Philip’s eyes and mine exchanged glances in which ever so small a scintilla of mischief might sparkle. The doctor often had letters when he was entertaining his friends; and his patients had a knack of falling ill at awkward times.

“Gracious heavens!” cries the doctor, when he read the despatch — it was a telegraphic message. “The poor Grand Duke!”

“What Grand Duke?” asks the surly lord of Ringwood.

“My earliest patron and friend — the Grand Duke of Groningen! Seized this morning at eleven at Potzendorff! Has sent for me. I promised to go to him if ever he had need of me. I must go! I can save the night-train yet. General! our visit to city must be deferred till my return. Get a portmanteau, Brice; and call a cab at once. Philip will entertain my friends for the evening. My dear lord, you won’t mind an old doctor leaving you to attend an old patient? I will write from Groningen. I shall be there on Friday morning. Farewell, gentlemen! Brice, another bottle of that sherry! I pray, don’t let anybody stir! God bless you, Philip, my boy!” And with this the doctor went up, took his son by the hand, and laid the other very kindly on the young man’s shoulder. Then he made a bow round the table to his guests — one of his graceful bows, for which he was famous. I can see the sad smile on his face now, and the light from the chandelier over the dining-table glancing from his shining forehead, and casting deep shadows on to his cheek from his heavy brows.

The departure was a little abrupt, and, of course, cast somewhat of a gloom upon the company.

“My carriage ain’t ordered till ten — must go on sitting here, I suppose. Confounded life doctor’s must be! Called up any hour in the night! Get their fees! Must go!” growled the great man of the party.

“People are glad enough to have them when they are ill, my lord. I think I have heard that once, when you were at Ryde — ”

The great man started back as if a little shock of cold water had fallen on him; and then looked at Philip with not unfriendly glances. “Treated for gout — so he did. Very well, too!” said my lord; and whispered, not inaudibly, “Cool hand, that boy!” And then his lordship fell to talk with General Baynes about his campaigning, and his early acquaintance with his own brother, Philip’s grandfather.

The general did not care to brag about his own feats of arms, but was loud in praises of his old comrade. Philip was pleased to hear his grandsire so well spoken of. The general had known Dr. Firmin’s father also, who likewise had been a colonel in the famous old Peninsular army. “A Tartar that fellow was, and no mistake!” said the good officer. “Your father has a strong look of him; and you have a glance of him at times. But you remind me of Philip Ringwood not a little; and you could not belong to a better man.”

“Ha!” says my lord. There has been differences between him and his brother. He may have been thinking of days when they were friends. Lord Ringwood now graciously asked if General Baynes was staying in London? But the general had only come to do this piece of business, which must now be delayed. He was too poor to live in London. He must look out for a country place, where he and his children could live cheaply. “Three boys at school, and one at college, Mr. Philip — you know what that must cost; though, thank my stars, my college boy does not spend nine hundred a year. Nine hundred! Where should we be if he did?” In fact, the days of nabobs are long over, and the general had come back to his native country with only very small means for the support of a great family.

When my lord’s carriage came, he departed, and the other guests presently took their leave. The general, who was a bachelor for the nonce, remained awhile, and we three prattled over cheroots in Philip’s smokingroom. It was a night like a hundred I have spent there, and yet how well I remember it! We talked about Philip’s future prospects, and he communicated his intentions to us in his lordly way. As for practising at the bar: No, sir! he said, in reply to General Baynes’ queries, he should not make much hand of that: shouldn’t if he were ever so poor. He had his own money, and his father’s, and he condescended to say that he might, perhaps, try for Parliament, should an eligible opportunity offer. “Here’s a fellow born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” says the general, as we walked away together. “A fortune to begin with; a fortune to inherit. My fortune was two thousand pounds and the price of my two first commissions; and when I die my children will not be quite so well off as their father was when he began!”

Having parted with the old officer at his modest sleeping quarters near his club, I walked to my own home, little thinking that yonder cigar, of which I had shaken some of ashes in Philip’s smoking-room, was to be the last tobacco I ever should smoke there. The pipe was smoked out. The wine was drunk. When that door closed on me, it closed for the last time — at least, was never more to admit me as Philip’s, as Dr. Firmin’s, guest and friend. I pass the place often now. My youth comes back to me as I gaze at those blank, shining windows. I see myself a boy, and Philip a child; and his fair mother; and his father, the hospitable, the melancholy, the magnificent. I wish I could have helped him. I wish somehow he had borrowed money. He never did. He gave me his often. I have never seen him since that night when his own door closed upon him.

On the second day after the doctor’s departure, as I was at breakfast with my family, I received the following letter:—

My dear Pendennis,

Could I have seen you in private on Tuesday night, I might have warned you of the calamity which was hanging over my house. But to what good end? That you should know a few weeks, hours before, what all the world will ring with to-morrow? Neither you nor I, nor one whom we both love, would have been the happier for knowing my misfortunes a few hours sooner. In four-and-twenty hours every club in London will be busy with talk of the departure of the celebrated Dr. Firmin — the wealthy Dr. Firmin; a few months more and (I have strict and confidential reason to believe) hereditary rank would have been mine, but Sir George Firmin would have been an insolvent man, and his son Sir Philip a beggar. Perhaps the thought of this honour has been one of the reasons which has determined me on expatriating myself sooner than I otherwise needed to have done.

George Firmin, the honoured, the wealthy physician, and his son a beggar? I see you are startled at the news! You wonder how, with a great practice, and no great ostensible expenses, such ruin should have come upon me — upon him. It has seemed as if for years past Fate has been determined to make war upon George Brand Firmin; and who can battle against Fate? A man universally admitted to be of good judgment, I have embarked in mercantile speculations the most promising. Everything upon which I laid my hand has crumbled to ruin; but I can say with the Roman bard, “Impavidum ferient ruinæ.” And, almost penniless, almost aged, an exile driven from my country, I seek another where I do not despair — I even have a firm belief that I small be enabled to repair my shattered fortunes! My race has never been deficient in courage, and Philip and Philip’s father must use all theirs, so as to be enabled to face the dark times which menace them. Si celeres quatit pennas Fortuna, we must resign what she gave us, and bear our calamity with unshaken hearts!

There is a man, I own to you, whom I cannot, I must not face. General Baynes has just come from India, with but very small savings, I fear; and these are jeopardized by his imprudence and my most cruel and unexpected misfortune. I need not tell you that my all would have been my boy’s . My will, made long since, will be found in the tortoiseshell secretaire standing in my consulting-room under the picture of Abraham offering up Isaac. In it you will see that everything, except annuities to old and deserving servants and a legacy to one excellent and faithful woman whom I own I have wronged — my all, which once was considerable, is left to my boy.

I am now worth less than nothing, and have compromised Philip’s property along with my own. As a man of business, General Baynes, Colonel Ringwood’s old companion in arms, was culpably careless, and I— alas! that I must own it — deceived him. Being the only surviving trustee (Mrs. Philip Ringwood’s other trustee was an unprincipled attorney who has been long dead), General B. signed a paper authorizing, as he imagined, my bankers to receive Philip’s dividends, but, in fact, giving me the power to dispose of the capital sum. On my honour, as a man, as a gentleman, as a father, Pendcnnis, I hoped to replace it! I took it; I embarked it in speculations in which it sank down with ten times the amount of my own private property. Half-year after halfyear, with straitened means and with the greatest difficulty to myself, my poor boy has had his dividend; and he at least has never known what was want or anxiety until now. Want? Anxiety? Pray heaven he never may suffer the sleepless anguish, the racking care which has pursued me! “Post equitem sedet atra cura,” our favourite poet says. Ah! how truly, too, does he remark, “Patriæ quis exul se quoque fugit?” Think you where I go grief and remorse will not follow me? They will never leave me until I shall return to this country — for that I shall return, my heart tells me — until I can reimburse General Baynes, who stands indebted to Philip through his incautiousness and my overpowering necessity; and my heart — an erring but fond father’s heart — tells me that my boy will not eventually lose a penny by my misfortune.

I own, between ourselves, that this illness of the Grand Duke of Groningen was a pretext which I put forward. You will hear of me cre long from the place whither for some time past I have determined on bending my steps. I placed 2001. on Saturday, to Philip’s credit, at his banker’s I take little more than that sum with me; depressed, yet full of hope; having done wrong, yet determined to retrieve it, and vowing that ere I die my poor boy shall not have to blush at bearing the name of

George Brand Firmin.

Good-by, dear Philip! Your old friend will tell you of my misfortunes. When I write again, it will be to tell you where to address me; and wherever I am, or whatever misfortunes oppress me, think of me always as your fond.

Father.

I had scarce read this awful letter when Philip Firmin himself came into our breakfast-room, looking very much disturbed.

Chapter 16

Samaritans.

The children trotted up to their friend with outstretched hands and their usual smiles of welcome. Philip patted their heads, and sate down with very wobegone aspect at the family table. “Ah, friends,” said he, “do you know all?”

“Yes, we do,” said Laura, sadly, who has ever compassion for others’ misfortunes.

“What! is it all over the town already?” asked poor Philip.

“We have a letter from your father this morning.” And we brought the letter to him, and showed him the affectionate special message for himself.

“His last thought was for you, Philip!” cries Laura. “See here, those last kind words!”

Philip shook his head. “It is not untrue, what is written here: but it is not all the truth.” And Philip Firmin dismayed us by the intelligence which he proceeded to give. There was an execution in the house in Old Parr Street. A hundred clamorous creditors had already appeared there. Before going away, the doctor had taken considerable sums from those dangerous financiers to whom he had been of late resorting. They were in possession of numberless lately-signed bills, upon which the desperate man had raised money. He had professed to share with Philip, but he had taken the great share, and left Philip two hundred pounds of his own money. All the rest was gone. All Philip’s stock had been sold out. The father’s fraud had made him master of the trustee’s signature: and Philip Firmin, reputed to be so wealthy, was a beggar, in my room. Luckily he had few, or very trifling, debts. Mr. Philip had a lordly impatience of indebtedness, and, with a good bachelor-income, had paid for all his pleasures as he enjoyed them.

Well! He must work. A young man ruined at two-and-twenty, with a couple of hundred pounds yet in his pocket, hardly knows that he is ruined. He will sell his horses — live in chambers — has enough to go on for a year. “When I am very hard put to it,” says Philip, “I will come and dine with the children at one. I daresay you haven’t dined much at Williams’s in the Old Bailey? You can get a famous dinner there for a shilling — beef, bread, potatoes, beer, and a penny for the waiter.” Yes, Philip seemed actually to enjoy his discomfiture. It was long since we had seen him in such spirits. “The weight is off my mind now. It has been throttling me for some time past. Without understanding why or wherefore, I have always been looking out for this. My poor father had ruin written in his face: and when those bailiffs made their appearance in Old Parr Street yesterday, I felt as if I had known them before. I had seen their hooked beaks in my dreams.”

“That unlucky General Baynes, when he accepted your mother’s trust, took it with its consequences. If the sentry falls asleep on his post, he must pay the penalty,” says Mr. Pendennis, very severely.

“Great powers! you would not have me come down on an old man with a large family, and ruin them all?” cries Philip.

“No: I don’t think Philip will do that,” says my wife, looking exceedingly pleased.

“If men accept trusts they must fulfil them, my dear,” cries the master of the house.

“And I must make that old gentleman suffer for my father’s wrong? If I do, may I starve! there!” cries Philip.

“And so that poor Little Sister has made her sacrifice in vain!” sighed my wife. “As for the father — oh, Arthur! I can’t tell you how odious that man was to me. There was something dreadful about him. And in his manner to women — oh! — ”

“If he had been a black draught, my dear, you could not have shuddered more naturally.”

“Well, he was horrible; and I know Philip will be better now he is gone.”

Women often make light of ruin. Give them but the beloved objects, and poverty is a trifling sorrow to bear. As for Philip, he, as we have said, is gayer than he has been for years past. The doctor’s flight occasions not a little club talk: but, now he is gone, many people see quite well that they were aware of his insolvency, and always knew it must end so. The case is told, is canvassed, is exaggerated as such cases will be. I daresay it forms a week’s talk. But people know that poor Philip is his father’s largest creditor, and eye the young man with no unfriendly looks when he comes to his club after his mishap, — with burning cheeks, and a tingling sense of shame, imagining that all the world will point at and avoid him as the guilty fugitive’s son.

No: the world takes very little heed of his misfortune. One or two old acquaintances are kinder to him than before. A few say his ruin, and his obligation to work, will do him good. Only a very, very few avoid him, and look unconscious as he passes them by. Amongst these cold countenances, you, of course, will recognize the faces of the whole Twysden family. Three statues, with marble eyes, could not look more stony-calm than aunt Twysden and her two daughters, as they pass in the stately barouche. The gentlemen turn red when they see Philip. It is rather late times for uncle Twysden to begin blushing, to be sure. “Hang the fellow! he will, of course, be coming for money. Dawkins, I am not at home, mind, when young Mr. Firmin calls.” So says Lord Ringwood, regarding Philip fallen among thieves. Ah, thanks to heaven, travellers find Samaritans as well as Levites on life’s hard way! Philip told us with much humour of a rencontre which he had had with his cousin, Ringwood Twysden, in a public place. Twysden was enjoying himself with some young clerks of his office; but as Philip advanced upon him, assuming his fiercest scowl and most hectoring manner, the other lost heart, and fled. And no wonder. “Do you suppose,” says Twysden, “I will willingly sit in the same room with that cad, after the manner in which he has treated my family! No, sir!” And so the tall door in Beaunash Street is to open for Philip Firmin no more.

The tall door in Beaunash Street flies open readily enough for another gentleman. A splendid cab-horse reins up before it every day. A pair of varnished boots leap out of the cab, and spring up the broad stairs, where somebody is waiting with a smile of genteel welcome — the same smile — on the same sofa — the same mamma at her table writing her letters. And beautiful bouquets from Covent Garden decorate the room. And after half an hour mamma goes out to speak to the housekeeper, vous comprenez. And there is nothing particularly new under the sun. It will shine to-morrow upon pretty much the same flowers, sports, pastimes, which it illuminated yesterday. And when your love-making days are over, miss, and you are married, and advantageously established, shall not your little sisters, now in the nursery, trot down and play their little games? Would you, on your conscience, now — you who are rather inclined to consider Miss Agnes Twysden’s conduct as heartless — would you, I say, have her cry her pretty eyes out about a young man who does not care much for her, for whom she never did care much herself, and who is now, moreover, a beggar, with a ruined and disgraced father and a doubtful legitimacy? Absurd! That dear girl is like a beautiful fragrant bower-room at the Star and Garter at Richmond, with honeysuckles mayhap trailing round the windows, from which you behold one of the most lovely and pleasant of wood and river scenes. The tables are decorated with flowers, rich winecups sparkle on the board, and Captain Jones’s party have everything they can desire. Their dinner over, and that company gone, the same waiters, the same flowers, the same cups and crystals, array themselves for Mr. Brown and his party. Or, if you won’t have Agnes Twysden compared to the Star and Garter Tavern, which must admit mixed company, liken her to the chaste moon who shines on shepherds of all complexions, swarthy or fair.

When, oppressed by superior odds, a commander is forced to retreat, we like him to show his skill by carrying off his guns, treasure, and camp equipages. Doctor Firmin, beaten by fortune and compelled to fly, showed quite a splendid skill and coolness in his manner of decamping, and left the very smallest amount of spoils in the hands of the victorious enemy. His wines had been famous amongst the grave epicures with whom he dined: he used to boast, like a worthy bon vivant who knows the value of wine-conversation after dinner, of the quantities which he possessed, and the rare bins which he had in store; but when the executioners came to arrange his sale, there was found only a beggarly account of empty bottles, and I fear some of the unprincipled creditors put in a great quantity of bad liquor which they endeavoured to foist off on the public as the genuine and carefully selected stock of a well-known connoisseur. News of this dishonest proceeding reached Dr. Firmin presently in his retreat; and he showed by his letter a generous and manly indignation at the manner in which his creditors had tampered with his honest name and reputation as a bon vivant. He have bad wine! For shame! He had the best from the best wine-merchant, and paid, or rather owed, the best prices for it; for of late years the doctor had paid no bills at all: and the wine-merchant appeared in quite a handsome group of figures in his schedule. In like manner his books were pawned to a book auctioneer; and Brice, the butler, had a bill of sale for the furniture. Firmin retreated, we will say with the honours of war, but as little harmed as possible by defeat. Did the enemy want the plunder of the city? He had smuggled almost all his valuable goods over the wall. Did they desire his ships? He had sunk them: and when at length the conquerors poured into his stronghold, he was far beyond the reach of their shot. Don’t we often hear still that Nana Sahib is alive and exceedingly comfortable? We do not love him; but we can’t help having a kind of admiration for that slippery fugitive who has escaped from the dreadful jaws of the lion. In a word, when Firmin’s furniture came to be sold, it was a marvel how little his creditors benefited by the sale. Contemptuous brokers declared there never was such a shabby lot of goods. A friend of the house and poor Philip bought in his mother’s picture for a few guineas; and as for the doctor’s own state portrait, I am afraid it went for a few shillings only, and in the midst of a roar of Hebrew laughter. I saw in Wardour Street, not long after, the doctor’s sideboard, and what dealers cheerfully call the sarcophagus cellaret. Poor doctor! his wine was all drunken; his meat was eaten up; but his own body had slipped out of the reach of the hookbeaked birds of prey.

We had spoken rapidly in under tones, innocently believing that the young people round about us were taking no heed of our talk. But in a lull of the conversation, Mr. Pendennis junior, who had always been a friend to Philip, broke out with — “Philip! if you are so very poor, you’ll be hungry, you know, and you may have my piece of bread and jam. And I don’t want it, mamma,” he added; “and you know Philip has often and often given me things.”

Philip stooped down and kissed this good little Samaritan. “I’m not hungry, Arty, my boy,” he said; “and I’m not so poor but I have got — look here — a fine new shilling for Arty!”

“Oh, Philip, Philip!” cried mamma.

“Don’t take the money, Arthur,” cried papa.

And the boy, with a rueful face but a manly heart, prepared to give back the coin. “It’s quite a new one; and it’s a very pretty one: but I won’t have it, Philip, thank you,” he said, turning very red.

“If he won’t, I vow I will give it to the cabman,” said Philip.

“Keeping a cab all this while? Oh, Philip, Philip!” again cries mamma the economist.

“Loss of time is loss of money, my dear lady,” says Philip, very gravely. “I have ever so many places to go to. When I am set in for being ruined, you shall see what a screw I will become! I must go to Mrs. Brandon, who will be very uneasy, poor dear, until she knows the worst.”

“Oh, Philip, I should like so to go with you!” cries Laura. “Pray, give her our very best regards and respects.”

“Merci!” said the young man, and squeezed Mrs. Pendennis’s hand in his own big one. “I will take your message to her, Laura. J’aime qu’on I’aime, savezvous?”

“That means, I love those who love her,” cries little Laura; “but, I don’t know,” remarked this little person afterwards to her paternal confidant, “that I like all people to love my mamma. That is, I don’t like her to like them, papa — only you may, papa, and Ethel may, and Arthur may, and I think, Philip may, now he is poor and quite, quite alone — and we will take care of him, won’t we? And, I think, I’ll buy him something with my money which aunt Ethel gave me.”

“And I’ll give him my money,” cries a boy.

“And I’ll div him my — my — ” Psha! what matters what the little sweet lips prattled in their artless kindness? But the soft words of love and pity smote the mother’s heart with an exquisite pang of gratitude and joy: and I know where her thanks were paid for those tender words and thoughts of her little ones.

Mrs. Pendennis made Philip promise to come to dinner, and also to remember not to take a cab — which promise Mr. Firmin had not much difficulty in executing, for he had but a few hundred yards to walk across the Park from his club; and I must say that my wife took a special care of our dinner that day, preparing for Philip certain dishes which she knew he liked, and enjoining the butler of the establishment (who also happened to be the owner of the house) to fetch from his cellar the very choicest wine in his possession.

I have previously described our friend and his boisterous, impetuous, generous nature. When Philip was moved, he called to all the world to witness his emotion. When he was angry, his enemies were all the rogues and scoundrels in the world. He vowed he would have no mercy on them, and desired all his acquaintances to participate in his anger. How could such an open-mouthed son have had such a close-spoken father? I daresay you have seen very well-bred young people, the children of vulgar and ill-bred parents; the swaggering father have a silent son; the loud mother a modest daughter. Our friend is not Amadis or Sir Charles Grandison; and I don’t set him up for a moment as a person to be revered or imitated; but try to draw him faithfully, and as nature made him. As nature made him, so he was. I don’t think he tried to improve himself much. Perhaps few people do. They suppose they do: and you read, in apologetic memoirs, and fond biographies, how this man cured his bad temper, and t’other worked and strove until he grew to be almost faultless. Very well and good, my good people. You can learn a language; you can master a science; I have heard of an old square-toes of sixty who learned, by study and intense application, very satisfactorily to dance; but can you, by taking thought, add to your moral stature? Ah me! the doctor who preaches is only taller than most of us by the height of the pulpit: and when he steps down, I daresay he cringes to the duchess, growls at his children, scolds his wife about the dinner. All is vanity, look you: and so the preacher is vanity, too.

Well, then, I must again say that Philip roared his griefs: he shouted his laughter: he bellowed his applause: he was extravagant in his humility as in his pride, in his admiration of his friends and contempt for his enemies: I daresay not a just man, but I have met juster men not half so honest; and certainly not a faultless man, though I know better men not near so good. So, I believe, my wife thinks: else, why should she be so fond of him? Did we not know boys who never went out of bounds, and never were late for school, and never made a false concord or quantity, and never came under the ferule; and others who were always playing truant, and blundering, and being whipped; and yet, somehow, was not Master Naughtyboy better liked than Master Goodchild? When Master Naughtyboy came to dine with us on the first day of his ruin, he bore a face of radiant happiness — he laughed, he bounced about, he caressed the children; now he took a couple on his knees; now he tossed the baby to the ceiling; now he sprawled over a sofa, and now he rode upon a chair; never was a penniless gentleman more cheerful. As for his dinner, Phil’s appetite was always fine, but on this day an ogre could scarcely play a more terrible knife and fork. He asked for more and more, until his entertainers wondered to behold him. “Dine for to-day and to-morrow too; can’t expect such fare as this every day, you know. This claret, how good it is! May I pack some up in paper, and take it home with me?” The children roared with laughter at this admirable idea of carrying home wine in a sheet of paper. I don’t know that it is always at the best jokes that children laugh — children and wise men too.

When we three were by ourselves, and freed from the company of servants and children, our friend told us the cause of his gaiety. “By George!” he swore, “it is worth being ruined to find such good people in the world. My dear, kind Laura” — here the gentleman brushes his eyes with his fist — “it was as much as I could do this morning to prevent myself from hugging you in my arms, you were so generous, and — and so kind, and so tender, and so good, by George. And after leaving you, where do you think I went?”

“I think I can guess, Philip,” says Laura.

“Well,” says Philip, winking his eyes again, and tossing off a great bumper of wine, “I went to her, of course. I think she is the best friend I have in the world. The old man was out, and I told her about everything that had happened. And what do you think she has done? She says she has been expecting me — she has; and she has gone and fitted up a room with a nice little bed at the top of the house, with everything as neat and trim as possible; and she begged and prayed I would go and stay with her — and I said I would, to please her. And then she takes me down to her room; and she jumps up to a cupboard, which she unlocks; and she opens and takes three-and-twenty pounds out of a — out of a tea — out of a tea-caddy — confound me! — and she says, ‘Here, Philip,’ she says, and — Boo! what a fool I am!” and here the orator fairly broke down in his speech.

Chapter 17

In which Philip Shows His Mettle.

When the poor Little Sister proffered her mite, her all, to Philip, I daresay some sentimental passages occurred between them which are much too trivial to be narrated. No doubt her pleasure would have been at that moment to give him not only that gold which she had been saving up against rent-day, but the spoons, the furniture, and all the valuables of the house, including, perhaps, J. J.’s bricabrac, cabinets, china, and so forth. To perform a kindness, an act of self-sacrifice; — are not these the most delicious privileges of female tenderness? Philip checked his little friend’s enthusiasm. He showed her a purse full of money, at which sight the poor little soul was rather disappointed. He magnified the value of his horses, which, according to Philip’s calculation, were to bring him at least two hundred pounds more than the stock which he had already in hand; and the master of such a sum as this, she was forced to confess, had no need to despair. Indeed, she had never in her life possessed the half of it. Her kind dear little offer of a home in her house he would accept sometimes, and with gratitude. Well, there was a little consolation in that. In a moment that active little housekeeper saw the room ready; flowers on the mantel-piece; his looking-glass which her father could do quite well with the little one, as he was always shaved by the barber now; the quilted counterpane, which she had herself made — I know not what more improvements she devised; and I fear that at the idea of having Philip with her, this little thing was as extravagantly and unreasonably happy as we have just now seen Philip to be. What was that last dish which Pætus and Arria shared in common? I have lost my Lempriere’s dictionary (that treasure of my youth), and forget whether it was a cold dagger au naturel, or a dish of hot coals á la Romaine, of which they partook; but, whatever it was, she smiled, and delightedly received it, happy to share the beloved one’s fortune.

Yes: Philip would come home to his Little Sister sometimes: sometimes of a Saturday, and they would go to church on Sunday, as he used to do when he was a boy at school. “But then, you know,” says Phil, “law is law; study is study. I must devote my whole energies to my work — get up very early.”

“Don’t tire your eyes, my dear,” interposes Mr. Philip’s soft, judicious friend.

“There must be no trifling with work,” says Philip, with awful gravity. “There’s Benton the Judge: Benton, and Burbage, you know.”

“Oh, Benton and Burbage!” whispers the Little Sister, not a little bewildered.

“How do you suppose he became a judge before forty?”

“Before forty who? law, bless me!”

“Before he was forty, Mrs. Carry. When he came to work, he had his own way to make: just like me. He had a small allowance from his father: that’s not like me. He took chambers in the Temple. He went to a pleader’s office. He read fourteen, fifteen, hours every day. He dined on a cup of tea and a muttonchop.”

“La, bless me, child! I wouldn’t have you do that, not to be Lord Chamberlain — Chancellor what’s his name? Destroy your youth with reading, and your eyes, and go without your dinner? You’re not used to that sort of thing, dear; and it would kill you!”

Philip smoothed his fair hair off his ample forehead, and nodded his head, smiling sweetly. I think his inward monitor hinted to him that there was not much danger of his killing himself by over-work. “To succeed at the law, as in all other professions,” he continued, with much gravity, “requires the greatest perseverance, and industry, and talent; and then, perhaps, you don’t succeed. Many have failed who have had all these qualities.”

“But they haven’t talents like my Philip, I know they haven’t. And I had to stand up in a court once, and was cross-examined by a vulgar man before a horrid deaf old judge; and I’m sure if your lawyers are like them I don’t wish you to succeed at all. And now, look! there’s a nice loin of pork coming up. Pa loves roast pork; and you must come and have some with us; and every day and all days, my dear, I should like to see you seated there.” And the Little Sister frisked about here, and bustled there, and brought a cunning bottle of wine from some corner, and made the boy welcome. So that, you see, far from starving, he actually had two dinners on that first day of his ruin.

Caroline consented to a compromise regarding the money, on Philip’s solemn vow and promise that she should be his banker whenever necessity called. She rather desired his poverty for the sake of its precious reward. She hid away a little bag of gold for her darling’s use whenever he should need it. I daresay she pinched and had shabby dinners at home, so as to save yet more, and so caused the captain to grumble. Why, for that boy’s sake, I believe she would have been capable of shaving her lodgers’ legs of mutton, and levying a tax on their tea-caddies and baker’s stuff. If you don’t like unprincipled attachments of this sort, and only desire that your womankind should love you for yourself, and according to your deserts, I am your very humble servant. Hereditary bondswomen! you know, that were you free, and did you strike the blow, my dears, you were unhappy for your pain, and eagerly would claim your bonds again. What poet has uttered that sentiment? It is perfectly true, and I know will receive the cordial approbation of the dear ladies.

Philip has decreed in his own mind that he will go and live in those chambers in the Temple where we have met him. Vanjohn, the sporting gentleman, had determined for special reasons to withdraw from law and sport in this country, and Mr. Firmin took possession of his vacant sleeping chamber. To furnish a bachelor’s bed-room need not be a matter of much cost; but Mr. Philip was too good-natured a fellow to haggle about the valuation of Vanjohn’s bedsteads and chests of drawers, and generously took them at twice their value. He and Mr. Cassidy now divided the rooms in equal reign. Ah, happy rooms! bright rooms, rooms near the sky, to remember you is to be young again! for I would have you to know, that when Philip went to take possession of his share of the fourth floor in the Temple, his biographer was still comparatively juvenile, and in one or two very old-fashioned families was called “young Pendennis.”

So Philip Firmin dwelt in a garret; and the fourth part of a laundress and the half of a boy now formed the domestic establishment of him who had been attended by housekeepers, butlers, and obsequious liveried menials. To be freed from that ceremonial and etiquette of plush and worsted lace was an immense relief to Firmin. His pipe need not lurk in crypts or back closets now: its fragrance breathed over the whole chambers, and rose up to the sky, their near neighbour.

The first month or two after being ruined. Philip vowed, was an uncommonly pleasant time. He had still plenty of money in his pocket; and the sense that, perhaps, it was imprudent to take a cab or drink a bottle of wine, added a zest to those enjoyments which they by no means possessed when they were easy and of daily occurrence. I am not certain that a dinner of beef and porter did not amuse our young man almost as well as banquets much more costly to which he had been accustomed. He laughed at the pretensions of his boyish days, when he and other solemn young epicures used to sit down to elaborate tavern banquets, and pretend to criticize vintages, and sauces, and turtle. As yet there was not only content with his dinner, but plenty therewith; and I do not wish to alarm you by supposing that Philip will ever have to encounter any dreadful extremities of poverty or hunger in the course of his history. The wine in the jug was very low at times, but it never was quite empty. This lamb was shorn, but the wind was tempered to him.

So Philip took possession of his rooms in the Temple, and began actually to reside there just as the long vacation commenced, which he intended to devote to a course of serious study of the law and private preparation, before he should venture on the great business of circuits and the bar. Nothing is more necessary for desk-men than exercise, so Philip took a good deal; especially on the water, where he pulled a famous oar. Nothing is more natural after exercise than refreshment; and Mr. Firmin, now he was too poor for claret, showed a great capacity for beer. After beer and bodily labour, rest, of course, is necessary; and Firmin slept nine hours, and looked as rosy as a girl in her first season. Then such a man, with such a frame and health, must have a good appetite for breakfast. And then every man, who wishes to succeed at the bar, in the senate, on the bench, in the House of Peers, on the Woolsack, must know the quotidian history of his country; so, of course, Philip read the newspaper. Thus, you see, his hours of study were perforce curtailed by the necessary duties which distracted him from his labours.

It has been said that Mr. Firmin’s companion in chambers, Mr. Cassidy, was a native of the neighbouring kingdom of Ireland, and engaged in literary pursuits in this country. A merry, shrewd, silent, observant little man, he, unlike some of his compatriots, always knew how to make both ends meet; feared no man alive in the character of a dun; and out of small earnings managed to transmit no small comforts and subsidies to old parents living somewhere in Munster. Of Cassidy’s friends was Finucane, now editor of the Pall Mall Gazette; he married the widow of the late eccentric and gifted Captain Shandon, and Cass. himself was the fashionable correspondent of the Gazette, chronicling the marriages, deaths, births, dinner-parties of the nobility. These Irish gentlemen knew other Irish gentlemen, connected with other newspapers, who formed a little literary society. They assembled at each other’s rooms, and at haunts where social pleasure was to be purchased at no dear rate. Philip Firmin was known to many of them before his misfortunes occurred, and when there was gold in plenty in his pocket, and never-failing applause for his songs.

When Pendennis and his friends wrote in this newspaper, it was impertinent enough, and many men must have heard the writers laugh at the airs which they occasionally thought proper to assume. The tone which they took amused, annoyed, tickled, was popular. It was continued, and, of course, caricatured by their successors. They worked for very moderate fees: but paid themselves by impertinence, and the satisfaction of assailing their betters. There or four persons were reserved from their abuse; but somebody was sure every week to be tied up at their post, and the public made sport of the victim’s contortions. The writers were obscure barristers, ushers, and college men, but they had omniscience at their pen’s end, and were ready to lay down the law on any given subject — to teach any man his business, were it a bishop in his pulpit, a Minister in his place in the House, a captain on his quarter-deck, a tailor on his shopboard, or a jockey in his saddle.

Since those early days of the Pall Mall Gazette, when old Shandon wielded his truculent tomahawk, and Messrs. W-rr-ngt-n and P-nd-nn-s followed him in the war-path, the Gazette had passed through several hands; and the victims who were immolated by the editors of to-day were very likely the objects of the best puffery of the last dynasty. To be flogged in what was your own school-room — that, surely, is a queer sensation; and when my Report was published on the decay of the sealing-wax trade in the three kingdoms (owing to the prevalence of gummed envelopes — as you may see in that masterly document), I was horsed up and smartly whipped in the Gazette by some of the rods which had come out of pickle since my time. Was not good Dr. Guillotin executed by his own neat invention? I don’t know who was the Monsieur Samson who operated on me; but have always had my idea that Digges, of Corpus, was the man to whom my flagellation was entrusted. His father keeps a ladies’-school at Hackney; but there is an air of fashion in everything which Digges writes, and a chivalrous conservatism which makes me pretty certain that D. was my scarifier. All this, however, is naught. Let us turn away from the author’s private griefs and egotisms to those of the hero of the story.

Does any one remember the appearance some twenty years ago of a little book called Trumpet Calls — a book of songs and poetry, dedicated to his brother officers by Cornet Canterton? His trumpet was very tolerably melodious, and the cornet played some small airs on it with some little grace and skill. But this poor Canterton belonged to the Life Guards Green, and Philip Firmin would have liked to have the lives of one or two troops at least of that corps. Entering into Mr. Cassidy’s room, Philip found the little volume. He set to work to exterminate Canterton. He rode him down, trampled over his face and carcase, knocked the Trumpet Calls and all the teeth out of the trumpeter’s throat. Never was such a smashing article as he wrote. And Mugford, Mr. Cassidy’s chief and owner, who likes always to have at least one man served up and hashed small in the Pall Mall Gazette, happened at this very juncture to have no other victim ready in his larder. Philip’s review appeared there in print. He rushed off with immense glee to Westminster, to show us his performance. Nothing must content him but to give a dinner at Greenwich on his success. Oh, Philip! We wished that this had not been his first fee; and that sober law had given it to him, and not the graceless and fickle muse with whom he had been flirting. For, truth to say, certain wise old heads which wagged over his performance could see but little merit in it. His style was coarse, his wit clumsy and savage. Never mind characterizing either now. He has seen the error of his ways, and divorced with the muse whom he never ought to have wooed.

The shrewd Cassidy not only could not write himself, but knew he could not — or, at least pen more than a plain paragraph, or a brief sentence to the point, but said he would carry this paper to his chief. “His Excellency” was the nickname by which this chief was called by his familiars. Mugford — Frederick Mugford, was his real name — and putting out of sight that little defect in his character, that he committed a systematic literary murder once a week, a more worthy good-natured little murderer did not live. He came of the old school of the press. Like French marshals, he had risen from the ranks, and retained some of the manners and oddities of the private soldier. A new race of writers had grown up since he enlisted as a printer’s boy — men of the world, with the manners of other gentlemen. Mugford never professed the least gentility. He knew that his young men laughed at his peculiarities, and did not care a fig for their scorn. As the knife with which he conveyed his victuals to his mouth went down his throat at the plenteous banquets which he gave, he saw his young friends wince and wonder, and rather relished their surprise. Those lips never cared in the least about placing his h’s in right places. They used bad language with great freedom — (to hear him bullying a printing-office was a wonder of eloquence) — but they betrayed no secrets, and the words which they uttered you might trust. He had belonged to two or three parties, and had respected them all. When he went to the Under-Secretary’s office he was never kept waiting; and once or twice Mrs. Mugford, who governed him, ordered him to attend the Saturday reception of the Ministers’ ladies, where he might be seen, with dirty hands, it is true, but a richly-embroidered waistcoat and fancy satin tie. His heart, however, was not in these entertainments. I have heard him say that he only came because Mrs. M. would have it; and he frankly owned that he “would rather ‘ave a pipe, and a drop of something ‘ot, than all your ices and rubbish.”

Mugford had a curious knowledge of what was going on in the world, and of the affairs of countless people. When Cass. brought Philip’s article to his Excellency, and mentioned the author’s name, Mugford showed himself to be perfectly familiar with the histories of Philp and his father. “The old chap has nobbled the young fellow’s money, almost every shilling of it, I hear. Knew he never would carry on. His discounts would have killed any man. Seen his paper about this ten year. Young one is a gentleman — passionate fellow, hawhaw fellow, but kind to the poor. Father never was a gentleman, with all his fine airs and fine waistcoats. I don’t set up in that line myself, Cass., but I tell you I know ’em when I see ’em.”

Philip had friends and private patrons whose influence was great with the Mugford family, and of whom he little knew. Every year Mrs. M. was in the habit of contributing a Mugford to the world. She was one of Mrs. Brandon’s most regular clients; and year after year, almost from his first arrival in London, Ridley, the painter, had been engaged as portrait painter to this worthy family. Philip and his illness; Philip and his horses, splendours, and entertainments; Philip and his lamentable downfall and ruin, had formed the subject of many an interesting talk between Mrs. Mugford and her friend, the Little Sister; and as we know Caroline’s infatuation about the young fellow, we may suppose that his good qualities lost nothing in the description. When that article in the Pall Mall Gazette appeared, Nurse Brandon took the omnibus to Haverstock Hill, where, as you know, Mugford had his villa; — arrived at Mrs. Mugford’s, Gazette in hand, and had a long and delightful conversation with that lady. Mrs. Brandon bought I don’t know how many copies of that Pall Mall Gazette. She now asked for it repeatedly in her walks at sundry ginger-beer shops, and of all sorts of newsvendors. I have heard that when the Mugfords first purchased the Gazette, Mrs. M. used to drop bills from her pony-chaise, and distribute placards setting forth the excellence of the journal. “We keep our carriage, but we ain’t above our business, Brandon,” that good lady would say. And the business prospered under the management of these worthy folks; and the pony-chaise unfolded into a noble barouche; and the pony increased and multiplied, and became a pair of horses; and there was not a richer piece of gold-lace round any coachman’s hat in London than now decorated John, who had grown with the growth of his master’s fortunes, and drove the chariot in which his worthy employers rode on the way to Hampstead, honour, and prosperity.

“All this pitching into the poet is very well, you know, Cassidy,” says Mugford to his subordinate. “It’s like shooting a butterfly with a blunderbuss; but if Firmin likes that kind of sport, I don’t mind. There won’t be any difficulty about taking his copy at our place. The duchess knows another old woman who is a friend of his” (“the duchess” was the title which Mr. Mugford was in the playful habit of conferring upon his wife). “It’s my belief young F. had better stick to the law, and leave the writing rubbish alone. But he knows his own affairs best, and, mind you, the duchess is determined we shall give him a helping hand.”

Once, in the days of his prosperity, and in J. J.’s company, Philip had visited Mrs. Mugford and her family — a circumstance which the gentleman had almost forgotten. The painter and his friend were taking a Sunday walk, and came upon Mugford’s pretty cottage and garden, and were hospitably entertained there by the owners of the place. It has disappeared, and the old garden has long since been covered by terraces and villas, and Mugford and Mrs. M., good souls, where are they? But the lady thought she had never seen such a fine-looking young fellow as Philip; cast about in her mind which of her little female Mugfords should marry him; and insisted upon offering her guest champagne. Poor Phil! So, you see, whilst, perhaps, he was rather pluming himself upon his literary talents, and imagining that he was a clever fellow, he was only the object of a job on the part of two or three good folks, who knew his history, and compassionated his misfortunes.

Mugford recalled himself to Philip’s recollection, when they met after the appearance of Mr. Phil’s first performance in the Gazette. If he still took a Sunday walk, Hampstead way, Mr. M. requested him to remember that there was a slice of beef and a glass of wine at the old shop. Philip remembered it well enough now: the ugly room, the ugly family, the kind worthy people. Ere long he learned what had been Mrs. Brandon’s connection with them, and the young man’s heart was softened and grateful as he thought how this kind, gentle creature had been able to befriend him. She, we may be sure, was not a little proud of her protégé. I believe she grew to fancy that the whole newspaper was written by Philip. She made her fond parent read it aloud as she worked. Mr. Ridley, senior, pronounced it was remarkable fine, really now; without, I think, entirely comprehending the meaning of the sentiments which Mr. Gann gave forth in his rich loud voice, and often dropping asleep in his chair during this sermon.

In the autumn, Mr. Firmin’s friends, Mr. and Mrs. Pendennis, selected the romantic seaport town of Boulogne for their holiday residence; and having roomy quarters in the old town, we gave Mr. Philip an invitation to pay us a visit whenever he could tear himself away from literature and law. He came in high spirits. He amused us by imitations and descriptions of his new proprietor and master, Mr. Mugford — his blunders, his bad language, his good heart. One day, Mugford expected a celebrated literary character to dinner, and Philip and Cassidy were invited to meet him. The great man was ill, and was unable to come. “Don’t dish up the side-dishes,” called out Mugford to his cook, in the hearing of his other guests. “Mr. Lyon ain’t a coming.” They dined quite sufficiently without the side-dishes, and were perfectly cheerful in the absence of the lion. Mugford patronized his young men with amusing good-nature. “Firmin, cut the goose for the duchess, will you? Cass. can’t say Bo! to one, he can’t. Ridley, a little of the stuffing. It’ll make your hair curl.” And Philip was going to imitate a frightful act with the cold steel (with which I have said Philip’s master used to convey food to his mouth), but our dear innocent third daughter uttered a shriek of terror, which caused him to drop the dreadful weapon. Our darling little Florence is a nervous child, and the sight of an edged tool causes her anguish, ever since our darling little Tom nearly cut his thumb off with his father’s razor.

Our main amusement in this delightful place was to look at the sea-sick landing from the steamers; and one day, as we witnessed this phenomenon, Philip sprang to the ropes which divided us from the arriving passengers, and with a cry of “How do you do, general?” greeted a yellow-faced gentleman, who started back, and, to my thinking, seemed but ill inclined to reciprocate Philip’s friendly greeting. The general was fluttered, no doubt, by the bustle and interruptions incidental to the landing. A pallid lady, the partner of his existence, probably, was calling out, “Noof et doo domestiques, Doo!” to the sentries who kept the line, and who seemed little interested by this family news. A governess, a tall young lady, and several more male and female children, followed the pale lady, who, as I thought, looked strangely frightened when the gentleman addressed as general communicated to her Philip’s name. “Is that him?” said the lady in questionable grammar; and the tall young lady turned a pair of large eyes upon the individual designated as “him,” and showed a pair of dank ringlets, out of which the envious sea-nymphs had shaken all the curl.

The general turned out to be General Baynes; the pale lady was Mrs. General B.; the tall young lady was Miss Charlotte Baynes, the general’s eldest child; and the other six, forming nine, or “noof,” in all, as Mrs. General B. said, were the other members of the Baynes family. And here I may as well say why the general looked alarmed on seeing Philip, and why the general’s lady frowned at him. In action, one of the bravest of men, in common life General Baynes was timorous and weak. Specially he was afraid of Mrs. General Baynes, who ruled him with a vigorous authority. As Philip’s trustee, he had allowed Philip’s father to make away with the boy’s money. He learned with a ghastly terror that he was answerable for his own remissness and want of care. For a long while he did not dare to tell his commander-in-chief of this dreadful penalty which was hanging over him. When at last he ventured upon this confession, I do not envy him the scene which must have ensued between him and his commanding officer. The morning after the fatal confession, when the children assembled for breakfast and prayers, Mrs. Baynes gave their young ones their porridge: she and Charlotte poured out the tea and coffee for their elders, and then addressing her eldest son Ochterlony, she said, “Ocky, my boy, the general has announced a charming piece of news this morning.”

“Bought that pony, sir?” says Ocky.

“Oh, what jolly fun!” says Moira, the second son.

“Dear, dear papa! what’s the matter, and why do you look so?” cries Charlotte, looking behind her father’s paper.

That guilty man would fain have made a shroud of his Morning Herald. He would have flung the sheet over his whole body, and lain hidden there from all eyes.

“The fun, my dears, is that your father is ruined: that’s the fun. Eat your porridge now, little ones. Charlotte, pop a bit of butter in Carrick’s porridge; for you mayn’t have any to-morrow.”

“Oh, gammon,” cries Moira.

“You’ll soon see whether it is gammon or not, sir, when you’ll be starving, sir. Your father has ruined us — and a very pleasant morning’s work, I am sure.”

And she calmly rubs the nose of her youngest child who is near her, and too young, and innocent, and careless, perhaps, of the world’s censure as yet to keep in a strict cleanliness her own dear little snub nose and dappled cheeks.

“We are only ruined, and shall be starving soon, my dears, and if the general has bought a pony — as I dare say he has; he is quite capable of buying a pony when we are starving — the best thing we can do is to eat the pony. M’Grigor, don’t laugh. Starvation is no laughing matter. When we were at Dumdum, in ‘36, we ate some colt. Don’t you remember Jubber’s colt — Jubber of the Horse Artillery, general? Never tasted anything more tender in all my life. Charlotte, take Jany’s hands out of the marmalade! We are all ruined, my dears, as sure as our name is Baynes.” Thus did the mother of the family prattle on in the midst of her little ones, and announce to them the dreadful news of impending starvation. “General Baynes, by his carelessness, had allowed Dr. Firmin to make away with the money over which the general had been set as sentinel. Philip might recover from the trustee, and no doubt would. Perhaps he would not press his claim? My dear, what can you expect from the son of such a father? Depend on it, Charlotte, no good fruit can come from a stock like that. The son is a bad one, the father is a bad one, and your father, poor dear soul, is not fit to be trusted to walk the street without some one to keep him from tumbling. Why did I allow him to go to town without me? We were quartered at Colchester then: and I could not move on account of your brother M’Grigor. ‘Baynes,’ I said to your father, ‘as sure as I let you go away to town without me, you will come to mischief.’ And go he did, and come to mischief he did. And through his folly I and my poor children must go and beg our bread in the streets — I and my seven poor, robbed, penniless little ones. Oh, it’s cruel, cruel!”

Indeed, one cannot fancy a more dismal prospect for this worthy mother and wife than to see her children without provision at the commencement of their lives, and her luckless husband robbed of his life’s earnings, and ruined just when he was too old to work.

What was to become of them? Now poor Charlotte thought, with pangs of a keen remorse, how idle she had been, and how she had snubbed her governesses, and how little she knew, and how badly she played the piano. Oh, neglected opportunities! Oh, remorse, now the time was past and irrecoverable! Does any young lady read this who, perchance, ought to be doing her lessons? My dear, lay down the story-book at once. Go up to your school-room, and practise your piano for two hours this moment; so that you may be prepared to support your family, should ruin in any case fall upon you. A great girl of sixteen, I pity Charlotte Baynes’s feelings of anguish. She can’t write a very good hand; she can scarcely answer any question to speak of in any educational books; her pianoforte playing is very, very so-so indeed. If she is to go out and get a living for the family, how, in the name of goodness, is she to set about it? What are they to do with the boys, and the money that has been put away for Ochterlony when he goes to college, and for Moira’s commission? “Why, we can’t afford to keep them at Dr. Pybus’s, where they were doing so well; and they were ever so much better and more gentlemanlike than Colonel Chandler’s boys; and to lose the army will break Moira’s heart, it will. And the little ones, my little blue-eyed Carrick, and my darling Jany, and my Mary, that I nursed almost miraculously out of her scarlet fever. God help them! God help us all!” thinks the poor mother. No wonder that her nights are wakeful, and her heart in a tumult of alarm at the idea of the impending danger.

And the father of the family? — the stout old general whose battles and campaigns are over, who has come home to rest his war-worn limbs, and make his peace with heaven ere it calls him away — what must be his feelings when he thinks that he has been entrapped by a villain into committing an imprudence, which makes his children penniless and himself dishonoured and a beggar? When he found what Dr. Firmin had done, and how he had been cheated, he went away, aghast, to his lawyer, who could give him no help. Philip’s mother’s trustee was answerable to Philip for his property. It had been stolen through Baynes’s own carelessness, and the law bound him to replace it. General Baynes’s man of business could not help him out of his perplexity at all; and I hope my worthy reader is not going to be too angry with the general for what I own he did. You never would, my dear sir, I know. No power on earth would induce you to depart one inch from the path of rectitude; or, having done an act of imprudence, to shrink from bearing the consequence. The long and short of the matter is, that poor Baynes and his wife, after holding agitated, stealthy councils together — after believing that every strange face they saw was a bailiff’s coming to arrest them on Philip’s account — after horrible days of remorse, misery, guilt — I say the long and the short of the matter was, that these poor people determined to run away. They would go and hide themselves anywhere — in an impenetrable pine forest in Norway — up an inaccessible mountain in Switzerland. They would change their names; dye their mustachios and honest old white hair; fly with their little ones away, away, away, out of the reach of law and Philip; and the first flight lands them on Boulogne Pier, and there is Mr. Philip holding out his hand and actually eyeing them as they got out of the steamer! Eyeing them? It is the eye of heaven that is on those criminals. Holding out his hand to them? It is the hand of fate that is on their wretched shoulders. No wonder they shuddered and turned pale. That which I took for sea-sickness, I am sorry to say, was a guilty conscience: and where is the steward, my dear friends, who can relieve us of that?

As this party came staggering out of the Customhouse, poor Baynes still found Philip’s hand stretched out to catch hold of him, and saluted him with a ghastly cordiality. “These are your children, general, and this is Mrs. Baynes?” says Philip, smiling, and taking off his hat.

“Oh, yes! I’m Mrs. General Baynes!” says the poor woman; “and these are the children — yes, yes. Charlotte, this is Mr. Firmin, of whom you have heard us speak; and these are my boys, Moira and Ochterlony.”

“I have had the honour of meeting General Baynes at Old Parr Street. Don’t you remember, sir?” says Mr. Pendennis, with great affability to the general.

“What, another who knows me?” I daresay the poor wretch thinks; and glances of a dreadful meaning pass between the guilty wife and the guilty husband.

“You are going to stay at any hotel?”

“Hôtel des Bains!” “Hôtel du Nord?” “Hôtel d’Angleterre,” here cry twenty commissioners in a breath.

“Hotel? Oh, yes! That is, we have not made up our minds whether we shall go in to-night or whether we shall stay,” say those guilty ones, looking at one another, and then down to the ground; on which one of the children, with a roar, says —

“Oh, ma, what a story! You said you’d stay to-night; and I was so sick in the beastly boat, and I won’t travel any more!” And tears choke his artless utterance. “And you said Bang to the man who took your keys, you know you did,” resumes the innocent, as soon as he can gasp a further remark.

“Who told you to speak?” cried mamma, giving the boy a shake.

“This is the way to the Hôtel des Bains,” says Philip, making Miss Baynes another of his best bows. And Miss Baynes makes a curtsey, and her eyes look up at the handsome young man — large brown honest eyes in a comely round face, on each side of which depend two straight wisps of brown hair that were ringlets when they left Folkestone a few hours since.

“Oh, I say, look at those women with the short petticoats! and wooden shoes, by George! Oh! it’s jolly, ain’t it?” cries one young gentleman.

“By George, there’s a man with earrings on! There is, Ocky, upon my word!” calls out another. And the elder boy, turning round to his father, points to some soldiers. “Did you ever see such little beggars?” he says, tossing his head up. “They wouldn’t take such fellows into our line.”

“I am not at all tired, thank you,” says Charlotte.

“I am accustomed to carry him.” I forgot to say that the young lady had one of the children asleep on her shoulder: and another was toddling at her side, holding by his sister’s dress, and admiring Mr. Firmin’s whiskers, that flamed and curled very luminously and gloriously, like to the rays of the setting sun.

“I am very glad we met, sir,” says Philip, in the most friendly manner, taking leave of the general at the gate of his hotel. “I hope you won’t go away to-morrow, and that I may come and pay my respects to Mrs. Baynes.” Again he salutes that lady with a coup de chapeau. Again he bows to Miss Baynes. She makes a pretty curtsey enough, considering that she has a baby asleep on her shoulder. And they enter the hotel, the excellent Marie marshalling them to fitting apartments, where some of them, I have no doubt, will sleep very soundly. How much more comfortably might poor Baynes and his wife have slept had they known what were Philip’s feelings regarding them!

We both admired Charlotte, the tall girl who carried her little brother, and around whom the others clung. And we spoke loudly in Miss Charlotte’s praises to Mrs. Pendennis, when we joined that lady at dinner. In the praise of Mrs. Baynes we had not a great deal to say, further than that she seemed to take command of the whole expedition, including the general officer, her husband.

Though Marie’s beds at the Hôtel des Bains are as comfortable as any beds in Europe, you see that admirable chambermaid cannot lay out a clean, easy conscience upon the clean, fragrant pillow-case; and General and Mrs. Baynes owned, in after days, that one of the most dreadful nights they ever passed was that of their first landing in France. What refugee from his country can fly from himself? Railways were not as yet in that part of France. The general was too poor to fly with a couple of private carriages, which he must have had for his family of “noof,” his governess, and two servants. Encumbered with such a train, his enemy would speedily have pursued and overtaken him. It is a fact that, immediately after landing at his hotel, he and his commanding officer went off to see when they could get places for — never mind the name of the place where they really thought of taking refuge. They never told, but Mrs. General Baynes had a sister, Mrs. Major MacWhirter (married to MacW. of the Bengal Cavalry), and the sisters loved each other very affectionately, especially by letter, for it must be owned that they quarrelled frightfully when together; and Mrs. Mac Whirter never could bear that her younger sister should be taken out to dinner before her, because she was married to a superior officer. Well, their little differences were forgotten when the two ladies were apart. The sisters wrote to each other prodigious long letters, in which household affairs, the children’s puerile diseases, the relative prices of veal, eggs, chickens, the rent of lodging and houses in various places, were fully discussed. And as Mrs. Baynes showed a surprising knowledge of Tours, the markets, rents, clergymen, society there, and as Major and Mrs. Mac were staying there, I have little doubt, for my part, from this and another not unimportant circumstance, that it was to that fair city our fugitives were wending their way, when events occurred which must now be narrated, and which caused General Baynes at the head of his domestic regiment to do what the King of France with twenty thousand men is said to have done in old times.

Philip was greatly interested about the family. The truth is, we were all very much bored at Boulogne. We read the feeblest London papers at the reading-room with frantic assiduity. We saw all the boats come in: and the day was lost when we missed the Folkestone boat or the London boat. We consumed much time and absinthe at cafés; and tramped leagues upon that old pier every day. Well, Philip was at the Hôtel des Bains at a very early hour next morning, and there he saw the general, with a woe-worn face, leaning on his stick, and looking at his luggage, as it lay piled in the porte-cochère of the hotel. There they lay, thirty-seven packages in all, including washing-tubes, and a child’s India sleeping-cot; and all these packages were ticketed M. le Général Baynes, Officier Anglais, Tours, Touraine, France. I say, putting two and two together; calling to mind Mrs. General’s singular knowledge of Tours and familiarity with the place and its prices; remembering that her sister Emily — Mrs. Major MacWhirter, in fact — was there; and seeing thirty-seven trunks, bags and portmanteaus, all directed “M. le GÉnÉral Baynes, Officier Anglais, Tours, Touraine,” am I wrong in supposing that Tours was the general’s destination? On the other hand, we have the old officer’s declaration to Philip that he did not know where he was going. Oh, you sly old man! Oh, you grey old fox, beginning to double and to turn at sixty-seven years of age! Well? The general was in retreat, and he did not wish the enemy to know upon what lines he was retreating. What is the harm of that, pray? Besides, he was under the orders of his commanding officer, and when Mrs. General gave her orders, I should have liked to see any officer of hers disobey.

“What a pyramid of portmanteaus! You are not thinking of moving to-day, general?” says Philip.

“It is Sunday, sir,” says the general; which you will perceive was not answering the question; but, in truth, except for a very great emergency, the good general would not travel on that day.

“I hope the ladies slept well after their windy voyage.”

“Thank you. My wife is an old sailor, and has made two voyages out and home to India.” Here, you understand, the old man is again eluding his interlocutor’s artless queries.

“I should like to have some talk with you, sir, when you are free,” continues Philip, not having leisure as yet to be surprised at the other’s demeanour.

“There are other days besides Sunday for talk on business,” says that piteous sly-boots of an old officer. Ah, conscience! conscience! Twenty-four Sikhs, sword in hand, two dozen Pindarries, Mahrattas, Ghoorkas, what you please — that old man felt that he would rather have met them than Philip’s unsuspecting blue eyes. These, however, now lighted up with rather an angry, “Well, sir, as you don’t talk business on Sunday, may I call on you to-morrow morning.”

And what advantage had the poor old fellow got by all this doubling and hesitating and artfulness? — a respite until to-morrow morning! Another night of horrible wakefulness and hopeless guilt, and Philip waiting ready the next morning with his little bill, and “Please pay me the thirty thousand which my father spent and you owe me. Please turn out into the streets with your wife and family, and beg and starve. Have the goodness to hand me out your last rupee. Be kind enough to sell your children’s clothes and your wife’s jewels, and hand over the proceeds to me. I’ll call to-morrow. Bye, bye.”

Here there came tripping over the marble pavement of the hall of the hotel a tall young lady in a brown silk dress and rich curling ringlets falling upon her fair young neck — (beautiful brown curling ringlets, vous comprenez, not wisps of moistened hair,) and a broad clear forehead, and two honest eyes shining below it, and cheeks not pale as they were yesterday; and lips redder still; and she says, “Papa, papa, won’t you come to breakfast? The tea is — ” What the precise state of the tea is I don’t know — none of us ever shall — for here she says, “Oh, Mr. Firmin!” and makes a curtsey.

To which remark Philip replied, “Miss Baynes, I hope you are very well this morning, and not the worse for yesterday’s rough weather.”

“I am quite well, thank you,” was Miss Baynes’ instant reply. The answer was not witty, to be sure; but I don’t know that under the circumstances she could have said anything more appropriate. Indeed, never was a pleasanter picture of health and good-humour than the young lady presented: a difference more pleasant to note than Miss Charlotte’s face pale from the steamboat on Saturday, and shining, rosy, happy, and innocent in the cloudless Sabbath morn.

“A Madame,

“Madame le Major MacWhirter,

“à Tours,

“Touraine,

“France.

“Tintelleries, Boulogne-sur-Mer,

“Dearest Emily,

“Wednesday, August 24, 18 — .

“After suffering more dreadfully in the two hours’ passage from Folkestone to this place than I have in four passages out and home from India, except in that terrible storm off the Cape, in September, 1824, when I certainly did suffer most cruelly on board that horrible troop-ship; we reached this place last Saturday evening, having a full determination to proceed immediately on our route. Now, you will perceive that our minds are changed. We found this place pleasant, and the lodgings besides most neat, comfortable, and well found in everything, more reasonable than you proposed to get for us at Tours, which I am told also is damp, and might bring on the general’s jungle fever again. Owing to the hooping-cough having just been in the house, which, praised be mercy, all my dear ones have had it, including dear baby, who is quite well through it, and recommended sea air, we got this house more reasonable than prices you mention at Tours. A whole house: little room for two boys; nursery; nice little room for Charlotte, and a den for the general. I don’t know how ever we should have brought our party safe all the way to Tours. Thirty-seven articles of luggage, and Miss Flixby, who announced herself as perfect French governess, acquired at Paris — perfect, but perfectly useless. She can’t understand the French people when they speak to her, and goes about the house in a most bewildering way. I am the interpreter; poor Charlotte is much too timid to speak when I am by. I have rubbed up the old French which we learned at Chiswick at Miss Pinkerton’s; and I find my Hindostanee of great help: which I use it when we are at a loss for a word, and it answers extremely well. We pay for lodgings, the whole house — francs per month. Butchers’ meat and poultry plentiful but dear. A grocer in the Grande Rue sell excellent wine at fifteenpence per bottle; and groceries pretty much at English prices. Mr. Blowman at the English chapel of the Tintelleries has a fine voice, and appears to be a most excellent clergyman. I have heard him only once, however, on Sunday evening, when I was so agitated and so unhappy in my mind that I own I took little note of his sermon.

“The cause of that agitation you know, having imparted it to you in my letters of July, June, and 24th of May, ult. My poor simple, guileless Baynes was trustee to Mrs. Dr. Firmin, before she married that most unprincipled man. When we were at home last, and exchanged to the 120th from the 99th, my poor husband was inveigled by the horrid man into signing a paper which put the doctor in possession of all his wife’s property; whereas Charles thought he was only signing a power of attorney, enabling him to receive his son’s dividends. Dr. F., after the most atrocious deceit, forgery, and criminality of every kind, fled the country; and Hunt and Pegler, our solicitors, informed us that the general was answerable for the wickedness of this miscreant. He is so weak that he has been many and many times on the point of going to young Mr. F. and giving up everything. It was only by my prayers, by my commands, that I have been enabled to keep him quiet; and, indeed, Emily, the effort has almost killed him. Brandy repeatedly I was obliged to administer on the dreadful night of our arrival here.

“For the first person we met on landing was Mr. Philip Firmin, with a pert friend of his, Mr. Pendennis, whom I don’t at all like, though his wife is an amiable person like Emma Fletcher of the Horse Artillery: not with Emma’s style, however, but still amiable, and disposed to be most civil. Charlotte has taken a great fancy to her, as she always does to every new person. Well, fancy our state on landing, when a young gentleman calls out, ‘How do you do, general?’ and turns out to be Mr. Firmin! I thought I should have lost Charles in the night. I have seen him before going into action, as calm, and sleep and smile as sweet, as any babe. It was all I could do to keep up his courage: and, but for me, but for my prayers, but for my agonies, I think he would have jumped out of bed, and gone to Mr. F. that night, and said, ‘Take everything I have.’

“The young man I own has behaved in the most honourable way. He came to see us before breakfast on Sunday, when the poor general was so ill that I thought he would have fainted over his tea. He was too ill to go to church, where I went alone, with my dear ones, having, as I own, but very small comfort in the sermon: but oh, Emily, fancy, on our return, when I went into our room, I found my general on his knees with his Church service before him, crying, crying like a baby! You know I am hasty in my temper sometimes, and his is indeed an angel’s — and I said to him, ‘Charles Baynes, be a man, and don’t cry like a child!’ ‘Ah,’ says he, ‘Eliza, do you kneel, and thank God too;’ on which I said that I thought I did not require instruction in my religion from him or any man, except a clergyman, and many of these are but poor instructors, as you know.

“‘He has been here,’ says Charles; when I said, ‘Who has been here?’ ‘That noble young fellow,’ says my general; ‘that noble, noble Philip Firmin.’ Which noble his conduct I own it has been. ‘Whilst you were at church he came again — here into this very room, where I was sitting, doubting and despairing, with the Holy Book before my eyes, and no comfort out of it. And he said to me, “General, I want to talk to you about my grandfather’s will. You don’t suppose that because my father has deceived you and ruined me, I will carry the ruin farther, and visit his wrong upon children and innocent people?” Those were the young man’s words,’ my general said; and, ‘oh, Eliza!’ says he, ‘what pangs of remorse I felt when I remembered we had used hard words about him,’ which I own we had, for his manners are rough and haughty, and I have heard things of him which I do believe now can’t be true.

“All Monday my poor man was obliged to keep his bed with a smart attack of his fever. But yesterday he was quite bright and well again, and the Pendennis party took Charlotte for a drive, and showed themselves most polite. She reminds me of Mrs. Tom Fletcher of the Horse Artillery, but that I think I have mentioned before. My paper is full; and with our best to MacWhirter and the children, I am always my dearest Emily’s affectionate sister,

“Eliza Baynes.”

Volume II.

Chapter 1

Brevis Esse Laboro.

Never, General Baynes afterwards declared, did fever come and go so pleasantly as that attack to which we have seen Mrs. General advert in her letter to her sister, Mrs. Major MacWhirter. The cold fit was merely a lively, pleasant chatter and rattle of the teeth; the hot fit an agreeable warmth; and though the ensuing sleep, with which I believe such aguish attacks are usually concluded, was enlivened by several dreams of death, demons, and torture, how felicitous it was to wake and find that dreadful thought of ruin removed which had always, for the last few months, ever since Dr. Firmin’s flight and the knowledge of his own imprudence, pursued the good-natured gentleman! What, this boy might go to college, and that get his commission; and their meals need be embittered by no more dreadful thoughts of the morrow, and their walks no longer were dogged by imaginary baliffs, or presented a gaol in the vista? It was too much bliss; and again and again the old soldier said his thankful prayers, and blessed his benefactor.

Philip thought no more of his act of kindness, except to be very grateful, and very happy that he had rendered other people so. He could no more have taken the old man’s all, and plunged that innocent family into poverty, than he could have stolen the forks off my table. But other folks were disposed to rate his virtue much more highly; and amongst these was my wife, who chose positively to worship this young gentleman, and I believe would have let him smoke in her drawing-room if he had been so minded, and though her genteelest acquaintances were in the room. Goodness knows what a noise and what piteous looks are produced if ever the master of the house chooses to indulge in a cigar after dinner; but then, you understand, I have never declined to claim mine and my children’s right because an old gentleman would be inconvenienced: and this is what I tell Mrs. Pen. If I order a coat from my tailor, must I refuse to pay him because a rogue steals it, and ought I to expect to be let off? Women won’t see matters of fact in a matter-of-fact point of view; and justice, unless it is tinged with a little romance, gets no respect from them.

So, forsooth, because Philip has performed this certainly most generous, most dashing, most reckless piece of extravagance, he is to be held up as a perfect preux chevalier. The most riotous dinners are ordered for him. We are to wait until he comes to breakfast, and he is pretty nearly always late. The children are to be sent round to kiss uncle Philip, as he is now called. The children? I wonder the mother did not jump up and kiss him too. Elle en était capable. As for the osculations which took place between Mrs. Pendennis and her new-found young friend, Miss Charlotte Baynes, they were perfectly ridiculous; two school children could not have behaved more absurdly; and I don’t know which seemed to be the younger of these two. There were colloquies, assignations, meetings on the ramparts, on the pier, where know I? — and the servants and little children of the two establishments were perpetually trotting to and fro with letters from dearest Laura to dearest Charlotte, and dearest Charlotte to her dearest Mrs. Pendennis. Why, my wife absolutely went the length of saying that dearest Charlotte’s mother, Mrs. Baynes, was a worthy, clever woman, and a good mother — a woman whose tongue never ceased clacking about the regiment, and all the officers and all the officers’ wives, of whom, by the way, she had very little good to tell.

“A worthy mother, is she, my dear?” I say. “But, oh, mercy! Mrs. Baynes would be an awful mother in-law!”

I shuddered at the thought of having such a commonplace, hard, ill-bred woman in a state of quasi authority over me.

On this Mrs. Laura must break out in quite a petulant tone — “Oh, how stale this kind of thing is Arthur, from a man qui veut passer pour un homme d’esprit! You are always attacking mothers-in-law!”

“Witness Mrs. Mackenzie, my love — Clive Newcome’s mother-in-law. That’s a nice creature; not selfish, not wicked, not — ”

“Not nonsense, Arthur!”

“Mrs. Baynes knew Mrs. Mackenzie in the West Indies, as she knew all the female army. She considers Mrs. Mackenzie was a most elegant, handsome, dashing woman — only a little too fond of the admiration of our sex. There was, I own, a fascination about Captain Goby. Do you remember, my love, that man with the stays and dyed hair, who — ”

“Oh, Arthur! When our girls marry, I suppose you will teach their husbands to abuse, and scorn, and mistrust their mother-in-law. Will he, my darlings? will he, my blessings?” (This apart to the children, if you please.) “Go! I have no patience with such talk!”

“Well, my love, Mrs. Baynes is a most agreeable woman; and when I have heard that story about the Highlanders at the Cape of Good Hope a few times more” (I do not tell it here, for it has nothing to do with the present history), “I daresay I shall begin to be amused by it.”

“Ah! here comes Charlotte, I’m glad to say. How pretty she is! What a colour! What a dear creature!”

To all which, of course, I could not say a contradictory word, for a prettier, fresher lass than Miss Baynes, with a sweeter voice, face, laughter, it was difficult to see.

“Why does mamma like Charlotte better than she likes us?” says our dear and justly indignant eldest girl. “I could not love her better if I were her mother-in-law,” says Laura, running to her young friend, casting a glance at me over her shoulder; and that kissing nonsense begins between the two young ladies. To be sure, the girl looks uncommonly bright and pretty with her pink cheeks, her bright eyes, her slim form, and that charming white India shawl which her father brought home for her.

To this osculatory party enters presently Mr. Philip Firmin, who has been dawdling about the ramparts ever since breakfast. He says he has been reading law there. He has found a jolly quiet place to read. Law, has he? And much good may it do him! Why has he not gone back to his law, and his reviewing?

“You must — you must stay on a little longer. You have only been here five days. Do, Charlotte, ask Philip to stay a little.”

All the children sing in a chorus, “Oh, do, uncle Philip, stay a little longer!” Miss Baynes says, “I hope you will stay, Mr. Firmin,” and looks at him.

“Five days has he been here? Five years. Five lives. Five hundred years. What do you mean? In that little time of — let me see, a hundred and twenty hours, and at least a half of them for sleep and dinner (for Philip’s appetite was very fine) — do you mean that in that little time his heart, cruelly stabbed by a previous monster in female shape, has healed, got quite well, and actually begun to be wounded again? Have two walks on the pier, as many visits to the Tintelleries (where he hears the story of the Highlanders at the Cape of Good Hope with respectful interest), a word or two about the weather, a look or two, a squeezekin, perhaps, of a little handykin — I say, do you mean that this absurd young idiot, and that little round-faced girl, pretty, certainly, but only just out of the school-room — do you mean to say that they have — Upon my word, Laura, this is too bad. Why, Philip has not a penny-piece in the world.”

“Yes, he has two hundred pounds, and expects to sell his mare for ninety at least. He has excellent talents. He can easily write three articles a week in the Pall Mall Gazette. I am sure no one writes so well, and it is much better done and more amusing than it used to be. That is three hundred a year. Lord Ringwood must be applied to, and must and shall get him something. Don’t you know that Captain Baynes stood by Colonel Ringwood’s side at Busaco, and that they were the closest friends? And pray, how did we get on, I should like to know? How did we get on, baby?”

“How did we det on?” says the baby.

“Oh, woman! woman!” yells the father of the family. “Why, Philip Firmin has all the habits of a rich man with the pay of a mechanic. Do you suppose he ever sate in a second-class carriage in his life, or denied himself any pleasure to which he had a mind? He gave five francs to a beggar girl yesterday.”

“He had always a noble heart,” says my wife. “He gave a fortune to a whole family a week ago; and” (out comes the pocket-handkerchief — oh, of course, the pocket-handkerchief) — “and — ‘God loves a cheerful giver!’”

“He is careless; he is extravagant; he is lazy; — I do not know that he is remarkably clever — ”

“Oh, yes! he is your friend, of course. Now, abuse him — do, Arthur!”

“And, pray, when did you become acquainted with this astounding piece of news?” I inquire.

“When? From the very first moment when I saw Charlotte looking at him, to be sure. The poor child said to me only yesterday, ‘Oh, Laura! he is our preserver!’ And their preserver he has been, under heaven.”

“Yes. But he has not got a five-pound note!” I cry.

“Arthur, I am surprised at you. Oh, men, men are awfully worldly! Do you suppose heaven will not send him help at its good time, and be kind to him who has rescued so many from ruin? Do you suppose the prayers, the blessings of that father, of those little ones, of that dear child, will not avail him? Suppose he has to wait a year, ten years, have they not time, and will not the good day come?”

Yes. This was actually the talk of a woman of sense and discernment when her prejudices and romance were not in the way, and she looked forward to the marriage of these folks, some ten years hence, as confidently as if they were both rich, and going to St. George’s tomorrow.

As for making a romantic story of it, or spinning out love conversation between Jenny and Jessamy, or describing moonlight raptures and passionate outpourings of two young hearts and so forth — excuse me, s’il vous plait. I am a man of the world, and of a certain age. Let the young people fill in this outline, and colour it as they please. Let the old folks who read, lay down the book a minute, and remember. It is well remembered, isn’t it, that time? Yes, good John Anderson, and Mrs. John. Yes, good Darby and Joan. The lips won’t tell now what they did once. To-day is for the happy, and to-morrow for the young, and yesterday, is not that dear and here too?

I was in the company of an elderly gentleman, not very long since, who was perfectly sober, who is not particularly handsome, or healthy, or wealthy, or witty; and who, speaking of his past life, volunteered to declare that he would gladly live every minute of it over again. Is a man, who can say that, a hardened sinner, not aware how miserable he ought to be by rights, and therefore really in a most desperate and deplorable condition; or is he fortunatus nimium, and ought his statue to be put up in the most splendid and crowded thoroughfare of the town? Would you, who are reading this, for example, like to live your life over again? What has been its chief joy? What are to-day’s pleasures? Are they so exquisite that you would prolong them for ever? Would you like to have the roast beef on which you have dined brought back again to table, and have more beef, and more, and more? Would you like to hear yesterday’s sermon over and over again — eternally voluble? Would you like to get on the Edinburgh mail, and travel outside for fifty hours as you did in your youth? You might as well say you would like to go into the flogging-room, and take a turn under the rods: you would like to be thrashed over again by your bully at school: you would like to go to the dentist’s, where your dear parents were in the habit of taking you: you would like to be taking hot Epsom salts, with a piece of dry bread to take away the taste: you would like to be jilted by your first love: you would like to be going in to your father to tell him you had contracted debts to the amount of x + y + z, whilst you were at the university. As I consider the passionate griefs of childhood, the weariness and sameness of shaving, the agony of corns, and the thousand other ills to which flesh is heir, I cheerfully say for one, I am not anxious to wear it for ever. No. I do not want to go to school again. I do not want to hear Trotman’s sermon over again. Take me out and finish me. Give me the cup of hemlock at once. Here’s a health to you, my lads. Don’t weep, my Simmias. Be cheerful, my Phædon. Ha! I feel the co-o-ld stealing, stealing upwards. Now it is in my ancles — no more gout in my foot: now my knees are numb. What, is — is that poor executioner crying too? Good-by. Sacrifice a cock to Æscu — to Æscula — . . . Have you ever read the chapter in Grote’s History? Ah? When the Sacred Ship returns from Delos, and is telegraphed as entering into port, may we be at peace and ready!

What is this funeral chant, when the pipes should be playing gaily, as Love, and Youth, and Spring, and Joy are dancing under the windows? Look you. Men not so wise as Socrates have their demons, who will be heard and whisper in the queerest times and places. Perhaps I shall have to tell of a funeral presently, and shall be outrageously cheerful; or of an execution, and shall split my sides with laughing. Arrived at my time of life, when I see a penniles young friend falling in love and thinking of course of committing matrimony, what can I do but be melancholy? How is a man to marry who has not enough to keep ever so miniature a brougham — ever so small a house — not enough to keep himself, let alone a wife and family? Gracious powers! is it not blasphemy to marry without fifteen hundred a year? Poverty, debt, protested bills, duns, crime, fall assuredly on the wretch who has not fifteen — say at once two thousand a year; for you can’t live decently in London for less. And a wife whom you have met a score of times at balls or breakfasts, and with her best dresses and behaviour at a country house; — how do you know how she will turn out; what her temper is; what her relations are likely to be? Suppose she has poor relations, or loud coarse brothers who are always dropping in to dinner? What is her mother like; and can you bear to have that woman meddling and domineering over your establishment? Old General Baynes was very well; a weak, quiet, and presentable old man: but Mrs. General Baynes, and that awful Mrs. Major MacWhirter, — and those hobbledehoys of boys in creaking shoes, hectoring about the premises? As a man of the world I saw all these dreadful liabilities impending over the husband of Miss Charlotte Baynes, and could not view them without horror. Gracefully and slightly, but wittily and in my sarcastic way, I thought it my duty to show up the oddities of the Baynes family to Philip. I mimicked the boys, and their clumping blucher-boots. I touched off the dreadful military ladies, very smartly and cleverly as I thought, and as if I never supposed that Philip had any idea of Miss Baynes. To do him justice, he laughed once or twice; then he grew very red. His sense of humour is very limited; that even Laura allows. Then he came out with strong expressions, and said it was a confounded shame, and strode off with his cigar. And when I remarked to my wife how susceptible he was in some things, and how little in the matter of joking, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Philip not only understood perfectly well what I said, but would tell it all to Mrs. General and Mrs. Major on the first opportunity.” And this was the fact, as Mrs. Baynes took care to tell me afterwards. She was aware who was her enemy. She was aware who spoke ill of her, and her blessed darling behind our backs. And “do you think it was to see you or any one belonging to your stuck-up house, sir, that we came to you so often, which we certainly did, day and night, breakfast and supper, and no thanks to you? No, sir! ha, ha!” I can see her flaunting out of my sitting-room as she speaks, with a strident laugh, and snapping her dingily-gloved fingers at the door. Oh, Philip, Philip! To think that you were such a coward as to go and tell her! But I pardon him. From my heart I pity and pardon him.

For the step which he is meditating, you may be sure that the young man himself does not feel the smallest need of pardon or pity. He is in a state of happiness so crazy that it is useless to reason with him. Not being at all of a poetical turn originally, the wretch is actually perpetrating verse in secret, and my servants found fragments of his manuscript on the dressing-table in his bedroom. Heart and art, sever and for ever, and so on; what stale rhymes are these? I do not feel at liberty to give in entire the poem which our maid found in Mr. Philip’s room, and brought sniggering to my wife, who only said, “Poor thing!” The fact is, it was too pitiable. Such maundering rubbish! Such stale rhymes, and such old thoughts! But then, says Laura, “I daresay all people’s love-making is not amusing to their neighbours; and I know who wrote not very wise love-verses when he was young.” No, I won’t publish Philip’s verses, until some day he shall mortally offend me. I can recal some of my own written under similar circumstances with twinges of shame; and shall drop a veil of decent friendship over my friend’s folly.

Under that veil, meanwhile, the young man is perfectly contented, nay, uproariously happy. All earth and nature smile round about him. “When Jove meets his Juno, in Homer, sir,” says Philip, in his hectoring way, “don’t immortal flowers of beauty spring up around them, and rainbows of celestial hues bend over their heads? Love, sir, flings a halo round the loved one. Where she moves, rise roses, hyacinths, and ambrosial odours. Don’t talk to me about poverty, sir! He either fears his fate too much or his desert is small, who dares not put it to the touch and win or lose it all! Haven’t I endured poverty? Am I not as poor now as a man can be — and what is there in it? Do I want for anything? Haven’t I got a guinea in my pocket? Do I owe any man anything? Isn’t there manna in the wilderness for those who have faith to walk in it? That’s where you fail, Pen. By all that is sacred, you have no faith; your heart is cowardly, sir; and if you are to escape, as perhaps you may, I suspect it is by your wife that you will be saved. Laura has a trust in heaven, but Arthur’s morals are a genteel atheism. Just reach me that claret — the wine’s not bad. I say your morals are a genteel atheism, and I shudder when I think of your condition. Talk to me about a brougham being necessary for the comfort of a woman! A broomstick to ride to the moon! And I don’t say that a brougham is not a comfort, mind you; but that, when it is a necessity, mark you, heaven will provide it! Why, sir, hang it, look at me! Ain’t I suffering in the most abject poverty? I ask you is there a man in London so poor as I am? And since my father’s ruin do I want for anything? I want for shelter for a day or two. Good. There’s my dear Little Sister ready to give it to me. I want for money. Does not that sainted widow’s cruse pour its oil out for me? Heaven bless and reward her. Boo!” (Here, for reasons which need not be named, the orator squeezes his fists into his eyes.) “I want shelter; ain’t I in good quarters? I want work; haven’t I got work, and did you not get it for me? You should just see, sir, how I polished off that book of travels this morning. I read some of the article to Char — to Miss — to some friends, in fact. I don’t mean to say that they are very intellectual people, but your common humdrum average audience is the public to try. Recollect Molière and his housekeeper, you know.”

“By the housekeeper, do you mean Mrs. Baynes?” I ask, in my amontillado manner. (By the way, who ever heard of amontillado in the early days of which I write?) “In manner she would do, and I daresay in accomplishments; but I doubt her temper.”

“You’re almost as wordly as the Twysdens, by George, you are! Unless persons are of a certain monde, you don’t value them. A little adversity would do you good, Pen; and I heartily wish you might get it, except for the dear wife and children. You measure your morality by May Fair standards; and if an angel unawares came to you in pattens and a cotton umbrella, you would turn away from her. You would never have found out the Little Sister. A duchess — God bless her! A creature of an imperial generosity, and delicacy, and intrepidity, and the finest sense of humour, but she drops her h’s often, and how could you pardon such a crime? Sir, you are my better in wit and a dexterous application of your powers; but I think, sir,” says Phil, curling the flaming mustachios, “I am your superior in a certain magnanimity; though, by Jove! old fellow, man and boy, you have always been one of the best fellows in the world to P. F.; one of the best fellows, and the most generous, and the most cordial, — that you have: only you do rile me when you sing in that confounded May Fair twang.”

Here one of the children summoned us to tea — and “Papa was laughing, and uncle Philip was flinging his hands about and pulling his beard off,” said the little messenger.

“I shall keep a fine lock of it for you, Nelly, my dear,” says uncle Philip. On which the child said, “Oh, no! I know to whom you’ll give it, don’t I, mamma?” and she goes up to her mamma, and whispers.

Miss Nelly knows? At what age do those little match-makers begin to know, and how soon do they practise the use of their young eyes, their little smiles, wiles, and ogles? This young woman, I believe, coquetted whilst she was yet a baby in arms, over her nurse’s shoulder. Before she could speak, she could be pround of her new vermilion shoes, and would point out the charms of her blue sash. She was jealous in the nursery, and her little heart had beat for years and years before she left off pinafores.

For whom will Philip keep a lock of that red, red gold which curls round his face? Can you guess? Of what colour is the hair in that little locket which the gentleman himself occultly wears? A few months ago, I believe, a pale, straw-coloured wisp of hair occupied that place of honour; now it is a chestnut-brown, as far as I can see, of precisely the same colour as that which waves round Charlott Baynes’ pretty face, and tumbles in clusters on her neck, very nearly the colour of Mrs. Paynter’s this last season. So, you see, we chop and we change: straw gives place to chestnut, and chestnut is succeeded by ebony; and, for our own parts, we defy time; and if you want a lock of my hair, Belinda, take this pair of scissors, and look in that cupboard, in the bandbox marked No. 3, and cut off a thick glossy piece, darling, and wear it, dear, and my blessings go with thee! What is this? Am I sneering because Corydon and Phyllis are wooing and happy? You see I pledged myself not to have any sentimental nonsense. To describe love-making is immoral and immodest; you know it is. To describe it as it really is, or would appear to you and me as lookers-on, would be to describe the most dreary farce, to chronicle the most tautological twaddle. To take a note of sighs, hand-squeezes, looks at the moon, and so forth — does this business become our dignity as historians? Come away from those foolish young people — they don’t want us; and dreary as their farce is, and tautological as their twaddle, you may be sure it amuses them, and that they are happy enough without us. Happy? Is there any happiness like it, pray? Was it not rapture to watch the messenger, to seize the note, and fee the bearer? — to retire out of sight of all prying eyes and read:— “Dearest! Mamma’s cold is better this morning. The Joneses came to tea, and Julia sang. I did not enjoy it, as my dear was at his horrid dinner, where I hope he amused himself. Send me a word by Buttles, who brings this, if only to say you are your Louisa’s own, own,” That used to be the kind of thing. In such coy lines artless Innocence used to whisper its little vows. So she used to smile; so she used to warble; so she used to prattle. Young people, at present engaged in the pretty sport, be assured your middle-aged parents have played the game, and remember the rules of it. Yes, under papa’s bow-window of a waistcoat is a heart which took very violent exercise when that waist was slim. Now he sits tranquilly in his tent, and watches the lads going in for their innings. Why, look at grandmamma in her spectacles reading that sermon. In her old heart there is a corner as romantic still as when she used to read the Wild Irish Girl or the Scottish Chiefs in the days of her misshood. And as for your grandfather, my dears, to see him now you would little suppose that that calm, polished, dear old gentleman was once as wild — as wild as Orson. . . . Under my windows, as I write, there passes an itinerant flower-merchant. He has his roses and geraniums on a cart drawn by a quadruped — a little long-eared quadruped, which lifts up its voice, and sings after its manner. When I was young, donkeys used to bray precisely in the same way; and others will heehaw so, when we are silent and our ears hear no more.

Chapter 2

Drum Ist’s So Wohl Mir in Der Welt.

Our new friends lived for awhile contentedly enough at Boulogne, where they found comrades and acquaintances gathered together from those many regions which they had visited in the course of their military career. Mrs. Baynes, out of the field, was the commanding officer over the general. She ordered his clothes for him, tied his neckcloth into a neat bow, and, on teaparty evenings, pinned his brooch into his shirt-frill. She gave him to understand when he had had enough to eat or drink at dinner, and explained, with great frankness, how this or that dish did not agree with him. If he was disposed to exceed, she would call out, in a loud voice: “Remember, general, what you took this morning!” Knowing his constitution, as she said, she knew the remedies which were necessary for her husband, and administered them to him with great liberality. Resistance was impossible, as the veteran officer acknowledged. “The boys have fought about the medicine since we came home,” he confessed, “but she has me under her thumb, by George. She really is a magnificent physician, now. She has got some invaluable prescriptions, and in India she used to doctor the whole station.” She would have taken the present writer’s little household under her care, and proposed several remedies for my children, until their alarmed mother was obliged to keep them out of her sight. I am not saying this was an agreeable woman. Her voice was loud and harsh. The anecdotes which she was for ever narrating related to military personages in foreign countries with whom I was unacquainted, and whose history failed to interest me. She took her wine with much spirit, whilst engaged in this prattle. I have heard talk not less foolish in much finer company, and known people delighted to listen to anecdotes of the duchess and the marchioness who would yawn over the history of Captain Jones’s quarrels with his lady, or Mrs. Major Wolfe’s monstrous flirtations with young Ensign Kyd. My wife, with the mischievousness of her sex, would mimic the Baynes’ conversation very drolly, but always insisted that she was not more really vulgar than many much greater persons.

For all this, Mrs. General Baynes did not hesitate to declare that we were “stuck-up” people; and from the very first setting eyes on us, she declared, that she viewed us with a constant darkling suspicion. Mrs. P. was a harmless, washed-out creature with nothing in her. As for that high and mighty Mr. P. and his airs, she would be glad to know whether the wife of a British general officer who had seen service in every part of the globe, and met the most distinguished governors, generals, and their ladies, several of whom were noblemen — she would be glad to know whether such people were not good enough for, Who has not met with these difficulties in life, and who can escape them? “Hang it, sir,” Phil would say, twirling the red mustachios, “I like to be hated by some fellows;” and it must be owned that Mr. Philip got what he liked. I suppose Mr. Philip’s friend and biographer had something of the same feeling. At any rate, in regard of this lady the hypocrisy of politeness was very hard to keep up; wanting us for reasons of her own, she covered the dagger with which she would have stabbed us: but we knew it was there clenched in her skinny hand in her meagre pocket. She would pay us the most fulsome compliments with anger raging out of her eyes — a little hate-bearing woman, envious, malicious, but loving her cubs, and nursing them, and clutching them in her lean arms with a jealous strain. It was “Good-by, darling! I shall leave you here with your friends. Oh, how kind you are to her, Mrs. Pendennis! How can I ever thank you and Mr. P., I am sure?” and she looked as if she could poison both of us, as she went away, curtseying and darting dreary parting smiles.

This lady had an intimate friend and companion in arms, — Mrs. Colonel Bunch, in fact, of the — the Bengal Cavalry, — who was now in Europe with Bunch and their children, who were residing at Paris for the young folks’ education. At first, as we have heard, Mrs. Baynes’ predilections had been all for Tours, where her sister was living, and where lodgings were cheap and food reasonable in proportion. But Bunch happening to pass through Boulogne on his way to his wife at Paris, and meeting his old comrade, gave General Baynes such an account of the cheapness and pleasures of the French capital, as to induce the general to think of bending his steps thither. Mrs. Baynes would not hear of such a plan. She was all for her dear sister and Tours; but when, in the course of conversation, Colonel Bunch described a ball at the Tuileries, where he and Mrs. B. had been received with the most flattering politeness by the royal family, it was remarked that Mrs. Baynes’ mind underwent a change. When Bunch went on to aver that the balls at Government House at Calcutta were nothing compared to those at the Tuileries or the Prefecture of the Seine; that the English were invited and respected everywhere; that the ambassador was most hospitable; that the clergymen were admirable; and that at their boarding-house, kept by Madame la Générale Baronne de Smolensk, at the Petit Château d’Espagne, Avenue de Valmy, Champs Elysées, they had balls twice a month, the most comfortable apartments, the most choice society, and every comfort and luxury at so many francs per month, with an allowance for children — I say Mrs. Baynes was very greatly moved. “It is not,” she said, “in consequence of the balls at the ambassador’s or the Tuileries, for I am an old woman; and in spite of what you say, colonel, I can’t fancy, after Government House, anything more magnificent in any French palace. It is not for me, goodness knows, I speak: but the children should have education, and my Charlotte an entrée into the world; and what you say of the invaluable clergyman, Mr. X — I have been thinking of it all night: but above all, above all, of the chances of education for my darlings. Nothing should give way to that — nothing!” On this a long and delightful conversation and calculation took place. Bunch produced his bills at the Baroness de Smolensk’s . The two gentlemen jotted up accounts, and made calculations all through the evening. It was hard even for Mrs. Baynes to force the figures into such a shape as to make them accord with the general’s income; but, driven away by one calculation after another, she returned again and again to the charge, until she overcame the stubborn arithmetical difficulties, and the pounds, shillings, and pence lay prostrate before her. They could save upon this point; they could screw upon that; they must make a sacrifice to educate the children. “Sarah Bunch and her girls go to Court, indeed! Why shouldn’t mine go?” she asked. On which her general said, “By George, Eliza, that’s the point you are thinking of.” On which Eliza said, “No,” and repeated “No” a score of times, growing more angry as she uttered each denial. And she declared before heaven she did not want to go to any Court. Had she not refused to be presented at home, though Mrs. Colonel Flack went, because she did not choose to go to the wicked expense of a train? And it was base of the general, base and mean of him to say so. And there was a fine scene, as I am given to understand; not that I was present at this family fight: but my informant was Mr. Firmin; and Mr. Firmin had his information from a little person who, about this time, had got to prattle out all the secrets of her young heart to him; who would have jumped off the pier-head with her hand in his if he had said “Come;” without his hand if he had said “Go:” a little person whose whole life had been changed — changed for a month past — changed in one minute, that minute when she saw Philip’s fiery whiskers and heard his great big voice saluting her father amongst the commissioners on the quai before the custom-house.

Tours was, at any rate, a hundred and fifty miles farther off than Paris from — from a city where a young gentleman lived in whom Miss Charlotte Baynes felt an interest; hence, I suppose, arose her delight that her parents had determined upon taking up their residence in the larger and nearer city. Besides, she owned, in the course of her artless confidences to my wife, that, when together, mamma and aunt MacWhirter quarrelled unceasingly; and had once caused he old boys, the major and the general, to call each other out. She preferred, then, to live away from aunt Mac. She had never had such a friend as Laura, never. She had never been so happy as at Boulogne, never. She should always love everybody in our house, that she should, for ever and ever — and so forth, and so forth. The ladies meet; cling together; osculations are carried round the whole family circle, from our wondering eldest boy, who cries, “I say, hullo! what are you kissing me so about?” to darling baby, crowing and sputtering unconscious in the rapturous young girl’s embraces. I tell you, these two women were making fools of themselves, and they were burning with enthusiasm for the “preserver” of the Baynes family, as they called that big fellow yonder, whose biographer I have aspired to be. The lazy rogue lay basking in the glorious warmth and sunshine of early love. He would stretch his big limbs out in our garden; pour out his feelings with endless volubility; call upon hominum divumque voluptas, alma Venus; vow that he had never lived or been happy until now; declare that he laughed poverty to scorn and all her ills; and fume against his masters of the Pall Mall Gazette, because they declined to insert certain love verses which Mr. Philip now composed almost every day. Poor little Charlotte! And didst thou receive those treasures of song; and wonder over them, not perhaps comprehending them altogether; and lock them up in they heart’s inmost casket as well as in thy little desk; and take them out in quiet hours, and kiss them, and bless heaven for giving thee such jewels? I daresay. I can fancy all this without seeing it. I can read the little letters in the little desk, without picking lock or breaking seal. Poor little letters! Sometimes they are not spelt right, quite; but I don’t know that the style is worse for that. Poor little letters! You are flung to the winds sometimes and forgotten with all your sweet secrets and loving artless confessions; but not always — no, not always. As for Philip, who was the most careless creature alive, and left all his clothes and haberdashery sprawling on his bed-room floor, he had at this time a breast-pocket stuffed out with papers which crackled in the most ridiculous way. He was always looking down at this precious pocket, and putting one of his great hands over it as though he would guard it. The pocket did not contain bank-notes, you may be sure of that. It contained documents stating that mamma’s cold is better; the Joneses came to tea, and Julia sang, Ah, friend, however old you are now, however cold you are now, however tough, I hope you, too, remember how Julia sang, and the Joneses came to tea.

Mr. Philip stayed on week after week, declaring to my wife that she was a perfect angel for keeping him so long. Bunch wrote from his boarding-house more and more enthusiastic reports about the comforts of the establishment. For his sake, Madame la Baronne de Smolensk would make unheard-of sacrifices, in order to accommodate the general and his distinguished party. The balls were going to be perfectly splendid that winter. There were several old Indians living near; in fact, they could form a regular little club. It was agreed that Baynes should go and reconnoitre the ground. He did go. Madame de Smolensk, a most elegant woman, had a magnificent dinner for him — quite splendid, I give you my word, but only what they have every day. Soup, of course, my love; fish, capital wine, and, I should say, some five or six and thirty made dishes. The general was quite enraptured. Bunch had put his boys to a famous school, where they might “whop” the French boys, and learn all the modern languages. The little ones would dine early; the baroness would take the whole family at an astonishingly cheap rate. In a word, the Baynes’ column got the route for Paris shortly before our family-party was crossing the seas to return to London fogs and duty.

You have, no doubt, remarked how, under certain tender circumstances, women will help one another. They help where they ought not to help. When Mr. Darby ought to be separated from Miss Joan, and the best thing that could happen for both would be a lettre de cachet to whip off Mons. Darby to the Bastille for five years, and an order from her parents to lock up Mademoiselle Jeanne in a convent, some aunt, some relative, some pitying female friend is sure to be found, who will give the pair a chance of meeting, and turn her head away whilst those unhappy lovers are warbling endless good-byes close up to each other’s ears. My wife, I have said, chose to feel this absurd sympathy for the young people about whom we have been just talking. As the days for Charlotte’s departure drew near, this wretched, misguiding matron would take the girl out walking into I know not what unfrequented bye-lanes, quiet streets, rampart-nooks, and the like; and la! by the most singular coincidence, Mr. Philip’s hulking boots would assuredly come tramping after the women’s little feet. What will you say, when I tell you, that I myself, the father of the family, the renter of the oldfashioned house, Rue Roucoule, Haute Ville, Boulognesur-Mer — as I am going into my own study — am met at the threshold by Helen, my eldest daughter, who puts her little arms before the glass-door at which I was about to enter, and says, “You must not go in there, papa! Mamma says we none of us are to go in there.”

“And why, pray?” I ask.

“Because uncle Philip and Charlotte are talking secrets there; and nobody is to disturb them — nobody!”

Upon my word, wasn’t this too monstrous? Am I Sir Pandarus of Troy become? Am I going to allow a penniless young man to steal away the heart of a young girl who has not twopence half-penny to her fortune? Shall I, I say, lend myself to this most unjustifiable intrigue?

“Sir,” says my wife (we happened to have been bred up from childhood together, and I own to have had one or two foolish initiatory flirtations before I settled down to matrimonial fidelity) — “Sir,” says she, “when you were so wild — so spoony, I think is your elegant word — about Blanche, and used to put letters into a hollow tree for her at home, I used to see the letters, and I never disturbed them. These two people have much warmer hearts, and are a great deal fonder of each other, than you and Blanche used to be. I should not like to separate Charlotte from Philip now. It is too late, sir. She can never like anybody else as she likes him. If she lives to be a hundred, she will never forget him. Why should not the poor thing be happy a little, while she may?”

An old house, with a green old courtyard and an ancient mossy wall, through breaks of which I can see the roofs and gables of the quaint old town, the city below, the shining sea, and the white English cliffs beyond; a green old courtyard, and a tall old stone house rising up in it, grown over with many a creeper on which the sun casts flickering shadows; and under the shadows, and through the glass of a tall grey window, I can just peep into a brown twilight parlour, and there I see two hazy figures by a table. One slim figure has brown hair, and one has flame-coloured whiskers. Look! a ray of sunshine has just peered into the room, and is lighting the whiskers up!

“Poor little thing,” whispers my wife, very gently. “They are going away to-morrow. Let them have their talk out. She is crying her little eyes out, I am sure. Poor little Charlotte!”

Whilst my wife was pitying Miss Charlotte in this pathetic way, and was going, I daresay, to have recourse to her own pocket-handkerchief, as I live, there came a burst of laughter from the darkling chamber where the two lovers were billing and cooing. First came Mr. Philip’s great boom (such a roar — such a haw-haw, or hee-haw, I never heard any other two-legged animal perform). Then follows Miss Charlotte’s tinkling peal; and presently that young person comes out into the garden, with her round face not bedewed with tears at all, but perfectly rosy, fresh, dimpled, and good-humoured. Charlotte gives me a little curtsey, and my wife a hand and a kind glance. They retreat through the open casement, twining round each other, as the vine does round the window; though which is the vine and which is the window in this simile, I pretend not to say — I can’t see through either of them, that is the truth. They pass through the parlour, and into the street beyond, doubtless: and as for Mr. Philip, I presently see his head popped out of his window in the upper floor with his great pipe in his mouth. He can’t “work” without his pipe, he says; and my wife believes him. Work, indeed!

Miss Charlotte paid us another little visit that evening, when we happened to be alone. The children were gone to bed. The darlings! Charlotte must go up and kiss them. Mr. Philip Firmin was out. She did not seem to miss him in the least, nor did she make a single inquiry for him. We had been so good to her — so kind. How should she ever forget our great kindness? She had been so happy — oh! so happy! She had never been so happy before. She would write often and often, and Laura would write constantly — wouldn’t she? “Yes, dear child!” says my wife. And now a little more kissing, and it is time to go home to the Tintelleries. What a lovely night! Indeed, the moon was blazing in full round in the purple heavens, and the stars were twinkling by myriads.

“Good-by, dear Charlotte; happiness go with you!” I seize her hand. I feel a paternal desire to kiss her fair, round face. Her sweetness, her happiness, her artless good-humour, and gentleness have endeared her to us all. As for me, I love her with a fatherly affection. “Stay, my dear!” I cry, with a happy gallantry. “I’ll go home with you to the Tintelleries.”

You should have seen the fair round face then! Such a piteous expression came over it! She looked at my wife; and as for that Mrs. Laura she pulled the tail of my coat.

“What do you mean, my dear?” I ask.

“Don’t go out on such a dreadful night. You’ll catch cold!” says Laura.

“Cold, my love!” I say. “Why, it’s as fine a night as ever — ”

“Oh! you — you stoopid!” says Laura, and begins to laugh. And there goes Miss Charlotte tripping away from us without a word more!

Philip came in about half an hour afterwards. And do you know, I very strongly suspect that he had been waiting round the corner. Few things escape me, you see, when I have a mind to be observant. And, certainly, if I had thought of that possibility and that I might be spoiling sport, I should not have proposed to Miss Charlotte to walk home with her.

At a very early hour on the next morning my wife arose, and spent, in my opinion, a great deal of unprofitable time, bread, butter, cold beef, mustard and salt, in compiling a heap of sandwiches, which were tied up in a copy of the Pall Mall Gazette. That persistence in making sandwiches, in provding cakes and other refreshments for a journey, is a strange infatuation in women; as if there was not always enough to eat to be had at road inns and railway stations! What a good dinner we used to have at Montreuil in the old days, before railways were, and when the diligence spent four or six and twenty cheerful hours on its way to Paris! I think the finest dishes are not to be compared to that well-remembered fricandeau of youth, nor do wines of the most dainty vintage surpass the rough, honest, blue ordinaire which was served at the plenteous inn-table. I took our bale of sandwiches down to the office of the Messageries, whence our friends were to start. We saw six of the Baynes family packed into the interior of the diligence; and the boys climb cheerily into the rotonde. Charlotte’s pretty lips and hands wafted kisses to us from her corner. Mrs. General Baynes commanded the column, pushed the little ones into their places in the ark, ordered the general and young ones hither and thither with her parasol, declined to give the grumbling porters any but the smallest gratuity, and talked a shrieking jargon of French and Hindustanee to the people assembled round the carriage. My wife has that command over me that she actually made me demean myself so far as to deliver the sandwich parcel to one of the Baynes boys. I said, “Take this,” and the poor wretch held out his hand eagerly, evidently expecting that I was about to tip him with a five-franc piece or some such coin. Fouette, cocher! The horses squeal. The huge machine jingles over the road, and rattles down the street. Farewell, pretty Charlotte, with your sweet face, and sweet voice, and kind eyes! But why, pray, is Mr. Philip Firmin not here to say farewell too?

Before the diligence got under way, the Baynes boys had fought, and quarrelled, and wanted to mount on the imperial or cabriolet of the carriage, where there was only one passenger as yet. But the conductor called the lads off, saying that the remaining place was engaged by a gentleman, whom they were to take up on the road. And who should this turn out to be? Just outside the town a man springs up to the imperial; his light luggage, it appears, was on the coach already, and that luggage belonged to Philip Firmin. Ah, monsieur! and that was the reason, was it, why they were so merry yesterday — the parting day? Because, when they were not going to part just then. Because, when the time of execution drew near, they had managed to smuggle a little reprieve! Upon my conscience, I never heard of such imprudence in the whole course of my life! Why, it is starvation — certain misery to one and the other. “I don’t like to meddle in other people’s affairs,” I say to my wife; “but I have no patience with such folly, or with myself for not speaking to General Baynes on the subject. I shall write to the general.”

“My dear, the general knows all about it,” says Charlotte’s, Philip’s (in my opinion) most injudicious friend. “We have talked about it, and, like a man of sense, the general makes light of it. ‘Young folks will be young folks,’ he says; ‘and, by George! ma’am, when I married — I should say, when Mrs. B. ordered me to marry her — she had nothing, and I but my captain’s pay. People get on, somehow. Better for a young man to marry, and keep out of idleness and mischief; and, I promise you, the chap who marries my girl gets a treasure. I like the boy for the sake of my old friend Phil Ringwood. I don’t see that the fellows with the rich wives are much the happier, or that men should wait to marry until they are gouty old rakes.’ And, it appears, the general instanced several officers of his own acquaintance; some of whom had married when they were young and poor; some who had married when they were old and sulky; some who had never married at all. And he mentioned his comrade, my own uncle, the late Major Pendennis, whom he called a selfish old creature, and hinted that the major had jilted some lady in early life, whom he would have done much better to marry.”

And so Philip is actually gone after his charmer, and is pursuing her summá diligentiâ? The Baynes family has allowed this penniless young law student to make love to their daughter, to accompany them to Paris, to appear as the almost recognized son of the house. “Other people, when they were young, wanted to make imprudent marriages,” says my wife (as if that wretched tu quoque were any answer to my remark!) “This penniless law student might have a good sum of money if he choose to press the Baynes family to pay him what, after all, they owe him.” And so poor little Charlotte was to be her father’s ransom! To be sure, little Charlotte did not object to offer herself up in payment of her papa’s debt! And though I objected as a moral man and a prudent man, and a father of a family, I could not be very seriously angry. I am secretly of the disposition of the time-honoured père de famille in the comedies, the irascible old gentleman in the crop wig and George-the-Second coat, who is always menacing “Tom the young dog” with his cane. When the deed is done, and Miranda (the little slyboots!) falls before my squaretoes and shoe-buckles, and Tom the young dog kneels before me in his white ducks, and they cry out in a pretty chorus, “Forgive us, grandpapa!” I say, “Well, you rogue, boys will be boys. Take her, sirrah! Be happy with her; and, hark ye! in this pocket-book you will find ten thousand,” You all know the story: I cannot help liking it, however old it may be. In love, somehow, one is pleased that young people should dare a little. Was not Bessy Eldon famous as an economist, and Lord Eldon celebrated for wisdom and caution? and did not John Scott marry Elizabeth Surtees when they had scarcely twopence a year between them? “Of course, my dear,” I say to the partner of my existence, “now this madcap fellow is utterly ruined, now is the very time he ought to marry. The accepted doctrine is that a man should spend his own fortune, then his wife’s fortune, and then he may begin to get on at the bar. Philip has a hundred pounds, let us say; Charlotte has nothing; so that in about six weeks we may look to hear of Philip being in successful practice — ”

“Successful nonsense!” cries the lady. “Don’t go on like a cold-blooded calculating machine! You don’t believe a word of what you say, and a more imprudent person never lived than you yourself were as a young man.” This was departing from the question, which women will do. “Nonsense!” again says my romantic being of a partner-of-existence. “Don’t tell ME, sir. They WILL be provided for! Are we to be for ever taking care of the morrow, and not trusting that we shall be cared for? You may call your way of thinking prudence. I call it sinful worldliness, sir.” When my life-partner speaks in a certain strain, I know that remonstrance is useless, and argument unavailing; and I generally resort to cowardly subterfuges, and sneak out of the conversation by a pun, a side joke, or some other flippancy. Besides, in this case, though I argue against my wife, my sympathy is on her side. I know Mr. Philip is imprudent and headstrong, but I should like him to succeed, and be happy. I own he is a scapegrace, but I wish him well.

So, just as the diligence of Laffitte and Caillard is clearing out of Boulogne town, the conductor causes the carriage to stop, and a young fellow has mounted up on the roof in a twinkling; and the postilion says, “Hi!” to his horses, and away those squealing greys go clattering. And a young lady, happening to look out of one of the windows of the intérieur, has perfectly recognized the young gentleman who leaped up to the roof so nimbly; and the two boys who were in the rotonde would have recognized the gentleman, but that they were already eating the sandwiches which my wife had provided. And so the diligence goes on, until it reaches that hill, where the girls used to come and offer to sell you apples; and some of the passengers descend and walk, and the tall young man on the roof jumps down, and approaches the party in the interior, and a young lady cries out, “La!” and her mamma looks impenetrably grave, and not in the least surprised; and her father gives a wink of one eye, and says, “It’s him, is it, by George!” and the two boys coming out of the rotonde, their mouths full of sandwich, cry out, “Hullo! It’s Mr. Firmin.”

“How do you do, ladies?” he says, blushing as red as an apple, and his heart thumping — but that may be from walking up hill. And he puts a hand towards the carriage-window, and a little hand comes out and lights on his. And Mrs. General Baynes, who is reading a religious work, looks up and says, “Oh! how do you do, Mr. Firmin?” And this is the remarkable dialogue that takes place. It is not very witty; but Philip’s tones send a rapture into one young heart: and when he is absent, and has climbed up to his place in the cabriolet, the kick of his boots on the roof gives the said young heart inexpressible comfort and consolation. Shine stars and moon! Shriek grey horses through the calm night! Snore sweetly, papa and mamma, in your corners, with your pocket-handkerchiefs tied round your old fronts! I suppose, under all the stars of heaven, there is nobody more happy than that child in that carriage — that wakeful girl, in sweet maiden meditation — who has given her heart to the keeping of the champion who is so near her. Has he not been always their champion and preserver? Don’t they owe to his generosity everything in life? One of the little sisters wakes wildly, and cries in the night, and Charlotte takes the child into her arms and soothes her. “Hush, dear! He’s there — he’s there,” she whispers, as she bends over the child. Nothing wrong can happen with him there, she feels. If the robbers were to spring out from yonder dark pines, why, he would jump down, and they would all fly before him! The carriage rolls on through sleeping villages, and as the old team retires all in a halo of smoke, and the fresh horses come clattering up to their pole, Charlotte sees a well-known white face in the gleam of the carriage lanterns. Through the long avenues, the great vehicle rolls on its course. The dawn peers over the poplars: the stars quiver out of sight: the sun is up in the sky, and the heaven is all in a flame. The night is over — the night of nights. In all the round world, whether lighted by stars or sunshine, there were not two people more happy than these had been.

A very short time afterwards, at the end of October, our own little sea-side sojourn came to an end. That astounding bill for broken glass, chairs, crockery, was paid. The London steamer takes us all on board on a beautiful, sunny autumn evening, and lands us at the Custom-house Quay in the midst of a deep, dun fog, through which our cabs have to work their way over greasy pavements, and bearing two loads of silent and terrified children. Ah, that return, if but after a fortnight’s absence and holiday! Oh, that heap of letters lying in a ghastly pile, and yet so clearly visible in the dim twilight of master’s study! We cheerfully breakfast by candlelight for the first two days after my arrival at home, and I have the pleasure of cutting a part of my chin off because it is too dark to shave at nine o’clock in the morning.

My wife can’t be so unfeeling as to laugh and be merry because I have met with an accident which temporarily disfigures me? If the dun fog makes her jocular, she has a very queer sense of humour. She has a letter before her, over which she is perfectly radiant. When she is especially pleased I can see by her face and a particular animation and affectionateness towards the rest of the family. On this present morning her face beams out of the fog-clouds. The room is illuminated by it, and perhaps by the two candles which are placed one on either side of the urn. The fire crackles, and flames, and spits most cheerfully; and the sky without, which is of the hue of brown paper, seems to set off the brightness of the little interior scene.

“A letter from Charlotte, papa,” cries one little girl, with an air of consequence. “And a letter from uncle Philip, papa!” cries another; “and they like Paris so much,” continues the little reporter.

“And there, sir, didn’t I tell you?” cries the lady, handing me over a letter.

“Mamma always told you so,” echoes the child, with an important nod of the head; “and I shouldn’t be surprised if he were to be very rich, should you, mamma?” continues this arithmetician.

I would not put Miss Charlotte’s letter into print if I could, for do you know that little person’s grammar was frequently incorrect; there were three or four words spelt wrongly; and the letter was so scored and marked with dashes under every other word, that it is clear to me her education had been neglected; and as I am very fond of her, I do not wish to make fun of her. And I can’t print Mr. Philip’s letter, for I haven’t kept it. Of what use keeping letters? I say, Burn, burn, burn. No heart-pangs. No reproaches. No yesterday. Was it happy, or miserable? To think of it is always melancholy. Go to! I daresay it is the thought of that fog, which is making this sentence so dismal. Meanwhile there is Madam Laura’s face smiling out of the darkness, as pleased as may be; and no wonder, she is always happy when her friends are so.

Charlotte’s letter contained a full account of the settlement of the Baynes family at Madame Smolensk’s boarding-house, where they appear to have been really very comfortable, and to have lived at a very cheap rate. As for Mr. Philip, he made his way to a crib, to which his artist friends had recommended him, on the Faubourg St. Germain side of the water — the Hôtel Poussin, in the street of that name, which lies, you know, between the Mazarin Library and the Musée des Beaux Arts. In former days, my gentleman had lived in state and bounty in the English hotels and quarter. Now he found himself very handsomely lodged for thirty francs per month and with five or six pounds, he has repeatedly said since, he could carry through the month very comfortably. I don’t say, my young traveller, that you can be so lucky now-a-days. Are we not telling a story of twenty years ago? Aye marry. Ere steam-coaches had begun to scream on French rails; and when Louis Philippe was king.

As soon as Mr. Philip Firmin is ruined he must needs fall in love. In order to be near the beloved object, he must needs follow her to Paris, and give up his promised studies for the bar at home; where, to do him justice, I believe the fellow would never have done any good. And he has not been in Paris a fortnight when that fantastic jade Fortune, who had seemed to fly away from him, gives him a smiling look of recognition, as if to say, “Young gentleman, I have not quite done with you.”

The good fortune was not much. Do not suppose that Philip suddenly drew a twenty-thousand pound prize in a lottery. But, being in much want of money, he suddenly found himself enabled to earn some in a way pretty easy to himself.

In the first place, Philip found his friends Mr. and Mrs. Mugford in a bewildered state in the midst of Paris, in which city Mugford would never consent to have at laquais de place, being firmly convinced to the day of his death that he knew the French language quite sufficiently for all purposes of conversation. Philip, who had often visited Paris before, came to the aid of his friends in a two-franc dining-house, which he frequented for economy’s sake: and they, because they thought the banquet there provided not only cheap, but most magnificent and satisfactory. He interpreted for them, and rescued them from their perplexity, whatever it was. He treated them handsomely to caffy on the bullyvard, as Mugford said on returning home and in recounting the adventure to me. “He can’t forget that he had been a swell: and he does do things like a gentleman, that Firmin does. He came back with us to our hotel — Meurice’s,” said Mr. Mugford, “and who should drive into the yard and step out of his carriage but Lord Ringwood — you know Lord Ringwood; everybody knows him. As he gets out of his carriage — ‘What! is that you, Philip?’ says his lordship, giving the young fellow his hand. ‘Come and breakfast with me to-morrow morning.’ And away he goes most friendly.”

How came it to pass that Lord Ringwood, whose instinct of self-preservation was strong — who, I fear, was rather a selfish nobleman — and who, of late, as we have heard, had given orders to refuse Mr. Philip entrance at his door — should all of a sudden turn round and greet the young man with cordiality? In the first place, Philip had never troubled his lordship’s knocker at all; and second, as luck would have it, on this very day of their meeting his lordship had been to dine with that well-known Parisian resident and bon vivant, my Lord Viscount Trim, who had been governor of the Sago Islands when Colonel Baynes was there with his regiment, the gallant 100th. And the general and his old West India governor meeting at church, my lord Trim straightway asked General Baynes to dinner, where Lord Ringwood was present, along with other distinguished company, whom at present we need not particularize. Now it has been said that Philip Ringwood, my lord’s brother, and Captain Baynes in early youth had been close friends, and that the colonel had died in the captain’s arms. Lord Ringwood, who had an excellent memory when chose to use it, was pleased on this occasion to remember General Baynes and his intimacy with his brother in old days. And of those old times they talked; the general waxing more eloquent, I suppose, than his wont over Lord Trim’s excellent wine. And in the course of conversation Philip was named, and the general, warm with drink, poured out a most enthusiastic eulogium on his young friend, and mentioned how noble and self-denying Philip’s conduct had been in his own case. And perhaps Lord Ringwood was pleased at hearing these praises of his brother’s grandson; and perhaps he thought of old times, when he had a heart, and he and his brother loved each other. And though he might think Philip Firmin an absurd young blockhead for giving up any claims which he might have on General Baynes, at any rate I have no doubt his lordship thought, “This boy is not likely to come begging money from me!” Hence, when he drove back to his hotel on the very night after this dinner, and in the court-yard saw that Philip Firmin, his brother’s grandson the heart of the old nobleman was smitten with a kindly sentiment, and he bade Philip to come and see him.

I have described some of Philip’s oddities, and amongst these was a very remarkable change in his appearance, which ensued very speedily after his ruin. I know that the greater number of story readers are young, and those who are ever so old remember that their own young days occurred but a very, very short while ago. Don’t you remember, most potent, grave, and reverend senior, when you were a junior, and actually rather pleased with new clothes? Does a new coat or a waistcoat cause you any pleasure now? To a well-constituted middle-aged gentleman, I rather trust a smart new suit causes a sensation of uneasiness — not from the tightness of the fit, which may be a reason — but from the gloss and splendour. When my late kind friend, Mrs. — gave me the emerald tabinet waistcoat, with the gold shamrocks, I wore it once to go to Richmond to dine with her; but I buttoned myself so closely in an upper coat, that I am sure nobody in the omnibus saw what a painted vest I had on. Gold sprigs and emerald tabinet, what a gorgeous raiment! It has formed for ten years the chief ornament of my wardrobe; and though I have never dared to wear it since, I always think with a secret pleasure of possessing that treasure. Do women, when they are sixty, like handsome and fashionable attire, and a youthful appearance? Look at Lady Jezebel’s blushing cheek, her raven hair, her splendid garments! But this disquisition may be carried to too great a length. I want to note a fact which has occurred not seldom in my experience — that men who have been great dandies will often and suddenly give up their long-accustomed splendour of dress, and walk about, most happy and contented, with the shabbiest of coats and hats. No. The majority of men are not vain about their dress. For instance, within a very few years, men used to have pretty feet. See in what a resolute way they have kicked their pretty boots off almost to a man, and wear great, thick, formless, comfortable walking boots, of shape scarcely more graceful than a tub!

When Philip Firmin first came on the town there were dandies still; there were dazzling waistcoats of velvet and brocade, and tall stocks with cataracts of satin; there were pins, studs, neck-chains, I know not what fantastic splendours of youth. His varnished boots grew upon forests of trees. He had a most resplendent silver-gilt dressing-case, presented to him by his father (for which, it is true, the doctor neglected to pay, leaving that duty to his son). “It is a mere ceremony,” said the worthy doctor, “a cumbrous thing you may fancy at first; but take it about with you. It looks well on a man’s dressing-table at a country house. It poses a man, you understand. I have known women come in and peep at it. A trifle you may say, my boy; but what is the use of flinging any chance in life away?” Now, when misfortune came, young Philip flung away all these magnificent follies. He wrapped himself virtute suâ; and I am bound to say a more queer-looking fellow than friend Philip seldom walked the pavement of London or Paris. He could not wear the nap off all his coats, or rub his elbows into rags in six months; but, as he would say of himself with much simplicity, “I do think I run to seed more quickly than any fellow I ever knew. All my socks in holes, Mrs. Pendennis; all my shirt-buttons gone, I give you my word. I don’t know how the things hold together, and why they don’t tumble to pieces. I suspect I must have a bad laundress.” Suspect! My children used to laugh and crow as they sowed buttons on to him. As for the Little Sister, she broke into his apartments in his absence, and said that it turned her hair grey to see the state of his poor wardrobe. I believe that Mrs. Brandon put surreptitious linen into his drawers. He did not know. He wore the shirts in a contented spirit. The glossy boots began to crack and then to burst, and Philip wore them with perfect equanimity. Where were the beautiful lavender and lemon gloves of last year? His great naked hands (with which he gesticulates so grandly) were as brown as an Indian’s now. We had liked him heartily in his days of splendour; we loved him now in his thread-bare suit.

I can fancy the young man striding into the room where his lordship’s guests were assembled. In the presence of great or small, Philip has always been entirely unconcerned, and he is one of the half-dozen men I have seen in my life upon whom rank made no impression. It appears that, on occasion of this breakfast, there were one or two dandies present who were aghast at Philip’s freedom of behaviour. He engaged in conversation with a famous French statesman; contradicted him with much energy in his own language; and when the statesman asked whether monsieur was membre du Parlement? Philip burst into one of his roars of laughter, which almost breaks the glasses on a table, and said, “Je suis journaliste, monsieur, à vos ordres!” Young Timbury, of the Embassy, was aghast at Philip’s insolence; and Dr. Botts, his lordship’s travelling physician, looked at him with a terrified face. A bottle of claret was brought, which almost all the gentlemen present began to swallow, until Philip, tasting his glass, called out, “Faugh. It’s corked!” “So it is, and very badly corked,” growls my lord, with one of his usual oaths. “Why didn’t some of you fellows speak? Do you like corked wine?” There were gallant fellows round that table who would have drunk corked black dose, had his lordship professed to like senna. The old host was tickled and amused. “Your mother was a quiet soul, and your father used to bow like a dancing-master. You ain’t much like him. I dine at home most days. Leave word in the morning with my people, and come when you like, Philip,” he growled. A part of this news Philip narrated to us in his letter, and other part was given verbally by Mr. and Mrs. Mugford on their return to London. “I tell you, sir,” says Mugford, “he has been taken by the hand by some of the tiptop people, and I have booked him at three guineas a week for a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette.”

And this was the cause of my wife’s exultation and triumphant “Didn’t I tell you?” Philip’s foot was on the ladder; and who so capable of mounting to the top? When happiness and a fond and lovely girl were waiting for him there, would he lose heart, spare exertion, or be afraid to climb? He had no truer well-wisher than myself, and no friend who liked him better, though, I daresay, many admired him much more than I did. But these were women for the most part; and women become so absurdly unjust and partial to persons whom they love, when these latter are in misfortune, that I am surprised Mr. Philip did not quite lose his head in his poverty, with such fond flatterers and sycophants round about him. Would you grudge him the consolation to be had from these sweet uses of adversity? Many a heart would be hardened but for the memory of past griefs; when eyes, now averted, perhaps, were full of sympathy, and hands, now cold, were eager to soothe and succour.

Chapter 3

Qu’on Est Bien a Vingt Ans.

In an old album, which we have at home, a friend has made various sketches of Philip, Charlotte, and all our family circle. To us oldsters the days we are describing seem but as yesterday; yet as I look at the drawings and recal my friend, and ourselves, and the habits in which we were dressed some twenty years since, I can’t but think what a commotion we should create were we to enter our own or our neighbour’s drawing-room in those garments which appeared perfectly becoming in the year 1840. What would be a woman without a crinoline petticoat, for example? an object ridiculous, hateful, I suppose hardly proper. What would you think of a hero who wore a large high black-satin stock cascading over a figured silk waistcoat; and a blue dress-coat, with brass buttons, mayhap? If a person so attired came up to ask you to dance, could you refrain from laughing? Time was, when young men so decorated found favour in the eyes of damsels who had never beheld hooped petticoats, except in their grandmothers’ portraits. Persons who flourished in the first part of the century never thought to see the hoops of our ancestors’ age rolled downwards to our contemporaries and children. Did we ever imagine that a period would arrive when our young men would part their hair down the middle, and wear a piece of tape for a neckcloth? As soon should we have thought of their dyeing their bodies with woad, and arraying themselves like ancient Britons. So the ages have their dress and undress; and the gentlemen and ladies of Victoria’s time are satisfied with their manner of raiment; as no doubt in Boadicea’s court they looked charming tattooed and painted blue.

The times of which we write, the times of Louis Philippe the king, are so altered from the present, that when Philip Firmin went to Paris it was absolutely a cheap place to live in; and he has often bragged in subsequent days of having lived well during a month for five pounds, and bought a neat waistcoat with a part of the money. “A capital bed-room, au premier, for a franc a day, sir,” he would call all persons to remark, “a bedroom as good as yours, my lord, at Meurice’s . Very good tea or coffee breakfast, twenty francs a month, with lots of bread and butter. Twenty francs a month for washing, and fifty for dinner and pocket-money — that’s about the figure. The dinner, I own, is shy, unless I come and dine with my friends; and then I make up for banyan days.” And so saying Philip would call out for more truffled partridges, or affably filled his goblet with my Lord Ringwood’s best Sillery. “At those shops,” he would observe, “where I dine, I have beer: I can’t stand the wine. And you see, I can’t go to the cheap English ordinaries, of which there are many, because English gentlemen’s servants are there, you know, and it’s not pleasant to sit with a fellow who waits on you the day after.”

“Oh! the English servants go to the cheap ordinaries, do they?” asks my lord, greatly amused, “and you drink bière de Mars at the shop where you dine?”

“And dine very badly, too, I can tell you. Always come away hungry. Give me some champagne — the dry, if you please. They mix very well together — sweet and dry. Did you ever dine at Flicoteau’s, Mr. Pecker?”

“I dine at one of your horrible two-franc houses?” cries Mr. Pecker, with a look of terror. “Do you know, my lord, there are actually houses where people dine for two francs?”

“Two francs! Seventeen sous!” bawls out Mr. Firmin. “The soup, the beef, the rôti, the salad, the dessert, and the whitey-brown bread at discretion. It’s not a good dinner, certainly — in fact, it is a dreadful bad one. But to dine so would do some fellows a great deal of good.”

“What do you say, Pecker? Flicoteau’s; seventeen sous. We’ll make a little party and try, and Firmin shall do the honours of his restaurant,” says my lord, with a grin.

“Mercy!” gasps Mr. Pecker.

“I had rather dine here, if you please, my lord,” says the young man. “This is cheaper, and certainly better.”

My lord’s doctor, and many of the guests at his table, my lord’s henchmen, flatterers, and led captains, looked aghast at the freedom of the young fellow in the shabby coat. If they dared to be familiar with their host, there came a scowl over that noble countenance which was awful to face. They drank his corked wine in meekness of spirit. They laughed at his jokes trembling. One after another, they were the objects of his satire; and each grinned piteously, as he took his turn of punishment. Some dinners are dear, though they cost nothing. At some great tables are not toads served along with the entrées? Yes, and many amateurs are exceedingly fond of the dish.

How do Parisians live at all? is a question which has often set me wondering. How do men, in public offices, with fifteen thousand francs, let us say, for a salary — and this, for a French official, is a high salary — live in handsome apartments; give genteel entertainments; clothe themselves and their families with much more sumptuous raiment than English people of the same station can afford; take their country holiday, a six weeks’ sojourn aux eaux; and appear cheerful and to want for nothing? Paterfamilias, with six hundred a year in London, knows what a straitened life his is, with rent high, and beef at a shilling a pound. Well, in Paris, rent is higher, and meat is dearer; and yet madame is richly dressed when you see her; monsieur has always a little money in his pocket for his club or his café; and something is pretty surely put away every year for the marriage portion of the young folks. “Sir,” Philip used to say, describing this period of his life, on which and on most subjects regarding himself, by the way, he was wont to be very eloquent, “when my income was raised to five thousand francs a year, I give you my word I was considered to be rich by my French acquaintance. I gave four sous to the waiter at our dining-place:— in that respect I was always ostentatious:— and I believe they called me Milor. I should have been poor in the Rue de la Paix: but I was wealthy in the Luxembourg quarter. Don’t tell me about poverty, sir! Poverty is a bully if you are afraid of her, or truckle to her. Poverty is good-natured enough if you meet her like a man. You saw how my poor old father was afraid of her, and thought the world would come to an end if Dr. Firmin did not keep his butler, and his footman, and his fine house, and fine chariot and horses? He was a poor man, if you please. He must have suffered agonies in his struggle to make both ends meet. Everything he bought must have cost him twice the honest price; and when I think of nights that must have been passed without sleep — of that proud man having to smirk and cringe before creditors — to coax butchers, by George, and wheedle tailors — I pity him: I can’t be angry any more. That man has suffered enough. As for me, haven’t you remarked that since I have not a guinea in the world, I swagger, and am a much greater swell than before?” And the truth is, that a Prince Royal could not have called for his gens with a more magnificent air than Mr. Philip when he summoned the waiter, and paid for his petit verre.

Talk of poverty, indeed! That period, Philip vows, was the happiest of his life. He liked to tell in after days of the choice acquaintance of Bohemians which he had formed. Their jug, he said, though it contained but small beer, was always full. Their tobacco, though it bore no higher rank than that of caporal, was plentiful and fragrant. He knew some admirable medical students; some artists who only wanted talent and industry to be at the height of their profession; and one or two of the magnates of his own calling, the newspaper correspondents, whose houses and tables were open to him. It was wonderful what secrets of politics he learned and transmitted to his own paper. He pursued French statesmen of those days with prodigious eloquence and vigour. At the expense of that old king he was wonderfully witty and sarcastical. He reviewed the affairs of Europe, settled the destinies of Russia, denounced the Spanish marriages, disposed of the Pope, and advocated the liberal cause in France, with an untiring eloquence. “Absinthe used to be my drink, sir,” so he was good enough to tell his friends. “It makes the ink run, and imparts a fine eloquence to the style. Mercy upon us, how I would belabour that poor King of the French under the influence of absinthe, in that café opposite the Bourse where I used to make my letter! Who knows, sir, perhaps the influence of those letters precipitated the fall of the Bourbon dynasty! Before I had an office, Gilligan, of the Century, and I used to do our letters at that café; we compared notes and pitched into each other amicably.

Gilligan of the Century, and Firmin of the Pall Mall Gazette, were, however, very minor personages amongst the London newspaper correspondents. Their seniors of the daily press had handsome apartments, gave sumptuous dinners, were closeted with ministers’ secretaries, and entertained members of the Chamber of Deputies. Philip, on perfectly easy terms with himself and the world, swaggering about the embassy balls — Philip, the friend and relative of Lord Ringwood — was viewed by his professional seniors and superiors with an eye of favour, which was not certainly turned on all gentlemen following his calling. Certainly poor Gilligan was never asked to those dinners, which some of the newspaper ambassadors gave, whereas Philip was received not inhospitably. Gilligan received but a cold shoulder at Mrs. Morning Messenger’s Thursdays; and as for being asked to dinner, “Bedad, that fellow Firmin has an air with him which will carry him through anywhere!” Phil’s brother correspondent owned. “He seems to patronize an ambassador when he goes up and speaks to him; and he says to a secretary, ‘My good fellow, tell your master that Mr. Firmin, of the Pall Mall Gazette, wants to see him, and will thank him to step over to the Café de la Bourse.’” I don’t think Philip for his part would have seen much matter of surprise in a minister stepping over to speak to him. To him all folk were alike, great and small: and it is recorded of him that when, on one occasion, Lord Ringwood paid him a visit at his lodgings in the Faubourg St. Germain, Philip affably offered his lordship a cornet of fried potatoes, with which, and plentiful tobacco of course, Philip and one or two of his friends were regaling themselves when Lord Ringwood chanced to call on his kinsman.

A crust and a carafon of small beer, a correspondence with a weekly paper, and a remuneration such as that we have mentioned — was Philip Firmin to look for no more than this pittance, and not to seek for more permanent and lucrative employment? Some of his friends at home were rather vexed at what Philip chose to consider his good fortune; namely, his connection with the newspaper and the small stipend it gave him. He might quarrel with his employer any day. Indeed no man was more likely to fling his bread and butter out of window than Mr. Philip. He was losing precious time at the bar; where he, as hundreds of other poor gentlemen had done before him, might make a career for himself. For what are colonies made? Why do bankruptcies occur? Why do people break the peace and quarrel with policemen, but that barristers may be employed as judges, commissioners, magistrates? A reporter to a newspaper remains all his life a newspaper reporter. Philip, if he would but help himself, had friends in the world who might aid effectually to advance him. So it was we pleaded with him, in the language of moderation, urging the dictates of common sense. As if moderation and common sense could be got to move that mule of a Philip Firmin; as if any persuasion of ours could induce him to do anything but what he liked to do best himself!

“That you should be worldly, my poor fellow” (so Philip wrote to his present biographer) — “that you should be thinking of money and the main chance, is no matter of surprise to me. You have suffered under that curse of manhood, that destroyer of generosity in the mind, that parent of selfishness — a little fortune. You have your wretched hundreds” (my candid correspondent stated the sum correctly enough; and I wish it were double or treble; but that is not here the point:) “paid quarterly. The miserable pittance numbs your whole existence. It prevents freedom of thought and action. It makes a screw of a man who is certainly not without generous impulses, as I know, my poor old Harpagon: for hast thou not offered to open thy purse to me? I tell you I am sick of the way in which people in London, especially good people, think about money. You live up to your income’s edge. You are miserably poor. You brag and flatter yourselves that you owe no man anything; but your estate has creditors upon it as insatiable as any usurer, and as hard as any bailiff. You call me reckless, and prodigal, and idle, and all sorts of names, because I live in a single room, do as little work as I can, and go about with holes in my boots: and you flatter yourself you are prudent, because you have a genteel house, a grave flunkey out of livery, and two greengrocers to wait when you give your half-dozen dreary dinner parties. Wretched man! You are a slave: not a man. You are a pauper, with a good house and good clothes. You are so miserably prudent, that all your money is spent for you, except the few wretched shillings which you allow yourself for pocket-money. You tremble at the expense of a cab. I believe you actually look at half-a-crown before you spend it. The landlord is your master. The livery-stablekeeper is your master. A train of ruthless, useless servants are your pitiless creditors, to whom you have to pay exorbitant dividends every day. I, with a hole in my elbow, who live upon a shilling dinner, and walk on cracked boot soles, am called extravagant, idle, reckless, I don’t know what; while you, forsooth, consider yourself prudent. Miserable delusion! You are flinging away heaps of money on useless flunkeys, on useless maid servants, on useless lodgings, on useless finery — and you say, ‘Poor Phil! what a sad idler he is! how he flings himself away! in what a wretched, disreputable manner he lives!’ Poor Phil is as rich as you are, for he has enough, and is content. Poor Phil can afford to be idle, and you can’t. You must work in order to keep that great hulking footman, that great rawboned cook, that army of babbling nursery-maids, and I don’t know what more. And if you choose to submit to the slavery and degradation inseparable from your condition; — the wretched inspection of candle-ends, which you call order; — the mean self-denials, which you must daily practise — I pity you, and don’t quarrel with you. But I wish you would not be so insufferably virtuous, and ready with your blame and pity for me. If I am happy, pray need you be disquieted? Suppose I prefer independence, and shabby boots? Are not these better than to be pinched by your abominable varnished conventionalism, and to be denied the liberty of free action? My poor fellow, I pity you from my heart; and it grieves me to think how hose fine honest children — honest, and hearty, and frank, and open as yet — are to lose their natural good qualities, and to be swathed and swaddled, and stifled out of health and honesty by that obstinate worldling their father. Don’t tell me about the world, I know it. People sacrifice the next world to it, and are all the while proud of their prudence. Look at my miserable relations, steeped in respectability. Look at my father. There is a chance for him, now he is down and in poverty. I have had a letter from him, containing more of that dreadful worldly advice which you Pharisees give. If it weren’t for Laura and the children, sir, I heartily wish you were ruined like your affectionate — P. F.

“N.B., P.S. — Oh, Pen! I am so happy! She is such a little darling! I bathe in her innocence, sir! I strengthen myself in her purity. I kneel before her sweet goodness and unconsciousness of guile. I walk from my room, and see her every morning before seven o’clock. I see her every afternoon. She loves you and Laura. And you love her, don’t you? And to think that six months ago I was going to marry a woman without a heart! Why, sir, blessings be on the poor old father for spending our money, and rescuing me from that horrible fate! I might have been like that fellow in the Arabian Nights who married Amina — the respectable woman, who dined upon grains of rice, but supped upon cold dead body. Was it not worth all the money I ever was heir to, to have escaped from that ghoul? Lord Ringwood says he thinks I was well out of that. He calls people by Anglo-Saxon names, and uses very expressive monosyllables; and of aunt Twysden, of uncle Twysden, of the girls, and their brother, he speaks in a way which makes me see he has come to just conclusions about them.

“P.S. No. 2. — Ah Pen! She is such a darling. I think I am the happiest man in the world.”

And this was what came of being ruined! A scapegrace, who, when he had plenty of money in his pocket, was ill-tempered, imperious, and discontented; now that he is not worth twopence, declares himself the happiest fellow in the world! Do you remember, my dear, how he used to grumble at our claret, and what wry faces he made, when there was only cold meat for dinner? The wretch is absolutely contented with bread and cheese and small-beer — even that bad beer which they have in Paris!

Now and again, at this time, and as our mutual avocations permitted, I saw Philip’s friend, the Little Sister. He wrote to her dutifully from time to time. He told her of his love affair with Miss Charlotte; and my wife and I could console Caroline, by assuring her that this time the young man’s heart was given to a worthy mistress. I say console, for the news, after all, was sad for her. In the little chamber which she always kept ready for him, he would lie awake, and think of some one dearer to him than a hundred poor Carolines. She would devise something that should be agreeable to the young lady. At Christmas time there came to Miss Baynes a wonderfully worked cambric pocket-handkerchief, with “Charlotte” most beautifully embroidered in the corner. It was this poor widow’s mite of love and tenderness which she meekly laid down in the place where she worshipped. “And I have six for him, too, ma’am” Mrs. Brandon told my wife. “Poor fellow! His shirts was in a dreadful way when he went away from here, and that you know, ma’am.” So you see this wayfarer, having fallen among undoubted thieves, yet found many kind souls to relieve him, and many a good Samaritan ready with his twopence, if need were.

The reason why Philip was the happiest man in the world of course you understand. French people are very early risers; and, at the little hotel where Mr. Philip lived, the whole crew of the house were up hours before lazy English masters and servants think of stirring. At ever so early an hour Phil had a fine bowl of coffee and milk and bread for his breakfast; and he was striding down to the Invalides, and across the bridge to the Champs Elysées, and the fumes of his pipe preceded him with a pleasant odour. And a short time after passing the Rond Point in the Elysian fields, where an active fountain was flinging up showers of diamonds to the sky, — after, I say, leaving the Rond Point on his right, and passing under umbrageous groves in the direction of the present Castle of Flowers, Mr. Philip would see a little person. Sometimes a young sister or brother came with the little person. Sometimes only a blush fluttered on her cheek, and a sweet smile beamed in her face as she came forward to greet him. For the angels were scarce purer than this young maid; and Una was no more afraid of the lion, than Charlotte of her companion with the loud voice and the tawny mane. I would not have envied that reprobate’s lot who should have dared to say a doubtful word to this Una: but the truth is, she never thought of danger, or met with any. The workmen were going to their labour; the dandies were asleep; and considering their age, and the relationship in which they stood to one another, I am not surprised at Philip for announcing that this was the happiest time of his life. In later days, when two gentlemen of mature age happened to be in Paris together, what must Mr. Philip Firmin do but insist upon walking me sentimentally to the Champs Elysés, and looking at an old house there, a rather shabby old house in a garden. “That was the place,” sighs he. “That was Madame de Smolensk’s . That was the window, the third one, with the green jalousie. By Jove, sir, how happy and how miserable I have been behind that green blind!” And my friend shakes his large fist at the somewhat dilapidated mansion, whence Madame de Smolensk and her boarders have long since departed.

I fear that baroness had engaged in her enterprise with insufficient capital, or conducted it with such liberality that her profits were eaten up by her boarders. I could tell dreadful stories impugning the baroness’s moral character. people said she had no right to the title of baroness at all, or to the noble foreign name of Smolensk. People are still alive who knew her under a different name. The baroness herself was what some amateurs call a fine woman, especially at dinner-time, when she appeared in black satin and with cheeks that blushed up as far as the eyelids. In her peignoir in the morning, she was perhaps the reverse of fine. Contours which were round at night, in the forenoon appeared lean and angular. Her roses only bloomed half-an-hour before dinner-time on a cheek which was quite yellow until five o’clock. I am sure it is very kind of elderly and ill-complexioned people to supply the ravages of time or jaundice, and present to our view a figure blooming and agreeable, in place of an object faded and withered. Do you quarrel with your opposite neighbour for painting his house front or putting roses in his balcony? You are rather thankful for the adornment. Madame de Smolensk’s front was so decorated of afternoons. Geraniums were set pleasantly under those first-floor windows, her eyes. Carcel lamps beamed from those windows: lamps which she had trimmed with her own scissors, and into which that poor widow poured the oil which she got somehow and anyhow. When the dingy breakfast papillotes were cast of an afternoon, what beautiful black curls appeared round her brow! The dingy papillotes were put away in the drawer: the peignoir retired to its hook behind the door: the satin raiment came forth, the shining, the ancient, the well-kept, the well-wadded: and at the same moment the worthy woman took that smile out of some cunning box on her scanty toilet-table — that smile which she wore all the evening along with the rest of her toilette, and took out of her mouth when she went to bed, and to think — to think how both ends were to be made to meet.

Philip said he respected and admired that woman: and worthy of respect she was in her way. She painted her face and grinned at poverty. She laughed and rattled with care gnawing at her side. She had to coax the milkman out of his human kindness: to pour oil — his own oil — upon the stormy épicier’s soul: to melt the butterman: to tap the wine-merchant: to mollify the butcher: to invent new pretexts for the landlord: to reconcile the lady boarders, Mrs. General Baynes, let us say, and the honourable Mrs. Boldero, who were always quarrelling: to see that the dinner, when procured, was cooked properly; that Françoise, to whom she owed ever so many months’ wages, was not too rebellious or intoxicated; that Auguste, also her creditor, had his glass clean and his lamps in order. And this work done and the hour of six o’clock arriving, she had to carve and be agreeable to her table; not to hear the growls of the discontented (and at what table-d’hôte are there not grumblers?); to have a word for everybody present; a smile and a laugh for Mrs. Bunch (with whom there had been very likely a dreadful row in the morning); a remark for the colonel; a polite phrase for the general’s lady; and even a good word and compliment for sulky Auguste, who just before dinner-time had unfolded the napkin of mutiny about his wages.

Was not this enough work for a woman to do? To conduct a great house without sufficient money, and make soup, fish, roasts, and half a dozen entrées out of wind as it were? to conjure up wine in piece and by the dozen? to laugh and joke without the least gaiety? to receive scorn, abuse, rebuffs, insolence, with gay good-humour? and then to go to bed wearied at night, and have to think about figures, and that dreadful, dreadful sum in arithmetic — given,5l. to pay 6l? Lady Macbeth is supposed to have been a resolute woman: and great, tall, loud, hectoring females are set to represent the character. I say No. She was a weak woman. She began to walk in her sleep, and blab after one disagreeable little incident had occurred in her house. She broke down, and got all the people away from her own table in the most abrupt and clumsy manner, because that drivelling, epileptic husband of hers fancied he saw a ghost. In Lady Smolensk’s place Madame de Macbeth would have broken down in a week: and Smolensk lasted for years. If twenty gibbering ghosts had come to the boarding-house dinner, madame would have gone on carving her dishes, and smiling and helping the live guests, the paying guests; leaving the dead guests to gibber away and help themselves. “My poor father had to keep up appearances,” Phil would say, recounting these things in after days: “but how? You know he always looked as if he was going to be hung.” Smolensk was the gayest of the gay always. That widow would have tripped up to her funeral pile and kissed her hands to her friends with a smiling ‘Bon jour!’”

“Pray, who was Monsieur de Smolensk?” asks a simple lady who may be listening to our friend’s narrative.

“Ah, my dear lady! there was a pretty disturbance in the house when that question came to be mooted, I promise you,” says our friend, laughing, as he recounts his adventures. And, after all, what does it matter to you and me and this story who Smolensk was? I am sure this poor lady had hardships enough in her life campaign, and that Ney himself could not have faced fortune with a constancy more heroical.

Well, when the Bayneses first came to her house, I tell you Smolensk and all round her smiled, and our friends thought they were landed in a real rosy Elysium in the Champs of that name. Madame had a Carrick à l’ Indienne prepared in compliment to her guests. She had had many Indians in her establishment. She adored Indians. N’ était ce la polygamie — they were most estimable people the Hindus. Surtout, she adored Indian shawls. That of Madame la Générale was ravishing. The company at Madame’s was pleasant. The Honourable Mrs. Boldero was a dashing woman of fashion and respectability, who had lived in the best world — it was easy to see that. The young ladies’ duets were very striking. The Honourable Mr. Boldero was away shooting in Scotland at his brother, Lord Strongitharm’s, and would take Gaberlunzie Castle and the duke’s on his way south. Mrs. Baynes did not know Lady Estridge, the ambassadress? When the Estridges returned from Chantilly, the Honourable Mrs. B. would be delighted to introduce her. “Your pretty girl’s name is Charlotte? So is Lady Estridge’s — and very nearly as tall; — fine girls the Estridges; fine long necks — large feet — but your girl — lady Baynes’ has beautiful feet. Lady Baynes, I said? Well, you must be Lady Baynes soon. The general must be a K. C. B. after his services. What, you know Lord Trim? He will, and must, do it for you. If not, my brother Strongitharm shall.” I have no doubt Mrs. Baynes was greatly elated by the attentions of Lord Strongitharm’s sister; and looked him out in the Peerage, where his lordship’s arms, pedigree, and residence of Gaberlunzie Castle are duly recorded. The Honourable Mrs. Boldero’s daughters, the Misses Minna and Brenda Boldero, played some rattling sonatas on a piano which was a good deal fatigued by their exertions, for the young ladies’ hands were very powerful. And madame said, “Thank you,” with her sweetest smile; and Auguste handed about on a silver tray — I say silver, so that the convenances may not be wounded — well, say silver that was blushing to find itself copper — handed up on a tray a white drink which made the Baynes boys cry out, “I say, mother, what’s this beastly thing?” On which madame, with the sweetest smile, appealed to the company, and said, “They love orgeat, these dear infants!” and resumed her picquet with old M. Bidois — that odd old gentleman in the long brown coat, with the red ribbon, who took so much snuff and blew his nose so often and so loudly. One, two, three rattling sonatas Minna and Brenda played; Mr. Clancy, of Trinity College, Dublin (M. de Clanci, madame called him), turning over the leaves, and presently being persuaded to sing some Irish melodies for the ladies. I don’t think Miss Charlotte Baynes listened to the music much. She was listening to another music, which she and Mr. Firmin were performing together. Oh, how pleasant that music used to be! There was a sameness in it, I dare say, but still it was pleasant to hear the air over again. The pretty little duet à quatre mains, where the hands cross over, and hop up and down the keys, and the heads get so close, so close. Oh, duets, oh, regrets! Psha! no more of this. Go downstairs, old dotard. Take your hat and umbrella and go walk by the sea-shore, and whistle a toothless old solo. “These are our quiet nights,” whispers M. de Clanci, to the Baynes ladies, when the evening draws to an end. “Madame’s Thursdays are, I promise ye, much more fully attended.” Good night, good night. A squeeze of a little hand, a hearty hand-shake from papa and mamma, and Philip is striding through the dark Elysian fields and over the Place of Concord to his lodgings in the Faubourg St. Germain. Or, stay! what is that glowworm beaming by the wall opposite Madame de Smolensk’s house? — a glowworm that wafts an aromatic incense and odour? I do believe it is Mr. Philip’s cigar. And he is watching, watching at a window by which a slim figure flits now and again. Then darkness falls on the little window. The sweet eyes are closed. Oh, blessings, blessings be upon them! The stars shine overhead. And homeward stalks Mr. Firmin, talking to himself, and brandishing a great stick.

I wish that poor Madame Smolensk could sleep as well as the people in her house. But care, with the cold feet, gets under the coverlid, and says, “Here I am; you know that bill is coming due to-morrow.” Ah, atra cura! can’t you leave the poor thing a little quiet? Hasn’t she had work enough all day?

Chapter 4

Course of True Love.

We beg the gracious reader to remember that Mr. Philip’s business at Paris was only with a weekly London paper as yet; and hence that he had on his hands a great deal of leisure. He could glance over the state of Europe; give the latest news from the salons, imparted to him, I do believe, for the most part, by some brother hireling scribes; be present at all the theatres by deputy; and smash Louis Philippe or Messieurs Guizot and Thiers in a few easily turned paragraphs, which cost but a very few hours’ labour to that bold and rapid pen. A wholesome though humiliating thought it must be to great and learned public writers, that their eloquent sermons are but for the day; and that, having read what the philosophers say on Tuesday or Wednesday, we think about their yesterday’s sermons or essays no more. A score of years hence, men will read the papers of 1861 for the occurrences narrated — births, marriages, bankruptcies, elections, murders, deaths, and so forth; and not for the leading articles. “Though there were some of my letters,” Mr. Philip would say, in after times, “that I fondly fancied the world would not willingly let die. I wanted to have them or see them reprinted in a volume, but I could find no publisher willing to undertake the risk. A fond being, who fancies there is genius in everything I say or write, would have had me reprint my letters to the Pall Mall Gazette; but I was too timid, or she, perhaps, was too confident. The letters never were republished. Let them pass.” They have passed. And he sighs, in mentioning this circumstance; and I think tries to persuade himself, rather than others, that he is an unrecognized genius.

“And then, you know,” he pleads, “I was in love, sir, and spending all my days at Omphale’s knees. I didn’t do justice to my powers. If I had had a daily paper, I still think I might have made a good public writer; and that I had the stuff in me — the stuff in me, sir!”

The truth is that, if he had had a daily paper, and ten times as much work as fell to his lot, Mr. Philip would have found means of pursuing his inclination, as he ever through life has done. The being, whom a young man wishes to see, he sees. What business is superior to that of seeing her? Does a little Hellespontine matter keep Leander from his Hero? He would die rather than not see her. Had he swum out of that difficulty on that stormy night, and carried on a few months later, it might have been, “Beloved! my cold and rheumatism are so severe that the doctor says I must not think of cold bathing at-night;” or, “Dearest! we have a party at tea, and you mustn’t expect your ever fond Lambda to-night,” and so forth, and so forth. But in the heat of his passion water could not stay him; tempests could not frighten him; and in one of them he went down, while poor Hero’s lamp was twinkling and spending its best flame in vain. So Philip came from Sestos to Abydos daily — across one of the bridges, and paying a halfpenny toll very likely — and, late or early, poor little Charlotte’s virgin lamps were lighted in her eyes, and watching for him.

Philip made many sacrifices, mind you: sacrifices which all men are not in the habit of making. When Lord Ringwood was in Paris, twice, thrice he refused to dine with his lordship, until that nobleman smelt a rat, as the saying is — and said, “Well, youngster, I suppose you are going where there is metal more attractive. When you come to twelve lustres, my boy, you’ll find vanity and vexation in that sort of thing, and a good dinner better, and cheaper, too, than the best of them.” And when some of Philip’s rich college friends met him in his exile, and asked him to the Rocher or the Trois Freres, he would break away from those banquets; and as for meeting at those feasts doubtful companions, whom young men will sometimes invite to their entertainments, Philip turned from such with scorn and anger. His virtue was loud, and he proclaimed it loudly. He expected little Charlotte to give him credit for it, and told her of his self-denial. And she believed anything he said; and delighted in everything he wrote; and copied out his articles for the Pall Mall Gazette; and treasured his poems in her desk of desks: and there never was in all Sestos, in all Abydos, in all Europe, in all Asia Minor or Asia Major, such a noble creature as Leander, Hero thought; never, never! I hope, young ladies, you may all have a Leander on his way to the tower where the light of your love is burning steadfastly. I hope, young gentlemen, you have each of you a beacon in sight, and may meet with no mishap in swimming to it.

From my previous remarks regarding Mrs. Baynes, the reader has been made aware that the general’s wife was no more faultless than the rest of her fellowcreatures; and having already candidly informed the public that the writer and his family were no favourites of this lady, I have now the pleasing duty of recording my own opinions regarding her Mrs. General B. was an early riser. She was a frugal woman; fond of her young, or, let us say, anxious to provide for their maintenance; and here, with my best compliments, I think the catalogue of her good qualities is ended. She had a bad, violent temper; a disagreeable person, attired in very bad taste; a shrieking voice; and two manners, the respectful and the patronizing, which were both alike odious. When she ordered Baynes to marry her, gracious powers! why did he not run away? Who dared first to say that marriages are made in heaven? We know that there are not only blunders, but roguery in the marriage office. Do not mistakes occur every day, and are not the wrong people coupled? Had heaven anything to do with the bargain by which young Miss Blushrose was sold to old Mr. Hoarfrost? Did heaven order young Miss Tripper to throw over poor Tom Spooner, and marry the wealthy Mr. Bung? You may as well say that horses are sold in heaven, which, as you know, are groomed, are doctored, are chanted on to the market, and warranted by dexterous horse-vendors, as possessing every quality of blood, pace, temper, age. Against these Mr. Greenhorn has his remedy sometimes; but against a mother who sells you a warranted daughter, what remedy is there? You have been jockeyed by false representation into bidding for the Cecilia, and the animal is yours for life. She shies, kicks, stumbles, has an infernal temper, is a crib-biter — and she was warranted to you by her mother as the most perfect, good-tempered creature, whom the most timid might manage! You have bought her. She is yours. Heaven bless you! Take her home, and be miserable for the rest of your days. You have no redress. You have done the deed. Marriages were made in heaven, you know; and in yours you were as much sold as Moses Primrose was when he bought the gross of green spectacles.

I don’t think poor General Baynes ever had a proper sense of his situation, or knew how miserable he ought by rights to have been. He was not uncheerful at times: a silent man, liking his rubber and his glass of wine; a very weak person in the common affairs of life, as his best friends must own; but, as I have heard, a very tiger in action. “I know your opinion of the general,” Philip used to say to me, in his grandiloquent way. “You despise men who don’t bully their wives; you do, sir! You think the general weak, I know, I know. Other brave men were so about women, as I daresay you have heard. This man, so weak at home, was mighty on the war-path; and in his wigwam are the scalps of countless warriors.”

“In his wig what?” say I. The truth is, on his meek head the general wore a little curling chestnut top-knot, which looked very queer and out of place over that wrinkled and war-worn face.

“If you choose to laugh at your joke, pray do,” says Phil, majestically. “I make a noble image of a warrior: You prefer a barber’s pole. Bon! Pass me the wine. The veteran whom I hope to salute as father ere long — the soldier of twenty battles; — who saw my own brave grandfather die at his side — die at Busaco, by George; you laugh at an account of his wig. It’s a capital joke.” And here Phil scowled and slapped the table, and passed his hand across his eyes, as though the death of his grandfather, which occurred long before Philip was born, caused him a very serious pang of grief. Philip’s newspaper business brought him to London on occasions. I think it was on one of these visits, that we had our talk about General Baynes. And it was at the same time Philip described the boarding-house to us, and its inmates, and the landlady, and the doings there.

For that struggling landlady, as for all women in distress, our friend had a great sympathy and liking; and she returned Philip’s kindness by being very good to Mademoiselle Charlotte, and very forbearing with the general’s wife and his other children. The appetites of those little ones were frightful, the temper of Madame la Générale was almost intolerable, but Charlotte was an angel, and the general was a mutton — a true mutton. Her own father had been so. The brave are often muttons at home. I suspect that, though madame could have made but little profit by the general’s family, his monthly payments were very welcome to her meagre little exchequer. “Ah! if all my locataires were like him!” sighed the poor lady. “That Madame Boldero, whom the generaless treats always as Honourable, I wish I was as sure of her! And others again!”

I never kept a boarding-house, but I am sure there must be many painful duties attendant on that profession. What can you do if a lady or gentleman doesn’t pay his bill? Turn him or her out? Perhaps the very thing that lady or gentleman would desire. They go. Those trunks which you have insanely detained, and about which you have made a fight and a scandal, do not contain a hundred francs’ worth of goods, and your creditors never come back again. You do not like to have a row in a boarding-house any more than you would like to have a party with scarlet-fever in your best bedroom. The scarlet-fever party stays, and the other boarders go away. What, you ask, do I mean by this mystery? I am sorry to have to give up names, and titled names. I am sorry to say the Honourable Mrs. Boldero did not pay her bills. She was waiting for remittances, which the Honourable Boldero was dreadfully remiss in sending. A dreadful man! He was still at his lordship’s at Gaberlunzie Castle, shooting the wild deer and hunting the roe. And though the Honourable Mrs. B.’s heart was in the Highlands, of course, how could she join her Highland chief without the money to pay madame? The Highlands, indeed! One dull day it came out that the Honourable Boldero was amusing himself in the Highlands of Hesse Homburg; and engaged in the dangerous sport which is to be had in the green plains about Loch Badenbadenoch!

“Did you ever hear of such depravity? The woman is a desperate and unprincipled adventuress! I wonder madame dares to put me and my children and my general down at table with such people as those, Philip!” cries madame la générale. “I mean those opposite — that woman and her two daughters who haven’t paid madame a shilling for three months — who owes me five hundred francs, which she borrowed until next Tuesday, expecting a remittance — a pretty remittance indeed — from Lord Strongitharm. Lord Strongitharm, I daresay! And she pretends to be most intimate at the embassy; and that she would introduce us there, and at the Tuileries: and she told me Lady Estridge had the small-pox in the house; and when I said all ours had been vaccinated, and I didn’t mind, she fobbed me off with some other excuse; and it’s my belief the woman’s a humbug. Overhear me! I don’t care if she does overhear me. No. You may look as much as you like, my Honourable Mrs. Boldero; and I don’t care if you do overhear me. Ogoost! Pomdytare pour le général! How tough madame’s boof is, and it’s boof, boof, boof every day, till I’m sick of boof. Ogoost! why don’t you attend to my children?” And so forth.

By this report of the worthy woman’s conversation, you will see that the friendship which had sprung up between the two ladies had come to an end, in consequence of painful pecuniary disputes between them; that to keep a boarding-house can’t be a very pleasant occupation; and that even to dine in a boarding-house must be very bad fun when the company is frightened and dull, and when there are two old women at table ready to fling the dishes at each other’s fronts. At the period of which I now write, I promise you, there was very little of the piano-duet business going on after dinner. In the first place, everybody knew the girls’ pieces; and when they began, Mrs. General Baynes would lift up a voice louder than the jingling old instrument, thumped Minna and Brenda ever so loudly. “Perfect strangers to me, Mr. Clancy, I assure you. Had I known her, you don’t suppose I would have lent her the money. Honourable Mrs. Boldero, indeed! Five weeks she has owed me five hundred frongs. Bong swor, Monsieur Bidois! Sang song frong pas payy encor! Prommy, pas payy!” Fancy, I say, what a dreary life that must have been at the select boarding-house, where these two parties were doing battle daily after dinner! Fancy, at the select soirées, the general’s lady seizing upon one guest after another, and calling out her wrongs, and pointing to the wrong-doer; and poor Madame Smolensk, smirking, and smiling, and flying from one end of the salon to the other, and thanking M. Pivoine for his charming romance, and M. Brumm for his admirable performance on the violoncello, and even asking those poor Miss Bolderos to perform their duet — for her heart melted towards them. Not ignorant of evil, she had learned to succour the miserable. She knew what poverty was, and had to coax scowling duns, and wheedle vulgar creditors. “Tenez, Monsieur Philippe,” she said, “the générale is too cruel. There are others here who might complain, and are silent.” Philip felt all this; the conduct of his future mother-in-law filled him with dismay and horror. And some time after these remarkable circumstances, he told me, blushing as he spoke, a humiliating secret. “Do you know, sir,” says he, “that autumn I made a pretty good thing of it with one thing or another. I did my work for the Pall Mall Gazette: and Smith of the Daily Intelligencer, wanting a month’s holiday, gave me his letter and ten francs a day. And at that very time I met Redman, who had owed me twenty pounds ever since we were at college, and who was just coming back flush from Homburg, and paid me. Well, now. Swear you won’t tell. Swear on your faith as a Christian man! With this money I went, sir, privily to Mrs. Boldero. I said if she would pay the dragon — I mean Mrs. Baynes — I would lend her the money. And I did lend her the money, and the Boldero never paid back Mrs. Baynes. Don’t mention it. Promise me you won’t tell Mrs. Baynes. I never expected to get Redman’s money you know, and am no worse off than before. One day of the Grandes Eaux we went to Versailles I think, and the Honourable Mrs. Boldero gave us the slip. She left the poor girls behind her in pledge, who, to do them justice, cried and were in a dreadful way; and when Mrs. Baynes, on our return, began shrieking about her ‘sang song frong,’ Madame Smolensk fairly lost patience for once, and said, ‘Mais, madame, vous nous fatiguez avec vos cinq cents francs;’ on which the other muttered something about ‘Ansolong,’ but was briskly taken up by her husband, who said, ‘By George, Eliza, madame is quite right. And I wish the five hundred francs were in the sea.’”

Thus you understand, if Mrs. General Baynes thought some people were “stuck-up people,” some people can — and hereby do by these presents — pay off Mrs. Baynes, by furnishing the public with a candid opinion of that lady’s morals, manners, and character. How could such a shrewd woman be dazzled so repeatedly by ranks and titles? There used to dine at Madame Smolensk’s boarding-house a certain German baron, with a large finger-ring, upon a dingy finger, towards whom the lady was pleased to cast the eye of favour, and who chose to fall in love with her pretty daughter; young Mr. Clancy, the Irish poet, was also smitten with the charms of the fair young lady; and this intrepid mother encouraged both suitors, to the unspeakable agonies of Philip Firmin, who felt often that whilst he was away at his work these inmates of Madame Smolensk’s house were near his charmer — at her side at lunch, ever handing her the cup at breakfast, on the watch for her when she walked forth in the garden; and I take the pangs of jealousy to have formed a part of those unspeakable sufferings which Philip said he endured in the house whither he came courting.

Little Charlotte, in one or two of her letters to her friends in Queen Square, London, meekly complained of Philip’s tendency to jealousy. “Does he think, after knowing him, I can think of these horrid men?” she asked. “I don’t understand what Mr. Clancy is talking about, when he comes to me with his ‘pomes and potry;’ and who can read poetry like Philip himself? Then the German baron — who does not even call himself a baron: it is mamma who will insist upon calling him so — has such very dirty things, and smells so of cigars, that I don’t like to come near him. Philip smokes too, but his cigars are quite pleasant. Ah, dear friend, how could he ever think such men as these were to be put in comparison with him! And he scolds so; and scowls at the poor men in the evening when he comes! and his temper is so high! Do say a word to him — quite cautiously and gently, you know — in behalf of your fondly attached and most happy — only he will make me unhappy sometimes; but you’ll prevent him, won’t you? — Charlotte B.”

I could fancy Philip hectoring through the part of Othello, and his poor young Desdemona not a little frightened at his black humours. Such sentiments as Mr. Philip felt strongly, he expressed with an uproar. Charlotte’s correspondent, as usual, made light of these little domestic confidences and grievances. “Women don’t dislike a jealous scolding,” she said. “It may be rather tiresome, but it is always a compliment. Some husbands think so well of themselves, that they can’t condescend to be jealous.” Yes, I say, women prefer to have tyrants over them. A scolding you think is a mark of attention. Hadn’t you better adopt the Russian system at once, and go out and buy me a whip, and present it to me with a curtsey, and your compliments; and a meek prayer that I should use it. “Present you a whip! present you a goose!” says the lady, who encourages scolding in other husbands, it seems, but won’t suffer a word from her own.

Both disputants had set their sentimental hearts on the marriage of this young man and this young woman. Little Charlotte’s heart was so bent on the match, that it would break, we fancied, if she were disappointed; and in her mother’s behaviour we felt, from the knowledge we had of the woman’s disposition, there was a serious cause for alarm. Should a better offer present itself, Mrs. Baynes, we feared, would fling over poor Philip: or, it was in reason and nature, that he would come to a quarrel with her, and in the course of the pitched battle which must ensue between them, he would fire off expressions mortally injurious. Are there not many people, in every one’s acquaintance, who, as soon as they have made a bargain, repent of it? Philip, as “preserver” of General Baynes, in the first fervour of family gratitude for that act of self-sacrifice on the young man’s part, was very well. But gratitude wears out; or suppose a woman says, “It is my duty to my child to recal my word; and not allow her to fling herself away on a beggar.” Suppose that you and I, strongly inclined to do a mean action, get a good, available, and moral motive for it? I trembled for poor Philip’s course of true love, and little Charlotte’s chances, when these surmises crossed my mind. There was a hope still in the honour and gratitude of General Baynes. He would not desert his young friend and benefactor. Now General Baynes was a brave man of war, and so was John of Marlborough a brave man of war; but it is certain that both were afraid of their wives.

We have said by whose invitation and encouragement General Baynes was induced to bring his family to the boarding-house at Paris; the instigation, namely, of his friend and companion in arms, the gallant Colonel Bunch. When the Baynes family arrived, the Bunches were on the steps of madame’s house, waving a welcome to the new-comers. It was, “Here we are, Bunch, my boy.”

“Glad to see you, Baynes. Right well you’re looking, and so’s Mrs. B.”

And the general replies, “And so are you, Bunch; and so do you, Mrs. B.”

“How do, boys? Hoy d’you do, Miss Charlotte? Come to show the Paris fellows what a pretty girl is, hey? Blooming like a rose, Baynes!”

“I’m telling the general,” cries the colonel to the general’s lady, “the girl’s the very image of her mother.”

In this case poor Charlotte must have looked like a yellow rose, for Mrs. Baynes was of a bilious temperament and complexion, whereas Miss Charlotte was as fresh pink and white as — what shall we say? — as the very freshest strawberries mingled with the very nicest cream.

The two old soldiers were of very great comfort to one another. They toddled down to Galignani’s together daily, and read the papers there. They went and looked at the reviews in the Carrousel, and once or twice to the Champ de Mars; — recognizing here and there the numbers of the regiments against which they had been engaged in the famous ancient wars. They did not brag in the least about their achievements, they winked and understood each other. They got their old uniforms out of their old boxes, and took a voiture de remise, by Jove! and went to be presented to Louis Philippe. They bought a catalogue; and went to the Louvre, and wagged their honest old heads before the pictures; and, I daresay, winked and nudged each other’s brave old sides at some of the nymphs in the statue gallery. They went out to Versailles with their families; loyally stood treat to the ladies at the restaurateur’s . (Bunch had taken down a memorandum in his pocket-book from Benyon, who had been the duke’s aide-de-camp in the last campaign, to “go to Beauvillier’s,” only Beauvillier’s had been shut up for twenty years.) They took their families and Charlotte to the Théâtre Français, to a tragedy; and they had books: and they said it was the most confounded nonsense they ever saw in their lives; and I am bound to say that Bunch, in the back of the box, snored so, that, though in retirement, he created quite a sensation. “Corneal,” he owns, was too much for him: give him Shakspeare: give him John Kemble: give him Mrs. Siddons: give him Mrs. Jordan. But as for this sort of thing? “I think our play days are over, Baynes — hey?” And I also believe that Miss Charlotte Baynes, whose knowledge of the language was slight as yet, was very much bewildered during the tragedy, and could give but an imperfect account of it. But then Philip Firmin was in the orchestra stalls; and had he not sent three bouquets for the three ladies, regretting that he could not come to see somebody in the Champs Elysées, because it was his post day, and he must write his letter for the Pall Mall Gazette? There he was, her Cid; her peerless champion: and to give up father and mother for him? our little Chimène thought such a sacrifice not too difficult. After that dismal attempt at the theatre, the experiment was not repeated. The old gentlemen preferred their whist, to those pompous Alexandrines sung through the nose, which Colonel Bunch, a facetious little colonel, used to imitate, and, I am given to understand, very badly.

The worthy officers compared madame’s to an East Indian ship, quarrels and all. Selina went on just in that way on board the Burrumpooter. Always rows about precedence, and the services, and the deuce knows what. Women always will. Selina Bunch went on in that way: and Eliza Baynes also went on in that way: but I should think, from the most trustworthy information, that Eliza was worse than Selina.

“About any person with a title, that woman will make a fool of herself to the end of the chapter,” remarked Selina of her friend. “You remember how she used to go on at Barrackpore about that little shrimp Stoney Battersby, because he was an Irish viscount’s son? See how she flings herself at the head of this Mrs. Boldero — with her airs, and her paint, and her black front! I can’t bear the woman! I know she has not paid madame. I know she is no better than she should be; and to see Eliza Baynes coaxing her, and sidling up to her, and flattering her:— it’s too bad, that it is! A woman who owes ever so much to madame! a woman who doesn’t pay her washer-woman!”

“Just like the Burrumpooter over again, my dear,” cries Colonel Bunch. “You and Eliza Baynes were always quarrelling; that’s the fact. Why did you ask her to come here? I knew you would begin again, as soon as you met.” And the truth was that these ladies were always fighting and making up again.

“So you and Mrs. Bunch were old acquaintances?” asked Mrs. Boldero of her new friend. “My dear Mrs. Baynes! I should hardly have thought it: your manners are so different! Your friend, if I may be so free as to speak, has the camp manner. You have not the camp manner at all. I should have thought you — excuse me the phrase, but I’m so open, and always speak my mind out — you haven’t the camp manner at all. You seem as if you were one of us. Minna! doesn’t Mrs. Baynes put you in mind of Lady Hm —?” (The name is inaudible, in consequence of Mrs. Boldero’s exceeding shyness in mentioning names; but the girls see the likeness to dear Lady Hm — at once.) “And when you bring your dear girl to London, you’ll know the lady I mean, and judge for yourself. I assure you I am not disparaging you, my dear Mrs. Baynes, in comparing you to her!”

And so the conversation goes on. If Mrs. Major MacWhirter at Tours chose to betray secrets, she could give extracts from her sister’s letters to show how profound was the impression created in Mrs. General Baynes’ mind by the professions and conversation of the Scotch lady.

“Didn’t the general shoot and love deer-stalking? The dear general must come to Gaberlunzie Castle, where she would promise him a Highland welcome. Her brother Strongitharm was the most amiable of men; adored her and her girls: there was talk even of marrying Minna to the captain, but she for her part could not endure the marriage of first-cousins. There was a tradition against such marriages in their family. Of three Bolderos and Strongitharms who married their first-cousins, one was drowned in Gaberlunzie lake three weeks after the marriage; one lost his wife by a galloping consumption, and died a monk at Rome; and the third married a fortnight before the battle of Culloden, where he was slain at the head of the Strongitharms. Mrs. Baynes had no idea of the splendour of Gaberlunzie Castle; seventy bedrooms and thirteen company rooms, besides the picture gallery! In Edinburgh, and Strongitharm had the right to wear his bonnet in the presence of his sovereign.” A bonnet! how very odd, my dear! But with ostrich plumes, I daresay it may look well, especially as the Highlanders wear frocks too. “Lord Strongitharm had no house in London, having almost ruined himself in building his princely castle in the north. Mrs. Baynes must come there and meet their noble relatives and all the Scottish nobility.” Nor do I care about these vanities, my dear, but to bring my sweet Charlotte into the world: is it not a mother’s duty?

Not only to her sister, but likewise to Charlotte’s friends of Queen Square, did Mrs. Baynes impart these delightful news. But this is in the first ardour of the friendship which arises between Mrs. Baynes and Mrs. Boldero, and before those unpleasant money disputes of which we have spoken.

Afterwards, when the two ladies have quarrelled regarding the memorable “sang song frong,” I think Mrs. Bunch came round to Mrs. Boldero’s side. “Eliza Baynes is too hard on her. It is too cruel to insult her before those two unhappy daughters. The woman is an odious woman, and a vulgar woman, and a schemer, and I always said so. But to box her ears before her daughters — her honourable friend of last week! it’s a shame of Eliza!”

“My dear, you’d better tell her so!” says Bunch drily. “But if you do, tell her when I’m out of the way, please!” And accordingly, one day when the two old officers return from their stroll, Mrs. Bunch informs the colonel that she has had it out with Eliza; and Mrs. Baynes, with a heated face, tells the general that she and Mrs. Colonel Bunch have quarrelled; and she is determined it shall be for the last time. So that poor Madame de Smolensk has to interpose between Mrs. Baynes and Mrs. Boldero; between Mrs. Baynes and Mrs. Bunch; and to sit surrounded by glaring eyes, and hissing inuendoes, and in the midst of feuds unhealable. Of course, from the women the quarrelling will spread to the gentlemen. That always happens. Poor Madame trembles. Again Bunch gives his neighbour his word that it is like the Burrumpooter East Indiaman — the Burrumpooter in very bad weather, too.

“At any rate, we won’t be lugged into it, Baynes, my boy!” says the colonel, who is of a sanguine temperament, to his friend.

“Hey, hey! don’t be too sure, Bunch; don’t be too sure!” sighs the other veteran, who, it may be, is of a more desponding turn, as, after a battle at luncheon, in which the Amazons were fiercely engaged, the two old warriors take their walk to Galignani’s .

Towards his Charlotte’s relatives poor Philip was respectful by duty and a sense of interest, perhaps. Before marriage, especially, men are very kind to the relatives of the beloved object. They pay compliments to mamma; they listen to papa’s old stories, and laugh appositely; they bring presents for the innocent young ones, and let the little brothers kick their shins. Philip endured the juvenile Bayneses very kindly: he took the boys to Franconi’s, and made his conversation as suitable as he could to the old people. He was fond of the old general, a simple and worthy old man; and had, as we have said, a hearty sympathy and respect for Madame Smolensk, admiring her constancy and goodhumour under her many trials. But those who have perused his memoirs are aware that Mr. Firmin could make himself, on occasions, not a little disagreeable. When sprawling on a sofa, engaged in conversation with his charmer, he would not budge when other ladies entered the room. He scowled at them, if he did not like them. He was not at the least trouble to conceal his likes or dislikes. He had a manner of fixing his glass in his eye, putting his thumbs into the armholes of his waistcoat, and talking and laughing very loudly at his own jokes or conceits, which was not pleasant or respectful to ladies.

“Your loud young friend, with the cracked boots, is very maurais ton, my dear Mrs. Baynes,” Mrs. Boldero remarked to her new friend, in the first ardour of their friendship. “A relative of Lord Ringwood’s, is he? Lord Ringwood is a very queer person. A son of that dreadful Dr. Firmin, who ran away after cheating everybody? Poor young man! He can’t help having such a father, as you say, and most good, and kind, and generous of you to say so. And the general and the Honourable Philip Ringwood were early companions together, I daresay. But, having such an unfortunate father as Dr. Firmin, I think Mr. Firmin might be a little less prononcé; don’t you? And to see him in cracked boots, sprawling over the sofas, and hear him, when my loves are playing their duets, laughing and talking so very loud, — I confess isn’t pleasant to me. I am not used to that kind of monde, nor are my dear loves. You are under great obligations to him, and he has behaved nobly, you say? Of course. To get into your society an unfortunate young man will be on his best behaviour, though he certainly does not condescend to be civil to us. But . . . What! That young man engaged to that lovely, innocent, charming child, your daughter? My dear creature, you frighten me! A man, with such a father; and, excuse me, with such a manner; and without a penny in the world, engaged to Miss Baynes! Goodness, powers! It must never be. It shall not be, my dear Mrs. Baynes. Why, I have written to my nephew Hector to come over, Strongitharm’s favourite son and my favourite nephew. I have told him that there is a sweet young creature here, whom he must and ought to see. How well that dear child would look presiding at Strongitharm Castle? And you are going to give her to that dreadful young man with the loud voice and the cracked boots — that smoky young man — oh, impossible!”

Madame had, no doubt, given a very favourable report of her new lodgers to the other inmates of her house; and she and Mrs. Boldero had concluded that all general officers returning from India were immensely rich. To think that her daughter might be the Honourable Mrs. Strongitharm, Baroness Strongitharm, and walk in a coronation in robes, with a coronet in her hand! Mrs. Baynes yielded in loyalty to no woman, but I fear her wicked desires compassed a speedy royal demise, as this thought passed through her mind of the Honourable Lenox Strongitharm. She looked him out in the Peerage, and found that young nobleman designated as the Captain of Strongitharm. Charlotte might be the Honourable Mrs. Captain of Strongitharm! When poor Phil stalked in after dinner that evening in his shabby boots and smoky paletot, Mrs. Baynes gave him but a grim welcome. He went and prattled unconsciously by the side of his little Charlotte, whose tender eyes dwelt upon his, and whose fair cheeks flung out their blushes of welcome. He prattled away. He laughed out loud whilst Minna and Brenda were thumping their duet. “Taisez-vous donc, Monsieur Philippe,” cries madame, putting her finger to her lip. The Honourable Mrs. Boldero looked at dear Mrs. Baynes, and shrugged her shoulders. Poor Philip! would he have laughed so loudly (and so rudely, too, as I own) had he known what was passing in the minds of those women? Treason was passing there: and before that glance of knowing scorn, shot from the Honourable Mrs. Boldero’s eyes, dear Mrs. General Baynes faltered. How very curt and dry she was with Philip! how testy with Charlotte! Poor Philip, knowing that his charmer was in the power of her mother, was pretty humble to this dragon; and attempted, by uncouth flatteries, to soothe and propitiate her. She had a queer, dry humour, and loved a joke; but Phil’s fell very flat this night. Mrs. Baynes received his pleasantries with an “Oh, indeed!” She was sure she heard one of the children crying in their nursery. “Do, pray, go and see, Charlotte, what that child is crying about.” And away goes poor Charlotte, having but dim presentiment of misfortune as yet. Was not mamma often in an ill humour; and were they not all used to her scoldings?

As for Mrs. Colonel Bunch, I am sorry to say that, up to this time, Philip was not only no favourite with her, but was heartily disliked by that lady. I have told you our friend’s faults. He was loud: he was abrupt: he was rude often: and often gave just cause of annoyance by his laughter, his disrespect, and his swaggering manner. To those whom he liked he was as gentle as a woman; and treated them with an extreme tenderness and touching rough respect. But those persons about whom he was indifferent, he never took the least trouble to conciliate or please. If they told long stories, for example, he would turn on his heel, or interrupt them by observations of his own on some quite different subject. Mrs. Colonel Bunch, then, positively disliked that young man, and I think had very good reasons for her dislike. As for Bunch, Bunch said to Baynes, “Cool hand, that young fellow!” and winked. And Baynes said to Bunch, “Queer chap. Fine fellow, as I have reason to know pretty well. I play a club. No club? I mark honours and two tricks.” And the game went on. Clancy hated Philip: a meek man, whom Firmin had yet managed to offend. “That man,” the pote Clancy remarked, “has a manner of treading on me corrans which is intolerable to me!”

The truth is, Philip was always putting his foot on some other foot, and trampling it. And as for the Boldero clan, Mr. Firmin treated them with the most amusing insolence, and ignored them as if they were out of existence altogether. So you see the poor fellow had not with his poverty learned the least lesson of humility, or acquired the very earliest rudiments of the art of making friends. I think his best friend in the house was its mistress, Madame Smolensk. Mr. Philip treated her as an equal: which mark of affability he was not in the habit of bestowing on all persons. Some great people, some rich people, some would-be-fine people, he would patronize with an insufferable audacity. Rank or wealth do not seem somehow to influence this man, as they do common mortals. He would tap a bishop on the waistcoat, and contradict a duke at their first meeting. I have seen him walk out of church during a stupid sermon, with an audible remark perhaps to that effect, and as if it were a matter of course that he should go. If the company bored him at dinner, he would go to sleep in the most unaffected manner. At home we were always kept in a pleasant state of anxiety, not only by what he did and said, but by the idea of what he might do or say next. He did not go to sleep at madame’s boarding-house, preferring to keep his eyes open to look at pretty Charlotte’s . And were there ever such sapphires as his? she thought. And hers? Ah! if they have tears to shed, I hope a kind fate will dry them quickly!

Chapter 5

Treats of Dancing, Dining, Dying.

Old schoolboys remember how, when pious Æneas was compelled by painful circumstances to quit his country, he and his select band of Trojans founded a new Troy, where they landed; raising temples to the Trojan gods; building streets with Trojan names; and endeavouring, to the utmost of their power, to recal their beloved native place. In like manner, British Trojans and French Trojans take their Troy everywhere. Algiers I have only seen from the sea; but New Orleans and Leicester Square I have visited; and have seen a quaint old France still lingering on the banks of the Mississippi; a dingy modern France round that great Globe of Mr. Wyld’s, which they say is coming to an end. There are French cafés, billiards, estaminets, waiters, markers, poor Frenchmen, and rich Frenchmen, in a new Paris — shabby and dirty, it is true — but offering the emigrant the dominoes, the chopine, the petit verre of the patrie. And do not British Trojans, who emigrate to the continent of Europe, take their Troy with them? You all know the quarters of Paris which swarm with us Trojans. From Peace Street to the Arch of the Star are collected thousands of refugees from our Ilium. Under the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli you meet, at certain hours, as many of our Trojans as of the natives. In the Trojan inns of Meurice, the Louvre, we swarm. We have numerous Anglo-Trojan doctors and apothecaries, who give us the dear pills and doses of Pergamus. We go to Mrs. Guerre or kind Mrs. Colombin, and can purchase the sandwiches of Troy, the pale ale and sherry of Troy, and the dear, dear muffins of home. We live for years, never speaking any language but our native Trojan; except to our servants, whom we instruct in the Trojan way of preparing toast for breakfast; Trojan bread-sauce for fowls and partridges; Trojan corned beef, We have temples where we worship according to the Trojan rites. A kindly sight is that which one beholds of a Sunday in the Elysian fields and the St. Honoré quarter, of processions of English grown people and children, stalwart, red-cheeked, marching to their churches, their gilded prayer-books in hand, to sing in a stranger’s land the sacred songs of their Zion. I am sure there are many English in Paris, who never speak to any native above the rank of a waiter or shopman. Not long since I was listening to a Frenchman at Folkestone, speaking English to the waiters and acting as interpreter for his party. He spoke pretty well and very quickly. He was irresistibly comical. I wonder how we maintained our gravity. And you and I, my dear friend, when we speak French? I daresay we are just as absurd. As absurd? And why not? Don’t you be discouraged, young fellow. Courage, mon jeune ami! Remember, Trojans have a conquering way with them. When Æneas landed at Carthage, I daresay he spoke Carthaginian with a ridiculous Trojan accent; but, for all that, poor Dido fell desperately in love with him. Take example by the son of Anchises, my boy. Never mind the grammar or the pronunciation, but tackle the lady, and speak your mind to her as best you can.

This is the plan which the Vicomte de Loisy used to adopt. He was following a cours of English according to the celebrated méthode Jobson. The cours assembled twice a week: and the vicomte, with laudable assiduity, went to all English parties to which he could gain an introduction, for the purpose of acquiring the English language, and marrying une Anglaise. This industrious young man even went au Temple on Sundays for the purpose of familiarizing himself with the English language; and as he sat under Doctor Murrogh Macmanus of T. C. D., a very eloquent preacher at Paris in those days, the vicomte acquired a very fine pronunciation. Attached to the cause of unfortunate monarchy all over the world, the vicomte had fought in the Spanish Carlist armies. He waltzed well: and madame thought his cross looked nice at her parties. Will it be believed that Mrs. General Baynes took this gentleman into special favour; talked with him at soirée after soirée; never laughed at his English; encouraged her girl to waltz with him (which he did to perfection, whereas poor Philip was but a hulking and clumsy performer); and showed him the very greatest favour, until one day, on going into Mr. Bonus’s, the house agent (who lets lodgings, and sells British pickles, tea, sherry, and the like), she found the vicomte occupying a stool as clerk in Mr. Bonus’s establishment, where for twelve hundred francs a year he gave his invaluable services during the day! Mrs. Baynes took poor Madame severely to task for admitting such a man to her assemblies. Madame was astonished. Monsieur was a gentleman of ancient family who had met with misfortunes. He was earning his maintenance. To sit in a bureau was not a dishonour. Knowing that boutique meant shop and garçon meant boy, Mrs. Baynes made use of the words boutique garçon the next time she saw the vicomte. The little man wept tears of rage and mortification. There was a very painful scene, at which, thank Mercy, poor Charlotte thought, Philip was not present. Were it not for the general’s cheveux blancs (by which phrase the vicomte very kindly designated General Baynes’s chestnut topknot) the vicomte would have had reason from him. “Charming miss,” he said to Charlotte, “your respectable papa is safe from my sword! Madame your mamma has addressed me words which I qualify not. But you — you are too ‘andsome, too good, to despise a poor soldier, a poor gentleman!” I have heard the vicomte still dances at boarding-houses and is still in pursuit of an Anglaise. He must be a wooer now almost as elderly as the good general whose scalp he respected.

Mrs. Baynes was, to be sure, a heavy weight to bear for poor Madame, but her lean shoulders were accustomed to many a burden; and if the general’s wife was quarrelsome and odious, he, as Madame said, was as soft as a mutton; and Charlotte’s pretty face and manners were the admiration of all. The yellow Miss Bolderos, those hapless elderly orphans left in pawn, might bite their lips with envy, but they never could make them as red as Miss Charlotte’s smiling mouth. To the honour of Madame Smolensk be it said that never by word or hint did she cause those unhappy young ladies any needless pain. She never stinted them of any meal. No full-priced pensioner of Madame’s could have breakfast, luncheon, dinners served more regularly. The day after their mother’s flight, that good Madame Smolensk took early cups of tea to the girls’ rooms, with her own hands; and I believe helped to do the hair of one of them, and otherwise to soothe them in their misfortune. They could not keep their secret. It must be owned that Mrs. Baynes never lost an opportunity of deploring their situation and acquainting all new-comers with their mother’s flight and transgression. But she was good-natured to the captives in her grim way: and admired Madame’s forbearance regarding them. The two old officers were now especially polite to the poor things: and the general rapped one of his boys over the knuckles for saying to Miss Brenda, “If your uncle is a lord, why doesn’t he give you any money?” “And these girls used to hold their heads above mine, and their mother used to give herself such airs!” cried Mrs. Baynes. “And Eliza Baynes used to flatter those poor girls and their mother, and fancy they were going to make a woman of fashion of her!” said Mrs. Bunch. “We all have our weaknesses. Lords are not yours, my dear. Faith, I don’t think you know one,” says stout little Colonel Bunch. “I wouldn’t pay a duchess such court as Eliza paid that woman!” cried Emma; and she made sarcastic inquiries of the general, whether Eliza had heard from her friend the Honourable Mrs. Boldero? But for all this Mrs. Bunch pitied the young ladies, and I believe gave them a little supply of coin from her private purse. A word as to their subsequent history. Their mamma became the terror of boarding-housekeepers: and the poor girls practised their duets all over Europe. Mrs. Boldero’s noble nephew, the present Strongitharm (as a friend who knows the fashionable world informs me), was victimized by his own uncle, and a most painful affair occurred between them at a game at “blind hookey.” The Honourable Mrs. Boldero is living in the precinets of Holyrood; one of her daughters is happily married to a minister; and the other to an apothecary who was called in to attend her in quinsy. So I am inclined to think that phrase about “select” boarding-houses is a mere complimentary term, and as for the strictest references being given and required, I certainly should not lay out extra money for printing that expression in my advertisement, were I going to set up an establishment myself.

Old college friends of Philip’s visited Paris from time to time; and rejoiced in carrying him off to Borel’s or the Trois Frères, and hospitably treating him who had been so hospitable in his time. Yes, thanks be to Heaven, there are good Samaritans in pretty large numbers in this world, and hands ready enough to succour a man in misfortune. I could name two or three gentlemen who drive about in chariots and look at people’s tongues and write queer figures and queer Latin on note-paper, who occultly made a purse containing some seven or ten score fees, and sent them out to Dr. Firmin in his banishment. The poor wretch had behaved as ill as might be, but he was without a penny or a friend. I daresay Dr. Goodenough, amongst other philanthropists, put his hands into his pocket. Having heartily disliked and mistrusted Firmin in prosperity, in adversity he melted towards the poor fugitive wretch: he even could believe that Firmin had some skill in his profession, and in his practice was not quite a quack.

Philip’s old college and school cronies laughed at hearing that, now his ruin was complete, he was thinking about marriage. Such a plan was of a piece with Mr. Firmin’s known prudence and foresight. But they made an objection to his proposed union, which had struck us at home previously. Papa-in-law was well enough, or at least inoffensive: but, ah, ye powers! what a mother-in-law was poor Phil laying up for his future days! Two or three of our mutual companions made this remark on returning to work and chambers after their autumn holiday. We never had too much charity for Mrs. Baynes; and what Philip told us about her did not serve to increase our regard.

About Christmas Mr. Firmin’s own affairs brought him on a brief visit to London. We were not jealous that he took up his quarters with his little friend, of Thornhaugh Street, who was contented that he should dine with us, provided she could have the pleasure of housing him under her kind shelter. High and mighty people as we were — for under what humble roofs does not Vanity hold her sway? — we, who knew Mrs. Brandon’s virtues, and were aware of her early story, would have condescended to receive her into our society; but it was the little lady herself who had her pride, and held aloof. “My parents did not give me the education you have had, ma’am,” Caroline said to my wife. “My place is not here, I know very well; unless you should be took ill, and then, ma’am, you’ll see that I will be glad enough to come. Philip can come and see me; and a blessing it is to me to set eyes on him. But I shouldn’t be happy in your drawing-room, nor you in having me. The dear children look surprised at my way of talking; and no wonder: and they laugh sometimes to one another, God bless ’em! I don’t mind. My education was not cared for. I scarce had any schooling but what I taught myself. My Pa hadn’t the means of learning me much: and it is too late to go to school at forty odd. I’ve got all his stockings and things darned; and his linen, poor fellow! — beautiful: I wish they kep it as nice in France, where he is! You’ll give my love to the young lady, won’t you, ma’am: and, oh! it’s a blessing to me to hear how good and gentle she is! He has a high temper, Philip have: but them he likes can easy manage him. You have been his best kind friends; and so will she be, I trust; and they may be happy though they’re poor. But they’ve time to get rich, haven’t they. And it’s not the richest that’s the happiest, that I can see in many a fine house where Nurse Brandon goes and has her eyes open, though she don’t say much, you know.” In this way Nurse Brandon would prattle on to us when she came to see us. She would share our meal, always thanking by name the servant who helped her. She insisted on calling our children “Miss” and “Master,” and I think those young satirists did not laugh often or unkindly at her peculiarities. I know they were told that Nurse Brandon was very good; and that she took care of her father in his old age; and that she had passed through very great griefs and trials; and that she had nursed uncle Philip when he had been very ill indeed, and when many people would have been afraid to come near him; and that her life was spent in tending the sick, and in doing good to her neighbour.

One day during Philip’s stay with us we happen to read in the paper Lord Ringwood’s arrival in London. My lord had a grand town house of his own which he did not always inhabit. He liked the cheerfulness of a hotel better. Ringwood House was too large and too dismal. He did not care to eat a solitary mutton chop in a great dining-room surrounded by ghostly images of dead Ringwoods — his dead son, who had died in his boyhood; his dead brother attired in the uniform of his day (in which picture there was no little resemblance to Philip Firmin, the colonel’s grandson); Lord Ringwood’s dead self, finally, as he appeared still a young man, when Lawrence painted him, and when he was the companion of the Regent and his friends. “Ah! that’s the fellow I least like to look at,” the old man would say, scowling at the picture, and breaking out into the old-fashioned oaths which garnished many conversations in his young days. “That fellow could ride all day; and sleep all night, or go without sleep as he chose; and drink his four bottles, and never have a headache; and break his collar bone, and see the fox killed three hours after. That was once a man, as old Marlborough said, looking at his own picture. Now my doctor’s my master; my doctor and the infernal gout over him. I live upon pap and puddens, like a baby; only I’ve shed all my teeth, hang ’em. If I drink three glasses of sherry, my butler threatens me. You young fellow, who haven’t twopence in your pocket, by George, I would like to change with you. Only you wouldn’t, hang you, you wouldn’t. Why, I don’t believe Todhunter would change with me: would you, Todhunter? — and you’re about as fond of a great man as any fellow I ever knew. Don’t tell me. You are, sir. Why, when I walked with you on Ryde sands one day, I said to that fellow, ‘Todhunter, don’t you think I could order the sea to stand still?’ I did. And you had never heard of King Canute, hanged if you had — and never read any book except the Stud-book and Mrs. Glasse’s Cookery, hanged if you did.” Such remarks and conversations of his relative has Philip reported to me. Two or three men about town had very good imitations of this toothless, growling, blasphemous old cynic. He was splendid and penurious; violent and easily led; surrounded by flatterers and utterly lonely. He had old-world notions, which I believe have passed out of the manners of great folks now. He thought it beneath him to travel by railway, and his postchaise was one of the last on the road. The tide rolled on in spite of this old Canute, and has long since rolled over him and his postchaise. Why, almost all his imitators are actually dead; and only this year, when old Jack Mummers gave an imitation of him at Bays’s (where Jack’s mimicry used to be received with shouts of laughter but a few years since), there was a dismal silence in the coffee-room, except from two or three young men at a near table, who said, “What is the old fool mumbling and swearing at now? An imitation of Lord Ringwood, and who was he?” So our names pass away, and are forgotten: and the tallest statues, do not the sands of time accumulate and overwhelm them? I have not forgotten my lord; any more than I have forgotten the cock of my school, about whom, perhaps, you don’t care to hear. I see my lord’s bald head, and hooked beak, and bushy eyebrows, and tall velvet collar, and brass buttons, and great black mouth, and trembling hand, and trembling parasites round him, and I can hear his voice, and great oaths, and laughter. You parasites of to-day are bowing to other great people; and this great one, who was alive only yesterday, is as dead as George IV. or Nebuchadnezzar.

Well, we happen to read that Philip’s noble relative, Lord Ringwood, has arrived at — hotel, whilst Philip is staying with us: and I own that I counsel my friend to go and wait upon his lordship. He had been very kind at Paris: he had evidently taken a liking to Philip. Firmin ought to go and see him. Who knows? Lord Ringwood might be inclined to do something for his brother’s grandson.

This was just the point, which any one who knew Philip should have hesitated to urge upon him. To try and make him bow and smile on a great man with a view to future favours, was to demand the impossible from Firmin. The king’s men may lead the king’s horses to the water, but the king himself can’t make them drink. I own that I came back to the subject, and urged it repeatedly on my friend. “I have been,” said Philip, sulkily. “I have left a card upon him. If he wants me, he can send to No. 120, Queen Square, Westminster, my present hotel. But if you think he will give me anything beyond a dinner, I tell you you are mistaken.”

We dined that day with Philip’s employer, worthy Mr. Mugford, of the Pall Mall Gazette, who was profuse in his hospitalities, and especially gracious to Philip. Mugford was pleased with Firmin’s letters; and you may be sure that severer critics did not contradict their friend’s good-natured patron. We drove to the suburban villa at Hampstead, and steaming odours of soup, mutton, onions, rushed out into the hall to give us welcome, and to warn us of the good cheer in store for the party. This was not one of Mugford’s days for countermanding side dishes, I promise you. Men in black, with noble white cotton gloves, were in waiting to receive us, and Mrs. Mugford, in a rich blue satin and feathers, a profusion of flounces, laces, marabouts, jewels, and eau-de-Cologne, rose to welcome us from a stately sofa, where she sat surrounded by her children. These, too, were in brilliant dresses, with shining new-combed hair. The ladies, of course, instantly began to talk about their children, and my wife’s unfeigned admiration for Mrs. Mugford’s last baby I think won that worthy lady’s goodwill at once. I made some remark regarding one of the boys as being the picture of his father, which was not lucky. I don’t know why, but I have it from her husband’s own admission, that Mrs. Mugford always thinks I am “chaffing” her. One of the boys frankly informed me there was goose for dinner; and when a cheerful cloop was heard from a neighbouring room, told me that was Pa drawing the corks. Why should Mrs. Mugford reprove the outspoken child and say, “James, hold your tongue, do now?” Better wine than was poured forth when those corks were drawn, never flowed from bottle. — I say, I never saw better wine nor more bottles. If ever a table may be said to have groaned, that expression might with justice be applied to Mugford’s mahogany. Talbot Twysden would have feasted forty people with the meal here provided for eight by our most hospitable entertainer. Though Mugford’s editor was present, all the honours of the entertainment were for the Paris Correspondent, who was specially requested to take Mrs. M. to dinner. As an earl’s grand-nephew, and a lord’s great-grandson, of course we felt that this place of honour was Firmin’s right. How Mrs. Mugford pressed him to eat! She carved — I am very glad she would not let Philip carve for her, for he might have sent the goose into her lap — she carved, I say, and I really think she gave him more stuffing than to any of us, but that may have been mere envy on my part. Allusions to Lord Ringwood were repeatedly made during dinner. “Lord R. has come to town, Mr. F., I perceive,” says Mugford, winking. “You’ve been to see him, of course?” Mr. Firmin glared at me very fiercely, he had to own he had been to call on Lord Ringwood. Mugford led the conversation to the noble lord so frequently that Philip madly kicked my shins under the table. I don’t-know how many times I had to suffer from that foot which in its time has trampled on so many persons: a kick for each time Lord Ringwood’s name, houses, parks, properties, were mentioned, was a frightful allowance. Mrs. Mugford would say, “May I assist you to a little pheasant, Mr. Firmin? I daresay they are not as good as Lord Ringwood’s “ (a kick from Philip), or Mugford would exclaim, “Mr. F., try that ‘ock! Lord Ringwood hasn’t better wine than that.” (Dreadful punishment upon my tibia under the table.) “John! Two ‘ocks, me and Mr. Firmin! Join us, Mr. P.,” and so forth. And after dinner, to the ladies — as my wife, who betrayed their mysteries, informed me — Mrs. Mugford’s conversation was incessant regarding the Ringwood family and Firmin’s relationship to that noble house. The meeting of the old lord and Firmin in Paris was discussed with immense interest. His lordship called him Philip most affable! he was very fond of Mr. Firmin. A little bird had told Mrs. Mugford that somebody else was very fond of Mr. Firmin. She hoped it would be a match, and that his lordship would do the handsome thing by his nephew. What? My wife wondered that Mrs. Mugford should know about Philip’s affairs? (and wonder indeed she did.) A little bird had told Mrs. M — a friend of both ladies, that dear, good little nurse Brandon, who was engaged — and here the conversation went off into mysteries which I certainly shall not reveal. Suffice it that Mrs. Mugford was one of Mrs. Brandon’s best, kindest, and most constant patrons — or might I be permitted to say matrons? — and had received a most favourable report of us from the little nurse. And here Mrs. Pendennis gave a verbatim report not only of our hostess’s speech, but of her manner and accent. “Yes, ma’am,” says Mrs. Mugford to Mrs. Pendennis, “our friend Mrs. B. has told me of a certain gentleman whose name shall be nameless. His manner is cold, not to say ‘aughty. He seems to be laughing at people sometimes — don’t say No; I saw him once or twice at dinner, both him and Mr. Firmin. But he is a true friend, Mrs. Brandon says he is. And when you know him, his heart is good.” Is it? Amen. A distinguished writer has composed, in not very late days, a comedy of which the cheerful moral is, that we are “not so bad as we seem.” Aren’t we? Amen, again. Give us thy hearty hand, Iago! Tartuffe, how the world has been mistaken in you! Macbeth! put that little affair of the murder out of your mind. It was a momentary weakness; and who is not weak at times? Blifil, a more maligned man than you does not exist! O humanity! how we have been mistaken in you! Let us expunge the vulgar expression “miserable sinners” out of all prayer-books; open the portholes of all hulks; break the chains of all convicts; and unlock the boxes of all spoons.

As we discussed Mr. Mugford’s entertainment on our return home, I improved the occasion with Philip, I pointed out the reasonableness of the hopes which he might entertain of help from his wealthy kinsman, and actually forced him to promise to wait upon my lord the next day. Now when Philip Firmin did a thing against his will, he did it with a bad grace. When he is not pleased, he does not pretend to be happy: and when he is sulky, Mr. Firmin is a very disagreeable companion. Though he never once reproached me afterwards with what happened, I own that I have had cruel twinges of conscience since. If I had not sent him on that dutiful visit to his grand uncle, what occurred might never, perhaps, have occurred at all. I acted for the best, and that I aver; however I may grieve for the consequences which ensued when the poor fellow followed my advice.

If Philip held aloof from Lord Ringwood in London, you may be sure Philip’s dear cousins were in waiting on his lordship, and never lost an opportunity of showing their respectful sympathy. Was Lord Ringwood ailing? Mr. Twysden, or Mrs. Twysden, or the dear girls, or Ringwood their brother, were daily in his lordship’s antechamber, asking for news of his health. They bent down respectfully before Lord Ringwood’s major-domo. They would have given him money, as they always averred, only what sum could they give to such a man as Rudge? They actually offered to bribe Mr. Rudge with their wine, over which he made horrible faces. They fawned and smiled before him always. I should like to have seen that calm Mrs. Twysden, that serene, high-bred woman, who would cut her dearest friend if misfortune befel her, or the world turned its back; — I should like to have seen, and can see her in my mind’s eye, simpering and coaxing, and wheedling this footman. She made cheap presents to Mr. Rudge: she smiled on him and asked after his health. And of course Talbot Twysden flattered him too in Talbot’s jolly way. It was a wink, and nod, and a hearty how do you do — and (after due inquiries made and answered about his lordship) it would be, “Rudge! I think my housekeeper has a good glass of port wine in her room, if you happen to be passing that way, and my lord don’t want you!” And with a grave courtesy, I can fancy Mr. Rudge bowing to Mr. and Mrs. Twysden, and thanking them, and descending to Mrs. Blenkinsop’s skinny room where the port wine is ready — and if Mr. Rudge and Mrs. Blenkinsop are confidential, I can fancy their talking over the characters and peculiarities of the folks upstairs. Servants sometimes actually do; and if master and mistress are humbugs these wretched menials sometimes find them out.

Now, no duke could be more lordly and condescending in his bearing than Mr. Philip Firmin towards the menial throng. In those days, when he had money in his pockets, he gave Mr. Rudge out of his plenty; and the man remembered his generosity when he was poor: and declared — in a select society, and in the company of the relative of a person from whom I have the information — declared in the presence of Captain Gann at the Admiral B— ng Club in fact, that Mr. Heff was always a swell; but since he was done, he, Rudge, “was blest if that young chap warn’t a greater swell than hever.” And Rudge actually liked this poor young fellow better than the family in Walpole Street, whom Mr. R. pronounced to be “a shabby lot.” And in fact it was Rudge as well as myself, who advised that Philip should see his lordship.

When at length Philip paid his second visit, Mr. Rudge said, “My lord will see you, sir, I think. He has been speaking of you. He’s very unwell. He’s going to have a fit of the gout, I think. I’ll tell him you are here.” And coming back to Philip, after a brief disappearance, and with rather a scared face, he repeated the permission to enter, and again cautioned him, saying, that “my lord was very queer.”

In fact, as we learned afterwards, through the channel previously indicated, my lord, when he heard that Philip had called, cried, “He has, has he. Hang him, send him in;” using, I am constrained to say, in place of the monsyllable “hang,” a much stronger expression.

“Oh, it’s you, is it?” says my lord. “You have been in London ever so long. Twysden told me of you yesterday.”

“I have called before, sir,” said Philip, very quietly.

“I wonder you have the face to call at all, sir!” cries the old man, glaring at Philip. His lordship’s countenance was of a gamboge colour: his noble eyes were blood-shot and starting; his voice, always very harsh and strident, was now specially unpleasant; and from the crater of his mouth, shot loud exploding oaths.

“Face! my lord?” says Philip, still very meek.

“Yes, if you call that a face which is covered over with hair like a baboon!” growled my lord, showing his tusks. “Twysden was here last night, and tells me some pretty news about you.”

Philip blushed; he knew what the news most likely would be.

“Twysden says that now you are a pauper, by George, and living by breaking stones in the street, — you have been such an infernal, drivelling, hanged fool, as to engage yourself to another pauper!”

Poor Philip turned white from red; and spoke slowly: “I beg your pardon, my lord, you said — ”

“I said you were a hanged fool, sir!” roared the old man; “can’t you hear?”

“I believe I am a member of your family, my lord,” says Philip, rising up. In a quarrel, he would some times lose his temper, and speak out his mind; or sometimes, and then he was most dangerous, he would be especially calm and Grandisonian.

“Some hanged adventurer, thinking you were to get money from me, has hooked you for his daughter, has he?”

“I have engaged myself to a young lady, and I am the poorer of the two,” says Philip.

“She thinks you will get money from me,” continues his lordship.

“Does she? I never did!” replied Philip.

“By heaven, you shan’t, unless you give up this rubbish.”

“I shan’t give her up, sir, and I shall do without the money,” said Mr. Firmin very boldly.

“Go to Tartarus!” screamed the old man.

On which Philip told us, “I said, ‘Seniores priores, my lord,’ and turned on my heel. So you see if he was going to leave me something, and he nearly said he was, that chance is passed now, and I have made a pretty morning’s work.” And a pretty morning’s work it was: and it was I who had set him upon it! My brave Philip not only did not rebuke me for having sent him on this errand, but took the blame of the business on himself. “Since I have been engaged,” he said, “I am growing dreadfully avaricious, and am almost as sordid about money as those Twysdens. I cringed to that old man: I crawled before his gouty feet. Well, I could crawl from here to Saint James’s Palace to get some money for my little Charlotte.” Philip cringe and crawl! If there were no posture-masters more supple than Philip Firmin, kotooing would be a lost art, like the Menuet de la Cour. But fear not, ye great! Men’s backs were made to bend, and the race of parasites is still in good repute.

When our friend told us how his brief interview with Lord Ringwood had begun and ended, I think those who counselled Philip to wait upon his grand-uncle felt rather ashamed of their worldly wisdom and the advice which they had given. We ought to have known our Huron sufficiently to be aware that it was a dangerous experiment to set him bowing in lords’ antechambers. Were not his elbows sure to break some courtly china, his feet to trample and tear some lace train? So all the good we had done was to occasion a quarrel between him and his patron. Lord Ringwood avowed that he had intended to leave Philip money; and by thrusting the poor fellow into the old nobleman’s sick chamber, we had occasioned a quarrel between the relatives, who parted with mutual threats and anger. “Oh, dear me!” I groaned in connubial colloquies. “Let us get him away. He will be boxing Mugford’s ears next, and telling Mrs. Mugford that she is vulgar, and a bore.” He was eager to get back to his work, or rather to his lady-love at Paris. We did not try to detain him. For fear of further accidents we were rather anxious that he should be gone. Crestfallen and sad, I accompanied him to the Boulogne boat. He paid for his place in the second cabin, and stoutly bade us adieu. A rough night: a wet, slippery deck: a crowd of frowzy fellow-passengers: and poor Philip in the midst of them in a thin cloak, his yellow hair and beard blowing about: I see the steamer now, and left her with I know not what feelings of contrition and shame. Why had I sent Philip to call upon that savage, overbearing old patron of his? Why compelled him to that bootless act of submission? Lord Ringwood’s brutalities were matters of common notoriety. A wicked, dissolute, cynical old man: and we must try to make friends with this mammon of unrighteousness, and set poor Philip to bow before him and flatter him! Ah, mea culpa, mea culpa! The wind blew hard that winter night, and many tiles and chimney-pots blew down: and as I thought of poor Philip tossing in the frowzy second-cabin, I rolled about my own bed very uneasily.

I looked into Bays’s club the day after, and there fell on both the Twysdens. The parasite of a father was clinging to the button of a great man when I entered: the little reptile of a son came to the club in Captain Woolcomb’s brougham, and in that distinguished mulatto officer’s company. They looked at me in a peculiar way. I was sure they did. Talbot Twysden, pouring his loud, braggart talk in the ear of poor Lord Lepel, eyed me with a glance of triumph, and talked and swaggered so that I should hear. Ringwood Twysden and Woolcomb, drinking absinthe to whet their noble appetites, exchanged glances and grins. Woolcomb’s eyes were of the colour of the absinthe he swallowed. I did not see that Twysden tore off one of Lord Lepel’s buttons, but that nobleman, with a scared countenance moved away rapidly from his little persecutor. “Hang him, throw him over and come to me!” I heard the generous Twysden say. “I expect Ringwood and one or two more.” At this proposition, Lord Lepel, in a tremulous way, muttered that he could not break his engagement, and fled out of the club.

Twysden’s dinners, the polite reader has been previously informed, were notorious; and he constantly bragged of having the company of Lord Ringwood. Now it so happened that on this very evening, Lord Ringwood, with three of his followers, henchmen, or led captains, dined at Bays’s club, being determined to see a pantomime in which a very pretty young Columbine figured: and some one in the house joked with his lordship, and said, “Why, you are going to dine with Talbot Twysden. He said, just now, that he expected you.”

“Did he?” said his lordship. “Then Talbot Twysden told a hanged lie!” And little Tom Eaves, my informant, remembered these remarkable words, because of a circumstance which now almost immediately followed.

A very few days after Philip’s departure, our friend, the Little Sister, came to us at our breakfast-table, wearing an expression of much trouble and sadness on her kind little face; the causes of which sorrow she explained to us, as soon as our children had gone away to their school-room. We have mentioned, amongst Mrs. Brandon’s friends, and as one of her father’s constant companions, the worthy Mr. Ridley, father of the celebrated painter of that name, who was himself of much too honourable and noble a nature to be ashamed of his humble paternal origin. Companionship between father and son could not be very close or intimate; especially as in the younger Ridley’s boyhood his father, who knew nothing of the fine arts, had looked upon the child as a sickly, half-witted creature, who would be to his parents but a grief and a burden. But when J. J. Ridley, Esq., began to attain eminence in his profession, his father’s eyes were opened; in place of neglect and contempt, he looked up to his boy with a sincere, naïve admiration, and often, with tears, has narrated the pride and pleasure which he felt on the day when he waited on John James at his master’s, Lord Todmorden’s table. Ridley senior now felt that he had been unkind and unjust to his boy in the latter’s early days, and with a very touching humility the old man acknowledged his previous injustice, and tried to atone for it by present respect and affection.

Though fondness for his son, and delight in the company of Captain Gann, often drew Mr. Ridley to Thornhaugh Street, and to the Admiral Byng Club, of which both were leading members, Ridley senior belonged to other clubs at the West End, where Lord Todmorden’s butler consorted with the confidential butlers of others of the nobility; and I am informed that in those clubs Ridley continued to be called “Todmorden” long after his connexion with that venerable nobleman had ceased. He continued to be called Lord Todmorden, in fact, just as Lord Popinjoy is still called by his old friends Popinjoy, though his father is dead, and Popinjoy, as everybody knows, is at present Earl of Pintado.

At one of these clubs of their order, Lord Todmorden’s man was in the constant habit of meeting Lord Ringwood’s man, when their lordships (master and man) were in town. These gentlemen had a regard for each other; and, when they met, communicated to each other their views of society, and their opinions of the characters of the various noble lords and influential commoners whom they served. Mr. Rudge knew everything about Philip Firmin’s affairs, about the doctor’s flight, about Philip’s generous behaviour. “Generous! I call it admiral!” old Ridley remarked, while relating this trait of our friend’s, and his present position. And Rudge contrasted Philip’s manly behaviour with the conduct of some sneaks which he would not name then, but which they were always speaking ill of the poor young fellow behind his back, and sneaking up to my lord, and greater skinflints and meaner humbugs never were: and there was no accounting for tastes, but he, Rudge, would not marry his daughter to a black man,

Now, that day when Mr. Firmin went to see my Lord Ringwood was one of my lord’s very worst days, when it was almost as dangerous to go near him as to approach a Bengal tiger. “When he is going to have a fit of gout, his lordship,” Mr. Rudge remarked, “was hawful. He curse and swear, he do, at everybody; even the clergy or the ladies — all’s one. On that very day when Mr. Firmin called he had said to Mr. Twysden, ‘Get out, and don’t come slandering, and backbiting, and bullying that poor devil of a boy any more. Its blackguardly, by George, sir — it’s blackguardly.’ And Twysden came out with his tail between his legs, and he says to me — ‘Rudge,’ says he, ‘my lord’s uncommon bad to-day.’ Well. He hadn’t been gone an hour when pore Philip comes, bad luck to him, and my lord, who had just heard from Twysden all about that young woman — that party at Paris, Mr. Ridley — and it is about as great a piece of folly as ever I heard tell of — my lord turns upon the pore young fellar and call him names worse than Twysden. But Mr. Firmin ain’t that sort of man, he isn’t. He won’t suffer any man to call him names; and I suppose he gave my lord his own back again, for I heard my lord swear at him tremendous, I did, with my own ears. When my lord has the gout flying about, I told you he is awful. When he takes his colchicum he’s worse. Now, we have got a party at Whipham at Christmas, and at Whipham we must be. And he took his colchicum night before last, and to-day he was in such a tremendous rage of swearing, cursing, and blowing up everybody, that it was as if he was red hot. And when Twysden and Mrs. Twysden called that day — (if you kick that fellar out at the hall door, I’m blest if he won’t come smirkin’ down the chimney) — and he wouldn’t see any of them. And he bawled out after me, ‘If Firmin comes, kick him downstairs — do you hear?’ with ever so many oaths and curses against the poor fellow, while he vowed he would never see his hanged impudent face again. But this wasn’t all, Ridley. He sent for Bradgate, his lawyer, that very day. He had back his will, which I signed myself as one of the witnesses — me and Wilcox, the master of the hotel — and I know he had left Firmin something in it. Take my word for it. To that poor young fellow he means mischief.” A full report of this conversation Mr. Ridley gave to his little friend Mrs. Brandon, knowing the interest which Mrs. Brandon took in the young gentleman; and with these unpleasant news Mrs. Brandon came off to advise with those, who — the good nurse was pleased to say — were Philip’s best friends in the world. We wished we could give the Little Sister comfort: but all the world knew what a man Lord Ringwood was — how arbitrary, how revengeful, how cruel.

I knew Mr. Bradgate the lawyer, with whom I had business, and called upon him, more anxious to speak about Philip’s affairs than my own. I suppose I was too eager in coming to my point, for Bradgate saw the meaning of my questions, and declined to answer them. “My client and I are not the dearest friends in the world,” Bradgate said, “but I must keep his counsel, and must not tell you whether Mr. Firmin’s name is down in his lordship’s will or not. How should I know? He may have altered his will. He may have left Firmin money; he may have left him none. I hope young Firmin does not count on a legacy. That’s all. He may be disappointed if he does. Why, you may hope for a legacy from Lord Ringwood, and you may be disappointed. I know scores of people who do hope for something, and who won’t get a penny.” And this was all the reply I could get at that time from the oracular little lawyer.

I told my wife, as of course every dutiful man tells everything to every dutiful wife: but though Bradgate discouraged us, there was somehow a lurking hope still that the old nobleman would provide for our friend. Then Philip would marry Charlotte. Then he would earn ever so much more money by his newspaper. Then he would be happy ever after. My wife counts eggs not only before they are hatched, but before they are laid. Never was such an obstinate hopefulness of character. I, on the other hand, take a rational and despondent view of things; and if they turn out better than I expect, as sometimes they will, I affably own that I have been mistaken.

But an early day came when Mr. Bradgate was no longer needful, or when he thought himself released from the obligations of silence with regard to his noble client. It was two days before Christmas, and I took my accustomed afternoon saunter to Bays’s, where other habitués of the club were assembled. There was no little buzzing, and excitement among the frequenters of the place. Talbot Twysden always arrived at Bays’s at ten minutes past four, and scuffled for the evening paper, as if its contents were matter of great importance to Talbot. He would hold men’s buttons, and discourse to them the leading article out of that paper with an astounding emphasis and gravity. On this day, some ten minutes after his accustomed hour, he reached the club. Other gentlemen were engaged in perusing the evening journal. The lamps on the tables lighted up the bald heads, the grey heads, dyed heads, and the wigs of many assembled fogies — murmurs went about the room. “Very sudden.” “Gout in the stomach.” “Dined here only four days ago.” “Looked very well.” “Very well? No! Never saw a fellow look worse in my life.” “Yellow as a guinea.” “Couldn’t eat.” “Swore dreadfully at the waiters, and at Tom Eaves who dined with him.” “Seventy-six, I see. — Born in the same year with the Duke of York.” “Forty thousand a-year.” “Forty? fifty-eight thousand three hundred, I tell you. Always been a saving man.” “Estate goes to his cousin, Sir John Ringwood; not a member here — member of Boodle’s .” “Hated each other furiously. Very violent temper, the old fellow was. Never got over the Reform Bill, they used to say.” “Wonder whether he’ll leave anything to old bowwow Twys — ” Here enters Talbot Twysden, Esq. — “Ha, Colonel! How are you? What’s the news to-night? Kept late at my office, making up accounts. Going down to Whipham to-morrow to pass Christmas with my wife’s uncle — Ringwood, you know. Always go down to Whipham at Christmas. Keeps the pheasants for us — no longer a hunting man myself. Lost my nerve, by George.”

Whilst the braggart little creature indulged in this pompous talk, he did not see the significant looks which were fixed upon him, or if he remarked them, was perhaps pleased by the attention which he excited. Bays’s had long echoed with Twysden’s account of Ringwood, the pheasants, his own loss of nerve in hunting, and the sum which their family would inherit at the death of their noble relative.

“I think I have heard you say Sir John Ringwood inherits after your relative?” asked Mr. Hookham.

“Yes; the estate, not the title. The earldom goes to my lord and his heirs — Hookham. Why shouldn’t he marry again? I often say to him, ‘Ringwood, why don’t you marry, if it’s only to disappoint that Whig fellow Sir John. You are fresh and hale, Ringwood. You may live twenty years, five and twenty years. If you leave your niece and my children anything, we’re not in a hurry to inherit,’ I say; ‘why don’t you marry?"’

“Ah! Twysden, he’s past marrying,” groans Mr. Hookham.

“Not at all. Sober man, now. Stout man. Immense powerful man. Healthy man, but for gout. I often say to him, ‘Ringwood!’ I say — ”

“Oh, for mercy’s sake! stop this,” groans old Mr. Tremlett, who always begins to shudder at the sound of poor Twysden’s voice. “Tell him somebody.”

“Haven’t you heard, Twysden? Haven’t you seen? Don’t you know?” asks Mr. Hookham solemnly.

“Heard, seen, known — what?” cries the other.

“An accident has happened to Lord Ringwood. Look at the paper. Here it is.” And Twysden pulls out his great gold eye-glasses, holds the paper as far as his little arm will reach, and — and mercif ul Powers! — but I will not venture to depict the agony on that noble face. Like Timanthes, the painter, I hide this Agamemnon with a veil. I cast the Globe newspaper over him. Illabatur orbis: and let imagination depict our Twysden under the ruins.

What Twysden read in the Globe was a mere curt paragraph; but in next morning’s Times there was one of those obituary notices to which noblemen of eminence must submit from the mysterious necrographer engaged by that paper.

Chapter 6

Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus.

The first and only Earl of Ringwood has submitted to the fate which peers and commoners are alike destined to undergo. Hastening to his magnificent seat of Whipham Market, where he proposed to entertain an illustrious Christmas party, his lordship left London scarcely recovered from an attack of gout to which he has been for many years a martyr. The disease must have flown to his stomach, and suddenly mastered him. At Turreys Regum, thirty miles from his own princely habitation, where he had been accustomed to dine on his almost royal progresses to his home, he was already in a state of dreadful suffering, to which his attendants did not pay the attention which his condition ought to have excited; for when labouring under this most painful malady his outcries were loud, and his language and demeanour exceedingly violent. He angrily refused to send for medical aid at Turreys, and insisted on continuing his journey homewards. He was one of the old school, who never would enter a railway (though his fortune was greatly increased by the passage of the railway through his property); and his own horses always met him at Popper’s Tavern, an obscure hamlet, seventeen miles from his princely seat. He made no sign on arriving at Popper’s, and spoke no word, to the now serious alarm of his servants. When they came to light his carriage-lamps, and look into his postchaise, the lord of many thousand acres, and, according to report, of immense wealth, was dead. The journey from Turreys had been the last stage of a long, a prosperous, and, if not a famous, at least a notorious and magnificent career.

“The late John George Earl and Baron Ringwood and Viscount Cinqbars entered into public life at the dangerous period before the French Revolution; and commenced his career as the friend and companion of the Prince of Wales. When his Royal Highness seceded from the Whig party, Lord Ringwood also joined the Tory side of politicians, and an earldom was the price of his fidelity. But on the elevation of Lord Steyne to a marquisate, Lord Ringwood quarrelled for awhile with his royal patron and friend, deeming his own services unjustly slighted as a like dignity was not conferred on himself. On several occasions he gave his vote against Government, and caused his nominees in the House of Commons to vote with the Whigs. He never was reconciled to his late Majesty George IV., of whom he was in the habit of speaking with characteristic bluntness. The approach of the Reform Bill, however, threw this nobleman definitively on the Tory side, of which he has ever since remained, if not an eloquent, at least a violent supporter. He was said to be a liberal landlord, so long as his tenants did not thwart him in his views. His only son died early; and his lordship, according to report, has long been on ill terms with his kinsman and successor, Sir John Ringwood, of Appleshaw, Baronet. The Barony has been in this ancient family since the reign of George I., when Sir John Ringwood was ennobled, and Sir Francis, his brother, a Baron of the Exchequer, was advanced to the dignity of a Baronet by the first of our Hanoverian sovereigns.”

This was the article which my wife and I read on the morning of Christmas eve, as our children were decking lamps and looking-glasses with holly and red berries for the approaching festival. I had despatched a hurried note, containing the news, to Philip on the night previous. We were painfully anxious about his fate now, when a few days would decide it. Again my business or curiosity took me to see Mr. Bradgate the lawyer. He was in possession of the news, of course. He was not averse to talk about it. The death of his client unsealed the lawyer’s lips partially: and I must say Bradgate spoke in a manner not flattering to his noble deceased client. The brutalities of the late nobleman had been very hard to bear. On occasion of their last meeting his oaths and disrespectful behaviour had been specially odious. He had abused almost every one of his relatives. His heir, he said, was a prating Republican humbug. He had a relative (whom Bradgate said he would not name) who was a scheming, swaggering, swindling lickspittle parasite, always cringing at his heels, and longing for his death. And he had another relative, the impudent son of a swindling doctor, who had insulted him two hours before in his own room; — a fellow who was a pauper, and going to propagate a breed for the workhouse; for, after his behaviour of that day, he would be condemned to the lowest pit of Acheron, before he (Lord Ringwood) would give that scoundrel a penny of his money. “And his lordship desired me to send him back his will,” said Mr. Bradgate. “And he destroyed that will before he went away: it was not the first he had burned. And I may tell you, now all is over, that he had left his brother’s grandson a handsome legacy in that will, which your poor friend might have had, but that he went to see my lord in his unlucky fit of gout.” Ah, mea culpa! mea culpa! And who sent Philip to see his relative in that unlucky fit of gout? Who was so worldly-wise — so Twysden-like, as to counsel Philip to flattery and submission? But for that advice he might be wealthy now; he might be happy; he might be ready to marry his young sweetheart. Our Christmas turkey choked me as I ate of it. The lights burned dimly, and the kisses and laughter under the mistletoe were but melancholy sport. But for my advice, how happy might my friend have been! I looked askance at the honest faces of my children. What would they say if they knew their father had advised a friend to cringe, and bow, and humble himself before a rich, wicked old man? I sate as mute at the pantomime as at a burial; the laughter of the little ones smote me as with a reproof. A burial? With plumes and lights, and upholsterers’ pageantry, and mourning by the yard measure, they were burying my Lord Ringwood, who might have made Philip Firmin rich but for me.

All lingering hopes regarding our friend were quickly put to an end. A will was found at Whipham, dated a year back, in which no mention was made of poor Philip Firmin. Small legacies — disgracefully shabby and small, Twysden said — were left to the Twysden family, with the full-length portrait of the late earl in his coronation robes, which, I should think, must have given but small satisfaction to his surviving relatives; for his lordship was but an ill-favoured nobleman, and the price of the carriage of the large picture from Whipham was a tax which poor Talbot made very wry faces at paying. Had the picture been accompanied by thirty or forty thousand pounds, or fifty thousand — why should he not have left them fifty thousand? — how different Talbot’s grief would have been! Whereas when Talbot counted up the dinners he had given to Lord Ringwood, all of which he could easily calculate by his cunning ledgers and journals in which was noted down every feast at which his lordship attended, every guest assembled, and every bottle of wine drunk, Twysden found that he had absolutely spent more money upon my lord than the old man had paid back in his will. But all the family went into mourning, and the Twysden coachman and footman turned out in black worsted epaulettes in honour of the illustrious deceased. It is not every day that a man gets a chance of publicly bewailing the loss of an earl his relative. I suppose Twysden took many hundred people into his confidence on this matter, and bewailed his uncle’s death and his own wrongs whilst clinging to many scores of button-holes.

And how did poor Philip bear the disappointment? He must have felt it, for I fear we ourselves had encouraged him in the hope that his grand-uncle would do something to relieve his necessity. Philip put a bit of crape round his hat, wrapped himself in his shabby old mantle, and declined any outward show of grief at all. If the old man had left him money, it had been well. As he did not, — a puff of cigar, perhaps, ends the sentence, and our philosopher gives no further thought to his disappointment. Was not Philip the poor as lordly and independent as Philip the rich? A struggle with poverty is a wholesome wrestling match at three or five and twenty. The sinews are young, and are braced by the contest. It is upon the aged that the battle falls hardly, who are weakened by failing health, and perhaps enervated by long years of prosperity.

Firmin’s broad back could carry a heavy burden, and he was glad to take all the work which fell in his way. Phipps, of the Daily Intelligencer, wanting an assistant, Philip gladly sold four hours of his day to Mr. Phipps: translated page after page of newspapers, French and German; took an occasional turn at the Chamber of Deputies, and gave an account of a sitting of importance, and made himself quite an active lieutenant. He began positively to save money. He wore dreadfully shabby clothes, to be sure: for Charlotte could not go to his chamber and mend his rags as the Little Sister had done: but when Mrs. Baynes abused him for his shabby appearance — and indeed it must have been mortifying sometimes to see the fellow in his old clothes swaggering about in Madame Smolensk’s apartments, talking loud, contradicting and laying down the law — Charlotte defended her maligned Philip. “Do you know why Monsieur Philip has those shabby clothes?” she asked of Madame de Smolensk. “Because he has been sending money to his father in America.” And Smolensk said that Monsieur Philip was a brave young man, and that he might come dressed like an Iroquois to her soirée, and he should be welcome. And Mrs. Baynes was rude to Philip when he was present, and scornful in her remarks when he was absent. And Philip trembled before Mrs. Baynes; and he took her boxes on the ear with much meekness; for was not his Charlotte a hostage in her mother’s hands, and might not Mrs. General B. make that poor little creature suffer?

One or two Indian ladies of Mrs. Baynes’ acquaintance happened to pass this winter in Paris, and these persons, who had furnished lodgings in the Faubourg St. Honoré, or the Champs Elysées, and rode in their carriages with, very likely, a footman on the box, rather looked down upon Mrs. Baynes for living in a boarding-house, and keeping no equipage. No woman likes to be looked down upon by any other woman, especially by such a creature as Mrs. Batters, the lawyer’s wife, from Calcutta, who was not in society, and did not go to Government House, and here was driving about in the Champs Elysées, and giving herself such airs, indeed! So was Mrs. Doctor Macoon, with her lady’s -maid, and her man-cook, and her open carriage, and her close carriage. (Pray read these words with the most withering emphasis which you can lay upon them.) And who was Mrs. Macoon, pray? Madame Béret, the French milliner’s daughter, neither more nor less. And this creature must scatter her mud over her betters who went on foot. “I am telling my poor girls, madame,” she would say to Madame Smolensk, “that if I had been a milliner’s girl, or their father had been a pettifogging attorney, and not a soldier, who has served his sovereign in every quarter of the world, they would be better dressed than they are now, poor chicks! — we might have a fine apartment in the Faubourg St. Honoré — we need not live at a boarding-house.”

“And if I had been a milliner, Madame la Générale,” cried Smolensk, with spirit, “perhaps I should not have had need to keep a boarding-house. My father was a general officer, and served his emperor too. But what will you? We have all to do disagreeable things, and to live with disagreeable people, madame!” And with this Smolensk makes Mrs. General Baynes a fine curtsey, and goes off to other affairs or guests. She was of the opinion of many of Philip’s friends. “Ah, Monsieur Philip,” she said to him, “when you are married, you will live far from that woman; is it not?”

Hearing that Mrs. Batters was going to the Tuileries, I am sorry to say a violent emulation inspired Mrs. Baynes, and she never was easy until she persuaded her general to take her to the ambassador’s, and to the entertainments of the citizen king who governed France in those days. It would cost little or nothing. Charlotte must be brought out. Her aunt, McWhirter, from Tours, had sent Charlotte a present of money for a dress. To do Mrs. Baynes justice, she spent very little money upon her own raiment, and extracted from one of her trunks a costume which had done duty at Barrackpore and Calcutta. “After hearing that Mrs. Batters went, I knew she never would be easy,” General Baynes said, with a sigh. His wife denied the accusation as an outrage, said that men always imputed the worst motives to women, whereas her wish, heaven knows, was only to see her darling child properly presented, and her husband in his proper rank in the world. And Charlotte looked lovely, upon the evening of the ball; and Madame Smolensk dressed Charlotte’s hair very prettily, and offered to lend Auguste to accompany the general’s carriage; but Ogoost revolted, and said, “Non, merci! he would do anything for the general and Miss Charlotte — but for the générale, no, no, no!” and he made signs of violent abnegation. And though Charlotte looked as sweet as a rosebud, she had little pleasure in her ball, Philip not being present. And how could he be present, who had but one old coat, and holes in his boots?

So, you see, after a sunny autumn, a cold winter comes, when the wind is bad for delicate chests, and muddy for little shoes. How could Charlotte come out at eight o’clock through mud or snow of a winter’s morning, if she had been out at an evening party late over night? Mrs. General Baynes began to go out a good deal to the Paris evening parties — I mean to the parties of us Trojans — parties where there are forty English people, three Frenchmen, and a German who plays the piano. Charlotte was very much admired. The fame of her good looks spread abroad. I promise you that there were persons of much more importance than the poor Vicomte de Garçon-boutique, who were charmed by her bright eyes, her bright smiles, her artless, rosy beauty. Why, little Hely of the Embassy actually invited himself to Mrs. Doctor Macoon’s, in order to see this young beauty, and danced with her without ceasing. Mr. Hely, who was the pink of fashion, you know; who danced with the royal princesses; and was at all the grand parties of the Faubourg St. Germain. He saw her to her carriage, a very shabby fly, it must be confessed; but Mrs. Baynes told him they had been accustomed to a very different kind of equipage in India. He actually called at the boarding-house, and left his card, M. Walsingham Hely, attaché à l’Ambassade de S. M. Britannique, for General Baynes and his lady. To what balls would Mrs. Baynes like to go? to the Tuileries? to the Embassy? to the Faubourg St. Germain? to the Faubourg St. Honoré? I could name many more persons of distinction who were fascinated by pretty Miss Charlotte. Her mother felt more and more ashamed of the shabby fly, in which our young lady was conveyed to and from her parties; — of the shabby fly, and of that shabby cavalier who was in waiting sometimes to put Miss Charlotte into her carriage. Charlotte’s mother’s ears were only too acute when disparaging remarks were made about that cavalier. What? engaged to that queer redbearded fellow, with the ragged shirt-collars, who trod upon everybody in the polka? A newspaper writer, was he? The son of that doctor who ran away after cheating everybody? What a very odd thing of General Baynes to think of engaging his daughter to such a person!

So Mr. Firmin was not asked to many distinguished houses, where his Charlotte was made welcome; where there was dancing in the saloon, very mild negus and cakes in the salle-à-manger, and cards in the lady’s bed-room. And he did not care to be asked; and he made himself very arrogant and disagreeable when he was asked; and he would upset tea-trays, and burst out into roars of laughter at all times, and swagger about the drawing-room as if he was a man of importance — he indeed — giving himself such airs, because his grandfather’s brother was an earl! And what had the earl done for him, pray? And what right had he to burst out laughing when Miss Crackley sang a little out of tune? What could General Baynes mean by selecting such a husband for that nice, modest young girl?

The old general sitting in the best bed-room, placidly playing at whist with the other British fogies, does not hear these remarks, perhaps, but little Mrs. Baynes with her eager eyes and ears sees and knows everything. Many people have told her that Philip is a bad match for his daughter. She has heard him contradict calmly quite wealthy people. Mr. Hobday, who has a house in Carlton Terrace, London, and goes to the first houses in Paris, Philip has contradicted him point blank, until Mr. Hobday turned quite red, and Mrs. Hobday didn’t know where to look. Mr. Peplow, a clergyman and a baronet’s eldest son, who will be one day the Rev. Sir Charles Peplow of Peplow Manor, was praising Tomlinson’s poems, and offered to read out at Mr. Badger’s — and he reads very finely, though a little perhaps through his nose — and when he was going to begin, Mr. Firmin said, “My dear Peplow, for heaven’s sake don’t give us any of that rot. I would as soon hear one of your own prize poems.” Rot, indeed! What an expression! Of course Mr. Peplow was very much annoyed. And this from a mere newspaper writer. Never heard of such rudeness! Mrs. Tuffin said she took her line at once after seeing this Mr. Firmin. “He may be an earl’s grand-nephew, for what I care. He may have been at college, he has not learned good manners there. He may be clever, I don’t profess to be a judge. But he is most overbearing, clumsy and disagreeable. I shall not ask him to my Tuesdays; and Emma, if he asks you to dance, I beg you will do no such thing!” A bull, you understand, in a meadow, or on a prairie with a herd of other buffalos, is a noble animal: but a bull in a china-shop is out of place; and even so was Philip amongst the crockery of those little simple tea-parties, where his mane, and hoofs, and roar, caused endless disturbance.

These remarks concerning the accepted son-in-law Mrs. Baynes heard and, at proper moments, repeated. She ruled Baynes; but was very cautious, and secretly afraid of him. Once or twice she had gone too far in her dealings with the quiet old man, and he had revolted, put her down and never forgiven her. Beyond a certain point, she dared not provoke her husband. She would say, “Well, Baynes, marriage is a lottery: and I am afraid our poor Charlotte has not pulled a prize:” on which the general would reply, “No more have others, my dear!” and so drop the subject for the time being. On another occasion it would be, “You heard how rude Philip Firmin was to Mr. Hobday?” And the general would answer, “I was at cards, my dear.” Again she might say, “Mrs. Tuffin says she will not have Philip Firmin to her Tuesdays, my dear:” and the general’s rejoinder would be, “Begad, so much the better for him!” “Ah!” she groans, “he’s always offending some one!” “I don’t think he seems to please you much, Eliza!” responds the general: and she answers, “No, he don’t, and that I confess; and I don’t like to think, Baynes, of my sweet child given up to certain poverty, and such a man!” At which the general with some of his garrison pharses would break out with a “Hang, it, Eliza, do you suppose I think it is a very good match?” and turn to the wall, and, I hope, to sleep.

As for poor little Charlotte, her mother is not afraid of little Charlotte: and when the two are alone the poor child knows she is to be made wretched by her mother’s assaults upon Philip. Was there ever anything so bad as his behaviour, to burst out laughing when Miss Crackley was singing? Was he called upon to contradict Sir Charles Peplow in that abrupt way, and as good as tell him he was a fool? It was very wrong certainly, and poor Charlotte thinks, with a blush, perhaps, how she was just at the point of admiring Sir Charles Peplow’s reading very much, and had been prepared to think Tomlinson’s poems delightful, until Philip ordered her to adopt a contemptuous opinion of the poet. And did you see how he was dressed? a button wanting on his waistcoat, and a hole in his boot?

“Mamma!” cries Charlotte, turning very red. “He might have been better dressed — if — if — ”

“That is, you would like your own father to be in prison, your mother to beg her bread, your sisters to go in rags, and your brothers to starve, Charlotte, in order that we should pay Philip Firmin back the money of which his father robbed him! Yes. That’s your meaning. You needn’t explain yourself. I can understand quite well, thank you. Good-night. I hope you’ll sleep well. I shan’t, after this conversation. Goodnight, Charlotte!” Ah, me! O course of true love, didst thou ever run smooth? As we peep into that boarding-house; whereof I have already described the mistress as wakeful with racking care regarding the morrow; wherein lie the Miss Bolderos, who must naturally be very uncomfortable, being on sufferance, and as it were in pain, as they lie on their beds; — what sorrows do we not perceive brooding over the nightcaps? There is poor Charlotte who has said her prayer for her Philip; and as she lays her young eyes on the pillow, they wet it with their tears. Why does her mother for ever and for ever speak against him? Why is her father so cold when Philip’s name is mentioned? Could Charlotte ever think of any but him? Oh, never, never! And so the wet eyes are veiled at last; and close in doubt and fear and care. And in the next room to Charlotte’s, a little yellow old woman lies stark awake; and in the bed by her side an old gentleman can’t close his eyes for thinking — my poor girl is promised to a beggar. All the fine hopes which we had of his getting a legacy from that lord are over. Poor child, poor child, what will become of her?

Now, Two Sticks, let us fly over the river Seine to Mr. Philip Firmin’s quarters: to Philip’s house, who has not got a penny; to Philip’s bed, who has made himself so rude and disagreeable at that tea-party. He has no idea that he has offended anybody. He has gone home perfectly well pleased. He has kicked off the tattered boot. He has found a little fire lingering in his stove, by which he has smoked the pipe of thought. Ere he has jumped into his bed he has knelt a moment beside it; and with all his heart — oh! with all his heart and soul — has committed the dearest one to heaven’s loving protection! And now he sleeps like a child.

Chapter 7

In which We Still Hover About the Elysian Fields.

The describer and biographer of my friend Mr. Philip Firmin has tried to extenuate nothing; and, I hope, has set down naught in malice. If Philip’s boots had holes in them, I have written that he had holes in his boots. If he had a red beard, there it is red in this story. I might have oiled it with a tinge of brown, and painted it a rich auburn. Towards modest people he was very gentle and tender; but I must own that in general society he was not always an agreeable companion. He was often haughty and arrogant: he was impatient of old stories: he was intolerant of commonplaces. Mrs. Baynes’ anecdotes of her garrison experiences in India and Europe got a very impatient hearing from Mr. Philip; and though little Charlotte gently remonstrated with him, saying, “Do, do let mamma tell her story out; and don’t turn away and talk about something else in the midst of it; and don’t tell her you have heard the story before, you rude man! If she is not pleased with you, she is angry with me, and I have to suffer when you are gone away," — Miss Charlotte did not say how much she had to suffer when Philip was absent; how constantly her mother found fault with him; what a sad life, in consequence of her attachment to him, the young maiden had to lead; and I fear that clumsy Philip, in his selfish thoughtlessness, did not take enough count of the sufferings which his behaviour brought on the girl. You see I am acknowledging that there were many faults on his side, which, perhaps, may in some degree excuse or account for those which Mrs. General Baynes certainly committed towards him. She did not love Philip naturally; and do you suppose she loved him because she was under great obligations to him? Do you love your creditor because you owe him more than you can ever pay? If I never paid my tailor, should I be on good terms with him? I might go, on ordering suits of clothes from now to the year nineteen hundred; but I should hate him worse year after year. I should find fault with his cut and his cloth: I daresay I should end by thinking his bills extortionate, though I never paid them. Kindness is very indigestible. It disagrees with very proud stomachs. I wonder was that traveller who fell among the thieves grateful afterwards to the Samaritan who rescued him? He gave money certainly; but he didn’t miss it. The religious opinions of Samaritans are lamentably heterodox. O brother! may we help the fallen still though they never pay us, and may we lend without exacting the usury of gratitude!

Of this I am determined, that whenever I go courting again, I will not pay my addresses to my dear creature — day after day, and from year’s end to year’s end, very likely, with the dear girl’s mother, father, and half a dozen young brothers and sisters in the room. I shall begin by being civil to the old lady, of course. She is flattered at first by having a young fellow coming courting to her daughter. She calls me “dear Edward;” works me a pair of braces; writes to mamma and sisters, and so forth. Old gentleman says, “Brown, my boy” (I am here fondly imagining myself to be a young fellow named Edward Brown, attached, let us say, to Miss Kate Thompson) — Thompson, I say, says, “Brown, my boy, come to dinner at seven. Cover laid for you always;” and of course, delicious thought! that cover is by dearest Kate’s side. But the dinner is bad sometimes. Sometimes I come late. Sometimes things are going badly in the city. Sometimes Mrs. Thompson is out of humour; — she always thought Kate might have done better. And in the midst of these doubts and delays, suppose Jones appears, who is older, but of a better temper, a better family, and — plague on him! — twice as rich? What are engagements? What are promises? It is sometimes an affectionate mother’s Duty to break her promise, and that duty the resolute matron will do.

Then Edward is Edward no more, but Mr. Brown; or, worse still, nameless in the house. Then the knife and fork are removed from poor Kate’s side, and she swallows her own sad meal in tears. Then if one of the little Thompsons says, artlessly, “Papa, I met Teddy Brown in Regent Street; he looked so — ” “Hold your tongue, unfeeling wretch!” cries mamma. “Look at that dear child!” Kate is swooning. She has salvolatile. The medical man is sent for. And presently — Charles Jones is taking Kate Thompson to dinner. Long voyages are dangerous; so are long courtships. In long voyages passengers perpetually quarrel (for that Mrs. General could vouch); in long courtships the same danger exists; and how much the more when in that latter ship you have a mother who is for ever putting in her oar! And then to think of the annoyance of that love voyage, when you and the beloved and beloved’s papa, mamma, half a dozen brothers and sisters, are all in one cabin! For economy’s sake the Bayneses had no sitting-room at madame’s — for you could not call that room on the second floor a sittingroom which had two beds in it, and in which the young ones practised the piano, with poor Charlotte as their mistress. Philip’s courting had to take place for the most part before the whole family; and to make love under such difficulties would have been horrible and maddening and impossible almost, only we have admitted that our young friends had little walks in the Champs Elysées; and then you must own that it must have been delightful for them to write each other perpetual little notes, which were delivered occultly under the very nose of papa and mamma, and in the actual presence of the other boarders at madame’s, who, of course, never saw anything that was going on. Yes, those sly monkeys actually made little post-offices about the room. There was, for instance, the clock on the mantelpiece in the salon on which was carved the old French allegory, “Le temps fait passer l’amour.” One of those artful young people would pop a note into Time’s boat, where you may be sure no one saw it. The trictrac board was another post-office. So was the drawer of the music-stand. So was the Sèvres China flower-pot, to each of which repositories in its turn the lovers confided the delicious secrets of their wooing.

Have you ever looked at your love-letters to Darby, when you were courting, dear Joan? They are sacred pages to read. You have his tied up somewhere in a faded ribbon. You scarce need spectacles as you look at them. The hair grows black; the eyes moisten and brighten; the cheeks fill and blush again. I protest there is nothing so beautiful as Darby and Joan in the world. I hope Philip and his wife will be Darby and Joan to the end. I tell you they are married; and don’t want to make any mysteries about the business. I disdain that sort of artifice. In the days of the old three-volume novels, didn’t you always look at the end, to see that Louisa and the earl (or young clergyman, as the case might be) were happy? If they died, or met with other grief, for my part I put the book away. This pair, then, are well; are married; are, I trust, happy: but before they married, and afterwards, they had great griefs and troubles; as no doubt you have had, dear sir, or madam, since you underwent that ceremony. Married? Of course they are. Do you suppose I would have allowed little Charlotte to meet Philip in the Champs Elysées with only a giddy little boy of a brother for a companion, who would turn away to see Punch, Guignol, the soldiers marching by, the old woman’s gingerbread and toffy stall and so forth? Do you, I say, suppose I would have allowed those two to go out together, unless they were to be married afterwards? Out walking together they did go; and, once, as they were arm-in-arm in the Champs Elysées, whom should they see in a fine open carriage but young Twysden and Captain and Mrs. Woolcomb, to whom, as they passed, Philip doffed his hat with a profound bow, and whom he further saluted with a roar of immense laughter. Woolcomb must have heard the peal. I daresay it brought a little blush into Mrs. Woolcomb’s cheek; and — and so, no doubt, added to the many attractions of that elegant lady. I have no secrets about my characters, and speak my mind about them quite freely. They said that Woolcomb was the most jealous, stingy, ostentatious, cruel little brute; that he led his wife a dismal life. Well? If he did? I’m sure, I don’t care. “There is that swaggering bankrupt beggar Firmin!” cries the tawny bridegroom, biting his moustache. “Impudent ragged blackguard,” says Twysden minor, “I saw him.”

“Hadn’t you better stop the carriage, and abuse him to himself, and not to me?” says Mrs. Woolcomb, languidly, flinging herself back on her cushions.

“Go on. Hang you! Ally! Vite!” cry the gentlemen in the carriage to the laquais de place on the box.

“I can fancy you don’t care about seeing him,” resumes Mrs. Woolcomb. “He has a violent temper, and I would not have you quarrel for the world.” So I suppose Woolcomb again swears at the laquais de place: and the happy couple, as the saying is, roll away to the Bois de Boulogne.

“What makes you laugh so?” says little Charlotte, fondly, as she trips along by her lover’s side.

“Because I am so happy, my dearest!” says the other, squeezing to his heart the little hand that lies on his arm. As he thinks on yonder woman, and then looks into the pure eager face of the sweet girl beside him, the scornful laughter occasioned by the sudden meeting which is just over hushes; — and an immense feeling of thankfulness fills the breast of the young man:— thankfulness for the danger from which he has escaped, and for the blessed prize which has fallen to him.

But Mr. Philip’s walks were not to be as pleasant as this walk; and we are now coming to history of wet, slippery roads, bad times, and winter weather. All I can promise about this gloomy part is, that it shall not be a long story. You will acknowledge we made very short work with the love-making, which I give you my word I consider to be the very easiest part of the novel-writer’s business. As those rapturous scenes between the captain and the heroine are going on, a writer who knows his business may be thinking about anything else — about the ensuing chapter, or about what he is going to have for dinner, or what you will; therefore, as we passed over the raptures and joys of the courting so very curtly, you must please to gratify me by taking the grief in a very short measure. If our young people are going to suffer, let the pain be soon over. Sit down in the chair, Miss Baynes, if you please, and you, Mr. Firmin, in this. Allow me to examine you; just open your mouth if you please; and — oh, oh, my dear miss — there it is out! A little eau-de-Cologne and water, my dear. And now, Mr. Firmin, if you please, we will — what fangs! what a big one! Two guineas. Thank you. Good morning. Come to me once a year. John, show in the next party. About the ensuing painful business, then, I protest I don’t intend to be much longer occupied than the humane and dexterous operator to whom I have made so bold as to liken myself. If my pretty Charlotte is to have a tooth out, it shall be removed as gently as possible, poor dear. As for Philip, and his great red-bearded jaw, I don’t care so much if the tug makes him roar a little. And yet they remain, they remain and throb in after life, those wounds of early days. Have I not said how, as I chanced to walk with Mr. Firmin in Paris, many years after the domestic circumstances here recorded, he paused before the window of that house near the Champs Elysées where Madame Smolensk once held her pension, shook his fist at a jalousie of the now dingy and dilapidated mansion, and intimated to me that he had undergone severe sufferings in the chamber lighted by yonder window? So have we all suffered; so, very likely, my dear young miss, or master, who peruses this modest page, will you have to suffer in your time. You will not die of the operation, most probably: but it is painful: it makes a gap in the mouth, voyez-vous? and years and years, maybe, after, as you think of it, the smart is renewed, and the dismal tragedy enacts itself over again.

Philip liked his little maiden to go out, to dance, to laugh, to be admired, to be happy. In her artless way she told him of her balls, her tea-parties, her pleasures, her partners. In a girl’s first little season nothing escapes her. Have you not wondered to hear them tell about the events of the evening, about the dresses of the dowagers, about the compliments of the young men, about the behaviour of the girls, and what not?

Little Charlotte used to enact the over-night’s comedy for Philip, pouring out her young heart in her prattle as her little feet skipped by his side. And to hear Philip roar with laughter! It would have done you good. You might have heard him from the Obelisk to the Etoile. People turned round to look at him, and shrugged their shoulders wonderingly, as good-natured French folks will do. How could a man who had been lately ruined, a man who had just been disappointed of a great legacy from the earl his great uncle, a man whose boots were in that lamentable condition, laugh so, and have such high spirits? To think of such an impudent ragged blackguard (as Ringwood Twysden called his cousin) daring to be happy! The fact is, that clap of laughter smote those three Twysden people like three boxes on the ear, and made all their cheeks tingle and blush at once. At Philip’s merriment, clouds which had come over Charlotte’s sweet face would be chased away. As she clung to him doubts which throbbed at the girl’s heart would vanish. When she was acting those scenes of the past night’s entertainment, she was not always happy. As she talked and prattled, her own spirits would rise; and hope and natural joy would spring in her heart again, and come flushing up to her cheek. Charlotte was being a hypocrite, as, thank heaven, all good women sometimes are. She had griefs: she hid them from him. She had doubts and fears: they fled when he came in view, and she clung to his strong arm, and looked in his honest blue eyes. She did not tell him of those painful nights when her eyes were wakeful and tearful. A yellow old woman in a white jacket, with a nightcap and a night-light, would come, night after night, to the side of her little bed; and there stand, and with her grim voice bark against Philip. That old woman’s lean finger would point to all the rents in poor Philip’s threadbare paletot of a character — point to the holes, and tear them wider open. She would stamp on those muddy boots. She would throw up a peaked nose at the idea of the poor fellow’s pipe — his pipe, his great companion and comforter when his dear little mistress was away. She would discourse on the partners of the night; the evident attentions of this gentleman, the politeness and high breeding of that.

And when that dreary nightly torture was over, and Charlotte’s mother had left the poor child to herself, sometimes Madame Smolensk, sitting up over her ledgers and bills, and wakeful with her own cares, would steal up and console poor Charlotte; and bring her some tisane, excellent for the nerves; and talk to her about — about the subject of which Charlotte best liked to hear. And though Smolensk was civil to Mrs. Baynes in the morning, as her professional duty obliged her to be, she has owned that she often felt a desire to strangle Madame la Générale for her conduct to her little angel of a daughter; and all because Monsieur Philippe smells the pipe, parbleu! “What? a family that owes you the bread which they eat; and they draw back for a pipe! The cowards, the cowards! A soldier’s daughter is not afraid of it. Merci! Tenez, M. Philippe,” she said to our friend when matters came to an extremity. “Do you know what in your place I would do? To a Frenchman I would not say so; that understands itself. But these things make themselves otherwise in England. I have no money, but I have a cachemire. Take him; and if I were you, I would make a little voyage to Gretna Grin.”

And now, if you please, we will quit the Champs Elysées. We will cross the road from madame’s boarding-house. We will make our way into the Faubourg St. Honoré, and actually enter a gate over which the L-on, the Un-c-rn, and the R-y-l Cr-wn and A-ms of the Three K-ngd-ms are sculptured, and going under the porte-cochére, and turning to the right, ascend a little stair, and ask of the attendant on the landing, who is in the chancellerie? The attendant says that several of those messieurs y sont. In fact, on entering the room, you find Mr. Motcomb, — let us say — Mr. Lowndes, Mr. Halkin, and our young friend Mr. Walsingham Hely, seated at their respective tables in the midst of considerable smoke. Smoking in the midst of these gentlemen, and bestriding his chair, as though it were his horse, sits that gallant young Irish chieftain, The O’Rourke. Some of the gentlemen are copying, in a large handwriting, despatches on foolscap paper. I would rather be torn to pieces by O’Rourke’s wildest horses, than be understood to hint at what those despatches, at what those despatch-boxes contain. Perhaps they contain some news from the Court of Spain, where some intrigues are carried on, a knowledge of which would make your hair start off your head; perhaps that box, for which a messenger is waiting in a neighbouring apartment, has locked up twenty-four yards of Chantilly lace for Lady Belweather, and six new French farces for Tom Tiddler of the Foreign Office, who is mad about the theatre. It is years and years ago; how should I know what there is in those despatch-boxes?

But the work, whatever it may be, is not very pressing — for there is only Mr. Chesham — [Did I say Chesham before, by the way? You may call him Mr. Sloanestreet if you like]. There is only Chesham (and he always takes things to the grand serious) who seems to be much engaged in writing; and the conversation goes on.

“Who gave it?” asks Motcomb.

“The black man, of course, gave it. We would not pretend to compete with such a long purse as his. You should have seen what faces he made at the bill! Thirty francs a bottle for Rhine wine. He grinned with the most horrible agony when he read the addition. He almost turned yellow. He sent away his wife early. How long that girl was hanging about London; and think of her hooking a millionnaire at last! Othello is a frightful screw, and diabolically jealous of his wife.”

“What is the name of the little man who got so dismally drunk, and began to cry about old Ringwood?”

“Twysden — the woman’s brother. Don’t you know Humbug Twysden, the father? The youth is more offensive than the parent.”

“A most disgusting little beast. Would come to the Variétés, because we said we were going: would go to Lamoignon’s, where the Russians gave a dance and a lansquenet. Why didn’t you come, Hely?”

Mr. Hely. — I tell you I hate the whole thing. Those painted old actresses give me the horrors. What do I want with winning Motcomb’s money who hasn’t got any? Do you think it gives me any pleasure to dance with old Carodol? She puts me in mind of my grandmother — only she is older. Do you think I want to go and see that insane old Boutzoff leering at Corinne and Palmyrine, and making a group of three old women together? I wonder how you fellows can go on. Aren’t you tired of truffles and écrevisses á la Bordelaise; and those old opera people, whose withered old carcases are stuffed with them?

The O’R. — There was Cérisette, I give ye me honour. Ye never saw. She feel asleep in her cheer —

Mr. Lowndes. — In her hwhat, O’ R.?

The O’R. — Well, in her Chair then! And Figaroff smayred her feece all over with the craym out of a Charlotte Roose. She’s a regular bird, and mustache, you know, Cérisette has.

Mr. Hely. — Charlotte, Charlotte! Oh! (He clutches his hair madly. His elbows are on the table.)

Mr. Lowndes. — It’s that girl he meets at the teaparties, where he goes to be admired.

Mr. Hely. — It is better to drink tea than, like you fellows, to muddle what brains you have with bad champagne. It is better to look, and to hear, and to see, and to dance with a modest girl, than, like you fellows, to be capering about in taverns with painted old hags like that old Cérisette, who has got a face like pomme cuite, and who danced before Lord Malmesbury at the Peace of Amiens. She did, I tell you; and before Napoleon.

Mr. Chesham. — (Looks up from his writing.) — There was no Napoleon then. It is of no consequence, but —

Lowndes. — Thank you, I owe you one. You’re a most valuable man, Chesham, and a credit to your father and mother.

Mr. Chesham. — Well, the First Consul was Bonaparte.

Lowndes. — I am obliged to you. I say I am obliged to you, Chesham, and if you would like any refreshment order it meis sumptibus, old boy — at my expense.

Chesham. — These fellows will never be serious. (He resumes his writing.)

Hely. — (Iterum, but very low.) — Oh, Charlotte, Char —

Mr. Lowndes. — Hely is raving about that girl — that girl with the horrible old mother in yellow, don’t you remember? and old father — good old military party, in a shabby old coat — who was at the last ball. What was the name? O’Rourke, what is the rhyme for Baynes?

The O’R. — Pays, and be hanged to you. You’re always makin fun on me, you little cockney!

Mr. Motcomb. — Hely was just as bad about the Danish girl. You know, Walse, you composed ever so many verses to her, and wrote home to your mother to ask leave to marry her!

The O’R. — I’d think him big enough to marry without anybody’s leave — only they wouldn’t have him because he’s so ugly.

Mr. Hely. — Very good, O’Rourke. Very neat and good. You were diverting the company with an anecdote. Will you proceed?

The O’R. — Well, then, the Cérisette had been dancing both on and off the stage till she was dead tired, I suppose, and so she fell dead asleep, and Figaroff, taking the whatdyecallem out of the Charlotte Roose, smayred her face all —

Voice without. — Deet Mosho Ringwood Twysden, sivoplay, poor l’honorable Moshoo Lownds!

Servant. — Monsieur Twisden!

Mr. Twysden. — Mr. Lowndes, how are you?

Mr. Lowndes. — Very well, thank you; how are you?

Mr. Hely. — Lowndes is uncommonly brilliant to-day.

Mr. Twysden. — Not the worse for last night? Some of us were a little elevated, I think!

Mr. Lowndes. — Some of us quite the reverse. (Little cad, what does he want? Elevated! he couldn’t keep his little legs!)

Mr. Twysden. — Eh! Smoking, I see. Thank you. I very seldom do — but as you are so kind — puff. Eh — uncommonly handsome person that, eh — Madame Cérisette.

The O’R. — Thank ye for telling us.

Mr. Lowndes. — If she meets with your applause, Mr. Twysden, I should think Mademoiselle Cérisette is all right.

The O’R. — Maybe they’d raise her salary if ye told her.

Mr. Twysden. — Heh — I see you’re chaffing me. We have a good deal of that kind of thing in Somerset — in our — in — hem! This tobacco is a little strong. I am a little shaky this morning. Who, by the way, is that Prince Boutzoff who played lansquenet with us? Is he one of the Livonian Boutzoffs, or one of the Hessian Boutzoffs? I remember at my poor uncle’s, Lord Ringwood, meeting a Prince Blucher de Boutzoff, something like this man, by the way. You knew my poor uncle?

Mr. Lowndes. — Dined with him here three months ago at the “Trois Fréres.”

Mr. Twysden. — Been at Whipham, I daresay? I was bred up there. It was said once that I was to have been his heir. He was very fond of me. He was my godfather.

The O’R. — Then he gave you a mug, and it wasn’t a beauty (sotto voce).

Mr. Twysden. — You said somethin? I was speaking of Whipham, Mr. Lowndes — one of the finest places in England, I should say, except Chatsworth, you know, and that sort of thing. My grandfather built it — I mean my great grandfather, for I’m of the Ringwood family.

Mr. Lowndes. — Then was Lord Ringwood your grandfather, or your grand godfather.

Mr. Twysden. — He! he! My mother was his own niece. My grandfather was his own brother, and I am —

Mr. Lowndes. — Thank you. I see now.

Mr. Halkin. — Das ist sehr interessant. Ich versichere ihnen das ist SEHR interessant.

Mr. Twysden. — Said somethin? (This cigar is really — I’ll throw it away, please.) I was sayin that at Whipham, where I was bred up, we would be forty at dinner, and as many more in the upper servants’ hall.

Mr. Lowndes. — And you dined in the — you had pretty good dinners?

Mr. Twysden. — A French chef. Two aids, besides turtle from town. Two or three regular cooks on the establishment, besides kitchen-maids, roasters, and that kind of thing, you understand. How many have you here now? In Lord Estridge’s kitchen you can’t do, I should say, at least without, — let me see — why, in our small way — and if you come to London my father will be dev’lish glad to see you — we —

Mr. Lowndes. — How is Mrs. Woolcomb this morning? That was a fair dinner Woolcomb gave us yesterday.

Mr. Twysden. — He has plenty of money, plenty of money. I hope, Lowndes, when you come to town — the first time you come, mind — to give you a hearty welcome and some of my father’s old por —

Mr. Hely. — Will nobody kick this little beast out?

Servant. — Monsieur Chesham peut-il voir M. Firmin?

Mr. Chesham. — Certainly. Come in, Firmin!

Mr. Twysden. — Mr. Fearmang — Mr. Fir — Mr. who? You don’t mean to say you receive that fellow, Mr. Chesham?

Mr. Chesham. — What fellow? and what do you mean, Mr. Whatdycallem?

Mr. Twysden. — That blackg — oh — that is, I— I beg your —

Mr. Firmin — (entering and going up to Mr. Chesham). — I say, give me a bit of news of to-day. What you were saying about that — hum and hum and haw — mayn’t I have it? (He is talking confidentially with Mr. Chesham, when he sees Mr. Twysden.) What! you have got that little cad here?

Mr. Lowndes. — You know Mr. Twysden, Mr. Firmin? He was just speaking about you.

Mr. Firmin. — Was he? So much the worse for me.

Mr. Twysden. — Sir! We don’t speak. You’ve no right to speak to me in this manner! Don’t speak to me: and I won’t speak to you, sir — there! Good morning, Mr. Lowndes! Remember your promise to come and dine with us when you come to town. And — one word — (he holds Mr. Lowndes by the button. By the way, he has very curious resemblances to Twysden senior) — we shall be here for ten days certainly. I think Lady Estridge has something next week. I have left our cards, and —

Mr. Lowndes. — Take care. He will be there (pointing to Mr. Firmin).

Mr. Twysden. — What? That beggar? You don’t mean to say Lord Estridge will receive such a fellow as — Good-by, good-by! (Exit Mr. Twysden.)

Mr. Firmin. — I caught that little fellow’s eye. He’s my cousin, you know. We have had a quarrel. I am sure he was speaking about me.

Mr. Lowndes. — Well, now you mention it, he was speaking about you.

Mr. Firmin. — Was he? Then, don’t believe him, Mr. Lowndes. That is my advice.

Mr. Hely(at his desk composing). — “Maiden of the blushing cheek, maiden of the — oh, Charlotte, Char — ” [He bites his pen and dashes off rapid rhymes on Government paper.]

Mr. Firmin. — What does he say? He said Charlotte.

Mr. Lowndes. — He is always in love and breaking his heart, and he puts it into poems; he wraps it up in paper, and falls in love with somebody else. Sit down and smoke a cigar, won’t you?

Mr. Firmin. — Can’t stay. Must make up my letter. We print to-morrow.

Mr. Lowndes. — Who wrote that article pitching into Peel?

Mr. Firmin. — Family secret — can’t say — good-by. (Exit Mr. Firmin.)

Mr. Chesham. — In my opinion, a most ill-advised and intemperate article. That journal, the Pall Mall Gazette, indulges in a very needless acrimony, I think.

Mr. Lowndes. — Chesham does not like to call a spade a spade. He calls it a horticultural utensil. You have a great career before you, Chesham. You have a wisdom and gravity beyond your years. You bore us slightly, but we all respect you — we do, indeed. What was the text at church last Sunday? Oh, by the way, Hely, you little miscreant, you were at church?

Mr. Chesham. — You need not blush, Hely. I am not a joking man: but this kind of jesting does not strike me as being particularly amusing, Lowndes.

Mr. Lowndes. — You go to church because you are good, because your aunt was a bishop or something. But Hely goes because he is a little miscreant. You hypocritical little beggar, you got yourself up as if you were going to a déjeûné, and you had your hair curled, and you were seen singing out of the same hymn-book with that pretty Miss Baynes, you little wheedling sinner; and you walked home with the family — my sisters saw you — to a boarding-house where they live — by Jove! you did. And I’ll tell your mother!

Mr. Chesham. — I wish you would not make such a noise, and let me do my work, Lowndes. You —

Here Asmodeus whisks us out of the room, and we lose the rest of the young men’s conversation. But enough has been overheard, I think, to show what direction young Mr. Hely’s thoughts had taken. Since he was seventeen years of age (at the time when we behold him he may be twenty-three) this romantic youth has been repeatedly in love: with his elderly tutor’s daughter, of course; with a young haberdasher at the university; with his sister’s confidential friend; with the blooming young Danish beauty last year; and now, I very much fear, a young acquaintance of ours has attracted the attention of this imaginative Don Juan. Whenever Hely is in love, he fancies his passion will last for ever, makes a confidant of the first person at hand, weeps plenteously, and writes reams of verses. Do you remember how in a previous chapter we told you that Mrs. Tuffin was determined she would not ask Philip to her soirées, and declared him to be a forward and disagreeable young man? She was glad enough to receive young Walsingham Hely, with his languid air, his drooping head, his fair curls, and his flower in his button-hole; and Hely, being then in hot pursuit of one of the tall Miss Blacklocks, went to Mrs. Tuffin’s, was welcomed there with all the honours; and there, fluttering away from Miss Blacklock, our butterfly lighted on Miss Baynes. Now Miss Baynes would have danced with a mopstick, she was so fond of dancing: and Hely, who had practised in a thousand Chaumiéres, Mabilles (or whatever was the public dance-room then in vogue), was a most amiable, agile, and excellent partner. And she told Philip next day what a nice little partner she had found — poor Philip, who was not asked to that paradise of a party. And Philip said that he knew the little man; that he believed he was rich; that he wrote pretty little verses:— in a word, Philip, in his leonine way, regarded little Hely as a lion regards a lapdog.

Now this little slyboots had a thousand artful little ways. He had a very keen sensibility and a fine taste, which was most readily touched by innocence and beauty. He had tears, I won’t say at command; for they were under no command, and gushed from his fine eyes in spite of himself. Charlotte’s innocence and freshness smote him with a keen pleasure. Bon Dieu! What was that great, tall Miss Blacklock, who had tramped through a thousand ball-rooms, compared to this artless, happy creature? He danced away from Miss Blacklock, and after Charlotte, the moment he saw our young friend; and the Blacklocks, who knew all about him, and his money, and his mother, and his expectations — who had his verses in their poor album — by whose carriage he had capered day after day in the Bois de Boulogne — stood scowling and deserted, as this young fellow danced off with that Miss Baynes, who lived in a boarding-house, and came to parties in a cab with her horrid old mother! The Blacklocks were as though they were not henceforth for Mr. Hely. They asked him to dinner. Bless my soul, he utterly forgot all about it! He never came to their box on their night at the opera. Not one twinge of remorse had he. Not one pang of remembrance. If he did remember them, it was when they bored him, like those tall tragic women in black who are always coming in their great long trains to sing sermons to Don Juan. Ladies, your name is down in his lordship’s catalogue; his servant has it; and you, Miss Anna, are number one thousand and three.

But as for Miss Charlotte, that is a different affair. What innocence! What a fraicheur! What a merry good humour! Don Slyboots is touched, he is tenderly interested: her artless voice thrills through his frame; he trembles as he waltzes with her; as his fine eyes look at her, psha! what is that film coming over them? O Slyboots, Slyboots! And as she has nothing to conceal, she has told him all he wants to know before long. This is her first winter in Paris: her first season of coming out. She has only been to two balls before, and two plays and an opera. And her father met Mr. Hely at Lord Trim’s . That was her father playing at whist. And they lived at Madame Smolensk’s boarding-house in the Champs Elysées. And they had been to Mr. Dash’s, and to Mrs. Blank’s, and she believed they were going to Mrs. Star’s on Friday. And did they go to church? Of course they went to church, to the Rue d’Aguesseau, or wherever it might be. And Slyboots went to church next Sunday. You may perhaps guess to what church. And he went the Sunday after. And he sang his own songs, accompanying himself on the guitar at his lodgings. And he sang elsewhere. And he had a very pretty little voice, Slyboots had. I believe those poems under the common title of “Gretchen” in our Walsingham’s charming volume were all inspired by Miss Baynes. He began to write about her and himself the very first night after seeing her. He smoked cigarettes and drank green tea. He looked so pale — so pale and sad, that he quite pitied himself in the looking-glass in his apartments in the Rue Miroménil. And he compared himself to a wrecked mariner, and to a grave, and to a man entranced and brought to life. And he cried quite freely and satisfactorily by himself. And he went to see his mother and sister next day at the Hôtel de la Terrasse; and cried to them and said he was in love this time for ever and ever. And his sister called him a goose. And after crying he ate an uncommonly good dinner. And he took every one into his confidence, as he always did whenever he was in love: always telling, always making verses, and always crying. As for Miss Blacklock, he buried the dead body of that love deep in the ocean of his soul. The waves engulphed Miss B. The ship rolled on. The storm went down. And the stars rose, and the dawn was in his soul, Well, well! The mother was a vulgar woman, and I am glad you are out of it. And what sort of people are General Baynes and Mrs. Baynes?

“Oh, delightful people! Most distinguished officer, the father; modest — doesn’t say a word. The mother, a most lively, brisk, agreeable woman. You must go and see her, ma’am. I desire you’ll go immediately.”

“And leave cards with P. P. C. for the Miss Blacklocks!” says Miss Hely, who was a plain, lively person. And both mother and sister spoiled this young Hely; as women ought always to spoil a son, a brother, a father, husband, grandfather — any male relative, in a word.

To see this spoiled son married was the good-natured mother’s fond prayer. An eldest son had died a rake; a victim to too much money, pleasure, idleness. The widowed mother would give anything to save this one from the career through which the elder had passed. The young man would be one day so wealthy, that she knew many and many a schemer would try and entrap him. Perhaps, she had been made to marry his father because he was rich; and she remembered the gloom and wretchedness of her own union. Oh, that she could see her son out of temptation, and the husband of an honest girl! It was the young lady’s first season? So much the more likely that she should be unworldly. “The general — don’t you remember a nice old gentleman — in a — well, in a wig — that day we dined at Lord Trim’s, when that horrible old Lord Ringwood was there? That was General Baynes; and he broke out so enthusiastically in defence of a poor young man — Dr. Firmin’s son — who was a bad man, I believe; but I shall never have confidence in another doctor again, that I shan’t. And we’ll call on these people, Fanny. Yes, in a brown wig — the general, I perfectly well remember him, and Lord Trim said he was a most distinguished officer. And I have no doubt his wife will be a most agreeable person. Those generals’ wives who have travelled over the world must have acquired a quantity of delightful information. At a boarding-house, are they? I daresay very pleasant and amusing. And we’ll drive there and call on them immediately.”

On that day, as MacGrigor and Moira Baynes were disporting in the little front garden of Madame Smolensk’s; I think Moira was just about to lick MacGrigor, when his fratricidal hand was stopped by the sight of a large yellow carriage — a large London dowager family carriage — from which descended a large London family footman, with side-locks begrimed with powder, with calves such as only belong to large London family footmen, and with cards in his hand. “Ceci Madam Smolensk?” says the large menial. “Oui,” says the boy, nodding his head; on which the footman was puzzled, for he thought from his readiness in the use of the French language that the boy was a Frenchman.

“Ici demure General Bang?” continued the man.

“Hand us over the cards, John. Not at home,” said Moira.

“Who ain’t at ‘ome?” inquired the menial.

“General Baynes, my father, ain’t at home. He shall have the pasteboard when he comes in. Mrs. Hely? Oh, Mac, it’s the same name as that young swell who called the other day! Ain’t at home, John. Gone out to pay some visits. Had a fly on purpose. Gone out with my sister. ‘Pon my word, they have, John.” And from this accurate report of the boy’s behaviour, I fear that the young Baynes must have been brought up at a classical and commercial academy, where economy was more studied than politeness.

Philip comes trudging up to dinner, and as this is not his post day, arrives early. He hopes, perhaps, for a walk with Miss Charlotte, or a coze in Madame Smolensk’s little private room. He finds the two boys in the forecourt; and they have Mrs. Hely’s cards in their hand; and they narrate to him the advent and departure of the lady in the swell carriage, the mother of the young swell with the flower in his button-hole, who came the other day on such a jolly horse. Yes. And he was at church last Sunday, Philip, and he gave Charlotte a hymn-book. And he sang: he sang like the piper who played before Moses, Pa said. And Ma said it was wicked, but it wasn’t: only Pa’s fun, you know. And Ma said you never came to church. Why don’t you?

Philip had no taint of jealousy in his magnanimous composition, and would as soon have accused Charlotte of flirting with other men, as of stealing madame’s silver spoons. “So you have had some fine visitors,” he says, as the fly drives up. “I remember that rich Mrs. Hely, a patient of my father’s . My poor mother used to drive to her house.”

“Oh, we have seen a great deal of Mr. Hely, Philip!” cries Miss Charlotte, not heeding the scowls of her mother, who is nodding and beckoning angrily at the girl.

“You never once mentioned him. He is one of the greatest dandies about Paris: quite a lion,” remarks Philip.

“Is he? What a funny little lion! I never thought about him,” says Miss Charlotte, quite simply. Oh, ingratitude! ingratitude! And we have told how Mr. Walsingham was crying his eyes out for her.

“She never thought about him?” cries Mrs. Baynes, quite eagerly.

“The piper, is it, you’re talking about?” asks papa. “I called him Piper, you see, because he piped so sweetly at ch — Well, my love?”

Mrs. Baynes was nudging her general at this moment. She did not wish that the piper should form the subject of conversation, I suppose.

“The piper’s mother is very rich, and the piper will inherit after her. She has a fine house in London. She gives very fine parties. She drives in a great carriage, and she has come to call upon you, and ask you to her balls, I suppose.”

Mrs. Baynes was delighted at this call. And when she said, “I’m sure I don’t value fine people, or their fine parties, or their fine carriages, but I wish that my dear child should see the world," — I don’t believe a word which Mrs. Baynes said. She was much more pleased than Charlotte at the idea of visiting this fine lady; or else, why should she have coaxed, and wheedled, and been so particularly gracious to the general all the evening? She wanted a new gown. The truth is, her yellow was very shabby; whereas Charlotte, in plain white muslin, looked pretty enough to be able to dispense with the aid of any French milliner. I fancy a consultation with madame and Mrs. Bunch. I fancy a fly ordered, and a visit to the gown is settled with the milliner, I fancy the terror on Mrs. Baynes’ wizened face when she ascertains the amount of the bill. To do her justice, the general’s wife had spend little upon her own homely person. She chose her gowns ugly, but cheap. There were so many backs to clothe in that family that the thrifty mother did not heed the decoration of her own.

Chapter 8

Nec Dulces Amores Sperne, Puer, Neque Tu Choreas.

“My dear,” Mrs. Baynes said to her daughter, “you are going out a great deal in the world now. You will go to a great number of places where poor Philip cannot hope to be admitted.”

“Not admit Philip, mamma! then I’m sure I don’t want to go,” cries the girl.

“Time enough to leave off going to parties when you can’t afford it, and marry him. When I was a lieutenant’s wife, I didn’t go to any parties out of the regiment, my dear!”

“Oh, then, I am sure I shall never want to go out!” Charlotte declares.

“You fancy he will always stop at home, I daresay. Men are not all so domestic as your papa. Very few love to stop at home like him. Indeed, I may say that I have made his home comfortable. But one thing is clear, my child. Philip can’t always expect to go where we go. He is not in the position in life. Recollect, your father is a general officer, C. B., and may be K.C.B. soon, and your mother is a general officer’s lady. We may go anywhere. I might have gone to the drawing-room at home if I chose. Lady Biggs would have been delighted to present me. Your aunt has been to the drawing-room, and she is only Mrs. Major Mac Whirter; and most absurd it was of Mac to let her go. But she rules him in everything, and they have no children. I have, goodness knows! I sacrifice myself for my children. You little know what I deny myself for my children. I said to Lady Biggs, ‘No, Lady Biggs; my husband may go. He should go. He has his uniform, and it will cost him nothing except a fly and a bouquet for the man who drives; but I will not spend money on myself for the hire of diamonds and feathers, and, though I yield in loyalty to no person, I daresay my Sovereign won’t miss me.’ And I don’t think her Majesty did. She has other things to think of besides Mrs. General Baynes, I suppose. She is a mother, and can appreciate a mother’s sacrifices for her children." — If I have not hitherto given you detailed reports of Mrs. General Baynes’ conversation, I don’t think, my esteemed reader, you will be very angry.

“Now, child,” the general’s lady continued, “let me warn you not to talk much to Philip about those places to which you go without him, and to which his position in life does not allow of his coming. Hide anything from him? Oh, dear, no! Only for his own good, you understand. I don’t tell everything to your papa. I should only worrit him and vex him. When anything will please him, and make him happy, then I tell him. And about Philip. Philip, I must say it, my dear — I must as a mother say it — has his faults. He is an envious man. Don’t look shocked. He thinks very well of himself; and having been a great deal spoiled, and made too much of in his unhappy father’s time, he is so proud and haughty that he forgets his position, and thinks he ought to live with the highest society. Had Lord Ringwood left him a fortune, as Philip led us to expect when we gave our consent to this most unlucky match — for that my dear child should marry a beggar is most unlucky and most deplorable; I can’t help saying so, Charlotte, — if I were on my deathbed I couldn’t help saying so; and I wish with all my heart we had never seen or heard of him. — There! Don’t go off in one of your tantrums! What was I saying, pray? I say that Philip is in no position, or rather in a very humble one, which — a mere newspaper-writer and a subaltern too — everybody acknowledges to be. And if he hears us talking about our parties, to which we have a right to go — to which you have a right to go with your mother, a general officer’s lady — why, he’ll be offended. He won’t like to hear about them and think he can’t be invited; and you had better not talk about them at all, or about the people you meet, you dance with. At Mrs. Hely’s you may dance with Lord Headbury, the ambassador’s son. And if you tell Philip he will be offended. He will say that you boast about it. When I was only a lieutenant’s wife at Barrackpore, Mrs. Captain Capers used to go to Calcutta to the Government House balls. I didn’t go. But I was offended, and I used to say that Flora Capers gave herself airs, and was always boasting of her intimacy with the Marchioness of Hastings. We don’t like our equals to be better off than ourselves. Mark my words. And if you talk to Philip about the people whom you meet in society, and whom he can’t from his unfortunate station expect to know, you will offend him. That was why I nudged you to-day when you were going on about Mr. Hely. Anything so absurd! I saw Philip getting angry at once, and biting his moustaches, as he always does when he is angry — and swears quite out loud — so vulgar! There! you are going to be angry again, my love; I never saw anything like you! Is this my Charly who never was angry? I know the world, dear, and you don’t. Look at me, how I manage your papa, and I tell you don’t talk to Philip about things which offend him! No, dearest, kiss your poor old mother who loves you. Go upstairs and bathe your eyes, and come down happy to dinner.” And at dinner Mrs. General Baynes was uncommonly gracious to Philip: and when gracious she was especially odious to Philip, whose magnanimous nature accommodated itself ill to the wheedling artifices of an ill-bred old woman.

Following this wretched mother’s advice, my poor Charlotte spoke scarcely at all to Philip of the parties to which she went, and the amusements which she enjoyed without him. I daresay Mrs. Baynes was quite happy in thinking that she was “guiding” her child rightly. As if a coarse woman, because she is mean, and greedy, and hypocritical, and fifty years old, has a right to lead a guileless nature into wrong! Ah! if some of us old folks were to go to school to our children, I am sure, madam, it would do us a great deal of good. There is a fund of good sense and honourable feeling about my great-grandson Tommy, which is more valuable than all his grandpapa’s experience and knowledge of the world. Knowledge of the world forsooth! Compromise, selfishness modified, and double dealing. Tom disdains a lie. When he wants a peach, he roars for it. If his mother wishes to go to a party, she coaxes, and wheedles, and manages, and smirks, and curtseys for months, in order to get her end; takes twenty rebuffs, and comes up to the scratch again smiling; — and this woman is for ever lecturing her daughters, and preaching to her sons upon virtue, honesty, and moral behaviour!

Mrs. Hely’s little party at the Hôtel de la Terrasse was very pleasant and bright; and Miss Charlotte enjoyed it, although her swain was not present. But Philip was pleased that his little Charlotte should be happy. She beheld with wonderment Parisian duchesses, American millionnaires, dandies from the embassies, deputies and peers of France with large stars and wigs like papa. She gaily described her party to Philip; described, that is to say, everything but her own success, which was undoubted. There were many beauties at Mrs. Hely’s, but nobody fresher or prettier. The Miss Blacklocks retired very early and in the worst possible temper. Prince Slyboots did not in the least heed their going away. His thoughts were all fixed upon little Charlotte. Charlotte’s mamma saw the impression which the girl made, and was filled with a hungry joy. Good-natured Mrs. Hely complimented her on her daughter. “Thank God, she is as good as she is pretty,” said the mother, I am sure speaking seriously this time regarding her daughter. Prince Slyboots danced with scarce anybody else. He raised a perfect whirlwind of compliments round about Charlotte. She was quite a simple person, and did not understand one-tenth part of what he said to her. He strewed her path with roses of poesy: he scattered garlands of sentiment before her all the way from the ante-chamber downstairs, and so to the fly which was in waiting to take her and her parents home to the boarding-house. “By George, Charlotte, I think you have smitten that fellow,” cries the general, who was infinitely amused by young Hely — his raptures, his affectations, his long hair, and what Baynes called his low dress. A slight white tape and a ruby button confined Hely’s neck. His hair waved over his shoulders. Baynes had never seen such a specimen. At the mess of the stout 120th, the lads talked of their dogs, horses, and sport. A young civilian, smattering in poetry, chattering in a dozen languages, scented, smiling, perfectly at ease with himself and the world, was a novelty to the old officer.

And now the Queen’s birthday arrived — and that it may arrive for many scores of years yet to come is, I am sure, the prayer of all of us — and with the birthday his Excellency Lord Estridge’s grand annual fête in honour of his sovereign. A card for the ball was left at Madame Smolensk’s, for General, Mrs. and Miss Baynes; and no doubt Monsieur Slyboots Walsingham Hely was the artful agent by whom the invitation was forwarded. Once more the general’s veteran uniform came out from the tin-box, with its dingy epaulets and little cross and ribbon. His wife urged on him strongly the necessity of having a new wig, wigs being very cheap and good at Paris — but Baynes said a new wig would make his old coat look very shabby; and a new uniform would cost more money than he would like to afford. So shabby he went de cape à pied, with a moulting feather, a threadbare suit, a tarnished wig, and a worn-out lace, sibi constans. Boots, trousers, sash, coat, were all old and worse for wear, and “faith,” says he, “my face follows suit.” A brave, silent man was Baynes; with a twinkle of humour in his lean, wrinkled face.

And if General Baynes was shabbily attired at the Embassy ball, I think I know a friend of mine who was shabby too. In the days of his prosperity, Mr. Philip was parcus cultor et infrequens of balls, routes, and ladies’ company. Perhaps because his father was angered at Philip’s neglect of his social advantages and indifference as to success in the world, Philip was the more neglectful and indifferent. The elder’s comedy-smiles, and solemn hypocritical politeness, caused scorn and revolt on the part of the younger man. Philip despised the humbug, and the world to which such humbug could be welcome. He kept aloof from tea-parties then: his evening-dress clothes served him for a long time. I cannot say how old his dress-coat was at the time of which we are writing. But he had been in the habit of respecting that garment and considering it new and handsome for many years past. Meanwhile the coat had shrunk, or its wearer had grown stouter; and his grand embroidered, embossed, illuminated, carved and gilt velvet dress waistcoat, too, had narrowed, had become absurdly tight and short, and I daresay was the laughing-stock of many of Philip’s acquaintances, whilst he himself, poor simple fellow, was fancying that it was a most splendid article of apparel. You know in the Palais Royal they hang out the most splendid reach-me-down dressing-gowns, waistcoats, and so forth. “No,” thought Philip, coming out of his cheap dining-house, and swaggering along the arcades, and looking at the tailors’ shops, with his hands in his pockets. “My brown velvet dress waistcoat with the gold sprigs, which I had made at college, is a much more tasty thing than these gaudy ready-made articles. And my coat is old certainly, but the brass buttons are still very bright and handsome, and, in fact, it is a most becoming and gentlemanlike thing.” And under this delusion the honest fellow dressed himself in his old clothes, lighted a pair of candles, and looked at himself with satisfaction in the looking-glass, drew on a pair of cheap gloves which he had bought, walked by the Quays, and over the Deputies’ Bridge, across the Place Louis XV., and strutted up the Faubourg St. Honoré to the Hotel of the British Embassy. A half-mile queue of carriages was formed along the street, and of course the entrance to the hotel was magnificently illuminated.

A plague on those cheap gloves! Why had not Philip paid three francs for a pair of gloves, instead of twenty-nine sous? Mrs. Baynes had found a capital cheap glove shop, whither poor Phil had gone in the simplicity of his heart; and now as he went in under the grand illuminated porte-cochère, Philip saw that the gloves had given way at the thumbs, and that his hands appeared through the rents, as red as red as raw beefsteaks. It is wonderful how red hands will look through holes in white gloves. “And there’s that hole in my boot, too,” thought Phil; but he had put a little ink over the seam, and so the rent was imperceptible. The coat and waistcoat were tight, and of a past age. Never mind. The chest was broad, the arms were muscular and long, and Phil’s face, in the midst of a halo of fair hair and flaming whiskers, looked brave, honest, and handsome. For a while his eyes wandered fiercely and restlessly all about the room from group to group; but now — ah! now — they were settled. They had met another pair of eyes, which lighted up with glad welcome when they beheld him. Two young cheeks mantled with a sweet blush. These were Charlotte’s cheeks: and hard by them were mamma’s, of a very different colour. But Mrs. General Baynes had a knowing turban on, and a set of garnets round her old neck, like gooseberries set in gold.

They admired the rooms: they heard the names of the great folks who arrived, and beheld many famous personages. They made their curtseys to the ambassadress. Confusion! With a great rip, the thumb of one of those cheap gloves of Philip’s parts company from the rest of the glove, and he is obliged to wear it crumpled up in his hand: a dreadful mishap — for he is going to dance with Charlotte, and he will have to give his hand to the vis-à-vis.

Who comes up smiling, with a low neck, with waving curls and whiskers, pretty little hands exquisitely gloved, and tiny feet? ’Tis Hely Walsingham, lightest in the dance. Most affably does Mrs. General Baynes greet the young fellow. Very brightly and happily do Charlotte’s eyes glance towards her favourite partner. It is certain that poor Phil can’t hope at all to dance like Hely. “And see what nice neat feet and hands he has got,” says Mrs. Baynes. “Comme il est bien ganté! A gentleman ought to be always well gloved.”

“Why did you send me to the twenty-nine-sous-shop?” says poor Phil, looking at his tattered handshoes, and red obtrusive thumb.

“Oh, you!" — (here Mrs. Baynes shrugs her yellow old shoulders.) “Your hands would burst through any gloves! How do you do, Mr. Hely! Is your mamma here? Of course she is! What a delightful party she gave us! The dear ambassadress looks quite unwell — most pleasing manners, I am sure; Lord Estridge, what a perfect gentleman!”

The Bayneses were just come. For what dance was Miss Baynes disengaged? “As many as ever you like!” cries Charlotte, who, in fact, called Hely her little dancing-master, and never thought of him except as a partner. “Oh, too much happiness! Oh, that this could last for ever!” sighed Hely, after a waltz, polka, mazurka, I know not what, and fixing on Charlotte the full blaze of his beauteous blue eyes. “For ever?” cries Charlotte, laughing. “I’m very fond of dancing, indeed; and you dance beautifully; but I don’t know that I should like to dance for ever.” Ere the words are over, he is whirling her round the room again. His little feet fly with surprising agility. His hair floats behind him. He scatters odours as he spins. The handkerchief with which he fans his pale brow is like a cloudy film of muslin — and poor old Philip sees with terror that his pocket-handkerchief has got three great holes in it. His nose and one eye appeared through one of the holes while Phil was wiping his forehead. It was very hot. He was very hot. He was hotter, though standing still, than young Hely who was dancing. “He! he! I compliment you on your gloves, and your handkerchief, I’m sure,” sniggers Mrs. Baynes, with a toss of her turban. Has it not been said that a bull is a strong, courageous, and noble animal, but that a bull in a china-shop is not in his place? “There you go. Thank you! I wish you’d go somewhere else,” cries Mrs. Baynes in a fury. Poor Philip’s foot has just gone through her flounce. How red he is! how much hotter than ever! There go Hely and Charlotte, whirling round like two operadancers! Philip grinds his teeth, he buttons his coat across his chest. How very tight it feels! How savagely his eyes glare! Do young men still look savage and solemn at balls? An ingenuous young Englishman ought to do that duty of dancing, of course. Society calls upon him. But I doubt whether he ought to look cheerful during the performance, or flippantly engage in so grave a matter.

As Charlotte’s sweet round face beamed smiles upon Philip over Hely’s shoulders, it looked so happy that he never thought of grudging her her pleasure: and happy he might have remained in this contemplation, regarding not the circle of dancers who were galloping and whirling on at their usual swift rate, but her, who was the centre of all joy and pleasure for him; — when suddenly a shrill voice was heard behind him, crying, “Get out of the way, hang you!” and suddenly there bounced against him Ringwood Twysden, pulling Miss Flora Trotter round the room, one of the most powerful and intrepid dancers of that season at Paris. They hurtled past Philip; they shot him forward against a pillar. He heard a screech, an oath, and another loud laugh from Twysden, and beheld the scowls of Miss Trotter as that rapid creature bumped at length into a place of safety.

I told you about Philip’s coat. It was very tight. The daylight had long been struggling to make an entry at the seams. As he staggered up against the wall, crack! went a great hole at his back; and crack! one of his gold buttons came off, leaving a rent in his chest. It was in those days when gold buttons still lingered on the breasts of some brave men, and we have said simple Philip still thought his coat a fine one.

There was not only a rent of the seam, there was not only a burst button, but there was also a rip in Philip’s rich cut-velvet waistcoat, with the gold sprigs, which he thought so handsome — a great, heartrending scar. What was to be done? Retreat was necessary. He told Miss Charlotte of the hurt he had received, whose face wore a very comical look of pity at his misadventure — he covered part of his wound with his gibus hat — and he thought he would try and make his way out by the garden of the hotel, which, of course, was illuminated, and bright, and crowded, but not so very bright and crowded as the saloons, galleries, supper-rooms, and halls of gilded light in which the company, for the most part, assembled.

So our poor wounded friend wandered into the garden, over which the moon was shining with the most blank indifference at the fiddling, feasting, and particoloured lamps. He says that his mind was soothed by the aspect of yonder placid moon and twinkling stars, and that he had altogether forgotten his trumpery little accident and torn coat and waistcoat: but I doubt about the entire truth of this statement, for there have been some occasions when he, Mr. Philip, has mentioned the subject, and owned that he was mortified and in a rage.

Well. He went into the garden: and was calming himself by contemplating the stars, when, just by that fountain where there is Pradier’s little statue of — Moses in the Bulrushes, let us say — round which there was a beautiful row of illuminated lamps, lighting up a great coronal of flowers, which my dear readers are at liberty to select and arrange according to their own exquisite taste; — near this little fountain he found three gentlemen talking together.

The high voice of one Philip could hear, and knew from old days. Ringwood Twysden, Esquire, always liked to talk and to excite himself with other persons’ liquor. He had been drinking the Sovereign’s health with great assiduity, I suppose, and was exceedingly loud and happy. With Ringwood was Mr. Woolcomb, whose countenance the lamps lit up in a fine lurid manner, and whose eyeballs gleamed in the twilight: and the third of the group was our young friend Mr. Lowndes.

“I owed him one, you see, Lowndes,” said Mr. Ringwood Twysden. “I hate the fellow! Hang him, always did! I saw the great hulkin brute standing there. Couldn’t help myself. Give you my honour, couldn’t help myself. I just drove Miss Trotter at him — sent her elbow well into him, and spun him up against the wall. The buttons cracked off the beggar’s coat, begad! What business had he there, hang him? Gad, sir, he made a cannon off an old woman in blue, and went into. . . .

Here Mr. Ringwood’s speech came to an end: for his cousin stood before him, grim and biting his mustachios.

“Hullo!” piped the other. “Who wants you to overhear my conversation? Dammy, I say! I . . . ”

Philip put out that hand with the torn glove. The glove was in a dreadful state of disruption now. He worked the hand well into his kinsman’s neck, and twisting Ringwood round into a proper position, brought that poor old broken boot so to bear upon the proper quarter, that Ringwood was discharged into the little font, and lighted amidst the flowers, and the water, and the oil-lamps, and made a dreadful mess and splutter amongst them. And as for Philip’s coat, it was torn worse than ever.

I don’t know how many of the brass buttons had revolted and parted company from the poor old cloth, which cracked, and split, and tore under the agitation of that beating angry bosom. I blush as I think of Mr. Firmin in this ragged state, a great rent all across his back, and his prostrate enemy lying howling in the water, amidst the sputtering, crashing oil-lamps at his feet. When Cinderella quitted her first ball, just after the clock struck twelve, we all know how shabby she looked. Philip was a still more disreputable object when he slunk away. I don’t know by what side door Mr. Lowndes eliminated him. He also benevolently took charge of Philip’s kinsman and antagonist, Mr. Ringwood Twysden. Mr. Twysden’s hands, coat-tails, were very much singed and scalded by the oil, and cut by the broken glass, which was all extracted at the Beaujon Hospital, but not without much suffering on the part of the patient. But though young Lowndes spoke up for Philip, in describing the scene (I fear not without laughter), his Excellency caused Mr. Firmin’s name to be erased from his party lists: and I am sure no sensible man will defend Philip’s conduct for a moment.

Of this lamentable fracas which occurred in the Hotel Garden, Miss Baynes and her parents had no knowledge for awhile. Charlotte was too much occupied with her dancing, which she pursued with all her might: papa was at cards with some sober male and female veterans: and mamma was looking with delight at her daughter, whom the young gentlemen of many embassies were charmed to choose for a partner. When Lord Headbury, Lord Estridge’s son, was presented to Miss Baynes, her mother was so elated that she was ready to dance too. I do not envy Mrs. Major MacWhirter, at Tours, the perusal of that immense manuscript in which her sister recorded the events of the ball. Here was Charlotte, beautiful, elegant, accomplished, admired everywhere, with young men, young noblemen of immense property and expectations, wild about her; and engaged by a promise to a rude, ragged, presumptuous, ill-bred young man, without a penny in the world — wasn’t it provoking? Ah, poor Philip! How that little sour, yellow mother-in-law elect did scowl at him when he came with rather a shamefaced look to pay his duty to his sweetheart on the day after the ball! Mrs. Baynes had caused her daughter to dress with extra smartness, had forbidden the poor child to go out, and coaxed her, and wheedled her, and dressed her with I know not what ornaments of her own, with a fond expectation that Lord Headbury, that the yellow young Spanish attaché, that the sprightly Prussian secretary, and Walsingham Hely, Charlotte’s partners at the ball, would certainly call; and the only equipage that appeared at Madame Smolensk’s gate was a hack cab, which drove up at evening, and out of which poor Philip’s well-known tattered boots came striding. Such a fond mother as Mrs. Baynes may well have been out of humour.

As for Philip, he was unusually shy and modest. He did not know in what light his friends would regard his escapade of the previous evening. He had been sitting at home all the morning in state, and in company with a Polish colonel, who lived in his hotel, and whom Philip had selected to be his second in case the battle of the previous night should have any suite. He had left that colonel in company with a bag of tobacco and an order for unlimited beer, whilst he himself ran up to catch a glimpse of his beloved. The Bayneses had not heard of the battle of the previous night. They were full of the ball, of Lord Estridge’s affability, of the Golconda ambassador’s diamonds, of the appearance of the royal princes who honoured the fête, of the most fashionable Paris talk in a word. Philip was scolded, snubbed, and coldly received by mamma; but he was used to that sort of treatment, and greatly relieved by finding that she was unacquainted with his own disorderly behaviour. He did not tell Charlotte about the quarrel; a knowledge of it might alarm the little maiden; and so for once our friend was discreet, and held his tongue.

But if he had any influence with the editor of Galignani’s Messenger, why did he not entreat the conductors of that admirable journal to forego all mention of the fracas at the embassy ball? Two days after the fête, I am sorry to say, there appeared a paragraph in the paper narrating the circumstances of the fight. And the guilty Philip found a copy of that paper on the table before Mrs. Baynes and the general when he came to the Champs Elysées according to his wont. Behind that paper sate Major-General Baynes, C. B., looking confused, and beside him his lady frowning like Rhadamanthus. But no Charlotte was in the room.

Chapter 9

Infandi Dolores.

Philip’s heart beat very quickly at seeing this grim pair, and the guilty newspaper before them, on which Mrs. Baynes’ lean right hand was laid. “So, sir,” she cried, “you still honour us with your company: after distinguishing yourself as you did the night before last. Fighting and boxing like a porter at his Excellency’s ball. It’s disgusting! I have no other word for it: disgusting!” And here I suppose she nudged the general, or gave him some look or signal by which he knew he was to come into action; for Baynes straightway advanced and delivered his fire.

“Faith, sir, more bub-ub-blackguard conduct I never heard of in my life! That’s the only word for it: the only word for it,” cries Baynes.

“The general knows what blackguard conduct is, and yours is that conduct, Mr. Firmin! It is all over the town: is talked of everywhere: will be in all the newspapers. When his lordship heard of it, he was furious. Never, never, will you be admitted into the Embassy again, after disgracing yourself as you have done,” cries the lady.

“Disgracing yourself, that’s the word. — And disgraceful your conduct was, begad!” cries the officer second in command.

“You don’t know my provocation,” pleaded poor Philip. “As I came up to him Twysden was boasting that he had struck me — and — and laughing at me.”

“And a pretty figure you were to come to a ball! Who could help laughing, sir?”

“He bragged of having insulted me, and I lost my temper, and struck him in return. The thing is done and can’t be helped,” growled Philip.

“Strike a little man before ladies! Very brave indeed!” cries the lady.

“Mrs. Baynes!”

“I call it cowardly. In the army we consider it cowardly to quarrel before ladies,” continues Mrs. General B.

“I have waited at home for two days to see if he wanted any more,” groaned Philip.

“Oh, yes! After insulting and knocking a little man down, you want to murder him! And you call that the conduct of a Christian — the conduct of a gentleman!”

“The conduct of a ruffian, by George!” says General Baynes.

“It was prudent of you to choose a very little man, and to have the ladies within hearing!” continues Mrs. Baynes. “Why, I wonder you haven’t beaten my dear children next. Don’t you, general, wonder he has not knocked down our poor boys? They are quite small. And it is evident that laides being present is no hindrance to Mr. Firmin’s boxing-matches.”

“The conduct is gross, and unworthy of a gentleman,” reiterates the general.

“You hear what that man says — that old man, who never says an unkind word? That veteran, who has been in twenty battles, and never struck a man before women yet? Did you, Charles? He has given you his opinion. He has called you a name which I won’t soil my lips with repeating, but which you deserve. And do you suppose, sir, that I will give my blessed child to a man who has acted as you have acted, and been called a —? Charles! General! I will go to my grave rather than see my daughter given up to such a man!”

“Good heavens!” said Philip, his knees trembling under him. “You don’t mean to say that you intend to go from your word, and — ”

“Oh! you threaten about money, do you? Because your father was a cheat, you intend to try and make us suffer, do you?” shrieks the lady. “A man who strikes a little man before ladies will commit any act of cowardice, I daresay. And if you wish to beggar my family, because your father was a rogue — ”

“My dear!” interposes the general.

“Wasn’t he a rogue, Baynes? Is there any denying it? Haven’t you said so a hundred and a hundred times? A nice family to marry into! No, Mr. Firmin! You may insult me as you please. You may strike little men before ladies. You may lift your great wicked hand against that poor old man, in one of your tipsy fits: but I know a mother’s love, a mother’s duty — and I desire that we see you no more.”

“Great Powers!” cries Philip, aghast. “You don’t mean to — to separate me from Charlotte, general! I have your word. You encouraged me. I shall break my heart. I’ll go down on my knees to that fellow. I’ll — oh! — you don’t mean what you say!” And, scared and sobbing, the poor fellow clasped his strong hands together, and appealed to the general.

Baynes was under his wife’s eye. “I think,” he said, “your conduct has been confoundedly bad, disorderly, and ungentlemanlike. You can’t support my child, if you marry her. And if you have the least spark of honour in you, as you say you have, it is you, Mr. Firmin, who will break off the match, and release the poor child from certain misery. By George, sir, how is a man who fights and quarrels in a nobleman’s ball-room, to get on in the world? How is a man, who can’t afford a decent coat to his back, to keep a wife? The more I have known you, the more I have felt that the engagement would bring misery upon my child! Is that what you want? A man of honour — ” (“Honour!” in italics, from Mrs. Baynes.) “Hush, my dear! — A man of spirit would give her up, sir. What have you to offer but beggary, by George? Do you want my girl to come home to your lodgings, and mend your clothes?" — “I think I put that point pretty well, Bunch, my boy,” said the general, talking of the matter afterwards. “I hit him there, sir.”

The old soldier did indeed strike his adversary there with a vital stab. Philip’s coat, no doubt, was ragged, and his purse but light. He had sent money to his father out of his small stock. There were one or two servants in the old house in Parr Street, who had been left without their wages, and a part of these debts Philip had paid. He knew his own violence of temper, and his unruly independence. He thought very humbly of his talents, and often doubted of his capacity to get on in the world. In his less hopeful moods, he trembled to think that he might be bringing poverty and unhappiness upon his dearest little maiden, for whom he would joyfully have sacrificed his blood, his life. Poor Philip sank back sickening and fainting almost under Baynes’s words.

“You’ll let me — you’ll let me see her?” he gasped out.

“She’s unwell. She is in her bed. She can’t appear to-day!” cried the mother.

“Oh, Mrs. Baynes! I must — I must see her,” Philip said; and fairly broke out in a sob of pain.

“This is the man that strikes men before women!” said Mrs. Baynes. “Very courageous, certainly!”

“By George, Eliza!” the general cried out, starting up, “it’s too bad — ”

“Infirm of purpose, give me the daggers!” Philip yelled out, whilst describing the scene to his biographer in after days. “Macbeth would never have done the murders but for that little quiet woman at his side. When the Indian prisoners are killed, the squaws always invent the worst tortures. You should have seen that fiend and her livid smile, as she was drilling her gimlets into my heart! I don’t know how I offended her. I tried to like her, sir. I had humbled myself before her. I went on her errands. I played cards with her. I sate and listened to her dreadful stories about Barrackpore and the governor-general. I wallowed in the dust before her, and she hated me. I can see her face now: her cruel yellow face, and her sharp teeth, and her gray eyes. It was the end of August, and pouring a storm that day. I suppose my poor child was cold and suffering up-stairs, for I heard the poking of a fire in her little room. When I hear a fire poking of a fire in her little room. When I hear a fire poked over-head now — twenty years after — the whole thing comes back to me; and I suffer over again that infernal agony. Were I to live a thousand years, I could not forgive her. I never did her a wrong, but I can’t forgive her. Ah, my heaven, how that woman tortured me!”

“I think I know one or two similar instances,” said Mr. Firmin’s biographer.

“You are always speaking ill of women!” said Mr. Firmin’s biographer’s wife.

“No, thank heaven!” said the gentleman. “I think I know some of whom I never thought or spoke a word of evil. My dear, will you give Philip some more tea?” and with this the gentleman’s narrative is resumed.

The rain was beating down the avenue as Philip went into the street. He looked up at Charlotte’s window: but there was no sign. There was a flicker of a fire there. The poor girl had the fever, and was shuddering in her little room, weeping and sobbing on Madame Smolensk’s shoulder, que c’était pitié à voir, madame said. Her mother had told her she must break from Philip; had invented and spoken a hundred calumnies against him; declared that he never cared for her; that he had loose principles, and was for ever haunting theatres and bad company. “It’s not true, mother, it’s not true!” the little girl had cried, flaming up in revolt for a moment: but she soon subsided in tears and misery, utterly broken by the thought of her calamity. Then her father had been brought to her, who had been made to believe some of the stories against poor Philip, and who was commanded by his wife to impress them upon the girl. And Baynes tried to obey orders; but he was scared and cruelly pained by the sight of his little maiden’s grief and suffering. He attempted a weak expostulation, and began a speech or two. But his heart failed him. He retreated behind his wife. She never hesitated in speech or resolution, and her language became more bitter as her ally faltered. Philip was a drunkard; Philip was a prodigal; Philip was a frequenter of dissolute haunts, and loose companions. She had the best authority for what she said. Was not a mother anxious for the welfare of her own child? (“Begad, you don’t suppose your own mother would do anything that was not for your welfare, now?” broke in the general, feebly.) “Do you think if he had not been drunk he would have ventured to commit such an atrocious outrage as that at the Embassy? And do you suppose I want a drunkard and a beggar to marry my daughter? Your ingratitude, Charlotte, is horrible!” cries mamma. And poor Philip, charged with drunkenness, had dined for seventeen sous, with a carafon of beer, and had counted on a supper that night by little Charlotte’s side. So, while the child lay sobbing on her bed, the mother stood over her, and lashed her. For General Baynes — a brave man, a kind-hearted man — to have to look on whilst this torture was inflicted, must have been a hard duty. He could not eat the boarding-house dinner, though he took his place at the table at the sound of the dismal bell. Madame herself was not present at the meal; and you know poor Charlotte’s place was vacant. Her father went upstairs, and paused by her bed-room door, and listened. He heard murmurs within, and madame’s voice, as he stumbled at the door, cried harshly, “Qui est là?” He entered. Madame was sitting on the bed, with Charlotte’s head on her lap. The thick brown tresses were falling over the child’s white nightdress, and she lay almost motionless, and sobbing feebly. “Ah, it is you, general!” said madame. “You have done a pretty work, sir!” “Mamma says, won’t you take something, Charlotte, dear?” faltered the old man. “Will you leave her tranquil?” said madame, with her deep voice. The father retreated. When madame went out presently to get that panacea, une tasse de thé, for her poor little friend, she found the old gentleman seated on a portmanteau at his door. “Is she — is she a little better now?” he sobbed out. Madame shrugged her shoulders, and looked down on the veteran with superb scorn. “Vous n’êtes qu’un poltron, général!” she said, and swept downstairs. Baynes was beaten indeed. He was suffering horrible pain. He was quite unmanned, and tears were trickling down his old cheeks as he sate wretchedly there in the dark. His wife did not leave the table as long as dinner and dessert lasted. She read Galignani resolutely afterwards. She told the children not to make a noise, as their sister was upstairs with a bad headache. But she revoked that statement as it were (as she revoked at cards presently), by asking the Miss Bolderos to play one of their duets.

I wonder whether Philip walked up and down before the house that night? Ah! it was a dismal night for all of them: a racking pain, a cruel sense of shame, throbbed under Baynes’s cotton tassel; and as for Mrs. Baynes, I hope there was not much rest or comfort under her old nightcap. Madame passed the greater part of the night in a great chair in Charlotte’s bedroom, where the poor child heard the hours toll one after the other, and found no comfort in the dreary rising of the dawn.

At a very early hour of the dismal rainy morning, what made poor little Charlotte fling her arms round madame, and cry out, “Ah, que je vous aime! ah, que vous etes bonne, madame!” and smile almost happily through her tears? In the first place, madame went to Charlotte’s dressing-table, whence she took a pair of scissors. Then the little maid sat up on her bed, with her brown hair clustering over her shoulders; and madame took a lock of it, and cut a thick curl; and kissed poor little Charlotte’s red eyes; and laid her pale cheek on the pillow, and carefully covered her; and bade her, with many tender words, to go to sleep. “If you are very good, and will go to sleep, he shall have it in half an hour,” madame said. “And as I go downstairs, I will tell Francoise to have some tea ready for you when you ring.” And this promise, and the thought of what madame was going to do, comforted Charlotte in her misery. And with many fond, fond prayers for Philip, and consoled by thinking, “Now she must have gone the greater part of the way; now she must be with him; now he knows I will never, never love any but him,” she fell asleep at length on her moistened pillow: and was smiling in her sleep, and I daresay dreaming of Philip, when the noise of the fall of a piece of furniture roused her, and she awoke out of her dream to see the grim old mother, in her white nightcap and white dressing-gown, standing by her side.

Never mind. “She has seen him now. She has told him now,” was the child’s very first thought as her eyes fairly opened. “He knows that I never, never will think of any but him.” She felt as if she was actually there in Philip’s room, speaking herself to him; murmuring vows which her fond lips had whispered many and many a time to her lover. And now he knew she would never break them, she was consoled and felt more courage.

“You have had some sleep, Charlotte?” asks Mrs. Baynes.

“Yes, I have been asleep, mamma.” As she speaks, she feels under the pillow a little locket containing — what? I suppose a scrap of Mr. Philip’s lank hair.

“I hope you are in a less wicked frame of mind than when I left you last night,” continues the matron.

“Was I wicked for loving Philip? Then I am wicked still, mamma!” cries the child, sitting up in her bed. And she clutches that little lock of hair which nestles under her pillow.

“What nonsense, child! This is what you get out of your stupid novels. I tell you he does not think about you. He is quite a reckless, careless libertine.”

“Yes, so reckless and careless that we owe him the bread we eat. He doesn’t think of me! Doesn’t he? Ah — ” Here she paused as a clock in a neighbouring chamber began to strike. “Now,” she thought, “he has got my message!” A smile dawned over her face. She sank back on her pillow, turning her head from her mother. She kissed the locket, and murmured: “Not think of me! Don’t you, don’t you, my dear!” She did not heed the woman by her side, hear her voice, or for a moment seem aware of her presence. Charlotte was away in Philip’s room; she saw him talking with her messenger; heard his voice so deep, and so sweet; knew that the promises he had spoken he never would break. With gleaming eyes and flushing cheeks she looked at her mother, her enemy. She held her talisman locket and pressed it to her heart. No, she would never be untrue to him! No, he would never, never desert her! And as Mrs. Baynes looked at the honest indignation beaming in the child’s face, she read Charlotte’s revolt, defiance, perhaps victory. The meek child who never before had questioned an order, or formed a wish which she would not sacrifice at her mother’s order, was now in arms asserting independence. But I should think mamma is not going to give up the command after a single act of revolt; and that she will try more attempts than one to cajole or coerce her rebel.

Meanwhile let Fancy leave the talisman locket nestling on Charlotte’s little heart (in which soft shelter methinks it were pleasant to linger.) Let her wrap a shawl round her, and affix to her feet a pair of stout goloshes; let her walk rapidly through the muddy Champs Elysées, where, in this inclement season, only few a policemen and artisans are to be found moving. Let her pay a halfpenny at the Pont des Invalides, and so march stoutly along the quays, by the Chamber of Deputies, where as yet deputies assemble: and trudge along the river-side, until she reaches Seine Street, into which, as you all know, the Rue Poussin debouches. This was the road brave Madame Smolensk took on a gusty, rainy autumn morning, and on foot, for five-franc pieces were scarce with the good woman. Before the Hôtel Poussin (ah, qu’on y était bien à vingt ans!) is a little painted wicket which opens, ringing; and then there is the passage, you know, with the stair leading to the upper regions, to Monsieur Philippe’s room, which is on the first floor, as is that of Bouchard, the painter, who has his atelier over the way. A bad painter is Bouchard, but a worthy friend, a cheery companion, a modest, amiable gentleman. And a rare good fellow is Laberge of the second floor, the poet from Carcassonne, who pretends to be studying law, but whose heart is with the Muses, and whose talk is of Victor Hugo and Alfred de Musset, whose verses he will repeat to all comers. Near Laberge (I think I have heard Philip say) lived Escasse, a Southern man too — a capitalist — a clerk in a bank, quoi! — whose apartment was decorated sumptuously with his own furniture, who had Spanish wine and sausages in cupboards, and a bag of dollars for a friend in need. Is Escassse alive still? Philip Firmin wonders, and that old colonel, who lived on the same floor, and who had been a prisoner in England? What wonderful descriptions that Colonel Dujarret had of les meess anglaises and their singularities of dress and behaviour! Though conquered and a prisoner, what a conqueror and enslaver he was, when in our country! You see, in his rough way, Philip used to imitate these people to his friends, and we almost fancied we could see the hotel before us. It was very clean; it was very cheap; it was very dark; it was very cheerful; — capital coffee and bread-and-butter for breakfast for fifteen sous; capital bedroom au premier for thirty francs a month; — dinner, if you would, for I forget how little; and a merry talk round the pipes and the grog afterwards — the grog, or the modest eau sucrée. Here Colonel Dujarret recorded his victories over both sexes. Here Colonel Tymowski sighed over his enslaved Poland. Tymowski was the second who was to act for Philip, in case the Ringwood Twysden affair should have come to any violent conclusion. Here Laberge bawled poetry to Philip, who no doubt in his turn confided to the young Frenchman his own hopes and passion. Deep into the night he would sit talking of his love, of her goodness, of her beauty, of her innocence, of her dreadful mother, of her good old father — que sçais-je? Have we not said that when this man had anything on his mind, straightway he bellowed forth his opinions to the universe? Philip, away from his love, would roar out her praises for hours and hours to Laberge, until the candles burned down, until the hour for rest was come and could be delayed no longer. Then he would hie to bed with a prayer for her; and the very instant he awoke begin to think of her, and bless her, and thank God for her love. Poor as Mr. Philip was, yet as the possessor of health, content, honour, and that priceless pure jewel the girl’s love, I think we will not pity him much; though, on the night when he received his dismissal from Mrs. Baynes, he must have passed an awful time, to be sure. Toss, Philip, on your bed of pain, and doubt, and fear. Toll, heavy hours, from night till dawn. Ah! ’twas a weary night through which two sad young hearts heard you tolling.

At a pretty early hour the various occupants of the crib at the Rue Poussin used to appear in the dingy little salle-à-manger, and partake of the breakfast there provided. Monsieur Menou, in his shirt-sleeves, shared and distributed the meal. Madame Menou, with a Madras handkerchief round her grizzling head, laid down the smoking coffee on the shining oil-cloth, whilst each guest helped himself out of a little museum of napkins to his own particular towel. The room was small: the breakfast was not fine: the guests who partook of it were certainly not remarkable for the luxury of clean linen; but Philip — who is many years older now than when he dwelt in this hotel, and is not pinched for money at all, you will be pleased to hear (and, between ourselves, has become rather a gourmand) — declares he was a very happy youth at this humble Hôtel Poussin, and sighs for the days when he was sighing for Miss Charlotte.

Well, he has passed a dreadful night of gloom and terror. I doubt that he has bored Laberge very much with his tears and despondency. And now morning has come, and, as he is having his breakfast with one or more of the before-named worthies, the little boy-of-all-work enters, grinning, his plumet under his arm, and cries “Une dame pour M. Philippe!”

“Une dame,” says the French colonel, looking up from his paper; “allez, mauvais sujet!”

“Grand Dieu! what has happened?” cries Philip, running forward, as he recognizes madame’s tall figure in the passage. They go up to his room, I suppose, regardless of the grins and sneers of the little boy with the plumet, who aids the maid servant to make the beds; and who thinks Monsieur Philippe has a very elderly acquaintance.

Philip closes the door upon his visitor, who looks at him with so much hope, kindness, confidence in her eyes, that the poor fellow is encouraged almost ere she begins to speak. “Yes, you have reason; I come from the little person,” Madame Smolensk said; “the means of resisting that poor dear angel! She has passed a sad night. What? You, too, have not been to bed, poor young man!” Indeed Philip had only thrown himself on his bed, and had kicked there, and had groaned there, and had tossed there; and had tried to read, and, I daresay, remembered afterwards, with a strange interest, the book he read, and that other thought which was throbbing in his brain all the time whilst he was reading, and whilst the wakeful hours went wearily tolling by.

“No, in effect,” says poor Philip, rolling a dismal cigarette; “the night has not been too fine. And she has suffered too? Heaven bless her!” And then Madame Smolensk told how the little dear angel had cried all the night long, and how the Smolensk had not succeeded in comforting her, until she promised she would go to Philip, and tell him that his Charlotte would be his for ever and ever; that she never could think of any man but him; that he was the best, and the dearest, and the bravest, and the truest Philip, and that she did not believe one word of those wicked stories told against him by — “Hold, Monsieur Philippe, I suppose Madame la Générale has been talking about you, and loves you no more,” cried Madame Smolensk. “We other women are assassins — assassins, see you! But Madame la Générale went too far with the little maid. She is an obedient little maid, the dear Miss! — trembling before her mother, and always ready to yield — only now her spirit is roused; and she is yours and yours only. The little dear, gentle child! Ah, how pretty she was, leaning on my shoulder. I held her there — yes, there, my poor garcon, and I cut this from her neck, and brought it to thee. Come, embrace me. Weep; that does good, Philip. I love thee well. Go — and thy little — It is an angel!” And so, in the hour of their pain, myriads of manly hearts have found woman’s love ready to soothe their anguish.

Leaving to Philip that thick curling lock of brown hair (from a head where now, mayhap, there is a line or two of matron silver), this Samaritan plods her way back to her own house, where her own cares await her. But though the way is long, madame’s step is lighter now, as she thinks how Charlotte at the journey’s end is waiting for news of Philip; and I suppose there are more kisses and embraces, when the good soul meets with the little suffering girl, and tells her how Philip will remain for ever true and faithful; and how true love must come to a happy ending; and how she Smolensk, will do all in her power to aid, comfort, and console her young friends. As for the writer of Mr. Philip’s memoirs, you see I never try to make any concealments. I have told you, all along, that Charlotte and Philip are married, and I believe they are happy. But it is certain that they suffered dreadfully at this time of their lives; and my wife says that Charlotte, it she alludes to the period and the trial, speaks as though they had both undergone some hideous operation, the remembrance of which for ever causes a pang to the memory. So, my young lady, will you have your trial one day, to be borne, pray heaven, with a meek spirit. Ah, how surely the turn comes to all of us! Look at Madame Smolensk at her luncheon-table, this day after her visit to Philip at his lodging, after comforting little Charlotte in her pain. How brisk she is! How goodnatured! How she smiles! How she speaks to all her company, and carves for her guests! You do not suppose she has no griefs and cares of her own? You know better. I daresay she is thinking of her creditors; of her poverty: of that accepted bill which will come due next week, and so forth. The Samaritan who rescues you, most likely, has been robbed and has bled in his day; and it is a wounded arm that bandages yours when bleeding.

If Anatole, the boy who scoured the plain at the Hôtel Poussin, with his plumet in his jacket-pocket, and his slippers soled with scrubbing brushes, saw the embrace between Philip and his good friend, I believe, in his experience at that hotel, he never witnessed a transaction more honourable, generous, and blameless. Put what construction you will on the business, Anatole, you little imp of mischief! your mother never gave you a kiss more tender than that which Madame Smolensk bestowed on Philip — than that which she gave Philip? — than that which she carried back from him and faithfully placed on poor little Charlotte’s pale round cheek. The world is full of love and pity, I say. Had there been less suffering, there would have been less kindness. I, for one, almost wish to be ill again, so that the friends who succoured me might once more come to my rescue.

To poor little wounded Charlotte in her bed, our friend the mistress of the boarding-house brought back inexpressible comfort. Whatever might betide, Philip would never desert her! “Think you I would ever have gone on such an embassy for a French girl, or interfered between her and her parents?” madame asked, “Never, never! But you and Monsieur Philippe are already betrothed before heaven; and I should despise you, Charlotte, I should despise him, were either to draw back.” This little point being settled in Miss Charlotte’s mind, I can fancy she is immensely soothed and comforted; that hope and courage settle in her heart; that the colour comes back to her young cheeks; that she can come and join her family as she did yesterday. “I told you she never cared about him,” says Mrs. Baynes to her husband. “Faith, no: she can’t have cared for him much,” says Baynes, with something of a sorrow that his girl should be so lightminded. But you and I, who have been behind the scenes, who have peeped into Philip’s bed-room, and behind poor Charlotte’s modest curtains, know that the girl had revolted from her parents; and so children will if the authority exercised over them is too tyrannical or unjust. Gentle Charlotte, who scarce ever resisted, was aroused and in rebellion: honest Charlotte, who used to speak all her thoughts, now hid them, and deceived father and mother; yes, deceived:— what a confession to make regarding a young lady, the prima donna of our opera! Mrs. Baynes is, as usual, writing her lengthy scrawls to sister Mac Whirter at Tours, and informs the major’s lady that she has very great satisfaction in at last being able to announce “that that most imprudent and in all respects ineligible engagement between her Charlotte and a certain young man, son of a bankrupt London physician, is come to an end. Mr. F.’s conduct has been so wild, so gross, so disorderly and ungentlemanlike, that the general (and you know, Maria, how soft and sweet a tempered man Baynes is) has told Mr. Firmin his opinion in unmistakable words, and forbidden him to continue his visits. After seeing him every day for six months, during which time she has accustomed herself to his peculiarities, and his often coarse and odious expressions and conduct, no wonder the separation has been a shock to dear Char, though I believe the young man feels nothing who has been the cause of all this grief. That he cares but little for her, has been my opinion all along, though she, artless child, gave him her whole affection. He has been accustomed to throw over women; and the brother of a young lady whom Mr. F. had courted and left (and who has made a most excellent match since,) showed his indignation at Mr. F.’s conduct at the embassy ball the other night, on which the young man took advantage of his greatly superior size and strength to begin a vulgar boxing-match, in which both parties were severely wounded. Of course you saw the paragraph in Galignani about the whole affair. I sent our dresses, but it did not print them, though our names appeared as amongst the company. Anything more singular than the appearance of Mr. F. you cannot well imagine. I wore my garnets; Charlotte (who attracted universal admiration) was in, Of course, the separation has occasioned her a good deal of pain; for Mr. F. certainly behaved with much kindness and forbearance on a previous occasion. But the general will not hear of the continuance of the connection. He says the young man’s conduct has been too gross and shameful; and when once roused, you know, I might as well attempt to chain a tiger as Baynes. Our poor Char will suffer no doubt in consequence of the behaviour of this brute, but she has ever been an obedient child, who knows how to honour her father and mother. She bears up wonderfully, though, of course, the dear child suffers at the parting. I think if she were to go to you and Mac Whirter at Tours for a month or two, she would be all the better for change of air, too, dear Mac. Come and fetch her, and we will pay the dawk. She would go to certain poverty and wretchedness did she marry this most violent and disreputable young man. The general sends regards to Mac, and I am,”

That these were the actual words of Mrs. Baynes’s letter I cannot, as a veracious biographer, take upon myself to say. I never saw the document, though I have had the good fortune to peruse others from the same hand. Charlotte saw the letter some time after, upon one of those not unfrequent occasions, when a quarrel occurred between the two sisters — Mrs. Major and Mrs. General — and Charlotte mentioned the contents of the letter to a friend of mine who has talked to me about his affairs, and especially his love affairs, for many and many a long hour. And shrewd old woman as Mrs. Baynes may be, you may see how utterly she was mistaken in fancying that her daughter’s obedience was still secure. The little maid had left father and mother, at first with their eager sanction; her love had been given to Firmin; and an inmate — a prisoner if you will — under her father’s roof, her heart remained with Philip, however time or distance might separate them.

And now, as we have the command of Philip’s desk, and are free to open and read the private letters which relate to his history, I take leave to put in a document which was penned in his place of exile by his worthy father, upon receiving the news of the quarrel described in the last chapter of these memoirs:—

“Astor House, New York, September 27.

“Dear Philip, — I received the news in your last kind and affectionate letter with not unmingled pleasure; but ah, what pleasure in life does not carry its amari aliquid along with it! That you are hearty, cheerful, and industrious, earning a small competence, I am pleased indeed to think: that you talk about being married to a penniless girl I can’t say gives me a very sincere pleasure. With your good looks, good manners, attainments, you might have hoped for a better match than a half-pay officer’s daughter. But ’tis useless speculating on what might have been. We are puppets in the hands of fate, most of us. We are carried along by a power stronger than ourselves. It has driven me, at sixty years of age, from competence, general respect, high position, to poverty and exile. So be it! laudo manentem, as my delightful old friend and philosopher teaches me — si celeres quatit pennas — you know the rest. Whatever our fortune may be, I hope that my Philip and his father will bear it with the courage of gentlemen.

“Our papers have announced the death of your poor mother’s uncle, Lord Ringwood, and I had a fond lingering hope that he might have left some token of remembrance to his brother’s grandson. He has not. You have probam pauperiem sine dote. You have courage, health, strength, and talent. I was in greater straits than you are at your age. My father was not as indulgent as yours, I hope and trust, has been. From debt and dependence I worked myself up to a proud position by my own efforts. That the storm overtook me and engulphed me afterwards, is true. But I am like the merchant of my favourite poet: I still hope — ay, at 63! — to mend my shattered ships, indocilis pauperiem pati. I still hope to pay back to my dear boy that fortune which ought to have been his, and which went down in my own shipwreck. Something tells me I must — I will!

“I agree with you that your escape from Agnes Twysden has been a piece of good fortune for you, and am much diverted by your account of her dusky innamorato! Between ourselves, the fondness of the Twysdens for money amounted to meanness. And though I always received Twysden in dear Old Parr Street, as I trust a gentleman should, his company was insufferably tedious to me, and his vulgar loquacity odious. His son also was little to my taste. Indeed I was heartily relieved when I found your connection with that family was over, knowing their rapacity about money, and that it was your fortune, not you, they were anxious to secure for Agnes.

“You will be glad to hear that I am in not inconsiderable practice already. My reputation as a physician had preceded me to this country. My work on Gout was favourably noticed here, and in Philadelphia, and in Boston, by the scientific journals of those great cities. People are more generous and compassionate towards misfortune here than in our cold-hearted island. I could mention several gentlemen of New York who have suffered shipwreck like myself, and are now prosperous and respected. I had the good fortune to be of considerable professional service to Colonel J. B. Fogle, of New York, on our voyage out; and the colonel, who is a leading personage here, has shown himself not at all ungrateful. Those who fancy that at New York people cannot appreciate and understand the manners of a gentleman, are not a little mistaken; and a man who, like myself, has lived with the best society in London, has, I flatter myself, not lived in that society quite in vain. The colonel is proprietor and editor of one of the most brilliant and influential journals of the city. You know that arms and the toga are often worn here by the same individual, and —

“I had actually written thus far when I read in the colonel’s paper — the New York Emerald — an account of your battle with your cousin at the Embassy ball! Oh, you pugnacious Philip! Well, young Twysden was very vulgar, very rude and overbearing, and, I have no doubt, deserved the chastisement you gave him. By the way, the correspondent of the Emerald makes some droll blunders regarding you in his letter. We are all fair game for publicity in this country, where the press is free with a vengeance; and your private affairs, or mine, or the President’s, or our gracious Queen’s, for the matter of that, are discussed with a freedom which certainly amounts to licence. The colonel’s lady is passing the winter in Paris, where I should wish you to pay your respects to her. Her husband has been most kind to me. I am told that Mrs. F. lives in the very choicest French society, and the friendship of this family may be useful to you as to your affectionate father,

“G. B. F.

“Address as usual, until you hear further from me, as Dr. Brandon, New York. I wonder whether Lord Estridge has asked you after his old college friend? When he was Headbury and at Trinity, he and a certain pensioner whom men used to nickname Brummell Firmin were said to be the best dressed men in the university. Estridge has advanced to rank, to honours! You may rely on it, that he will have one of the very next vacant garters. What a different, what an unfortunate career, has been his quondam friend’s! — an exile, an inhabitant of a small room in a great hotel, where I sit at a scrambling public table with all sorts of coarse people! The way in which they bolt their dinner, often with a knife, shocks me. Your remittance was most welcome, small as it was. It shows my Philip has a kind heart. Ah! why, why are you thinking of marriage, who are so poor? By the way, your encouraging account of your circumstances has induced me to draw upon you for 100 dollars. The bill will go to Europe by the packet which carries this letter, and has kindly been cashed for me by my friends, Messrs. Plaster and Shinman, of Wall Street, respected bankers of this city. Leave your card with Mrs. Fogle. Her husband himself may be useful to you and your ever attached

“Father.”

We take the New York Emerald at Bays’s, and in it I had read a very amusing account of our friend Philip, in an ingenious correspondence entitled “Letters from an Attaché,” which appeared in that journal. I even copied the paragraph to show to my wife, and perhaps to forward to our friend.

“I promise you,” wrote the attaché, “the new country did not disgrace the old at the British Embassy ball on Queen Vic’s birthday. Colonel Z. B. Hoggins’s lady, of Albany, and the peerless bride of Elijah J. Dibbs, of Twenty-ninth Street in your city, were the observed of all observers for splendour, for elegance, for refined native beauty. The Royal Dukes danced with nobody else; and at the attention of one of the Princes to the lovely Miss Dibbs, I observed his Royal Duchess looked as black as thunder. Supper handsome. Back Delmonico to beat it. Champagne so-so. By the way, the young fellow who writes here for the Pall Mall Gazette got too much of the champagne on board — as usual, I am told. The Honourable R. Twysden, of London, was rude to my young chap’s partner, or winked at him offensively, or trod on his toe, or I don’t know what — but young F. followed him into the garden; hit out at him; sent him flying, like a spread eagle into the midst of an illumination, and left him there sprawling. Wild, rampageous fellow this young F.; has already spent his own fortune, and ruined his poor old father, who has been forced to cross the water. Old Louis Philippe went away early. He talked long with our minister about his travels in our country. I was standing by, but in course ain’t so ill-bred as to say what passed between them.”

In this way history is written. I daresay about others besides Philip, in English papers as well as American, have fables been narrated.

Chapter 10

Contains a Tug of War.

Who was the first to spread the report that Philip was a prodigal, and had ruined his poor confiding father? I thought I knew a person who might be interested in getting under any shelter, and sacrificing even his own son for his own advantage. I thought I knew a man who had done as much already, and surely might do so again; but my wife flew into one of her tempests of indignation, when I hinted something of this, clutched her own children to her heart, according to her maternal wont, asked me was there any power would cause me to belie them? and sternly rebuked me for daring to be so wicked, heartless, and cynical. My dear creature, wrath is no answer. You call me heartless and cynic, for saying men are false and wicked. Have you never heard to what lengths some bankrupts will go? To appease the wolves who chase them in the winter forest, have you not read how some travellers will cast all their provisions out of the sledge? then, when all the provisions are gone, don’t you know that they will fling out perhaps the sister, perhaps the mother, perhaps the baby, the little, dear, tender innocent? Don’t you see him tumbling among the howling pack, and the wolves gnashing, gnawing, crashing, gobbling him up in the snow? Oh, horror — horror! My wife draws all the young ones to her breast as I utter these fiendish remarks. She hugs them in her embrace, and says, “For shame!” and that I am a monster, and so on. Go to! Go down on your knees, woman, and acknowledge the sinfulness of our humankind. How long had our race existed ere murder and violence began? and how old was the world ere brother slew brother?

Well, my wife and I came to a compromise. I might have my opinion, but was there any need to communicate it to poor Philip? No, surely. So I never sent him the extract from the New York Emerald; though, of course, some other good-natured friend did, and I don’t think my magnanimous friend cared much. As for supposing that his own father, to cover his own character, would lie away his son’s — such a piece of artifice was quite beyond Philip’s comprehension, who has been all his life slow in appreciating roguery, or recognizing that there is meanness and double-dealing in the world. When he once comes to understand the fact; when he once comprehends that Tartuffe is a humbug and swelling Bufo is a toady; then my friend becomes as absurdly indignant and mistrustful as before he was admiring and confiding. Ah, Philip! Tartuffe has a number of good, respectable qualities; and Bufo, though an underground odious animal, may have a precious jewel in his head. ’Tis you are cynical. I see the good qualities in these rascals whom you spurn. I see. I shrug my shoulders. I smile: and you call me cynic. It was long before Philip could comprehend why Charlotte’s mother turned upon him, and tried to force her daughter to forsake him. “I have offended the old woman in a hundred ways,” he would say. “My tobacco annoys her; my old clothes offend her; the very English I speak is often Greek to her, and she can no more construe my sentences than I can the Hindostanee jargon she talks to her husband at dinner.” “My dear fellow, if you had ten thousand a year she would try and construe your sentences, or accept them even if not understood,” I would reply. And some men, whom you and I know to be mean, and to be false, and to be flatterers and parasites, and to be inexorably hard and cruel in their own private circles, will surely pull a long face to-morrow, and say, “Oh! the man’s so cynical!”

I acquit Baynes of what ensued. I hold Mrs. B. to have been the criminal — the stupid criminal. The husband, like many other men extremely brave in active life, was at home timid and irresolute. Of two heads that lie side by side on the same pillow for thirty years, one must contain the stronger power, the more enduring resolution. Baynes, away from his wife, was shrewd, courageous, gay at times; when with her he was fascinated, torpid under the power of this baleful superior creature. “Ah, when we were subs together in camp in 1803, what a lively fellow Charley Baynes was!” his comrade, Colonel Bunch, would say. “That was before he ever saw his wife’s yellow face; and what a slave she has made of him!”

After that fatal conversation which ensued after the ball, Philip did not come to dinner at madame’s according to his custom. Mrs. Baynes told no family stories, and Colonel Bunch, who had no special liking for the young gentleman, did not trouble himself to make any inquiries about him. One, two, three days passed, and no Philip. At last the colonel says to the general, with a sly look at Charlotte, “Baynes, where is our young friend with the mustachios? We have not seen him these three days.” And he gives an arch look at poor Charlotte. A burning blush flamed up in little Charlotte’s pale face, as she looked at her parents and then at their old friend. “Mr. Firmin does not come, because papa and mamma have forbidden him,” says Charlotte. “I suppose he only comes where he is welcome.” And, having made this audacious speech, I suppose the little maid tossed her little head up; and wondered, in the silence which ensued, whether all the company could hear her heart thumping.

Madame, from her central place, where she is carving, sees, from the looks of her guests, the indignant flushes on Charlotte’s face, the confusion on her father’s, the wrath on Mrs. Baynes’s, that some dreadful words are passing; and in vain endeavours to turn the angry current of talk. “Un petit canard dèlicieux, goûtez-en, madame!” she cries. Honest Colonel Bunch sees the little maid with eyes flashing with anger, and trembling in every limb. The offered duck having failed to create a diversion, he, too, tries a feeble commonplace. “A little difference, my dear,” he says in an under voice. “There will be such in the best regulated families. Canard sauvage tres bong, madame, avec — ” but he is allowed to speak no more, for —

“What would you do, Colonel Bunch,” little Charlotte breaks out with her poor little ringing, trembling voice — “that is, if you were a young man, if another young man struck you, and insulted you?” I say she utters this in such a clear voice, that Françoise, the femme-de-chambre, that Auguste, the footman, that all the guests hear, that all the knives and forks stop their clatter.

“Faith, my dear, I’d knock him down, if I could,” says Bunch; and he catches hold of the little maid’s sleeve, and would stop her speaking if he could.

“And that is what Philip did,” cries Charlotte aloud; “and mamma has turned him out of the house — yes, out of the house, for acting like a man of honour!”

“Go to your room this instant, miss!” shrieks mamma. As for old Baynes, his stained old uniform is not more dingy-red than his wrinkled face and his throbbing temples. He blushes under his wig, no doubt, could we see beneath that ancient artifice.

“What is it? madame your mother dismisses you of my table? I will come with you, my dear Miss Charlotte!” says madame, with much dignity. “Serve the sugared plate, Auguste! My ladies, you will excuse me! I go to attend the dear miss, who seems to me ill.” And she rises up, and she follows poor little blushing, burning, weeping Charlotte: and again, I have no doubt, takes her in her arms, and kisses, and cheers, and caresses her — at the threshold of the door — there by the staircase, among the cold dishes of the dinner, where Moira and MacGrigor had one moment before been marauding.

“Courage, ma fille, courage, mon enfant! Tenez! Behold something to console thee!” and madame takes out of her pocket a little letter, and gives it to the girl, who at sight of it kisses the superscription, and then in an anguish of love, and joy, and grief, falls on the neck of the kind woman, who consoles her in her misery. Whose writing is it Charlotte kisses? Can you guess by any means? Upon my word, Madame Smolensk, I never recommend ladies to take daughters to your boarding-house. And I like you so much, I would not tell of you, but you know the house is shut up this many a long day. Oh! the years slip away fugacious; and the grass has grown over graves; and many and many joys and sorrows have been born and have died since then for Charlotte and Philip: but that grief aches still in their bosoms at times; and that sorrow throbs at Charlotte’s heart again whenever she looks at a little yellow letter in her trinket-box: and she says to her children, “Papa wrote that to me before we were married, my dears.” There are scarcely half-a-dozen words in the little letter, I believe; and two of them are “for ever.”

I could draw a ground-plan of madame’s house in the Champs Elysées if I liked, for has not Philip shown me the place and described it to me many times? In front, and facing the road and garden, were madame’s room and the salon; to the back was the salle-à-manger; and a stair ran up the house (where the dishes used to be laid during dinner-time, and where Moira and MacGrigor fingered the meats and puddings). Mrs. General Baynes’s rooms were on the first floor, looking on the Champs Elysées, and into the garden-court of the house below. And on this day, as the dinner was necessarily short (owing to unhappy circumstances), and the gentlemen were left alone glumly drinking their wine or grog, and Mrs. Baynes had gone upstairs to her own apartment, had slapped her boys, and was looking out of window — was it not provoking that of all days in the world young Hely should ride up to the house on his capering mare, with his flower in his button-hole, with his little varnished toe-tips just touching his stirrups, and after performing various caracolades and gambadoes in the garden, kiss his yellow-kidded hand to Mrs. General Baynes at the window, hope Miss Baynes was quite well, and ask if he might come in and take a cup of tea? Charlotte, lying on madame’s bed in the ground-floor room, heard Mr. Hely’s sweet voice asking after her health, and the crunching of his horse’s hoofs on the gravel, and she could even catch glimpses of that little form as the horse capered about in the court, though of course he could not see her where she was lying on the bed with her letter in her hand. Mrs. Baynes at her window had to wag her withered head from the casement, to groan out, “My daughter is lying down, and has a bad headache, I am sorry to say,” and then she must have had the mortification to see Hely caper off, after waving her a genteel adieu. The ladies in the front salon, who assembled after dinner, witnessed the transaction, and Mrs. Bunch, I daresay, had a grim pleasure at seeing Eliza Baynes’s young spring of fashion, of whom Eliza was for ever bragging, come at last, and obliged to ride away, not bootless, certainly, for where were feet more beautifully chaussés? but after a bootless errand.

Meanwhile the gentlemen sate awhile in the dining-room, after the British custom which such veterans liked too well to give up. Other two gentlemen boarders went away, rather alarmed by that storm and outbreak in which Charlotte had quitted the dinner-table, and left the old soldiers together, to enjoy, according to their after-dinner custom, a sober glass of “something hot,” as the saying is. In truth, madame’s wine was of the poorest; but what better could you expect for the money?

Baynes was not eager to be alone with Bunch, and I have no doubt began to blush again when he found himself tête-à-tête with his old friend. But what was to be done? The general did not dare to go up-stairs to his own quarters, where poor Charlotte was probably crying, and her mother in one of her tantrums. Then in the salon there were the ladies of the boarding-house party, and there Mrs. Bunch would be sure to be at him. Indeed, since the Bayneses were launched in the great world, Mrs. Bunch was untiringly sarcastic in her remarks about lords, ladies, attachés, ambassadors, and fine people in general. So Baynes sate with his friend, in the falling evening, in much silence, dipping his old nose in the brandy-and-water.

Litte square-faced, red-faced, whisker-dyed Colonel Bunch sate opposite his old companion, regarding him not without scorn. Bunch had a wife. Bunch had feelings. Do you suppose those feelings had not been worked upon by that wife in private colloquies? Do you suppose — when two old women have lived together in pretty much the same rank of life, — if one suddenly gets promotion, is carried off to higher spheres, and talks of her new friends, the countesses, duchesses, ambassadresses, as of course she will — do you suppose, I say, that the unsuccessful woman will be pleased at the successful woman’s success? Your knowledge of your own heart, my dear lady, must tell you the truth in this matter. I don’t want you to acknowledge that you are angry because your sister has been staying with the Duchess of Fitzbattleaxe, but you are, you know. You have made sneering remarks, to your husband on the subject, and such remarks, I have no doubt, were made by Mrs. Colonel Bunch to her husband, regarding her poor friend Mrs. General Baynes.

During this parenthesis we have left the general dipping his nose in the brandy-and-water. He can’t keep it there for ever. He must come up for air presently. His face must come out of the drink, and sigh over the table.

“What’s this business, Baynes?” says the colonel. “What’s the matter with poor Charley?”

“Family affairs — differences will happen,” says the general.

“I do hope and trust nothing has gone wrong with her and young Firmin, Baynes?”

The general does not like those fixed eyes staring at him under those bushy eyebrows, between those bushy, blackened whiskers.

“Well, then, yes, Bunch, something has gone wrong; and given me and — and Mrs. Baynes — a deuced deal of pain too. The young fellow has acted like a blackguard, brawling and fighting at an ambassador’s ball, bringing us all to ridicule. He’s not a gentleman; that’s the long and short of it, Bunch; and so let’s change the subject.”

“Why, consider the provocation he had!” cries the other, disregarding entirely his friend’s prayer. “I heard them talking about the business at Galignani’s this very day. A fellow swears at Firmin; runs at him; brags that he has pitched him over; and is knocked down for his pains. By George! I think Firmin was quite right. Were any man to do as much to me or you, what should we do, even at our age?”

“We are military men. I said I didn’t wish to talk about the subject, Bunch,” says the general in rather a lofty manner.

“You mean that Tom Bunch has no need to put his oar in?”

“Precisely so,” says the other, curtly.

“Mum’s the word! Let us talk about the dukes and duchesses at the ball. That’s more in your line, now,” says the colonel, with rather a sneer.

“What do you mean by duchesses and dukes? What do you know about them, or what the deuce do I care?” asks the general.

“Oh, they are tabooed too! Hang it! there’s no satisfying you,” growls the colonel.

“Look here, Bunch,” the general broke out; “I must speak, since you won’t leave me alone. I am unhappy. You can see that well enough. For two or three nights past I have had no rest. This engagement of my child and Mr. Firmin can’t come to any good. You see what he is — an overbearing, ill-conditioned, quarrelsome fellow. What chance has Charley of being happy with such a fellow?”

“I hold my tongue, Baynes. You told me not to put my oar in,” growls the colonel.

“Oh, if that’s the way you take it, Bunch, of course there’s no need for me to go on any more,” cries General Baynes. “If an old friend won’t give an old friend advice, by George, or help him in a strait, or say a kind word when he’s unhappy, I have done. I have known you for forty years, and I am mistaken in you — that’s all.”

“There’s no contenting you. You say, Hold your tongue, and I shut my mouth. I hold my tongue, and you say, Why don’t you speak? Why don’t I? Because you won’t like what I say, Charles Baynes: and so, what’s the good of more talking?”

“Confound it!” cries Baynes, with a thump of his glass on the table, “but what do you say?”

“I say, then, as you will have it,” cries the other, clenching his fists in his pockets — “I say you are wanting a pretext for breaking off this match, Baynes. I don’t say it is a good one, mind; but your word is passed, and your honour engaged to a young fellow to whom you are under deep obligation.”

“What obligation? Who has talked to you about my private affairs?” cries the general, reddening. “Has Philip Firmin been bragging about his —?”

“You have yourself, Baynes. When you arrived here, you told me over and over again what the young fellow had done: and you certainly thought he acted like a gentleman then. If you choose to break your word to him now — ”

“Break my word! Great powers, do you know what you are saying, Bunch?”

“Yes, and what you are doing, Baynes.”

“Doing? and what?”

“A damned shabby action; that’s what you are doing, if you want to know. Don’t tell me. Why, do you suppose Fanny — do you suppose everybody doesn’t see what you are at? You think you can get a better match for the girl, and you and Eliza are going to throw the young fellow over: and the fellow who held his hand, and might have ruined you if he liked. I say it is a cowardly action!”

“Colonel Bunch, do you dare to use such a word to me?” calls out the general, starting to his feet.

“Dare be hanged! I say it’s a shabby action!” roars the other, rising too.

“Hush! unless you wish to disturb the ladies! Of course you know what your expression means, Colonel Bunch?” and the general drops his voice and sinks back to his chair.

“I know what my words mean, and I stick to ’em, Baynes,” growls the other; “which is more than you can say of yours.”

“I am dee’d if any man alive shall use this language to me,” says the general in the softest whisper, “without accounting to me for it.”

“Did you ever find me backward, Baynes, at that kind of thing?” growls the colonel, with a face like a lobster and eyes starting from his head.

“Very good, sir. To-morrow, at your earliest convenience. I shall be at Galignani’s from eleven till one. With a friend if possible. — What is it, my love? A game at whist? Well, no, thank you; I think I won’t play cards to-night.”

It was Mrs. Baynes who entered the room when the two gentlemen were quarrelling; and the bloodthirsty hypocrites instantly smoothed their ruffled brows and smiled on her with perfect courtesy.

“Whist — no! I was thinking should we send out to meet him. He has never been in Paris.”

“Never been in Paris?” said the general, puzzled.

“He will be here to-night, you know. Madame has a room ready for him.”

“The very thing, the very thing!” cries General Baynes, with great glee. And Mrs. Baynes, all unsuspicious of the quarrel between the old friends, proceeds to inform Colonel Bunch that Major MacWhirter was expected that evening. And then that tough old Colonel Bunch knew the cause of Baynes’s delight. A second was provided for the general — the very thing Baynes wanted.

We have seen how Mrs. Baynes, after taking counsel with her general, had privately sent for MacWhirter. Her plan was that Charlotte’s uncle should take her for a while to Tours, and make her hear reason. Then Charley’s foolish passion for Philip would pass away. Then, if he dared to follow her so far, her aunt and uncle, two dragons of virtue and circumspection, would watch and guard her. Then, if Mrs. Hely was still of the same mind, she and her son might easily take the post to Tours, where, Philip being absent, young Walsingham might plead his passion. The best part of the plan, perhaps, was the separation of our young couple. Charlotte would recover. Mrs. Baynes was sure of that. The little girl had made no outbreak until that sudden insurrection at dinner which we have witnessed; and her mother, who had domineered over the child all her life, thought she was still in her power. She did not know that she had passed the bounds of authority, and that with her behaviour to Philip her child’s allegiance had revolted.

Bunch then, from Baynes’s look and expression, perfectly understood what his adversary meant, and that the general’s second was found. His own he had in his eye — a tough little old army surgeon of Peninsular and Indian times, who lived hard by, who would aid as second and doctor too, if need were — and so kill two birds with one stone, as they say. The colonel would go forth that very instant and seek for Dr. Martin, and be hanged to Baynes, and a plague on the whole transaction and the folly of two old friends burning powder in such a quarrel. But he knew what a bloodthirsty little fellow that henpecked, silent Baynes was when roused; and as for himself — a fellow use that kind of language to me? By George, Tom Bunch was not going to baulk him!

Whose was that tall figure prowling about madame’s house in the Champs Elysées when Colonel Bunch issued forth in quest of his friend; who has been watched by the police and mistaken for a suspicious character; who had been looking up at madame’s windows now that the evening shades had fallen? Oh, you goose of a Philip! (for of course, my dears, you guess the spy was P. F. Esq.) you look up at the premier, and there is the Beloved in madame’s room on the ground floor; — in yonder room, where a lamp is burning and casting a faint light across the bars of the jalousie. If Philip knew she was there, he would be transformed into a clematis, and climb up the bars of the window, and twine round them all night. But you see he thinks she is on the first floor; and the glances of his passionate eyes are taking aim at the wrong windows. And now Colonel Bunch comes forth in his stout strutting way, in his little military cape — quick march — and Philip is startled like a guilty thing surprised, and dodges behind a tree in the avenue.

The colonel departed on his murderous errand. Philip still continues to ogle the window of his heart (the wrong window), defiant of the policeman, who tells him to circuler. He has not watched here many minutes more, ere a hackney-coach drives up with portmanteaux on the roof and a lady and gentleman within.

You see Mrs. MacWhirter thought she as well as her husband might have a peep at Paris. As Mac’s coachhire was paid, Mrs. Mac could afford a little outlay of money. And if they were to bring Charlotte back — Charlotte in grief and agitation, poor child — a matron, an aunt, would be a much fitter companion for her than a major, however gentle. So the pair of MacWhirters journeyed from Tours — a long journey it was before railways were invented — and after four-and-twenty hours of squeeze in the diligence, presented themselves at nightfall at Madame Smolensk’s .

The Baynes’ boys dashed into the garden at the sound of wheels. “Mamma — mamma! it’s uncle Mac!” these innocents cried, as they ran to the railings. “Uncle Mac! what could bring him? Oh! they are going to send me to him! they are going to send me to him!” thought Charlotte, starting on her bed. And on this, I daresay, a certain locket was kissed more vehemently than ever.

“I say, Ma!” cries the ingenious Moira, jumping back to the house; “it’s uncle Mac, and aunt Mac, too!”

“What?” cries mamma, with anything but pleasure in her voice; and then turning to the dining-room, where her husband still sate, she called out, “General! here’s MacWhirter and Emily!”

Mrs. Baynes gave her sister a very grim kiss.

“Dearest Eliza, I thought it was such a good opportunity of coming, and that I might be so useful, you know!” pleads Emily.

“Thank you. How do you do, Mac Whirter?” says the grim générale.

“Glad to see you, Baynes, my boy!”

“How d’ye do, Emily? Boys, bring your uncle’s traps. Didn’t know Emily was coming, Mac. Hope there’s room for her!” sighs the general, coming forth from his parlour.

The major was struck by the sad looks and pallor of his brother-in-law. “By George! Baynes, you look as yellow as a guinea. How’s Tom Bunch?”

“Come into this room along with me. Have some brandly-and-water, Mac. — Auguste! O de vie, O sho!” calls the general; and Auguste, who out of the new comer’s six packages has daintily taken one very small mackintosh cushion, says, “Comment? encore du grog, général and, shrugging his shoulders, disappears to procure the refreshment at his leisure.

The sisters disappear to their embraces; the brothers-in-law retreat to the salle-à-manger, where General Baynes has been sitting, gloomy and lonely, for half an hour past, thinking of his quarrel with his old comrade, Bunch. He and Bunch have been chums for more than forty years. They have been in action together, and honourably mentioned in the same report. They have had a great regard for each other; and each knows the other is an obstinate old mule, and, in a quarrel, will die rather than give way. They have had a dispute out of which there is only one issue. Words have passed which no man, however old, by George! can brook from any friend, however intimate, by Jove! No wonder Baynes is grave. His family is large; his means are small. To-morrow he may be under fire of an old friend’s pistol. In such an extremity he knows how each will behave. No wonder, I say, the general is solemn.

“What’s in the wind now, Baynes?” asks the major, after a little drink and a long silence. “How is poor little Char?”

“Infernally ill — I mean behaved infernally ill,” says the general, biting his lips.

“Bad business! Bad business! Poor little child!” cries the major.

“Insubordinate little devil!” says the pale general, grinding his teeth. “We’ll see which shall be master!”

“What! you have had words?”

“At this table, this very day. She sat here and defied her mother and me, by George! and flung out of the room like a tragedy queen. She must be tamed, Mac, or my name’s not Baynes.”

Mac Whirter knew his relative of old, and that this quiet, submissive man, when angry, worked up to a white heat as it were. “Sad affair; hope you’ll both come round, Baynes,” sighs the major, trying bootless common-places; and seeing this last remark had no effect, he bethought him of recurring to their mutual friend. “How’s Tom Bunch?” the major asked, cheerily.

At this question Baynes grinned in such a ghastly way that MacWhirter eyed him with wonder. “Colonel Bunch is very well,” the general said, in dismal voice; “at least, he was, half an hour ago. He was sitting there;” and he pointed to an empty spoon lying in an empty beaker, whence the spirit and water had departed.

“What has been the matter, Baynes?” asked the major. “Has anything happened between you and Tom?”

“I mean that, half an hour ago, Colonel Bunch used words to me which I’ll bear from no man alive: and you have arrived just in the nick of time, Mac Whirter, to take my message to him. Hush! here’s the drink.”

“Voici, Messieurs!” Auguste at length has brought up a second supply of brandy-and-water. The veterans mingled their jorums; and whilst his brother-in-law spoke, the alarmed MacWhirter sipped occasionally, intentusque ora tenebat.

Chapter 11

I Charge You, Drop Your Daggers!

General Baynes began the story which you and I have heard at length. He told it in his own way. He grew very angry with himself whilst defending himself. He had to abuse Philip very fiercely, in order to excuse his own act of treason. He had to show that his act was not his act; that, after all, he never had promised; and that, if he had promised, Philip’s atrocious conduct ought to absolve him from any previous promise. I do not wonder that the general was abusive, and out of temper. Such a crime as he was committing can’t be performed cheerfully by a man who is habitually gentle, generous, and honest. I do not say that men cannot cheat, cannot lie, cannot inflict torture, cannot commit rascally actions, without in the least losing their equanimity; but these are men habitually false, knavish, and cruel. They are accustomed to break their promises, to cheat their neighbours in bargains, and what not. A roguish word or action more or less is of little matter to them: their remorse only awakens after detection, and they don’t begin to repent till they come sentenced out of the dock. But here was an ordinarily just man withdrawing from his promise, turning his back on his benefactor, and justifying himself to himself by maligning the man whom he injured. It is not an uncommon event, my dearly beloved brethren and esteemed miserable sister sinners; but you like to say a preacher is “cynical” who admits this sad truth — and, perhaps, don’t care to hear about the subject on more than one day in the week.

So, in order to make out some sort of case for himself, our poor good old General Baynes chose to think and declare that Philip was so violent, ill-conditioned, and abandoned a fellow, that no faith ought to be kept with him; and that Colonel Bunch had behaved with such brutal insolence that Baynes must call him to account. As for the fact that there was another, a richer, and a much more eligible suitor, who was likely to offer for his daughter, Baynes did not happen to touch on this point at all; preferring to speak of Philip’s hopeless poverty, disreputable conduct, and gross and careless behaviour.

Now MacWhirter, having, I suppose, little to do at Tours, had read Mrs. Baynes’s letters to her sister Emily, and remembered them. Indeed, it was but very few months since Eliza Baynes’s letters had been full of praise of Philip, of his love for Charlotte, and of his noble generosity in foregoing the great claim which he had upon the general, his mother’s careless trustee. Philip was the first suitor Charlotte had had: in her first glow of pleasure, Charlotte’s mother had covered yards of paper with compliments, interjections, and those scratches or dashes under her words, by which some ladies are accustomed to point their satire or emphasize their delight. He was an admirable young man — wild, but generous, handsome, noble! He had forgiven his father thousands and thousands of pounds which the doctor owed him — all his mother’s fortune; and he had acted most nobly by her trustees — that she must say, though poor dear weak Baynes was one of them, Baynes who was as simple as a child! Major Mac and his wife had agreed that Philip’s forbearance was very generous and kind, but after all that there was no special cause for rapture at the notion of their niece marrying a struggling young fellow without a penny in the world; and they had been not a little amused with the change of tone in Eliza’s later letters, when she began to go out in the great world, and to look coldly upon poor, penniless Firmin, her hero of a few months since. Then Emily remembered how Eliza had always been fond of great people; how her head was turned by going to a few parties at Government House; how absurdly she went on with that little creature Fitzrickets (because he was an Honourable, forsooth) at Dumdum. Eliza was a good wife to Baynes; a good mother to the children; and made both ends of a narrow income meet with surprising dexterity; but Emily was bound to say of her sister Eliza, that a more, And when the news came at length that Philip was to be thrown overboard, Emily clapped her hands together, and said to her husband, “Now, Mac, didn’t I always tell you so? If she could get a fashionable husband for Charlotte, I knew my sister would put the doctor’s son to the door!” That the poor child would suffer considerably, her aunt was assured. Indeed, before her own union with Mac, Emily had undergone heartbreakings and pangs of separation on her own account. The poor child would want comfort and companionship. She would go to fetch her niece. And though the major said, “My dear, you want to go to Paris, and buy a new bonnet,” Mrs. MacWhirter spurned the insinuation, and came to Paris from a mere sense of duty.

So Baynes poured out his history of wrongs to his brother-in-law, who marvelled to hear a man, ordinarily chary of words and cool of demeanour, so angry and so voluble. If he had done a bad action, at least, after doing it, Baynes had the grace to be very much out of humour. If I ever, for my part, do anything wrong in my family, or to them, I accompany that action with a furious rage and blustering passion. I won’t have wife or children question it. No querulous Nathan of a family friend (or an incommodious conscience, may be) shall come and lecture me about my ill-doings. No — no. Out of the house with him! Away, you preaching bugbear, don’t try to frighten me! Baynes, I suspect, to browbeat, bully, and outtalk the Nathan pleading in his heart — Baynes will outbawl that prating monitor, and thrust that inconvenient preacher out of sight, out of hearing, drive him with angry words from our gate. Ah! in vain we expel him; and bid John say, not at home! There he is when we wake, sitting at our bed-foot. We throw him overboard for daring to put an oar in our boat. Whose ghastly head is that looking up from the water and swimming alongside us, row we never so swiftly? Fire at him. Brain him with an oar, one of you, and pull on! Flash goes the pistol. Surely that oar has stove the old skull in? See! there comes the awful companion popping up out of water again, and crying, “Remember, remember, I am here, I am here!” Baynes had thought to bully away one monitor by the threat of a pistol, and here was another swimming alongside of his boat. And would you have it otherwise, my dear reader, for you, for me? That you and I shall commit sins, in this, and ensuing years, is certain; but I hope — I hope they won’t be past praying for. Here is Baynes, having just done a bad action, in a dreadfully wicked, murderous, and dissatisfied state of mind. His chafing, bleeding temper is one raw; his whole soul one rage, and wrath, and fever. Charles Baynes, thou old sinner, I pray that heaven may turn thee to a better state of mind. I will kneel down by thy side, scatter ashes on my own bald pate, and we will quaver out Peccavimus together.

“In one word, the young man’s conduct has been so outrageous and disreputable that I can’t, Mac, as a father of a family, consent to my girl’s marrying. Out of a regard for her happiness, it is my duty to break off the engagement,” cries the general, finishing the story.

“Has he formally released you from that trust business?” asked the major.

“Good heavens, Mac!” cries the general, turning very red. “You know I am as innocent of all wrong towards him as you are!”

“Innocent — only you did not look to your trust — ”

“I think ill of him, sir. I think he is a wild, reckless, overbearing young fellow,” calls out the general, very quickly, “who would make my child miserable; but I don’t think he is such a blackguard as to come down on a retired elderly man with a poor family — a numerous family; a man who has bled and fought for his sovereign in the Peninsula, and in India, as the Army List will show you, by George. I don’t think Firmin will be such a scoundrel as to come down on me, I say; and I must say, MacWhirter, I think it most unhandsome of you to allude to it — most unhandsome, by George!”

“Why, you are going to break off your bargain with him; why should he keep his compact with you?” asks the gruff major.

“Because,” shouted the general, “it would be a sin and a shame that an old man with seven children, and broken health, who has served in every place — yes, in the West and East Indies, by George! — in Canada — in the Peninsula, and at New Orleans; — because he has been deceived and humbugged by a miserable scoundrel of a doctor into signing a sham paper, by George! should be ruined, and his poor children and wife driven to beggary, by Jove! as you seem to recommend young Firmin to do, Jack MacWhirter; and I’ll tell you what, Major MacWhirter, I take it dee’d unfriendly of you; and I’ll trouble you not to put your oar into my boat, and meddle with my affairs, that’s all, and I’ll know who’s at the bottom of it, by Jove! It’s the grey mare, Mac — it’s your better half, MacWhirter — it’s that confounded, meddling, sneaking, backbiting, domineering — ”

“What next?” roared the major. “Ha, ha, ha! Do you think I don’t know, Baynes, who has put you on doing what I have no hesitation in calling a most sneaking and rascally action — yes, a rascally action, by George! I am not going to mince matters! Don’t come your Major-General or your Mrs. Major-General over me! It’s Eliza that has set you on. And if Tom Bunch has been telling you that you have been breaking from your word, and are acting shabbily, Tom is right; and you may get somebody else to go out with you, General Baynes, for, by George, I won’t!”

“Have you come all the way from Tours, Mac, in order to insult me?” asks the general.

“I came to do you a friendly turn; to take charge of your poor girl, upon whom you are being very hard, Baynes. And this is the reward I get! Thank you. No more grog! What I have had is rather too strong for me already.” And the major looks down with an expression of scorn at the emptied beaker, the idle spoon before him.

As the warriors were quarrelling over their cups, there came to them a noise as of brawling and of female voices without. “Mais, madame!” pleads Madame Smolensk, in her grave way. “Taisez-vous, madame, laissez moi tranquille, s’il vous plais!” exclaims the well-known voice of Mrs. General Baynes, which I own was never very pleasant to me, either in anger or good-humour. “And your Little, — who tries to sleep in my chamber!” again pleads the mistress of the boarding-house. “Vous n’avez pas droit d’appeler Mademoiselle Baynes petite!” calls out the general’s lady. And Baynes, who was fighting and quarrelling himself just now, trembled when he heard her. His angry face assumed an alarmed expression. He looked for means of escape. He appealed for protection to Mac Whirter, whose nose he had been ready to pull anon. Samson was a mighty man, but he was a fool in the hands of a woman. Hercules was a brave man and a strong, but Omphale twisted him round her spindle. Even so Baynes, who had fought in India, Spain, America, trembled before the partner of his bed and name.

It was an unlucky afternoon. Whilst the husbands had been quarrelling in the dining-room over brandy-and-water, the wives, the sisters, had been fighting over their tea in the salon. I don’t know what the other boarders were about. Philip never told me. Perhaps they had left the room to give the sisters a free opportunity for embraces and confidential communication. Perhaps there were no lady boarders left. Howbeit, Emily and Eliza had tea; and before that refreshing meal was concluded, those dear women were fighting as hard as their husbands in the adjacent chamber.

Eliza, in the first place, was very angry at Emily’s coming without invitation. Emily, on her part, was angry with Eliza for being angry. “I am sure, Eliza,” said the spirited and injured MacWhirter, “that is the third time you have alluded to it since we have been here. Had you and all your family come to Tours, Mac and I would have made them welcome — children and all; and I am sure yours make trouble enough in a house.”

“A private house is not like a boarding-house, Emily. Here Madame makes us pay frightfully for extras,” remarks Mrs. Baynes.

“I am sorry I came, Eliza. Let us say no more about it. I can’t go away to-night,” says the other.

“And most unkind it is that speech to make, Emily. Any more tea?”

“Most unpleasant to have to make that speech, Eliza. To travel a whole day and night — and I never able to sleep in a diligence — to hasten to my sister because I thought she was in trouble, because I thought a sister might comfort her; and to be received as you — re — as you — oh, oh, oh — boh! How stoopid I am!” A handkerchief dries the tears: a smelling-bottle restores a little composure. “When you came to us at Dumdum, with two — o — o children in the whooping-cough, I am sure Mac and I gave you a very different welcome.”

The other was smitten with a remorse. She remembered her sister’s kindness in former days. “I did not mean, sister, to give you pain,” she said. “But I am very unhappy myself, Emily. My child’s conduct is making me most unhappy.”

“And very good reason you have to be unhappy, Eliza, if woman ever had!” says the other.

“Oh, indeed, yes!” gasps the general’s lady.

“If any woman ought to feel remorse, Eliza Baynes, I am sure it’s you. Sleepless nights! What was mine in the diligence, compared to the nights you must have? I said so to myself. ‘I am wretched,’ I said, ‘but what must she be?’”

“Of course, as a feeling mother, I feel that poor Charlotte is unhappy, my dear.”

“But what makes her so, my dear?” cries Mrs. MacWhirter, who presently showed that she was mistress of the whole controversy. “No wonder Charlotte is unhappy, dear love! Can a girl be engaged to a young man, a most interesting young man, a clever, accomplished, highly educated young man — ”

“What?” cries Mrs. Baynes.

“Haven’t I your letters? I have them all in my desk. They are in that hall now. Didn’t you tell me so over and over again; and rave about him, till I thought you were in love with him yourself almost?” cries Mrs. Mac.

“A most indecent observation!” cries out Eliza Baynes, in her deep, awful voice. “No woman, no sister, shall say that to me!”

“Shall I go and get the letters? It used to be, ‘Dear Philip has just left us. Dear Philip has been more than a son to me. He is our preserver!’ Didn’t you write all that to me over and over again? And because you have found a richer husband for Charlotte, you are going to turn your preserver out of doors!”

“Emily MacWhirter, am I to sit here and be accused of crimes, uninvited, mind — uninvited, mind, by my sister? Is a general officer’s lady to be treated in this way by a brevet-major’s wife? Though you are my senior in age, Emily, I am yours in rank. Out of any room in England, but this, I go before you! And if you have come uninvited all the way from Tours to insult me in my own house — ”

“House, indeed! pretty house! Everybody else’s house as well as yours!”

“Such as it is, I never asked you to come into it, Emily!”

“Oh, yes! You wish me to go out in the night. Mac! I say!”

“Emily!” cries the generaless.

“Mac, I say!” screams the majoress, flinging open the door of the salon, “my sister wishes me to go. Do you hear me?”

“Au nom de Dieu, madame, pensez à cette pauvre petite, qui souffre à côtè,” cries the mistress of the house, pointing to her own adjoining chamber, in which, we have said, our poor little Charlotte was lying.

“Nappley pas Madamaselle Baynes petite, sivoplay!” booms out Mrs. Baynes’s contralto.

“MacWhirter, I say, Major MacWhirter!” cries Emily, flinging open the door of the dining-room where the two gentlemen were knocking their own heads together. “MacWhirter! My sister chooses to insult me, and say that a brevet-major’s wife — ”

“By George! are you fighting, too?” asks the general.

“Baynes, Emily MacWhirter has insulted me!” cries Mrs. Baynes.

“It seems to have been a settled thing beforehand,” yells the general. “Major MacWhirter has done the same thing by me! He has forgotten that he is a gentleman, and that I am.”

“He only insults you because he thinks you are his relative, and must bear everything from him,” says the general’s wife.

“By George! I will Not bear everything from him!” shouts the general.

The two gentlemen and their two wives are squabbling in the hall. Madame and the servants are peering up from the kitchen-regions. I daresay the boys from the topmost banisters are saying to each other, “Row between Ma and aunt Mac!” I daresay scared little Charlotte, in her temporary apartment, is, for awhile, almost forgetful of her own grief; and wondering what quarrel is agitating her aunt and mother, her father and uncle? Place the remaining male and female boarders about in the corridors and on the landings, in various attitudes expressive of interest, of satiric commentary, wrath at being disturbed by unseemly domestic quarrel:— in what posture you will. As for Mrs. Colonel Bunch, she, poor thing, does not know that the general and her own colonel have entered on a mortal quarrel. She imagines the dispute is only between Mrs. Baynes and her sister as yet; and she has known this pair quarrelling for a score of years past. “Toujours comme ç, fighting vous savez, et puis make it up again. Oui,” she explains to a French friend on the landing.

In the very midst of this storm Colonel Bunch returns, his friend and second, Dr. Martin, on his arm. He does not know that two battles have been fought since his own combat. His, we will say, was Ligny. Then came Quatre-Bras, in which Baynes and Mac Whirter were engaged. Then came the general action of Waterloo. And here enters Colonel Bunch, quite unconscious of the great engagements which have taken place since his temporary retreat in search of reinforcements.

“How are you, Mac Whirter?” cries the colonel of the purple whiskers. “My friend, Dr. Martin!” And as he addresses himself to the general, his eyes almost start out of his head, as if they would shoot themselves into the breast of that officer.

“My dear, hush! Emily Mac Whirter, had we not better defer this most painful dispute? The whole house is listening to us!” whispers the general, in a rapid low voice. “Doctor — Colonel Bunch — Major Mac Whirter, had we not better go into the diningroom?”

The general and the doctor go first, Major Mac Whirter and Colonel Bunch pause at the door. Says Bunch to Mac Whirter: “Major, you act as the general’s friend in this affair? It’s most awkward, but, by George! Baynes has said things to me that I won’t bear, were he my own flesh and blood, by George! And I know him a deuced deal too well to think he will ever apologize!”

“He has said things to ME, Bunch, that I won’t bear from fifty brother-in-laws, by George!” growls MacWhirter.

“What? Don’t you bring me any message from him?”

“I tell you, Tom Bunch, I want to send a message to him. Invite me to his house, and insult me and Emily when we come! By George, it makes my blood boil! Insult us after travelling twenty-four hours in a confounded diligence, and say we’re not invited! He and his little catamaran.”

“Hush!” interposed Bunch.

“I say catamaran, sir! don’t tell me! They came and stayed with us four months at Dumdum — the children ill with the pip, or some confounded thing — went to Europe, and left me to pay the doctor’s bill; and now, by — ”

Was the major going to invoke George, the Cappadocian champion, or Olympian Jove? At this moment a door, by which they stood, opens. You may remember there were three doors, all on that landing; if you doubt me, go and see the house (Avenue de Marli, Champs Elysèes, Paris). A third door opens, and a young lady comes out, looking very pale and sad, and her hair hanging over her shoulders; — her hair, which hung in rich clusters generally, but I suppose tears have put it all out of curl.

“Is it you, uncle Mac? I thought I knew your voice, and I heard aunt Emily’s,” says the little person.

“Yes, it is I, Charley,” says uncle Mac. And he looks into the round face, which looks so wild and is so full of grief unutterable that uncle Mac is quite melted, and takes the child to his arms, and says, “What is it, my dear?” And he quite forgets that he proposes to blow her father’s brains out in the morning. “How hot your little hands are!”

“Uncle, uncle!” she says, in a swift febrile whisper, “you’re come to take me away, I know. I heard you and papa, I heard mamma and aunt Emily speaking quite loud! But if I go — I’ll — I’ll never love any but him!”

“But whom, dear?”

“But Philip, uncle.”

“By George! Char, no more you shall!” says the major. And herewith the poor child, who had been sitting up on her bed whilst this quarrelling of sisters, — whilst this brawling of majors, generals, colonels, — whilst this coming of hackney-coaches, — whilst this arrival and departure of visitors on horseback, — had been taking place, gave a fine hysterical scream, and fell into her uncle’s arms laughing and crying wildly.

This outcry, of course, brought the gentlemen from their adjacent room, and the ladies from theirs.

“What are you making a fool of yourself about?” growls Mrs. Baynes, in her deepest bark.

“By George, Eliza, you are too bad!” says the general quite white.

“Eliza, you are a brute!” cries Mrs. Mac Whirter,

“So She is!” shrieks Mrs. Bunch from the landing-place overhead, where other lady boarders were assembled looking down on this awful family battle.

Eliza Baynes knew she had gone too far. Poor Charley was scarce conscious by this time, and wildly screaming, “Never, never!” . . . When, as I live, who should burst into the premises but a young man with fair hair, with flaming whiskers, with flaming eyes, who calls out, “What is it? I am here, Charlotte, Charlotte!”

Who is that young man? We had a glimpse of him, prowling about the Champs Elysées just now, and dodging behind a tree when Colonel Bunch went out in search of his second. Then the young man saw the Mac Whirter hackney-coach approach the house. Then he waited and waited, looking to that upper window behind which we know his beloved was not reposing. Then he beheld Bunch and Doctor Martin arrive. Then he passed through the wicket into the garden, and heard Mrs. Mac and Mrs. Baynes fighting. Then there came from the passage — where, you see, this battle was going on — that ringing, dreadful laugh and scream of poor Charlotte: and Philip Firmin burst like a bombshell into the midst of the hall where the battle was raging, and of the family circle who were fighting and screaming.

Here is a picture, I protest. We have — first, the boarders on the first landing, whither, too, the Baynes children have crept in their night-gowns. Secondly, we have Auguste, Françoise, the cook, and the assistant coming up from the basement. And, third, we have Colonel Bunch, Doctor Martin, Major MacWhirter, with Charlotte in his arms; madame, General B., Mrs. Mac, Mrs. General B., all in the passage, when our friend the bombshell bursts in amongst them.

“What is it? Charlotte, I am here!” cries Philip, with his great voice; at hearing which, little Char gives one final scream, and, at the next moment, she has fainted quite dead — but this time she is on Philip’s shoulder.

“You brute, how dare you do this?” asks Mrs. Baynes, glaring at the young man.

“It is you who have done it, Eliza!” says aunt Emily.

“And so she has, Mrs. MacWhirter!” calls out Mrs. Colonel Bunch, from the landing above.

And Charles Baynes felt he had acted like a traitor, and hung down his head. He had encouraged his daughter to give her heart away, and she had obeyed him. When he saw Philip I think he was glad: so was the major, though Firmin, to be sure, pushed him quite roughly up against the wall.

“Is this vulgar scandal to go on in the passage before the whole house?” gasped Mrs. Baynes.

“Bunch brought me here to prescribe for this young lady,” says little Doctor Martin, in a very courtly way. “Madame, will you get a little sal volatile from Anjubeau’s in the Faubourg; and let her be kept very quiet!”

“Come, Monsieur Philippe. It is enough like that,” cries madame, who can’t repress a smile. “Come to your chamber, dear little!”

“Madame!” cries Mrs. Baynes, “une mère — ”

Madame shrugs her shoulders. “Une mère, une belle mère, ma foi!” she says. “Come, mademoiselle!”

There were only very few people in the boarding-house: if they knew, if they saw, what happened, how can we help ourselves? But that they had all been sitting over a powder magazine, which might have blown up and destroyed one, two, three, five people, even Philip did not know, until afterwards, when, laughing, Major MacWhirter told him how that meek but most savage Baynes had first challenged Bunch, had then challenged his brother-in-law, and how all sorts of battle, murder, sudden death might have ensued had the quarrel not come to an end.

Were your humble servant anxious to harrow his reader’s feelings, or display his own graphical powers, you understand that I never would have allowed those two gallant officers to quarrel and threaten each other’s very noses, without having the insult wiped out in blood. The Bois de Boulogne is hard by the Avenue de Marli, with plenty of cool fighting ground. The octroi officers never stop gentlemen going out at the neighbouring barrier upon duelling business, or prevent the return of the slain victim in the hackney-coach when the dreadful combat is over. From my knowledge of Mrs. Baynes’s character, I have not the slightest doubt that she would have encouraged her husband to fight; and, the general down, would have put pistols into the hands of her boys, and bidden them carry on the vendetta; but as I do not, for my part, love to see brethren at war, or Moses and Aaron tugging white handfuls out of each other’s beards, I am glad there is going to be no fight between the veterans, and that either’s stout old breast is secure from the fratricidal bullet.

Major MacWhirter forgot all about bullets and battles when poor little Charlotte kissed him, and was not in the least jealous when he saw the little maiden clinging on Philip’s arm. He was melted at the sight of that grief and innocence, when Mrs. Baynes still continued to bark out her private rage, and said: “If the general won’t protect me from insult, I think I had better go.”

“By Jove, I think you had!” exclaimed MacWhirter, to which remark the eyes of the doctor and Colonel Bunch gleamed an approval.

“Allons, Monsieur Philippe. Enough like that — let me take her to bed again,” madame resumed. “Come, dear miss?”

What a pity that the bedroom was but a yard from where they stood! Philip felt strong enough to carry his little Charlotte to the Tuileries. The thick brown locks, which had fallen over his shoulders, are lifted away. The little wounded heart that had lain against his own, parts from him with a reviving throb. Madame and her mother carry away little Charlotte. The door of the neighbouring chamber closes on her. The sad little vision has disappeared. The men, quarrelling anon in the passage, stand there silent.

“I heard her voice outside,” said Philip, after a little pause (with love, with grief, with excitement, I suppose his head was in a whirl). “I heard her voice outside, and I couldn’t help coming in.”

“By George, I should think not, young fellow!” says Major MacWhirter, stoutly shaking the young man by the hand.

“Hush, hush!” whispers the doctor; “she must be kept quite quiet. She has had quite excitement enough for to-night. There must be no more scenes, my young fellow.”

And Philip says, when in this his agony of grief and doubt he found a friendly hand put out to him, he himself was so exceedingly moved that he was compelled to fly out of the company of the old men, into the night, where the rain was pouring — the gentle rain.

While Philip, without Madame Smolensk’s premises, is saying his tenderest prayers, offering up his tears, heart-throbs, and most passionate vows of love for little Charlotte’s benefit, the warriors assembled within once more retreat to a colloquy in the salle è manger; and, in consequence of the rainy state of the night, the astonished Auguste has to bring a third supply of hotwater for the four gentlemen attending the congress. The colonel, the major, the doctor, ranged themselves on one side the table, defended, as it were, by a line of armed tumblers, flanked by a strong brandy-bottle and a stout earth-work from an embrasure in which scalding water could be discharged. Behind these fortifications the veterans awaited their enemy, who, after marching up and down the room for a while, takes position finally in their front and prepares to attack. The general remounts his cheval de bataille, but cannot bring the animal to charge as fiercely as before. Charlotte’s white apparition has come amongst them, and flung her fair arms between the men of war. In vain Baynes tries to get up a bluster, and to enforce his passion with by Georges, by Joves, and words naughtier still. That weak, meek, quiet, henpecked, but most bloodthirsty old general, found himself forming his own minority, and against him his old comrade Bunch, whom he had insulted and nose-pulled; his brother-in-law MacWhirter, whom he had nose-pulled and insulted; and the doctor, who had been called in as the friend of the former. As they faced him, shoulder to shoulder, each of those three acquired fresh courage from his neighbour. Each, taking his aim deliberately, poured his fire into Baynes. To yield to such odds, on the other hand, was not so distasteful to the veteran, as to have to give up his sword to any single adversary. Before he would own himself in the wrong to any individual, he would eat that individual’s ears and nose: but to be surrounded by three enemies, and strike your flag before such odds, was no disgrace; and Baynes could take the circumbendibus way of apology to which some proud spirits will submit. Thus he could say to the doctor, “Well, doctor, perhaps I was hasty in accusing Bunch of employing bad language to me. A bystander can see these things sometimes when a principal is too angry; and as you go against me — well — there, then, I ask Bunch’s pardon.” That business over, the MacWhirter reconciliation was very speedily brought about. Fact was, was in a confounded ill-temper — very much disturbed by events of the day — didn’t mean anything but this, that, and so forth. If this old chief had to eat humble pie, his brave adversaries were anxious that he should gobble up his portion as quickly as possible, and turned away their honest old heads as he swallowed it. One of the party told his wife of the quarrel which had arisen, but Baynes never did. “I declare, sir,” Philip used to say, “had she known anything about the quarrel that night, Mrs. Baynes would have made her husband turn out of bed at midnight, and challenge his old friends over again!” But then there was no love between Philip and Mrs. Baynes, and in those whom he hates he is accustomed to see little good.

Thus, any gentle reader who expected to be treated to an account of the breakage of the sixth commandment will close this chapter disappointed. Those stout old rusty swords which were fetched off their hooks by the warriors, their owners, were returned undrawn to their flannel cases. Hands were shaken after a fashion — at least no blood was shed. But, though the words spoken between the old boys were civil enough, Bunch, Baynes, and the doctor could not alter their opinion that Philip had been hardly used, and that the benefactor of his family merited a better treatment from General Baynes.

Meanwhile, that benefactor strode home through the rain in a state of perfect rapture. The rain refreshed him, as did his own tears. The dearest little maiden had sunk for a moment on his heart, and, as she lay there, a thrill of hope vibrated through his whole frame. Her father’s old friends had held out a hand to him, and bid him not despair. Blow wind, fall autumn rains! In the midnight, under the gusty trees, amidst which the lamps of the réverbères are tossing, the young fellow strides back to his lodgings. He is poor and unhappy, but he has Hope along with him. He looks at a certain breast-button of his old coat ere he takes it off to sleep. “Her cheek was lying there,” he thinks, “just there.” My poor little Charlotte! what could she have done to the breast-button of the old coat?

Chapter 12

In which Mrs. Macwhirter has a New Bonnet.

Now though the unhappy Philip slept quite soundly, so that his boots, those tramp-worn sentries, remained en faction at his door until quite a late hour next morning; and though little Charlotte, after a prayer or two, sank into the sweetest and most refreshing girlish slumber, Charlotte’s father and mother had a bad night; and, for my part, I maintain that they did not deserve a good one. It was very well for Mrs. Baynes to declare that it was MacWhirter’s snoring which kept them awake (Mr. and Mrs. Mac being lodged in the bed-room over their relatives) — I don’t say a snoring neighbour is pleasant — but what a bedfellow is a bad conscience! Under Mrs. Baynes’s night-cap the grim eyes lie open all night; on Baynes’s pillow is a silent, wakeful head that hears the hours toll. A plague upon the young man! (thinks the female bonnet de nuit); how dare he come in and disturb everything? How pale Charlotte will look to-morrow when Mrs. Hely calls with her son! When she has been crying she looks hideous, and her eyelids and nose are quite red. She may fly out, and say something wicked and absurd, as she did to-day. I wish I had never seen that insolent young man, with his carroty beard, and vulgar blucher boots! If my boys were grown up, he should not come hectoring about the house as he does; they would soon find a way of punishing his impudence! Baulked revenge and a hungry disappointment, I think, are keeping that old woman awake; and, if she hears the hours tolling, it is because wicked thoughts make her sleepless.

As for Baynes, I believe that old man is awake, because he is awake to the shabbiness of his own conduct. His conscience has got the better of him, which he has been trying to bully out of doors. Do what he will, that reflection forces itself upon him. Mac, Bunch, and the doctor all saw the thing at once, and went dead against him. He wanted to break his word to a young fellow, who, whatever his faults might be, had acted most nobly and generously by the Baynes family. He might have been ruined but for Philip’s forbearance; and showed his gratitude by breaking his promise to the young fellow. He was a henpecked man — that was the fact. He allowed his wife to govern him: that little old plain, cantankerous woman asleep yonder. Asleep. Was she? No. He knew she wasn’t. Both were lying quite still, wide awake, pursuing their dismal thoughts. Only Charles was owning that he was a sinner, whilst Eliza, his wife, in a rage at her last defeat, was meditating how she could continue and still win her battle.

Then Baynes reflects how persevering his wife is; how, all through life, she has come back and back and back to her point, until he has ended by an almost utter subjugation. He will resist for a day: she will fight for a year, for a life. If once she hates people, the sentiment always remains with her fresh and lively. Her jealousy never dies; nor her desire to rule. What a life she will lead poor Charlotte now she has declared against Philip! The poor child will be subject to a dreadful tyranny: the father knows it. As soon as he leaves the house on his daily walks, the girl’s torture will begin. Baynes knows how his wife can torture a woman. As she groans out a hollow cough from her bed in the midnight, the guilty man lies quite mum under his own counterpane. If she fancies him awake, it will be his turn to receive the torture. Ah, Othello, mon ami! when you look round at married life, and know what you know, don’t you wonder that the bolster is not used a great deal more freely on both sides? Horrible cynicism! Yes — I know. These propositions served raw are savage, and shock your sensibility; cooked with a little piquant sauce, they are welcome at quite polite tables.

“Poor child! Yes, by George! What a life her mother will lead her!” thinks the general, rolling uneasy on the midnight pillow. “No rest for her, day or night, until she marries the man of her mother’s choosing. And she has a delicate chest — Martin says she has; and she wants coaxing and soothing, and pretty coaxing she will have from mamma!” Then, I daresay, the past rises up in that wakeful old man’s uncomfortable memory. His little Charlotte is a child again, laughing on his knee, and playing with his accoutrements as he comes home from parade. He remembers the fever which she had, when she would take medicine from no other hand; and how, though silent with her mother, with him she would never tire of prattling, prattling. Guilt-stricken old man! are those tears trickling down thy old nose? It is midnight. We cannot see. When you brought her to the river, and parted with her to send her to Europe, how the little maid clung to you, and cried, “Papa, papa!” Staggering up the steps of the ghaut, how you wept yourself — yes, wept tears of passionate, tender grief at parting with the darling of your soul. And now, deliberately, and for the sake of money, you stab her to the heart, and break your plighted honour to your child. “And it is yonder cruel, shrivelled, bilious, plain old woman who makes me do all this, and trample on my darling, and torture her!” he thinks. In Zoffany’s famous picture of Garrick and Mrs. Pritchard as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Macbeth stands in an attitude hideously contorted and constrained, while Lady Mac is firm and easy. Was this the actor’s art, or the poet’s device? Baynes is wretched, then. He is wrung with remorse, and shame, and pity. Well, I am glad of it. Old man, old man! how darest thou to cause that child’s tender little bosom to bleed? How bilious he looks the next morning! I declare as yellow as his grim old wife. When Mrs. General B. hears the children their lessons, how she will scold them! It is my belief she will bark through the morning chapter, and scarce understand a word of its meaning. As for Charlotte, when she appears with red eyes, and ever so little colour in her round cheek, there is that in her look and demeanour which warns her mother to refrain from too familiar abuse or scolding. The girl is in rebellion. All day Char was in a feverish state, her eyes flashing war. There was a song which Philip loved in those days: the song of Ruth. Char sate down to the piano, and sang it with a strange energy. “Thy people shall be my people” — she sang with all her heart — “and thy God my God!” The slave had risen. The little heart was in arms and mutiny. The mother was scared by her defiance.

As for the guilty old father: pursued by the fiend remorse, he fled early from his house, and read all the papers at Galignani’s without comprehending them. Madly regardless of expense, he then plunged into one of those luxurious restaurants in the Palais Royal, where you get soup, three dishes, a sweet, and a pint of delicious wine for two frongs, by George! But all the luxuries there presented to him could not drive away care, or create appetite. Then the poor old wretch went off, and saw a ballet at the Grand Opera. In vain. The pink nymphs had not the slightest fascination for him. He hardly was aware of their ogles, bounds, and capers. He saw a little maid with round, sad eyes; — his Iphigenia whom he was stabbing. He took more brandy-and-water at cafés on his way home. In vain, in vain, I tell you! The old wife was sitting up — for him, scared at the unusual absence of her lord. She dared not remonstrate with him when he returned. His face was pale. His eyes were fierce and bloodshot. When the general had a particular look, Eliza Baynes cowered in silence. Mac, the two sisters, and, I think, Colonel Bunch (but on this point my informant, Philip, cannot be sure) were having a dreary rubber when the general came in. Mrs. B. knew by the general’s face that he had been having recourse to alcoholic stimulus. But she dared not speak. A tiger in a jungle was not more savage than Baynes sometimes. “Where’s Char?” he asked in his dreadful, his Bluebeard voice. “Char was gone to bed,” said mamma, sorting her trumps. “Hm! Augoost, Odevee, Osho!” Did Eliza Baynes interfere, though she knew he had had enough? As soon interfere with a tiger, and tell him he had eaten enough sepoy. After Lady Macbeth had induced Mac to go through that business with Duncan, depend upon it she was very deferential and respectful to her general. No groans, prayers, remorses could avail to bring his late majesty back to life again. As for you, old man, though your deed is done, it is not past recalling. Though you have withdrawn from your word on a sordid money pretext; made two hearts miserable; stabbed cruelly that one which you love best in the world; acted with wicked ingratitude towards a young man, who has been nobly forgiving towards you and yours; and are suffering with rage and remorse, as you own your crime to yourself; — your deed is not past recalling as yet. You may soothe that anguish, and dry those tears. It is but an act of resolution on your part, and a firm resumption of your marital authority. Mrs. Baynes, after her crime, is quite humble and gentle. She has half murdered her child, and stretched Philip on an infernal rack of torture; but she is quite civil to everybody at madame’s house. Not one word does she say respecting Mrs. Colonel Bunch’s outbreak of the night before. She talks to sister Emily about Paris, the fashions, and Emily’s walks on the Boulevard and the Palais Royal with her major. She bestows ghastly smiles upon sundry lodgers at table. She thanks Augoost when he serves her at dinner, and says, “Ah, madame, que le boof est bong aujourdhui, rien que j’aime comme le potofou.” Oh, you old hypocrite! But you know I, for my part, always disliked the woman, and said her good humour was more detestable than her anger. You hypocrite! I say again; ay, and avow that there were other hypocrites at the table, as you shall presently hear.

When Baynes got an opportunity of speaking unobserved, as he thought, to madame, you may be sure the guilty wretch asked her how his little Charlotte was. Mrs. Baynes trumped her partner’s best heart at that moment, but pretended to observe or overhear nothing. “She goes better — she sleeps,” madame said. “Mr. the Doctor Martin has commanded her a calming potion.” And what if I were to tell you that somebody had taken a little letter from Charlotte, and actually had given fifteen sous to a Savoyard youth to convey that letter to somebody else? What if I were to tell you that the party to whom that letter was addressed, straightway wrote an answer — directed to Madame de Smolensk, of course? I know it was very wrong; but I suspect Philip’s prescription did quite as much good as Dr. Martin’s, and don’t intend to be very angry with madame for consulting the unlicensed practitioner. Don’t preach to me, madam, about morality, and dangerous examples set to young people. Even at your present mature age, and with your dear daughters around you, if your ladyship goes to hear the Barber of Seville, on which side are your sympathies — on Dr. Bartolo’s, or Miss Rosina’s?

Although, then, Mrs. Baynes was most respectful to her husband, and by many grim blandishments, humble appeals, and forced humiliations, strove to conciliate and soothe him, the general turned a dark, lowering face upon the partner of his existence: her dismal smiles were no longer pleasing to him: he returned curt “Oh’s!” and “Ah’s!” to her remarks. When Mrs. Hely and her son and her daughter drove up in their family coach to pay yet a second visit to the Baynes’ family, the general flew in a passion and cried, “Bless my soul, Eliza, you can’t think of receiving visitors, with our poor child sick in the next room? It’s inhuman!” The scared woman ventured on no remonstrances. She was so frightened that she did not attempt to scold the younger children. She took a piece of work, and sat amongst them, furtively weeping. Their artless queries and unseasonable laughter stabbed and punished the matron. You see people do wrong, though they are long past fifty years of age. It is not only the scholars, but the ushers, and the head-master himself, who sometimes deserve a chastisement. I, for my part, hope to remember this sweet truth, though I live into the year 1900.

To those other ladies boarding at madame’s establishment, to Mrs. Mac and Mrs. Colonel Bunch, though they had declared against him, and expressed their opinions in the frankest way on the night of the battle royal, the general was provokingly polite and amiable. They had said, but twenty-four hours since, that the general was a brute; and Lord Chesterfield could not have been more polite to a lovely young duchess than was Baynes to these matrons next day. You have heard how Mrs. Mac had a strong desire to possess a new Paris bonnet, so that she might appear with proper lustre among the ladies on the promenade at Tours? Major and Mrs. Mac and Mrs. Bunch talked of going to the Palais Royal (where MacWhirter said he had remarked some uncommonly neat things, by George! at the corner shop under the glass gallery). On this, Baynes started up, and said he would accompany his friends, adding, “You know, Emily, I promised you a hat ever so long ago!” And those four went away together, and not one offer did Baynes make to his wife to join the party; though her best bonnet, poor thing, was a dreadfully old performance, with moulting feathers, rumpled ribbons, tarnished flowers, and lace bought in St. Martin’s Alley months and months before. Emily, to be sure, said to her sister, “Eliza, won’t you be of the party? We can take the omnibus at the corner, which will land us at the very gate.” But as Emily gave this unlucky invitation, the general’s face wore an expression of ill-will so savage and terrific, that Eliza Baynes said, “No, thank you, Emily; Charlotte is still unwell, and I— I may be wanted at home.” And the party went away without Mrs. Baynes; and they were absent I don’t know how long; and Emily MacWhirter came back to the boarding-house in a bonnet — the sweetest thing you ever saw! — green piqué velvet, with a ruche full of rosebuds, and a bird of paradise perched on the top, pecking at a bunch of the most magnificent grapes, poppies, ears of corn, barley, all indicative of the bounteous autumn season. Mrs. General Baynes had to see her sister return home in this elegant bonnet; to welcome her; to acquiesce in Emily’s remark that the general had done the genteel thing; to hear how the party had further been to Tortoni’s, and had ices; and then to go upstairs to her own room, and look at her own battered, blowsy old chapeau, with its limp streamers, hanging from its peg. This humiliation, I say, Eliza Baynes had to bear in silence, without wincing, and, if possible, with a smile on her face.

In consequence of circumstances before indicated, Miss Charlotte was pronounced to be very much better when her papa returned from his Palais Royal trip. He found her seated on madame’s sofa, pale, but with the wonted sweetness in her smile. He kissed and caressed her with many tender words. I daresay he told her there was nothing in the world he loved so much as his Charlotte. He would never willingly do anything to give her pain, never! She had been his good girl, and his blessing, all his life! Ah! that is a prettier little picture to imagine — that repentant man, and his child clinging to him — than the tableau overhead, viz. Mrs. Baynes looking at her old bonnet. Not one word was said about Philip in the talk between Baynes and his daughter, but those tender paternal looks and caresses carried hope into Charlotte’s heart; and when her papa went away (she said afterwards to a female friend), “I got up and followed him, intending to show him Philip’s letter. But at the door I saw mamma coming down the stairs; and she looked so dreadful, and frightened me so, that I went back.” There are some mothers I have heard of, who won’t allow their daughters to read the works of this humble homilist, lest they should imbibe “dangerous” notions, My good ladies, give them Goody Twoshoes if you like, or whatever work, combining instruction and amusement, you think most appropriate to their juvenile understandings; but I beseech you to be gentle with them. I never saw people on better terms with each other, more frank, affectionate, and cordial, than the parents and the grown-up young folks in the United States. And why? Because the children were spoiled, to be sure! I say to you, get the confidence of yours — before the day comes of revolt and independence, after which love returneth not.

Now, when Mrs. Baynes went in to her daughter, who had been sitting pretty comfortably kissing her father, on the sofa in madame’s chamber, all those soft tremulous smiles, and twinkling dew-drops of compassion and forgiveness which anon had come to soothe the little maid, fled from cheek and eyes. They began to flash again with their febrile brightness, and her heart to throb with dangerous rapidity. “How are you now?” asks mamma, with her deep voice. “I am much the same,” says the girl, beginning to tremble. “Leave the child; you agitate her, madam,” cries the mistress of the house, coming in after Mrs. Baynes. That sad, humiliated, deserted mother goes out from her daughter’s presence, hanging her head. She put on the poor old bonnet, and had a walk that evening on the Champs Elysées with her little ones, and showed them Guignol. She gave a penny to Guignol’s man. It is my belief that she saw no more of the performance than her husband had seen of the ballet the night previous, when Taglioni, and Noblet, and Duvernay, danced before his hot eyes. But then, you see, the hot eyes had been washed with a refreshing water since, which enabled them to view the world much more cheerfully and brightly. Ah, gracious heaven, give us eyes to see our own wrong, however dim age may make them; and knees not too stiff to kneel, in spite of years, cramps, and rheumatism! That stricken old woman, then, treated her children to the trivial comedy of Guignol. She did not cry out when the two boys climbed up the trees of the Elysian Fields, though the guardians bade them descend. She bought pink sticks of barley-sugar for the young ones. Withdrawing the glistening sweetmeats from their lips, they pointed to Mrs. Hely’s splendid barouche as it rolled citywards from the Bois de Boulogne. The grey shades were falling, and Auguste was in the act of ringing the first dinner bell at Madame Smolensk’s establishment, when Mrs. General Baynes returned to her lodgings.

Meanwhile, aunt MacWhirter had been to pay a visit to little Miss Charlotte, in the new bonnet which the general, Charlotte’s papa, had bought for her. This elegant article had furnished a subject of pleasing conversation between niece and aunt, who held each other in very kindly regard, and all the details of the bonnet, the blue flowers, scarlet flowers, grapes, sheaves of corn, lace, were examined and admired in detail. Charlotte remembered the dowdy old English thing which aunt Mac wore when she went out? Charlotte did remember the bonnet, and laughed when Mrs. Mac described how papa, in the hackney coach on their return home, insisted upon taking the old wretch of a bonnet, and flinging it out of the coach window into the road, where an old chiffonnier passing picked it up with his iron hook, put it on his own head, and walked away grinning. I declare, at the recital of this narrative, Charlotte laughed as pleasantly and happily as in former days; and, no doubt, there were more kisses between this poor little maid and her aunt.

Now, you will remark, that the general and his party, though they returned from the Palais Royal in a hackney coach, went thither on foot, two and two — viz. Major MacWhirter leading, and giving his arm to Mrs. Bunch (who, I promise you, knew the shops in the Palais Royal well), and the general following at some distance, with his sister-in-law for a partner.

In that walk a conversation very important to Charlotte’s interests took place between her aunt and her father.

“Ah, Baynes! this is a sad business about dearest Char,” Mrs. Mac broke out with a sigh.

“It is indeed, Emily,” says the general, with a very sad groan on his part.

“It goes to my heart to see you, Baynes; it goes to Mac’s heart. We talked about it ever so late last night. You were suffering dreadfully; and all the brandypawnee in the world won’t cure you, Charles.”

“No, faith,” says the general, with a dismal screw of the mouth. “You see, Emily, to see that child suffer tears my heart out — by George, it does. She has been the best child, and the most gentle, and the merriest, and the most obedient, and I never had a word of fault to find with her; and — poo-ooh!” Here the general’s eyes, which have been winking with extreme rapidity, give way; and at the signal pooh! there issue out from them two streams of that eye-water which we have said is sometimes so good for the sight.

“My dear kind Charles, you were always a good creature,” says Emily, patting the arm on which hers rests. Meanwhile Major-General Baynes, C.B., puts his bamboo cane under his disengaged arm, extracts from his hind pocket a fine large yellow bandana pocket-handkerchief, and performs a prodigious loud obligato — just under the spray of the Rond-point fountain, opposite the Bridge of the Invalides, over which poor Philip has tramped many and many a day and night to see his little maid.

“Have a care with your cane, then, old imbecile!” cries an approaching foot-passenger, whom the general meets and charges with his iron ferule.

“Mille pardong, mosoo, je vous demande mille pardong,” says the old man, quite meekly.

“You are a good soul, Charles,” the lady continues; “and my little Char is a darling. You never would have done this of your own accord. Mercy! And see what it was coming to: Mac only told me last night. You horrid, blood-thirsty creature! Two challenges — and dearest Mac as hot as pepper! Oh, Charles Baynes, I tremble when I think of the danger from which you have all been rescued! Suppose you brought home to Eliza — suppose dearest Mac brought home to me killed by this arm on which I am leaning. Oh, it is dreadful, dreadful! We are sinners all, that we are, Baynes!”

“I humbly ask pardon for having thought of a great crime. I ask pardon,” says the general, very pale and solemn.

“If you had killed dear Mac, would you ever have had rest again, Charles?”

“No; I think not. I should not deserve it,” answers the contrite Baynes.

“You have a good heart. It was not you who did this. I know who it was. She always had a dreadful temper. The way in which she used to torture our poor dear Louisa who is dead, I can hardly forgive now, Baynes. Poor suffering angel! Eliza was at her bed-side nagging and torturing her up to the very last day. Did you ever see her with her nurses and servants in India? The way in which she treated them was — ”

“Don’t say any more. I am aware of my wife’s faults of temper. Heaven knows it has made me suffer enough!” says the general, hanging his head down.

“Why, man — do you intend to give way to her altogether? I said to Mac last night, ‘Mac, does he intend to give way to her altogether? The Army List doesn’t contain the name of a braver man than Charles Baynes, and is my sister Eliza to rule him entirely, Mac!’ I said. No; if you stand up to Eliza, I know from experience she will give way. We have had quarrels, scores and hundreds, as you know, Baynes.”

“Faith, I do,” owns the general, with a sad smile on his countenance.

“And sometimes she has had the best and sometimes I have had the best, Baynes! But I never yielded, as you do, without a fight for my own. No, never, Baynes! And me and Mac are shocked, I tell you, fairly, when we see the way in which you give up to her!”

“Come, come. I think you have told me often enough that I am henpecked,” says the general.

“And you give up not yourself only, Charles, but your dear, dear child — poor little suffering love!”

“The young man’s a beggar!” cries the general, biting his lips.

“What were you, what was Mac and me when we married? We hadn’t much besides our pay, had we? we rubbed on through bad weather and good, managing as best we could, loving each other, God be praised! And here we are, owing nobody anything, and me going to have a new bonnet!” and she tossed up her head, and gave her companion a good-natured look through her twinkling eyes.

“Emily, you have a good heart! that’s the truth,” says the general.

“And you have a good heart, Charles, as sure as my name’s MacWhirter; and I want you to act upon it, and I propose — ”

“What?”

“Well, I propose that — ” But now they have reached the Tuileries garden gates, and pass through, and continue their conversation in the midst of such a hubbub that we cannot overhear them. They cross the garden, and so make their way into the Palais Royal, and the purchase of the bonnet takes place; and in the midst of the excitement occasioned by that event, of course, all discussion of domestic affairs becomes uninteresting.

But the gist of Baynes’s talk with his sister-in-law may be divined from the conversation which presently occurred between Charlotte and her aunt. Charlotte did not come in to the public dinner. She was too weak for that; and “un bon bouillon” and a wing of fowl were served to her in the private apartment, where she had been reclining all day. At dessert, however, Mrs. MacWhirter took a fine bunch of grapes and a plump rosy peach from the table, and carried them to the little maid, and their interview may be described with sufficient accuracy, though it passed without other witnesses.

From the outbreak on the night of quarrels, Charlotte knew that her aunt was her friend. The glances of Mrs. MacWhirter’s eyes, and the expression of her bonny, homely face, told her sympathy to the girl. There were no pallors now, no angry glances, no heartbeating. Miss Char could even make a little joke when her aunt appeared, and say, “What beautiful grapes! Why, aunt, you must have taken them out of the new bonnet!”

“You should have had the bird of paradise, too, dear, only I see you have not eaten your chicken! She is a kind woman, Madame Smolensk. I like her. She gives very nice dinners. I can’t think how she does it for the money, I am sure!”

“She has been very, very kind to me; and I love her with all my heart!” cries Charlotte.

“Poor darling! We have all our trials, and yours have begun, my love!”

“Yes, indeed, aunt!” whimpers the young person; upon which osculation possibly takes place.

“My dear! when your papa took me to buy the bonnet, we had a long talk, and it was about you.”

“About me, aunt!” warbles Miss Charlotte.

“He would not take mamma; he would only go with me, alone. I knew he wanted to say something about you; and what do you think it was? My dear, you have been very much agitated here. You and your poor mamma are likely to disagree for some time. She will drag you to those balls and fine parties, and bring you those fine partners.”

“Oh, I hate them!” cries Charlotte. Poor little Hely Walsingham, what had he done to be hated?

“Well. It is not for me to speak of a mother to her own daughter. But you know mamma has a way with her. She expects to be obeyed. She will give you no peace. She will come back to her point again and again. You know how she speaks of some one — a certain gentleman? If ever she sees him, she will be rude to him. Mamma can be rude at times — that I must say of my own sister. As long as you remain here — ”

“Oh, aunt, aunt! Don’t take me away, don’t take me away!” cries Charlotte.

“My dearest, are you afraid of your old aunt, and your uncle Mac, who is so kind, and has always loved you? Major MacWhirter has a will of his own, too, though of course I make no allusions. We know how admirably somebody has behaved to your family. Somebody who has been most ungratefully treated, though of course I make no allusions. If you have given away your heart to your father’s greatest benefactor, do you suppose I and uncle Mac will quarrel with you? When Eliza married Baynes (your father was a penniless subaltern then, my dear, — and my sister was certainly neither a fortune nor a beauty), didn’t she go dead against the wishes of our father? Certainly she did! But she said she was of age — that she was, and a great deal more, too — and she would do as she liked, and she made Baynes marry her. Why should you be afraid of coming to us, love? You are nearer somebody here, but can you see him? Your mamma will never let you go out, but she will follow you like a shadow. You may write to him. Don’t tell me, child. Haven’t I been young myself; and when there was a difficulty between Mac and poor papa, didn’t Mac write to me, though he hates letters, poor dear, and certainly is a stick at them? And, though we were forbidden, had we not twenty ways of telegraphing to each other? Law! your poor dear grandfather was in such a rage with me once, when he found one, that he took down his great buggy whip to me, a grown girl!”

Charlotte, who has plenty of humour, would have laughed at this confession some other time, but now she was too much agitated by that invitation to quit Paris which her aunt had just given her. Quit Paris? Lose the chance of seeing her dearest friend, her protector? If he was not with her, was he not near her? Yes, near her always! On that horrible night, when all was so desperate, did not her champion burst forward to her rescue? Oh, the dearest and bravest! Oh, the tender and true!

“You are not listening, you poor child!” said aunt Mac, surveying her niece with looks of kindness. “Now listen to me once more. Whisper!” And sitting down on the settee by Charlotte’s side, aunt Emily first kissed the girl’s round cheek, and then whispered into her ear.

Never, I declare, was medicine so efficacious, or rapid of effect, as that wondrous distilment which aunt Emily poured into her niece’s ear! “Oh, you goose!” she began by saying, and the rest of the charm she whispered into that pearly little pink shell round which Miss Charlotte’s soft, brown ringlets clustered. Such a sweet blush rose straightway to the cheek! Such sweet lips began to cry, “Oh, you dear, dear aunt,” and then began to kiss aunt’s kind face, that, I declare, if I knew the spell, I would like to pronounce it right off, with such a sweet young patient to practise on.

“When do we go? To-morrow, aunt, n’est-ce pas? Oh, I am quite strong! never felt so well in my life! I’ll go and pack up this instant,” cries the young person.

“Doucement! Papa knows of the plan. Indeed, it was he who proposed it.”

“Dearest, best father!” ejaculates Miss Charlotte.

“But mamma does not; and if you show yourself very eager, Charlotte, she may object, you know. Heaven forbid that I should counsel dissimulation to a child; but under the circumstances, my love — At least I own what happened between Mac and me. Law! I didn’t care for papa’s buggy whip! I knew it would not hurt; and as for Baynes, I am sure he would not hurt a fly. Never was man more sorry for what he has done. He told me so whilst we walked away from the bonnet-shop, whilst he was carrying my old yellow. We met somebody near the Bourse. How sad he looked, and how handsome, too! I bowed to him and kissed my hand to him, that is, the knob of my parasol. Papa couldn’t shake hands with him, because of my bonnet, you know, in the brown-paper bag. He has a grand beard, indeed! He looked like a wounded lion. I said so to papa. And I said, ‘It is you who wound him, Charles Baynes!’ ‘I know that,’ papa said. ‘I have been thinking of it. I can’t sleep at night for thinking about it: and it makes me dee’d unhappy.’ You know what papa sometimes says? Dear me! You should have heard them, when Eliza and I joined the army, years and years ago!”

For once, Charlotte Baynes was happy at her father’s being unhappy. The little maiden’s heart had been wounded to think that her father could do his Charlotte a wrong. Ah! take warning by him, ye greybeards; and however old and toothless, if you have done wrong, own that you have done so; and sit down and say grace, and mumble your humble pie!

The general, then, did not shake hands with Philip; but Major MacWhirter went up in the most marked way, and gave the wounded lion his own paw, and said, “Mr. Firmin. Glad to see you! If ever you come to Tours, mind, don’t forget my wife and me. Fine day. Little patient much better! Bon courage, as they say!”

I wonder what sort of a bungle Philip made of his correspondence with the Pall Mall Gazette that night? Every man who lives by his pen, if by chance he looks back at his writings of former years, lives in the past again. Our griefs, our pleasures, our youth, our sorrows, our dear, dear friends, resuscitate. How we tingle with shame over some of those fine passages! How dreary are those disinterred jokes! It was Wednesday night, Philip was writing off at home, in his inn, one of his grand tirades, dated “Paris, Thursday” — so as to be in time, you understand, for the post of Saturday, when the little waiter comes and says, winking, “Again that lady, Monsieur Philippe!”

“What lady?” asks our own intelligent correspondent.

“That old lady who came the other day; you know.”

“C’est moi, mon ami!” cries Madame Smolensk’s well-known grave voice. “Here is a letter, d’abord. But that says nothing. It was written before the grande nouvelle — the great news — the good news!”

“What good news?” asks the gentleman.

“In two days miss goes to Tours with her aunt and uncle — this good Macvirterre. They have taken their places by the diligence of Lafitte and Caillard. They are thy friends. Papa encourages her going. Here is their card of visit. Go thou also; they will receive thee with open arms. What hast thou, my son?”

Philip looked dreadfully sad. An injured and unfortunate gentleman at New York had drawn upon him, and he had paid away everything he had but four francs, and he was living on credit until his next remittance arrived.

“Thou hast no money! I have thought of it. Behold of it! Let him wait — the proprietor!” And she takes out a bank-note, which she puts in the young man’s hand.

“Tiens, il l’embrasse encor c’te vicille!” says the little knife-boy. “J’aimerai pas ça, moi, par examp!”

Chapter 13

In the Departments of Seine, Loire, and Styx (InfÉRieur).

Our dear friend Mrs. Baynes was suffering under the influence of one of those panics which sometimes seized her, and during which she remained her husband’s most obedient Eliza and vassal. When Baynes wore a certain expression of countenance, we have said that his wife knew resistance to be useless. That expression, I suppose, he assumed, when he announced Charlotte’s departure to her mother, and ordered Mrs. General Baynes to make the necessary preparations for the girl. “She might stay some time with her aunt,” Baynes stated. “A change of air would do the child a great deal of good. Let everything necessary in the shape of hats, bonnets, winter clothes, and so forth, be got ready.” “Was Char, then, to stay away so long?” asked Mrs. B. “She has been so happy here that you want to keep her, and fancy she can’t be happy without you!” I can fancy the general grimly replying to the partner of his existence. Hanging down her withered head, with a tear mayhap trickling down her cheek, I can fancy the old woman silently departing to do the bidding of her lord. She selects a trunk out of the store of Baynes’s baggage. A young lady’s trunk was a trunk in those days. Now it is a two or three storied edifice of wood, in which two or three full-grown bodies of young ladies (without crinoline) might be packed. I saw a little old countrywoman at the Folkestone station last year with her travelling baggage contained in a band-box tied up in an old cotton handkerchief hanging on her arm; and she surveyed Lady Knightsbridge’s twenty-three black trunks, each well nigh as large as her ladyship’s opera-box. Before these great edifices that old woman stood wondering dumbly. That old lady and I had lived in a time when crinoline was not; and yet, I think, women looked even prettier in that time than they do now. Well, a trunk and a band-box were fetched out of the baggage heap for little Charlotte, and I daresay her little brothers jumped and danced on the box with much energy to make the lid shut, and the general brought out his hammer and nails, and nailed a card on the box with “Mademoiselle Baynes” thereon printed. And mamma had to look on and witness those preparations. And Hely Walsingham had called; and he wouldn’t call again, she knew; and that fair chance for the establishment of her child was lost by the obstinacy of her self-willed, reckless husband. That woman had to water her soup with her furtive tears, to sit of nights behind hearts and spades, and brood over her crushed hopes. If I contemplate that wretched old Niobe much longer, I shall begin to pity her. Away softness! Take out thy arrows, the poisoned, the barbed, the rankling, and prod me the old creature well, god of the silver bow! Eliza Baynes had to look on, then, and see the trunks packed; to see her own authority over her own daughter wrested away from her; to see the undutiful girl prepare with perfect delight and alacrity to go away, without feeling a pang at leaving a mother who had nursed her through adverse illnesses, who had scolded her for seventeen years.

The general accompanied the party to the diligence office. Little Char was very pale and melancholy indeed when she took her place in the coupé. “She should have a corner: she had been ill, and ought to have a corner,” uncle Mac said, and cheerfully consented to be bodkin. Our three special friends are seated. The other passengers clamber into their places. Away goes the clattering team, as the general waves an adieu to his friends. “Monstrous fine horses those grey Normans; famous breed, indeed,” he remarks to his wife on his return.

“Indeed,” she echoes. “Pray, in what part of the carriage was Mr. Firmin,” she presently asks.

“In no part of the carriage at all!” Baynes answers fiercely, turning beet-root red. And thus, though she had been silent, obedient, hanging her head, the woman showed that she was aware of her master’s schemes, and why her girl had been taken away. She knew; but she was beaten. It remained for her but to be silent and bow her head. I daresay she did not sleep one wink that night. She followed the diligence in its journey. “Char is gone,” she thought. “Yes; in due time he will take from me the obedience of my other children, and tear them out of my lap.” He — that is, the general — was sleeping meanwhile. He had had in the last few days four awful battles — with his child, with his friends, with his wife — in which latter combat he had been conqueror. No wonder Baynes was tired, and needed rest. Any one of those engagements was enough to weary the veteran.

If we take the liberty of looking into double-bedded rooms, and peering into the thoughts which are passing under private nightcaps, may we not examine the coupé of a jingling diligence with an open window, in which a young lady sits wide awake by the side of her uncle and aunt! These perhaps are asleep; but she is not. Ah! she is thinking of another journey! that blissful one from Boulogne, when he was there yonder in the imperial, by the side of the conductor. When the MacWhirter party had come to the diligence office, how her little heart had beat! How she had looked under the lamps at all the people lounging about the court! How she had listened when the clerk called out the names of the passengers; and, mercy, what a fright she had been in, lest he should be there after all, while she stood yet leaning on her father’s arm! But there was no — well, names, I think, need scarcely be mentioned. There was no sign of the individual in question. Papa kissed her, and sadly said good-by. Good Madame Smolensk came with an adieu and an embrace for her dear Miss, and whispered, “Courage, mon enfant,” and then said, “Hold, I have brought you some bonbons.” There they were in a little packet. Little Charlotte put the packet into her little basket. Away goes the diligence, but the individual had made no sign.

Away goes the diligence; and every now and then Charlotte feels the little packet in her little basket. What does it contain — oh, what? If Charlotte could but read with her heart, she would see in that little packet — the sweetest bonbon of all perhaps it might be, or, ah me! the bitterest almond! Through the night goes the diligence, passing relay after relay. Uncle Mac sleeps. I think I have said he snored. Aunt Mac is quite silent, and Char sits plaintively with her lonely thoughts and her bonbons, as miles, hours, relays pass.

“These ladies, will they descend and take a cup of coffee, a cup of bouillon?” at last cries a waiter at the coupé door, as the carriage stops in Orleans. “By all means a cup of coffee,” says Aunt Mac. “The little Orleans wine is good,” cries Uncle Mac. “Descendons!” “This way, madame,” says the waiter. “Charlotte, my love, some coffee?”

“I will — I will stay in the carriage. I don’t want anything, thank you,” says Miss Charlotte. And the instant her relations are gone, entering the gate of the Lion Noir, where, you know, are the Bureaux des Messageries, Lafitte, Caillard et Cie — I say, on the very instant when her relations have disappeared, what do you think Miss Charlotte does?

She opens that packet of bonbons with fingers that tremble — tremble so, I wonder how she could undo the knot of the string (or do you think she had untied that knot under her shawl in the dark? I can’t say. We never shall know). Well; she opens the packet. She does not care one fig for the lollipops, almonds, and so forth. She pounces on a little scrap of paper, and is going to read it by the lights of the steaming stable lanterns, when — oh, what made her start so? —

In those old days there used to be two diligences which travelled nightly to Tours, setting out at the same hour, and stopping at almost the same relays. The diligence of Lafitte and Caillard supped at the Lion Noir at Orleans — the diligence of the Messageries Royales stopped at the Ecu de France, hard by.

Well, as the Messageries Royales are supping at the Ecu de France, a passenger strolls over from that coach, and strolls and strolls until he comes to the coach of Lafitte, Caillard, and Company, and to the coupé window where Miss Baynes is trying to decipher her bonbon.

He comes up — and as the night-lamps fall on his face and beard — his rosy face, his yellow beard — oh! — What means that scream of the young lady in the coupé of Lafitte, Caillard et Compagnie! I declare she has dropped the letter which she was about to read. It has dropped into a pool of mud under the diligence off fore-wheel. And he with the yellow beard, and a sweet happy laugh, and a tremble in his deep voice, says, “You need not read it. It was only to tell you what you know.”

Then the coupé window says, “Oh, Philip! Oh, my — ”

My what? You cannot hear the words, because the grey Norman horses come squealing and clattering up to their coach-pole with such accompanying cries and imprecations from the horsekeepers and postilions, that no wonder the little warble is lost. It was not intended for you and me to hear; but perhaps you can guess the purport of the words. Perhaps in quite old, old days, you may remember having heard such little whispers, in a time when the song-birds in your grove carolled that kind of song very pleasantly and freely. But this, my good madam, is written in February. The birds are gone: the branches are bare: the gardener has actually swept the leaves off the walks: and the whole affair is an affair of a past year, you understand. Well! carpe diem, fugit hora, There, for one minute, for two minutes, stands Philip over the diligence off fore-wheel, talking to Charlotte at the window, and their heads are quite close — quite close. What are those two pairs of lips warbling, whispering? “Hi! Gare! Ohé!” The horsekeepers, I say, quite prevent you from hearing; and here come the passengers out of the Lion Noir, aunt Mac still munching a great slice of bread-and-butter. Charlotte is quite comfortable, and does not want anything, dear aunt, thank you. I hope she nestles in her corner, and has a sweet slumber. On the journey the twin diligences pass and repass each other. Perhaps Charlotte looks out of her window sometimes and towards the other carriage. I don’t know. It is a long time ago. What used you to do in old days, ere railroads were, and when diligences ran? They were slow enough: but they have got to their journey’s end somehow. They were tight, hot, dusty, dear, stuffy, and uncomfortable; but, for all that, travelling was good sport sometimes. And if the world would have the kindness to go back for five-and-twenty or thirty years, some of us who have travelled on the Tours and Orleans Railway very comfortably would like to take the diligence journey now.

Having myself seen the city of Tours only last year, of course I don’t remember much about it. A man remembers boyhood, and the first sight of Calais, and so forth. But after much travel or converse with the world, to see a new town is to be introduced to Jones. He is like Brown: he is not unlike Smith: in a little while you hash him up with Thompson. I dare not be particular, then, regarding Mr. Firmin’s life at Tours, lest I should make topographical errors, for which the critical schoolmaster would justly inflict chastisement. In the last novel I read about Tours, there were blunders from the effect of which you know the wretched author never recovered. It was by one Scott, and had young Quentin Durward for a hero, and Isabel de Croye for a heroine; and she sate in her hostel, and sang, “Ah, County Guy, the hour is nigh.” A pretty ballad enough: but what ignorance, my dear sir! What descriptions of Tours, of Liege, are in that fallacious story! Yes, so fallacious and misleading, that I remember I was sorry, not because the description was unlike Tours, but because Tours was unlike the description.

So Quentin Firmin went and put up at the snug little hostel of the Faisan; and Isabel de Baynes took up her abode with her uncle the Sire de MacWhirter; and I believe Master Firmin had no more money in his pocket than the Master Durward whose story the Scottish novelist told some forty years since. And I cannot promise you that our young English adventurer shall marry a noble heiress of vast property, and engage the Boar of Ardennes in a hand-to-hand combat; that sort of Boar, madam, does not appear in our modern drawing-room histories. Of others, not wild, there be plenty. They gore you in clubs. They seize you by the doublet, and pin you against posts in public streets. They run at you in parks. I have seen them sit at bay after dinner, ripping, gashing, tossing a whole company. These our young adventurer had in good sooth to encounter, as is the case with most knights. Who escapes them? I remember an eminent person talking to me about bores for two hours once. O you stupid eminent person! You never knew that you yourself had tusks, little eyes in your hure; a bristly mane to cut into tooth-brushes; and a curly-tail! I have a notion that the multitude of bores is enormous in the world. If a man is a bore himself, when he is bored — and you can’t deny this statement — then what am I, what are you, what your father, grandfather, son — all your amiable acquaintance, in a word? Of this I am sure, Major and Mrs. MacWhirter were not brilliant in conversation. What would you and I do, or say, if we listen to the tittle-tattle of Tours. How the clergyman was certainly too fond of cards and going to the café; how the dinners those Popjoys gave were too absurdly ostentatious; and Popjoy, we know, in the Bench last year; how Mrs. Flights, going on with that Major of French Carabiniers, was really too “How could I endure those people?” Philip would ask himself, when talking of that personage in after days, as he loved, and loves to do. “How could I endure them, I say? Mac was a good man; but I knew secretly in my heart, sir, that he was a bore. Well: I loved him. I liked his old stories. I liked his bad old dinners: there is a very comfortable Touraine wine, by the way — a very warming little wine, sir. Mrs. Mac you never saw, my good Mrs. Pendennis. Be sure of this, you never would have liked her. Well, I did. I liked her house, though it was damp, in a damp garden, frequented by dull people. I should like to go and see that old house now. I am perfectly happy with my wife, but I sometimes go away from her to enjoy the luxury of living over our old days again. With nothing in the world but an allowance which was precarious, and had been spent in advance; with no particular plans for the future, and a few five-franc pieces for the present, — by Jove, sir, how did I dare to be so happy? What idiots we were, my love, to be happy at all! We were mad to marry. Don’t tell me! With a purse which didn’t contain three months’ consumption, would we dare to marry now? We should be put into the mad ward of the workhouse: that would be the only place for us. Talk about trusting in heaven. Stuff and nonsense, ma’am! I have as good a right to go and buy a house in Belgrave Square, and trust to heaven for the payment, as I had to marry when I did. We were paupers, Mrs. Char, and you know that very well!”

“Oh, yes. We were very wrong: very!” says Mrs. Charlotte, looking up to her chandelier (which, by the way, is of very handsome Venetian old glass). “We were very wrong, were not we, my dearest?” And herewith she will begin to kiss and fondle two or more babies that disport in her room — as if two or more babies had anything to do with Philip’s argument, that a man has no right to marry who has no pretty well-assured means of keeping a wife.

Here, then, by the banks of the Loire, although Philip had but a very few francs in his pocket, and was obliged to keep a sharp look-out on his expenses at the Hotel of the Golden Pheasant, he passed a fortnight of such happiness as I, for my part, wish to all young folks who read his veracious history. Though he was so poor, and ate and drank so modestly in the house, the maids, waiters, the landlady of the Pheasant, were as civil to him — yes, as civil as they were to the gouty old Marchioness of Carabas herself, who stayed here on her way to the south, occupied the grand apartments, quarrelled with her lodging, dinner, breakfast, bread- and-butter in general, insulted the landlady in bad French, and only paid her bill under compulsion. Philip’s was a little bill, but he paid it cheerfully. He gave only a small gratuity to the servants, but he was kind and hearty, and they knew he was poor. He was kind and hearty, I suppose, because he was so happy. I have known the gentleman to be by no means civil; and have heard him storm, and hector, and browbeat landlord and waiters, as fiercely as the Marquis of Carabas himself. But now Philip the Bear was the most gentle of bears, because his little Charlotte was leading him.

Away with trouble and doubt, with squeamish pride and gloomy care! Philip had enough money for a fortnight, during which Tom Glazier, of the Monitor, promised to supply Philip’s letters for the Pall Mall Gazette. All the designs of France, Spain, Russia, gave that idle “own correspondent” not the slightest anxiety. In the morning it was Miss Baynes; in the afternoon it was Miss Baynes. At six it was dinner and Charlotte; at nine it was Charlotte and tea. “Anyhow, love-making does not spoil his appetite,” Major MacWhirter correctly remarked. Indeed, Philip had a glorious appetite; and health bloomed in Miss Charlotte’s cheek, and beamed in her happy little heart. Dr. Firmin, in the height of his practice, never completed a cure more skilfully than that which was performed by Dr. Firmin, Junior.

“I ran the thing so close, sir,” I remember Philip bawling out, in his usual energetic way, whilst describing this period of his life’s greatest happiness to his biographer, “that I came back to Paris outside the diligence, and had not money enough to dine on the road. But I bought a sausage, sir, and a bit of bread — and a brutal sausage it was, sir — and I reached my lodgings with exactly two sous in my pocket.” Roger Bontemps himself was not more content than our easy philosopher.

So Philip and Charlotte ratified and sealed a treaty of Tours, which they determined should never be broken by either party. Marry without papa’s consent? Oh, never! Marry anybody but Philip? Oh, never — never! Not if she lived to be a hundred, when Philip would in consequence be in his hundred and ninth or tenth year, would this young Joan have any but her present Darby. Aunt Mac, though she may not have been the most accomplished or highly-bred of ladies, was a warm-hearted and affectionate aunt Mac. She caught in a mild form the fever from these young people. She had not much to leave, and Mac’s relations would want all he could spare when he was gone. But Charlotte should have her garnets, and her teapot, and her India shawl — that she should. [Note: I am sorry to say that in later days, after Mrs. Major MacWhirter’s decease, it was found that she had promised these treasures in writing to several members of her husband’s family, and that much heart-burning arose in consequence. But our story has nothing to do with these painful disputes.] And with many blessings this enthusiastic old lady took leave of her future nephew-in-law when he returned to Paris and duty. Crack your whip and scream your hi! and be off quick, postilion and diligence! I am glad we have taken Mr. Firmin out of that dangerous, lazy, love-making place. Nothing is to me so sweet as sentimental writing. I could have written hundreds of pages describing Philip and Charlotte, Charlotte and Philip. But a stern sense of duty intervenes. My modest Muse puts a finger on her lip, and says, “Hush about that business!” Ah, my worthy friends, you little know what soft-hearted people those cynics are! If you could have come on Diogenes by surprise, I daresay you might have found him reading sentimental novels and whimpering in his tub. Philip shall leave his sweetheart and go back to his business, and we will not have one word about tears, promises, raptures, parting. Never mind about these sentimentalities, but please, rather, to depict to yourself our young fellow so poor that when the coach stops for dinner at Orleans he can only afford to purchase a penny loaf and a sausage for his own hungry cheek. When he reached the Hôtel Poussin, with his meagre carpet-bag, they served him a supper which he ate to the admiration of all beholders in the little coffee-room. He was in great spirits and gaiety. He did not care to make any secret of his poverty, and how he had been unable to afford to pay for dinner. Most of the guests at Hôtel Poussin knew what it was to be poor. Often and often they had dined on credit when they put back their napkins into their respective pigeon-holes. But my landlord knew his guests. They were poor men — honest men. They paid him in the end, and each could help his neighbour in a strait.

After Mr. Firmin’s return to Paris he did not care for a while to go to the Elysian Fields. They were not Elysian for him, except in Miss Charlotte’s company. He resumed his newspaper correspondence, which occupied but a day in each week, and he had the other six — nay, he scribbled on the seventh day likewise, and covered immense sheets of letter-paper with remarks upon all manner of subjects, addressed to a certain Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle Baynes, chez M. le Major Mac, On these sheets of paper Mr. Firmin could talk so long, so loudly, so fervently, so eloquently to Miss Baynes, that she was never tired of hearing, or he of holding forth. He began imparting his dreams and his earliest sensations to his beloved before breakfast. At noon-day he gave her his opinion of the contents of the morning papers. His packet was ordinarily full and brimming over by post-time, so that his expressions of love and fidelity leaped from under the cover, or were squeezed into the queerest corners, where, no doubt, it was a delightful task for Miss Baynes to trace out and detect those little cupids which a faithful lover despatched to her. It would be, “I have found this little corner unoccupied. Do you know what I have to say in it? Oh, Charlotte, I,” My sweet young lady, you can guess, or will one day guess, the rest; and will receive such dear, delightful, nonsensical double letters, and will answer them with that elegant propriety which I have no doubt Miss Baynes showed in her replies. Ah! if all who are writing and receiving such letters, or who have written and received such, or who remember writing and receiving such, would order a copy of this novel from the publishers, what reams, and piles, and pyramids of paper our ink would have to blacken! Since Charlotte and Philip had been engaged to each other, he had scarcely, except in those dreadful, ghastly days of quarrel, enjoyed the luxury of absence from his soul’s blessing — the exquisite delight of writing to her. He could do few things in moderation, this man — and of this delightful privilege of writing to Charlotte he now enjoyed his heart’s fill.

After brief enjoyment of the weeks of this rapture, when winter was come on Paris, and icicles hung on the bough, how did it happen that one day, two days, three days passed, and the postman brought no little letter in the well-known little handwriting for Monsieur, Monsieur Philip Firmin, à Paris? Three days, four days, and no letter. Oh, torture, could she be ill? Could her aunt and uncle have turned against her, and forbidden her to write, as her father and mother had done before? Oh, grief, and sorrow, and rage! As for jealousy, our leonine friend never knew such a passion. It never entered into his lordly heart to doubt of his little maiden’s love. But still four, five days have passed, and not one word has come from Tours. The little Hôtel Poussin was in a commotion. I have said that when our friend felt any passion very strongly he was sure to speak of it. Did Don Quixote lose any opportunity of declaring to the world that Dulcinea del Toboso was peerless among women? Did not Antar bawl out in battle, “I am the lover of Ibla?” Our knight had taken all the people of the hotel into his confidence somehow. They all knew of his condition — all, the painter, the poet, the half-pay Polish officer, the landlord, the hostess, down to the little knife-boy who used to come in with, “The factor comes of to pass — no letter this morning.”

No doubt Philip’s political letters became, under this outward pressure, very desponding and gloomy. One day, as he sate gnawing his mustachios at his desk, the little Anatole enters his apartment and cries, “Tenez, M. Philippe. That lady again!” And the faithful, the watchful, the active Madame Smolensk once more made her appearance in his chamber.

Philip blushed and hung his head for shame. “Ungrateful brute that I am,” he thought; “I have been back more than a week, and never thought a bit about that good, kind soul who came to my succour. I am an awful egotist. Love is always so.”

As he rose up to greet his friend, she looked so grave, and pale, and sad, that he could not but note her demeanour. “Bon Dieu! had anything happened?”

“Ce pauvre général is ill, very ill Philip,” Smolensk said, in her grave voice.

He was so gravely ill, madame said, that his daughter had been sent for.

“Had she come?” asked Philip, with a start.

“You think but of her — you care not for the poor old man. You are all the same, you men. All egotists — all. Go! I know you! I never knew one that was not,” said madame.

Philip has his little faults: perhaps egotism is one of his defects. Perhaps it is yours, or even mine.

“You have been here a week since Thursday last, and you have never written or sent to a woman who loves you well. Go! It was not well, Monsieur Philippe.”

As soon as he saw her, Philip felt that he had been neglectful and ungrateful. We have owned so much already. But how should madame know that he had returned on Thursday week? When they looked up after her reproof, his eager eyes seemed to ask this question.

“Could she not write to me and tell me that you were come back? Perhaps she knew that you would not do so yourself. A woman’s heart teaches her these experiences early,” continued the lady, sadly; then she added: “I tell you, you are good-for-nothings, all of you! And I repent me, see you, of having had the bêtise to pity you!”

“I shall have my quarter’s pay on Saturday, I was coming to you then,” said Philip.

“Was it that I was speaking of? What! you are all cowards, men, all! Oh, that I have been beast, beast, to think at last I had found a man of heart!”

How much or how often this poor Ariadne had trusted and been forsaken, I have no means of knowing, or desire of inquiring. Perhaps it is as well for the polite reader, who is taken into my entire confidence, that we should not know Madame de Smolensk’s history from the first page to the last. Granted that Ariadne was deceived by Theseus: but then she consoled herself, as we may all read in Smith’s Dictionary; and then she must have deceived her father in order to run away with Theseus. I suspect — I suspect, I say — that these women who are so very much betrayed, are — but we are speculating on this French lady’s antecedents, when Charlotte, her lover, and her family are the persons with whom we have mainly to do.

These two, I suppose, forgot self, about which each for a moment had been busy, and madame resumed:— “Yes, you have reason; Miss is here. It was time. Hold! Here is a note from her.” And Philip’s kind messenger once more put a paper into his hands. —

“My dearest father is very, very ill. Oh, Philip! I am so unhappy; and he is so good, and gentle, and kind, and loves me so!”

“It is true,” madame resumed. “Before Charlotte came, he thought only of her. When his wife comes up to him, he turns from her. I have not loved her much, that lady, that is true. But to see her now, it is navrant. He will take no medicine from her. He pushed her away. Before Charlotte came, he sent for me, and spoke as well as his poor throat would let him, this poor general! His daughter’s arrival seemed to comfort him. But he says, ‘Not my wife! not my wife!’ And the poor thing has to go away and cry in the chamber at the side. He says — in his French, you know — he has never been well since Charlotte went away. He has often been out. He has dined but rarely at our table, and there has always been a silence between him and Madame la Générale. Last week he had a great inflammation of the chest. Then he took to bed, and Monsieur the Doctor came — the little doctor whom you know. Then a quinsy has declared itself and he now is scarce able to speak. His condition is most grave. He lies suffering, dying, perhaps — yes, dying, do you hear? And you are thinking of your little school-girl! Men are all the same. Monsters! Go!”

Philip, who, I have said, is very fond of talking about Philip, surveys his own faults with great magnanimity and good humour, and acknowledges them without the least intention to correct them. “How selfish we are!” I can hear him say, looking at himself in the glass. “By George! sir, when I heard simultaneously the news of that poor old man’s illness, and of Charlotte’s return, I felt that I wanted to see her that instant. I must go to her, and speak to her. The old man and his suffering did not seem to affect me. It is humiliating to have to own that we are selfish beasts. But we are, sir — we are brutes, by George! and nothing else," — And he gives a finishing twist to the ends of his flaming mustachois as he surveys them in the glass.

Poor little Charlotte was in such affliction that of course she must have Philip to console her at once. No time was to be lost. Quick! a cab this moment: and, coachman, you shall have an extra for drink if you go quick to the Avenue de Marli! Madame puts herself into the carriage, and as they go along tells Philip more at length of the gloomy occurrences of the last few days. Four days since, the poor general was so bad with his quinsy that he thought he should not recover, and Charlotte was sent for. He was a little better on the day of her arrival; but yesterday the inflammation had increased; he could not swallow; he could not speak audibly; he was in very great suffering and danger. He turned away from his wife. The unhappy generaless had been to Madame Bunch in her tears and grief, complaining that after twenty years’ fidelity and attachment her husband had withdrawn his regard from her. Baynes attributed even his illness to his wife; and at other times said it was a just punishment for his wicked conduct in breaking his word to Philip and Charlotte. If he did not see his dear child again, he must beg her forgiveness for having made her suffer so. He had acted wickedly and ungratefully, and his wife had forced him to do what he did. He prayed that heaven might pardon him. And he had behaved with wicked injustice towards Philip, who had acted most generously towards his family. And he had been a scoundrel — he knew he had — and Bunch, and MacWhirter, and the doctor all said so — and it was that woman’s doing. And he pointed to the scared wife as he painfully hissed out these words of anger and contrition:— “When I saw that child ill, and almost made mad, because I broke my word, I felt I was a scoundrel, Martin; and I was; and that woman made me so; and I deserve to be shot; and I shan’t recover; I tell you I shan’t.” Dr. Martin, who attended the general, thus described his patient’s last talk and behaviour to Philip.

It was the doctor who sent madame in quest of the young man. He found poor Mrs. Baynes with hot, tearless eyes and livid face, a wretched sentinel outside the sick chamber. “You will find General Baynes very ill, sir,” she said to Philip, with a ghastly calmness, and a gaze he could scarcely face. “My daughter is in the room with him. It appears I have offended him, and he refuses to see me.” And she squeezed a dry handkerchief which she held, and put on her spectacles again, and tried again to read the Bible in her lap.

Philip hardly knew the meaning of Mrs. Baynes’ words as yet. He was agitated by the thought of the general’s illness, perhaps by the notion that the beloved was so near. Her hand was in his a moment afterwards: and, even in that sad chamber, each could give the other a soft pressure, a fond, silent signal of mutual love and faith.

The poor man laid the hands of the young people together, and his own upon them. The suffering to which he had put his daughter seemed to be the crime which specially affected him. He thanked heaven he was able to see he was wrong. He whispered to his little maid a prayer for pardon in one or two words, which caused poor Charlotte to sink on her knees and cover his fevered hand with tears and kisses. Out of all her heart she forgave him. She had felt that the parent she loved and was accustomed to honour had been mercenary and cruel. It had wounded her pure heart to be obliged to think that her father could be other than generous, and just, and good. That he should humble himself before her, smote her with the keenest pang of tender commiseration. I do not care to pursue this last scene. Let us close the door as the children kneel by the sufferer’s bedside, and to the old man’s petition for forgiveness, and to the young girl’s sobbing vows of love and fondness, say a reverent Amen.

By the following letter, which he wrote a few days before the fatal termination of his illness, the worthy general, it would appear, had already despaired of his recovery:— “My dear Mac, — I speak and breathe with such difficulty as I write this from my bed, that I doubt whether I shall ever leave it. I do not wish to vex poor Eliza, and in my state cannot enter into disputes which I know would ensue regarding settlement of property. When I left England there was a claim hanging over me (young Firmin’s ) at which I was needlessly frightened, as having to satisfy it would swallow up much more than everything I possessed in the world. Hence made arrangements for leaving everything in Eliza’s name and the children after. Will with Smith and Thompson, Raymond Buildings, Gray’s Inn. Think Char won’t be happy for a long time with her mother. To break from F., who has been most generous to us, will break her heart. Will you and Emily keep her for a little? I gave F. my promise. As you told me, I have acted ill by him, which I own and deeply lament. If Char marries, she ought to have her share. May God bless her, her father prays, in case he should not see her again. And with best love to Emily, am yours, dear Mac, sincerely, — Charles Baynes.”

On the receipt of this letter, Charlotte disobeyed her father’s wish, and set forth from Tours instantly, under her worthy uncle’s guardianship. The old soldier was in his comrade’s room when the general put the hands of Charlotte and her lover together. He confessed his fault, though it is hard for those who expect love and reverence to have to own to wrong and to ask pardon. Old knees are stiff to bend. Brother reader, young or old, when our last hour comes, may ours have grace to do so!

Volume III.

Chapter 1

Returns to Old Friends.

The three old comrades and Philip formed the little mourning procession which followed the general to his place of rest at Montmartre. When the service has been read, and the last volley has been fired over the buried soldier, the troops march to quarters with a quick step, and to a lively tune. Our veteran has been laid in the grave with brief ceremonies. We do not even prolong his obsequies with a sermon. His place knows him no longer. There are a few who remember him: a very, very few who grieve for him — so few that to think of them is a humiliation almost. The sun sets on the earth, and our dear brother has departed off its face. Stars twinkle; dews fall; children go to sleep in awe, and maybe tears; the sun rises on a new day, which he has never seen, and children wake hungry. They are interested about their new black clothes, perhaps. They are presently at their work, plays, quarrels. They are looking forward to the day when the holidays will be over, and the eyes which shone here yesterday so kindly are gone, gone, gone. A drive to the cemetery, followed by a coach with four acquaintances dressed in decorous black, who separate and go to their homes or clubs, and wear your crape for a few days after — can most of us expect much more? The thought is not ennobling or exhilarating, worthy sir. And, pray, why should we be proud of ourselves? Is it because we have been so good, or are so wise and great, that we expect to be beloved, lamented, remembered? Why, great Xerxes or blustering Bobadil must know in that last hour and resting-place how abject, how small, how low, how lonely they are, and what a little dust will cover them. Quick, drums and fifes, a lively tune! Whip the black team, coachman, and trot back to town again — to the world, and to business, and duty!

I am for saying no single unkindness of General Baynes which is not forced upon me by my storyteller’s office. We know, from Marlborough’s story, that the bravest man and greatest military genius is not always brave or successful in his battles with his wife, and that some of the greatest warriors have committed errors in accounts and the distribution of meum and tuum. We can’t disguise from ourselves the fact that Baynes permitted himself to be misled, and had weaknesses not quite consistent with the highest virtue.

When he became aware that his carelessness in the matter of Mrs. Firmin’s trust-money had placed him in her son’s power, we have seen how the old general, in order to avoid being called to account, fled across the water with his family and all his little fortune, and how terrified he was on landing on a foreign shore to find himself face to face with this dreadful creditor. Philip’s renunciation of all claims against Baynes, soothed and pleased the old man wonderfully. But Philip might change his mind, an adviser at Baynes’ side repeatedly urged. To live abroad was cheaper and safer than to live at home. Accordingly Baynes, his wife, family, and money, all went into exile, and remained there.

What savings the old man had I don’t accurately know. He and his wife were very dark upon this subject with Philip: and when the general died, his widow declared herself to be almost a pauper. It was impossible that Baynes should have left much money; but that Charlotte’s share should have amounted to — that sum which may or may not presently be stated — was a little too absurd! You see Mr. and Mrs. Firmin are travelling abroad just now. When I wrote to Firmin to ask if I might mention the amount of his wife’s fortune, he gave me no answer: nor do I like to enter upon these matters of calculation without his explicit permission. He is of a hot temper; he might, on his return, grow angry with the friend of his youth, and say, “Sir, how dare you to talk about my private affairs? and what has the public to do with Mrs. Firmin’s private fortune?”

When, the last rites over, good-natured uncle Mac proposed to take Charlotte back to Tours, her mother made no objection. The widow had tried to do the girl such an injury, that perhaps the latter felt forgiveness was impossible. Little Char loved Philip with all her heart and strength; had been authorized and encouraged to do so, as we have seen. To give him up now, because a richer suitor presented himself, was an act of treason from which her faithful heart revolted, and she never could pardon the instigator. You see, in this simple story, I scarcely care even to have reticence or secrets. I don’t want you to understand for a moment that Hely Walsingham was still crying his eyes out about Charlotte. Goodness bless you! It was two or three weeks ago — four or five weeks ago, that he was in love with her! He had not seen the Duchesse d’Ivry then, about whom you may remember he had the quarrel with Podichon, at the club in the Rue de Grammont. (He and the duchesse wrote poems to each other, each in the other’s native language.) The Charlotte had long passed out of the young fellow’s mind. That butterfly had fluttered off from our English rosebud, and had settled on the other elderly flower! I don’t know that Mrs. Baynes was aware of young Hely’s fickleness at this present time of which we are writing: but his visits had ceased, and she was angry and disappointed; and not the less angry because her labour had been in vain. On her part, Charlotte could also be resolutely unforgiving. Take her Philip from her? Never, never! Her mother force her to give up the man whom she had been encouraged to love? Mamma should have defended Philip, not betrayed him! If I command my son to steal a spoon, shall he obey me? And if he do obey and steal, and be transported, will he love me afterwards? I think I can hardly ask for so much filial affection.

So there was strife between mother and daughter; and anger not the less bitter, on Mrs. Baynes’ part, because her husband, whose cupidity or fear had, at first, induced him to take her side, had deserted her and gone over to her daughter. In the anger of that controversy Baynes died, leaving the victory and right with Charlotte. He shrank from his wife: would not speak to her in his last moments. The widow had these injuries against her daughter and Philip; and thus neither side forgave the other. She was not averse to the child’s going away to her uncle: put a lean, hungry face against Charlotte’s lip, and received a kiss which I fear had but little love in it. I don’t envy those children who remain under the widow’s lonely command; or poor Madame Smolensk, who has to endure the arrogance, the grief, the avarice of that grim woman. Nor did madame suffer under this tyranny long. Galignani’s Messenger very soon announced that she had lodgings to let, and I remember being edified by reading one day in the Pall Mall Gazette that elegant apartments, select society, and an excellent table were to be found in one of the most airy and fashionable quarters of Paris. Inquire of Madame la Baronne de S— sk, Avenue de Marli, Champs Elysées.

We guessed without difficulty how this advertisement found its way to the Pall Mall Gazette; and very soon after its appearance Madame de Smolensk’s friend, Mr. Philip, made his appearance at our tea-table in London. He was always welcome amongst us elders and children. He wore a crape on his hat. As soon as the young ones were gone, you may be sure he poured his story out; and enlarged upon the death, the burial, the quarrels, the loves, the partings we have narrated. How could he be put in a way to earn three or four hundred a year? That was the present question. Ere he came to see us, he had already been totting up ways and means. He had been with our friend Mrs. Brandon: was staying with her. The Little Sister thought three hundred would be sufficient. They could have her second floor — not for nothing; no, no, but at a moderate price, which would pay her. They could have her attics, if more rooms were needed. They could have her kitchen fire, and one maid, for the present, would do all their work. Poor little thing! She was very young. She would be past eighteen by the time she could marry; the Little Sister was for early marriages, against long courtships. “Heaven helps those as helps themselves,” she said. And Mr. Philip thought this excellent advice; and Mr. Philip’s friend, when asked for his opnion — “Candidly now, what’s your opinion?" — said, “Is she in the next room? Of course you mean you are married already.”

Philip roared one of his great laughs. No, he was not married already. Had he not said that Miss Baynes was gone away to Tours to her aunt and uncle? But that he wanted to be married; but that he could never settle down to work till he married; but that he could have no rest, peace, health, till he married that angel he was ready to confess. Ready? All the street might hear him calling out the name and expatiating on the angelic charms and goodness of his Charlotte. He spoke so loud and long on this subject that my wife grew a little tired; and my wife always likes to hear other women praised, that (she says) I know she does. But when a man goes on roaring for an hour about Dulcinea? You know such talk becomes fulsome at last; and, in fine, when he was gone, my wife said, “Well, he is very much in love; so were you — I mean long before my time, sir; but does love pay the housekeeping bills, pray?”

“No, my dear. And love is always controlled by other people’s advice:— always,” says Philip’s friend, who I hope you will perceive was speaking ironically.

Philip’s friends had listened not impatiently to Philip’s talk about Philip. Almost all women will give a sympathizing hearing to men who are in love. Be they ever so old, they grow young agian with that conversation, and renew their own early times. Men are not quite so generous: Tityrus tires of hearing Corydon discourse endlessly on the charms of his shepherdess. And yet egotism is good talk. Even dull biographies are pleasant to read: and if to read, why not to hear? Had Master Philip not been such an egotist, he would not have been so pleasant a companion. Can’t you like a man at whom you laugh a little? I had rather such an open-mouthed conversationist than your cautious jaws that never unlock without a careful application of the key. As for the entrance to Mr. Philip’s mind, that door was always open when he was awake, or not hungry, or in a friend’s company. Besides his love, and his prospects in life, his poverty, Philip had other favourite topics of conversation. His friend the Little Sister was a great theme with him; his father was another favourite subject of his talk. By the way, his father had written to the Little Sister. The doctor said he was sure to prosper in his newly adopted country. He and another physician had invented a new medicine, which was to effect wonders, and in a few years would assuredly make the fortune of both of them. He was never without one scheme or another for making that fortune which never came. Whenever he drew upon poor Philip for little sums, his letters were sure to be especially magniloquent and hopeful. “Whenever the doctor says he has invented the philosopher’s stone,” said poor Philip, “I am sure there will be a postscript to say that a little bill will be presented for so much, at so many days’ date.”

Had he drawn on Philip lately? Philip told us when, and how often. We gave him all the benefit of our virtuous indignation. As for my wife’s eyes, they gleamed with anger. What a man: what a father! Oh, he was incorrigible! “Yes, I am afraid he is,” says poor Phil, comically, with his hands roaming at ease in his pockets. They contained little else than those big hands. “My father is of a hopeful turn. His views regarding property are peculiar. It is a comfort to have such a distinguished parent, isn’t it? I am always surprised to hear that he is not married again. I sigh for a mother-in-law,” Philip continued.

“Oh, don’t, Philip!” cried Mrs. Laura, in a pet. “Be generous: be forgiving: be noble: be Christian! Don’t be cynical and imitating — you know whom!”

Whom could she possibly mean, I wonder? After flashes, there came showers in this lady’s eyes. From long habit I can understand her thoughts, although she does not utter them. She was thinking of these poor, noble, simple, friendless young people; and asking heaven’s protection for them. I am not in the habit of over-praising my friends, goodness knows. The foibles of this one I have described honestly enough. But if I write down here that he was courageous, cheerful in adversity, generous, simple, truth-loving, above a scheme — after having said that he was a noble young fellow — dixi; and I won’t cancel the words.

Ardent lover as he was, our friend was glad to be back in the midst of the London smoke, and wealth, and bustle. The fog agreed with his lungs, he said. He breathed more freely in our great city than in that little English village in the centre of Paris which he had been inhabiting. In his hotel, and at his café (where he composed his eloquent “Own Correspondence”), he had occasion to speak a little French, but it never came very trippingly from his stout English tongue. “You don’t suppose I would like to be taken for a Frenchman,” he would say with much gravity. I wonder who ever thought of mistaking friend Philip for a Frenchman?

As for that faithful Little Sister, her house and heart were still at the young man’s service. We have not visited Thornhaugh Street for some time. Mr. Philip, whom we have been bound to attend, has been too much occupied with his love-making to bestow much thought on his affectionate little friend. She has been trudging meanwhile on her humble course of life, cheerful, modest, laborious, doing her duty, with a helping little hand ready to relieve many a fallen wayfarer on her road. She had a room vacant in her house when Philip came. A room, indeed! Would she not have had a house vacant, if Philip wanted it? But in the interval since we saw her last, the Little Sister, too, has had to assume black robes. Her father, the old captain, has gone to his rest. His place is vacant in the little parlour: his bedroom is ready for Philip, as long as Philip will stay. She did not profess to feel much affliction for the loss of the captain. She talked of him constantly as though he were present; and made a supper for Philip, and seated him in her Pa’s chair. How she bustled about on the night when Philip arrived! What a beaming welcome there was in her kind eyes! Her modest hair was touched with silver now; but her cheeks were like apples; her little figure was neat, and light, and active; and her voice, with its gentle laugh, and little sweet bad grammar, has always seemed one of the sweetest of voices to me.

Very soon after Philip’s arrival in London, Mrs. Brandon paid a visit to the wife of Mr. Firmin’s humble servant and biographer; and the two women had a fine sentimental consultation. All good women, you know, are sentimental. The idea of young lovers, of match-making, of amiable poverty, tenderly excites and interests them. My wife, at this time, began to pour off fine long letters to Miss Baynes, to which the latter modestly and dutifully replied, with many expressions, of fervour and gratitude for the interest which her friend in London was pleased to take in the little maid. I saw by these answers that Charlotte’s union with Philip was taken as a received point by these two ladies. They discussed the ways and means. They did not talk about broughams, settlements, town and country houses, pin-moneys, trousseaux; and my wife, in computing their sources of income, always pointed out that Miss Charlotte’s fortune, though certainly small, would give a very useful addition to the young couple’s income. “Fifty pounds a year not much! Let me tell you, sir, that fifty pounds a year is a very pretty little sum: if Philip can but make three hundred a year himself, Mrs. Brandon says they ought to be able to live quite nicely.” You ask, my genteel friend, is it possible that people can live for four hundred a year? How do they manage, ces pauvres gens? They eat, they drink, they are clothed, they are warmed, they have roofs over their heads, and glass in their windows; and some of them are as good, happy, and well-bred as their neighbours who are ten times as rich. Then, besides this calculation of money, there is the fond woman’s firm belief that the day will bring its daily bread for those who work for it and ask for it in the proper quarter; against which reasoning many a man knows it is in vain to argue. As to my own little objections and doubts, my wife met them by reference to Philip’s former love affair with his cousin, Miss Twysden. “You had no objection in that case, sir,” this logician would say. “You would have had him take a creature without a heart. You would cheerfully have seen him made miserable for life, because you thought there was money enough and a genteel connection. Money indeed! Very happy Mrs. Woolcomb is with her money! Very creditably to all sides has that marriage turned out!” I need scarcely remind my readers of the unfortunate result of that marriage. Woolcomb’s behaviour to his wife was the agreeable talk of London society and of the London clubs very soon after the pair were joined together in holy matrimony. Do we not all remember how Woolcomb was accused of striking his wife, of starving his wife, and how she took refuge at home and came to her father’s house with a black eye? The two Twysdens were so ashamed of this transaction, that father and son left off coming to Bays’s, where I never heard their absence regretted but by one man, who said that Talbot owed him money for losses at whist for which he could get no settlement.

Should Mr. Firmin go and see his aunt in her misfortune? Bygones might be bygones, some of Philip’s advisers thought. Now, Mrs. Twysden was unhappy, her heart might relent to Philip, whom she certainly had loved as a boy. Philip had the magnanimity to call upon her; and found her carriage waiting at the door. But a servant, after keeping the gentleman waiting in the dreary, well-remembered hall, brought him word that his mistress was out, smiled in his face with an engaging insolence, and proceeded to put cloaks, courtguides, and other female gear into the carriage in the presence of this poor deserted nephew. This visit, it must be owned, was one of Mrs. Laura’s romantic efforts at reconciling enemies: as if, my good creature, the Twysdens ever let a man into their house who was poor or out of fashion! They lived in a constant dread lest Philip should call to borrow money of them. As if they ever lent money to a man who was in need! If they ask the respected reader to their house, depend on it they think he is well to do. On the other hand, the Twysdens made a very handsome entertainment for the new lord of Whipham and Ringwood who now reigned after his kinsman’s death. They affably went and passed Christmas with him in the country; and they cringed and bowed before Sir John Ringwood as they had bowed and cringed before the earl in his time. The old earl had been a Tory in his latter days, when Talbot Twysden’s views were also very conservative. The present lord of Ringwood was a Whig. It is surprising how liberal the Twysdens grew in the course of a fortnight’s after-dinner conversation and pheasant-shooting talk at Ringwood. “Hang it! you know,” young Twysden said, in his office afterwards, “a fellow must go with the politics of his family, you know!” and he bragged about the dinners, wines, splendours, cooks, and preserves of Ringwood as freely as in the time of his noble grand-uncle. Any one who has kept a house-dog in London, which licks your boots and your platter, and fawns for the bones in your dish, knows how the animal barks and flies at the poor who come to the door. The Twysdens, father and son, were of this canine species: and there are vast packs of such dogs here and elsewhere.

If Philip opened his heart to us, and talked unreservedly regarding his hopes and his plans, you may be sure he had his little friend, Mrs. Brandon, also in his confidence, and that no person in the world was more eager to serve him. Whilst we were talking about what was to be done, this little lady was also at work in her favourite’s behalf. She had a firm ally in Mrs. Mugford, the proprietor’s lady of the Pall Mall Gazette. Mrs. Mugford had long been interested in Philip, his misfortunes and his love affairs. These two good women had made a sentimental hero of him. Ah! that they could devise some feasible scheme to help him! And such a chance actually did very soon present itself to these delighted women.

In almost all the papers of the new year appeared a brilliant advertisement, announcing the speedy appearance in Dublin of a new paper. It was to be called The Shamrock, and its first number was to be issued on the ensuing St. Patrick’s day. I need not quote at length the advertisement which heralded the advent of this new periodical. The most famous pens of the national party in Ireland were, of course, engaged to contribute to its columns. Those pens would be hammered into steel of a different shape when the opportunity should offer. Beloved prelates, authors of world-wide fame, bards, the bold strings of whose lyres had rung through the isle already, and made millions of noble hearts to beat, and, by consequence, double the number of eyes to fill; philosophers, renowned for science; and illustrious advocates, whose manly voices had ever spoken the language of hope and freedom to an would be found rallying round the journal, and proud to wear the symbol of The Shamrock. Finally, Michael Cassidy, Esq., was chosen to be the editor of this new journal.

This was the M. Cassidy, Esq., who appeared, I think, at Mr. Firmin’s call-supper; and who had long been the sub-editor of the Pall Mall Gazette. If Michael went to Dame Street, why should not Philip be sub-editor at Pall Mall? Mrs. Brandon argued. Of course there would be a score of candidates for Michael’s office. The editor would like the patronage. Barnet, Mugford’s partner in the Gazette, would wish to appoint his man. Cassidy, before retiring, would assuredly intimate his approaching resignation to scores of gentlemen of his nation, who would not object to take the Saxon’s pay until they finally shook his yoke off, and would eat his bread until the happy moment arrived when they could knock out his brains in fair battle. As soon as Mrs. Brandon heard of the vacant place, that moment she determined that Philip should have it. It was surprising what a quantity of information our little friend possessed about artists, and pressmen, and their lives, families, ways and mean. Many gentlemen of both professions came to Mr. Ridley’s chambers, and called on the Little Sister on their way to and fro. How Tom Smith had left the Herald, and gone to the Post: what price Jack Jones had for his picture, and who sat for the principal figures. — I promise you Madam Brandon had all these interesting details by heart; and I think I have described this little person very inadequately if I have not made you understand that she was as intrepid a little jobber as ever lived, and never scrupled to go any length to serve a friend. To be Archbishop of Canterbury, to be professor of Hebrew, to be teacher of a dancing-school, to be organist for a church: for any conceivable place or function this little person would have asserted Philip’s capability. “Don’t tell me! He can dance or preach (as the case may be), or write beautiful! And as for being unfit to be a sub-editor, I want to know, has he not as good a head and as good an education as that Cassidy, indeed? And is not Cambridge College the best college in the world? It is, I say. And he went there ever so long. And he might have taken the very best prize, only money was no object to him then, dear fellow, and he did not like to keep the poor out of what he didn’t want!”

Mrs. Mugford had always considered the young man as very haughty, but quite the gentleman, and speedily was infected by her gossip’s enthusiasm about him. My wife hired a fly, packed several of the children into it, called upon Mrs. Mugford, and chose to be delighted with that lady’s garden, with that lady’s nursery — with everything that bore the name of Mugford. It was a curiosity to remark in what a flurry of excitement these women plunged, and how they schemed, and coaxed, and caballed, in order to get this place for their protégé. My wife thought — she merely happened to surmise: nothing more, of course — that Mrs. Mugford’s fond desire was to shine in the world. “Could we not ask some people — with — with what you call handles to their names, — I think I before heard you use some such term, sir, — to meet the Mugfords? Some of Philip’s old friends, who I am sure would be very happy to serve him.” Some such artifice was, I own, practised. We coaxed, cajoled, fondled the Mugfords for Philip’s sake, and heaven forgive Mrs. Laura her hypocrisy. We had an entertainment then, I own. We asked our finest company, and Mr. and Mrs. Mugford to meet them: and we prayed that unlucky Philip to be on his best behaviour to all persons who were invited to the feast.

Before my wife this lion of a Firmin was as a lamb. Rough, captious, and overbearing in general society, with those whom he loved and esteemed Philip was of all men the most modest and humble. He would never tire of playing with our children, joining in their games, laughing and roaring at their little sports. I have never had such a laugher at my jokes as Philip Firmin. I think my wife liked him for that noble guffaw with which he used to salute those pieces of wit. He arrived a little late sometimes with his laughing chorus, but ten people at table were not so loud as this faithful friend. On the contrary, when those people for whom he has no liking venture on a pun or other pleasantry, I am bound to own that Philip’s acknowledgment of their waggery must be anything but pleasant or flattering to them. Now, on occasion of this important dinner, I enjoined him to be very kind, and very civil, and very much pleased with everybody, and to stamp upon nobody’s corns, as indeed, why should he, in life? Who was he, to be censor morum? And it has been said that no man could admit his own faults with a more engaging candour than our friend.

We invited, then, Mugford, the proprietor of the Pall Mall Gazette, and his wife; and Bickerton, the editor of that periodical; Lord Ascot, Philip’s old college friend; and one or two more gentlemen. Our invitations to the ladies were not so fortunate. Some were engaged, others away in the country keeping Christmas. In fine, we considered ourselves rather lucky in securing old Lady Hixie, who lives hard by in Westminste, and who will pass for a lady of fashion when no person of greater note is present. My wife told her that the object of the dinner was to make our friend Firmin acquainted with the editor and proprietor of the Pall Mall Gazette, with whom it was important that he should be on the most amicable footing. Oh! very well. Lady Hixie promised to be quite gracious to the newpaper gentleman and his wife; and kept her promise most graciously during the evening. Our good friend Mrs. Mugford was the first of our guests to arrive. She drove “in her trap” from her villa in the suburbs; and after putting up his carriage at a neighbouring livery-stable, her groom volunteered to help our servants in waiting at dinner. His zeal and activity were remarkable. China smashed, and dish-covers clanged in the passage. Mrs. Mugford said that “Sam was at his old tricks;” and I hope the hostess showed she was mistress of herself amidst that fall of china. Mrs. Mugford came before the appointed hour, she said, in order to see our children. “With our late London dinner hours,” she remarked, “children was never seen now.” At Hampstead, hers always appeared at the dessert, and enlivened the table with their innocent outcries for oranges, and struggles for sweetmeats. In the nursery, where one little maid, in her crisp, long night-gown, was saying her prayers; where another little person, in the most airy costume, was standing before the great barred fire; where a third Lilliputian was sitting up in its night-cap and surplice, surveying the scene below from its crib; — the ladies found our dear Little Sister installed. She had come to see her little pets (she had known two or three of them from the very earliest times). She was a great favourite amongst them all; and, I believe, conspired with the cook down below in preparing certain delicacies for the table. A fine conversation then ensued about our children, about the Mugford children, about babies in general. And then the artful women (the house mistress and the Little Sister) brought Philip on the tapis, and discoursed à qui mieux, about his virtues, his misfortunes, his engagement, and that dear little creature to whom he was betrothed. This conversation went on until carriage-wheels were heard in the square, and the knocker (there were actually knockers in that old-fashioned place and time) began to peal. “Oh, bother! There’s the company a-comin’,” Mrs. Mugford said; and arranging her cap and flounces, with neat-handed Mrs. Brandon’s aid, came down-stairs, after taking a tender leave of the little people, to whom she sent a present next day of a pile of fine Christmas books, which had come to the Pall Mall Gazette for review. The kind woman had been coaxed, wheedled, and won over to our side, to Philip’s side. He had her vote for the sub-editorship, whatever might ensue.

Most of our guests had already arrived, when at length Mrs. Mugford was announced. I am bound to say that she presented a remarkable appearance, and that the splendour of her attire was such as is seldom beheld.

Bickerton and Philip were presented to one another, and had a talk about French politics before dinner, during which conversation Philip behaved with perfect discretion and politeness. Bickerton had happened to hear Philip’s letters well spoken of — in a good quarter, mind; and his cordiality increased when Lord Ascot entered, called Philip by his surname, and entered into a perfectly free conversation with him. Old Lady Hixie went into perfectly good society, Bickerton condescended to acknowledge. “As for Mrs. Mugford,” says he, with a glance of wondering compassion at that lady, “of course, I need not tell you that she is seen nowhere — nowhere.” This said, Mr. Bickerton stepped forward, and calmly patronized my wife, gave me a good-natured nod for my own part, reminded Lord Ascot that he had had the pleasure of meeting him at Egham; and then fixed on Tom Page, of the Bread-and-Butter Office (who, I own, is one of our most genteel guests), with whom he entered into a discussion of some political matter of that day — I forget what: but the main point was that he named two or three leading public men with whom he had discussed the question, whatever it might be. He named very great names, and led us to understand that with the proprietors of those very great names he was on the most intimate and confidential footing. With hi