The Newcomes, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER XLIV

In which Mr. Charles Honeyman appears in an Amiable Light

Mr. Frederick Bayham waited at Fitzroy Square while Clive was yet talking with his friends there, and favoured that gentleman with his company home to the usual smoky refreshment. Clive always rejoiced in F. B.‘s society, whether he was in a sportive mood, or, as now, in a solemn and didactic vein. F. B. had been more than ordinarily majestic all the evening. “I dare say you find me a good deal altered, Clive,” he remarked; “I am a good deal altered. Since that good Samaritan, your kind father, had compassion on a poor fellow fallen among thieves (though I don’t say, mind you, he was much better than his company), F. B. has mended some of his ways. I am trying a course of industry, sir. Powers, perhaps naturally great, have been neglected over the wine-cup and the die. I am beginning to feel my way; and my chiefs yonder, who have just walked home with their cigars in their mouths, and without as much as saying, F. B., my boy, shall we go to the Haunt and have a cool lobster and a glass of table-beer — which they certainly do not consider themselves to be — I say, sir, the Politician and the Literary Critic” (there was a most sarcastic emphasis laid on these phrases, characterising Messrs. Warrington and Pendennis) “may find that there is a humble contributor to the Pall Mall Gazette, whose name, may be, the amateur shall one day reckon even higher than their own. Mr. Warrington I do not say so much — he is an able man, sir, an able man; — but there is that about your exceedin self-satisfied friend, Mr. Arthur Pendennis, which — well, well — let time show. You did not — get the — hem — paper at Rome and Naples, I suppose?”

“Forbidden by the Inquisition,” says Clive, delighted; “and at Naples the king furious against it.”

“I don’t wonder they don’t like it at Rome, sir. There’s serious matter in it which may set the prelates of a certain Church rather in a tremor. You haven’t read — the — ahem — the Pulpit Pencillings in the P. M. G.? Slight sketches, mental and corporeal, of our chief divines now in London — and signed Latimer?”

“I don’t do much in that way,” said Clive.

“So much the worse for you, my young friend. Not that I mean to judge any other fellow harshly — I mean any other fellow sinner harshly — or that I mean that those Pulpit Pencillings would be likely to do you any great good. But, such as they are, they have been productive of benefit. — Thank you, Mary, and my dear, the tap is uncommonly good, and I drink to your future husband’s good health. — A glass of good sound beer refreshes after all that claret. Well, sir, to return to the Pencillings, pardon my vanity in saying, that though Mr. Pendennis laughs at them, they have been of essential service to the paper. They give it a character, they rally round it the respectable classes. They create correspondence. I have received many interesting letters, chiefly from females, about the Pencillings. Some complain that their favourite preachers are slighted; others applaud because the clergymen they sit under are supported by F. B. I am Laud Latimer, sir — though I have heard the letters attributed to the Rev. Mr. Bunker, and to a Member of Parliament eminent in the religious world.”

“So you are the famous Laud Latimer?” cries Clive, who had, in fact, seen letters signed by those right reverend names in our paper.

“Famous is hardly the word. One who scoffs at everything — I need not say I allude to Mr. Arthur Pendennis — would have had the letters signed — the Beadle, of the Parish. He calls me the Venerable Beadle sometimes — it being, I grieve to say, his way to deride grave subjects. You wouldn’t suppose now, my young Clive, that the same hand which pens the Art criticisms, occasionally, when His Highness Pendennis is lazy, takes a minor theatre, or turns the sportive epigram, or the ephemeral paragraph, should adopt a grave theme on a Sunday, and chronicle the sermons of British divines? For eighteen consecutive Sunday evenings, Clive, in Mrs. Ridley’s front parlour, which I now occupy, vice Miss Cann promoted, I have written the Pencillings — scarcely allowing a drop of refreshment, except under extreme exhaustion, to pass my lips. Pendennis laughs at the Pencillings. He wants to stop them; and says they bore the public. — I don’t want to think a man is jealous, who was himself the cause of my engagement at the P. M. G. — perhaps my powers were not developed then.”

“Pen thinks he writes better now than when he began,” remarked Clive; “I have heard him say so.”

“His opinion of his own writings is high, whatever their date. Mine, sir, are only just coming into notice. They begin to know F. B., sir, in the sacred edifices of his metropolitan city. I saw the Bishop of London looking at me last Sunday week, and am sure his chaplain whispered him, ‘It’s Mr. Bayham, my lord, nephew of your lordship’s right reverend brother, the Lord Bishop of Bullocksmithy.’ And last Sunday being at church — at Saint Mungo the Martyr’s, Rev. Sawders — by Wednesday I got in a female hand — Mrs. Sawders’s, no doubt — the biography of the Incumbent of St. Mungo; an account of his early virtues; a copy of his poems; and a hint that he was the gentleman destined for the vacant Deanery.

“Ridley is not the only man I have helped in this world,” F. B. continued. “Perhaps I should blush to own it — I do blush: but I feel the ties of early acquaintance, and I own that I have puffed your uncle, Charles Honeyman, most tremendously. It was partly for the sake of the Ridleys and the tick he owes ’em: partly for old times’ sake. Sir, are you aware that things are greatly changed with Charles Honeyman, and that the poor F. B. has very likely made his fortune?”

“I am delighted to hear it,” cried Clive; “and how, F. B., have you wrought this miracle?”

“By common sense and enterprise, lad — by a knowledge of the world and a benevolent disposition. You’ll see Lady Whittlesea’s Chapel bears a very different aspect now. That miscreant Sherrick owns that he owes me a turn, and has sent me a few dozen of wine — without any stamped paper on my part in return — as an acknowledgment of my service. It chanced, sir, soon after your departure for Italy, that going to his private residence respecting a little bill to which a heedless friend had put his hand, Sherrick invited me to partake of tea in the bosom of his family. I was thirsty — having walked in from Jack Straw’s Castle at Hampstead, where poor Kitely and I had been taking a chop — and accepted the proffered entertainment. The ladies of the family gave us music after the domestic muffin — and then, sir, a great idea occurred to me. You know how magnificently Miss Sherrick and the mother sing? Thy sang Mozart, sir. Why, I asked of Sherrick, should those ladies who sing Mozart to a piano, not sing Handel to an organ?

“‘Dash it, you don’t mean a hurdy-gurdy?’”

“‘Sherrick,’ says I, ‘you are no better than a heathen ignoramus. I mean why shouldn’t they sing Handes Church Music, and Church Music in general in Lady Whittlesea’s Chapel? Behind the screen up in the organ-loft what’s to prevent ’em? By Jingo! Your singing-boys have gone to the Cave of Harmody; you and your choir have split — why should not these ladies lead it?’ He caught at the idea. You never heard the chants more finely given — and they would be better still if the congregation would but hold their confounded tongues. It was an excellent though a harmless dodge, sir: and drew immensely, to speak profanely. They dress the part, sir, to admiration — a sort of nunlike costume they come in: Mrs. Sherrick has the soul of an artist still — by Jove, sir, when they have once smelt the lamps, the love of the trade never leaves ’em. The ladies actually practised by moonlight in the Chapel, and came over to Honeyman’s to an oyster afterwards. The thing took, sir. People began to take box-seats, I mean, again:— and Charles Honeyman, easy in his mind through your noble father’s generosity, perhaps inspirited by returning good fortune, has been preaching more eloquently than ever. He took some lessons of Husler, of the Haymarket, sir. His sermons are old, I believe; but so to speak, he has got them up with new scenery, dresses, and effects, sir. They have flowers, sir, about the buildin’— pious ladies are supposed to provide ’em, but, entre nous, Sherrick contracts for them with Nathan, or some one in Covent Garden. And — don’t tell this now, upon your honour!”

“Tell what, F. B.?” asks Clive.

“I got up a persecution against your uncle for Popish practices summoned a meetin’ at the Running Footman, in Bolingbroke Street. Billings the butterman; Sharwood, the turner and blacking-maker; and the Honourable Phelin O’Curragh, Lord Scullabogue’s son, made speeches. Two or three respectable families (your aunt, Mrs. What-d’-you-call-’em Newcome, amongst the number) quitted the Chapel in disgust — I wrote an article of controversial biography in the P. M. G.; set the business going in the daily press; and the thing was done, sir. That property is a paying one to the Incumbent, and to Sherrick over him. Charles’s affairs are getting all right, sir. He never had the pluck to owe much, and if it be a sin to have wiped his slate clean, satisfied his creditors, and made Charles easy — upon my conscience, I must confess that F. B. has done it. I hope I may never do anything worse in this life, Clive. It ain’t bad to see him doing the martyr, sir: Sebastian riddled with paper pellets; Bartholomew on a cold gridiron. Here comes the lobster. Upon my word, Mary, a finer fish I’ve seldom seen.”

Now surely this account of his uncle’s affairs and prosperity was enough to send Clive to Lady Whittlesea’s Chapel, and it was not because Miss Ethel had said that she and Lady Kew went there that Clive was induced to go there too? He attended punctually on the next Sunday, and in the incumbent’s pew, whither the pew-woman conducted him, sate Mr. Sherrick in great gravity, with large gold pins, who handed him, at the anthem, a large, new, gilt hymn-book.

An odour of millefleurs rustled by them as Charles Honeyman accompanied by his ecclesiastical valet, passed the pew from the vestry, and took his place at the desk. Formerly he used to wear a flaunting scarf over his surplice, which was very wide and full; and Clive remembered when as a boy he entered the sacred robing-room, how his uncle used to pat and puff out the scarf and the sleeves of his vestment, and to arrange the natty curl on his forehead and take his place, a fine example of florid church decoration. Now the scarf was trimmed down to be as narrow as your neckcloth, and hung loose and straight over the back; the ephod was cut straight and as close and short as might be — I believe there was a little trimming of lace to the narrow sleeves, and a slight arabesque of tape, or other substance, round the edge of the surplice. As for the curl on the forehead, it was no more visible than the Maypole in the Strand, or the Cross at Charing. Honeyman’s hair was parted down the middle, short in front, and curling delicately round his ears and the back of his head. He read the service in a swift manner, and with a gentle twang. When the music began, he stood with head on one side, and two slim fingers on the book, as composed as a statue in a mediaeval niche. It was fine to hear Sherrick, who had an uncommonly good voice, join in the musical parts of the service. The produce of the market-gardener decorated the church here and there; and the impresario of the establishment, having picked up a Flemish painted window from old Moss in Wardour Street, had placed it in his chapel. Labels of faint green and gold, with long Gothic letters painted thereon, meandered over the organ-loft and galleries, and strove to give as mediaeval a look to Lady Whittlesea’s as the place was capable of assuming.

In the sermon Charles dropped the twang with the surplice, and the priest gave way to the preacher. He preached short stirring discourses on the subjects of the day. It happened that a noble young prince, the hope of a nation, and heir of a royal house, had just then died by a sudden accident. Absalom, the son of David, furnished Honeyman with a parallel. He drew a picture of the two deaths, of the grief of kings, of the fate that is superior to them. It was, indeed, a stirring discourse, and caused thrills through the crowd to whom Charles imparted it. “Famous, ain’t it?” says Sherrick, giving Clive a hand when the rite was over. “How he’s come out, hasn’t he? Didn’t think he had it in him.” Sherrick seemed to have become of late impressed with the splendour of Charles’s talents, and spoke of him — was it not disrespectful? — as a manager would of a successful tragedian. Let us pardon Sherrick: he had been in the theatrical way. “That Irishman was no go at all,” he whispered to Mr. Newcome, “got rid of him — let’s see, at Michaelmas.”

On account of Clive’s tender years, and natural levity, a little inattention may be allowed to the youth, who certainly looked about him very eagerly during the service. The house was filled by the ornamental classes, the bonnets of the newest Parisian fashion. Away in a darkling corner, under the organ, sate a squad of footmen. Surely that powdered one in livery wore Lady Kew’s colours? So Clive looked under all the bonnets, and presently spied old Lady Kew’s face, as grim and yellow as her brass knocker, and by it Ethel’s beauteous countenance. He dashed out of church when the congregation rose to depart. “Stop and see Honeyman, won’t you?” asked Sherrick, surprised.

“Yes, yes; come back again,” said Clive, and was gone.

He kept his word, and returned presently. The young Marquis and an elderly lady were in Lady Kew’s company. Clive had passed close under Lady Kew’s venerable Roman nose without causing that organ to bow in ever so slight a degree towards the ground. Ethel had recognised him with a smile and a nod. My lord was whispering one of his noble pleasantries in her ear. She laughed at the speech or the speaker. The steps of a fine belozenged carriage were let down with a bang. The Yellow One had jumped up behind it, by the side of his brother Giant Canary. Lady Kew’s equipage had disappeared, and Mrs. Canterton’s was stopping the way.

Clive returned to the chapel by the little door near to the Vestiarium. All the congregation had poured out by this time. Only two ladies were standing near the pulpit; and Sherrick, with his hands rattling his money in his pockets, was pacing up and down the aisle.

“Capital house, Mr. Newcome, wasn’t it? I counted no less than fourteen nobs. The Princess of Moncontour and her husband, I suppose, that chap with the beard, who yawns so during the sermon. I’m blessed, if I didn’t think he’d have yawned his head off. Countess of Kew, and her daughter; Countess of Canterton, and the Honourable Miss Fetlock — no, Lady Fetlock. A Countess’s daughter is a lady, I’m dashed if she ain’t. Lady Glenlivat and her sons; the most noble the Marquis of Farintosh, and Lord Enry Roy; that makes seven — no, nine — with the Prince and Princess. — Julia, my dear, you came out like a good un today. Never heard you in finer voice. Remember Mr. Clive Newcome?”

Mr. Clive made bows to the ladies, who acknowledged him by graceful curtsies. Miss Sherrick was always looking to the vestry-door.

“How’s the old Colonel? The best feller — excuse my calling him a feller — but he is, and a good one too. I went to see Mr. Binnie, my other tenant. He looks a little yellow about the gills, Mr. Binnie. Very proud woman that is who lives with him — uncommon haughty. When will you come down and take your mutton in the Regent’s Park, Mr. Clive? There’s some tolerable good wine down there. Our reverend gent drops in and takes a glass, don’t he, missis?”

“We shall be most ‘appy to see Mr. Newcome, I’m sure,” says the handsome and good-natured Mrs. Sherrick. “Won’t we, Julia?”

“Oh, certainly,” says Julia, who seems rather absent. And behold, at this moment the reverend gent enters from the vestry. Both the ladies run towards him, holding forth their hands.

“Oh, Mr. Honeyman! What a sermon! Me and Julia cried so up in the organ-loft; we thought you would have heard us. Didn’t we, Julia?”

“Oh, yes,” says Julia, whose hand the pastor is now pressing.

“When you described the young man, I thought of my poor boy, didn’t I, Julia?” cries the mother, with tears streaming down her face.

“We had a loss more than ten years ago,” whispers Sherrick to Clive gravely. “And she’s always thinking of it. Women are so.”

Clive was touched and pleased by this exhibition of kind feeling.

“You know his mother was an Absalom,” the good wife continues, pointing to her husband. “Most respectable diamond merchants in ——”

“Hold your tongue, Betsy, and leave my poor old mother alone; do now,” says Mr. Sherrick darkly. Clive is in his uncle’s fond embrace by this time, who rebukes him for not having called in Walpole Street.

“Now, when will you two gents come up to my shop to ‘ave a family dinner?” asks Sherrick.

“Ah, Mr. Newcome, do come,” says Julia in her deep rich voice, looking up to him with her great black eyes. And if Clive had been a vain fellow like some folks, who knows but he might have thought he had made an impression on the handsome Julia?

“Thursday, now make it Thursday, if Mr. H. is disengaged. Come along, girls, for the flies bites the ponies when they’re a-standing still and makes ’em mad this weather. Anything you like for dinner? Cut of salmon and cucumber? No, pickled salmon’s best this weather.”

“Whatever you give me, you know I’m thankful!” says Honeyman, in a sweet sad voice, to the two ladies, who were standing looking at him, the mother’s hand clasped in the daughter’s.

“Should you like that Mendelssohn for the Sunday after next? Julia sings it splendid!”

“No, I don’t, ma.”

“You do, dear! She’s a good, good dear, Mr. H., that’s what she is.”

“You must not call — a — him, in that way. Don’t say Mr. H., ma,” says Julia.

“Call me what you please!” says Charles, with the most heart-rending simplicity; and Mrs. Sherrick straightway kisses her daughter. Sherrick meanwhile has been pointing out the improvement of the chapel to Clive (which now has indeed a look of the Gothic Hall at Rosherville), and has confided to him the sum for which he screwed the painted window out of old Moss. “When he come to see it up in this place, sir, the old man was mad, I give you my word! His son ain’t no good: says he knows you. He’s such a screw, that chap, that he’ll overreach himself, mark my words. At least, he’ll never die rich. Did you ever hear of me screwing? No, I spend my money like a man. How those girls are a-goin’ on about their music with Honeyman! I don’t let ’em sing in the evening, or him do duty more than once a day; and you can calc’late how the music draws, because in the evenin’ there ain’t half the number of people here. Rev. Mr. Journyman does the duty now — quiet Hogford man — ill, I suppose, this morning. H. sits in his pew, where we was; and coughs; that’s to say, I told him to cough. The women like a consumptive parson, sir. Come, gals!”

Clive went to his uncle’s lodgings, and was received by Mr. and Mrs. Ridley with great glee and kindness. Both of those good people had made it a point to pay their duty to Mr. Clive immediately on his return to England, and thank him over and over again for his kindness to John James. Never, never would they forget his goodness, and the Colonel’s, they were sure. A cake, a heap of biscuits, a pyramid of jams, six frizzling mutton-chops, and four kinds of hot wine, came bustling up to Mr. Honeyman’s room twenty minutes after Clive had entered it — as a token of the Ridleys’ affection for him.

Clive remarked, with a smile, the Pall Mall Gazette upon a side-table, and in the chimney-glass almost as many cards as in the time of Honeyman’s early prosperity. That he and his uncle should be very intimate together, was impossible, from the nature of the two men; Clive being frank, clear-sighted, and imperious; Charles, timid, vain, and double-faced, conscious that he was a humbug, and that most people found him out, so that he would quiver and turn away, and be more afraid of young Clive and his direct straightforward way, than of many older men. Then there was the sense of the money transactions between him and the Colonel, which made Charles Honeyman doubly uneasy. In fine, they did not like each other; but, as he is a connection of the most respectable Newcome family, surely he is entitled to a page or two in these their memoirs.

Thursday came, and with it Mr. Sherrick’s entertainment, to which also Mr. Binnie and his party had been invited to meet Colonel Newcome’s son. Uncle James and Rosey brought Clive in their carriage; Mrs. Mackenzie sent a headache as an apology. She chose to treat Uncle James’s landlord with a great deal of hauteur, and to be angry with her brother for visiting such a person. “In fact, you see how fond I must be of dear little Rosey, Clive, that I put up with all mamma’s tantrums for her sake,” remarks Mr. Binnie.

“Oh, uncle!” says little Rosey, and the old gentleman stopped her remonstrances with a kiss.

“Yes,” says he, “your mother does have tantrums, miss; and though you never complain, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t. You will not tell on me” (it was “Oh, uncle!” again); “and Clive won’t, I am sure. — This little thing, sir,” James went on, holding Rosey’s pretty little hand and looking fondly in her pretty little face, “is her old uncle’s only comfort in life. I wish I had had her out to India to me, and never come back to this great dreary town of yours. But I was tempted home by Tom Newcome; and I’m too old to go back, sir. Where the stick falls let it lie. Rosey would have been whisked out of my house, in India, in a month after I had her there. Some young fellow would have taken her away from me; and now she has promised never to leave her old Uncle James, hasn’t she?”

“No, never, uncle,” said Rosey.

“We don’t want to fall in love, do we, child? We don’t want to be breaking our hearts like some young folks, and dancing attendance at balls night after night, and capering about in the Park to see if we can get a glimpse of the beloved object, eh, Rosey?”

Rosey blushed. It was evident that she and Uncle James both knew of Clive’s love affair. In fact, the front seat and back seat of the carriage both blushed. And as for the secret, why Mrs. Mackenzie and Mrs. Hobson had talked it a hundred times over.

“This little Rosey, sir, has promised to take care of me on this side of Styx,” continued Uncle James; “and if she could but be left alone and to do it without mamma — there, I won’t say a word more against her — we should get on none the worse.”

“Uncle James, I must make a picture of you, for Rosey,” said Clive, good-humouredly. And Rosey said, “Oh, thank you, Clive,” and held out that pretty little hand, and looked so sweet and kind and happy, that Clive could not but be charmed at the sight of so much innocence and candour.

“Quasty peecoly Rosiny,” says James, in a fine Scotch Italian, “e la piu bella, la piu cara, ragazza ma la mawdry e il diav ——”

“Don’t, uncle!” cried Rosey, again; and Clive laughed at Uncle James’s wonderful outbreak in a foreign tongue.

“Eh! I thought ye didn’t know a word of the sweet language, Rosey! It’s just the Lenguy Toscawny in Bocky Romawny that I thought to try in compliment to this young monkey who has seen the world.” And by this time Saint John’s Wood was reached, and Mr. Sherrick’s handsome villa, at the door of which the three beheld the Rev. Charles Honeyman stepping out of a neat brougham.

The drawing-room contained several pictures of Mrs. Sherrick when she was in the theatrical line; Smee’s portrait of her, which was never half handsome enugh — for my Betsy, Sherrick said indignantly; the print of her in Artaxerxes, with her signature as Elizabeth Folthorpe (not in truth a fine specimen of calligraphy) the testimonial presented to her on the conclusion of the triumphal season of 18 — at Drury Lane, by her ever grateful friend Adolphus Smacker, Lessee, who, of course, went to law with her next year; and other Thespian emblems. But Clive remarked, with not a little amusement, that the drawing-room tables were now covered with a number of those books which he had seen at Madame de Moncontour’s, and many French and German ecclesiastical gimcracks, such as are familiar to numberless readers of mine. These were the Lives of St. Botibol of Islington and St. Willibald of Bareacres, with pictures of those confessors. Then there was the Legend of Margery Dawe, Virgin and Martyr, with a sweet double frontispiece, representing (1) the sainted woman selling her feather-bed for the benefit of the poor; and (2) reclining upon straw, the leanest of invalids. There was Old Daddy Longlegs, and how he was brought to say his Prayers; a Tale for Children, by a Lady, with a preface dated St. Chad’s Eve, and signed “C. H.” The Rev. Charles Honeyman’s Sermons, delivered at Lady Whittlesea’s Chapel. Poems of Early Days, by Charles Honeyman, A.M. The Life of good Dame Whittlesea, by do. do. Yes, Charles had come out in the literary line; and there in a basket was a strip of Berlin work, of the very same Gothic pattern which Madame de Moncontour was weaving; and which you afterwards saw round the pulpit of Charles’s chapel. Rosey was welcomed most kindly by the kind ladies; and as the gentlemen sat over their wine after dinner in the summer evening, Clive beheld Rosey and Julia pacing up and down the lawn, Miss Julia’s arm around her little friend’s waist: he thought they would make a pretty little picture.

“My girl ain’t a bad one to look at, is she?” said the pleased father. “A fellow might look far enough, and see not prettier than them two.”

Charles sighed out that there was a German print, the “Two Leonoras,” which put him in mind of their various styles of beauty.

“I wish I could paint them,” said Clive.

“And why not, sir?” asks his host. “Let me give you your first commission now, Mr Clive; I wouldn’t mind paying a good bit for a picture of my Julia. I forget how much old Smee got for Betsy’s, the old humbug!”

Clive said it was not the will, but the power that was deficient. He succeeded with men, but the ladies were too much for him as yet.

“Those you’ve done up at Albany Street Barracks are famous: I’ve seen ’em,” said Mr. Sherrick; and remarking that his guest looked rather surprised at the idea of his being in such company, Sherrick said, “What, you think they are too great swells for me? Law bless you, I often go there. I’ve business with several of ’em; had with Captain Belsize, with the Earl of Kew, who’s every inch the gentleman — one of nature’s aristocracy, and paid up like a man. The Earl and me has had many dealings together:”

Honeyman smiled faintly, and nobody complying with Mr. Sherrick’s boisterous entreaties to drink more, the gentlemen quitted the dinner-table, which had been served in a style of prodigious splendour, and went to the drawing-room for a little music.

This was all of the gravest and best kind; so grave indeed, that James Binnie might be heard in a corner giving an accompaniment of little snores to the singers and the piano. But Rosey was delighted with the performance, and Sherrick remarked to Clive, “That’s a good gal, that is; I like that gal; she ain’t jealous of Julia cutting her out in the music, but listens as pleased as any one. She’s a sweet little pipe of her own, too. Miss Mackenzie, if ever you like to go to the opera, send a word either to my West End or my City office. I’ve boxes every week, and you’re welcome to anything I can give you.”

So all agreed that the evening had been a very pleasant one; and they of Fitzroy Square returned home talking in a most comfortable friendly way — that is, two of them, for Uncle James fell asleep again, taking possession of the back seat; and Clive and Rosey prattled together. He had offered to try and take all the young ladies’ likenesses. “You know what a failure the last was, Rosey?”— he had very nearly said “dear Rosey.”

“Yes, but Miss Sherrick is so handsome, that you will succeed better with her than with my round face, Mr. Newcome.”

“Mr. What?” cries Clive.

“Well, Clive, then,” says Rosey, in a little voice.

He sought for a little hand which was not very far away. “You know we are like brother and sister, dear Rosey?” he said this time.

“Yes,” said she, and gave a little pressure of the hand. And then Uncle James woke up; and it seemed as if the whole drive didn’t occupy a minute, and they shook hands very very kindly at the door of Fitzroy Square.

Clive made a famous likeness of Miss Sherrick, with which Mr. Sherrick was delighted, and so was Mr. Honeyman, who happened to call upon his nephew once or twice when the ladies happened to be sitting. Then Clive proposed to the Rev. Charles Honeyman to take his head off; and made an excellent likeness in chalk of his uncle — that one, in fact, from which the print was taken which you may see any day at Hogarth’s, in the Haymarket, along with a whole regiment of British divines. Charles became so friendly, that he was constantly coming to Charlotte Street, once or twice a week.

Mr. and Mrs. Sherrick came to look at the drawing, were charmed with it; and when Rosey was sitting, they came to see her portrait, which again was not quite so successful. One Monday, the Sherricks and Honeyman too happened to call to see the picture of Rosey, who trotted over with her uncle to Clive’s studio, and they all had a great laugh at a paragraph in the Pall Mall Gazette, evidently from F. B.‘s hand, to the following effect:—

“Conversion In High Life. — A foreign nobleman of princely rank, who has married an English lady, and has resided among us for some time, is likely, we hear and trust, to join the English Church. The Prince de M-nc-nt-r has been a constant attendant at Lady Whittlesea’s Chapel, of which the Rev. C. Honeyman is the eloquent incumbent; and it is said this sound and talented divine has been the means of awakening the prince to a sense of the erroneous doctrines in which he has been bred. His ancestors were Protestant, and fought by the side of Henry IV. at Ivry. In Louis XIV.‘s time, they adopted the religion of that persecuting monarch. We sincerely trust that the present heir of the house of Ivry will see fit to return to the creed which his forefathers so unfortunately abjured.”

The ladies received this news with perfect gravity; and Charles uttered a meek wish that it might prove true. As they went away, they offered more hospitalities to Clive and Mr. Binnie and his niece. They liked the music: would they not come and hear it again?

When they had departed with Mr. Honeyman, Clive could not help saying to Uncle James, “Why are those people always coming here; praising me; and asking me to dinner? Do you know, I can’t help thinking that they rather want me as a pretender for Miss Sherrick?”

Binnie burst into a loud guffaw, and cried out, “O vanitas vanitawtum!” Rosa laughed too.

“I don’t think it any joke at all,” said Clive.

“Why, you stupid lad, don’t you see it is Charles Honeyman the girl’s in love with?” cried Uncle James. “Rosey saw it in the very first instant we entered their drawing-room three weeks ago.”

“Indeed, and how?” asked Clive.

“By — by the way she looked at him,” said little Rosey.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/newcomes/chapter44.html

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