The Adventures of Philip on his way through the World, by William Makepeace Thackeray

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.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/adventures_of_philip/v1.6.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07