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Title: Tales from Blackwood, Volume 4
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales from Blackwood, Volume 4" ***

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 TALES
 FROM
 "BLACKWOOD"


 Contents of this Volume.


 _How I Stood for the Dreepdaily Burghs. By Professor Aytoun_

 _First and Last. By William Mudford_

 _The Duke's Dilemma.--A Chronicle of Niesenstein_

 _The Old Gentleman's Teetotum._

 _"Woe to us when we lose the Watery Wall."_

 _My College Friends.--Charles Russell, the Gentleman-Commoner_

 _The Magic Lay of the One-Horse Chay. By the late John Hughes, A.M._

 WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
 EDINBURGH AND LONDON



TALES FROM "BLACKWOOD."



HOW I STOOD FOR THE DREEPDAILY BURGHS.

BY PROFESSOR AYTOUN.

[_MAGA._ SEPTEMBER 1847.]


CHAPTER I.

"My dear Dunshunner," said my friend Robert M'Corkindale as he entered
my apartments one fine morning in June last, "do you happen to have seen
the share-list? Things are looking in Liverpool as black as thunder. The
bullion is all going out of the country, and the banks are refusing to
discount."

Bob M'Corkindale might very safely have kept his information to himself.
I was, to say the truth, most painfully aware of the facts which he
unfeelingly obtruded upon my notice. Six weeks before, in the full
confidence that the panic was subsiding, I had recklessly invested my
whole capital in the shares of a certain railway company, which for the
present shall be nameless; and each successive circular from my broker
conveyed the doleful intelligence that the stock was going down to
Erebus. Under these circumstances I certainly felt very far from being
comfortable. I could not sell out except at a ruinous loss; and I could
not well afford to hold on for any length of time, unless there was a
reasonable prospect of a speedy amendment of the market. Let me confess
it--I had of late come out rather too strong. When a man has made money
easily, he is somewhat prone to launch into expense, and to presume too
largely upon his credit. I had been idiot enough to make my _debut_ in
the sporting world--had started a couple of horses upon the verdant turf
of Paisley--and, as a matter of course, was remorselessly sold by my
advisers. These and some other minor amusements had preyed deleteriously
upon my purse. In fact, I had not the ready; and as every tradesman
throughout Glasgow was quaking in his shoes at the panic, and
inconveniently eager to realise, I began to feel the reverse of
comfortable, and was shy of showing myself in Buchanan Street.
Severaldocuments of a suspicious appearance--owing to the beastly
practice of wafering, which is still adhered to by a certain class
of correspondents--were lying upon my table at the moment when Bob
entered. I could see that the villain comprehended their nature at a
glance; but there was no use in attempting to mystify him. The Political
Economist was, as I was well aware, in very much the same predicament as
myself.

"To tell you the truth, M'Corkindale, I have not opened a share-list for
a week. The faces of some of our friends are quite long enough to serve
as a tolerable exponent of the market; and I saw Grabbie pass about five
minutes ago with a yard of misery in his visage. But what's the news?"

"Everything that is bad! Total stoppage expected in a week, and the
mills already put upon short time."

"You don't say so!"

"It is a fact. Dunshunner, this infernal tampering with the currency
will be the ruin of every mother's son of us!"--and here Bob, in a fit
of indignant enthusiasm, commenced a vivid harangue upon the principles
of contraction and expansion, bullion, the metallic standard, and the
Bank reserves, which no doubt was extremely sound, but which I shall not
recapitulate to the reader.

"That's all very well, Bob," said I--"very good in theory, but we should
confine ourselves at present to practice. The main question seems to me
to be this: How are we to get out of our present fix? I presume you are
not at present afflicted with a remarkable plethora of cash?"

"Every farthing I have in the world is locked up in a falling line."

"Any debts?"

"Not many; but quite enough to make me meditate a temporary retirement
to Boulogne!"

"I believe you are better off than I am. I not only owe money, but am
terribly bothered about some bills."

"That's awkward. Would it not be advisable to bolt?"

"I don't think so. You used to tell me, Bob, that credit was the next
best thing to capital. Now, I don't despair of redeeming my capital yet,
if I can only keep up my credit."

"Right, undoubtedly, as you generally are. Do you know, Dunshunner, you
deserve credit for your notions on political economy. But how is that to
be done? Everybody is realising; the banks won't discount; and when your
bills become due, they will be, to a dead certainty, protested."

"Well--and what then?"

"_Squalor carceris_, et cetera."

"Hum--an unpleasant alternative, certainly. Come, Bob! put your wits to
work. You used to be a capital hand for devices, and there must be some
way or other of steering clear. Time is all we want."

"Ay, to be sure--time is the great thing. It would be very unpleasant to
look out on the world through a grating during the summer months!"

"I perspire at the bare idea!"

"Not a soul in town--all your friends away in the Highlands boating, or
fishing, or shooting grouse--and you pent up in a stifling apartment of
eight feet square, with nobody to talk to save the turnkey, and no
prospect from the window except a deserted gooseberry stall!"

"O Bob, don't talk in that way! You make me perfectly miserable."

"And all this for a ministerial currency crotchet? 'Pon my soul, it's
too bad! I wish those fellows in Parliament----"

"Well? Go on."

"By Jove! I've an idea at last!"

"You don't say so! My dear Bob--out with it!"

"Dunshunner, are you a man of pluck?"

"I should think I am."

"And ready to go the whole hog, if required?"

"The entire animal."

"Then I'll tell you what it is--the elections will be on
immediately--and, by St Andrew, we'll put you up for Parliament!"

"Me!"

"You. Why not? There are hundreds of men there quite as hard up, and not
half so clever as yourself."

"And what good would that do me?"

"Don't you see? You need not care a farthing about your debts then, for
the personal liberty of a member of the House of Commons is sacred. You
can fire away right and left at the currency; and who knows, if you
play your cards well, but you may get a comfortable place?"

"Well, you _are_ a genius, Bob! But then, what sort of principles should
I profess?"

"That is a matter which requires consideration. What are your own
feelings on the subject?"

"Perfect indifference. I am pledged to no party, and am free to exercise
my independent judgment."

"Of course, of course! We shall take care to stick all that into the
address; but you must positively come forward with some kind of tangible
political views. The currency will do for one point, but as to the
others I see a difficulty."

"Suppose I were to start as a Peelite?"

"Something may be said in favour of that view; but, on the whole, I
should rather say not. That party may not look up for some little time,
and then the currency is a stumbling block in the way. No, Dunshunner, I
do not think, upon my honour, that it would be wise for you to commit
yourself in that quarter at the present moment."

"If it were possible, I should like to join the Conservatives. They must
come uppermost soon, for they are men of pluck and ability. What do you
say to that? It is an advantage to act with gentlemen."

"True; but at the same time, I see many objections. In a year or two
these may disappear; but the press is at present against them, and I
should like you to start with popularity on your side."

"Radical, then? What do you think of Annual Parliaments, Universal
Suffrage, Vote by Ballot, and separation of Church and State?"

"I am clear against that. These views are not popular with the electors,
and even the mob would entertain a strong suspicion that you were
humbugging them."

"What, then, on earth, am I to do?"

"I will tell you. Come out as a pure and transparent Whig. In the
present position of parties, it is at least a safe course to pursue, and
it is always the readiest step to the possession of the loaves and the
fishes."

"Bob, I don't like the Whigs!"

"No more do I. They are a bad lot; but they are _in_, and that is
everything. Yes, Augustus," continued Bob solemnly, "there is nothing
else for it. You must start as a pure Whig, upon the Revolution
principles of sixteen hundred and eighty-eight."

"It would be a great relief to my mind, Bob, if you would tell me what
those principles really are?"

"I have not the remotest idea; but we have plenty time to look them up."

"Then, I suppose I must swallow the Dutchman and the Massacre of
Glencoe?"

"Yes, and the Darien business into the bargain. These are the
principles of your party, and of course you are bound to subscribe."

"Well! you know best; but I'd rather do anything else."

"Pooh! never fear; you and Whiggery will agree remarkably well. That
matter, then, we may consider as settled. The next point to be thought
of is the constituency."

"Ay, to be sure! what place am I to start for? I have got no interest,
and if I had any, there are no nomination burghs in Scotland."

"Aren't there? That's all you know, my fine fellow! Hark ye, Dunshunner,
more than half of the Scottish burghs are at this moment held by
nominees!"

"You amaze me, Bob! The thing is impossible! The Reform Bill, that great
charter of our liberties----"

"Bravo! There spoke the Whig! The Reform Bill, you think, put an end to
nomination? It did nothing of the kind; it merely transferred it. Did
you ever hear of such things as CLIQUES?"

"I have. But they are tremendously unpopular."

"Nevertheless, they hold the returning power. There is a Clique in
almost every town throughout Scotland, which leads the electors as
quietly, but as surely, as the blind man is conducted by his dog. These
are modelled on the true Venetian principles of secresy and terrorism.
They control the whole constituency, put in the member, and in return
monopolise the whole patronage of the place. If you have the Clique with
you, you are almost sure of your election; if not, except in the larger
towns, you have not a shadow of success. Now, what I want to impress
upon you is this, that wherever you go, be sure that you communicate
with the Clique."

"But how am I to find it out?"

"That is not always an easy matter, for nobody will acknowledge that he
belongs to it. However, the thing is not impossible, and we shall
certainly make the experiment. Come, then, I suppose you agree with me,
that it is hopeless to attempt the larger towns?"

"Clearly: so far as I see, they are all provided already with
candidates."

"And you may add, Cliques, Dunshunner. Well, then, let us search among
the smaller places. What would you think of a dash at the Stirling
District of Burghs?"

"Why, there are at least half-a-dozen candidates in the field."

"True, that would naturally lessen your chance. Depend upon it, some one
of them has already found the key to the Clique. But there's the
Dreepdaily District with nobody standing for it, except the Honourable
Paul Pozzlethwaite; and I question whether he knows himself the nature
or the texture of his politics. Really, Dunshunner, that's the very
place for you; and if we look sharp after it, I bet the long odds that
you will carry it in a canter."

"Do you really think so?"

"I do indeed; and the sooner you start the better. Let me see. I know
Provost Binkie of Dreepdaily. He is a Railway bird, was an original
Glenmutchkin shareholder, and fortunately sold out at a premium. He is a
capital man to begin with, and I think will be favourable to you:
besides, Dreepdaily is an old Whig burgh. I am not so sure of
Kittleweem. It is a shade more respectable than Dreepdaily, and has
always been rather Conservative. The third burgh, Drouthielaw, is a nest
of Radicalism; but I think it may be won over, if we open the
public-houses."

"But, about expenses, Bob--won't it be a serious matter?"

"Why, you must lay your account with spending some five or six hundred
pounds upon the nail; and I advise you to sell stock to that amount at
least. The remainder, should it cost you more, can stand over."

"Bob, five or six hundred pounds is a very serious sum!"

"Granted--but then look at the honour and the immunity you will enjoy.
Recollect that yours is an awkward predicament. If you don't get into
Parliament, I see nothing for it but a stoppage."

"That's true enough. Well--hang it, then, I will start!"

"There's a brave fellow! I should not in the least wonder to see you in
the Cabinet yet. The sooner you set about preparing your address the
better."

"What! without seeing Provost Binkie?"

"To be sure. What is the use of wading when you can plunge at once into
deep water? Besides, let me tell you that you are a great deal more
likely to get credit when it is understood that you are an actual
candidate."

"There is something in that too. But I say, Bob--you really must help me
with the address. I am a bad hand at these things, and shall never be
able to tickle up the electors without your assistance."

"I'll do all I can. Just ring for a little brandy and water, and we'll
set to work. I make no doubt that, between us, we can polish off a
plausible placard."

Two hours afterwards, I forwarded, through the post-office, a missive,
addressed to the editor of the _Dreepdaily Patriot_, with the following
document enclosed. I am rather proud of it, as a manifesto of my
political principles:--

     "TO THE ELECTORS OF THE UNITED DISTRICT OF BURGHS OF DREEPDAILY,
     DROUTHIELAW, AND KITTLEWEEM.

     "GENTLEMEN,--I am induced, by a requisition, to which are appended
     the signatures of a large majority of your influential and
     patriotic body, to offer myself as a candidate for the high honour
     of your representation in the ensuing session of Parliament. Had I
     consulted my own inclination, I should have preferred the leisure
     of retirement and the pursuit of those studies so congenial to my
     taste, to the more stormy and agitating arena of politics. But a
     deep sense of public duty compels me to respond to your call.

     "My views upon most subjects are so well known to many of you, that
     a lengthened explanation of them would probably be superfluous.
     Still, however, it may be right and proper for me to explain
     generally what they are.

     "My principles are based upon the great and glorious Revolution
     settlement of 1688, which, by abolishing, or at least superseding,
     hereditary right, intrusted the guardianship of the Crown to an
     enlightened oligarchy, for the protection of an unparticipating
     people. That oligarchy is now most ably represented by her
     Majesty's present Ministers, to whom, unhesitatingly and
     uncompromisingly, except upon a very few matters, I give in my
     adhesion so long as they shall continue in office.

     "Opposed to faction and an enemy to misrule, I am yet friendly to
     many changes of a sweeping and organic character. Without relaxing
     the ties which at present bind together Church and State in
     harmonious coalition and union, I would gradually confiscate the
     revenues of the one for the increasing necessities of the other. I
     never would become a party to an attack upon the House of Peers, so
     long as it remains subservient to the will of the Commons; nor
     would I alter or extend the franchise, except from cause shown, and
     the declared and universal wish of the non-electors.

     "I highly approve of the policy which has been pursued towards
     Ireland, and of further concessions to a deep-rooted system of
     agitation. I approve of increased endowments to that much-neglected
     country; and I applaud that generosity which relieves it from all
     participation in the common burdens of the State. Such a line of
     policy cannot fail to elevate the moral tone, and to develop the
     internal resources of Ireland; and I never wish to see the day when
     the Scotsman and the Irishman may, in so far as taxation is
     concerned, be placed upon an equal footing. It appears to me a
     highly equitable adjustment that the savings of the first should be
     appropriated for the wants of the second.

     "I am in favour of the centralising system, which, by drafting
     away the wealth and talent of the provinces, must augment the
     importance of London. I am strongly opposed to the maintenance of
     any local or Scottish institutions, which can merely serve to
     foster a spirit of decayed nationality; and I am of opinion that
     all boards and offices should be transferred to England, with the
     exception of those connected with the Dreepdaily district, which it
     is the bounden duty of the legislature to protect and preserve.

     "I am a friend to the spread of education, but hostile to any
     system by means of which religion, especially Protestantism, may be
     taught.

     "I am a supporter of free trade in all its branches. I cannot see
     any reason for the protection of native industry, and am ready to
     support any fundamental measure by means of which articles of
     foreign manufacture may be brought to compete in the home market
     with our own, without restriction and without reciprocity. It has
     always appeared to me that our imports are of far greater
     importance than our exports. I think that any lowering of price
     which may be the result of such a commercial policy, will be more
     than adequately compensated by a coercive measure which shall
     compel the artisan to augment the period of his labour. I am
     against any short hours' bill, and am of opinion that infant labour
     should be stringently and universally enforced.

     "With regard to the currency, I feel that I may safely leave that
     matter in the hands of her Majesty's present Ministers, who have
     never shown any indisposition to oppose themselves to the popular
     wish.

     "These, gentlemen, are my sentiments; and I think that, upon
     consideration, you will find them such as may entitle me to your
     cordial support. I need not say how highly I shall value the trust,
     or how zealously I shall endeavour to promote your local interests.
     These, probably, can be best advanced by a cautious regard to my
     own.

     "On any other topics I shall be happy to give you the fullest and
     most satisfactory explanation. I shall merely add, as a summary of
     my opinions, that while ready on the one hand to coerce labour, so
     as to stimulate internal industry to the utmost, and to add largely
     to the amount of our population; I am, upon the other, a friend to
     the liberty of the subject, and to the promotion of such genial and
     sanatory measures as suit the tendency of our enlightened age, the
     diffusion of universal philanthropy, and the spread of popular
     opinion. I remain, GENTLEMEN, with the deepest respect, your very
     obedient and humble servant,

               "AUGUSTUS REGINALD DUNSHUNNER.

     "ST MIRREN'S HOUSE,
        "_June 1847._"

The editor of the _Dreepdaily Patriot_, wisely considering that this
advertisement was the mere prelude to many more, was kind enough to
dedicate a leading article to an exposition of my past services. I am
not a vain man; so that I shall not here reprint the panegyric passed
upon myself, or the ovation which my friend foresaw. Indeed, I am so far
from vain, that I really began to think, while perusing the columns of
the _Patriot_, that I had somewhat foolishly shut my eyes hitherto to
the greatness of that talent, and the brilliancy of those parts which
were now proclaimed to the world. Yes! it was quite clear that I had
hitherto been concealing my candle under a bushel--that I was cut out by
nature for a legislator--and that I was the very man for the Dreepdaily
electors. Under this conviction, I started upon my canvass, munimented
with letters of introduction from M'Corkindale, who, much against his
inclination, was compelled to remain at home.


CHAPTER II.

Dreepdaily is a beautiful little town, embosomed in an amphitheatre of
hills which have such a winning way with the clouds that the summits are
seldom visible. Dreepdaily, if situated in Arabia, would be deemed a
paradise. All round it the vegetation is long, and lithe, and
luxuriant; the trees keep their verdure late; and the rush of the
nettles is amazing.

How the inhabitants contrive to live, is to me a matter of mystery.
There is no particular trade or calling exercised in the place--no busy
hum of artisans, or clanking of hammer or machinery. Round the suburbs,
indeed, there are rows of mean-looking cottages, each with its strapping
lass in the national short-gown at the door, from the interior of which
resounds the boom of the weaver's shuttle. There is also one factory at
a little distance; but when you reach the town itself, all is
supereminently silent. In fine weather, crowds of urchins of both sexes
are seen sunning themselves on the quaint-looking flights of steps by
which the doors, usually on the second story, are approached; and as you
survey the swarms of bare-legged and flaxen-haired infantry, you cannot
help wondering in your heart what has become of the adult population. It
is only towards evening that the seniors appear. Then you may find them
either congregated on the bridge discussing politics and polemics, or
lounging in the little square in affectionate vicinity to the
public-house, or leaning over the windows in their shirt-sleeves, in the
tranquil enjoyment of a pipe. In short, the cares and the bustle of the
world, even in this railroad age, seem to have fallen lightly on the
pacific burghers of Dreepdaily. According to their own account, the
town was once a peculiar favourite of royalty. It boasts of a charter
from King David the First, and there is an old ruin in the neighbourhood
which is said to have been a palace of that redoubted monarch. It may be
so, for there is no accounting for constitutions; but had I been King
David, I certainly should have preferred a place where the younger
branches of the family would have been less liable to the accident of
catarrh.

Dreepdaily, in the olden time, was among the closest of all the burghs.
Its representation had a fixed price, which was always rigorously
exacted and punctually paid; and for half a year thereafter, the
corporation made merry thereon. The Reform Bill, therefore, was by no
means popular in the council. A number of discontented Radicals and of
small householders, who hitherto had been excluded from participation in
the good things of the State, now got upon the roll, and seemed
determined for a time to carry matters with a high hand, and to return a
member of their own. And doubtless they would have succeeded, had not
the same spirit been abroad in the sister burghs of Drouthielaw and
Kittleweem; which, for some especial reason or other, known doubtless to
Lord John Russell, but utterly unintelligible to the rest of mankind,
were, though situated in different counties, associated with Dreepdaily
in the return of their future member. Each of these places had a
separate interest, and started a separate man; so that, amidst this
conflict of Liberalism, the old member for Dreepdaily, a Conservative,
again slipped into his place. The consequence was, that the three burghs
were involved in a desperate feud.

In those days there lived in Dreepdaily one Laurence Linklater, more
commonly known by the name of Tod Lowrie, who exercised the respectable
functions of a writer and a messenger-at-arms. Lowrie was a remarkably
acute individual, of the Gilbert Glossin school, by no means scrupulous
in his dealings, but of singular plausibility and courage. He had
started in life as a Radical, but finding that that line did not pay
well, he had prudently subsided into a Whig, and in that capacity had
acquired a sort of local notoriety. He had contrived, moreover, to gain
a tolerable footing in Drouthielaw, and in the course of time became
intimately acquainted with the circumstances of its inhabitants, and
under the pretext of agency had contrived to worm the greater part of
their title-deeds into his keeping.

It then occurred to Lowrie, that, notwithstanding the discordant
situation of the burghs, something might be done to effect a union under
his own especial chieftainship. Not that he cared in his heart one
farthing about the representation--Tyrian and Trojan were in reality the
same to him--but he saw that the gain of these burghs would be of
immense advantage to his party, and he determined that the advantage
should be balanced by a corresponding profit to himself. Accordingly, he
began quietly to look to the state of the neglected register; lodged
objections to all claims given in by parties upon whom he could not
depend; smuggled a sufficient number of his own clients and adherents
upon the roll, and in the course of three years was able to intimate to
an eminent Whig partisan, that he, Laurence Linklater, held in his own
hands the representation of the Dreepdaily Burghs, could turn the
election either way he pleased, and was open to reasonable terms.

The result was, that Mr Linklater was promoted to a very lucrative
county office, and moreover, that the whole patronage of the district
was thereafter observed to flow through the Laurentian channel. Of
course all those who could claim kith or kindred with Lowrie were
provided for in the first instance; but there were stray crumbs still
going, and in no one case could even a gaugership be obtained without
the adhesion of an additional vote. Either the applicant must be ready
to sell his independence, or, if that were done already, to pervert the
politics of a relative. A Whig member was returned at the next election
by an immense majority; and for some time Linklater reigned supreme in
the government of Dreepdaily and Drouthielaw.

But death, which spares no governors, knocked at the door of Linklater.
A surfeit of mutton-pies, after the triumphant termination of a
law-suit, threw the burghs into a state of anarchy. Lowrie was gathered
unto his fathers, and there was no one to reign in his stead.

At least there was no apparent ruler. Every one observed, that the
stream of patronage and of local jobbing still flowed on as copiously as
before, but nobody could discover by what hands it was now directed.
Suspicion fastened its eyes for some time upon Provost Binkie; but the
vehement denials of that gentleman, though not in themselves conclusive,
at last gained credence from the fact, that a situation which he had
solicited from Government for his nephew was given to another person.
Awful rumours began to circulate of the existence of a secret junta.
Each man regarded his neighbour with intense suspicion and distrust,
because, for anything he knew, that neighbour might be a member of the
terrible tribunal, by means of which all the affairs of the community
were regulated, and a single ill-timed word might absolutely prove his
ruin. Such, indeed, in one instance was the case. In an evil hour for
himself, an independent town-councillor thought fit to denounce the
Clique as an unconstitutional and tyrannical body, and to table a motion
for an inquiry as to its nature, members, and proceedings. So strong was
the general alarm that he could not even find a seconder. But the matter
did not stop there. The rash meddler had drawn upon himself the
vengeance of a remorseless foe. His business began to fall off; rumours
of the most malignant description were circulated regarding his
character; two of his relatives who held situations were dismissed
without warning and without apology; his credit was assailed in every
quarter; and in less than six months after he had made that most
unfortunate harangue, the name of Thomas Gritt, baker in Dreepdaily, was
seen to figure in the Gazette. So fell Gritt a martyr, and if any one
mourned for him, it was in secret, and the profoundest awe.

Such was the political state of matters, at the time when I rode down
the principal street of Dreepdaily. I need hardly say that I did not
know a single soul in the burgh; in that respect, indeed, there was
entire reciprocity on both sides, for the requisition referred to in my
address was a felicitous fiction by M'Corkindale. I stopped before a
substantial bluff-looking house, the lower part of which was occupied as
a shop, and a scroll above informed me that the proprietor was Walter
Binkie, grocer.

A short squat man, with an oleaginous face and remarkably bushy
eyebrows, was in the act of weighing out a pennyworth of "sweeties" to a
little girl as I entered.

"Is the Provost of Dreepdaily within?" asked I.

"I'se warrant he's that," was the reply; "Hae, my dear, there's a sugar
almond t'ye into the bargain. Gae your waus hame noo, and tell your
mither that I've some grand new tea. Weel, sir, what was you wanting?"

"I wish particularly to speak to the Provost."

"Weel then, speak awa'," and he straightway squatted himself before his
ledger.

"I beg your pardon, sir! Have I really the honour of addressing--"

"Walter Binkie, the Provost of this burgh. But if ye come on Council
matters, ye're lang ahint the hour. I'm just steppin' up to denner, and
I never do business after that."

"But perhaps you will allow me--"

"I will allow nae man, sir, to interrupt my leisure. If ye're wanting
onything, gang to the Town-Clerk."

"Permit me one moment--my name is Dunshunner."

"Eh, what!" cried the Provost, bounding from his stool, "speak lower or
the lad will hear ye. Are ye the gentleman that's stannin' for the
burrows?"

"The same."

"Lord-sake! what for did ye no say that afore? Jims! I say, Jims! Look
after the shop! Come this way, sir, up the stair, and take care ye dinna
stumble on that toom cask o' saut."

I followed the Provost up a kind of corkscrew stair, until we emerged
upon a landing-place in his own proper domicile. We entered the
dining-room. It was showily furnished; with an enormous urn of paper
roses in the grate, two stuffed parroquets upon the mantelpiece, a
flamingo-coloured carpet, enormous worsted bell-pulls, and a couple of
portraits by some peripatetic follower of Vandyke, one of them
representing the Provost in his civic costume, and the other bearing
some likeness to a fat female in a turban, with a cairngorm brooch about
the size of a platter on her breast, and no want of carmine on the space
dedicated to the cheeks.

The Provost locked the door, and then clapped his ear to the key-hole.
He next approached the window, drew down the blinds so as effectually to
prevent any opposite scrutiny, and motioned me to a seat.

"And so ye're Mr Dunshunner?" said he. "Oh man, but I've been wearyin'
to see you!"

"Indeed! you flatter me very much."

"Nae flattery, Mr Dunshunner--nane! I'm a plain honest man, that's a',
and naebody can say that Wattie Binkie has blawn in their lug. And sae
ye're comin' forrard for the burrows? It's a bauld thing, sir--a bauld
thing, and a great honour ye seek. No that I think ye winna do honour to
it, but it's a great trust for sae young a man; a heavy responsibility,
as a body may say, to hang upon a callant's shouthers."

"I hope, Mr Binkie, that my future conduct may show that I can at least
act up to my professions."

"Nae doubt, sir--I'm no misdoubtin' ye, and to say the truth ye profess
weel. I've read yer address, sir, and I like yer principles--they're the
stench auld Whig anes--keep a' we can to ourselves, and haud a gude
grup. But wha's bringing ye forrard? Wha signed yer requisition? No the
Kittleweem folk, I hope?--that wad be a sair thing against ye."

"Why, no--certainly not. The fact is, Mr Binkie, that I have not seen
the requisition. Its contents were communicated by a third party, on
whom I have the most perfect reliance; and as I understood there was
some delicacy in the matter, I did not think it proper to insist upon a
sight of the signatures."

The Provost gave a long whistle.

"I see it noo!" he said; "I see it! I ken't there was something gaun on
forbye the common. Ye're a lucky man, Mr Dunshunner, and ye're election
is as sure as won. Ye've been spoken to by them ye ken o'!"

"Upon my word, I do not understand--"

"Ay--ay! Ye're richt to be cautious. Weel I wat they are kittle cattle
to ride the water on. But wha was't, sir,--wha was't? Ye needna be
feared of me. I ken how to keep a secret."

"Really, Mr Binkie, except through a third party, as I have told you
already, I have had no communication with any one."

"Weel--they _are_ close--there's nae denyin' that. But ye surely maun
hae some inkling o' the men--Them that's ahint the screen, ye ken?"

"Indeed, I have not. But stay--if you allude to the Clique----"

"Wheest, sir, wheest!" cried the Provost, in an agitated tone of voice.
"Gudesake, tak care what ye say--ye dinna ken wha may hear ye. Ye hae
spoken a word that I havena heard this mony a day without shaking in my
shoon. Aye speak ceevily o' the deil--ye dinna ken how weel ye may be
acquaunt!"

"Surely, sir, there can be no harm in mentioning the----"

"No under that name, Mr Dunshunner--no under that name, and no here. I
wadna ca' them that on the tap of Ben-Nevis without a grue. Ay--and sae
THEY are wi' ye, are they? Weel, they are a queer set!"

"You know the parties, then, Mr Binkie?"

"I ken nae mair aboot them than I ken whaur to find the caverns o' the
east wind. Whether they are three, or thretty, or a hunder, surpasses my
knowledge; but they hae got the secret o' the fern seed, and walk about
invisible. It is a'thegether a great mystery, but doubtless ye will
obtain a glimpse. In the mean time, since ye come from that quarter, I
am bound to obey."

"You are very kind, I am sure, Mr Binkie. May I ask, then, your opinion
of matters as they stand at present?"

"Our present member, Mr Whistlerigg, will no stand again. He's got some
place or ither up in London; and, my certie, he's worked weel for it!
There's naebody else stannin' forbye that man Pozzlethwaite, and he
disna verra weel ken what he is himsel'. If it's a' richt yonder,"
continued the Provost, jerking his thumb over his left shoulder, "ye're
as gude as elected."

As it would have been extremely impolitic for me under present
circumstances to have disclaimed all connection with a body which
exercised an influence so marked and decided, I allowed Provost Binkie
to remain under the illusion that I was the chosen candidate of the
Clique. In fact, I had made up my mind that I should become so at any
cost, so soon as it vouchsafed to disclose itself and appear before my
longing eyes. I therefore launched at once into practical details, in
the discussion of which the Provost exhibited both shrewdness and
goodwill. He professed his readiness at once to become chairman of my
committee, drew out a list of the most influential persons in the burgh
to whom I ought immediately to apply, and gave me much information
regarding the politics of the other places. From what he said, I
gathered that, with the aid of the Clique, I was sure of Dreepdaily and
Drouthielaw--as to the electors of Kittleweem, they were, in his
opinion, "a wheen dirt," whom it would be useless to consult, and
hopeless to conciliate. I certainly had no previous idea that the bulk
of the electors had so little to say in the choice of their own
representative. When I ventured to hint at the remote possibility of a
revolt, the Provost indignantly exclaimed--

"They daurna, sir--they daurna for the lives of them do it! Set them up
indeed! Let me see ony man that wad venture to vote against the Town
Council and the--and _them_, and I'll make a clean sweep of him out of
Dreepdaily!"

Nothing, in short, could have been more satisfactory than this
statement.

Whilst we were conversing together, I heard of a sudden a jingling in
the next apartment, as if some very aged and decrepid harpsichord were
being exorcised into the unusual effort of a tune. I glanced inquiringly
to the door, but the Provost took no notice of my look. In a little
time, however, there was a short preliminary cough, and a female voice
of considerable compass took up the following strain. I remember the
words not more from their singularity, than from the introduction to
which they were the prelude:--

     "I heard a wee bird singing clear,
       In the tight, tight month o' June--
     'What garr'd ye buy when stocks were high,
       And sell when shares were doun?

     'Gin ye hae play'd me fause, my luve,
       In simmer 'mang the rain;
     When siller's scant and scarce at Yule,
       I'll pay ye back again!

     'O bonny were the Midland Halves,
       When credit was sae free!--
     But wae betide the Southron loon
       That sold they Halves to me!'"

I declare, upon the word of a Railway Director, that I was never more
taken aback in my life. Attached as I have been from youth to the
Scottish ballad poetry, I never yet had heard a ditty of this peculiar
stamp, which struck me as a happy combination of tender fancy with the
sterner realities of the Exchange. Provost Binkie smiled as he remarked
my amazement.

"It's only my daughter Maggie, Mr Dunshunner," he said. "Puir thing!
It's little she has here to amuse her, and sae she whiles writes thae
kind o' sangs hersel'. She's weel up to the railroads; for ye ken I was
an auld Glenmutchkin holder."

"Indeed! Was that song Miss Binkie's own composition?" asked I, with
considerable interest.

"Atweel it is that, and mair too. Maggie, haud your skirling!--ye're
interrupting me and the gentleman."

"I beg, on no account, Mr Binkie, that I may be allowed to interfere
with your daughter's amusement. Indeed, it is full time that I were
betaking myself to the hotel, unless you will honour me so far as to
introduce me to Miss Binkie."

"Deil a bit o' you gangs to the hotel to-night!" replied the hospitable
Provost. "You bide where you are to denner and bed, and we'll hae a
comfortable crack over matters in the evening. Maggie! come ben, lass,
and speak to Mr Dunshunner."

Miss Binkie, who I am strongly of opinion was all the while conscious of
the presence of a stranger, now entered from the adjoining room. She was
really a pretty girl--tall, with lively sparkling eyes, and a profusion
of dark hair, which she wore in the somewhat exploded shape of ringlets.
I was not prepared for such an apparition, and I daresay stammered as I
paid my compliments.

Margaret Binkie, however, had no sort of _mauvaise honte_ about her. She
had received her final polish in a Glasgow boarding-school, and did
decided credit to the seminary in which the operation had been
performed. At all events, she was the reverse of shy; for in less than a
quarter of an hour we were rattling away as though we had been
acquainted from childhood; and, to say the truth, I found myself getting
into something like a strong flirtation. Old Binkie grinned a delighted
smile, and went out to superintend the decanting of a bottle of port.

I need not, I think, expatiate upon the dinner which followed. The
hotch-potch was unexceptionable, the salmon curdy, and the lamb roasted
without a fault; and if the red-armed Hebe who attended was somewhat
awkward in her motions, she was at least zealous to a degree. The
Provost got into high feather, and kept plying me perpetually with wine.
When the cloth was removed, he drank with all formality to my success;
and as Margaret Binkie, with a laugh, did due honour to the toast, I
could not do less than indulge in a little flight of fancy as I proposed
the ladies, and, in connection with them, the Flower of Dreepdaily--a
sentiment which was acknowledged with a blush.

After Miss Binkie retired, the Provost grew more and more convivial. He
would not enter into business, but regaled me with numerous anecdotes of
his past exploits, and of the lives and conversation of his compatriots
in the Town Council--some of whom appeared, from his description, to be
very facetious individuals indeed. More particularly, he dwelt upon the
good qualities and importance of a certain Mr Thomas Gills, better known
to his friends and kinsfolk by the sobriquet of Toddy Tam, and
recommended me by all means to cultivate the acquaintance of that
personage. But, however otherwise loquacious, nothing would persuade the
Provost to launch out upon the subject of the Clique. He really seemed
to entertain as profound a terror of that body as ever Huguenot did of
the Inquisition, and he cut me short at last by ejaculating--

"Sae nae mair on't, Mr Dunshunner--sae nae mair on't! It's ill talking
on thae things. Ye dinna ken what the Clique is, nor whaur it is. But
this I ken, that they are everywhere, and a' aboot us; they hear
everything that passes in this house, and I whiles suspect that Mysie,
the servant lass, is naething else than are o' them in petticoats!"

More than this I could not elicit. After we had finished a considerable
quantum of port, we adjourned to the drawing-room, and, tea over, Miss
Binkie sang to me several of her own songs, whilst the Provost snored
upon the sofa. Both the songs and the singer were clever, the situation
was interesting, and, somehow or other, I found my fingers more than
once in contact with Maggie's, as I turned over the leaves of the music.

At last the Provost rose, with a stertoracious grunt. I thought this
might be the signal for retiring to rest; but such were not the habits
of Dreepdaily. Salt herrings and finnan-haddocks were produced along
with the hot water and accompaniments; and I presume it was rather late
before my host conducted me to my chamber. If I dreamed at all that
night, it must have been of Margaret Binkie.


CHAPTER III.

The next morning, whilst dressing, I heard a blithe voice carolling on
the stair. It was the orison of Margaret Binkie as she descended to the
breakfast-room. I listened and caught the following verses:--

     "O haud away frae me," she said,
       "I pray you let me be!
     Hae you the shares ye held, my lord,
       What time ye courted me?

     "'Tis woman's weird to luve and pine,
       And man's is to forget:
     Hold you the shares, Lord James," she said,
       "Or hae ye sold them yet?"

     "My York Extensions, bought at par,
       I sold at seven pund prem.--
     And, O my heart is sair to think
       I had nae mair of them!"

"That is really a remarkable girl!" thought I, as I stropped my razor.
"Such genius, such animation, and such a thorough knowledge of the
market! She would make a splendid wife for a railway director."

"Come away, Mr Dunshunner," said the Provost, as I entered the parlour.
"I hope ye are yaup, for ye have a lang day's wark before ye."

"I am sure it would be an agreeable one, sir, if accompanied with such
sweet music as I heard this morning. Pardon me, Miss Binkie, but you
really are a perfect Sappho."

"You are too good, I am sure, Mr Dunshunner. Will you take tea or
coffee?"

"Maggie," said the Provost, "I maun put a stop to that skirling--it's
well eneuch for the night, but the morning is the time for business. Mr
Dunshunner, I've been thinking over this job of ours, and here is a bit
listie of the maist influential persons in Dreepdaily, that you maun
positeevely see this day. They wad be affronted if they kenned ye were
here without calling on them. Noo, mark me,--I dinna just say that ony
o' them is the folk ye ken o', but it's no ava unlikely; sae ye maun
even use yer ain discretion. Tak an auld man's word for it, and aye put
your best fit foremost."

I acquiesced in the justice of the suggestion, although I was really
unconscious which foot deserved the precedence. The Provost continued--

"Just ae word mair. Promising is a cheap thing, and ye needna be very
sparing of it. If onybody speaks to ye about a gaugership, or a place in
the Customs or the Post-office, just gie ye a bit wink, tak out your
note-book, and make a mark wi' the keelavine pen. It aye looks weel, and
gangs as far as a downright promise. Deny or refuse naebody. Let them
think that ye can do everything wi' the Ministry; and if there should
happen to be a whaup in the rape, let them even find it out theirsells.
Tell them that ye stand up for Dreepdaily, and its auld charter, and the
Whig constitution, and liberal principles. Maist feck o' them disna ken
what liberal principles is, but they like the word. I whiles think that
liberal principles means saying muckle and doing naething, but you
needna tell them that. The Whigs are lang-headed chiells, and they hae
had the sense to claim a' the liberality for themsells, ever since the
days o' the Reform Bill."

Such and suchlike were the valuable maxims which Provost Binkie
instilled into my mind during the progress of breakfast. I must say they
made a strong impression upon me; and any candidate who may hereafter
come forward for the representation of a Scottish burgh, on principles
similar to my own, would do well to peruse and remember them.

At length I rose to go.

"Do I carry your good wishes along with me, Miss Binkie, on my canvass?"

"Most cordially, Mr Dunshunner; I shall be perfectly miserable until I
learn your success. I can assure you of my support, and earnestly wish I
was an elector."

"Enviable would be the Member of Parliament who could represent so
charming a constituency!"

"Oh, Mr Dunshunner!"

Directed by the Provost's list, I set forth in search of my
constituency. The first elector whose shop I entered was a draper of the
name M'Auslan. I found him in the midst of his tartans.

"Mr M'Auslan, I presume?"

"Ay," was the curt response.

"Allow me to introduce myself, sir. My name is Dunshunner."

"Oh."

"You are probably aware, sir, that I am a candidate for the
representation of these burghs?"

"Ay."

"I hope and trust, Mr M'Auslan, that my principles are such as meet with
your approbation?"

"Maybe."

"I am a friend, sir, to civil and religious liberty,--to Dreepdaily and
its charter,--to the old Whig constitution of 1688,--and to the true
interests of the people."

"Weel?"

"Confound the fellow!" thought I, "was there ever such an insensate
block? I must bring him to the point at once. Mr M'Auslan," I continued
in a very insinuating tone, "such being my sentiments, may I venture to
calculate on your support?"

"There's twa words to that bargain," replied M'Auslan, departing from
monosyllables.

"Any further explanation that may be required, I am sure will readily--"

"It's nae use."

"How?" said I, a good deal alarmed. "Is it possible you are already
pledged?"

"No."

"Then what objection----"

"I made nane. I see ye dinna ken us here. The pear's no ripe yet."

"What pear?" asked I, astonished at this horticultural allusion.

"Hark ye," said M'Auslan, looking stealthily around him, and for the
first time exhibiting some marks of intelligence in his features--"Hark
ye,--hae ye seen Toddy Tam yet?"

"Mr Gills? Not yet. I am just going to wait upon him; but Provost Binkie
has promised me his support."

"Wha cares for Provost Binkie! Gang to Toddy Tam."

Not one other word could I extract from the oracular M'Auslan; so, like
a pilgrim, I turned my face towards Mecca, and sallied forth in quest of
this all-important personage. On my way, however, I entered the house of
another voter, one Shanks, a member of the Town-Council, from whom I
received equally unsatisfactory replies. He, like M'Auslan, pointed
steadily towards Toddy Tam. Now, who and what was the individual who, by
the common consent of his townsmen, had earned so honourable an epithet?

Mr Thomas Gills had at one time been a clerk in the office of the
departed Linklater. His function was not strictly legal, nor confined
to the copying of processes: it had a broader and wider scope, and
was exercised in a more congenial manner. In short, Mr Gills was a
kind of provider for the establishment. His duties were to hunt out
business; which he achieved to a miracle by frequenting every possible
public-house, and wringing from them, amidst their cups, the stories
of the wrongs of his compotators. Wo to the wight who sate down for an
afternoon's conviviality with Toddy Tam! Before the mixing of the fourth
tumbler, the ingenious Gills was sure to elicit some hardship or
grievance, for which benignant Themis could give redress; and rare,
indeed, was the occurrence of the evening on which he did not capture
some additional clients. He would even go the length of treating his
victim, when inordinately shy, until the fatal mandate was given, and
retraction utterly impossible.

Such decided business talents, of course, were not overlooked by the
sagacious Laurence Linklater. Gills enjoyed a large salary, the greater
moiety of which he consumed in alcoholic experiments; and shortly before
the decease of his patron, he was promoted to the lucrative and easy
office of some county registrarship. He now began to cultivate
conviviality for its own especial sake. It was no longer dangerous to
drink with him; for though, from habit, he continued to poke into
grievances, he never, on the following morning, pursued the subject
further. But what was most remarkable about Toddy Tam was, his
independence. He never truckled to dictation from any quarter; but,
whilst Binkie and the rest were in fear and terror of the Clique, he
openly defied that body, and dared them to do their worst. He was the
only man in Dreepdaily who ventured to say that Tom Gritt was right in
the motion he had made; and he further added, that if he, Thomas Gills,
had been in the Town-Council, the worthy and patriotic baker should not
have wanted a seconder. This was considered a very daring speech, and
one likely to draw down the vengeance of the unrelenting junta: but the
thunder slept in the cloud, and Mr Gills enjoyed himself as before.

I found him in his back parlour, in company with a very rosy individual.
Although it was not yet noon, a case-bottle and glasses were on the
table, and the whole apartment stunk abominably with the fumes of
whisky.

"Sit in, Mr Dunshunner, sit in!" said Toddy Tam, in a tone of great
cordiality, after I had effected my introduction. "Ye'll no hae had your
morning yet? Lass, bring in a clean glass for the gentleman."

"I hope you will excuse me, Mr Gills. I really never do--"

"Hoots--nonsense! Ye maun be neighbour-like, ye ken--we a' expect it at
Dreepdaily." And so saying, Toddy Tam poured me out a full glass of
spirits. I had as lieve have swallowed ink, but I was forced to
constrain myself and bolt it.

"Ay, and so ye are coming round to us as a candidate, are ye? What d'ye
think o' that, Mr Thamson--hae ye read Mr Dunshunner's address?"

The rubicund individual chuckled, leered, and rose to go, but Toddy Tam
laid a heavy hand upon his shoulder.

"Sit ye down man," he said; "I've naething to say to Mr Dunshunner that
the hail warld may not hear, nor him to me neither, I hope."

"Certainly not," said I; "and I really should feel it as a great
obligation if Mr Thomson would be kind enough to remain."

"That's right, lad!" shouted Gills. "Nae hole-and-corner work for me! A'
fair and abune board, and the deil fly away with the Clique!"

Had Thomson been an ordinary man, he probably would have grown pale at
this daring objurgation: as it was, he fidgetted in his chair, and his
face became a shade more crimson.

"Weel, now," continued Toddy Tam, "let us hear what Mr Dunshunner has
got to say for himsel'. There's naething like hearing opinions before we
put ony questions."

Thus adjured, I went through the whole of my political confession of
faith, laying, of course, due stress upon the great and glorious
Revolution of 1688, and my devotion to the cause of liberality. Toddy
Tam and his companion heard me to the end without interruption.

"Gude--sae far gude, Mr Dunshunner," said Gills. "I see little to objeck
to in your general principles; but for a' that I'm no going to pledge
mysel' until I ken mair o' ye. I hope, sir, that ye're using nae
underhand influence--that there has been nae communings with the Clique,
a body that I perfeckly abominate? Dreepdaily shall never be made a
pocket burrow, so long as Thomas Gills has any influence in it."

I assured Mr Gills, what was the naked truth, that I had no knowledge
whatever of the Clique.

"Ye see, Mr Dunshunner," continued Toddy Tam, "we are a gey and
independent sort of people here, and we want to be independently
represented. My gude friend, Mr Thamson here, can tell you that I have
had a sair fecht against secret influence, and I am amaist feared that
some men like the Provost owe me a grudge for it. He's a pawkie loon,
the Provost, and kens brawly how to play his cards."

"He's a' that!" ejaculated Thomson.

"But I dinna care a snuff of tobacco for the haill of the Town-Council,
or the Clique. Give me a man of perfeck independence, and I'll support
him. I voted for the last member sair against my conscience, for he was
put up by the Clique, and never came near us: but I hope better things
frae you, Mr Dunshunner, if you should happen to be returned. Mind, I
don't say that I am going to support ye--I maun think about it: but if
ye are a good man and a true, and no a nominee, I dare say that both my
gude freend Thamson, and mysell, will no objeck to lend you a
helping-hand."

This was all I could extract from Toddy Tam, and, though favourable, it
was far from being satisfactory. There was a want, from some cause or
another, of that cordial support which I had been led to anticipate;
and I almost felt half inclined to abandon the enterprise altogether.
However, after having issued my address, this would have looked like
cowardice. I therefore diligently prosecuted my canvass, and contrived,
in the course of the day, to encounter a great portion of the
electors. Very few pledged themselves. Some surly independents refused
point-blank, alleging that they did not intend to vote at all: others
declined to promise, until they should know how Toddy Tam and other
magnates were likely to go. My only pledges were from the sworn
retainers of the Provost.

"Well, Mr Dunshunner, what success?" cried Miss Margaret Binkie, as I
returned rather jaded from my circuit. "I hope you have found all the
Dreepdaily people quite favourable?"

"Why no, Miss Binkie, not quite so much so as I could desire. Your
townsmen here seem uncommonly slow in making up their minds to
anything."

"Oh, that is always their way. I have heard Papa say that the same thing
took place at last election, and that nobody declared for Mr Whistlerigg
until the very evening before the nomination. So you see you must not
lose heart."

"If my visit to Dreepdaily should have no other result, Miss Binkie, I
shall always esteem it one of the most fortunate passages of my life,
since it has given me the privilege of your acquaintance."

"Oh, Mr Dunshunner! How can you speak so? I am afraid you are a great
flatterer!" replied Miss Binkie, pulling at the same time a sprig of
geranium to pieces. "But you look tired--pray take a glass of wine."

"By no means, Miss Binkie. A word from you is a sufficient cordial.
Happy geranium!" said I, picking up the petals.

Now I know very well that all this sort of thing is wrong, and that a
man has no business to begin flirtations if he cannot see his way to
the end of them. At the same time, I hold the individual who dislikes
flirtations to be a fool; and sometimes they are utterly irresistible.

"Now, Mr Dunshunner, I do beg you won't! Pray sit down on the sofa, for
I am sure you are tired; and if you like to listen, I shall sing you a
little ballad I have composed to-day."

"I would rather hear you sing than an angel," said I; "but pray do not
debar me the privilege of standing by your side."

"Just as you please;" and Margaret began to rattle away on the
harpsichord.

     "O whaur hae ye been, Augustus, my son?
     O whaur hae ye been, my winsome young man?
     I hae been to the voters--Mither, mak my bed soon,
     For I'm weary wi' canvassing, and fain wad lay me doun.

     O whaur are your plumpers, Augustus, my son?
     O whaur are your split votes, my winsome young man?
     They are sold to the Clique--Mither, mak my bed soon,
     For I'm weary wi' canvassing, and fain wad lay me doun.

     O I fear ye are cheated, Augustus, my son,
     O I fear ye are done for, my winsome young man!
     'I hae been to my true love----'"

I could stand this no longer.

"Charming, cruel girl!" cried I, dropping on one knee,--"why will you
thus sport with my feelings? Where else should I seek for my true love
but here?"

I don't know what might have been the sequel of the scene, had not my
good genius, in the shape of Mysie the servant girl, at this moment
burst into the apartment. Miss Binkie with great presence of mind
dropped her handkerchief, which afforded me an excellent excuse for
recovering my erect position.

Mysie was the bearer of a billet, addressed to myself, and marked
"private and particular." I opened it and read as follows:--

     "SIR--Some of those who are well disposed towards you have arranged
     to meet this night, and are desirous of a private interview, at
     which full and mutual explanations may be given. It may be right to
     mention to you that the question of _the currency_ will form the
     basis of any political arrangement; and it is expected that you
     will then be prepared to state explicitly your views with regard to
     _bullion_. Something _more than pledges_ upon this subject will be
     required.

     "As this meeting will be a strictly private one, the utmost secresy
     must be observed. Be on the bridge at eleven o'clock this night,
     and you will be conducted to the appointed place. Do not fail, as
     you value your own interest.--Yours, &c.

               "SHELL OUT."

"Who brought this letter, Mysie?" said I, considerably flustered at its
contents.

"A laddie. He said there was nae answer, and ran awa'."

"No bad news, I hope, Mr Dunshunner?" said Margaret timidly.

I looked at Miss Binkie. Her eye was still sparkling, and her cheek
flushed. She evidently was annoyed at the interruption, and expected a
renewal of the conversation. But I felt that I had gone quite far
enough, if not a little beyond the line of prudence. It is easy to make
a declaration, but remarkably difficult to back out of it; and I began
to think that, upon the whole, I had been a little too precipitate. On
the plea, therefore, of business, I emerged into the open air; and,
during a walk of a couple of miles, held secret communing with myself.

"Here you are again, Dunshunner, my fine fellow, putting your foot into
it as usual! If it had not been for the arrival of the servant, you
would have been an engaged man at this moment, and saddled with a
father-in-law in the shape of a vender of molasses. Besides, it is my
private opinion that you don't care sixpence about the girl. But it is
the old story. This is the third time since Christmas that you have been
on the point of committing matrimony; and if you don't look sharp after
yourself, you will be sold an especial bargain! Now, frankly and fairly,
do you not acknowledge yourself to be an idiot?"

I did. Men are generally very candid and open in their confessions to
themselves; and the glaring absurdity of my conduct was admitted without
any hesitation. I resolved to mend my ways accordingly, and to eschew
for the future all tête-à-têtes with the too fascinating Maggie Binkie.
That point disposed of, I returned to the mysterious missive. To say the
truth, I did not much like it. Had these been the days of Burking, I
should have entertained some slight personal apprehension; but as there
was no such danger, I regarded it either as a hoax, or as some
electioneering _ruse_, the purpose of which I could not fathom. However,
as it is never wise to throw away any chance, I determined to keep the
appointment; and, if a meeting really were held, to give the best
explanations in my power to my correspondent, Mr Shell Out, and his
friends. In this mood of mind I returned to the Provost's dwelling.

The dinner that day was not so joyous as before. Old Binkie questioned
me very closely as to the result of my visits, and seemed chagrined that
Toddy Tam had not been more definite in his promises of support.

"Ye maun hae Tam," said the Provost. "He disna like the Clique--I hope
naebody's listening--nor the Clique him; but he stands weel wi' the
Independents, and the Seceders will go wi' him to a man. We canna afford
to lose Gills. I'll send ower for him, and see if we canna talk him into
reason. Haith, though, we'll need mair whisky, for Tam requires an unco
deal of slockening!"

Tam, however, proved to be from home, and therefore the Provost and I
were left to our accustomed duet. He complained grievously of my
abstemiousness, which for divers reasons I thought it prudent to
observe. An extra tumbler might again have made Miss Binkie a cherub in
my eyes.

I am afraid that the young lady thought me a very changeable person.
When the Provost fell asleep, she allowed the conversation to languish,
until it reached that awful degree of pause which usually precedes the
popping of the question. But this time I was on my guard, and held out
with heroic stubbornness. I did not even launch out upon the subject of
poetry, which Maggie rather cleverly introduced; for there is a decided
affinity between the gay science and the tender passion, and it is
difficult to preserve indifference when quoting from the "Loves of the
Angels." I thought it safer to try metaphysics. It is not easy to
extract an amorous avowal, even by implication, from a discourse upon
the theory of consciousness; and I flatter myself that Kant, if he could
have heard me that evening, would have returned home with some novel
lights upon the subject. Miss Binkie seemed to think that I might have
selected a more congenial theme; for she presently exhibited symptoms of
pettishness, took up a book, and applied herself diligently to the
perusal of a popular treatise upon knitting.

Shortly afterwards, the Provost awoke, and his daughter took occasion to
retire. She held out her hand to me with rather a reproachful look, but,
though sorely tempted, I did not indulge in a squeeze.

"That's a fine lassie--a very fine lassie!" remarked the Provost, as he
severed a Welsh rabbit into twain. "Ye are no a family man yet, Mr
Dunshunner, and ye maybe canna comprehend what a comfort she has been to
me. I'm auld now, and a thocht failing; but it is a great relief to me
to ken that, when I am in my grave, Maggie winna be tocherless. I've
laid up a braw nest-egg for her ower at the bank yonder."

I of course coincided in the praise of Miss Binkie, but showed so little
curiosity as to the contents of the indicated egg, that the Provost
thought proper to enlighten me, and hinted at eight thousand pounds. It
is my positive belief that the worthy man expected an immediate
proposal: if so, he was pretty egregiously mistaken. I could not,
however, afford, at this particular crisis, to offend him, and
accordingly stuck to generals. As the hour of meeting was approaching, I
thought it necessary to acquaint him with the message I had received, in
order to account for my exit at so unseasonable a time.

"It's verra odd," said the Provost,--"verra odd! A' Dreepdaily should be
in their beds by this time, and I canna think there could be a meeting
without me hearing of it. It's just the reverse o' constitutional to
keep folk trailing aboot the toun at this time o' nicht, and the brig is
a queer place for a tryst."

"You do not surely apprehend, Mr Binkie, that there is any danger?"

"No just that, but you'll no be the waur o' a stick. Ony gait, I'll send
to Saunders Caup, the toun-officer, to be on the look-out. If ony body
offers to harm ye, be sure ye cry out, and Saunders will be up in a
crack. He's as stieve as steel, and an auld Waterloo man."

As a considerable number of years has elapsed since the last great
European conflict, I confess that my confidence in the capabilities of
Mr Caup, as an ally, was inferior to my belief in his prowess. I
therefore declined the proposal, but accepted the weapon; and, after a
valedictory tumbler with my host, emerged into the darkened street.


CHAPTER IV.

Francis Osbaldistone, when he encountered the famous Rob Roy by night,
was in all probability, notwithstanding Sir Walter's assertion to the
contrary, in a very tolerable state of trepidation. At least I know that
I was, as I neared the bridge of Dreepdaily. It was a nasty night of
wind and rain, and not a soul was stirring in the street--the surface
of which did little credit to the industry of the paving department,
judging from the number of dubs in which I found involuntary
accommodation. As I floundered along through the mire, I breathed
anything but benedictions on the mysterious Shell Out, who was the
cause of my midnight wandering.

Just as I reached the bridge, beneath which the river was roaring rather
uncomfortably, a ragged-looking figure started out from an entry. A
solitary lamp, suspended from above, gave me a full view of this
personage, who resembled an animated scarecrow.

He stared me full in the face, and then muttered, with a wink and a
leer,--

"Was ye seekin' for ony body the nicht? Eh wow, man, but it's cauld!"

"Who may you be, my friend?" said I, edging off from my unpromising
acquaintance.

"Wha may I be?" replied the other: "that's a gude ane! Gosh, d'ye no ken
me? Au'm Geordie Dowie, the town bauldy, that's as weel kent as the
Provost hissell!"

To say the truth, Geordie was a very truculent-looking character to be
an innocent. However, imbeciles of this description are usually
harmless.

"And what have you got to say to me, Geordie?"

     "If ye're the man I think ye are,
       And ye're name begins wi' a D,
     Just tak ye tae yer soople shanks,
       And tramp alang wi' me,"

quavered the idiot, who, like many others, had a natural turn for
poetry.

"And where are we going to, Geordie, my man?" said I in a soothing
voice.

"Ye'll find that when we get there," replied the bauldy.

     "Hey the bonnie gill-stoup!
     Ho the bonnie gill-stoup!
     Gie me walth o' barley bree,
     And leeze me on the gill-stoup!"

"But you can at least tell me who sent you here, Geordie?" said I,
anxious for further information before intrusting myself to such erratic
guidance.

He of the gill-stoups lifted up his voice and sang--

     "Cam' ye by Tweedside,
       Or cam' ye by Flodden?
     Met ye the deil
       On the braes o' Culloden?

     "Three imps o' darkness
       I saw in a neuk,
     Riving the red-coats,
       And roasting the Deuk.

     "Quo' ane o' them--'Geordie,
       Gae down to the brig,
     I'm yaup for my supper,
       And fetch us a Whig.'

"Ha! ha! ha! Hoo d'ye like that, my man? Queer freends ye've gotten noo,
and ye'll need a lang spoon to sup kail wi' them. But come awa'. I canna
stand here the haill nicht listening to your havers."

Although the hint conveyed by Mr Dowie's ingenious verses was rather of
an alarming nature, I made up my mind at once to run all risks and
follow him. Geordie strode on, selecting apparently the most
unfrequented lanes, and making, as I anxiously observed, for a remote
part of the suburbs. Nor was his voice silent during our progress, for
he kept regaling me with a series of snatches, which, being for the most
part of a supernatural and diabolical tendency, did not much contribute
towards the restoration of my equanimity. At length he paused before a
small house, the access to which was by a downward flight of steps.

"Ay--this is the place!" he muttered. "I ken it weel. It's no just bad
the whusky that they sell, but they needna put sae muckle water
intil't."

So saying, he descended the stair. I followed. There was no light in the
passage, but the idiot went forward, stumbling and groping in the dark.
I saw a bright ray streaming through a crevice, and three distinct
knocks were given.

"Come in, whaever ye are!" said a bluff voice: and I entered a low
apartment, in which the candles looked yellow through a fog of
tobacco-smoke. Three men were seated at a deal table, covered with the
implements of national conviviality; and to my intense astonishment none
of the three were strangers to me. I at once recognised the features of
the taciturn M'Auslan, the wary Shanks, and the independent Mr Thomas
Gills.

"There's the man ye wanted," said Geordie Dowie, slapping me familiarly
on the shoulder.--"Whaur's the dram ye promised me?

     "In Campbelltown my luve was born,
       Her mither in Glen Turrit!
     But Ferintosh is the place for me,
       For that's the strangest speerit!"

"Haud yer clavering tongue, ye common village!" said Toddy Tam. "Wad ye
bring in the neebourhood on us? M'Auslan, gie the body his dram, and
then see him out of the door. We manna be interfered wi' in our cracks."

M'Auslan obeyed. A large glass of alcohol was given to my guide, who
swallowed it with a sigh of pleasure.

"Eh, man! that's gude and strang! It's no ilka whusky that'll mak
Geordie Dowie pech. Fair fa' yer face, my bonny M'Auslan! could you no
just gi'e us anither?"

"Pit him out!" said the remorseless Gills. "It's just extraordinar how
fond the creature is o' drink!" and Geordie was forcibly ejected, after
an ineffectual clutch at the bottle.

"Sit ye down, Mr Dunshunner," said Toddy Tam, addressing himself to me;
"sit ye down, and mix yoursel' a tumbler. I daresay now ye was a little
surprised at the note ye got this morning, eh?"

"Why, certainly, Mr Gills, I did not anticipate the pleasure----"

"Ay, I kenned ye wad wonder at it. But ilka place has its ain way o'
doing business, and this is ours--quiet and cozy, ye see. I'se warrant,
too, ye thocht M'Auslan a queer ane because he wadna speak out?"

I laughed dubiously towards M'Auslan, who responded with the austerest
of possible grins.

"And Shanks, too," continued Toddy Tam; "Shanks wadna speak out neither.
They're auld-farrant hands baith o' them, Mr Dunshunner, and they didna
like to promise ony thing without me. We three aye gang thegither."

"I hope, then, Mr Gills, that I may calculate upon your support and that
of your friends. My views upon the currency----"

"Ay! that's speaking out at ance. Hoo muckle?"

"Ay! hoo muckle?" interposed M'Auslan, with a glistening eye.

"I really do not understand you, gentlemen."

"Troth, then, ye're slow at the uptak," remarked Gills, after a meaning
pause. "I see we maun be clear and conceese. Hark ye, Mr
Dunshunner,--wha do ye think we are?"

"Three most respectable gentlemen, for whom I have the highest possible
regard."

"Hoots!--nonsense! D'ye no ken?"

"No," was my puzzled response.

"Weel, then," said Toddy Tam, advancing his lips to my ear, and pouring
forth an alcoholic whisper--"we three can do mair than ye think o'--It's
huz that is THE CLIQUE!"

I recoiled in perfect amazement, and gazed in succession upon the
countenances of the three compatriots. Yes--there could be no doubt
about it--I was in the presence of the tremendous junta of Dreepdaily;
the veil of Isis had been lifted up, and the principal figure upon the
pedestal was the magnanimous and independent Gills. Always a worshipper
of genius, I began to entertain a feeling little short of veneration
towards Toddy Tam. The admirable manner in which he had contrived to
conceal his real power from the public--his assumed indignation and
horror of the Clique--and his hold over all classes of the electors,
demonstrated him at once to be a consummate master of the political art.
Machiavelli could not have devised a subtler stratagem than Gills.

"That's just the plain truth o' the matter," observed Shanks, who had
hitherto remained silent. "We three is the Clique, and we hae the
representation o' the burrow in our hands. Now, to speak to the point,
if we put our names down on your Committee, you carry the election, and
we're ready to come to an understanding upon fair and liberal grounds."

And we did come to an understanding upon grounds which might be justly
characterised as fair on the one side, and certainly liberal on the
other. There was of course some little discussion as to the lengths I
was expected to go in financial matters; and it was even hinted that,
with regard to bullion, the Honourable Mr Pozzlethwaite might possibly
entertain as enlarged views as myself. However, we fortunately succeeded
in adjusting all our differences. I not only promised to give the weight
of my name to a bill, but exhibited, upon the spot, a draft which met
with the cordial approbation of my friends, and which indeed was so
satisfactory that they did not offer to return it.

"That's a' right then," said Toddy Tam, inserting the last-mentioned
document in a greasy pocket-book. "Our names go down on your Committy,
and the election is as gude as won!"

An eldritch laugh at a little window, which communicated with the
street, at this moment electrified the speaker. There was a glimpse of a
human face seen through the dingy pane.

A loud oath burst from the lips of Toddy Thomas.

"Some deevil has been watching us!" he cried. "Rin, M'Auslan, rin for
your life, and grip him afore he can turn the corner! I wad not for a
thousand pund that this nicht's wark were to get wind!"

M'Auslan rushed, as desired; but all his efforts were ineffectual. The
fugitive, whoever he was, had very prudently dived into the darkness,
and the draper returned without his victim.

"What is to be done?" said I. "It strikes me, gentlemen, that this may
turn out to be a very unpleasant business."

"Nae fears--nae fears!" said Toddy Tam, looking, however, the reverse of
comfortable. "It will hae been some callant trying to fley us, that's
a'. But, mind ye--no a word o' this to ony living human being, and aboon
a' to Provost Binkie. I've keepit him for four years in the dark, and it
never wad do to show the cat the road to the kirn!"

I acquiesced in the precautionary arrangement, and we parted; Toddy Tam
and his friends having, by this time, disposed of all the surplus fluid.
It was very late before I reached the Provost's dwelling.

I suppose that next morning I had overslept myself; for, when I awoke, I
heard Miss Binkie in full operation at the piano. This time, however,
she was not singing alone, for a male voice was audible in conjunction
with hers.

"It would be an amazing consolation to me if somebody would carry off
that girl!" thought I, as I proceeded with my toilet. "I made a deuced
fool of myself to her yesterday; and, to say the truth, I don't very
well know how to look her in the face!"

However, there was no help for it, so I proceeded down-stairs. The
first individual I recognised in the breakfast parlour was M'Corkindale.
He was engaged in singing, along with Miss Binkie, some idiotical catch
about a couple of albino mice.

"Bob!" cried I, "my dear Bob, I am delighted to see you;--what on earth
has brought you here?"

"A gig and a foundered mare," replied the matter-of-fact M'Corkindale.
"The fact is, that I was anxious to hear about your canvass; and, as
there was nothing to do in Glasgow--by the way, Dunshunner, the banks
have put on the screw again--I resolved to satisfy my own curiosity in
person. I arrived this morning, and Miss Binkie has been kind enough to
ask me to stay breakfast."

"I am sure both papa and I are always happy to see Mr M'Corkindale,"
said Margaret impressively.

"I am afraid," said I, "that I have interrupted your music: I did not
know, M'Corkindale, that you were so eminent a performer."

"I hold with Aristotle," replied Bob modestly, "that music and political
economy are at the head of all the sciences. But it is very seldom that
one can meet with so accomplished a partner as Miss Binkie."

"Oh, ho," thought I. But here the entrance of the Provost diverted the
conversation, and we all sat down to breakfast. Old Binkie was evidently
dying to know the result of my interview on the previous evening, but I
was determined to keep him in the dark. Bob fed like an ogre, and made
prodigious efforts to be polite.

After breakfast, on the pretext of business we went out for a walk. The
economist lighted his cigar.

"Snug quarters these, Dunshunner, at the Provost's."

"Very. But, Bob, things are looking rather well here. I had a
negotiation last night which has as good as settled the business."

"I am very glad to hear it.--Nice girl, Miss Binkie; very pretty eyes,
and a good foot and ankle."

"An unexceptionable instep. What do you think!--I have actually
discovered the Clique at last."

"You don't say so! Do you think old Binkie has saved money?"

"I am sure he has. I look upon Dreepdaily as pretty safe now; and I
propose going over this afternoon to Drouthielaw. What would you
recommend?"

"I think you are quite right; but somebody should stay here to look
after your interests. There is no depending upon these fellows. I'll
tell you what--while you are at Drouthielaw I shall remain here, and
occupy your quarters. The Committee will require some man of business to
drill them in, and I don't care if I spare you the time."

I highly applauded this generous resolution; at the same time I was not
altogether blind to the motive. Bob, though an excellent fellow in the
main, did not usually sacrifice himself to his friends, and I began to
suspect that Maggie Binkie--with whom, by the way, he had some previous
acquaintance--was somehow or other connected with his enthusiasm. As
matters stood, I of course entertained no objection: on the contrary, I
thought it no breach of confidence to repeat the history of the
nest-egg.

Bob pricked up his ears.

"Indeed!" said he; "that is a fair figure as times go; and to judge from
appearances, the stock in trade must be valuable."

"Cargoes of sugar," said I, "oceans of rum, and no end whatever of
molasses!"

"A very creditable chairman, indeed, for your Committee, Dunshunner,"
replied Bob. "Then I presume you agree that I should stay here, whilst
you prosecute your canvass?"

I assented, and we returned to the house. In the course of the forenoon
the list of my Committee was published, and, to the great joy of the
Provost, the names of Thomas Gill, Alexander M'Auslan, and Simon Shanks
appeared. He could not, for the life of him, understand how they had all
come forward so readily. A meeting of my friends was afterwards held, at
which I delivered a short harangue upon the constitution of 1688, which
seemed to give general satisfaction; and before I left the room, I had
the pleasure of seeing the Committee organised, with Bob officiating as
secretary. It was the opinion of every one that Pozzlethwaite had not a
chance. I then partook of a light luncheon, and after bidding farewell
to Miss Binkie, who, on the whole, seemed to take matters very coolly, I
drove off for Drouthielaw. I need not relate my adventures in that
respectable burgh. They were devoid of anything like interest, and not
quite so satisfactory in their result as I could have wished. However,
the name of Gills was known even at that distance, and his views had
considerable weight with some of the religious denominations. So far as
I was concerned, I had no sinecure of it. It cost me three nights' hard
drinking to conciliate the leaders of the Anabaptists, and at least
three more before the chiefs of the Antinomians would surrender. As to
the Old Light gentry, I gave them up in despair, for I could not hope to
have survived the consequences of so serious a conflict.


CHAPTER V.

Parliament was at length dissolved; the new writs were issued, and the
day of nomination fixed for the Dreepdaily burghs. For a time it
appeared to myself, and indeed to almost every one else, that my return
was perfectly secure. Provost Binkie was in great glory, and the faces
of the unknown Clique were positively radiant with satisfaction. But a
storm was brewing in another quarter, upon which we had not previously
calculated.

The Honourable Mr Pozzlethwaite, my opponent, had fixed his headquarters
in Drouthielaw, and to all appearance was making very little progress in
Dreepdaily. Indeed, in no sense of the word could Pozzlethwaite be said
to be popular. He was a middle-aged man, as blind as a bat, and, in
order to cure the defect, he ornamented his visage with an immense pair
of green spectacles, which, it may be easily conceived, did not add to
the beauty of his appearance. In speech he was slow and verbose, in
manner awkward, in matter almost wholly unintelligible. He professed
principles which he said were precisely the same as those advocated by
the late Jeremy Bentham; and certainly, if he was correct in this, I do
not regret that my parents omitted to bring me up at the feet of the
utilitarian Gamaliel. In short, Paul was prosy to a degree, had not
an atom of animation in his whole composition, and could no more have
carried a crowd along with him than he could have supported Atlas upon
his shoulders. A portion, however, of philosophic weavers, and a certain
section of the Seceders, had declared in his favour; and, moreover,
it was just possible that he might gain the suffrages of some of the
Conservatives. Kittleweem, the Tory burgh, had hitherto preserved the
appearance of strict neutrality. I had attempted to address the electors
of that place, but I found that the hatred of Dreepdaily and of its
Clique was more powerful than my eloquence; and, somehow or other, the
benighted savages did not comprehend the merits of the Revolution
Settlement of 1688, and were as violently national as the Celtic race
before the invention of trews. Kittleweem had equipped half a regiment
for Prince Charles in the Forty-five, and still piqued itself on its
stanch Episcopacy. A Whig, therefore, could hardly expect to be popular
in such a den of prejudice. By the advice of M'Corkindale, I abstained
from any further efforts, which might possibly have tended to exasperate
the electors, and left Kittleweem to itself, in the hope that it would
maintain an armed neutrality.

And so it probably might have done, but for an unexpected occurrence.
Two days before the nomination, a new candidate appeared on the field.
Sholto Douglas was the representative of one of the oldest branches of
his distinguished name, and the race to which he more immediately
belonged had ever been foremost in the ranks of Scottish chivalry and
patriotism. In fact, no family had suffered more from their attachment
to the cause of legitimacy than the Douglases of Inveriachan.
Forfeiture after forfeiture had cut down their broad lands to a narrow
estate, and but for an unexpected Indian legacy, the present heir would
have been marching as a subaltern in a foot regiment. But a large
importation of rupees had infused new life and spirit into the bosom of
Sholto Douglas. Young, eager, and enthusiastic, he determined to rescue
himself from obscurity; and the present state of the Dreepdaily burghs
appeared to offer a most tempting opportunity. Douglas was, of course,
Conservative to the backbone; but, more than that, he openly proclaimed
himself a friend of the people, and a supporter of the rights of labour.

"Confound the fellow!" said Bob M'Corkindale to me, the morning after
Sholto's address had been placarded through the burghs, "who would have
thought of an attack of this kind from such a quarter? Have you seen his
manifesto, Dunshunner?"

"Yes--here it is in the _Patriot_. The editor, however, gives him it
soundly in the leading article. I like his dogmatic style and wholesale
denunciation of the Tories."

"I'll tell you what it is, though--I look upon this as anything but a
joke. Douglas is evidently not a man to stand upon old aristocratic
pretensions. He has got the right sow by the ear this time, and, had he
started a little earlier, might have roused the national spirit to a
very unpleasant pitch. You observe what he says about Scotland, the
neglect of her local interests, and the manner in which she has been
treated, with reference to Ireland?"

"I do. And you will be pleased to recollect that but for yourself,
something of the same kind would have appeared in my address."

"If you mean that as a reproach, Dunshunner, you are wrong. How was it
possible to have started you as a Whig upon patriotic principles?"

"Well--that's true enough. At the same time, I cannot help wishing that
we had said a word or two about the interests to the north of the
Tweed."

"What is done cannot be undone. We must now stick by the Revolution
settlement."

"Do you know, Bob, I think we have given them quite enough of that same
settlement already. Those fellows at Kittleweem laughed in my face the
last time that I talked about it, and I am rather afraid that it won't
go down on the hustings."

"Try the sanitary condition of the towns, then, and universal
conciliation to Ireland," replied the Economist. "I have given orders to
hire two hundred Paddies, who have come over for the harvest, at a
shilling a-head, and of course you may depend upon their voices, and
also their shillelahs, if needful. I think we should have a row. It
would be a great matter to make Douglas unpopular; and, with a movement
of my little finger, I could turn out a whole legion of navigators."

"No, Bob, you had better not. It is just possible they might make a
mistake, and shy brickbats at the wrong candidate. It will be safer, I
think, to leave the mob to itself: at the same time, we shall not be the
worse for the Tipperary demonstration. And how looks the canvass?"

"Tolerably well, but not perfectly secure. The Clique has done its very
best, but at the same time there is undeniably a growing feeling against
it. Many people grumble about its dominion, and are fools enough to say
that they have a right to think for themselves."

"Could you not circulate a report that Pozzlethwaite is the man of the
Clique?"

"The idea is ingenious, but I fear it would hardly work. Dreepdaily is
well known to be the headquarters of the confederation, and the name of
Provost Binkie is inseparably connected with it."

"By the way, M'Corkindale, it struck me that you looked rather sweet
upon Miss Binkie last evening."

"I did. In fact I popped the question," replied Robert calmly.

"Indeed! Were you accepted?"

"Conditionally. If we gain the election, she becomes Mrs
M'Corkindale--if we lose, I suppose I shall have to return to Glasgow
in a state of celibacy."

"A curious contract, certainly! Well, Bob, since your success is
involved in mine, we must fight a desperate battle."

"I wish, though, that Mr Sholto Douglas had been kind enough to keep out
of the way," observed M'Corkindale.

The morning of the day appointed for the nomination dawned upon the
people of Dreepdaily with more than usual splendour. For once, there was
no mist upon the surrounding hills, and the sky was clear as sapphire. I
rose early to study my speech, which had received the finishing touches
from M'Corkindale on the evening before; and I flatter myself it was as
pretty a piece of Whig rhetoric as ever was spouted from a hustings.
Toddy Tam, indeed, had objected, upon seeing a draft, that "there was
nae banes intil't;" but the political economist was considered by the
Committee a superior authority on such subjects to Gills. After having
carefully conned it over, I went down-stairs, where the whole party were
already assembled. A large blue and yellow flag, with the inscription,
"DUNSHUNNER AND THE GOOD CAUSE!" was hung out from the window, to the
intense delight of a gang of urchins, who testified to the popularity of
the candidate by ceaseless vociferation to "pour out." The wall
opposite, however, bore some memoranda of an opposite tendency, for I
could see some large placards, newly pasted up, on which the words,
"ELECTORS OF DREEPDAILY! YOU ARE SOLD BY THE CLIQUE!" were conspicuous
in enormous capitals. I heard, too, something like a ballad chanted, in
which my name seemed to be coupled, irreverently, with that of the
independent Gills.

Provost Binkie--who, in common with the rest of the company, wore upon
his bosom an enormous blue and buff cockade, prepared by the fair hands
of his daughter--saluted me with great cordiality. I ought to observe
that the Provost had been kept as much as possible in the dark regarding
the actual results of the canvass. He was to propose me, and it was
thought that his nerves would be more steady if he came forward under
the positive conviction of success.

"This is a great day, Mr Dunshunner--a grand day for Dreepdaily," he
said. "A day, if I may sae speak, o' triumph and rejoicing! The news o'
this will run frae one end o' the land to the ither--for the een o' a'
Scotland is fixed on Dreepdaily, and the stench auld Whig principles is
sure to prevail, even like a mighty river that rins down in spate to the
sea!"

I justly concluded that this figure of speech formed part of the address
to the electors which for the two last days had been simmering in the
brain of the worthy magistrate, along with the fumes of the potations
he had imbibed, as incentives to the extraordinary effort. Of course I
took care to appear to participate in his enthusiasm. My mind, however,
was very far from being thoroughly at ease.

As twelve o'clock, which was the hour of nomination, drew near, there
was a great muster at my committee-room. The band of the Independent
Tee-totallers, who to a man were in my interest, was in attendance. They
had been well primed with ginger cordial, and were obstreperous to a
gratifying degree.

Toddy Tam came up to me with a face of the colour of carnation.

"I think it richt to tell ye, Mr Dunshunner, that there will be a bit o'
a bleeze ower yonder at the hustings. The Kittleweem folk hae come
through in squads, and Lord Hartside's tenantry have marched in a body,
wi' Sholto Douglas's colours flying."

"And the Drouthielaw fellows--what has become of them?"

"Od, they're no wi' us either--they're just savage at the Clique!
Gudesake, Mr Dunshunner, tak care, and dinna say a word aboot huz. I
intend mysell to denounce the body, and may be that will do us gude."

I highly approved of Mr Gills' determination, and as the time had now
come, we formed in column, and marched towards the hustings with the
tee-total band in front, playing a very lugubrious imitation of
"Glorious Apollo."

The other candidates had already taken their places. The moment I was
visible to the audience, I was assailed by a volley of yells, among
which, cries of "Doun wi' the Clique!"--"Wha bought them?"--"Nae
nominee!"--"We've had eneuch o' the Whigs!" et cetera, were distinctly
audible. This was not at all the kind of reception I had bargained
for;--however, there was nothing for it but to put on a smiling face,
and I reciprocated courtesies as well as I could with both of my
honourable opponents.

During the reading of the writ and the Bribery Act, there was a deal of
joking, which I presume was intended to be good-humoured. At the same
time there could be no doubt that it was distinctly personal. I heard my
name associated with epithets of anything but an endearing description,
and, to say the truth, if choice had been granted, I would far rather
have been at Jericho than in the front of the hustings at Dreepdaily. A
man must be, indeed, intrepid, and conscious of a good cause, who can
oppose himself without blenching to the objurgation of an excited mob.

The Honourable Paul Pozzlethwaite, on account of his having been the
earliest candidate in the field, was first proposed by a town-councillor
of Drouthielaw. This part of the ceremony appeared to excite but little
interest, the hooting and cheering being pretty equally distributed.

It was now our turn.

"Gang forrard, Provost, and be sure ye speak oot!" said Toddy Tam; and
Mr Binkie advanced accordingly.

Thereupon such a row commenced as I never had witnessed before. Yelling
is a faint word to express the sounds of that storm of extraordinary
wrath which descended upon the head of the devoted Provost. "Clique!
Clique!" resounded on every side, and myriads of eyes, ferocious as
those of the wildcat, were bent scowlingly on my worthy proposer. In
vain did he gesticulate--in vain implore. The voice of Demosthenes--nay,
the deep bass of Stentor himself--could not have been heard amidst that
infernal uproar; so that, after working his arms for a time like the
limbs of a telegraph, and exerting himself until he became absolutely
swart in the face, Binkie was fain to give it up, and retired amidst a
whirlwind of abuse.

"May the deil fly awa' wi' the hail pack o' them!" said he, almost
blubbering with excitement and indignation. "Wha wad ever hae thocht to
have seen the like o' this? and huz, too, that gied them the Reform
Bill! Try your hand at them, Tam, for my heart's amaist broken!"

The bluff independent character of Mr Gills, and his reputed purity
from all taint of the Clique, operated considerably in his favour. He
advanced amidst general cheering, and cries of "Noo for Toddy Tam!"
"Let's hear Mr Gills!" and the like; and as he tossed his hat aside and
clenched his brawny fist, he really looked the incarnation of a sturdy
and independent elector. His style, too, was decidedly popular--

"Listen tae me!" he said, "and let the brawlin', braggin', bletherin'
idiwits frae Drouthielaw haud their lang clavering tongues, and no keep
rowtin' like a herd o' senseless nowte! (Great cheering from Dreepdaily
and Kittleweem--considerable disapprobation from Drouthielaw.) I ken
them weel, the auld haverils! (cheers.) But you, my freends, that I have
dwalt wi' for twenty years, is it possible that ye can believe for one
moment that I wad submit to be dictated to by a Clique? (Cries of "No!
no!" "It's no you, Tam!" and confusion.) No me? I dinna thank ye for
that! Wull ony man daur to say to my face, that I ever colleagued wi' a
pack that wad buy and sell the haill of us as readily as ye can deal wi'
sheep's-heads in the public market? (Laughter.) Div ye think that if Mr
Dunshunner was ony way mixed up wi' that gang, I wad be here this day
tae second him? Div ye think----"

Here Mr Gills met with a singular interruption. A remarkable figure
attired in a red coat and cocked-hat, at one time probably the property
of a civic officer, and who had been observed for some time bobbing
about in front of the hustings, was now elevated upon the shoulders of a
yeoman, and displayed to the delighted spectators the features of
Geordie Dowie.

"Ay, Toddy Tam, are ye there, man?" cried Geordie with a malignant grin.
"What was you and the Clique doin' at Nanse Finlayson's on Friday
nicht?"

"What was it, Geordie? What was it?" cried a hundred voices.

"Am I to be interrupted by a natural?" cried Gills, looking, however,
considerably flushed in the face.

"What hae ye dune wi' the notes, Tam, that the lang chield up by there
gied ye? And whaur's your freends, Shanks and M'Auslan? See that ye
steek close the window neist time, ma man!" cried Geordie with demoniac
ferocity.

This was quite enough for the mob, who seldom require any excuse for a
display of their hereditary privileges. A perfect hurricane of hissing
and of yelling arose, and Gills, though he fought like a hero, was at
last forced to retire from the contest. Had Geordie Dowie's windpipe
been within his grasp at that moment, I would not have insured for any
amount the life of the perfidious spy.

Sholto Douglas was proposed and seconded amidst great cheering, and
then Pozzlethwaite rose to speak. I do not very well recollect what he
said, for I had quite enough to do in thinking about myself; and the
Honourable Paul would have conferred a material obligation upon me, if
he had talked for an hour longer. At length my turn came.

"Electors of Dreepdaily!"--

That was the whole of my speech--at least the whole of it that was
audible to any one human being. Humboldt, if I recollect right, talks in
one of his travels of having somewhere encountered a mountain composed
of millions of entangled snakes, whose hissing might have equalled that
of the transformed legions of Pandemonium. I wish Humboldt, for the sake
of scientific comparison, could have been upon the hustings that day!
Certain I am, that the sibilation did not leave my ears for a fortnight
afterwards, and even now, in my slumbers, I am haunted by a wilderness
of asps! However, at the urgent entreaty of M'Corkindale, I went on for
about ten minutes, though I was quivering in every limb, and as pale as
a ghost; and in order that the public might not lose the benefit of my
sentiments, I concluded by handing a copy of my speech, interlarded with
fictitious cheers, to the reporter for the _Dreepdaily Patriot_. That
document may still be seen by the curious in the columns of that
impartial newspaper.

I will state this for Sholto Douglas, that he behaved like a perfect
gentleman. There was in his speech no triumph over the discomfiture
which the other candidates had received; on the contrary, he rather
rebuked the audience for not having listened to us with greater
patience. He then went on with his oration. I need hardly say it was a
national one, and it was most enthusiastically cheered.

All that I need mention about the show of hands is, that it was not by
any means hollow in my favour.

That afternoon we were not quite so lively in the Committee-room as
usual. The serenity of Messrs Gills, M'Auslan, and Shanks,--and,
perhaps, I may add of myself--was a good deal shaken by the intelligence
that a broadside with the tempting title of "_Full and Particular
Account of an Interview between the Clique and Mr Dunshunner, held at
Nanse Finlayson's Tavern, on Friday last, and how they came to terms. By
an Eyewitness_," was circulating like wildfire through the streets. To
have been beaten by a Douglas was nothing, but to have been so artfully
entrapped by an imbecile!

Provost Binkie, too, was dull and dissatisfied. The reception he had met
with in his native town was no doubt a severe mortification, but the
feeling that he had been used as a catspaw and instrument of the Clique,
was, I suspected, uppermost in his mind. Poor man! We had great
difficulty that evening in bringing him to his sixth tumbler.

Even M'Corkindale was hipped. I own I was surprised at this, for I knew
of old the indefatigable spirit and keen energy of my friend, and I
thought that, with such a stake as he had in the contest, he would even
have redoubled his exertions. Such, however, was not the case.

I pass over the proceedings at the poll. From a very early hour it
became perfectly evident that my chance was utterly gone; and, indeed,
had it been possible, I should have left Dreepdaily before the close. At
four o'clock the numbers stood thus:--

                       DREEPDAILY.   DROUTHIELAW.  KITTLEWEEM.

 DOUGLAS,                  94             63          192

 POZZLETHWAITE,            59             73           21

 DUNSHUNNER,               72             19            7

         Majority for DOUGLAS,                   196

We had an affecting scene in the Committee-room. Gills, who had been
drinking all day, shed copious floods of tears; Shanks was disconsolate;
and M'Auslan refused to be comforted. Of course I gave the usual pledge,
that on the very first opportunity I should come forward again to
reassert the independence of the burghs, now infamously sacrificed to a
Conservative; but the cheering at this announcement was of the very
faintest description, and I doubt whether any one believed me. Two hours
afterwards I was miles away from Dreepdaily.

I have since had letters from that place, which inform me that the
Clique is utterly discomfited; that for some days the component members
of it might be seen wandering through the streets, and pouring their
husky sorrows into the ears of every stray listener whom they could
find, until they became a positive nuisance. My best champion, however,
was the editor of the _Patriot_. That noble and dauntless individual
continued for weeks afterwards to pour forth Jeremiads upon my defeat,
and stigmatised my opponents and their supporters as knaves, miscreants,
and nincompoops. I was, he maintained, the victim of a base conspiracy,
and the degraded town of Dreepdaily would never be able thereafter to
rear its polluted head in the Convention of Royal Burghs.

Whilst these things were going on in Dreepdaily, I was closeted with
M'Corkindale in Glasgow.

"So, then, you have lost your election," said he.

"And you have lost your wife."

"Neither of the two accidents appear to me irreparable," replied Robert.

"How so? Do you still think of Miss Binkie?"

"By no means. I made some little inquiry the day before the election,
and discovered that a certain nest-egg was enormously exaggerated, if
not altogether fictitious."

"Well, Bob, there is certainly nobody like yourself for getting
information."

"I do my best. May I inquire into the nature of your future movements?"

"I have not yet made up my mind. These election matters put everything
else out of one's head. Let me see--August is approaching, and I half
promised the Captain of M'Alcohol to spend a few weeks with him at his
shooting-quarters."

"Are you aware, Dunshunner, that one of your bills falls due at the
Gorbals Bank upon Tuesday next?"

"Mercy upon me, Bob! I had forgotten all about it."

I did not go to the Highlands after all. The fatigue and exertion we had
undergone rendered it quite indispensable that my friend Robert and I
should relax a little. Accordingly we have both embarked for a short run
upon the Continent.

     BOULOGNE-SUR-MER,
        _12th August 1847_.



FIRST AND LAST

BY WILLIAM MUDFORD.

[_MAGA._ FEBRUARY 1829.]


Take down from your shelves, gentle reader, your folio edition of
Johnson's Dictionary,--or, if you possess Todd's edition of Johnson,
take down his four ponderous quartos; turn over every leaf, read every
word from A to Z, and then confess, that in the whole vocabulary there
are not any two words which awaken in your heart such a crowd of mixed
and directly opposite emotions as the two which now stare you in the
face--FIRST and LAST! In the abstract, they embrace the whole round of
our existence: in the detail, all its brightest hopes, its noblest
enjoyments, and its most cherished recollections; all its loftiest
enterprises, and all its smiles and tears; its pangs of guilt, its
virtuous principles, its trials, its sorrows, and its rewards. They give
you the dawn and the close of life, the beginning and the end of its
countless busy scenes. They are the two extremities of a path which, be
it long, or be it short, no man sees at one and the same moment. Happy
would it be for us, sometimes, if we could--if we _could_ behold the end
of a course of action as certainly as we do the beginning; but oftener,
far oftener, would it be our curse and torment, unless, with the
foresight or foreknowledge, we had the power to avert the end.

But let me not anticipate my own intentions, which are to portray, in a
few sketches, the links that hold together the _first_ and _last_ of the
most momentous periods and undertakings of our lives; to trace the dawn,
progress, and decline of many of the best feelings and motives of our
nature; to touch, with a pensive colouring, the contrasts they present;
to stimulate honourable enterprises by the examples they furnish; and to
amuse by the form in which the truths they supply are embodied. I shall
begin with a subject not exactly falling within the legitimate scope of
my design, but it will serve as an appropriate introduction, and I shall
call it

THE FIRST AND LAST DINNER.

Twelve friends, much about the same age, and fixed by their pursuits,
their family connections, and other local interests, as permanent
inhabitants of the metropolis, agreed, one day when they were drinking
their wine at the Star and Garter at Richmond, to institute an annual
dinner among themselves, under the following regulations: That they
should dine alternately at each other's houses on the _first_ and _last_
day of the year; that the _first_ bottle of wine uncorked at the _first_
dinner, should be recorked and put away, to be drunk by him who should
be the _last_ of their number; that they should never admit a new
member; that, when one died, eleven should meet, and when another died,
ten should meet, and so on; and that, when only one remained, he should,
on those two days, dine by himself, and sit the usual hours at his
solitary table; but the _first_ time he so dined alone, lest it should
be the only one, he should then uncork the _first_ bottle, and, in the
_first_ glass, drink to the memory of all who were gone.

There was something original and whimsical in the idea, and it was
eagerly embraced. They were all in the prime of life, closely attached
by reciprocal friendship, fond of social enjoyments, and looked forward
to their future meetings with unalloyed anticipations of pleasure. The
only thought, indeed, that could have darkened those anticipations was
one not very likely to intrude itself at that moment, that of the
hapless wight who was destined to uncork the _first_ bottle at his
lonely repast.

It was high summer when this frolic compact was entered into; and as
their pleasure-yacht skimmed along the dark bosom of the Thames, on
their return to London, they talked of nothing but their _first_ and
_last_ feasts of ensuing years. Their imaginations ran riot with
a thousand gay predictions of festive merriment. They wantoned in
conjectures of what changes time would operate; joked each other upon
their appearance, when they should meet,--some hobbling upon crutches
after a severe fit of the gout,--others poking about with purblind
eyes, which even spectacles could hardly enable to distinguish the
alderman's walk in a haunch of venison--some with portly round bellies
and tidy little brown wigs, and others decently dressed out in a
new suit of mourning for the death of a great-granddaughter or a
great-great-grandson. Palsies, wrinkles, toothless gums, stiff hams,
and poker knees, were bandied about in sallies of exuberant mirth, and
appropriated, first to one and then to another, as a group of merry
children would have distributed golden palaces, flying chariots, diamond
tables, and chairs of solid pearl, under the fancied possession of a
magician's wand, which could transform plain brick, and timber, and
humble mahogany, into such costly treasures.

"As for you, George," exclaimed one of the twelve, addressing his
brother-in-law, "I expect I shall see you as dry, withered, and
shrunken, as an old eel-skin, you mere outside of a man!" and he
accompanied the words with a hearty slap on the shoulder.

George Fortescue was leaning carelessly over the side of the yacht,
laughing the loudest of any at the conversation which had been carried
on. The sudden manual salutation of his brother-in-law threw him off his
balance, and in a moment he was overboard. They heard the heavy splash
of his fall, before they could be said to have seen him fall. The yacht
was proceeding swiftly along; but it was instantly stopped.

The utmost consternation now prevailed. It was nearly dark, but
Fortescue was known to be an excellent swimmer, and, startling as the
accident was, they felt certain he would regain the vessel. They could
not see him. They listened. They heard the sound of his hands and feet.
They hailed him. An answer was returned, but in a faint gurgling voice,
and the exclamation "Oh God!" struck upon their ears. In an instant two
or three, who were expert swimmers, plunged into the river, and swam
towards the spot whence the exclamation had proceeded. One of them was
within an arm's length of Fortescue: he saw him; he was struggling and
buffeting the water; before he could be reached, he went down, and his
distracted friend beheld the eddying circles of the wave just over the
spot where he had sunk. He dived after him, and touched the bottom; but
the tide must have drifted the body onwards, for it could not be found!

They proceeded to one of the nearest stations where drags were kept,
and having procured the necessary apparatus, they returned to the fatal
spot. After the lapse of above an hour, they succeeded in raising the
lifeless body of their lost friend. All the usual remedies were employed
for restoring suspended animation; but in vain; and they now pursued the
remainder of their course to London in mournful silence, with the corpse
of him who had commenced the day of pleasure with them in the fulness of
health, of spirits, and of life! Amid their severer grief, they could
not but reflect how soon one of the joyous twelve had slipped out of the
little festive circle.

The months rolled on, and cold December came with all its cheering round
of kindly greetings and merry hospitalities; and with it came a softened
recollection of the fate of poor Fortescue; _eleven_ of the twelve
assembled on the last day of the year, and it was impossible not to feel
their loss as they sat down to dinner. The very irregularity of the
table, five on one side, and only four on the other, forced the
melancholy event upon their memory.

There are few sorrows so stubborn as to resist the united influence of
wine, a circle of select friends, and a season of prescriptive gaiety.
Even those pinching troubles of life, which come home to a man's
own bosom, will light up a smile, in such moments, at the beaming
countenances and jocund looks of all the rest of the world; while
your mere sympathetic or sentimental distress gives way, like the
inconsolable affliction of a widow of twenty closely besieged by a lover
of thirty.

A decorous sigh or two, a few becoming ejaculations, and an instructive
observation upon the uncertainty of life, made up the sum of tender
posthumous "offerings to the _manes_ of poor George Fortescue," as
they proceeded to discharge the more important duties for which they
had met. By the time the third glass of champagne had gone round, in
addition to sundry potations of fine old hock, and "capital madeira,"
they had ceased to discover anything so very pathetic in the inequality
of the two sides of the table, or so melancholy in their crippled number
of eleven.

The rest of the evening passed off to their hearts' content.
Conversation was briskly kept up amid the usual fire of pun, repartee,
anecdote, politics, toasts, healths, jokes, broad laughter, erudite
disquisitions upon the vintage of the wines they were drinking, and an
occasional song. Towards twelve o'clock, when it might be observed that
they emptied their glasses with less symptoms of palating the quality of
what they quaffed, and filled them again with less anxiety as to which
bottle or decanter they laid hold of, they gradually waxed moral and
tender; sensibility began to ooze out; "Poor George Fortescue!" was once
more remembered; those who could count, sighed to think there were only
eleven of them; and those who could see, felt the tears come into their
eyes, as they dimly noted the inequality of the two sides of the table.
They all agreed, at parting, however, that they had never passed such a
happy day, congratulated each other upon having instituted so delightful
a meeting, and promised to be punctual to their appointment the ensuing
evening, when they were to celebrate the new-year, whose entrance they
had welcomed in bumpers of claret, as the watchman bawled "past twelve!"
beneath the window.

They met accordingly; and their gaiety was without any alloy or
drawback. It was only the _first_ time of their assembling after the
death of "poor George Fortescue," that made the recollection of it
painful; for, though but a few hours had intervened, they now took their
seats at the table as if eleven had been their original number, and as
if all were there that had been ever expected to be there.

It is thus in everything. The _first_ time a man enters a prison--the
_first_ book an author writes--the _first_ painting an artist
executes--the _first_ battle a general wins--nay, the _first_ time
a rogue is hanged (for a rotten rope may provide a second performance,
even of that ceremony, with all its singleness of character), differ
inconceivably from their _first_ repetition. There is a charm, a spell,
a novelty, a freshness, a delight, inseparable from the _first_
experience (hanging always excepted, be it remembered), which no art or
circumstance can impart to the _second_. And it is the same in all the
darker traits of life. There is a degree of poignancy and anguish in the
_first_ assaults of sorrow, which is never found afterwards. Ask the
weeping widow, who, "like Niobe all tears," follows her fifth husband to
the grave, and she will tell you that the _first_ time she performed
that melancholy office, it was with at least five times more
lamentations than when she last discharged it. In every case, it is
simply that the _first_ fine edge of our feelings has been taken off,
and that it can never be restored.

Several years had elapsed, and our eleven friends kept up their double
anniversaries, as they might aptly enough be called, with scarcely any
perceptible change. But, alas! there came one dinner at last, which was
darkened by a calamity they never expected to witness, for on that very
day their friend, companion, brother almost, was hanged! Yes! Stephen
Rowland, the wit, the oracle, the life of their little circle, had, on
the morning of that day, forfeited his life upon a public scaffold, for
having made one single stroke of his pen in a wrong place. In other
words, a bill of exchange which passed _into_ his hands for £700 passed
_out_ of them for £1700; he having drawn the important little prefix to
the hundreds, and the bill being paid at the banker's without examining
the words of it. The forgery was discovered,--brought home to
Rowland,--and though the greatest interest was used to obtain a
remission of the fatal penalty (the particular female favourite of the
prime-minister himself interfering), poor Stephen Rowland was hanged.
Everybody pitied him; and nobody could tell why he did it. He was not
poor; he was not a gambler; he was not a speculator; but phrenology
settled it. The organ of _acquisitiveness_ was discovered in his head,
after his execution, as large as a pigeon's egg. He could not help it.

It would be injustice to the ten to say, that even wine, friendship, and
a merry season, could dispel the gloom which pervaded this dinner. It
was agreed beforehand that they should not allude to the distressing and
melancholy theme; and having thus interdicted the only thing which
really occupied all their thoughts, the natural consequence was, that
silent contemplation took the place of dismal discourse, and they
separated long before midnight. An embarrassing restraint, indeed,
pervaded the little conversation which grew up at intervals. The
champagne was not in good order, but no one liked to complain of its
being _ropy_. A beautiful painting of Vandyke which was in the room,
became a topic of discussion. They who thought it was _hung_ in a bad
place, shrunk from saying so; and not one ventured to speak of the
_execution_ of that great master. Their host was having the front of
his house repaired, and at any other time he would have cautioned them,
when they went away, as the night was very dark, to take care of the
_scaffold_; but no, they might have stumbled right and left before he
would have pronounced that word, or told them not to _break their
necks_. One, in particular, even abstained from using his customary
phrase, "this is a _drop_ of good wine;" and another forbore to
congratulate the friend who sat next him, and who had been married since
he last saw him, because he was accustomed on such occasions to employ
figurative language and talk of the holy _noose_ of wedlock.

Some fifteen years had now glided away since the fate of poor Rowland,
and the ten remained; but the stealing hand of time had written sundry
changes in most legible characters. Raven locks had become grizzled--two
or three heads had not as many locks altogether as may be reckoned in a
walk of half a mile along the Regent's Canal--one was actually covered
with a brown wig--the crow's-feet were visible in the corner of the
eye--good old port and warm madeira carried it against hock, claret,
red burgundy, and champagne--stews, hashes, and ragouts, grew into
favour--crusts were rarely called for to relish the cheese after
dinner--conversation was less boisterous, and it turned chiefly
upon politics and the state of the funds, or the value of landed
property--apologies were made for coming in thick shoes and warm
stockings--the doors and windows were more carefully provided with list
and sand-bags--the fire more in request--and a quiet game of whist
filled up the hours that were wont to be devoted to drinking, singing,
and riotous merriment. Two rubbers, a cup of coffee, and at home by
eleven o'clock, was the usual cry, when the fifth or sixth glass had
gone round after the removal of the cloth. At parting, too, there was
now a long ceremony in the hall, buttoning up great-coats, tying on
woollen comforters, fixing silk handkerchiefs over the mouth and up to
the ears, and grasping sturdy walking-canes to support unsteady feet.

Their fiftieth anniversary came, and death had indeed been busy. One had
been killed by the overturning of the mail, in which he had taken his
place in order to be present at the dinner, having purchased an estate
in Monmouthshire, and retired thither with his family. Another had
undergone the terrific operation for the stone, and expired beneath the
knife--a third had yielded up a broken spirit two years after the loss
of an only-surviving and beloved daughter--a fourth was carried off in a
few days by a _cholera morbus_--a fifth had breathed his last the very
morning he obtained a judgment in his favour by the Lord Chancellor,
which had cost him his last shilling nearly to get, and which, after a
litigation of eighteen years, declared him the rightful possessor of
ten thousand a-year--ten minutes after he was no more. A sixth had
perished by the hand of a midnight assassin, who broke into his house
for plunder, and sacrificed the owner of it, as he grasped convulsively
a bundle of Exchequer bills, which the robber was drawing from beneath
his pillow, where he knew they were every night placed for better
security.

Four little old men, of withered appearance and decrepit walk, with
cracked voices, and dim, rayless eyes, sat down, by the mercy of Heaven
(as they themselves tremulously declared), to celebrate, for the
fiftieth time, the first day of the year--to observe the frolic compact
which, half a century before, they had entered into at the Star and
Garter at Richmond! Eight were in their graves! The four that remained
stood upon its confines. Yet they chirped cheerily over their glass,
though they could scarcely carry it to their lips, if more than half
full; and cracked their jokes, though they articulated their words with
difficulty, and heard each other with still greater difficulty. They
mumbled, they chattered, they laughed (if a sort of strangled wheezing
might be called a laugh); and when the wines sent their icy blood in
warmer pulse through their veins, they talked of their past as if it
were but a yesterday that had slipped by them,--and of their future, as
if it were a busy century that lay before them.

They were just the number for a quiet rubber of whist; and for three
successive years they sat down to one. The fourth came, and then their
rubber was played with an open dummy; a fifth, and whist was no longer
practicable; _two_ could play only at cribbage, and cribbage was the
game. But it was little more than the mockery of play. Their palsied
hands could hardly hold, or their fading sight distinguish, the cards,
while their torpid faculties made them doze between each deal.

At length came the LAST dinner; and the survivor of the twelve, upon
whose head fourscore and ten winters had showered their snow, ate his
solitary meal. It so chanced that it was in his house, and at his table,
they had celebrated the first. In his cellar, too, had remained, for
eight-and-fifty years, the bottle they had then uncorked, recorked, and
which he was that day to uncork again. It stood beside him. With a
feeble and reluctant grasp he took the "frail memorial" of a youthful
vow; and for a moment memory was faithful to her office. She threw open
the long vista of buried years; and his heart travelled through them
all;--their lusty and blithesome spring--their bright and fervid
summer--their ripe and temperate autumn--their chill, but not too frozen
winter. He saw, as in a mirror, how, one by one, the laughing companions
of that merry hour at Richmond, had dropped into eternity. He felt all
the loneliness of his condition (for he had eschewed marriage, and in
the veins of no living creature ran a drop of blood whose source was in
his own); and as he drained the glass which he had filled, "to the
memory of those who were gone," the tears slowly trickled down the deep
furrows of his aged face.

He had thus fulfilled one part of his vow, and he prepared himself to
discharge the other, by sitting the usual number of hours at his
desolate table. With a heavy heart he resigned himself to the gloom of
his own thoughts--a lethargic sleep stole over him--his head fell upon
his bosom--confused images crowded into his mind--he babbled to
himself--was silent--and when his servant entered the room, alarmed by a
noise which he heard, he found his master stretched upon the carpet at
the foot of the easy-chair, out of which he had slipped in an apoplectic
fit. He never spoke again, nor once opened his eyes, though the vital
spark was not extinct till the following day. And this was the LAST
DINNER.



THE DUKE'S DILEMMA.

A CHRONICLE OF NIESENSTEIN.

[_MAGA._ SEPTEMBER 1853.]


The close of the theatrical year, which in France occurs in early
spring, annually brings to Paris a throng of actors and actresses, the
disorganised elements of provincial companies, who repair to the capital
to contract engagements for the new season. Paris is the grand centre to
which all dramatic stars converge--the great bazaar where managers
recruit their troops for the summer campaign. In bad weather the mart
for this human merchandise is at an obscure coffee-house near the Rue St
Honoré; when the sun shines, the place of meeting is in the garden of
the Palais Royal. There, pacing to and fro beneath the lime-trees, the
high contracting parties pursue their negotiations and make their
bargains. It is the theatrical Exchange, the histrionic _Bourse_. There
the conversation and the company are alike curious. Many are the strange
discussions and original anecdotes that there are heard; many the odd
figures there paraded. Tragedians, comedians, singers, men and women,
young and old, flock thither in quest of fortune and a good engagement.
The threadbare coats of some say little in favour of recent success or
present prosperity; but only hear them speak, and you are at once
convinced that _they_ have no need of broadcloth who are so amply
covered with laurels. It is delightful to hear them talk of their
triumphs, of the storms of applause, the rapturous bravos, the boundless
enthusiasm, of the audiences they lately delighted. Their brows are
oppressed with the weight of their bays. The south mourns their loss; if
they go west, the north will be envious and inconsolable. As to
themselves--north, south, east, or west--they care little to which point
of the compass the breeze of their destiny may waft them. Thorough
gypsies in their habits, accustomed to make the best of the passing
hour, and to take small care for the future so long as the present is
provided for, like soldiers they heed not the name of the town so long
as the quarters be good.

It was a fine morning in April. The sun shone brightly, and, amongst the
numerous loungers in the garden of the Palais Royal were several groups
of actors. The season was already far advanced; all the companies were
formed, and those players who had not secured an engagement had but a
poor chance of finding one. Their anxiety was legible upon their
countenances. A man of about fifty years of age walked to and fro, a
newspaper in his hand, and to him, when he passed near them, the actors
bowed--respectfully and hopefully. A quick glance was his acknowledgment
of their salutation, and then his eyes reverted to his paper, as if it
deeply interested him. When he was out of hearing, the actors, who had
assumed their most picturesque attitudes to attract his attention, and
who beheld their labour lost, vented their ill-humour.

"Balthasar is mighty proud," said one; "he has not a word to say to us."

"Perhaps he does not want anybody," remarked another; "I think he has no
theatre this year."

"That would be odd. They say he is a clever manager."

"He may best prove his cleverness by keeping aloof. It is so difficult
nowadays to do good in the provinces. The public is so fastidious! the
authorities are so shabby, so unwilling to put their hands in their
pockets. Ah, my dear fellow, our art is sadly fallen!"

Whilst the discontented actors bemoaned themselves, Balthasar eagerly
accosted a young man who just then entered the garden by the passage of
the Perron. The coffehouse-keepers had already begun to put out tables
under the tender foliage. The two men sat down at one of them.

"Well, Florival," said the manager, "does my offer suit you? Will you
make one of us? I was glad to hear you had broken off with Ricardin.
With your qualifications you ought to have an engagement in Paris, or at
least at a first-rate provincial theatre. But you are young, and, as you
know, managers prefer actors of greater experience and established
reputation. Your parts are generally taken by youths of five-and-forty,
with wrinkles and grey hairs, but well versed in the traditions of the
stage--with damaged voices but an excellent style. My brother managers
are greedy of great names; yours still has to become known--as yet, you
have but your talent to recommend you. I will content myself with that;
content yourself with what I offer you. Times are bad, the season is
advanced, engagements are hard to find. Many of your comrades have gone
to try their luck beyond seas. We have not so far to go; we shall
scarcely overstep the boundary of our ungrateful country. Germany
invites us; it is a pleasant land, and Rhine wine is not to be
disdained. I will tell you how the thing came about. For many years past
I have managed theatres in the eastern departments, in Alsatia and
Lorraine. Last summer, having a little leisure, I made an excursion to
Baden-Baden. As usual, it was crowded with fashionables. One rubbed
shoulders with princes and trod upon highnesses' toes; one could not
walk twenty yards without meeting a sovereign. All these crowned heads,
kings, grand-dukes, electors, mingled easily and affably with the
throng of visitors. Etiquette is banished from the baths of Baden,
where, without laying aside their titles, great personages enjoy the
liberty and advantages of an incognito. At the time of my visit, a
company of very indifferent German actors were playing, two or three
times a-week, in the little theatre. They played to empty benches, and
must have starved but for the assistance afforded them by the directors
of the gambling-tables. I often went to their performances, and, amongst
the scanty spectators, I soon remarked one who was as assiduous as
myself. A gentleman, very plainly dressed, but of agreeable countenance
and aristocratic appearance, invariably occupied the same stall, and
seemed to enjoy the performance, which proved that he was easily
pleased. One night he addressed to me some remark with respect to the
play then acting; we got into conversation on the subject of dramatic
art; he saw that I was specially competent on that topic, and after the
theatre he asked me to take refreshment with him. I accepted. At
midnight we parted, and, as I was going home, I met a gambler whom I
slightly knew. 'I congratulate you,' he said; 'you have friends in high
places!' He alluded to the gentleman with whom I had passed the evening,
and who I now learned was no less a personage than his Serene Highness
Prince Leopold, sovereign ruler of the Grand Duchy of Niesenstein. I
had had the honour of passing a whole evening in familiar intercourse
with a crowned head. Next day, walking in the park, I met his highness.
I made a low bow and kept at a respectful distance, but the Grand Duke
came up to me and asked me to walk with him. Before accepting, I thought
it right to inform him who I was. 'I guessed as much,' said the Prince.
'From one or two things that last night escaped you, I made no doubt you
were a theatrical manager.' And by a gesture he renewed his invitation
to accompany him. In a long conversation he informed me of his intention
to establish a French theatre in his capital, for the performance of
comedy, drama, vaudeville, and comic operas. He was then building a
large theatre, which would be ready by the end of the winter, and he
offered me its management on very advantageous terms. I had no plans in
France for the present year, and the offer was too good to be refused.
The Grand Duke guaranteed my expenses and a gratuity, and there was a
chance of very large profits. I hesitated not a moment; we exchanged
promises, and the affair was concluded.

"According to our agreement, I am to be at Karlstadt, the capital of the
Grand Duchy of Niesenstein, in the first week in May. There is no time
to lose. My company is almost complete, but there are still some
important gaps to fill. Amongst others, I want a lover, a light
comedian, and a first singer. I reckon upon you to fill these important
posts."

"I am quite willing," replied the actor, "but there is still an
obstacle. You must know, my dear Balthasar, that I am deeply in
love--seriously, this time--and I broke off with Ricardin solely because
he would not engage her to whom I am attached."

"Oho! she is an actress?"

"Two years upon the stage; a lovely girl, full of grace and talent, and
with a charming voice. The Opera Comique has not a singer to compare
with her."

"And she is disengaged?"

"Yes, my dear fellow; strange though it seems, and by a combination of
circumstances which it were tedious to detail, the fascinating Delia is
still without an engagement. And I give you notice that henceforward I
attach myself to her steps: where she goes, I go; I will perform upon no
boards which she does not tread. I am determined to win her heart, and
make her my wife."

"Very good!" cried Balthasar, rising from his seat; "tell me the address
of this prodigy: I run, I fly, I make every sacrifice; and we will start
to-morrow."

People were quite right in saying that Balthasar was a clever manager.
None better knew how to deal with actors, often capricious and difficult
to guide. He possessed skill, taste, and tact. One hour after the
conversation in the garden of the Palais Royal, he had obtained the
signatures of Delia and Florival, two excellent acquisitions, destined
to do him infinite honour in Germany. That night his little company was
complete, and the next day, after a good dinner, it started for
Strasburg. It was composed as follows:

    Balthasar, manager, was to play the old men, and take the heavy
    business.

    Florival was the leading man, the lover, and the first singer.

    Rigolet was the low comedian, and took the parts usually played by
    Arnal and Bouffé.

    Similor was to perform the valets in Molière's comedies, and
    eccentric low comedy characters.

    Anselmo was the walking gentleman.

    Lebel led the band.

    Miss Delia was to display her charms and talents as prima donna, and
    in genteel comedy.

    Miss Foligny was the singing chambermaid.

    Miss Alice was the walking lady, and made herself generally useful.

    Finally, Madame Pastorale, the duenna of the company, was to perform
    the old women, and look after the young ones.

Although so few, the company trusted to atone by zeal and industry for
numerical deficiency. It would be easy to find, in the capital of the
Grand Duchy, persons capable of filling mute parts, and, in most plays,
a few unimportant characters might be suppressed.

The travellers reached Strasburg without adventure worthy of note. There
Balthasar allowed them six-and-thirty hours' repose, and took advantage
of the halt to write to the Grand Duke Leopold, and inform him of his
approaching arrival; then they again started, crossed the Rhine at Kehl,
and in thirty hours, after traversing several small German states,
reached the frontier of the Grand Duchy of Niesenstein, and stopped at a
little village called Krusthal. From this village to the capital the
distance was only four leagues, but means of conveyance were wanting.
There was but a single stagecoach on that line of road; it would not
leave Krusthal for two days, and it held but six persons. No other
vehicles were to be had; it was necessary to wait, and the necessity was
anything but pleasant. The actors made wry faces at the prospect of
passing forty-eight hours in a wretched village. The only persons who
easily made up their minds to the wearisome delay were Delia and
Florival. The first singer was desperately in love, and the prima donna
was not insensible to his delicate attentions and tender discourse.

Balthasar, the most impatient and persevering of all, went out to
explore the village. In an hour's time he returned in triumph to his
friends, in a light cart drawn by a strong horse. Unfortunately the
cart held but two persons.

"I will set out alone," said Balthasar. "On reaching Karlstadt, I will
go to the Grand Duke, explain our position, and I have no doubt he will
immediately send carriages to convey you to his capital."

These consolatory words were received with loud cheers by the actors.
The driver, a peasant lad, cracked his whip, and the stout Mecklenburg
horse set out at a small trot. Upon the way, Balthasar questioned his
guide as to the extent, resources, and prosperity of the Grand Duchy,
but could obtain no satisfactory reply; the young peasant was profoundly
ignorant upon all these subjects. The four leagues were got over in
something less than three hours, which is rather rapid travelling for
Germany. It was nearly dark when Balthasar entered Karlstadt. The shops
were shut, and there were few persons in the streets; people are early
in their habits in the happy lands on the Rhine's right bank. Presently
the cart stopped before a good-sized house.

"You told me to take you to our prince's palace," said the driver, "and
here it is." Balthasar alighted and entered the dwelling, unchallenged
and unimpeded by the sentry who paced lazily up and down in its front.
In the entrance-hall the manager met a porter, who bowed gravely to him
as he passed; he walked on and passed through an empty anteroom. In the
first apartment, appropriated to gentlemen-in-waiting, aides-de-camp,
equerries, and other dignitaries of various degree, he found nobody; in
a second saloon, lighted by a dim and smoky lamp, was an old gentleman,
dressed in black, with powdered hair, who rose slowly at his entrance,
looked at him with surprise, and inquired his pleasure.

"I wish to see his Serene Highness, the Grand Duke Leopold," replied
Balthasar.

"The prince does not grant audiences at this hour," the old gentleman
dryly answered.

"His Highness expects me," was the confident reply of Balthasar.

"That is another thing. I will inquire if it be his Highness's pleasure
to receive you. Whom shall I announce?"

"The manager of the Court theatre."

The gentleman bowed, and left Balthasar alone. The pertinacious manager
already began to doubt the success of his audacity, when he heard the
Grand Duke's voice, saying, "Show him in."

He entered. The sovereign of Niesenstein was alone, seated in a large
arm-chair, at a table covered with a green cloth, upon which were a
confused medley of letters and newspapers, an inkstand, a tobacco-bag,
two wax-lights, a sugar-basin, a sword, a plate, gloves, a bottle,
books, and a goblet of Bohemian glass, artistically engraved. His
Highness was engrossed in a thoroughly national occupation; he was
smoking one of those long pipes which Germans rarely lay aside except to
eat or to sleep.

The manager of the Court theatre bowed thrice, as if he had been
advancing to the foot-lights to address the public; then he stood still
and silent, awaiting the prince's pleasure. But, although he said
nothing, his countenance was so expressive that the Grand Duke answered
him.

"Yes," he said, "here you are. I recollect you perfectly, and I have not
forgotten our agreement. But you come at a very unfortunate moment, my
dear sir!"

"I crave your Highness's pardon if I have chosen an improper hour to
seek an audience," replied Balthasar with another bow.

"It is not the hour that I am thinking of," answered the prince quickly.
"Would that were all! See, here is your letter; I was just now reading
it, and regretting that, instead of writing to me only three days ago,
when you were half-way here, you had not done so two or three weeks
before starting."

"I did wrong."

"More so than you think; for, had you sooner warned me, I would have
spared you a useless journey."

"Useless!" exclaimed Balthasar aghast. "Has your Highness changed your
mind?"

"Not at all; I am still passionately fond of the drama, and should be
delighted to have a French theatre here. As far as that goes, my ideas
and tastes are in no way altered since last summer; but, unfortunately,
I am unable to satisfy them. Look here," continued the prince, rising
from his arm-chair. He took Balthasar's arm and led him to a window: "I
told you, last year, that I was building a magnificent theatre in my
capital."

"Your Highness did tell me so."

"Well, look yonder, on the other side of the square; there the theatre
is!"

"Your Highness, I see nothing but an open space; a building commenced,
and as yet scarcely risen above the foundation."

"Precisely so; that is the theatre."

"Your Highness told me it would be completed before the end of winter."

"I did not then foresee that I should have to stop the works for want of
cash to pay the workmen. Such is my present position. If I have no
theatre ready to receive you, and if I cannot take you and your company
into my pay, it is because I have not the means. The coffers of the
State and my privy purse are alike empty. You are astounded!--Adversity
respects nobody--not even Grand Dukes. But I support its assaults with
philosophy: try to follow my example; and, by way of a beginning, take a
chair and a pipe, fill yourself a glass of wine, and drink to the
return of my prosperity. Since you suffer for my misfortunes, I owe you
an explanation. Although I never had much order in my expenditure, I had
every reason, at the time I first met with you, to believe my finances
in a flourishing condition. It was not until the commencement of the
present year that I discovered the contrary to be the case. Last year
was a bad one; hail ruined our crops, and money was hard to get in. The
salaries of my household were in arrear, and my officers murmured. For
the first time I ordered a statement of my affairs to be laid before me,
and I found that ever since my accession I had been exceeding my
revenue. My first act of sovereignty had been a considerable diminution
of the taxes paid to my predecessors. Hence the evil, which had annually
augmented, and now I am ruined, loaded with debts, and without means of
repairing the disaster. My privy-councillors certainly proposed a way;
it was to double the taxes, raise extraordinary contributions--to
squeeze my subjects, in short. A fine plan, indeed! to make the poor pay
for my improvidence and disorder! Such things may occur in other States,
but they shall not occur in mine. Justice before everything. I prefer
enduring my difficulties to making my subjects suffer."

"Excellent prince!" exclaimed Balthasar, touched by these generous
sentiments. The Grand Duke smiled.

"Do you turn flatterer?" he said. "Beware! it is an arduous post, and
you will have none to help you. I have no longer wherewith to pay
flatterers; my courtiers have fled. You have seen the emptiness of my
anterooms; you met neither chamberlain nor equerry upon your entrance.
All those gentlemen have given in their resignations. The civil and
military officers of my house, secretaries, aides-de-camp, and others,
left me, because I could no longer pay them their wages. I am alone; a
few faithful and patient servants are all that remain, and the most
important personage of my court is now honest Sigismund, my old
valet-de-chambre."

These last words were spoken in a melancholy tone, which pained
Balthasar. The eyes of the honest manager glistened. The Grand Duke
detected his sympathy.

"Do not pity me," he said with a smile. "It is no sorrow to me to have
got rid of a wearisome etiquette, and, at the same time, of a pack of
spies and hypocrites, by whom I was formerly from morning till night
beset."

The cheerful frankness of the Grand Duke's manner forbade doubt of his
sincerity. Balthasar congratulated him on his courage.

"I need it more than you think!" replied Leopold, "and I cannot answer
for having enough to support the blows that threaten me. The desertion
of my courtiers would be nothing did I owe it only to the bad state of
my finances: as soon as I found myself in funds again I could buy others
or take back the old ones, and amuse myself by putting my foot upon
their servile necks. Then they would be as humble as now they are
insolent. But their defection is an omen of other dangers. As the
diplomatists say, clouds are at the political horizon. Poverty alone
would not have sufficed to clear my palace of men who are as greedy of
honours as they are of money; they would have waited for better days;
their vanity would have consoled their avarice. If they fled, it was
because they felt the ground shake beneath their feet, and because they
are in league with my enemies. I cannot shut my eyes to impending
dangers. I am on bad terms with Austria; Metternich looks askance at me;
at Vienna I am considered too liberal, too popular: they say that I set
a bad example; they reproach me with cheap government, and with not
making my subjects sufficiently feel the yoke. Thus do they accumulate
pretexts for playing me a scurvy trick. One of my cousins, a colonel
in the Austrian service, covets my Grand Duchy. Although I say _grand_,
it is but ten leagues long and eight leagues broad: but such as it is,
it suits me; I am accustomed to it, I have the habit of ruling it, and
I should miss it were I deprived of it. My cousin has the audacity
to dispute my incontestable rights; this is a mere pretext for
litigation, but he has carried the case before the Aulic Council, and
notwithstanding the excellence of my right I still may lose my cause,
for I have no money wherewith to enlighten my judges. My enemies are
powerful, treason surrounds me; they try to take advantage of my
financial embarrassments, first to make me bankrupt and then to depose
me. In this critical conjuncture, I should be only too delighted to have
a company of players to divert my thoughts from my troubles--but I have
neither theatre nor money. So it is impossible for me to keep you, my
dear manager, and, believe me, I am as grieved at it as you can be.
All I can do is to give you, out of the little I have left, a small
indemnity to cover your travelling expenses and take you back to France.
Come and see me to-morrow morning; we will settle this matter, and you
shall take your leave."

Balthasar's attention and sympathy had been so completely engrossed by
the Grand Duke's misfortunes, and by his revelations of his political
and financial difficulties, that his own troubles had quite gone out of
his thoughts. When he quitted the palace they came back upon him like a
thunder-cloud. How was he to satisfy the actors, whom he had brought two
hundred leagues away from Paris? What could he say to them, how appease
them? The unhappy manager passed a miserable night. At daybreak he rose
and went out into the open air, to calm his agitation and seek a mode of
extrication from his difficulties. During a two hours' walk he had
abundant time to visit every corner of Karlstadt, and to admire the
beauties of that celebrated capital. He found it an elegant town, with
wide straight streets cutting completely across it, so that he could see
through it at a glance. The houses were pretty and uniform, and the
windows were provided with small indiscreet mirrors, which reflected the
passers-by and transported the street into the drawing-room, so that the
worthy Karlstadters could satisfy their curiosity without quitting their
easy chairs. An innocent recreation, much affected by German burghers.
As regarded trade and manufactures, the capital of the Grand Duchy of
Niesenstein did not seem to be very much occupied with either. It was
anything but a bustling city; luxury had made but little progress there;
and its prosperity was due chiefly to the moderate desires and
phlegmatic philosophy of its inhabitants.

In such a country a company of actors had no chance of a livelihood.
There is nothing for it but to return to France, thought Balthasar,
after making the circuit of the city: then he looked at his watch, and,
deeming the hour suitable, he took the road to the palace, which he
entered with as little ceremony as upon the preceding evening. The
faithful Sigismund, doing duty as gentleman-in-waiting, received him as
an old acquaintance, and forthwith ushered him into the Grand Duke's
presence. His Highness seemed more depressed than upon the previous day.
He was pacing the room with long strides, his eyes cast down, his arms
folded. In his hand he held papers, whose perusal it apparently was that
had thus discomposed him. For some moments he said nothing; then he
suddenly stopped before Balthasar.

"You find me less calm," he said, "than I was last night. I have just
received unpleasant news. I am heartily sick of these perpetual
vexations, and gladly would I resign this poor sovereignty, this crown
of thorns they seek to snatch from me, did not honour command me to
maintain to the last my legitimate rights. Yes," vehemently exclaimed
the Grand Duke, "at this moment a tranquil existence is all I covet, and
I would willingly give up my Grand Duchy, my title, my crown, to live
quietly at Paris, as a private gentleman, upon thirty thousand francs
a-year."

"I believe so, indeed!" cried Balthasar, who, in his wildest dreams of
fortune, had never dared aspire so high. His artless exclamation made
the prince smile. It needed but a trifle to dissipate his vexation, and
to restore that upper current of easy good temper which habitually
floated upon the surface of his character.

"You think," he gaily cried, "that some, in my place, would be satisfied
with less, and that thirty thousand francs a-year, with independence and
the pleasures of Paris, compose a lot more enviable than the government
of all the Grand Duchies in the world. My own experience tells me that
you are right; for, ten years ago, when I was but hereditary prince, I
passed six months at Paris, rich, independent, careless; and memory
declares those to have been the happiest days of my life."

"Well! if you were to sell all you have, could you not realise that
fortune? Besides, the cousin, of whom you did me the honour to speak to
me yesterday, would probably gladly insure you an income if you yielded
him your place here. But will your Highness permit me to speak plainly?"

"By all means."

"The tranquil existence of a private gentleman would doubtless have many
charms for you, and you say so in all sincerity of heart; but, upon the
other hand, you set store by your crown, though you may not admit it to
yourself. In a moment of annoyance it is easy to exaggerate the charms
of tranquillity, and the pleasures of private life; but a throne,
however rickety, is a seat which none willingly quit. That is my
opinion, formed at the dramatic school: it is perhaps a reminiscence of
some old part, but truth is sometimes found upon the stage. Since,
therefore, all things considered, to stay where you are is that which
best becomes you, you ought----But I crave your Highness's pardon, I am
perhaps speaking too freely----"

"Speak on, my dear manager, freely and fearlessly; I listen to you with
pleasure. I ought, you were about to say?----"

"Instead of abandoning yourself to despair and poetry, instead of
contenting yourself with succumbing nobly, like some ancient Roman, you
ought boldly to combat the peril. Circumstances are favourable; you have
neither ministers nor state-councillors to mislead you, and embarrass
your plans. Strong in your good right, and in your subjects' love, it is
impossible you should not find means of retrieving your finances and
strengthening your position."

"There is but one means, and that is--a good marriage."

"Excellent! I had not thought of it. You are a bachelor! A good marriage
is salvation. It is thus that great houses, menaced with ruin, regain
their former splendour. You must marry an heiress, the only daughter of
some rich banker."

"You forget--it would be derogatory. _I_ am free from such prejudices,
but what would Austria say if I thus condescended? It would be another
charge to bring against me. And then a banker's millions would not
suffice; I must ally myself with a powerful family, whose influence
will strengthen mine. Only a few days ago, I thought such an alliance
within my grasp. A neighbouring prince, Maximilian of Hanau, who is in
high favour at Vienna, has a sister to marry. The Princess Wilhelmina is
young, handsome, amiable, and rich; I have already entered upon the
preliminaries of a matrimonial negotiation, but two despatches, received
this morning, destroy all my hopes. Hence the low spirits in which you
find me."

"Perhaps," said Balthasar, "your Highness too easily gives way to
discouragement."

"Judge for yourself. I have a rival, the Elector of Saxe-Tolpelhausen;
his territories are less considerable than mine, but he is more solidly
established in his little electorate than I am in my grand-duchy."

"Pardon me, your Highness; I saw the Elector of Saxe-Tolpelhausen last
year at Baden-Baden, and, without flattery, he cannot for an instant be
compared with your Highness. You are hardly thirty, and he is more than
forty; you have a good figure, he is heavy, clumsy, and ill-made; your
countenance is noble and agreeable, his common and displeasing; your
hair is light brown, his bright red. The Princess Wilhelmina is sure to
prefer you."

"Perhaps so, if she were asked; but she is in the power of her august
brother, who will marry her to whom he pleases."

"That must be prevented."

"How?"

"By winning the young lady's affections. Love has so many resources.
Every day one sees marriages for money broken off, and replaced by
marriages for love."

"Yes, one sees that in plays----"

"Which afford excellent lessons."

"For people of a certain class, but not for princes."

"Why not make the attempt? If I dared advise you, it would be to set out
to-morrow, and pay a visit to the Prince of Hanau."

"Unnecessary. To see the prince and his sister, I need not stir hence.
One of these despatches announces their early arrival at Karlstadt. They
are on their way hither. On their return from a journey into Prussia,
they pass through my territories and pause in my capital, inviting
themselves as my guests for two or three days. Their visit is my ruin.
What will they think of me when they find me alone, deserted, in my
empty palace? Do you suppose the Princess will be tempted to share my
dismal solitude? Last year she went to Saxe-Tolpelhausen. The Elector
entertained her well, and made his court agreeable. _He_ could place
chamberlains and aides-de-camp at her orders, could give concerts,
balls, and festivals. But I--what can _I_ do? What a humiliation! And,
that no affront may be spared to me, my rival proposes negotiating his
marriage at my own court! Nothing less, it seems, will satisfy him! He
has just sent me an ambassador, Baron Pippinstir, deputed, he writes, to
conclude a commercial treaty which will be extremely advantageous to me.
The treaty is but a pretext. The Baron's true mission is to the Prince
of Hanau. The meeting is skilfully contrived, for the secret and
unostentatious conclusion of the matrimonial treaty. This is what I am
condemned to witness! I must endure this outrage and mortification, and
display, before the prince and his sister, my misery and poverty. I
would do anything to avoid such shame!"

"Means might, perhaps, be found," said Balthasar, after a moment's
reflection.

"Means? Speak, and whatever they be, I adopt them."

"The plan is a bold one!" continued Balthasar, speaking half to the
Grand Duke and half to himself, as if pondering and weighing a project.

"No matter! I will risk everything."

"You would like to conceal your real position, to re-people this palace,
to have a court?"

"Yes."

"Do you think the courtiers who have deserted you would return?"

"Never. Did I not tell you they are sold to my enemies?"

"Could you not select others from the higher class of your subjects?"

"Impossible! There are very few gentlemen amongst my subjects. Ah! if a
court could be got up at a day's notice! though it were to be composed
of the humblest citizens of Karlstadt----"

"I have better than that to offer you."

"_You_ have? And whom do you offer?" cried Duke Leopold, greatly
astonished.

"My actors."

"What! you would have me make up a court of your actors?"

"Yes, your Highness, and you could not do better. Observe that my actors
are accustomed to play all manner of parts, and that they will be
perfectly at their ease when performing those of noblemen and high
officials. I answer for their talent, discretion, and probity. As soon
as your illustrious guests have departed, and you no longer need their
services, they shall resign their posts. Bear in mind that you have no
other alternative. Time is short, danger at your door, hesitation is
destruction."

"But, if such a trick were discovered!----"

"A mere supposition, a chimerical fear. On the other hand, if you do not
run the risk I propose, your ruin is certain."

The Grand Duke was easily persuaded. Careless and easy-going, he yet
was not wanting in determination, nor in a certain love of hazardous
enterprises. He remembered that fortune is said to favour the bold, and
his desperate position increased his courage. With joyful intrepidity he
accepted and adopted Balthasar's scheme.

"Bravo!" cried the manager; "you shall have no cause to repent. You
behold in me a sample of your future courtiers; and since honours and
dignities are to be distributed, it is with me, if you please, that we
will begin. In this request I act up to the spirit of my part. A
courtier should always be asking for something, should lose no
opportunity, and should profit by his rivals' absence to obtain the best
place. I entreat your Highness to have the goodness to name me prime
minister."

"Granted!" gaily replied the prince. "Your Excellency may immediately
enter upon your functions."

"My Excellency will not fail to do so, and begins by requesting your
signature to a few decrees I am about to draw up. But in the first
place, your Highness must be so good as to answer two or three
questions, that I may understand the position of affairs. A new-comer in
a country, and a novice in a minister's office, has need of instruction.
If it became necessary to enforce your commands, have you the means of
so doing?"

"Undoubtedly."

"Your Highness has soldiers?"

"A regiment."

"How many men?"

"One hundred and twenty, besides the musicians."

"Are they obedient, devoted?"

"Passive obedience, unbounded devotion; soldiers and officers would die
for me to the last man."

"It is their duty. Another question: Have you a prison in your
dominions?"

"Certainly."

"I mean a good prison, strong and well-guarded, with thick walls, solid
bars, stern and incorruptible jailors?"

"I have every reason to believe that the Castle of Zwingenberg combines
all those requisites. The fact is, I have made very little use of it;
but it was built by a man who understood such matters--by my father's
great-grandfather, Rudolph the Inflexible."

"A fine surname for a sovereign! Your Inflexible ancestor, I am very
sure, never lacked either cash or courtiers. Your Highness has perhaps
done wrong to leave the state-prison untenanted. A prison requires to be
inhabited, like any other building; and the first act of the authority
with which you have been pleased to invest me, will be a salutary
measure of incarceration. I presume the Castle of Zwingenberg will
accommodate a score of prisoners?"

"What! you are going to imprison twenty persons?"

"More or less. I do not yet know the exact number of the persons who
composed your late court. They it is whom I propose lodging within the
lofty walls constructed by the Inflexible Rudolph. The measure is
indispensable."

"But it is illegal!"

"I crave your Highness's pardon; you use a word I do not understand. It
seems to me that, in every good German government, that which is
absolutely necessary is necessarily legal. That is my policy. Moreover,
as prime minister, I am responsible. What would you have more? It is
plain that, if we leave your courtiers their liberty, it will be
impossible to perform our comedy; they will betray us. Therefore the
welfare of the state imperatively demands their imprisonment. Besides,
you yourself have said that they are traitors, and therefore they
deserve punishment. For your own safety's sake, for the success of your
project--which will insure the happiness of your subjects--write the
names, sign the order, and inflict upon the deserters the lenient
chastisement of a week's captivity."

The Grand Duke wrote the names and signed several orders, which were
forthwith intrusted to the most active and determined officers of the
regiment, with instructions to make the arrests at once, and to take
their prisoners to the Castle of Zwingenberg, at three quarters of a
league from Karlstadt.

"All that now remains to be done is to send for your new court," said
Balthasar. "Has your Highness carriages?"

"Certainly! a berlin, a barouche, and a cabriolet."

"And horses?"

"Six draught and two saddle."

"I take the barouche, the berlin, and four horses; I go to Krusthal, put
my actors up to their parts, and bring them here this evening. We instal
ourselves in the palace, and shall be at once at your Highness's
orders."

"Very good; but, before going, write an answer to Baron Pippinstir, who
asks an audience."

"Two lines, very dry and official, putting him off till to-morrow. We
must be under arms to receive him.... Here is the note written, but how
shall I sign it? The name of Balthasar is not very suitable to a German
Excellency."

"True, you must have another name, and a title; I create you Count
Lipandorf."

"Thanks, your Highness. I will bear the title nobly, and restore it to
you faithfully, with my seals of office, when the comedy is played out."

Count Lipandorf signed the letter, which Sigismund was ordered to take
to Baron Pippinstir; then he started for Krusthal.

Next morning, the Grand Duke Leopold held a levee, which was attended by
all the officers of his new court. And as soon as he was dressed he
received the ladies with infinite grace and affability.

Ladies and officers were attired in their most elegant theatrical
costumes; the Grand Duke appeared greatly satisfied with their bearing
and manners. The first compliments over, there came a general
distribution of titles and offices.

The lover, Florival, was appointed aide-de-camp to the Grand Duke,
colonel of hussars, and Count Reinsburg.

Rigolet, the low comedian, was named grand chamberlain, and Baron
Fidibus.

Similor, who performed the valets, was master of the horse and Baron
Kockemburg.

Anselmo, walking gentleman, was promoted to be gentleman in waiting and
Chevalier Grillenfanger.

The leader of the band, Lebel, was appointed superintendant of the music
and amusements of the court, with the title of Chevalier Arpeggio.

The prima donna, Miss Delia, was created Countess of Rosenthal, an
interesting orphan, whose dowry was to be the hereditary office of first
lady of honour to the future Grand Duchess.

Miss Foligny, the singing chambermaid, was appointed widow of a general
and Baroness Allenzau.

Miss Alice, walking lady, became Miss Fidibus, daughter of the
chamberlain, and a rich heiress.

Finally, the duenna, Madame Pastorale, was called to the responsible
station of mistress of the robes and governess of the maids of honour,
under the imposing title of Baroness Schicklick.

The new dignitaries received decorations in proportion to their rank.
Count Balthasar von Lipandorf, prime minister, had two stars and three
grand crosses. The aide-de-camp, Florival von Reinsberg, fastened five
crosses upon the breast of his hussar jacket.

The parts duly distributed and learned, there was a rehearsal, which
went off excellently well. The Grand Duke deigned to superintend the
getting up of the piece, and to give the actors a few useful hints.

Prince Maximilian of Hanau and his august sister were expected that
evening. Time was precious. Pending their arrival, and by way of
practising his court, the Grand Duke gave audience to the ambassador
from Saxe-Tolpelhausen.

Baron Pippinstir was ushered into the Hall of the Throne. He had asked
permission to present his wife at the same time as his credentials, and
that favour had been granted him.

At sight of the diplomatist, the new courtiers, as yet unaccustomed to
rigid decorum, had difficulty in keeping their countenances. The Baron
was a man of fifty, prodigiously tall, singularly thin, abundantly
powdered, with legs like hop-poles, clad in knee breeches and white silk
stockings. A long slender pigtail danced upon his flexible back. He had
a face like a bird of prey--little round eyes, a receding chin, and an
enormous hooked nose. It was scarcely possible to look at him without
laughing, especially when one saw him for the first time. His
apple-green coat glittered with a profusion of embroidery. His chest
being too narrow to admit of a horizontal development of his
decorations, he wore them in two columns, extending from his collar to
his waist. When he approached the Grand Duke, with a self-satisfied
simper and a jaunty air, his sword by his side, his cocked hat under his
arm, nothing was wanting to complete the caricature.

The Baroness Pippinstir was a total contrast to her husband. She was a
pretty little woman of five-and-twenty, as plump as a partridge, with a
lively eye, a nice figure, and an engaging smile. There was mischief in
her glance, seduction in her dimples, and the rose's tint upon her
cheeks. Her dress was the only ridiculous thing about her. To come to
court, the little Baroness had put on all the finery she could muster;
she sailed into the hall under a cloud of ribbons, sparkling with jewels
and fluttering with plumes--the loftiest of which, however, scarcely
reached to the shoulder of her lanky spouse.

Completely identifying himself with his part of prime minister,
Balthasar, as soon as this oddly-assorted pair appeared, decided upon
his plan of campaign. His natural penetration told him the diplomatist's
weak point. He felt that the Baron, who was old and ugly, must be
jealous of his wife, who was young and pretty. He was not mistaken.
Pippinstir was as jealous as a tiger-cat. Recently married, the meagre
diplomatist had not dared to leave his wife at Saxe-Tolpelhausen, for
fear of accidents; he would not lose sight of her, and had brought her
to Karlstadt in the arrogant belief that danger vanished in his
presence.

After exchanging a few diplomatic phrases with the ambassador, Balthasar
took Colonel Florival aside and gave him secret instructions. The
dashing officer passed his hand through his richly-curling locks,
adjusted his splendid pelisse, and approached Baroness Pippinstir. The
ambassadress received him graciously; the handsome colonel had already
attracted her attention, and soon she was delighted with his wit and
gallant speeches. Florival did not lack imagination, and his memory was
stored with well-turned phrases and sentimental tirades, borrowed from
stage-plays. He spoke half from inspiration, half from memory, and he
was listened to with favour.

The conversation was carried on in French--for the best of reasons.

"It is the custom here," said the Grand Duke to the ambassador; "French
is the only language spoken in this palace; it is a regulation I had
some difficulty in enforcing, and I was at last obliged to decree that a
heavy penalty should be paid for every German word spoken by a person
attached to my court. That proved effectual, and you will not easily
catch any of these ladies and gentlemen tripping. My prime minister,
Count Balthasar von Lipandorf, is the only one who is permitted
occasionally to speak his native language."

Balthasar, who had long managed theatres in Alsace and Lorraine, spoke
German like a Frankfort brewer.

Meanwhile, Baron Pippinstir's uneasiness was extreme. Whilst his wife
conversed in a low voice with the young and fascinating aide-de-camp,
the pitiless prime minister held his arm tight, and explained at great
length his views with respect to the famous commercial treaty. Caught in
his own snare, the unlucky diplomatist was in agony; he fidgeted to get
away, his countenance expressed grievous uneasiness, his lean legs were
convulsively agitated. But in vain did he endeavour to abridge his
torments; the remorseless Balthasar relinquished not his prey.

Sigismund, promoted to be steward of the household, announced dinner.
The ambassador and his lady had been invited to dine, as well as all the
courtiers. The aide-de-camp was placed next to the Baroness, the Baron
at the other end of the table. The torture was prolonged. Florival
continued to whisper soft nonsense to the fair and well-pleased
Pippinstir. The diplomatist could not eat.

There was another person present whom Florival's flirtation annoyed, and
that person was Delia, Countess of Rosenthal. After dinner, Balthasar,
whom nothing escaped, took her aside.

"You know very well," said the minister, "that he is only acting a part
in a comedy. Should you feel hurt if he declared his love upon the
stage, to one of your comrades? Here it is the same thing; all this is
but a play; when the curtain falls, he will return to you."

A courier announced that the Prince of Hanau and his sister were within
a league of Karlstadt. The Grand Duke, attended by Count Reinsberg and
some officers, went to meet them. It was dark when the illustrious
guests reached the palace; they passed through the great saloon, where
the whole court was assembled to receive them, and retired at once to
their apartments.

"The game is fairly begun," said the Grand Duke to his prime minister;
"and now, may heaven help us!"

"Fear nothing," replied Balthasar. "The glimpse I caught of Prince
Maximilian's physiognomy satisfied me that everything will pass off
perfectly well, and without exciting the least suspicion. As to Baron
Pippinstir, he is already blind with jealousy, and Florival will give
him so much to do, that he will have no time to attend to his master's
business. Things look well."

Next morning, the Prince and Princess of Hanau were welcomed, on
awakening, by a serenade from the regimental band. The weather was
beautiful; the Grand Duke proposed an excursion out of town; he was glad
of an opportunity to show his guests the best features of his duchy--a
delightful country, and many picturesque points of view, much prized and
sketched by German landscape-painters. The proposal agreed to, the
party set out, in carriages and on horseback, for the old Castle of
Rauberzell--magnificent ruins, dating from the middle ages, and famous
far and wide. At a short distance from the castle, which lifted its
grey turrets upon the summit of a wooded hill, the Princess Wilhelmina
expressed a wish to walk the remainder of the way. Everybody followed
her example. The Grand Duke offered her his arm; the Prince gave his
to the Countess Delia von Rosenthal; and, at a sign from Balthasar,
Baroness Pastorale von Schicklick took possession of Baron Pippinstir;
whilst the smiling Baroness accepted Florival's escort. The young people
walked at a brisk pace. The unfortunate Baron would gladly have availed
himself of his long legs to keep up with his coquettish wife; but the
duenna, portly and ponderous, hung upon his arm, checked his ardour, and
detained him in the rear. Respect for the mistress of the robes forbade
rebellion or complaint.

Amidst the ruins of the venerable castle, the distinguished party found
a table spread with an elegant collation. It was an agreeable surprise,
and the Grand Duke had all the credit of an idea suggested to him by his
prime minister.

The whole day was passed in rambling through the beautiful forest of
Rauberzell. The Princess was charming; nothing could exceed the
high-breeding of the courtiers, or the fascination and elegance of the
ladies; and Prince Maximilian warmly congratulated the Grand Duke on
having a court composed of such agreeable and accomplished persons.
Baroness Pippinstir declared, in a moment of enthusiasm, that the court
of Saxe-Tolpelhausen was not to compare with that of Niesenstein. She
could hardly have said anything more completely at variance with the
object of her husband's mission. The Baron was near fainting.

Like not a few of her countrywomen, the Princess Wilhelmina had a strong
predilection for Parisian fashions. She admired everything that came
from France; she spoke French perfectly, and greatly approved the Grand
Duke's decree, forbidding any other language to be spoken at his court.
Moreover, there was nothing extraordinary in such a regulation; French
is the language of all the northern courts. But she was greatly tickled
at the notion of a fine being inflicted for a single German word. She
amused herself by trying to catch some of the Grand Duke's courtiers
transgressing in this respect. Her labour was completely lost.

That evening, at the palace, when conversation began to languish, the
Chevalier Arpeggio sat down to the piano, and the Countess Delia von
Rosenthal sang an air out of the last new opera. The guests were
enchanted with her performance. Prince Maximilian had been extremely
attentive to the Countess during their excursion; the young actress's
grace and beauty had captivated him, and the charm of her voice
completed his subjugation. Passionately fond of music, every note she
sang went to his very heart. When she had finished one song, he
petitioned for another. The amiable prima donna sang a duet with the
aide-de-camp Florival von Reinsberg, and then, being further entreated,
a trio, in which Similor--master of the horse, barytone, and Baron von
Kockemburg--took a part.

Here our actors were at home, and their success was complete. Deviating
from his usual reserve, Prince Maximilian did not disguise his delight;
and the imprudent little Baroness Pippinstir declared that, with such a
beautiful tenor voice, an aide-de-camp might aspire to anything. A
cemetery on a wet day is a cheerful sight, compared to the Baron's
countenance when he heard these words.

Upon the morrow, a hunting-party was the order of the day. In the
evening there was a dance. It had been proposed to invite the principal
families of the metropolis of Niesenstein, but the Prince and Princess
begged that the circle might not be increased.

"We are four ladies," said the Princess, glancing at the prima donna,
the singing chambermaid, and the walking lady, "it is enough for a
quadrille."

There was no lack of gentlemen. There was the Grand Duke, the
aide-de-camp, the grand chamberlain, the master of the horse, the
gentleman-in-waiting, and Prince Maximilian's aide-de-camp, Count Darius
von Sturmhaube, who appeared greatly smitten by the charms of the
widowed Baroness Allenzau.

"I am sorry my court is not more numerous," said the Grand Duke, "but,
within the last three days, I have been compelled to diminish it by
one-half."

"How so?" inquired Prince Maximilian.

"A dozen courtiers," replied the Grand Duke Leopold, "whom I had loaded
with favours, dared conspire against me, in favour of a certain cousin
of mine at Vienna. I discovered the plot, and the plotters are now in
the dungeons of my good fortress of Zwingenberg."

"Well done!" cried the Prince; "I like such energy and vigour. And to
think that people taxed you with weakness of character! How we princes
are deceived and calumniated."

The Grand Duke cast a grateful glance at Balthasar. That able minister
by this time felt himself as much at his ease in his new office as if he
had held it all his life; he even began to suspect that the government
of a grand-duchy is a much easier matter than the management of a
company of actors. Incessantly engrossed by his master's interests, he
manoeuvred to bring about the marriage which was to give the Grand
Duke happiness, wealth, and safety; but, notwithstanding his skill,
notwithstanding the torments with which he had filled the jealous soul
of Pippinstir, the ambassador devoted the scanty moments of repose his
wife left him to furthering the object of his mission. The alliance with
Saxe-Tolpelhausen was pleasing to Prince Maximilian; it offered him
various advantages: the extinction of an old law-suit between the two
states, the cession of a large extent of territory, and, finally, the
commercial treaty, which the perfidious Baron had brought to the court
of Niesenstein, with a view of concluding it in favour of the
principality of Hanau. Invested with unlimited powers, the diplomatist
was ready to insert in the contract almost any conditions Prince
Maximilian chose to dictate to him.

It is necessary here to remark that the Elector of Saxe-Tolpelhausen was
desperately in love with the Princess Wilhelmina.

It was evident that the Baron would carry the day, if the prime minister
did not hit upon some scheme to destroy his credit or force him to
retreat. Balthasar, fertile in expedients, was teaching Florival his
part in the palace garden, when Prince Maximilian met him, and requested
a moment's private conversation.

"I am at your Highness's orders," respectfully replied the minister.

"I will go straight to the point, Count Lipandorf," the Prince began. "I
married my late wife, a princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, from political
motives. She has left me three sons. I now intend to marry again; but
this time I need not sacrifice myself to state considerations, and I am
determined to consult my heart alone."

"If your Highness does me the honour to consult _me_, I have merely to
say that you are perfectly justified in acting as you propose. After
once sacrificing himself to his people's happiness, a prince has surely
a right to think a little of his own."

"Exactly my opinion! Count, I will tell you a secret. I am in love with
Miss von Rosenthal."

"Miss Delia?"

"Yes, sir; with Miss Delia, Countess of Rosenthal; and, what is more, I
will tell you that _I know everything_."

"What may it be that your Highness knows?"

"I know who she is."

"Ha!"

"It was a great secret!"

"And how came your Highness to discover it?"

"The Grand Duke revealed it to me."

"I might have guessed as much!"

"He alone could do so, and I rejoice that I addressed myself directly to
him. At first, when I questioned him concerning the young Countess's
family, he ill concealed his embarrassment: her position struck me as
strange; young, beautiful, and alone in the world, without relatives or
guardians--all that seemed to me singular, if not suspicious. I
trembled, as the possibility of an intrigue flashed upon me; but the
Grand Duke, to dissipate my unfounded suspicion, told me all."

"And what is your Highness's decision?... After such a revelation----"

"It in no way changes my intentions. I shall marry the lady."

"Marry her?... But no, your Highness jests."

"Count Lipandorf, I never jest. What is there, then, so strange in my
determination? The Grand Duke's father was romantic, and of a roving
disposition; in the course of his life he contracted several left-handed
alliances--Miss von Rosenthal is the issue of one of those unions. I
care not for the illegitimacy of her birth; she is of noble blood of a
princely race--that is all I require."

"Yes," replied Balthasar, who had concealed his surprise and kept his
countenance, as became an experienced statesman and consummate
comedian--"Yes, I now understand; and I think as you do. Your Highness
has the talent of bringing everybody over to your way of thinking."

"The greatest piece of good fortune," continued the Prince, "is that the
mother remained unknown: she is dead, and there is no trace of family on
that side."

"As your Highness says, it is very fortunate. And doubtless the Grand
Duke is informed of your august intentions with respect to the proposed
marriage?"

"No; I have as yet said nothing either to him or to the Countess. I
reckon upon you, my dear Count, to make my offer, to whose acceptance I
trust there will not be the slightest obstacle. I give you the rest of
the day to arrange everything. I will write to Miss von Rosenthal; I
hope to receive from her own lips the assurance of my happiness, and I
will beg her to bring me her answer herself, this evening, in the
summer-house in the park. Lover-like, you see--a rendezvous, a
mysterious interview! But come, Count Lipandorf, lose no time; a double
tie shall bind me to your sovereign. We will sign, at one and the same
time, my marriage-contract and his. On that condition alone will I grant
him my sister's hand; otherwise I treat, this very evening, with the
envoy from Saxe-Tolpelhausen."

A quarter of an hour after Prince Maximilian had made this overture,
Balthasar and Delia were closeted with the Grand Duke.

What was to be done? The Prince of Hanau was noted for his obstinacy. He
would have excellent reasons to oppose to all objections. To confess the
deception that had been practised upon him was equivalent to a total and
eternal rupture. But, upon the other hand, to leave him in his error,
to suffer him to marry an actress! it was a serious matter. If ever he
discovered the truth, it would be enough to raise the entire German
Confederation against the Grand Duke of Niesenstein.

"What is my prime minister's opinion?" asked the Grand Duke.

"A prompt retreat. Delia must instantly quit the town; we will devise an
explanation of her sudden departure."

"Yes; and this evening Prince Maximilian will sign his sister's
marriage-contract with the Elector of Saxe-Tolpelhausen. My opinion is,
that we have advanced too far to retreat. If the prince ever discovers
the truth, he will be the person most interested to conceal it. Besides,
Miss Delia is an orphan--she has neither parents nor family. I adopt
her--I acknowledge her as my sister."

"Your Highness's goodness and condescension----" lisped the pretty prima
donna.

"You agree with me, do you not, Miss Delia?" continued the Grand Duke.
"You are resolved to seize the good fortune thus offered, and to risk
the consequences?"

"Yes, your Highness."

The ladies will make allowance for Delia's faithlessness to Florival.
How few female heads would not be turned by the prospect of wearing a
crown! The heart's voice is sometimes mute in presence of such brilliant
temptations. Besides, was not Florival faithless? Who could say whither
he might be led in the course of the tender scenes he acted with the
Baroness Pippinstir? Prince Maximilian was neither young nor handsome,
but he offered a throne. Not only an actress, but many a high-born dame,
might possibly, in such circumstances, forget her love, and think only
of her ambition.

To her credit be it said, Delia did not yield without some reluctance to
the Grand Duke's arguments, which Balthasar backed with all his
eloquence; but she ended by agreeing to the interview with Prince
Maximilian.

"I accept," she resolutely exclaimed; "I shall be sovereign Princess of
Hanau."

"And I," cried the Grand Duke, "shall marry Princess Wilhelmina, and,
this very evening, poor Pippinstir, disconcerted and defeated, will go
back to Saxe-Tolpelhausen."

"He would have done that in any case," said Balthasar; "for, this
evening, Florival was to have run away with his wife."

"That is carrying things rather far," Delia remarked.

"Such a scandal is unnecessary," added the Grand Duke.

Whilst awaiting the hour of her rendezvous with the Prince, Delia,
pensive and agitated, was walking in the park, when she came suddenly
upon Florival, who seemed as much discomposed as herself. In spite of
her newly-born ideas of grandeur, she felt a pain at her heart. With a
forced smile, and in a tone of reproach and irony, she greeted her
former lover.

"A pleasant journey to you, Colonel Florival," she said.

"I may wish you the same," replied Florival; "for doubtless you will
soon set out for the principality of Hanau!"

"Before long, no doubt."

"You admit it, then?"

"Where is the harm? The wife must follow her husband--a princess must
reign in her dominions."

"Princess! What do you mean? Wife! In what ridiculous promises have they
induced you to confide?"

Florival's offensive doubts were dissipated by the formal explanation
which Delia took malicious pleasure in giving him. A touching scene
ensued; the lovers, who had both gone astray for a moment, felt their
former flame burn all the more ardently for its partial and temporary
extinction. Pardon was mutually asked and granted, and ambitious dreams
fled before a burst of affection.

"You shall see whether I love you or not," said Florival to Delia.
"Yonder comes Baron Pippinstir; I will take him into the summer-house; a
closet is there, where you can hide yourself to hear what passes, and
then you shall decide my fate."

Delia went into the summer-house, and hid herself in the closet. There
she overheard the following conversation:--

"What have you to say to me, Colonel?" asked the Baron.

"I wish to speak to your Excellency of an affair that deeply concerns
you."

"I am all attention; but I beg you to be brief; I am expected
elsewhere."

"So am I."

"I must go to the prime minister, to return him this draught of a
commercial treaty, which I cannot accept."

"And I must go to the rendezvous given me in this letter."

"The Baroness's writing!"

"Yes, Baron. Your wife has done me the honour to write to me. We set out
together to-night; the Baroness is waiting for me in a post-chaise."

"And it is to me you dare acknowledge this abominable project?"

"I am less generous than you think. You cannot but be aware that, owing
to an irregularity in your marriage-contract, nothing would be easier
than to get it annulled. This we will have done; we then obtain a
divorce, and I marry the Baroness. You will, of course, have to hand me
over her dowry--a million of florins--composing, if I do not mistake,
your entire fortune."

The Baron, more dead than alive, sank into an arm-chair. He was struck
speechless.

"We might, perhaps, make some arrangement, Baron," continued Florival.
"I am not particularly bent upon becoming your wife's second husband."

"Ah, sir!" cried the ambassador, "you restore me to life!"

"Yes, but I will not restore you the Baroness, except on certain
conditions."

"Speak! What do you demand?"

"First, that treaty of commerce, which you must sign just as Count
Lipandorf has drawn it up."

"I consent to do so."

"That is not all; you shall take my place at the rendezvous, get into
the post-chaise, and run away with your wife; but first you must sit
down at this table and write a letter, in due diplomatic form, to Prince
Maximilian, informing him that, finding it impossible to accept his
stipulations, you are compelled to decline, in your sovereign's name,
the honour of his august alliance."

"But, Colonel, remember that my instructions----"

"Very well, fulfil them exactly; be a dutiful ambassador and a miserable
husband, ruined, without wife and without dowry. You will never have
such another chance, Baron! A pretty wife and a million of florins do
not fall to a man's lot twice in his life. But I must take my leave of
you. I am keeping the Baroness waiting."

"I will go to her.... Give me paper, a pen, and be so good as to
dictate. I am so agitated----"

The Baron really was in a dreadful fluster. The letter written, and the
treaty signed, Florival told his Excellency where he would find the
post-chaise.

"One thing more you must promise me," said the young man, "and that is,
that you will behave like a gentleman to your wife, and not scold her
over-much. Remember the flaw in the contract. She may find somebody else
in whose favour to cancel the document. Suitors will not be wanting."

"What need of a promise?" replied the poor Baron. "You know very well
that my wife does what she likes with me. I shall have to explain my
conduct, and ask her pardon."

Pippinstir departed. Delia left her hiding-place, and held out her hand
to Florival.

"You have behaved well," she said.

"That is more than the Baroness will say."

"She deserves the lesson. It is your turn to go into the closet and
listen; the Prince will be here directly."

"I hear his footsteps." And Florival was quickly concealed.

"Charming Countess!" said the prince on entering. "I come to know my
fate."

"What does your Highness mean?" said Delia, pretending not to understand
him.

"How can you ask? Has not the Grand Duke spoken to you?"

"No, your Highness."

"Nor the prime minister?"

"Not a word. When I received your letter, I was on the point of asking
you for a private interview. I have a favour--a service--to implore of
your Highness."

"It is granted before it is asked. I place my whole influence and power
at your feet, charming Countess."

"A thousand thanks, illustrious prince. You have already shown me so
much kindness, that I venture to ask you to make a communication to my
brother, the Grand Duke, which I dare not make myself. I want you to
inform him that I have been for three months privately married to Count
Reinsberg."

"Good heavens!" cried Maximilian, falling into the arm-chair in which
Pippinstir had recently reclined. On recovering from the shock, the
prince rose again to his feet.

"'Tis well, madam," he said, in a faint voice. "'Tis well!"

And he left the summer-house.

After reading Baron Pippinstir's letter, Prince Maximilian fell
a-thinking. It was not the Grand Duke's fault if the Countess
of Rosenthal did not ascend the throne of Hanau. There was an
insurmountable obstacle. Then the precipitate departure of the
ambassador of Saxe-Tolpelhausen was an affront which demanded instant
vengeance. And the Grand Duke Leopold was a most estimable sovereign,
skilful, energetic, and blessed with wise councillors; the Princess
Wilhelmina liked him, and thought nothing could compare, for
pleasantness, with his lively court, where all the men were amiable,
and all the women charming. These various motives duly weighed, the
Prince made up his mind, and next day was signed the marriage-contract
of the Grand Duke of Niesenstein and the Princess Wilhelmina of Hanau.

Three days later the marriage itself was celebrated.

The play was played out.

The actors had performed their parts with wit, intelligence, and a noble
disinterestedness. They took their leave of the Grand Duke, leaving him
with a rich and pretty wife, a powerful brother-in-law, a serviceable
alliance, and a commercial treaty which could not fail to replenish his
treasury.

Embassies, special missions, banishment, were alleged to the Grand
Duchess as the causes of their departure. Then an amnesty was published
on the occasion of the marriage; the gates of the fortress of
Zwingenberg opened, and the former courtiers resumed their respective
posts.

The reviving fortunes of the Grand Duke were a sure guarantee of their
fidelity.



THE OLD GENTLEMAN'S TEETOTUM.

[_MAGA._ AUGUST 1829.]


At the foot of the long range of the Mendip hills, standeth a village,
which, for obvious reasons, we shall conceal the precise locality of, by
bestowing thereon the appellation of Stockwell. It lieth in a nook, or
indentation, of the mountain; and its population may be said, in more
than one sense of the word, to be extremely dense, being confined within
narrow limits by rocky and sterile ground, and a brawling stream, which
ever and anon assumes the aspect of an impetuous river, and then
dwindles away into a plaything for the little boys to hop over. The
principal trade of the Stockwellites is in coals, which certain of the
industrious operative natives sedulously employ themselves in extracting
from our mother earth, while others are engaged in conveying the "black
diamonds" to various adjacent towns, in carts of sundry shapes and
dimensions. The horses engaged in this traffic are of the Rosinante
species, and, too often, literally raw-boned; insomuch, that it is
sometimes a grievous sight to see them tugging, and a woful thing to
hear their masters swearing, when mounting a steep ascent with one of
the aforesaid loads.

Wherever a civilised people dwell, there must be trade; and,
consequently, Stockwell hath its various artisans, who ply, each in his
vocation, to supply the wants of others; and, moreover, it hath its inn,
or public house, a place of no small importance, having for its sign a
swinging creaking board, whereon is emblazoned the effigy of a roaring,
red, and rampant Lion. High towering above the said Lion, are the
branches of a solitary elm, the foot of which is encircled by a seat,
especially convenient for those guests whose taste it is to "blow a
cloud" in the open air; and it is of two individuals, who were much
given thereon to enjoy their "_otium cum dignitate_," that we are about
to speak.

George Syms had long enjoyed a monopoly in the shoemaking and cobbling
line (though latterly two oppositionists had started against him), and
Peter Brown was a man well to do in the world, being "the man wot" shod
the raw-boned horses before mentioned, "him and his father, and
grandfather," as the parish-clerk said, "for time immemorial." These two
worthies were regaling themselves, as was their wonted custom, each with
his pint, upon a small table, which was placed, for their accommodation,
before the said bench. It was a fine evening in the last autumn; and we
could say a great deal about the beautiful tints which the beams of the
setting sun shed upon the hills' side, and undulating distant outline,
and how the clouds appeared of a fiery red, and, anon, of a pale yellow,
had we leisure for description; but neither George Syms nor Peter Brown
heeded these matters, and our present business is with them.

They had discussed all the village news--the last half of the last pipe
had been puffed in silence, and they were reduced to the dilemma wherein
many a brace of intimate friends have found themselves--they had nothing
to talk about. Each had observed three times that it was very hot, and
each had responded three times--"Yes, it is." They were at a perfect
stand-still--they shook out the ashes from their pipes, and yawned
simultaneously. They felt that indulgence, however grateful, is apt to
cloy, even under the elm-tree, and the red rampant lion. But, as Doctor
Watts says,

     "Satan finds some mischief still,
     For idle hands to do,"

and they agreed to have "another pint," which Sally, who was ever ready
at their bidding, brought forthwith, and then they endeavoured to rally;
but the effort was vain--the thread of conversation was broken, and they
could not connect it, and so they sipped and yawned, till Peter Brown
observed, "It is getting dark."--"Ay," replied George Syms.

At this moment an elderly stranger, of a shabby-genteel appearance,
approached the Lion, and inquired the road to an adjoining village.
"You are late, sir," said George Syms.--"Yes," replied the stranger,
"I am;" and he threw himself on the bench, and took off his hat, and
wiped his forehead, and observed, that it was very sultry, and he was
quite tired.--"This is a good house," said Peter Brown; "and if you
are not obliged to go on, I wouldn't if I were you."--"It makes
little difference to me," replied the stranger; "and so, as I find
myself in good company, here goes!" and he began to call about him,
notwithstanding his shabby appearance, with the air of one who has money
in his pocket to pay his way.--"Three make good company," observed Peter
Brown.--"Ay, ay," said the stranger. "Holla there! bring me another
pint! This walk has made me confoundedly thirsty. You may as well make
it a pot--and be quick!"

Messrs Brown and Syms were greatly pleased with this additional guest
at their symposium; and the trio sat and talked of the wind, and the
weather, and the roads, and the coal trade, and drank and smoked to
their hearts' content, till again time began to hang heavy, and then the
stranger asked the two friends, if ever they played at teetotum.--"Play
at what?" asked Peter Brown.--"Play at what?" inquired George Syms.--"At
tee-to-tum," replied the stranger, gravely taking a pair of spectacles
from one pocket of his waistcoat, and the machine in question from the
other. "It is an excellent game, I assure you. Rare sport, my masters!"
and he forthwith began to spin his teetotum upon the table, to the no
small diversion of George Syms and Peter Brown, who opined that the
potent ale of the ramping Red Lion had done its office. "Only see how
the little fellow runs about!" cried the stranger, in apparent ecstasy.
"Holla, there! Bring a lantern! There he goes, round and round--and now
he's asleep--and now he begins to reel--wiggle waggle--down he tumbles!
What colour, for a shilling?"--"I don't understand the game," said Peter
Brown.--"Nor I, neither," quoth George Syms; "but it seems easy enough
to learn."--"Oh, ho!" said the stranger; "you think so, do you? But,
let me tell you, that there's a great deal more in it than you imagine.
There he is, you see, with as many sides as a modern politician, and as
many colours as an Algerine. Come, let us have a game! This is the way!"
and he again set the teetotum in motion, and capered about in exceeding
glee.--"He, he, he!" uttered George Syms; and "Ha, ha, ha!" exclaimed
Peter Brown; and, being wonderfully tickled with the oddity of the
thing, they were easily persuaded by the stranger just to take a game
together for five minutes, while he stood by as umpire, with a
stop-watch in his hand.

Nothing can be much easier than spinning a teetotum, yet our two
Stockwellites could scarcely manage the thing for laughing; but the
stranger stood by, with spectacles on nose, looking alternately at his
watch and the table, with as much serious interest as though he had been
witnessing, and was bound to furnish, a report of a prize-fight, or a
debate in the House of Commons.

When precisely five minutes had elapsed, although it was Peter Brown's
spin, and the teetotum was yet going its rounds, and George Syms had
called out yellow, the old gentleman demurely took it from the table and
put it in his pocket; and then, returning his watch to his fob, walked
away into the Red Lion, without saying so much as good-night. The two
friends looked at each other in surprise, and then indulged in a very
loud and hearty fit of laughter; and then paid their reckoning, and went
away, exceedingly merry, which they would not have been, had they
understood properly what they had been doing.

In the meanwhile the stranger had entered the house, and began to be
"very funny" with Mrs Philpot, the landlady of the Red Lion, and Sally,
the purveyor of beer to the guests thereof; and he found it not very
difficult to persuade them likewise to take a game at teetotum for five
minutes, which he terminated in the same unceremonious way as that under
the tree, and then desired to be shown the room wherein he was to sleep.
Mrs Philpot immediately, contrary to her usual custom, jumped up with
great alacrity, lighted a candle, and conducted her guest to his
apartment; while Sally, contrary to _her_ usual custom, reclined herself
in her mistress's great arm-chair, yawned three or four times, and then
exclaimed, "Heigho! it's getting very late! I wish my husband would come
home!"

Now, although we have a very mean opinion of those who cannot keep a
secret of importance, we are not fond of useless mysteries, and
therefore think proper to tell the reader that the teetotum in question
had the peculiar property of causing those who played therewith to lose
all remembrance of their former character, and to adopt that of their
antagonists in the game. During the process of spinning, the personal
identity of the two players was completely changed. Now, on the evening
of this memorable day, Jacob Philpot, the landlord of the rampant Red
Lion, had spent a few convivial hours with mine host of the Blue Boar,
a house on the road-side, about two miles from Stockwell; and the two
publicans had discussed the ale, grog, and tobacco in the manner
customary with Britons, whose insignia are roaring rampant red lions,
green dragons, blue boars, &c. Therefore, when Jacob came home, he began
to call about him, with the air of one who purposeth that his arrival
shall be no secret; and very agreeably surprised was he when Mrs Philpot
ran out from the house, and assisted him to dismount, for Jacob was
somewhat rotund; and yet more did he marvel when, instead of haranguing
him in a loud voice (as she had whilom done on similar occasions,
greatly to his discomfiture), she good-humouredly said that she would
lead his nag to the stable, and then go and call Philip the ostler.
"Humph!" said the host of the Lion, leaning with his back against
the door-post, "after a calm comes a storm. She'll make up for this
presently, I'll warrant." But Mrs Philpot put up the horse, and called
Philip, and then returned in peace and quietness, and attempted to pass
into the house, without uttering a word to her lord and master.

"What's the matter with you, my dear?" asked Jacob Philpot; "a'n't you
well?"--"Yes, sir," replied Mrs Philpot, "very well, I thank you. But
pray take away your leg, and let me go into the house."--"But didn't you
think I was very late?" asked Jacob.--"Oh! I don't know," replied Mrs
Philpot; "when gentlemen get together, they don't think how time goes."
Poor Jacob was quite delighted, and, as it was dusk, and by no means, as
he conceived, a scandalous proceeding, he forthwith put one arm round
Mrs Philpot's neck, and stole a kiss, whereat she said, "Oh dear me! how
could you think of doing such a thing?" and immediately squeezed herself
past him, and ran into the house, where Sally sat, in the arm-chair
before mentioned, with a handkerchief over her head, pretending to be
asleep.

"Come, my dear," said Jacob to his wife, "I'm glad to see you in such
good-humour. You shall make me a glass of rum and water, and take some
of it yourself."--"I must go into the back kitchen for some water,
then," replied his wife, and away she ran, and Jacob followed her,
marvelling still more at her unusual alacrity. "My dear," quoth he, "I
am sorry to give you so much trouble," and again he put his arm round
her neck. "La, sir!" she cried, "if you don't let me go, I'll call out,
I declare."--"He, he--ha, ha!" said Jacob; "call out! that's a good one,
however! a man's wife calling out because her husband's a-going to kiss
her!"--"What do you mean?" asked Mrs Philpot; "I'm sure it's a shame to
use a poor girl so!"--"A poor girl!" exclaimed the landlord, "ahem! was
once, mayhap."--"I don't value your insinivations _that_," said Mrs
Philpot, snapping her fingers; "I wonder what you take me for!"--"So
ho!" thought her spouse, "she's come to herself now; I thought it was
all a sham; but I'll coax her a bit;" so he fell in with her apparent
whim, and called her a good girl; but still she resisted his advances,
and asked him what he took her for. "Take you for!" cried Jacob, "why,
for my own dear Sally to be sure, so don't make any more fuss."--"I have
a great mind to run out of the house," said she, "and never enter it
any more."

This threat gave no sort of alarm to Jacob, but it somewhat tickled his
fancy, and he indulged himself in a very hearty laugh, at the end of
which he good-humouredly told her to go to bed, and he would follow her
presently, as soon as he had looked after his horse, and pulled off his
boots. This proposition was no sooner made, than the good man's ears
were suddenly grasped from behind, and his head was shaken and twisted
about, as though it had been the purpose of the assailant to wrench it
from his shoulders. Mrs Philpot instantly made her escape from the
kitchen, leaving her spouse in the hands of the enraged Sally, who,
under the influence of the teetotum delusion, was firmly persuaded that
she was justly inflicting wholesome discipline upon her husband, whom
she had, as she conceived, caught in the act of making love to the maid.
Sally was active and strong, and Jacob Philpot was, as before hinted,
somewhat obese, and, withal, not in excellent "wind;" consequently it
was some time ere he could disengage himself; and then he stood panting
and blowing, and utterly lost in astonishment, while Sally saluted him
with divers appellations, which it would not be seemly here to set down.

When Jacob did find his tongue, however, he answered her much in the
same style; and added, that he had a great mind to lay a stick about
her back. "What! strike a woman! Eh--would you, you coward?" and
immediately she darted forward, and, as she termed it, put her mark upon
him with her nails, whereby his rubicund countenance was greatly
disfigured, and his patience entirely exhausted: but Sally was too
nimble, and made her escape up-stairs. So the landlord of the Red Lion,
having got rid of the two mad or drunken women, very philosophically
resolved to sit down for half an hour by himself, to think over the
business, while he took his "night-cap." He had scarcely brewed the
ingredients, when he was roused by a rap at the window; and, in answer
to his inquiry of "who's there?" he recognised the voice of his
neighbour, George Syms, and, of course, immediately admitted him; for
George was a good customer, and, consequently, welcome at all hours. "My
good friend," said Syms, "I daresay you are surprised to see me here at
this time of night; but I can't get into my own house. My wife is drunk,
I believe."--"And so is mine," quoth the landlord; "so, sit you down and
make yourself comfortable. Hang me if I think I'll go to bed to-night!"
"No more will I," said Syms; "I've got a job to do early in the morning,
and then I shall be ready for it." So the two friends sat down, and had
scarcely begun to enjoy themselves, when another rap was heard at the
window, and mine host recognised the voice of Peter Brown, who came
with the same complaint against his wife, and was easily persuaded to
join the party, each declaring that the women must have contrived to
meet, during their absence from home, and all get fuddled together.
Matters went on pleasantly enough for some time, while they continued to
rail against the women; but, when that subject was exhausted, George
Syms, the shoemaker, began to talk about shoeing horses; and Peter
Brown, the blacksmith, averred that he could make a pair of jockey boots
with any man for fifty miles round. The host of the rampant Red Lion
considered these things at first as a sort of joke, which he had no
doubt, from such good customers, was exceedingly good, though he could
not exactly comprehend it; but when Peter Brown answered to the name of
George Syms, and George Syms responded to that of Peter Brown, he was
somewhat more bewildered, and could not help thinking that his guests
had drunk quite enough. He, however, satisfied himself with the
reflection that that was no business of his, and that "a man must live
by his trade." With the exception of these apparent occasional cross
purposes, conversation went on as well as could be expected under
existing circumstances; and the three unfortunate husbands sat and
talked, and drank, and smoked, till tired nature cried, "Hold, enough!"

In the meanwhile, Mrs George Syms, who had been much scandalised at the
appearance of Peter Brown beneath her bedroom window, whereinto he
vehemently solicited admittance, altogether in the most public and
unblushing manner; she, poor soul! lay for an hour much disturbed in her
mind, and pondering on the extreme impropriety of Mr Brown's conduct,
and its probable consequences. She then began to wonder where her own
goodman could be staying so late; and after much tossing and tumbling to
and fro, being withal a woman of a warm imagination, she discerned in
her mind's eye divers scenes which might probably be then acting, and in
which George Syms appeared to be taking a part that did not at all meet
her approbation. Accordingly she arose, and throwing her garments about
her with a degree of elegant negligence for which the ladies of
Stockwell have long been celebrated, she incontinently went to the house
of Peter Brown, at whose bedroom window she perceived a head. With the
intuitive knowledge of costume possessed by ladies in general, she
instantly, through the murky night, discovered that the cap on the said
head was of the female gender; and therefore boldly went up thereunto
and said, "Mrs Brown, have you seen anything of my husband?"--"What!"
exclaimed Mrs Brown, "haven't _you_ seen him? Well, I'd have you see
after him pretty quickly, for he was here, just where you stand now,
more than two hours ago, talking all manner of nonsense to me, and
calling me his dear Betsy, so that I was quite ashamed of him! But,
howsomever, you needn't be uneasy about me, for you know I wouldn't do
anything improper on no account. But have you seen anything of my
Peter?"--"I _believe_ I have," replied Mrs Syms, and immediately related
the scandalous conduct of the smith beneath her window; and then the two
ladies agreed to sally forth in search of their two "worthless,
good-for-nothing, drunken husbands."

Now it is a custom with those who get their living by carrying coal,
when they are about to convey it to any considerable distance, to
commence their journey at such an hour as to reach the first turnpike a
little after midnight, that they may be enabled to go out and return
home within the twenty-four hours, and thus save the expense of the
toll, which they would otherwise have to pay twice. This is the secret
of those apparently lazy fellows whom the Bath ladies and dandies
sometimes view with horror and surprise, sleeping in the day-time, in,
on, or under carts, benches, or waggons. It hath been our lot, when in
the city of waters, to hear certain of these theoretical "political
economists" remark somewhat harshly on this mode of taking a siesta. We
should recommend them henceforth to attend to the advice of Peter
Pindar, and--

     "Mind what they read in godly books,
     And not take people by their looks;"

for they would not be pleased to be judged in that manner themselves;
and the poor fellows in question have generally been travelling all
night, not in a mail-coach, but walking over rough roads, and assisting
their weary and overworked cavalry up and down a succession of steep
hills.

In consequence of this practice, the two forsaken matrons encountered
Moses Brown, a first cousin of Peter's, who had just despatched his
waggoner on a commercial enterprise of the description just alluded to.
Moses had heard voices as he passed the Lion; and being somewhat of a
curious turn, had discovered, partly by listening, and partly by the aid
of certain cracks, holes, and ill-fitting joints in the shutters, who
the gentlemen were whose goodwill and pleasure it was "to vex the dull
ear of night" with their untimely mirth. Moses, moreover, was a meek
man, and professed to be extremely sorry for the two good women who had
two such roaring, rattling blades for their husbands: for, by this time,
the bacchanalians, having exhausted their conversational powers, had
commenced a series of songs. So, under his guidance, the ladies
reconnoitred the drunken trio through the cracks, holes, and ill-fitting
joints aforesaid.

Poor George Syms was by this time regularly "done up," and dozing in his
chair; but Peter Brown, the smith, was still in his glory, and singing
in no small voice a certain song, which was by no means fitting to be
chanted in the ear of his spouse. As for Jacob Philpot, the landlord, he
sat erect in his chair with the dogged resolution of a man who feels
that he is at his post, and is determined to be "no starter." At this
moment Sally made her appearance in the room, in the same sort of
dishabille as that worn by the ladies at the window, and commenced a
very unceremonious harangue to George Syms and Peter Brown, telling them
that they ought to be ashamed of themselves not to have been at home
hours ago; "as for this fellow," said she, giving poor Philpot a
tremendous box on the ear, "I'll make him remember it, I'll warrant."
Jacob hereupon arose in great wrath; but ere he could ascertain
precisely the exact centre of gravity, Sally settled his position by
another cuff, which made his eyes twinkle, and sent him reeling back
into his seat. Seeing these things, the ladies without began, as
fox-hunters say, to "give tongue," and vociferously demanded admittance;
whereupon Mrs Philpot put her head out from a window above, and told
them that she would be down and let them in in a minute, and that it was
a great pity gentlemen should ever get too much beer: and then she
popped in her head, and in less than the stipulated time, ran down
stairs and opened the street door; and so the wives were admitted to
their delinquent husbands; but meek Moses Brown went his way, having a
wife at home, and having no desire to abide the storm which he saw was
coming.

Peter Brown was, as we said before, in high feather; and therefore, when
he saw Mrs Syms, whom he (acting under the teetotum delusion) mistook
for the wife of his own particular bosom, he gaily accosted her, "Ah,
old girl!--Is it you? What! you've come to your senses, eh? slept it
off, I suppose. Well, well; never mind! Forgive and forget, I say. I
never saw you so before, I will say _that_ for you, however. So give us
a buss, old girl! and let us go home;" and without ceremony he began to
suit the action to the word, whereupon the real Mrs Brown flew to Mrs
Syms' assistance, and by hanging round Peter's neck, enabled her friend
to escape. Mrs Syms, immediately she was released, began to shake up her
drowsy George, who, immediately he opened his eyes, scarcely knowing
where he was, marvelled much to find himself thus handled by, as he
supposed, his neighbour's wife; but with the maudlin cunning of a
drunken man, he thought it was an excellent joke, and therefore threw
his arms round her, and began to hug her with a wondrous and unusual
degree of fondness, whereby the poor woman was much affected, and called
him her dear George, and said she knew it was not his fault, but "all
along of that brute," pointing to Peter Brown, that he had drunk himself
into such a state. "Come along, my dear," she concluded, "let us go and
leave him--I don't care if I never see him any more."

The exasperation of Peter Brown, at seeing and hearing, as he imagined,
his own wife act and speak in this shameful manner before his face, may
be "more easily imagined than described;" but his genuine wife, who
belonged, as he conceived, to the drunken man, hung so close about his
neck that he found it impossible to escape. George Syms, however, was
utterly unable to rise, and sat, with an idiot-like simper upon his
face, as if giving himself up to a pleasing delusion, while his wife was
patting, and coaxing, and wheedling him in every way, to induce him to
get upon his legs and try to go home. At length, as he vacantly stared
about, he caught a glimpse of Mrs Brown, whom, to save repetition, we
may as well call his teetotum wife, hanging about his neighbour's neck.
This sight effectually roused him, and before Mrs Syms was aware of his
intention, he started up and ran furiously at Peter Brown, who received
him much in the manner that might be expected, with a salutation in
"the bread-basket," which sent him reeling on the floor. As a matter of
course, Mrs Syms took the part of her fallen husband, and put her mark
upon Mr Peter Brown; and, as a matter of course, Mrs Peter Brown took
the part of her spouse, and commenced an attack on Mrs Syms.

In the meanwhile Sally had not been idle. After chastening Jacob Philpot
to her heart's content, she, with the assistance of Mrs Philpot and
Philip the hostler, who was much astonished to hear her "order the
mistress about," conveyed him up-stairs, where he was deposited, as he
was, upon a spare bed, to "take his chance," as she said, "and sleep
off his drunken fit." Sally then returned to the scene of strife, and
desired the "company" to go about their business, for she should not
allow anything more to be "called for" that night. Having said this with
an air of authority, she left the room; and though Mrs Syms and Mrs
Brown were greatly surprised thereat, they said nothing, inasmuch as
they were somewhat ashamed of their own appearance, and had matters of
more importance than Sally's eccentricity to think of, as Mrs Syms had
been cruelly wounded in her new shawl, which she had imprudently thrown
over her shoulders; and the left side of the lace on Mrs Brown's cap had
been torn away in the recent conflict. Mrs Philpot, enacting her part
as the teetotum Sally of the night, besought the ladies to go home,
and leave the gentlemen to sleep where they were--_i.e._ upon the
floor--till the morning: for Peter Brown, notwithstanding the noise
he had made, was as incapable of standing as the quieter George Syms.
So the women dragged them into separate corners of the room, placed
pillows under their heads, and threw a blanket over each, and then left
them to repose. The two disconsolate wives each forthwith departed to
her own lonely pillow, leaving Mrs Philpot particularly puzzled at the
deference with which they had treated her, by calling her "Madam," as
if she was mistress of the house.

Leaving them all to their slumbers, we must now say a word or two
about the teetotum, the properties of which were to change people's
characters, spinning the mind of one man or woman into the body of
another. The duration of the delusion, caused by this droll game of
the old gentleman's, depended upon the length of time spent in the
diversion; and five minutes was the specific period for causing it
to last till the next sunrise or sunset _after_ the change had been
effected. Therefore, when the morning came, Mrs Philpot and Sally, and
Peter Brown and George Syms, all came to their senses. The two latter
went quietly home, with aching heads and very confused recollections of
the preceding evening; and shortly after their departure Mrs Philpot
awoke in great astonishment at finding herself in the garret; and Sally
was equally surprised, and much alarmed, at finding herself in her
mistress's room, from which she hastened in quick time, leaving all
things in due order.

The elderly stranger made his appearance soon after, and appeared to
have brushed up his shabby-genteel clothes, for he really looked much
more respectable than on the preceding evening. He ordered his
breakfast, and sat down thereto very quietly, and asked for the
newspaper, and pulled out his spectacles, and began to con the politics
of the day much at his ease, no one having the least suspicion that he
and his teetotum had been the cause of all the uproar at the Red Lion.
In due time the landlord made his appearance, with sundry marks of
violence upon his jolly countenance, and, after due obeisance made to
his respectable-looking guest, took the liberty of telling his spouse
that he should insist upon her sending Sally away, for that he had never
been so mauled since he was born; but Mrs Philpot told him that he ought
to be ashamed of himself, and she was very glad the girl had spirit
enough to protect herself, and that she wouldn't part with her on any
account. She then referred to what had passed in the back kitchen,
taking to herself the credit of having inflicted that punishment which
had been administered by the hands of Sally.

Jacob Philpot was now more than ever convinced that his wife had been
paying her respects to a huge stone bottle of rum which stood in the
closet; and he "made bold" to tell her his thoughts, whereat Mrs Philpot
thought fit to put herself into a tremendous passion, although she could
not help fearing that, perhaps, she might have taken a drop too much of
something, for she was unable, in any other manner, to account for
having slept in the garret.

The elderly stranger now took upon himself to recommend mutual
forgiveness, and stated that it was really quite pardonable for any one
to take a little too much of such very excellent ale as that at the Red
Lion. "For my own part," said he, "I don't know whether I didn't get a
trifle beyond the mark myself last night. But I hope, madam, I did not
annoy you."

"Oh dear, no, not at all, sir," replied Mrs Philpot, whose good-humour
was restored at this compliment paid to the good cheer of the Lion; "you
were exceedingly pleasant, I assure you--just enough to make you funny:
we had a hearty laugh about the teetotum, you know."--"Ah!" said the
stranger, "I guess how it was then. I always introduce the teetotum when
I want to be merry."

Jacob Philpot expressed a wish to understand the game, and after
spinning it two or three times, proposed to take his chance, for five
minutes, with the stranger; but the latter, laughing heartily, would by
no means agree with the proposition, and declared that it would be
downright cheating, as he was an overmatch for any beginner. "However,"
he continued, "as soon as any of your neighbours come in, I'll put you
in the way of it, and we'll have some of your ale now, just to pass the
time. It will do neither of us any harm after last night's affair, and I
want to have some talk with you about the coal trade."

They accordingly sat down together, and the stranger displayed
considerable knowledge in the science of mining; and Jacob was so much
delighted with his companion, that an hour or two slipped away, as he
said, "in no time;" and then there was heard the sound of a horse's feet
at the door, and a somewhat authoritative hillo!

"It is our parson," said Jacob, starting up, and he ran to the door to
inquire what might be his reverence's pleasure. "Good morning," said the
Reverend Mr Stanhope. "I'm going over to dine with our club at the Old
Boar, and I want you just to cast your eye on those fellows in my home
close; you can see them out of your parlour window."--"Yes, to be sure,
sir," replied Jacob.--"Hem!" quoth Mr Stanhope, "have you anybody
indoors?"--"Yes, sir, we have," replied Jacob, "a strange gentleman, who
seems to know a pretty deal about mining and them sort of things. I
think he's some great person in disguise; he seems regularly
edicated--up to everything," "Eh, ah! a great person in disguise!"
exclaimed Mr Stanhope. "I'll just step in a minute. It seems as if there
was a shower coming over, and I'm in no hurry, and it is not worth while
to get wet through for the sake of a few minutes." So he alighted from
his horse, soliloquising to himself, "Perhaps the Lord Chancellor! Who
knows? However, I shall take care to show my principles;" and
straightway he went into the house, and was most respectfully saluted by
the elderly stranger; and they entered into a conversation upon the
standing English topics of weather, wind, crops, and the coal trade;
and Mr Stanhope contrived to introduce therein sundry unkind things
against the Pope and all his followers; and avowed himself a stanch
"church-and-king" man, and spake enthusiastically of our "glorious
constitution," and lauded divers individuals then in power, but more
particularly those who studied the true interests of the Church, by
seeking out and preferring men of merit and talent to fill vacant
benefices. The stranger thereat smiled significantly, as though he
could, if he felt disposed, say something to the purpose; and Mr
Stanhope felt more inclined than ever to think the landlord might have
conjectured very near the truth, and, consequently, redoubled his
efforts to make the agreeable, professing his regret at being obliged
to dine out that day, &c. The stranger politely thanked him for his
consideration, and stated that he was never at a loss for employment,
and that he was then rambling, for a few days, to relax his mind from
the fatigues of an overwhelming mass of important business, to which his
duty compelled him to attend early and late. "Perhaps," he continued,
"you will smile when I tell you that I am now engaged in a series of
experiments relative to the power of the centrifugal force, and its
capacity of overcoming various degrees of friction." (Here he produced
the teetotum.) "You perceive the different surfaces of the under edge of
this little thing. The outside, you see, is all of ivory, but indented
in various ways; and yet I have not been able to decide whether the
roughest or smoothest more frequently arrest its motions. The colours,
of course, are merely indications. Here is my register," and he produced
a book, wherein divers abstruse mathematical calculations were apparent.
"I always prefer other people to spin it, as then I obtain a variety of
impelling power. Perhaps you will do me the favour just to twirl it
round a few times alternately with the landlord? Two make a fairer
experiment than one. Just for five minutes. I'll not trouble you a
moment longer, I promise you."--"Hem!" thought Mr Stanhope.

     "Learned men, now and then,
     Have very strange vagaries!"

However, he commenced spinning the teetotum, turn and turn with Jacob
Philpot, who was highly delighted both with the drollery of the thing,
and the honour of playing with the parson of the parish, and laughed
most immoderately, while the stranger stood by, looking at his
stop-watch as demurely as on the preceding evening, until the five
minutes had expired; and then, in the middle of the Rev. Mr Stanhope's
spin, he took up the little toy and put it into his pocket.

Jacob Philpot immediately arose, and shook the stranger warmly by the
hand, and told him that he should be happy to see him whenever he came
that way again; and then nodding to Mr Stanhope and the landlady, went
out at the front door, mounted the horse that stood there, and rode
away. "Where's the fellow going?" cried Mrs Philpot; "Hillo! Jacob, I
say!"--"Well, mother," said the Reverend Mr Stanhope, "what's the matter
now?" but Mrs Philpot had reached the front of the house, and continued
to shout "Hillo! hillo, come back, I tell you!"--"That woman is always
doing some strange thing or other," observed Mr Stanhope to the
stranger. "What on earth can possess her to go calling after the parson
in that manner?"--"I declare he's rode off with Squire Jones's horse,"
cried Mrs Philpot, re-entering the house. "To be sure he has," said Mr
Stanhope; "he borrowed it on purpose to go to the Old Boar."--"Did he?"
exclaimed the landlady; "and without telling me a word about it! But
I'll Old Boar him, I promise you!"--"Don't make such a fool of yourself,
mother," said the parson; "it can't signify twopence to you where he
goes."--"Can't it?" rejoined Mrs Philpot. "I'll tell you what, your
worship----"--"Don't worship me, woman," exclaimed the teetotum landlord
parson; "worship! what nonsense now! Why, you've been taking your drops
again this morning, I think. Worship, indeed! To be sure, I did once,
like a fool, promise to worship _you_; but if my time was to come over
again, I know what----But, never mind now--don't you see it's twelve
o'clock? Come, quick, let us have what there is to eat, and then we'll
have a comfortable pipe under the tree. What say you, sir?"--"With all
my heart," replied the elderly stranger. Mrs Philpot could make nothing
of the parson's speech about worshipping her; but the order for
something to eat was very distinct; and though she felt much surprised
thereat, as well as at the proposed smoking under the tree, she,
nevertheless, was much gratified that so unusual an order should be
given on that particular day, as she had a somewhat better dinner than
usual, namely, a leg of mutton upon the spit. Therefore she bustled
about with exceeding goodwill, and Sally spread a clean cloth upon the
table in the little parlour for the parson and the strange old
gentleman; and when the mutton was placed upon the table, the latter
hoped they should have the pleasure of Mrs Philpot's company; but she
looked somewhat doubtfully till the parson said, "Come, come, mother,
don't make a bother about it; sit down, can't you, when the gentleman
bids you." Therefore she smoothed her apron and made one at the
dinner-table, and conducted herself with so much precision that the
teetotum parson looked upon her with considerable surprise, while she
regarded him with no less, inasmuch as he talked in a very unclerical
manner; and, among other strange things, swore that his wife was as
"drunk as blazes" the night before, and winked at her, and behaved
altogether in a style very unbecoming a minister in his own parish.

At one o'clock there was a great sensation caused in the village of
Stockwell, by the appearance of their reverend pastor and the elderly
stranger, sitting on the bench which went round the tree, which stood
before the sign of the roaring rampant Red Lion, each with a long pipe
in his mouth, blowing clouds, which would not have disgraced the most
inveterate smoker of the "black diamond" fraternity, and ever and anon
moistening their clay with "heavy wet," from tankards placed upon a
small table, which Mrs Philpot had provided for their accommodation. The
little boys and girls first approached within a respectful distance, and
then ran away giggling to tell their companions; and they told their
mothers, who came and peeped likewise; and many were diverted, and many
were scandalised at the sight: yet the parson seemed to care for none
of these things, but cracked his joke, and sipped his ale, and smoked
his pipe, with as much easy nonchalance as if he had been in his own
arm-chair at the rectory. Yet it must be confessed that now and then
there was a sort of equivocal remark made by him, as though he had some
faint recollection of his former profession, although he evinced not the
smallest sense of shame at the change which had been wrought in him.
Indeed this trifling imperfection in the change of identity appears to
have attended such transformations in general, and might have arisen
from the individual bodies retaining their own clothes (for the mere
fashion of dress hath a great influence on some minds), or, perhaps,
because a profession or trade, with the habits thereof, cannot be
entirely shaken off, nor a new one perfectly learned, by spinning a
teetotum for five minutes. The time had now arrived when George Syms,
the shoemaker, and Peter Brown, the blacksmith, were accustomed to take
their "pint and pipe after dinner," and greatly were they surprised to
see their places so occupied; and not a little was their astonishment
increased, when the parson lifted up his voice, and ordered Sally to
bring out a couple of chairs, and then shook them both warmly by the
hand, and welcomed them by the affectionate appellation of "My
hearties!" He then winked, and in an under-tone began to sing--

     "Though I'm tied to a crusty old woman,
       Much given to scolding and jealousy,
     I know that the case is too common,
       And so I will ogle each girl I see.
                               Tol de rol, lol, &c.

"Come, my lads!" he resumed, "sit you down, and clap half a yard of
clay into your mouths." The two worthy artisans looked at each other
significantly, or rather insignificantly, for they knew not what to
think, and did as they were bid. "Come, why don't you talk?" said the
teetotum parson landlord, after a short silence. "You're as dull as a
couple of tom-cats with their ears cut off--talk, man, talk--there's no
doing nothing without talking." This last part of his speech seemed more
particularly addressed to Peter Brown, who, albeit a man of a sound
head, and well skilled in such matters as appertained unto iron and the
coal trade, had not been much in the habit of mixing with the clergy:
therefore he felt, for a moment, as he said, "non-plushed;" but
fortunately he recollected the Catholic question, about which most
people were then talking, and which everybody professed to understand.
Therefore, he forthwith introduced the subject; and being well aware of
the parson's bias, and having, moreover, been told that he had written
a pamphlet; therefore (though, to do Peter Brown justice, he was not
accustomed to read such publications) he scrupled not to give his
opinion very freely, and concluded by taking up his pint and drinking a
very unchristianlike malediction against the Pope. George Syms followed
on the same side, and concluded in the same manner, adding thereunto,
"Your good healths, gemmen."--"What a pack of nonsense!" exclaimed the
parson. "I should like to know what harm the Pope can do us! I tell you
what, my lads, it's all my eye and Betty Martin. Live and let live, I
say. So long as I can get a good living, I don't care the toss of a
halfpenny who's uppermost. For my part, I'd as soon live at the sign of
the Mitre as the Lion, or mount the cardinal's hat for that matter, if I
thought I could get anything by it. Look at home, say I. The Pope's an
old woman, and so are they that are afraid of him." The elderly stranger
here seemed highly delighted, and cried "Bravo!" and clapped the speaker
on the back, and said, "That's your sort! Go it, my hearty!" But Peter
Brown, who was one of the sturdy English old-fashioned school, and did
not approve of hot and cold being blown out of the same mouth, took the
liberty of telling the parson, in a very unceremonious way, that he
seemed to have changed his opinions very suddenly. "Not I," said the
other; "I was always of the same way of thinking."--"Then words have no
meaning," observed George Syms, angrily, "for I heard you myself. You
talked as loud about the wickedness of 'mancipation as ever I heard a
man in my life, no longer ago than last Sunday."--"Then I must have been
drunk--that's all I can say about the business," replied the other,
coolly; and he began to fill his pipe with the utmost nonchalance, as
though it was a matter of course. Such apparently scandalous conduct
was, however, too much for the unsophisticated George Syms and Peter
Brown, who simultaneously threw down their reckoning, and, much to their
credit, left the turncoat reprobate parson to the company of the elderly
gentleman.

If we were to relate half the whimsical consequences of the teetotum
tricks of this strange personage, we might fill volumes; but as it is
not our intention to allow the detail to swell even into one, we must
hastily sketch the proceedings of poor Jacob Philpot after he left the
Red Lion to dine with sundry of the gentry and clergy at the Old Boar,
in his new capacity of an ecclesiastic, in the outward form of a
somewhat negligently-dressed landlord. He was accosted on the road by
divers of his coal-carrying neighbours with a degree of familiarity
which was exceedingly mortifying to his feelings. One told him to be
home in time to take part of a gallon of ale that he had won of
neighbour Smith; a second reminded him that to-morrow was club-night at
the Nag's Head; and a third asked him where he had stolen his horse. At
length he arrived, much out of humour, at the Old Boar, an inn of a very
different description from the Red Lion, being a posting-house of no
inconsiderable magnitude, wherein that day was to be holden the
symposium of certain grandees of the adjacent country, as before hinted.

The landlord, who happened to be standing at the door, was somewhat
surprised at the formal manner with which Jacob Philpot greeted him and
gave his horse into the charge of the hostler; but as he knew him only
by sight, and had many things to attend to, he went his way without
making any remark, and thus, unwittingly, increased the irritation of
Jacob's new teetotum sensitive feelings. "Are any of the gentlemen come
yet?" asked Jacob, haughtily, of one of the waiters. "What gentlemen?"
quoth the waiter. "_Any_ of them," said Jacob--"Mr Wiggins, Doctor
White, or Captain Pole?" At this moment a carriage drove up to the door,
and the bells all began ringing, and the waiters ran to see who had
arrived, and Jacob Philpot was left unheeded. "This is very strange
conduct!" observed he; "I never met with such incivility in my life! One
would think I was a dog!" Scarcely had this soliloquy terminated, when a
lady, who had alighted from the carriage (leaving the gentleman who came
with her to give some orders about the luggage), entered the inn, and
was greatly surprised to find her delicate hand seized by the horny
grasp of the landlord of the Red Lion, who addressed her as "Dear Mrs
Wilkins," and vowed he was quite delighted at the unexpected pleasure
of seeing her, and hoped the worthy rector was well, and all the dear
little darlings. Mrs Wilkins disengaged her hand as quickly as
possible, and made her escape into a room, the door of which was held
open for her admittance by the waiter; and then the worthy rector made
his appearance, followed by one of the "little darlings," whom Jacob
Philpot, in the joy of his heart at finding himself once more among
friends, snatched up in his arms, and thereby produced a bellowing which
instantly brought the alarmed mother from her retreat. "What is that
frightful man doing with the child?" she cried, and Jacob, who could
scarcely believe his ears, was immediately deprived of his burden, while
his particular friend, the worthy rector, looked upon him with a cold
and vacant stare, and then retired into his room with his wife and the
little darling, and Jacob was once more left to his own cogitations.
"I see it!" he exclaimed, after a short pause, "I see it! This is the
reward of rectitude of principle! This is the reward of undeviating and
inflexible firmness of purpose! He has read my unanswerable pamphlet! I
always thought there was a laxity of principle about him!" So Jacob
forthwith walked into the open air to cool himself, and strolled round
the garden of the inn, and meditated upon divers important subjects; and
thus he passed his time till the hour of dinner, though he could not but
keep occasionally wondering that some of his friends did not come down
to meet him, since they must have seen him walking in the garden. His
patience, however, was at length exhausted, and his appetite was
exceedingly clamorous, partly, perhaps, because his _outward_ man had
been used to dine at the plebeian hour of noon, while his inward man
made a point of never taking anything more than a biscuit and a glass of
wine between breakfast and five o'clock; and even that little modicum
had been omitted on this fatal day, in consequence of the incivility of
the people of the inn. "The dinner hour was five _precisely_," said he,
looking at his watch, "and now it is half-past--but I'll wait a _little_
longer. It's a bad plan to hurry them. It puts the cook out of humour,
and then all goes wrong." Therefore he waited a little longer; that is
to say, till the calls of absolute hunger became quite ungovernable, and
then he went into the house, where the odour of delicate viands was
quite provoking; so he followed the guidance of his nose and arrived
in the large dining-room, where he found, to his great surprise and
mortification, that the company were assembled, and the work of
destruction had been going on for some time, as the second course had
just been placed on the table. Jacob felt that the neglect with which he
had been treated was "enough to make a parson swear;" and perhaps he
would have sworn, but that he had no time to spare; and therefore, as
all the seats at the upper end of the table were engaged, he deposited
himself on a vacant chair about the centre, between two gentlemen with
whom he had no acquaintance, and, spreading his napkin in his lap,
demanded of a waiter what fish had gone out. The man replied only by a
stare and a smile--a line of conduct which was by no means surprising,
seeing that the most stylish part of Philpot's dress was, without
dispute, the napkin aforesaid. For the rest, it was unlike the garb of
the strange gentleman, inasmuch as that, though possibly entitled to the
epithet shabby, it could not be termed genteel. "What's the fellow
gaping at?" cried Jacob, in an angry voice; "go and tell your master
that I want to speak to him directly. I don't understand such treatment.
Tell him to come immediately! Do you hear?"

The loud tone in which this was spoken aroused the attention of the
company; and most of them cast a look of inquiry, first at the speaker
and then round the table, as if to discern by whom the strange gentleman
in the scarlet-and-yellow plush waistcoat and the dirty shirt might be
patronised; but there were others who recognised the landlord of the Red
Lion at Stockwell. The whole, however, were somewhat startled when he
addressed them as follows:--"Really, gentlemen, I must say that a joke
may be carried too far; and if it was not for my cloth" (here he handled
the napkin), "I declare I don't know how I might act. I have been
walking in the garden for these two hours, and you _must_ have seen me.
And now you stare at me as if you didn't know me! Really, gentlemen, it
is too bad! I love a joke as well as any man, and can take one too; but,
as I said before, a joke _may_ be carried too far."--"I think so too,"
said the landlord of the Old Boar, tapping him on the shoulder; "so come
along, and don't make a fool of yourself here."--"Fellow!" cried Jacob,
rising in great wrath, "go your ways! Be off, I tell you! Mr Chairman,
we have known each other now for a good many years, and you must be
convinced that I can take a joke as well as any man; but human nature
can endure this no longer. Mr Wiggins! Captain Pole! my good friend
Doctor White! I appeal to you!" Here the gentlemen named looked
especially astounded. "What! can it be possible that you have _all_
agreed to cut me! Oh, no! I will not believe that political differences
of opinion can run _quite_ so high. Come--let us have no more of this
nonsense!"--"No, no, we've had quite enough of it," said the landlord of
the Old Boar, pulling the chair from beneath the last speaker, who was
consequently obliged again to be upon his legs, while there came, from
various parts of the table, cries of "Chair! chair! Turn him
out!"--"Man!" roared the teetotum parsonified landlord of the Red Lion,
to the landlord of the Old Boar--"Man! you shall repent of this! If it
wasn't for my cloth, I'd soon----."--"Come, give me the cloth!" said
the other, snatching away the napkin, which Jacob had buttoned in his
waistcoat, and thereby causing that garment to fly open and expose more
of dirty linen and skin than is usually sported at a dinner-party. Poor
Philpot's rage had now reached its acme, and he again appealed to the
chairman by name. "Colonel Martin!" said he, "can you sit by and see me
used thus? I am sure _you_ will not pretend that you don't know
me!"--"Not I," replied the chairman; "I know you well enough, and a
confounded impudent fellow you are. I'll tell you what, my lad, next
time you apply for a licence, you shall hear of this." The landlord of
the Old Boar was withal a kind-hearted man; and as he well knew that the
loss of its licence would be ruin to the rampant Red Lion and all
concerned therewith, he was determined that poor Philpot should be saved
from destruction in spite of his teeth; therefore, without further
ceremony, he, being a muscular man, laid violent hands upon the said
Jacob, and, with the assistance of his waiters, conveyed him out of the
room, in despite of much struggling, and sundry interjections concerning
his "cloth." When they had deposited him safely in an arm-chair in "the
bar," the landlady, who had frequently seen him before in his proper
character--that of a civil man--who "knew his place" in society, very
kindly offered him a cup of tea; and the landlord asked how he could
think of making such a fool of himself; and the waiter, whom he had
accosted on first entering the house, vouched for his not having had
anything to eat or drink; whereupon they spoke of the remains of a
turbot which had just come down-stairs, and a haunch of venison that was
to follow. It is a sad thing to have a mind and body that are no match
for each other. Jacob's outward man would have been highly gratified at
the exhibition of these things, but the spirit of the parson was too
mighty within, and spurned every offer, and the body was compelled to
obey. So the horse that was borrowed of the squire was ordered out, and
Jacob Philpot mounted and rode on his way in excessive irritation,
growling vehemently at the insult and indignity which had been committed
against the "cloth" in general, and his own person in particular.

"The sun sunk beneath the horizon," as novelists say, when Jacob Philpot
entered the village of Stockwell, and, as if waking from a dream, he
suddenly started, and was much surprised to find himself on horseback;
for the last thing that he recollected was going up-stairs at his own
house, and composing himself for a nap, that he might be ready to join
neighbour Scroggins and Dick Smith, when they came in the evening to
drink the gallon of ale lost by the latter. "And, my eyes!" said he, "if
I haven't got the squire's horse that the parson borrowed this morning.
Well--it's very odd! however, the ride has done me a deal of good, for I
feel as if I hadn't had anything all day, and yet I did pretty well too
at the leg of mutton at dinner." Mrs Philpot received her lord and
nominal master in no very gracious mood, and said she should like to
know where he had been riding. "That's more than I can tell you,"
replied Jacob; "however, I know I'm as hungry as a greyhound, though I
never made a better dinner in my life."--"More shame for you," said Mrs
Philpot; "I wish the Old Boar was a thousand miles off."--"What's the
woman talking about?" quoth Jacob. "Eh! what! at it again, I suppose,"
and he pointed to the closet containing the rum bottle. "Hush!" cried
Mrs Philpot, "here's the parson coming down-stairs!"--"The parson!"
exclaimed Jacob; "what's he been doing up-stairs, I should like to
know?"--"He has been to take a nap on mistress's bed," said Sally. "The
dickens he has! This is a pretty story," quoth Jacob. "How could I help
it?" asked Mrs Philpot; "you should stay at home and look after your own
business, and not go ramshackling about the country. You shan't hear the
last of the Old Boar just yet, I promise you." To avoid the threatened
storm, and satisfy the calls of hunger, Jacob made off to the larder,
and commenced an attack upon the leg of mutton.

At this moment the Reverend Mr Stanhope opened the little door at the
foot of the stairs. On waking, and finding himself upon a bed, he had
concluded that he must have fainted in consequence of the agitation of
mind produced by the gross insults which he had suffered, or perhaps
from the effects of hunger. Great, therefore, was his surprise to find
himself at the Red Lion in his own parish; and the first questions he
asked of Mrs Philpot were how and when he had been brought there. "La,
sir!" said the landlady, "you went up-stairs of your own accord, after
you were tired of smoking under the tree."--"Smoking under the tree,
woman!" exclaimed Mr Stanhope; "what are you talking about? Do you
recollect whom you are speaking to?" "Ay, marry, do I," replied the
sensitive Mrs Philpot; "and you told Sally to call you when Scroggins
and Smith came for their gallon of ale, as you meant to join the party."

The Reverend Mr Stanhope straightway took up his hat, put it upon his
head, and stalked with indignant dignity out of the house, opining that
the poor woman was in her cups; and meditated, as he walked home, on the
extraordinary affairs of the day. But his troubles were not yet ended,
for the report of his public jollification had reached his own
household; and John, his trusty man-servant, had been despatched to the
Red Lion, and had ascertained that his master was really gone to bed in
a state very unfit for a clergyman to be seen in. Some remarkably
goodnatured friends had been to condole with Mrs Stanhope upon the
extraordinary proceedings of her goodman, and to say how much they
were shocked, and what a pity it was, and wondering what the bishop
would think of it, and divers other equally amiable and consolatory
reflections and notes of admiration. Now Mrs Stanhope, though she had
much of the "milk of human kindness" in her composition, had withal a
sufficient portion of "tartaric acid" mingled therewith. Therefore, when
her beer-drinking husband made his appearance, he found her in a state
of effervescence. "Mary," said he, "I am extremely fatigued. I have been
exposed to-day to a series of insults, such as I could not have imagined
it possible for any one to offer me."--"Nor anybody else," replied Mrs
Stanhope; "but you are rightly served, and I am glad of it. Who could
have supposed that you, the minister of a parish!--Faugh! how filthily
you smell of tobacco! I vow I cannot endure to be in the room with you!"
and she arose and left the divine to himself, in exceeding great
perplexity. However, being a man who loved to do all things in order,
he remembered that he had not dined, so he rang the bell and gave the
needful instructions, thinking it best to satisfy nature first, and
_then_ endeavour to ascertain the cause of his beloved Mary's acidity.
His appetite was gone, but that he attributed to having fasted too long,
a practice very unusual with him; however, he picked a bit here and
there, and then indulged himself with a bottle of his oldest port, which
he had about half consumed, and somewhat recovered his spirits, ere his
dear Mary made her reappearance, and told him that she was perfectly
astonished at his conduct. And well might she say so, for _now_, the
wine, which he had been drinking with unusual rapidity, thinking, good
easy man, that he had taken nothing all day, began to have a very
visible effect upon a body already saturated with strong ale. He
declared that he cared not a fig for the good opinion of any gentleman
in the county, that he would always act and speak according to his
principles, and filled a bumper to the health of the Lord Chancellor,
and drank sundry more exceedingly loyal toasts, and told his astonished
spouse, that he should not be surprised if he was very soon to be made a
Dean or a Bishop; and as for the people at the Old Boar, he saw through
their conduct--it was all envy, which doth "merit as its shade pursue."
The good lady justly deemed it folly to waste her oratory upon a man in
such a state, and reserved her powers for the next morning; and Mr
Stanhope reeled to bed that night in a condition which, to do him
justice, he had never before exhibited under his own roof.

The next morning, Mrs Stanhope and her daughter Sophy, a promising young
lady about ten years old, of the hoyden class, were at breakfast, when
the elderly stranger called at the rectory, and expressed great concern
on being told that Mr S. was somewhat indisposed, and had not yet made
his appearance. He said that his business was of very little importance,
and merely concerned some geological inquiries which he was prosecuting
in the vicinity; but Mrs Stanhope, who had the names of all the ologies
by heart, and loved occasionally to talk thereof, persuaded him to wait
a short time, little dreaming of the consequence; for the wily old
gentleman began to romp with Miss Sophy, and, after a while, produced
his teetotum, and, in short, so contrived it, that the mother and
daughter played together therewith for five minutes. He then politely
took his leave, promising to call again; and Mrs Stanhope bobbed him a
curtsy, and Sophia assured him that Mr S. would be extremely happy to
afford him every assistance in his scientific researches. When the
worthy divine at length made his appearance in the breakfast parlour,
strangely puzzled as to the extreme feverishness and languor which
oppressed him, he found Sophy sitting gravely in an arm-chair, reading a
treatise on craniology. It was a pleasant thing for him to see her read
anything, but he could not help expressing his surprise by observing,
"I should think that book a little above your comprehension, my
dear."--"Indeed! sir," was the reply; and the little girl laid down the
volume, and sat erect in her chair, and thus continued: "I should think,
Mr Nicodemus Stanhope, that after the specimen of good sense and
propriety of conduct, which you were pleased to exhibit yesterday, it
scarcely becomes _you_ to pretend to estimate the _comprehension_ of
others." "My dear," said the astonished divine, "this is very strange
language! You forget whom you are speaking to!"--"Not at all," replied
the child. "I know _my_ place, if you don't know yours, and am
determined to speak my mind." If anything could add to the Reverend Mr
Nicodemus Stanhope's surprise, it was the sound of his wife's voice in
the garden, calling to his man John to stand out of the way, or she
should run over him. Poor John, who was tying up some of her favourite
flowers, got out of her way accordingly in quick time, and the next
moment his mistress rushed by, trundling a hoop, hallooing and laughing,
and highly enjoying his apparent dismay. Throughout that day, it may be
imagined that the reverend gentleman's philosophy was sorely tried; but
we are compelled, by want of room, to leave the particulars of his
botheration to the reader's imagination.

We are sorry to say that these were not the only metamorphoses which the
mischievous old gentleman wrought in the village of Stockwell. There was
a game of teetotum played between a sergeant of dragoons, who had
retired upon his well-earned pension, and a baker, who happened
likewise to be the renter of a small patch of land adjoining the
village. The veteran, with that indistinctness of character before
mentioned, shouldered the peel, and took it to the field, and used it
for loading and spreading manure, so that it was never afterwards fit
for any but dirty work. Then, just to show that he was not afraid of
anybody, he cut a gap in the hedge of a small field of wheat which had
just been reaped, and was standing in sheaves, and thereby gave
admittance to a neighbouring bull, who amused himself greatly by tossing
the said sheaves; but more particularly those which were set apart as
tithes, against which he appeared to have a particular spite, throwing
them high into the air, and then bellowing and treading them under foot.
But--we must come to a close. Suffice it to say, that the village of
Stockwell was long in a state of confusion in consequence of these
games; for the mischief which was done during the period of delusion,
ended not, like the delusion itself, with the rising or setting of the
sun.

Having now related as many particulars of these strange occurrences as
our limits will permit, we have merely to state the effect which they
produced upon ourselves. Whenever we have since beheld servants aping
the conduct of their masters or mistresses, tradesmen wasting their time
and money at taverns, clergymen forgetful of the dignity and sacred
character of their profession, publicans imagining themselves fit for
preachers, children calling their parents to account for their conduct,
matrons acting the hoyden, and other incongruities--whenever we witness
these and the like occurrences, we conclude that the actors therein have
been playing a game with the Old Gentleman's Teetotum.



"Woe to us when we lose the watery wall!"

[_MAGA._ SEPTEMBER 1823.]


 If e'er that dreadful hour should come--but God avert the day!--
 When England's glorious flag must bend, and yield old Ocean's sway;
 When foreign ships shall o'er that deep, where she is empress, lord;
 When the cross of red from boltsprit-head is hewn by foreign sword;
 When foreign foot her quarterdeck with proud stride treads along;
 When her peaceful ships meet haughty check from hail of foreign
   tongue;--
 One prayer, one only prayer is mine--that, ere is seen that sight,
 Ere there be warning of that woe, I may be whelmed in night!

 If ever other prince than ours wield sceptre o'er that main,
 Where Howard, Blake, and Frobisher, the Armada smote of Spain;
 Where Blake, in Cromwell's iron sway, swept tempest-like the seas,
 From North to South, from East to West, resistless as the breeze;
 Where Russell bent great Louis' power, which bent before to none,
 And crushed his arm of naval strength, and dimmed his Rising Sun--
 One prayer, one only prayer is mine--that, ere is seen that sight,
 Ere there be warning of that woe, I may be whelmed in night!

 If ever other keel than ours triumphant plough that brine,
 Where Rodney met the Count de Grasse, and broke the Frenchman's line,
 Where Howe, upon the first of June, met the Jacobins in fight,
 And with Old England's loud huzzas broke down their godless might;
 Where Jervis at St Vincent's felled the Spaniards' lofty tiers,
 Where Duncan won at Camperdown, and Exmouth at Algiers--
 One prayer, one only prayer, is mine--that, ere is seen that sight,
 Ere there be warning of that woe, I may be whelmed in night!

 But oh! what agony it were, when we should think on thee,
 The flower of all the Admirals that ever trod the sea!
 I shall not name thy honoured name--but if the white-cliffed Isle
 Which reared the Lion of the deep, the Hero of the Nile,
 Him who, 'neath Copenhagen's self, o'erthrew the faithless Dane,
 Who died at glorious Trafalgar, o'er-vanquished France and Spain,
 Should yield her power, one prayer is mine--that, ere is seen that
   sight,
 Ere there be warning of that woe, I may be whelmed in night!



MY COLLEGE FRIENDS.

CHARLES RUSSELL, THE GENTLEMAN-COMMONER.

[_MAGA._ AUGUST 1846.]


CHAPTER I.

"Have you any idea who that fresh gentleman-commoner is?" said I to
Savile, who was sitting next to me at dinner, one day soon after the
beginning of term. We had not usually in the college above three or four
of that privileged class, so that any addition to their table attracted
more attention than the arrival of the vulgar herd of freshmen to fill
up the vacancies at our own. Unless one of them had choked himself with
his mutton, or taken some equally decided mode of making himself an
object of public interest, scarcely any man of "old standing" would have
even inquired his name.

"Is he one of our men?" said Savile, as he scrutinised the party in
question. "I thought he had been a stranger dining with some of them.
Murray, you know the history of every man who comes up, I believe--who
is he?"

"His name is Russell," replied the authority referred to; "Charles
Wynderbie Russell; his father's a banker in the city: Russell and Smith,
you know, ---- Street."

"Ay, I dare say," said Savile; "one of your rich tradesmen; they always
come up as gentlemen-commoners, to show that they have lots of money: it
makes me wonder how any man of decent family ever condescends to put on
a silk gown." Savile was the younger son of a poor baronet, thirteenth
in descent, and affected considerable contempt for any other kind of
distinction.

"Oh!" continued Murray, "this man is by no means of a bad family: his
father comes of one of the oldest houses in Dorsetshire, and his mother,
you know, is one of the Wynderbies of Wynderbie Court--a niece of Lord
De Staveley's."

"_I_ know!" said Savile; "nay, I never heard of Wynderbie Court in my
life; but I dare say _you_ know, which is quite sufficient. Really,
Murray, you might make a good speculation by publishing a genealogical
list of the undergraduate members of the university--birth, parentage,
family connections, governors' present incomes, probable expectations,
&c. &c. It would sell capitally among the tradesmen--they'd know exactly
when it was safe to give credit. You could call it _A Guide to Duns_."

"Or a _History of the_ Un-_landed Gentry_," suggested I.

"Well, he is a very gentlemanlike-looking fellow, that Mr Russell,
banker or not," said Savile, as the unconscious subject of our
conversation left the hall; "I wonder who knows him?"

The same question might have been asked a week--a month after this
conversation, without eliciting any very satisfactory answer. With the
exception of Murray's genealogical information--the correctness of which
was never doubted for a moment, though how or where he obtained this and
similar pieces of history, was a point on which he kept up an amusing
mystery--Russell was a man of whom no one appeared to know anything at
all. The other gentlemen-commoners had, I believe, all called upon him,
as a matter of courtesy to one of their own limited mess; but in almost
every case it had merely amounted to an exchange of cards. He was either
out of his rooms, or "sporting oak;" and "Mr C. W. Russell," on a bit of
pasteboard, had invariably appeared in the note-box of the party for
whom the honour was intended, on their return from their afternoon's
walk or ride. Invitations to two or three wine-parties had followed, and
been civilly declined. It was at one of these meetings that he again
became the subject of conversation. We were a large party, at a man of
the name of Tichborne's rooms, when some one mentioned having met "the
Hermit," as they called him, taking a solitary walk about three miles
out of Oxford the day before.

"Oh, you mean Russell," said Tichborne: "well, I was going to tell you,
I called on him again this morning, and found him in his rooms. In fact,
I almost followed him in after lecture; for I confess I had some little
curiosity to find out what he was made of!"

"And did you find out?"--"What sort of a fellow is he?" asked
half-a-dozen voices at once; for, to say the truth, the curiosity which
Tichborne had just confessed had been pretty generally felt, even among
those who usually affected a dignified disregard of all matters
concerning the nature and habits of freshmen.

"I sat with him for about twenty minutes; indeed, I should have staid
longer, for I rather liked the lad; but he seemed anxious to get rid of
me. I can't make him out at all, though. I wanted him to come here
to-night, but he positively would not, though he didn't pretend to have
any other engagement: he said he never, or seldom, drank wine."

"Not drink wine!" interrupted Savile. "I always said he was some low
fellow!"

"I have known some low fellows drink their skins full of wine, though;
especially at other men's expense," said Tichborne, who was evidently
not pleased with the remark; "and Russell is _not_ a low fellow by any
means."

"Well, well," replied Savile, whose good-humour was imperturbable--"if
you say so, there's an end of it: all I mean to say is, I can't conceive
any man not drinking wine, unless for the simple reason that he prefers
brandy-and-water, and that I _do_ call low. However, you'll excuse my
helping myself to another glass of this particularly good claret,
Tichborne, though it is at your expense: indeed, the only use of you
gentlemen-commoners, that I am aware of, is to give us a taste of the
senior common-room wine now and then. They do manage to get it good
there, certainly. I wish they would give out a few dozens as prizes at
collections; it would do us a great deal more good than a Russia-leather
book with the college arms on it. I don't know that I shouldn't take to
reading in that case."

"Drink a dozen of it, old fellow, if you can," said Tichborne. "But
really I am sorry we couldn't get Russell here this evening; I think he
would be rather an acquisition, if he could be drawn out. As to his not
drinking wine, that's a matter of taste; and he is not very likely to
corrupt the good old principles of the college on that point. But he
must please himself."

"What does he do with himself?" said one of the party--"read?"

"Why he didn't _talk_ about reading, as most of our literary freshmen
do, which might perhaps lead one to suppose he really was something of a
scholar; still, I doubt if he is what you call a reading man; I know he
belongs to the Thucydides lecture, and I have never seen him there but
once."

"Ah!" said Savile, with a sigh, "that's another privilege of yours I had
forgotten, which is rather enviable; you can cut lectures when you like,
without getting a thundering imposition. Where does this man Russell
live?"

"He has taken those large rooms that Sykes used to have, and fitted up
in such style; they were vacant, you remember, the last two terms; I had
some thought of moving into them myself, but they were confoundedly
expensive, and I didn't think it worth while. They cost Sykes I don't
know how much, in painting and papering, and are full of all sorts of
couches, and easy-chairs, and so forth. And this man seems to have got
two or three good paintings into them; and, altogether, they are now the
best rooms in college, by far."

"Does he mean to hunt?" asked another.

"No, I fancy not," replied our host: "though he spoke as if he knew
something about it; but he said he had no horses in Oxford."

"Nor anywhere else, I'll be bound; he's a precious slow coach, you may
depend upon it." And with this decisive remark, Mr Russell and his
affairs were dismissed for the time.

A year passed away, and still, at the end of that time--(a long time it
seemed in those days)--Russell was as much a stranger in college as
ever. He had begun to be regarded as a rather mysterious person. Hardly
two men in the college agreed in their estimate of his character. Some
said he was a natural son--the acknowledged heir to a large fortune, but
too proud to mix in society, under the consciousness of a dishonoured
birth. But this suspicion was indignantly refuted by Murray, as much on
behalf of his own genealogical accuracy, as for Russell's legitimacy--he
was undoubtedly the true and lawful son and heir of Mr Russell the
banker, of ---- Street. Others said he was poor; but his father was
reputed to be the most wealthy partner in a wealthy firm, and was known
to have a considerable estate in the west of England. There were not
wanting those who said he was "eccentric"--in the largest sense of the
term. Yet his manners and conduct, as far as they came within notice,
were correct, regular, and gentlemanly beyond criticism. There was
nothing about him which could fairly incur even the minor charge of
being odd. He dressed well, though very plainly; would converse freely
enough, upon any subject, with the few men who, from sitting at the
sametable, or attending the same lectures, had formed a doubtful
sort of acquaintance with him; and always showed great good sense, a
considerable knowledge of the world, and a courtesy, and at the same
time perfect dignity of manner, which effectually prevented any attempt
to penetrate, by jest or direct question, the reserve in which he had
chosen to enclose himself. All invitations he steadily refused; even to
the extent of sending an excuse to the deans' and tutors' breakfast
parties, to their ineffable disgust. Whether he read hard, or not, was
equally a secret. He was regular in his attendance at chapel, and
particularly attentive to the service; a fact which by no means tended
to lower him in men's estimation, though in those days more remarkable
than, happily, it would be now. At lectures, indeed, he was not equally
exemplary, either as to attendance or behaviour; he was often absent
when asked a question, and not always accurate when he replied; and
occasionally declined translating a passage which came to his turn, on
the ground of not having read it. Yet his scholarship, if not always
strictly accurate, had a degree of elegance which betokened both talent
and reading; and his taste was evidently naturally good, and classical
literature a subject of interest to him. Altogether, it rather piqued
the vanity of those who saw most of him, that he would give them no
opportunity of seeing more; and many affected to sneer at him, as a
"_muff_," who would have been exceedingly flattered by his personal
acquaintance. Only one associate did Charles Russell appear to have in
the university; and this was a little greenish-haired man in a scholar's
gown, a perfect contrast to himself in appearance, whose name or college
no man knew, though some professed to recognise him as a Bible-clerk of
one of the smallest and most obscure of the halls.

Attempts were made to pump out of his scout some information as to how
Russell passed his time: for, with the exception of a daily walk,
sometimes with the companion above mentioned, but much oftener alone,
and his having been seen once or twice in a skiff on the river, he
appeared rarely to quit his own rooms. Scouts are usually pretty
communicative of all they know--and sometimes a great deal more--about
the affairs of their many masters; and they are not inclined in general
to hold a very high opinion of those among "their gentlemen" who, like
Russell, are behindhand in the matter of wine and supper-parties--their
own perquisites suffering thereby. But Job Allen was a scout of a
thousand. His honesty and integrity made him quite the _rara avis_ of
his class--_i.e._, a _white_ swan amongst a flock of black ones. Though
really, since I have left the university, and been condemned to
house-keeping, and have seen the peculation and perquisite-hunting
existing pretty nearly in the same proportion amongst ordinary
servants--and the higher you go in society the worse it seems to
be--without a tittle of the activity and cleverness displayed by a good
college scout, who provides supper and etceteras for an extemporary
party of twenty or so at an hour's notice, without starting a difficulty
or giving vent to a grumble, or neglecting any one of his other
multifarious duties (further than perhaps borrowing for the service of
the said supper some hard-reading freshman's whole stock of knives, and
leaving him to spread his nocturnal bread and butter with his fingers);
since I have been led to compare this with the fuss and fidget caused in
a "well-regulated family" among one's own lazy vagabonds, by having an
extra horse to clean, or by a couple of friends arriving unexpectedly
to dinner, when they all stare at you as if you were expecting
impossibilities, I have pretty well come to the conclusion, that
college servants, like hedgehogs, are a grossly calumniated race of
animals--wrongfully accused of getting their living by picking and
stealing, whereas they are in fact rather more honest than the average
of their neighbours. It is to be hoped that, like the hedgehogs, they
enjoy a compensation in having too thick skins to be over-sensitive. At
all events, Job Allen was an honest fellow. He had been known to
expostulate with some of his more reckless masters upon the absurdities
of their goings-on; and had more than once had a commons of bread flung
at his head, when taking the opportunity of symptoms of repentance, in
an evident disrelish for breakfast, to hint at the slow but inevitable
approach of "degree-day." Cold chickens from the evening's supper-party
had made a miraculous reappearance at next morning's lunch or
breakfast; half-consumed bottles of port seemed, under his auspices, to
lead charmed lives. No wonder, then, there was very little information
about the private affairs of Russell to be got out of Job Allen. He had
but a very poor talent for gossip, and none at all for invention. "Mr
Russell's a very nice, quiet sort of gentleman, sir, and keeps his-self
pretty much to his-self." This was Job's account of him; and, to curious
inquirers, it was provoking both for its meagreness and its truth.
"Who's his friend in the rusty gown, Job?"--"I thinks, sir, his name's
Smith." "Is Mr Russell going up for a class, Job?"--"I can't say indeed,
sir." "Does he read hard?"--"Not over-hard, I think, sir." "Does he sit
up late, Job?"--"Not over-late, sir." If there was anything to tell, it
was evident Job would neither commit himself nor his master.

Russell's conduct was certainly uncommon. If he had been the son of a
poor man, dependent for his future livelihood on his own exertions,
eking out the scanty allowance ill-spared by his friends by the help
of a scholarship or exhibition, and avoiding society as leading to
necessary expense, his position would have been understood, and even,
in spite of the prejudices of youthful extravagance, commended. Or
if he had been a hard-reading man from choice--or a stupid man--or
a "saint"--no one would have troubled themselves about him or his
proceedings. But Russell was a gentleman-commoner, and a man who had
evidently seen something of the world; a rich man, and apparently by no
means of the character fitted for a recluse. He had dined once with
the principal, and the two or three men who had met him there were
considerably surprised at the easy gracefulness of his manners, and his
information upon many points usually beyond the range of undergraduates:
at his own table in hall, too, he never affected any reserve, although,
perhaps from a consciousness of having virtually declined any intimacy
with his companions, he seldom originated any conversation. It might
have been assumed, indeed, that he despised the society into which he
was thrown, but that his bearing, so far from being haughty, or even
cold, was occasionally marked by apparent dejection. There was also,
at times, a breaking out as it were of the natural spirits of youth,
checked almost abruptly; and once or twice he had betrayed an interest
in, and a knowledge of, field-sports and ordinary amusements, which for
the moment made his hearers fancy, as Tichborne said, that he was
"coming out." But if, as at first often happened, such conversations
led to a proposal for a gallop with the harriers, or a ride the next
afternoon, or a match at billiards, or even an invitation to a quiet
breakfast-party--the refusal, though always courteous--and sometimes it
was fancied unwilling--was always decided. And living day by day within
reach of that close companionship which similarity of age, pursuits, and
tastes, strengthened by daily intercourse, was cementing all around him,
Charles Russell, in his twentieth year, in a position to choose his own
society, and qualified to shine in it, seemed to have deliberately
adopted the life of a recluse.

There were some, indeed, who accounted for his behaviour on the ground
of stinginess; and it was an opinion somewhat strengthened by one or
two trifling facts. When the subscription-list for the college boat
was handed to him, he put his name down for the minimum of one guinea,
though Charley White, our secretary, with the happy union of impudence
and "soft sawder" for which he was remarkable, delicately drew his
attention to the fact, that no other gentleman-commoner had given less
than five. Still it was not very intelligible that a man who wished to
save his pocket, should choose to pay double fees for the privilege of
wearing a velvet cap and silk gown, and rent the most expensive set of
rooms in the college.

It happened that I returned one night somewhat late from a friend's
rooms out of college, and had the satisfaction to find that my scout, in
an unusually careful mood, had shut my outer "oak," which had a spring
lock, of which I never by any chance carried the key. It was too late to
send for the rascal to open it, and I was just planning the possibility
of effecting an entrance at the window by means of the porter's ladder,
when the light in Russell's room caught my eye, and I remembered that,
in the days of their former occupant, our keys used to correspond, very
much to our mutual convenience. It was no very great intrusion, even
towards one in the morning, to ask a man to lend you his door key, when
the alternative seemed to be spending the night in the quadrangle: so I
walked up his staircase, knocked, was admitted, and stated my business
with all proper apologies. The key was produced most graciously, and
down I went again--unluckily two steps at a time. My foot slipped, and
one grand rattle brought me to the bottom: not head first, but feet
first, which possibly is not quite so dangerous, but any gentleman who
has tried it will agree with me that it is sufficiently unpleasant. I
was dreadfully shaken; and when I tried to get up, found it no easy
matter. Russell, I suppose, heard the fall, for he was by my side by the
time I had collected my ideas. I felt as if I had skinned myself at
slight intervals all down one side; but the worst of it was a sprained
ankle. How we got up-stairs again I have no recollection; but when a
glass of brandy had brought me to a little, I found myself in an
easy-chair, with my foot on a stool, shivering and shaking like a wet
puppy. I staid there a fortnight (not in the chair, reader, but in the
rooms); and so it was I became intimately acquainted with Charles
Russell. His kindness and attention to me were excessive; I wished of
course to be moved to my own rooms at once, but he would not hear of it;
and as I found every wriggle and twist which I gave quite sufficiently
painful, I acceded to my surgeon's advice to remain where I was.

It was not a very pleasant mode of introduction for either party.
Very few men's acquaintance is worth the pains of bumping all the
way down-stairs and spraining an ankle for: and for a gentleman who
voluntarily confines himself to his own apartment and avoids society, to
have another party chummed in upon him perforce, day and night, sitting
in an arm-chair, with a suppressed groan occasionally, and an abominable
smell of hartshorn--is, to say the least of it, not the happiest mode of
hinting to him the evils of solitude. Whether it was that the one of us,
compelled thus against his will to play the host, was anxious to show
he was no churl by nature, and the other, feeling himself necessarily
in a great degree an intruder and a bore, put forth more zealously any
redeeming social qualities he might possess; be this as it might, within
that fortnight Russell and I became sincere friends.

I found him, as I had expected, a most agreeable and gentlemanlike
companion, clever and well informed, and with a higher tone and more
settled principles than are common to his age and position. But strongly
contrasted with his usually cheerful manner, were sudden intervals of
abstraction approaching to gloominess. In him, it was evidently not the
result of caprice, far less of anything approaching to affectation. I
watched him closely, partly from interest, partly because I had little
else to do, and became convinced that there was some latent cause of
grief or anxiety at work. Once in particular, after the receipt of some
letters (they were always opened hurriedly, and apparently with a
painful interest), he was so visibly discomposed and depressed in
spirits, that I ventured to express a hope that they had contained no
distressing intelligence. Russell seemed embarrassed at having betrayed
any unusual emotion, and answered in the negative; adding, that "he knew
he was subject to the blues occasionally"--and I felt I could say no
more. But I suppose I did not look convinced; for catching my eyes fixed
on him soon afterwards, he shook my hand and said, "Something _has_
vexed me--I cannot tell you what; but I won't think about it again now."

One evening, towards the close of my imprisonment, after a long and
pleasant talk over our usual sober wind-up of a cup of coffee, some
recent publication, tasteful, but rather expensive, was mentioned, which
Russell expressed a wish to see. I put the natural question to a man in
his position who could appreciate the book, and to whom a few pounds
were no consideration--why did he not order it? He coloured slightly,
and after a moment's hesitation hurriedly replied, "Because I cannot
afford it." I felt a little awkwardness as to what to say next; for the
style of everything round me betrayed a lavish disregard of expense, and
yet the remark did not at all bear the tone of a jest. Probably Russell
understood what was passing in my mind; for presently, without looking
at me, he went on: "Yes, you may well think it a pitiful economy to
grudge five guineas for a book like that, and indulge one's-self in such
pompous mummery as we have here;" and he pushed down with his foot a
massive and beautiful silver coffee-pot, engraved with half-a-dozen
quarterings of arms, which, in spite of a remonstrance from me, had been
blackening before the fire to keep its contents warm. "Never mind it,"
he continued, as I in vain put out my hand to save it from falling--"it
won't be damaged; it will fetch just as much per ounce; and I really
cannot afford to buy an inferior article." Russell's behaviour up to
this moment had been rational enough, but at the moment a suspicion
crossed my mind that "eccentricity," as applied to his case, might
possibly, as in some other cases, be merely an euphonism for something
worse. However, I picked up the coffee-pot, and said nothing. "You must
think me very strange, Hawthorne; I quite forgot myself at the moment;
but if you choose to be trusted with a secret, which will be no secret
long, I will tell you what will perhaps surprise you with regard to my
own position, though I really have no right to trouble you with my
confidences." I disclaimed any wish to assume the right of inquiring
into private matters, but at the same time expressed, as I sincerely
felt, an interest in what was evidently a weight on my companion's mind.
"Well, to say the truth," continued Russell, "I think it will be a
relief to me to tell you how I stand. I know that I have often felt of
late that I am acting a daily lie here, to all the men about me;
passing, doubtless, for a rich man, when in truth, for aught I know, I
and all my family are beggars at this moment." He stopped, walked to the
window, and returned. "I am surrounded here by luxuries which have
little right within a college's walls; I occupy a distinctive position
which you and others are supposed not to be able to afford; I never can
mix with any of you, without, as it were, carrying with me everywhere
the superscription written--'This is a rich man.' And yet, with all this
outward show, I may be a debtor to your charity for my bread to-morrow.
You are astonished, Hawthorne; of course you are. I am not thus playing
the hypocrite willingly, believe me. Had I only my own comfort, and my
own feelings to consult, I would take my name off the college books
to-morrow. How I bear the life I lead, I scarcely know."

"But tell me," said I, "as you have told me so much, what is the secret
of all this?"

"I will; I was going to explain. My only motive for concealment, my only
reason for even wishing you to keep my counsel, is, because the
character and prospects of others are concerned. My father, as I dare
say you are aware, is pretty well known as the head of the firm of
Russell and Smith: he passes for a rich man, of course; he _was_ a rich
man, I believe, once; and I, his only son and heir--brought up as I was
to look upon money as a plaything--I was sent to college of course as a
gentleman-commoner. I knew nothing, as a lad, of my father's affairs:
there were fools enough to tell me he was rich, and that I had nothing
to do but to spend his money--and I did spend it--ay, too much of
it--yet not so much, perhaps, as I might. Not since I came here,
Hawthorne; oh no!--not since I found out that it was neither his nor
mine to spend--I have not been so bad as that, thank God. And if ever
man could atone, by suffering, for the thoughtlessness and extravagance
of early days, I have well-nigh paid my penalty in full already. I told
you, I entered here as a gentleman-commoner; my father came down to
Oxford with me, chose my rooms, sent down this furniture and these
paintings from town--thank Heaven, I never knew what they cost--ordered
a couple of hunters and a groom for me--those I stopped from coming
down--and, in fact, made every preparation for me to commence my career
with credit as the heir-apparent to a large fortune. Some suspicions
that all was not right had crossed my mind before: certain conversations
between my father and cold-looking men of business, not meant for my
ear, and very imperfectly understood--for it appeared to be my father's
object to keep me totally ignorant of all the mysteries of banking--an
increasing tendency on his part to grumble over petty expenses which
implied ready payment, with an ostentatious profusion in show and
entertainments--many slight circumstances put together had given me a
sort of vague alarm at times, which I shook off, as often as it
recurred, like a disagreeable dream. A week after I entered college, a
letter from my only sister opened my eyes to the truth. What I had
feared was a temporary embarrassment--a disagreeable necessity for
retrenchment, or, at the worst, a stoppage of payment, and a respectable
bankruptcy, which would injure no one but the creditors. What she spoke
of was absolute ruin, poverty, and, what was worse, disgrace. It came
upon me very suddenly--but I bore it. I am not going to enter into
particulars about family matters to you, Hawthorne--you would not wish
it, I know; let me only say, my sister Mary is an angel, and my father
a weak-minded man--I will hope, not intentionally a dishonest one. But I
have learnt enough to know that there are embarrassments from which he
can never extricate himself with honour, and that every month, every
week, that he persists in maintaining a useless struggle will only add
misery to misery in the end. How long it may go on no one can say--but
the end must come. My own first impulse was, of course, to leave this
place at once, and so, at all events, to avoid additional expenses: but
my father would not hear of it. I went to him, told him what I knew,
though not how I had heard it, and drew from him a sort of confession
that he had made some unfortunate speculations. But 'only let us keep up
appearances'--those were his words--a little while, and all would be
right again, he assured me. I made no pretence of believing him; but,
Hawthorne, when he offered to go on his knees to me--and I his only
son--and promised to retrench in every possible method that would not
betray his motives, if I would but remain at college to take my
degree--'to keep up appearances'--what could I do?"

"Plainly," said I, "you did right: I do not see that you had any
alternative. Nor have you any right to throw away your future prospects.
Your father's unfortunate embarrassments are no disgrace to you."

"So said my sister. I knew her advice must be right, and I consented to
remain here. _You_ know I lead no life of self-indulgence; and the
necessary expenses, even as a gentleman-commoner, are less than you
would suppose, unless you had tried matters as closely as I have."

"And with your talents--" said I.

"My talents! I am conscious of but one talent at present: the faculty of
feeling acutely the miserable position into which I have been forced.
No, if you mean that I am to gain any sort of distinction by hard
reading, it is simply what I cannot do. Depend upon it, Hawthorne, a man
must have a mind tolerably at ease to put forth any mental exertion to
good purpose. If this crash were once over, and I were reduced to my
proper level in society--which will, I suppose, be pretty nearly that of
a pauper--_then_ I think I could work for my bread either with head or
hands: but in this wretchedly false position, here I sit bitterly, day
after day, with books open before me perhaps, but with no heart to read,
and no memory but for one thing. You know my secret now, Hawthorne, and
it has been truly a relief to me to unburden my mind to some one here. I
am very much alone, indeed; and it is not at all my nature to be
solitary: if you will come and see me sometimes, now that you know all,
it will be a real kindness. It is no great pleasure, I assure you," he
continued, smiling, "to be called odd, and selfish, and stingy, by
those of one's own age, as I feel I must be called; but it is much
better than to lead the life I might lead--spending money which is not
mine, and accustoming myself to luxuries, when I may soon have to depend
on charity even for necessaries. For my own comfort, it might be better,
as I said before, that the crisis came at once: still, if I remain here
until I am qualified for some profession, by which I may one day be able
to support my sister--that is the hope I feed on--why, then, this sort
of existence may be endured."

Russell had at least no reason to complain of having disclosed his mind
to a careless listener. I was moved almost to tears at his story: but,
stronger than all other feelings, was admiration of his principles and
character. I felt that some of us had almost done him irreverence in
venturing to discuss him so lightly as we had often done. How little we
know the hearts of others, and how readily we prate about "seeing
through" a man, when in truth what we see is but a surface, and the
image conveyed to our mind from it but the reflection of ourselves!

My intimacy with Russell, so strangely commenced, had thus rapidly and
unexpectedly taken the character of that close connection which exists
between those who have one secret and engrossing interest confined to
themselves alone. We were now more constantly together, perhaps, than
any two men in college: and many were the jokes I had to endure in
consequence. Very few of my old companions had ventured to carry their
attentions to me, while laid up in Russell's rooms, beyond an occasional
call at the door to know how I was going on; and when I got back to
my old quarters, and had refused one or two invitations on the plea
of having Russell coming to spend a quiet evening with me, their
astonishment and disgust were expressed pretty unequivocally, and
they affected to call us "the exclusives." However, Russell was a man
who, if he made few friends, gave no excuse for enemies; and, in
time, my intimacy with him, and occasional withdrawals from general
college society in consequence, came to be regarded as a pardonable
weakness--unaccountable, but past all help--a subject on which the
would-be wisest of my friends shook their heads and said nothing.

I think this new connection was of advantage to both parties. To
myself it certainly was. I date the small gleams of good sense and
sobermindedness which broke in upon my character at that critical period
of life, solely from my intercourse with Charles Russell. He, on the
other hand, had suffered greatly from the want of that sympathy and
support which the strongest mind at times stands as much in need of as
the weakest, and which in his peculiar position could only be purchased
by an unreserved confidence. From any premeditated explanation he would
have shrunk; nor would he ever, as he himself confessed, have made the
avowal he did to me, had it not escaped him by a momentary impulse. But,
having made it, he seemed a happier man. His reading, which before had
been desultory and interrupted, was now taken up in earnest: and idly
inclined as I was myself, I became, with the pseudo sort of generosity
not uncommon at that age, so much more anxious for his future success
than my own, that, in order to encourage him, I used to go to his rooms
to read with him, and we had many a hard morning's work together.

We were very seldom interrupted by visitors: almost the only one was
that unknown and unprepossessing friend of Russell's who has been
mentioned before--his own contradictory in almost every respect. Very
uncouth and dirty-looking he was, and stuttered terribly--rather, it
seemed, from diffidence than from any natural defect. He showed some
surprise on the first two or three occasions in which he encountered me,
and made an immediate attempt to back out of the room again: and though
Russell invariably recalled him, and showed an evident anxiety to treat
him with every consideration, he never appeared at his ease for a
moment, and made his escape as soon as possible. Russell always fixed
a time for seeing him again--usually the next day; and there was
evidently some object in these interviews, into which, as it was no
concern of mine, I never inquired particularly, as I had already been
intrusted with a confidence rather unusual as the result of a few weeks'
acquaintance; and on the subject of his friend--"poor Smith," as he
called him--Russell did not seem disposed to be communicative.

Time wore on, and brought round the Christmas vacation. I thought it due
to myself, as all young men do, to get up to town for a week or two if
possible; and being lucky enough to have an old aunt occupying a very
dark house, much too large for her, and who, being rather a prosy
personage, a little deaf, and very opinionated, and therefore not a
special object of attraction to her relations (her property was merely
a life-interest), was very glad to get any one to come and see her--I
determined to pay a visit, in which the score of obligations would
be pretty equally balanced on both sides. On the one hand, the
_tête-à-tête_ dinners with the old lady, and her constant catechising
about Oxford, were a decided bore to me; while it required some
forbearance on her part to endure an inmate who constantly rushed into
the drawing-room without wiping his boots, who had no taste for old
china, and against whom the dear dog Petto had an unaccountable but
decided antipathy. (Poor dog! I fear he was ungrateful: I used to devil
sponge biscuit internally for him after dinner, kept a snuff-box more
for his use than my own, and prolonged his life, I feel confident, at
least twelve months from apoplexy, by pulling hairs out of his tail with
a pair of tweezers whenever he went to sleep.) On the other hand, my
aunt had good wine, and I used to praise it; which was agreeable to both
parties. She got me pleasant invitations, and was enabled herself to
make her appearance in society with a live nephew in her suite, who in
her eyes (I confess, reader, old aunts are partial) was a very eligible
young man. So my visit, on the whole, was mutually agreeable and
advantageous. I had my mornings to myself, gratifying the dowager
occasionally by a drive with her in the afternoon; and we had sufficient
engagements for our evenings to make each other's sole society rather an
unusual infliction. It is astonishing how much such an arrangement tends
to keep people the best friends in the world.

I had attended my respectable relation one evening (or rather she had
attended me, for I believe she went more for my sake than her own) to
a large evening party, which was a ball in everything but the name.
Nearly all in the rooms were strangers to me; but I had plenty of
introductions, and the night wore on pleasantly enough. I saw a dozen
pretty faces I had never seen before, and was scarcely likely to see
again--the proportion of ugly ones I forbear to mention--and was
prepared to bear the meeting and the parting with equal philosophy, when
the sight of one very familiar face brought different scenes to my mind.
Standing within half-a-dozen steps of me, and in close conversation with
a lady, of whom I could see little besides a cluster of dark curls, was
Ormiston, one of our college tutors, and one of the most universally
popular men in Oxford. It would be wrong to say I was surprised to
see him there or anywhere else, for his roll of acquaintance was most
extensive, embracing all ranks and degrees; but I was very glad to see
him, and made an almost involuntary dart forward in his direction. He
saw me, smiled, and put out his hand, but did not seem inclined to enter
into any conversation. I was turning away, when a sudden movement gave
me a full view of the face of the lady to whom he had been talking. It
was a countenance of that pale, clear, intellectual beauty, with a shade
of sadness about the mouth, which one so seldom sees but in a picture,
but which, when seen, haunts the imagination and the memory rather
than excites passionate admiration. The eyes met mine, and, quite by
accident, for the thoughts were evidently pre-occupied, retained for
some moments the same fixed gaze with which I almost as unconsciously
was regarding them. There was something in the features which seemed
not altogether unknown to me; and I was beginning to speculate on the
possibility of any small heroine of my boyish admiration having shot up
into such sweet womanhood--such changes soon occur--when the eyes became
conscious, and the head was rapidly turned away. I lost her a moment
afterwards in the crowd, and although I watched the whole of the time
we remained, with an interest that amused myself, I could not see her
again. She must have left the party early.

So strong became the impression on my mind that it was a face I had
known before, and so fruitless and tantalising were my efforts to give
it "a local habitation and a name"--that I determined at last to
question my aunt upon the subject, though quite aware of the imputation
that would follow. The worst of it was, I had so few tangible marks and
tokens by which to identify my interesting unknown. However, at
breakfast next morning, I opened ground at once, in answer to my
hostess's remark that the rooms had been very full.

"Yes, they were: I wanted very much, my dear aunt, to have asked you the
names of all the people; but you really were so much engaged, I had no
opportunity."

"Ah! if you had come and sat by me, I could have told you all about
them; but there were some very odd people there, too."

"There was one rather interesting-looking girl I did not see dancing
much--tallish, with pearl earrings."

"Where was she sitting? how was she dressed?"

I had only seen her standing; I never noticed--I hardly think I could
have seen--even the colour of her dress.

"Not know how she was dressed? My dear Frank, how strange!"

"All young ladies dress alike now, aunt; there's really not much
distinction; they seemed all black and white to me."

"Certainly the balls don't look half so gay as they used to do: a little
colour gives cheerfulness, I think." (The good old lady herself had worn
crimson satin and a suite of chrysolites--if her theory were correct,
she was enough to have spread a glow over the whole company.) "But let
me see;--tall, with pearls, you say; dark hair and eyes?"

"Yes."

"You must mean Lucy Fielding."

"Nonsense, my dear ma'am--I beg a thousand pardons; but I was introduced
to Miss Fielding, and danced with her--she squints."

"My dear Frank, don't say such a thing!--she will have half the
Strathinnis property when she comes of age. But let me see again. Had
she a white rose in her hair?"

"She had, I think; or something like it."

"It might have been Lord Dunham's youngest daughter, who has just come
out--she was there for an hour or so?"

"No, no, aunt: I know her by sight too--a pale gawky thing, with an arm
and hand like a prize-fighter's--oh no!"

"Upon my word, my dear nephew, you young men give yourselves abominable
airs: I call her a very fine young woman, and I have no doubt she will
marry well, though she hasn't much fortune. Was it Miss Cassilis,
then?--white tulle over satin, looped with roses, with gold sprigs"----

"And freckles to match: why, she's as old as"----; I felt myself on
dangerous ground, and filled up the hiatus, I fear not very happily, by
looking full at my aunt.

"Not so very old, indeed, my dear: she refused a very good offer last
season: she cannot possibly be above"----

"Oh! spare the particulars, pray, my dear ma'am; but you could not have
seen the girl I mean: I don't think she staid after supper: I looked
everywhere for her to ask who she was, but she must have been gone."

"Really! I wish I could help you," said my aunt with a very insinuating
smile.

"Oh," said I, "what made me anxious to know who she was at the time, was
simply that I saw her talking to an old friend of mine, whom you know
something of, I believe; did you not meet Mr Ormiston somewhere last
winter?"

"Mr Ormiston! oh, I saw him there last night! and now I know who you
mean; it must have been Mary Russell, of course; she did wear pearls,
and plain white muslin."

"Russell!--what Russells are they?"

"Russell the banker's daughter; I suppose nobody knows how many
thousands she'll have; but she is a very odd girl. Mr Ormiston is rather
committed in that quarter, I fancy. Ah, he's a very gentlemanly man,
certainly, and an old friend of the family; but that match would never
do. Why, he must be ten years older than she is, in the first place, and
hasn't a penny that I know of except his fellowship. No, no; she refused
Sir John Maynard last winter, with a clear twelve thousand a-year; and
angry enough her papa was about that, everybody says, though he never
contradicts her; but she never will venture upon such a silly thing as a
match with Mr Ormiston."

"Won't she?" said I mechanically, not having had time to collect my
thoughts exactly.

"To be sure she won't," replied my aunt rather sharply. It certainly
struck me that Mary Russell, from what her brother had told me, was a
person very likely to show some little disregard of any conventional
notions of what was, or what was not desirable in the matter of
matrimony; but at the same time I inclined to agree with my aunt, that
it was not very probable she would become Mrs Ormiston; indeed, I
doubted any very serious intentions on his part. Fellows of colleges are
usually somewhat lavish of admiration and attentions; but, as many young
ladies know, very difficult to bring to book. Ormiston was certainly not
a man to be influenced by the fortune which the banker's daughter might
reasonably be credited with; if anything made the matter seem serious,
it was that his opinion of the sex in general--as thrown out in an
occasional hint or sarcasm--seemed to border on a supercilious contempt.

I did not meet Miss Russell again during my short stay in town; but two
or three days after this conversation, in turning the corner of the
street, I came suddenly upon Ormiston. I used to flatter myself with
being rather a favourite of his--not from any conscious merit on my
part, unless that, during the year of his deanship, when summoned before
him for any small atrocities, and called to account for them, I never
took up his time or my own by any of the usual somewhat questionable
excuses, but awaited my fate, whether "imposition" or reprimand, in
silence--a plan which, with him, answered very well, and saved
occasionally some straining of conscience on one side, and credulity on
the other. I tried it with his successor, who decided that I was
contumacious, because, the first time I was absent from chapel, in reply
to his interrogations I answered nothing, and upon his persevering, told
him that I had been at a very late supper-party the night before. I
think, then, I was rather a favourite of Ormiston's. To say that he was
a favourite of mine would be saying very little; for there could have
been scarcely a man in college, of any degree of respectability, who
would not have been ready to say the same. No man had a higher regard
for the due maintenance of discipline, or his own dignity, and the
reputation of the college; yet nowhere among the seniors could the
undergraduate find a more judicious or a kinder friend. He had the art
of mixing with them occasionally with all the unreservedness of an
equal, without for a moment endangering the respect due to his position.
There was no man you could ask a favour of--even if it infringed a
little upon the strictness of college regulations--so readily as
Ormiston; and no one appeared to retain more thoroughly some of his
boyish tastes and recollections. He subscribed his five guineas to the
boat, even after a majority of the fellows had induced our good old
Principal, whose annual appearance at the river-side to cheer her at the
races had seemed almost a part of his office, to promulgate a decree to
the purport that boat-racing was immoral, and that no man engaged
therein should find favour in the sight of the authorities. Yet, at the
same time, Ormiston could give grave advice when needed; and give it
in such a manner, that the most thoughtless among us received it as
from a friend. And whenever he did administer a few words of pointed
rebuke--and he did not spare it when any really discreditable conduct
came under his notice--they fell the more heavily upon the delinquent,
because the public sympathy was sure to be on the side of the judge.
The art of governing young men is a difficult one, no doubt; but it is
surprising that so few take any pains to acquire it. There were very few
Ormistons, in my time, in the high places in Oxford.

On that morning, however, Ormiston met me with evident embarrassment, if
not with coolness. He started when he first saw me, and, had there been
a chance of doing so with decency, looked as if he would have pretended
not to recognise me. But we were too near for that, and our eyes met at
once. I was really very glad to see him, and not at all inclined to
be content with the short "How d'ye do?" so unlike his usual cordial
greetings, with which he was endeavouring to hurry on; and there was a
little curiosity afloat among my other feelings. So I fairly stopped him
with a few of the usual inquiries, as to how long he had been in town,
&c., and then plunged at once into the affair of the ball at which we
had last met. He interrupted me at once.

"By the way," said he, "have you heard of poor Russell's business?"

I actually shuddered, for I scarcely knew what was to follow. As
composedly as I could, I simply said, "No."

"His father is ruined, they say--absolutely ruined. I suppose _that_ is
no secret by this time, at all events. He cannot possibly pay even a
shilling in the pound."

"I'm very sorry indeed to hear it," was all I could say.

"But do you know, Hawthorne," continued Ormiston, taking my arm with
something like his old manner, and no longer showing any anxiety to cut
short our interview, "I am afraid this is not the worst of it. There
is a report in the city this morning, I was told, that Mr Russell's
character is implicated by some rather unbusinesslike transactions.
I believe you are a friend of poor Russell's, and for that reason I
mention it to you in confidence. He may not be aware of it; but the
rumour is, that his father _dare_ not show himself again here: that he
has left England I know to be a fact."

"And his daughter?--Miss Russell?" I asked involuntarily--"his children,
I mean--where are they?"

I thought Ormiston's colour heightened; but he was not a man to show
much visible emotion. "Charles Russell and his sister are still in
London," he replied; "I have just seen them. They know their father has
left for the Continent; I hope they do _not_ know all the reasons. I am
very sincerely sorry for young Russell; it will be a heavy blow to him,
and I fear he will find his circumstances bitterly changed. Of course he
will have to leave Oxford."

"I suppose so," said I; "no one can feel more for him than I do. It was
well, perhaps, that this did not happen in term time."

"It has spared him some mortification, certainly. You will see him,
perhaps, before you leave town; he will take it kind. And if you have
any influence with him--(he will be inclined to listen just now to you,
perhaps, more than to me; being more of his own age, he will give you
credit for entering into his feelings)--do try and dissuade him from
forming any wild schemes, to which he seems rather inclined. He has some
kind friends, no doubt; and remember, if there is anything in which I
can be of use to him, he shall have my aid even to the half of my
kingdom--that is, my tutorship."

And with a smile and tone which seemed a mixture of jest and earnest, Mr
Ormiston wished me good-morning. He was to leave for Oxford that night.

Of Russell's address in town I was up to this moment ignorant, but
resolved to find it out, and see him before my return to the University.
The next morning, however, a note arrived from him, containing a simple
request that I would call. I found him at the place from which he
wrote--one of those dull quiet streets that lead out of the Strand--in
very humble lodgings; his father's private establishment having been
given up, it appeared, immediately. The moment we met, I saw at once,
as I expected, that the blow which to Ormiston had naturally seemed so
terrible a one--no less than the loss, to a young man, of the wealth,
rank, and prospects in life to which he had been taught to look
forward--had been, in fact, to Russell a merciful relief. The failure of
that long-celebrated and trusted house, which was causing in the public
mind, according to the papers, so much "consternation" and "excitement,"
was to him a consummation long foreseen, and scarcely dreaded. It was
only the shadow of wealth and happiness which he had lost now; its
substance had vanished long since. And the conscious hollowness and
hypocrisy, as he called it, of his late position, had been a far more
bitter trial to a mind like his, than any which could result from its
exposure. He was one to hail with joy any change which brought him back
to truth and reality, no matter how rude and sudden the revulsion.

He met me with a smile; a really honest, almost a light-hearted smile.
"It is come at last, Hawthorne; perhaps it would be wrong, or I feel as
if I could say, thank God. There is but one point which touches me at
all; what do they say about my father?" I told him--fortunately, my
acquaintance lying but little among men of business, I could tell him so
honestly--that I had heard nothing stated to his discredit.

"Well, well; but they will soon. Oh! Hawthorne; the utter misery, the
curse that money-making brings with it! That joining house to house, and
field to field, how it corrupts all the better part of a man's nature! I
vow to you, I believe my father would have been an honest man if he had
but been a poor one! If he had never had anything to do with interest
tables, and had but spent his capital, instead of trying to double and
redouble it! One thing I have to thank him for; that he never would
suffer me to imbibe any taste for business; he knew the evil and the
pollution money-handling brings with it--I am sure he did; he encouraged
me, I fear, in extravagance; but I bless him that he never encouraged me
in covetousness."

He grew a little calmer by degrees, and we sat down and took counsel as
to his future plans. He was not, of course, without friends, and had
already had many offers of assistance for himself and his sister; but
his heart appeared, for the present, firmly bent upon independence. Much
to my surprise, he decided on returning at once to Oxford, and reading
for his degree. His sister had some little property settled upon
her--some hundred and fifty pounds a-year; and this she had insisted on
devoting to this purpose.

"I love her too well," said Russell, "to refuse her: and trifling as
this sum is,--I remember the time when I should have thought it little
to keep me in gloves and handkerchiefs--yet, with management, it
will be more than I shall spend in Oxford. Of course, I play the
gentleman-commoner no longer; I shall descend to the plain stuff gown."

"You'll go to a hall, of course?" said I; for I concluded he would at
least avoid the mortification of so palpable a confession of reduced
circumstances as this degradation of rank in his old college would be.

"I can see no occasion for it; that is, if they will allow me to change;
I have done nothing to be ashamed of, and shall be much happier than I
was before. I only strike my false colours; and you know they were never
carried willingly."

I did not attempt to dissuade him, and soon after rose to take my leave.

"I cannot ask my sister to see you now," he said, as we shook hands:
"she is not equal to it. But some other time, I hope"----

"At any other time, I shall be most proud of the introduction. By the
way, have you seen Ormiston? He met me this morning, and sent some kind
messages, to offer any service in his power."

"He did, did he?"

"Yes; and, depend upon it, he will do all he can for you in college; you
don't know him very well, I think; but I am sure he takes an interest in
you now, at all events," I continued, "and no man is a more sincere and
zealous friend."

"I beg your pardon, Hawthorne, but I fancy I _do_ know Mr Ormiston very
well."

"Oh! I remember, there seemed some coolness between you, because you
never would accept his invitations. Ormiston thought you were too proud
to dine with him; and then _his_ pride, which he has his share of, took
fire. But that misunderstanding must be all over now."

"My dear Hawthorne, I believe Mr Ormiston and I understand each other
perfectly. Good-morning; I am sorry to seem abrupt, but I have a host of
things, not the most agreeable, to attend to."

It seemed quite evident that there was some little prejudice on
Russell's part against Ormiston. Possibly he did not like his attentions
to his sister. But that was no business of mine, and I knew the other
too well to doubt his earnest wish to aid and encourage a man of
Russell's high principles, and in his unfortunate position. None of us
always know our best friends.

The step which Russell had resolved on taking was, of course, an
unusual one. Even the college authorities strongly advised him to
remove his name to the books of one of the halls, where he would enter
comparatively as a stranger, and where his altered position would not
entail so many painful feelings. Every facility was offered him of doing
so at one of them where a relative of our Principal's was the head,
and even a saving in expense might thus be effected. But this evident
kindness and consideration on their part, only confirmed him in the
resolution of remaining where he was. He met their representations with
the graceful reply, that he had an attachment to the college which did
not depend upon the rank he held in it, and that he trusted he should
not be turned out of two homes at once. Even the heart of the splenetic
little vice-principal was moved by this genuine tribute to the venerable
walls, which to him, as his mistress's girdle to the poet, encircled all
he loved, or hoped, or cared for; and had the date been some century
earlier--in those remarkable times when a certain fellow was said to
have owed his election into that body to a wondrous knack he had at
compounding sherry-posset--it is probable Charles Russell would have
stepped into a fellowship by special license at once.

He had harder work before him, however, and he set stoutly to it. He got
permission to lodge out of college--a privilege quite unusual, and
apparently without any sufficient object in his case. A day or two after
his return, he begged me to go with him to see the rooms he had taken:
and I was surprised to find that although small, and not in a good part
of the town, they were furnished in a style by no means, I thought, in
accordance with the strict economy I knew him to be practising in every
other respect. They contained, on a small scale, all the appointments of
a lady's drawing-room. It was soon explained. His sister was coming to
live with him. "We are but two, now," said Russell in explanation; "and
though poor Mary has been offered what might have been a comfortable
home elsewhere, which perhaps would have been more prudent, we both
thought, why should we be separated? As to these little things you see,
they are nearly all hers: we offered them to the creditors, but even the
lawyers would not touch them: and here Mary and I shall live. Very
strange, you think, for her to be here in Oxford with no one to take
care of her but me; but she does not mind that, and we shall be
together. However, Hawthorne, we shall keep a dragon: there is an old
housekeeper who would not be turned off, and she comes down with Mary,
and may pass for her aunt, if that's all; so don't, pray, be shocked at
us."

And so the old housekeeper did come down, and Mary with her; and under
such guardianship, a brother and an old servant, was that fair girl
installed within the perilous precincts of the University of Oxford;
perilous in more senses than one, as many a speculative and disappointed
mamma can testify, whose daughters, brought to market at the annual
"show" at commemoration, have left uncaught those dons of dignity, and
heirs-apparent of property, whom they ought to have caught, and caught
those well-dressed and good-looking, but undesirable young men, whom
they ought not to have caught. Mary Russell, however, was in little
peril herself, and, as little as she could help it, an occasion of peril
to others. Seldom did she move out from her humble abode, except for an
early morning walk with her brother, or sometimes leaning on the arm of
her old domestic, so plainly dressed that you might have mistaken her
for her daughter, and wondered how those intensely expressive features,
and queen-like graces, should have been bestowed by nature on one so
humble. Many a thoughtful student, pacing slowly the parks or
Christchurch meadow after early chapel, book in hand, cheating himself
into the vain idea that he was taking a healthful walk, and roused by
the flutter of approaching female dress, and unwillingly looking up to
avoid the possible and unwelcome collision with a smirking nurse-maid
and an unresisting baby--has met those eyes, and spoilt his reading for
the morning; or has paused in the running tour of Headington hill, or
Magdalen walk (by which he was endeavouring to cram his whole allotted
animal exercise for the day into an hour), as that sweet vision crossed
his path, and wondered in his heart by what happy tie of relationship,
or still dearer claim, his fellow-undergraduate had secured to himself
so lovely a companion; and has tried in vain, over his solitary
breakfast, to rid himself of the heterodox notion which would still
creep in upon his thoughts, that in the world there might be, after all,
things better worth living and working for, prizes more valuable--and
perhaps not harder to win--than a first class, and living impersonations
of the beautiful which Aristotle had unaccountably left out. Forgive me,
dear reader, if I seem to be somewhat sentimental: I am not, and I
honestly believe I never was, in love with Mary Russell; I am not--I
fear I never was or shall be--much of a reading man or an early riser;
but I will confess, it would have been a great inducement to me to adopt
such habits, if I could have insured such pleasant company in my morning
walks.

To the general world of Oxford, for a long time, I have no doubt the
very existence of such a jewel within it was unknown; for at the hours
when liberated tutors and idle undergraduates are wont to walk abroad,
Mary was sitting, hid within a little ambush of geraniums, either busy
at her work, or helping--as she loved to fancy she helped him--her
brother at his studies. Few men, I believe, ever worked harder than
Russell did in his last year. With the exception of the occasional early
walk, and the necessary attendance at chapel and lecture, he read hard
nearly the whole day; and I always attributed the fact of his being able
to do so with comparatively little effort, and no injury to his health,
to his having such a sweet face always present, to turn his eyes upon,
when wearied with a page of Greek, and such a kind voice always ready to
speak or to be silent.

It was not for want of access to any other society that Mary Russell
spent her time so constantly with her brother. The Principal, with his
usual kind-heartedness, had insisted--a thing he seldom did--upon his
lady making her acquaintance; and though Mrs Meredith, who plumed
herself much upon her dignity, had made some show of resistance at first
to calling upon a young lady who was living in lodgings by herself in
one of the most out-of-the-way streets in Oxford, yet, after her first
interview with Miss Russell, so much did her sweetness of manner win
upon Mrs Principal's fancy--or perhaps it will be doing that lady but
justice to say, so much did her more than orphan unprotectedness and
changed fortunes soften the woman's heart that beat beneath that
formidable exterior of silk and ceremony, that before the first ten
minutes of what had been intended as a very condescending and very
formal call were over, she had been offered a seat in Mrs Meredith's
official pew in St Mary's; the pattern of a mysterious bag, which that
good lady carried everywhere about with her, it was believed for no
other purpose; and an airing the next day behind the fat old greys,
which their affectionate coachman--in commemoration of his master's
having purchased them at the time he held that dignity--always called by
the name of the "Vice-Chancellors." Possibly an absurd incident, which
Mary related with great glee to her brother and myself, had helped to
thaw the ice in which "our governess" usually encased herself. When the
little girl belonging to the lodgings opened the door to these dignified
visitors, upon being informed that Miss Russell was at home, the
Principal gave the name simply as "Dr and Mrs Meredith:" which, not
appearing to his more pompous half at all calculated to convey a due
impression of the honour conveyed by the visit, she corrected him, and
in a tone quite audible--as indeed every word of the conversation
had been--up the half-dozen steep stairs which led to the little
drawing-room, gave out "the Master of ---- and lady, if you please." The
word "master" was quite within the comprehension of the little domestic,
and dropping an additional courtesy of respect to an office which
reminded her of her catechism and the Sunday school, she selected the
appropriate feminine from her own vocabulary, and threw open the door
with "the master and mistress of ----, if you please, Miss." Dr Meredith
laughed, as he entered, so heartily, that even Mary could not help
smiling, and the "mistress," seeing the odds against her, smiled too. An
acquaintance begun in such good humour, could hardly assume a very
formal character; and, in fact, had Mary Russell not resolutely declined
all society, Mrs Meredith would have felt rather a pleasure in
patronising her. But both her straitened means and the painful
circumstances of her position--her father already spoken of almost as
a criminal--led her to court strict retirement; while she clung with
redoubled affection to her brother. He, on his part, seemed to have
improved in health and spirits since his change of fortunes; the
apparent haughtiness and coldness with which many had charged him
before, had quite vanished; he showed no embarrassment, far less any
consciousness of degradation, in his conversation with any of his
old messmates at the gentlemen-commoners' table; and, though his
communication with the college was but comparatively slight, nearly all
his time being spent in his lodgings, he was becoming quite a popular
character.

Meanwhile, a change of a different kind seemed to be coming over
Ormiston. It was remarked, even by those not much given to observation,
that his lectures, which were once considered endurable, even by idle
men, from his happy talent of remark and illustration, were fast
becoming as dull and uninteresting as the common run of all such
business. Moreover, he had been in the habit of giving, occasionally,
capital dinners, invitations to which were sent out frequently and
widely among the young men of his own college; these ceased almost
entirely; or, when they occurred, had but the shadow of their former
joyousness. Even some of the fellows were known to have remarked that
Ormiston was much altered lately; some said he was engaged to be
married--a misfortune which would account for any imaginable
eccentricities; but one of the best of the college livings falling
vacant about the time, and, on its refusal by the two senior fellows,
coming within Ormiston's acceptance, and being passed by him, tended
very much to do away with any suspicion of that kind.

Between him and Russell there was an evident coolness, though noticed by
few men but myself; yet Ormiston always spoke most kindly of him, while
on Russell's part there seemed to be a feeling almost approaching to
bitterness, ill concealed, whenever the tutor became the subject of
conversation. I pressed him once or twice upon the subject, but he
always affected to misunderstand me, or laughed off any sarcastic remark
he might have made, as meaning nothing; so that at last the name was
seldom mentioned between us, and almost the only point on which we
differed seemed to be our estimation of Ormiston.


CHAPTER II.

It was the last night of the boat-races. All Oxford, town and gown, was
on the move between Iffley and Christchurch meadow. The reading man had
left his ethics only half understood, the rowing man his bottle more
than half finished, to enjoy as beautiful a summer evening as ever
gladdened the banks of Isis. One continued heterogeneous living stream
was pouring on from St "_Ole's_" to King's barge, and thence across the
river in punts, down to the starting-place by the lasher. One moment
your tailor puffed a cigar in your face, and the next, just as you made
some critical remark to your companion on the pretty girl you just
passed, and turned round to catch a second glimpse of her, you trod on
the toes of your college tutor. The contest that evening was of more
than ordinary interest. The new Oriel boat, a London-built clipper, an
innovation in those days, had bumped its other competitor easily in the
previous race, and only Christchurch now stood between her and the head
of the river. And would they, could they, bump Christchurch to-night?
That was the question to which, for the time being, the coming
examination and the coming St Leger both gave way. Christchurch, that
had not been bumped for ten years before--whose old blue and white flag
stuck at the top of the mast as if it had been nailed there--whose motto
on the river had so long been "Nulli secundus?" It was an important
question, and the Christchurch men evidently thought so. Steersman
and pullers had been summoned up from the country, as soon as that
impertinent new boat had begun to show symptoms of being a dangerous
antagonist, by the rapid progress she was making from the bottom towards
the head of the racing-boats. The old heroes of bygone contests were
enlisted again, like the Roman legionaries, to fight the battles of
their _vexillum_, the little three-cornered bit of blue-and-white silk
before mentioned; and the whole betting society of Oxford were divided
into two great parties, the Oriel and the Christchurch,--the supporters
of the old, or of the new dynasty of eight oars.

Never was signal more impatiently waited for than the pistol-shot which
was to set the boats in motion that night. Hark! "Gentlemen,
are--you--ready?" "No, no!" shouts some umpire, dissatisfied with the
position of his own boat at the moment. "Gentlemen, are--you--ready?"
Again "No, no, no!" How provoking! Christchurch and Oriel both
beautifully placed, and that provoking Exeter, or Worcester, or some
boat that no one but its own crew takes the slightest interest in
to-night, right across the river! And it will be getting dusk soon. Once
more--and even Wyatt, the starter, is getting impatient--"Are you
ready?" Still a cry of "No, no," from some crew who evidently never will
be satisfied. But there goes the pistol. They're off, by all that's
glorious! "Now Oriel!" "Now Christchurch!" Hurrah! beautifully are both
boats pulled--how they lash along the water! Oriel gains evidently! But
they have not got into their speed yet, and the light boat has the best
of it at starting. "Hurrah, Oriel, it's all your own way!" "Now,
Christchurch, away with her!" Scarcely is an eye turned on the boats
behind; and, indeed, the two first are going fast away from them. They
reach the Gut, and at the turn Oriel presses her rival hard. The cheers
are deafening; bets are three to one. She must bump her! "Now,
Christchurch, go to work in the straight water!" Never did a crew pull
so well, and never at such a disadvantage. Their boat is a tub compared
with the Oriel. See how she buries her bow at every stroke. Hurrah,
Christchurch! The old boat for ever! Those last three strokes gained a
yard on Oriel! She holds her own still! Away they go, those old steady
practised oars, with that long slashing stroke, and the strength and
pluck begins to tell. Well pulled, Oriel! Now for it! Not an oar out of
time, but as true together as a set of teeth! But it won't do! Still
Christchurch, by sheer dint of muscle, keeps her distance, and the old
flag floats triumphant yet another year.

Nearly hustled to death in the rush up with the racing boats, I panted
into the stern sheets of a four-oar lying under the bank, in which I saw
Leicester and some others of my acquaintance. "Well, Horace," said I,
"what do you think of Christchurch now?" (I had sufficient Tory
principle about me at all times to be a zealous supporter of the "old
cause," even in the matter of boat-racing.) "How are your bets upon the
London clipper, eh?" "Lost, by Jove," said he; "but Oriel ought to have
done it to-night; why, they bumped all the other boats easily, and
Christchurch was not so much better; but it was the old oars coming up
from the country that did it. But what on earth is all that rush about
up by the barges? They surely are not going to fight it out after all?"

Something had evidently occurred which was causing great confusion; the
cheering a moment before had been deafening from the partisans of
Christchurch, as the victorious crew, pale and exhausted with the
prodigious efforts they had made, mustered their last strength to throw
their oars aloft in triumph, and then slowly, one by one, ascended into
the house-boat which formed their floating dressing-room; it had now
suddenly ceased, and confused shouts and murmurs, rather of alarm than
of triumph, were heard instead: men were running to and fro on both
banks of the river, but the crowd both in the boats on the river and on
shore made it impossible for us to see what was going on. We scrambled
up the bank, and were making for the scene of action, when one of the
river-officials ran hastily by in the direction of Iffley.

"What's the matter, Jack?"

"Punt gone down, sir," he replied without stopping; "going for the
drags."

"Anybody drowning?" we shouted after him.

"Don't know how many was in her, sir," sung out Jack in the distance. We
ran on. The confusion was terrible; every one was anxious to be of use,
and more likely therefore to increase the danger. The punt which had
sunk had been, as usual on such occasions, overloaded with men, some of
whom had soon made good their footing on the neighbouring barges; others
were still clinging to their sides, or by their endeavours to raise
themselves into some of the light wherries and four oars, which, with
more zeal than prudence, were crowding to their assistance, were
evidently bringing a new risk upon themselves and their rescuers. Two of
the last of the racing eights, too, coming up to the winning-post at the
moment of the accident, and endeavouring vainly to back water in time,
had run into each other, and lay helplessly across the channel, adding
to the confusion, and preventing the approach of more efficient aid to
the parties in the water. For some minutes it seemed that the disaster
must infallibly extend itself. One boat, whose crew had incautiously
crowded too much to one side, in their eagerness to aid one of the
sufferers in his struggles to get on board, had already been upset,
though fortunately not in the deepest water, so that the men, with a
little assistance, easily got on shore. Hundreds were vociferating
orders and advice, which few could hear, and none attended to. The most
effectual aid that had been rendered was the launching of two large
planks from the University barge, with ropes attached to them, which
several of those who had been immersed succeeded in reaching, and so
were towed safely ashore. Still, however, several were seen struggling
in the water, two or three with evidently relaxing efforts; and the
unfortunate punt, which had righted and come up again, though full of
water, had two of her late passengers clinging to her gunwale, and thus
barely keeping their heads above the water's edge. The watermen had done
their utmost to be of service, but the University men crowded so rashly
into every punt that put off to the aid of their companions, that
their efforts would have been comparatively abortive, had not one
of the pro-proctors jumped into one, with two steady hands, and
authoritatively ordering every man back who attempted to accompany him,
reached the middle of the river, and having rescued those who were in
most imminent danger, succeeded in clearing a sufficient space round the
spot to enable the drags to be used (for it was quite uncertain whether
there might not still be some individuals missing). Loud cheers from
each bank followed this very sensible and seasonable exercise of
authority; another boat, by this example, was enabled to disencumber
herself of superfluous hands, and by their united exertions all who
could be seen in the water were soon picked up and placed in safety.
When the excitement had in some degree subsided, there followed a
suspense which was even more painful, as the drags were slowly moved
again and again across the spot where the accident had taken place.
Happily our alarm proved groundless. One body was recovered, not an
University man, and in his case the means promptly used to restore
animation were successful. But it was not until late in the evening that
the search was given up, and even the next morning it was a sensible
relief to hear that no college had found any of its members missing.

I returned to my rooms as soon as all reasonable apprehension of a fatal
result had subsided, though before the men had left off dragging; and
was somewhat surprised, and at first amused, to recognise, sitting
before the fire in the disguise of my own dressing-gown and slippers,
Charles Russell.

"Hah! Russell, what brings you here at this time of night?" said I;
"however, I'm very glad to see you."

"Well, I'm not sorry to find myself here, I can tell you; I have been in
a less comfortable place to-night."

"What do you mean?" said I, as a suspicion of the truth flashed upon
me--"Surely"----

"I have been in the water, that's all," replied Russell quietly; "don't
be alarmed, my good fellow, I'm all right now. John has made me quite at
home here, you see. We found your clothes a pretty good fit, got up a
capital fire at last, and I was only waiting for you to have some
brandy-and-water. Now, don't look so horrified, pray."

In spite of his good spirits, I thought he looked pale; and I was
somewhat shocked at the danger he had been in--more so from the
suddenness of the information.

"Why," said I, as I began to recall the circumstance, "Leicester and I
came up not two minutes after it happened, and watched nearly every man
that was got out. You could not have been in the water long then, I
hope?"

"Nay, as to that," said Russell, "it seemed long enough to me, I can
tell you, though I don't recollect all of it. I got underneath a punt or
something, which prevented my coming up as soon as I ought."

"How did you get out at last?"

"Why, that I don't quite remember; I found myself on the walk by King's
barge; but they had to turn me upside down, I fancy, to empty me. I'll
take that brandy by itself, Hawthorne, for I think I have the necessary
quantity of water stowed away already."

"Good heavens! don't joke about it; why, what an escape you must have
had!"

"Well, seriously then, Hawthorne, I _have_ had a very narrow escape, for
which I am very thankful; but I don't want to alarm any one about it,
for fear it should reach my sister's ears, which I very much wish to
avoid, for the present at all events. So I came up to your rooms here as
soon as I could walk. Luckily, John saw me down at the water, so I came
up with him, and got rid of a good many civil people who offered their
assistance; and I have sent down to the lodgings to tell Mary I have
staid to supper with you; so I shall get home quietly, and she will know
nothing about this business. Fortunately, she is not in the way of
hearing much Oxford gossip, poor girl!"

Russell sat with me about an hour, and then, as he said he felt very
comfortable, I walked home with him to the door of his lodgings, where I
wished him good night, and returned.

I had intended to have paid him an early visit the next morning; but
somehow I was lazier than usual, and had scarcely bolted my commons in
time to get to lecture. This over, I was returning to my rooms, when my
scout met me.

"Oh, sir," said he, "Mr Smith has just been here, and wanted to see you,
he said, particular."

Mr Smith? Of all the gentlemen there might be of that name in Oxford, I
thought I had not the honour of a personal acquaintance with one.

"Mr Russell's Mr Smith, sir," explained John: "the little gentleman as
used to come to his rooms so often."

I walked up the staircase, ruminating within myself what possible
business "poor Smith" could have with me, of whom he had usually
appeared to entertain a degree of dread. Something to do with Russell,
probably. And I had half resolved to take the opportunity to call upon
him, and try to make out who and what he was, and how he and Russell
came to be so intimately acquainted. I had scarcely stuck old Herodotus
back into his place on the shelf, however, when there came a gentle tap
at the door, and the little Bible-clerk made his appearance. All
diffidence and shyness had wholly vanished from his manner. There was an
earnest expression in his countenance which struck me even before he
spoke. I had scarcely time to utter the most commonplace civility, when,
without attempt at explanation or apology, he broke out with--"Oh, Mr
Hawthorne, have you seen Russell this morning?"

"No," said I, thinking he might possibly have heard some false report of
the late accident--"but he was in my rooms last night, and none the
worse for his wetting."

"Oh, yes, yes! I know that; but pray, come down and see him now--he is
very, very ill, I fear."

"You don't mean it? What on earth is the matter?"

"Oh! he has been in a high fever all last night! and they say he is
worse this morning--Dr Wilson and Mr Lane are both with him--and poor
Miss Russell!--he does not know her--not know his sister; and oh, Mr
Hawthorne, he must be _very_ ill! and they won't let me go to him!"

And poor Smith threw himself into a chair, and fairly burst into tears.

I was very much distressed too: but, at the moment, I really believe I
felt more pity for the poor lad before me, than even apprehension for my
friend Russell. I went up to him, shook his hand, and begged him to
compose himself. Delirium, I assured him--and tried hard to assure
myself--was the usual concomitant of fever, and not at all alarming.
Russell had taken a chill, no doubt, from the unlucky business of the
last evening, but there could not be much danger in so short a time.
"And now, Smith," said I, "just take a glass of wine, and you and I
will go down together, and I dare say we shall find him better by this
time."

"Oh, thank you, thank you," he replied; "you are very kind--very kind
indeed--no wine, thank you--I could not drink it: but oh! if they would
only let me see him! And poor Miss Russell! and no one to attend to him
but her!--but will you come down now directly?"

My own anxiety was not less than his, and in a very few minutes we were
at the door of Russell's lodgings. The answer to our inquiries was, that
he was in much the same state, and that he was to be kept perfectly
quiet; the old housekeeper was in tears; and although she said Dr Wilson
told them he hoped there would be a change for the better soon, it was
evident that poor Russell was at present in imminent danger.

I sent up my compliments to Miss Russell to offer my services in any way
in which they could be made available; but nothing short of the most
intimate acquaintance could have justified any attempt to see her at
present, and we left the house. I thought I should never have got Smith
from the door; he seemed thoroughly overcome. I begged him to come with
me back to my rooms--a Bible-clerk has seldom too many friends in the
University, and it seemed cruel to leave him by himself in such evident
distress of mind. Attached as I was to Russell myself, his undisguised
grief really touched me, and almost made me reproach myself with being
comparatively unfeeling. At any other time, I fear it might have annoyed
me to encounter as I did the inquisitive looks of some of my friends, as
I entered the college gates arm-in-arm with my newly-found and somewhat
strange-looking acquaintance. As it was, the only feeling that arose in
my mind was a degree of indignation that any man should venture to throw
a supercilious glance at him; and if I longed to replace his shabby and
ill-cut coat by something more gentlemanly in appearance, it was for his
sake, and not my own.

And now it was that, for the first time, I learnt the connection that
existed between the Bible-clerk and the quondam gentleman-commoner.
Smith's father had been for many years a confidential clerk in Mr
Russell's bank; for Mr Russell's bank it was solely, the Smith who had
been one of the original partners having died some two generations back,
though the name of the firm, as is not unusual, had been continued
without alteration. The clerk was a poor relation, in some distant
degree, of the some-time partner: his father, too, had been a clerk
before him. By strict carefulness, he had saved some little money during
his many years of hard work: and this, by special favour on the part of
Mr Russell, he had been allowed to invest in the bank capital, and
thereby to receive a higher rate of interest for it than he could
otherwise have obtained. The elder Smith's great ambition--indeed it was
his only ambition--for the prosperity of the bank itself he looked upon
as a law of nature, which did not admit of the feeling of hope, as being
a fixed and immutable certainty--his ambition was to bring up his son as
a gentleman. Mr Russell would have given him a stool and a desk, and he
might have aspired hereafter to his father's situation, which would have
assured him £250 per annum. But somehow the father did not wish the son
to tread in his own steps. Perhaps the close confinement, and
unrefreshing relaxations of a London clerk, had weighed heavily upon his
own youthful spirits: perhaps he was anxious to spare the son of his old
age--for, like a prudent man, he had not married until late in
life--from the unwholesome toils of the counting-house, varied only too
often by the still less wholesome dissipation of the evening. At all
events, his visions for him were not of annually increasing salaries,
and future independence: of probable partnerships, and possible
lord-mayoralties; but of some cottage among green trees, far away in the
quiet country, where, even as a country parson, people would touch their
hats to him as they did to Mr Russell himself, and where, when the time
should come for superannuation and a pension--the house had always
behaved liberally to its old servants--his own last days might be
happily spent in listening to his son's sermons, and smoking his
pipe--if such a thing were lawful--in the porch of the parsonage. So
while the principal was carefully training his heir to enact the
fashionable man at Oxford, and in due time to take his place among the
squires of England, and shunning, as if with a kind of remorseful
conscience, to make him a sharer in his own contaminating speculations;
the humble official too, but from far purer motives, was endeavouring in
his degree, perhaps unconsciously, to deliver his boy from the snares of
Mammon. And when Charles Russell was sent to the University, many were
the inquiries which Smith's anxious parent made, among knowing friends,
about the expenses and advantages of an Oxford education. And various,
according to each individual's sanguine or saturnine temperament, were
the answers he obtained, and tending rather to his bewilderment than
information. One intimate acquaintance assured him, that the necessary
expenses of an undergraduate _need_ not exceed a hundred pounds per
annum: another--he was somewhat of a sporting character--did not believe
any young man could do the thing like a gentleman under five. So Mr
Smith would probably have given up his darling project for his son in
despair, if he had not fortunately thought of consulting Mr Russell
himself upon the point; and that gentleman, though somewhat surprised at
his clerk's aspiring notions, good-naturedly solved the difficulty as
to ways and means, by procuring for his son a Bible-clerk's appointment
at one of the Halls, upon which he could support himself respectably,
with comparatively little pecuniary help from his friends. With his
connections and interest, it was no great stretch of friendly exertion
in behalf of an old and trusted servant; but to the Smiths, father
and son, both the munificence which designed such a favour, and the
influence which could secure it, tended to strengthen if possible their
previous conviction that the power and the bounty of the house of
Russell came within a few degrees of omnipotence. Even now, when recent
events had so fearfully shaken them from this delusion; when the
father's well-earned savings had disappeared in the general wreck with
the hoards of wealthier creditors, and the son was left almost wholly
dependent on the slender proceeds of his humble office; even now, as he
told me the circumstances just mentioned, regret at the ruined fortunes
of his benefactors seemed in a great measure to overpower every personal
feeling. In the case of the younger Russell, indeed, this gratitude was
not misplaced. No sooner was he aware of the critical situation of his
father's affairs, and the probability of their involving all connected
with him, than, even in the midst of his own harassing anxieties, he
turned his attention to the prospects of the young Bible-clerk, whose
means of support, already sufficiently narrow, were likely to be further
straitened in the event of a bankruptcy of the firm. His natural
good-nature had led him to take some little notice of young Smith on his
first entrance at the University, and he knew his merits as a scholar to
be very indifferent. The obscure suburban boarding-school at which he
had been educated, in spite of its high-sounding name--"Minerva House,"
I believe--was no very sufficient preparation for Oxford. Where the
Greek and the washing are both extras at three guineas per annum, one
clean shirt in the week, and one lesson in _Delectus_, are perhaps as
much as can reasonably be expected. Poor Smith had, indeed, a fearful
amount of up-hill work, to qualify himself even for his "little-go."
Charles Russell, not less to his surprise than to his unbounded
gratitude, inasmuch as he was wholly ignorant of his motives for taking
so much trouble, undertook to assist and direct him in his reading: and
Smith, when he had got over his first diffidence, having a good share of
plain natural sense, and hereditary habits of plodding, made more rapid
progress than might have been expected. The frequent visits to Russell's
rooms, whose charitable object neither I nor any one else could have
guessed, had resulted in a very safe pass through his first formidable
ordeal, and he seemed now to have little fear of eventual success for
his degree, with a strong probability of being privileged to starve
upon a curacy thereafter. But for Russell's aid, he would, in all
likelihood, have been remanded from his first examination back to his
father's desk, to the bitter mortification of the old man at the time,
and to become an additional burden to him on the loss at once of his
situation and his little capital.

Poor Smith! it was no wonder that, at the conclusion of his story,
interrupted constantly by broken expressions of gratitude, he wrung his
hands, and called Charles Russell the only friend he had in the world.
"And, oh! if he were to die! Do you think he will die?"

I assured him I hoped and trusted not; and with the view of relieving
his and my own suspense, though it was little more than an hour since we
had left his lodgings, we went down again to make inquiries. The street
door was open, and so was that of the landlady's little parlour, so we
walked in at once. She shook her head in reply to our inquiries. "Dr
Wilson has been up-stairs with him, sir, for the last hour nearly, and
he has sent twice to the druggist's for some things, and I fancy he's no
better at all events."

"How is Miss Russell?" I inquired.

"Oh, sir, she don't take on much--not at all, as I may say; but she
don't speak to nobody, and she don't take nothing: twice I have carried
her up some tea, poor thing, and she just tasted it because I begged
her, and she wouldn't refuse me, I know--but, poor dear young lady! it
is very hard upon her, and she all alone like."

"Will you take up my compliments--Mr Hawthorne--and ask if I can be of
any possible service?" said I, scarce knowing what to say or do. Poor
girl! she was indeed to be pitied; her father ruined, disgraced, and a
fugitive from the law; his only son--the heir of such proud hopes and
expectations once--lying between life and death; her only brother, her
only counsellor and protector, now unable to recognise or to speak to
her--and she so unused to sorrow or hardship, obliged to struggle on
alone, and exert herself to meet the thousand wants and cares of
illness, with the added bitterness of poverty.

The answer to my message was brought back by the old housekeeper, Mrs
Saunders. She shook her head, said her young mistress was very much
obliged, and would be glad if I would call and see her brother
to-morrow, when she hoped he would be better. "But oh, sir!" she added,
"he will never be better any more! I know the doctors don't think so,
but I can't tell her, poor thing--I try to keep her up, sir; but I do
wish some of her own friends were here--she won't write to anybody, and
I don't know the directions"--and she stopped, for her tears were almost
convulsing her.

I could not remain to witness misery which I could do nothing to
relieve; so I took Smith by the arm--for he stood by the door
half-stupified--and proceeded back towards college. He had to mark the
roll at his own chapel that evening; so we parted at the top of the
street, after I had made him promise to come to breakfast with me in the
morning. Russell's illness cast a universal gloom over the college that
evening; and when the answer to our last message, sent down as late as
we could venture to do, was still unfavourable, it was with anxious
anticipation that we awaited any change which the morrow might bring.

The next day passed, and still Russell remained in the same state. He
was in a high fever, and either perfectly unconscious of all around him,
or talking in that incoherent and yet earnest strain, which is more
painful to those who have to listen to and to soothe it than even the
total prostration of the reason. No one was allowed to see him; and his
professional attendants, though they held out hopes founded on his youth
and good constitution, acknowledged that every present symptom was most
unfavourable.

The earliest intelligence on the third morning was, that the patient had
passed a very bad night, and was much the same; but in the course of an
hour or two afterwards, a message came to me to say that Mr Russell
would be glad to see me. I rushed, rather than ran, down to his
lodgings, in a perfect exultation of hope, and was so breathless with
haste and excitement when I arrived there, that I was obliged to pause a
few moments to calm myself before I raised the carefully muffled
knocker. My joy was damped at once by poor Mrs Saunders' mournful
countenance.

"Your master is better, I hope--is he not?" said I.

"I am afraid not, sir; but he is very quiet now: and he knew his poor
dear sister; and then he asked if any one had been to see him, and we
mentioned you, sir; and then he said he should like to see you very
much, and so Miss made bold to send to you--if you please to wait, sir,
I'll tell her you are here."

In a few moments she returned--Miss Russell would see me if I would walk
up.

I followed her into the little drawing-room, and there, very calm and
very pale, sat Mary Russell. Though her brother and myself had now so
long been constant companions, I had seen but very little of her; on the
very few evenings I had spent with Russell at his lodgings she had
merely appeared to make tea for us, had joined but little in the
conversation, and retired almost before the table was cleared. In her
position, this behaviour seemed but natural; and as, in spite of the
attraction of her beauty, there was a shade of that haughtiness and
distance of manner which we had all at first fancied in her brother, I
had begun to feel a respectful kind of admiration for Mary Russell,
tinged, I may now venture to admit--I was barely twenty at the
time--with a slight degree of awe. Her very misfortunes threw over her a
sort of sanctity. She was too beautiful not to rivet the gaze, too noble
and too womanly in her devotion to her brother not to touch the
affections, but too cold and silent--almost as it seemed too sad--to
love. Her brother seldom spoke of her; but when he did, it was in a tone
which showed--what he did not care to conceal--his deep affection and
anxious care for her; he watched her every look and movement whenever
she was present; and if his love erred in any point, it was, that it
seemed possible it might be even too sensitive and jealous for her own
happiness.

The blinds were drawn close down, and the little room was very dark; yet
I could see at a glance the work which anguish had wrought upon her in
the last two days, and, though no tears were to be seen now, they had
left their traces only too plainly. She did not rise, or trust herself
to speak; but she held out her hand to me as if we had been friends from
childhood. And if thorough sympathy, and mutual confidence, and true but
pure affection, make such friendship, then surely we became so from that
moment. I never thought Mary Russell cold again; yet I did not dream of
loving her; she was my sister in everything but the name.

I broke the silence of our painful meeting--painful as it was, yet not
without that inward throb of pleasure which always attends the awakening
of hidden sympathies. What I said I forget; what does one, or can one
say, at such moments, but words utterly meaningless, so far as they
affect to be an expression of what we feel? The hearts understand each
other without language, and with that we must be content.

"He knew me a little while ago," said Mary Russell at last; "and asked
for you; and I knew you would be kind enough to come directly if I
sent."

"Surely it must be a favourable symptom, this return of consciousness?"

"We will hope so: yes, I thought it was; and oh! how glad I was! But Dr
Wilson does not say much, and I fear he thinks him weaker. I will go now
and tell him you are come."

"You can see him now if you please," she said when she returned; "he
seems perfectly sensible still; and when I said you were here, he looked
quite delighted." She turned away, and, for the first time, her emotion
mastered her.

I followed her into her brother's room. He did not look so ill as I
expected; but I saw with great anxiety, as I drew nearer his bed, that
his face was still flushed with fever, and his eye looked wild and
excited. He was evidently, however, at present free from delirium, and
recognised me at once. His sister begged him not to speak much, or ask
questions, reminding him of the physician's strict injunctions with
regard to quiet.

"Dr Wilson forgets, my love, that it is as necessary at least for the
mind to be quiet as the tongue," said Russell with an attempt to smile;
and then, after a pause, he added, as he took my hand, "I wanted to see
you, Hawthorne; I know I am in very great danger; and, once more, I want
to trouble you with a confidence. Nay, nothing very important; and pray,
don't ask me, as I see you are going to do, not to tire myself with
talking: I know what I am going to say, and will try to say it very
shortly; but thinking is at least as bad for me as speaking." He paused
again from weakness; Miss Russell had left the room. I made no reply. He
half rose, and pointed to a writing-desk on a small table, with keys in
the lock. I moved towards it, and opened it, as I understood his
gestures; and brought to him, at his request, a small bundle of letters,
from which he selected one, and gave it me to read. It was a banker's
letter, dated some months back, acknowledging the receipt of three
hundred pounds to Russell's credit, and enclosing the following note:--

     "SIR,--Messrs ---- are directed to inform you of the sum of £300
     placed to your credit. You will be wrongly advised if you scruple
     to use it. If at any time you are enabled, and desire it, it may be
     repaid through the same channel.

               "ONE OF YOUR FATHER'S CREDITORS."

"I have never touched it," said Russell, as I folded up the note.

"I should have feared you would not," said I.

"But now," he proceeded, "now things seem changed with me. I shall want
money--Mary will; and I shall draw upon this unseen charity; ay, and
gratefully. Poor Mary!"

"You are quite right, my dear Russell," said I, eager to interrupt a
train of thought which I saw would be too much for him. "I will manage
all that for you, and you shall give me the necessary authority till you
get well again yourself," I added in a tone meant to be cheerful.

He took no notice of my remark. "I fear," said he, "I have not been a
wise counsellor to my poor sister. She had kind offers from more than
one of our friends, and might have had a home more suited to her than
this has been, and I allowed her to choose to sacrifice all her own
prospects to mine!"

He turned his face away, and I knew that one painful thought besides was
in his mind--that they had been solely dependent on her little income
for his support at the University since his father's failure.

"Russell," said I gently, "this conversation can surely do no good; why
distress yourself and me unnecessarily? Come, I shall leave you now, or
your sister will scold me. Pray, for all our sakes, try to sleep; you
know how desirable it is, and how much stress Dr Wilson has laid upon
your being kept perfectly calm and quiet."

"I will, Hawthorne, I will try; but oh, I have so much to think of!"

Distressed and anxious, I could only take my leave of him for the
present, feeling how much there was, indeed, in his circumstances to
make rest even more necessary, and more difficult to obtain, for the
mind than for the body.

I had returned to the sitting-room, and was endeavouring to give as
hopeful answers as I could to Miss Russell's anxious inquiries as to
what I thought of her brother, when a card was brought up, with a
message that Mr Ormiston was below, and "would be very glad if he could
see Miss Russell for a few moments, at any hour she would mention, in
the course of the day."

Ormiston! I started, I really did not know why. Miss Russell started
also, visibly; did she know why? Her back was turned to me at the
moment; she had moved, perhaps intentionally, the moment the message
became intelligible, so that I had no opportunity of watching the effect
it produced, which I confess I had an irrepressible anxiety to do. She
was silent until I felt my position becoming awkward: I was rising to
take leave, which perhaps would have made hers even more so, when, half
turning round towards me, with a tone and gesture almost of command, she
said, "Stay!" and then, in reply to the servant, who was still waiting,
"Ask Mr Ormiston to walk up."

I felt the few moments of expectation which ensued to be insufferably
embarrassing. I tried to persuade myself it was my own folly to think
them so. Why should Ormiston _not_ call at the Russells, under such
circumstances? As college tutor, he stood almost in the relation of a
natural guardian to Russell; had he not at least as much right to assume
the privilege of a friend of the family as I had, with the additional
argument, that he was likely to be much more useful in that capacity? He
had known them longer, at all events, and any little coolness between
the brother and himself was not a matter, I felt persuaded, to be
remembered by him at such a moment, or to induce any false punctilio
which might stand in the way of his offering his sympathy and assistance
when required. But the impression on my mind was strong--stronger,
perhaps, than any facts within my knowledge fairly warranted--that
between Ormiston and Mary Russell there either was, or had been,
some feeling which, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged--whether
reciprocal or on one side only--whether crushed by any of those
thousand crosses to which such feelings, fragile as they are precious,
are liable, or only repressed by circumstances and awaiting its
development--would make their meeting under such circumstances not that
of ordinary acquaintances. And once again I rose, and would have gone;
but again Mary Russell's sweet voice--and this time it was an accent
of almost piteous entreaty, so melted and subdued were its tones,
as if her spirit was failing her--begged me to remain--"I have
something--something to consult you about--my brother."

She stopped, for Ormiston's step was at the door. I had naturally--not
from any ungenerous curiosity to scan her feelings--raised my eyes to
her countenance while she spoke to me, and could not but mark that
her emotion amounted almost to agony. Ormiston entered: whatever his
feelings were, he concealed them well; not so readily, however, could he
suppress his evident astonishment, and almost as evident vexation, when
he first noticed my presence: an actor in the drama for whose appearance
he was manifestly unprepared. He approached Miss Russell, who never
moved, with some words of ordinary salutation, but uttered in a low and
earnest tone, and offered his hand, which she took at once, without any
audible reply. Then turning to me, he asked if Russell were any better?
I answered somewhat indefinitely, and Miss Russell, to whom he turned
as for a reply, shook her head, and, sinking into a chair, hid her face
in her hands. Ormiston took a seat close by her, and after a pause of a
moment said,

"I trust your very natural anxiety for your brother makes you inclined
to anticipate more danger than really exists, Miss Russell: but I have
to explain my own intrusion upon you at such a moment"--and he gave me
a glance which was meant to be searching--"I called by the particular
request of the Principal, Dr Meredith."

Miss Russell could venture upon no answer, and he went on, speaking
somewhat hurriedly and with embarrassment.

"Mrs Meredith has been from home some days, and the Principal himself
has the gout severely; he feared you might think it unkind their not
having called, and he begged me to be his deputy. Indeed he insisted on
my seeing you in person, to express his very sincere concern for your
brother's illness, and to beg that you will so far honour him--consider
him sufficiently your friend, he said--as to send to his house for
anything which Russell could either want or fancy, which, in lodgings,
there might be some difficulty in finding at hand. In one respect, Miss
Russell," continued Ormiston in somewhat a more cheerful tone, "your
brother is fortunate in not being laid up within the college walls; we
are not very good nurses there, as Hawthorne can tell you, though we do
what we can; yet I much fear this watching and anxiety have been too
much for you."

Her tears began to flow freely; there was nothing in Ormiston's words,
but their tone implied deep feeling. Yet who, however indifferent, could
look upon her helpless situation, and not be moved? I walked to the
window, feeling terribly out of place where I was, yet uncertain whether
to go or stay: for my own personal comfort, I would sooner have faced
the collected anger of a whole common-room, called to investigate my
particular misdemeanours; but to take leave at this moment seemed as
awkward as to stay; besides, had not Miss Russell appeared almost
imploringly anxious for me to spare her a _tête-à-tête_?

"My poor brother is very, very ill, Mr Ormiston," she said at last,
raising her face, from which every trace of colour had again
disappeared, and which seemed now as calm as ever. "Will you thank Dr
Meredith for me, and say I will without hesitation avail myself of his
most kind offers, if anything should occur to make his assistance
necessary."

"I can be of no use myself in any way?" said Ormiston with some
hesitation.

"I thank you, no," she replied; and then, as if conscious that her tone
was cold, she added--"You are very kind: Mr Hawthorne was good enough to
say the same. Every one is very kind to us, indeed; but"--and here she
stopped again, her emotion threatening to master her; and Ormiston and
myself simultaneously took our leave.

Preoccupied as my mind had been by anxiety on Russell's account, it did
not prevent a feeling of awkwardness when I found myself alone with Mr
Ormiston outside the door of his lodgings. It was impossible to devise
any excuse at the moment for turning off in a different direction, as I
felt very much inclined to do; for the little street in which he lived
was not much of a thoroughfare. The natural route for both of us to take
was that which led towards the High Street, for a few hundred steps the
other way would have brought us out into the country, where it is not
usual for either tutors or undergraduates to promenade in cap and gown,
as they do, to the great admiration of the rustics, in our sister
university. We walked on together, therefore, feeling--I will answer at
least for one of us--that it would be an especial relief just then to
meet the greatest bore with whom we had any pretence of a speaking
acquaintance, or pass any shop in which we could frame the most
threadbare excuse of having business, to cut short the embarrassment of
each other's company. After quitting any scene in which deep feelings
have been displayed, and in which our own have been not slightly
interested, it is painful to feel called upon to make any comment on
what has passed; we feel ashamed to do so in the strain and tone which
would betray our own emotion, and we have not the heart to do so
carelessly or indifferently. I should have felt this, even had I been
sure that Ormiston's feelings towards Mary Russell had been nothing more
than my own; whereas, in fact, I was almost sure of the contrary; in
which case it was possible that, in his eyes, my own _locus standi_ in
that quarter, surprised as I had been in an apparently very confidential
interview, might seem to require some explanation which would be
indelicate to ask for directly, and which it might not mend matters if I
were to give indirectly without being asked. So we proceeded some paces
up the little quiet street, gravely and silently, neither of us speaking
a word. At last Ormiston asked me if I had seen Russell, and how I
thought him? adding, without waiting for a reply, "Dr Wilson, I fear
from what he told me, thinks but badly of him."

"I am very sorry to hear you say so," I replied; and then ventured to
remark how very wretched it would be for his sister in the event of his
growing worse, to be left at such a time so utterly helpless and alone.

He was silent for some moments. "Some of her friends," he said at last,
"ought to come down; she must have friends, I know, who would come if
they were sent for. I wish Mrs Meredith were returned--she might advise
her."

He spoke rather in a soliloquy than as addressing me, and I did not feel
called upon to make any answer. The next moment we arrived at the turn
of the street, and, by what seemed a mutual impulse, wished each other
good morning.

I went straight down to Smith's rooms, at ----Hall, to get him to come
and dine with me; for I pitied the poor fellow's forlorn condition, and
considered myself in some degree bound to supply Russell's place towards
him. A Bible-clerk's position in the University is always more or less
one of mortification and constraint. It is true that the same academical
degree, the same honours--if he can obtain them--the same position in
after life--all the solid advantages of a University education, are open
to him, as to other men; but, so long as his undergraduateship lasts, he
stands in a very different position from other men, and he feels
it--feels it, too, through three or four of those years of life when
such feelings are most acute, and when that strength of mind which is
the only antidote--which can measure men by themselves and not by their
accidents--is not as yet matured either in himself or in the society of
which he becomes a member. If, indeed, he be a decidedly clever man, and
has the opportunity early in his career of showing himself to be such,
then there is good sense and good feeling enough--let us say, to the
honour of the University, there is sufficient of that true _esprit du
corps_, a real consciousness of the great objects for which men are thus
brought together--to insure the acknowledgment from all but the most
unworthy of its members, that a scholar is always a gentleman. But if he
be a man of only moderate abilities, and known only as a Bible-clerk,
then, the more he is of a gentleman by birth and education, the more
painful does his position generally become. There are not above two or
three in residence in most colleges, and their society is confined
almost wholly to themselves. Some old schoolfellow, indeed, or some man
who "knows him at home," holding an independent rank in college, may
occasionally venture upon the condescension of asking him to wine--even
to meet a friend or two with whom he can take such a liberty; and
even then, the gnawing consciousness that he is considered an
inferior--though not treated as such--makes it a questionable act of
kindness. Among the two or three of his own table, one is the son of
a college butler, another has been for years usher at a preparatory
school; he treats them with civility, they treat him with deference; but
they have no tastes or feelings in common. At an age, therefore, which
most of all seeks and requires companionship, he has no companions; and
the period of life which should be the most joyous, becomes to him
almost a purgatory. Of course the radical and the leveller will say at
once, "Ay, this comes of your aristocratic distinctions; they ought not
to be allowed in universities at all." Not so: it comes of human nature;
the distinction between a dependent and an independent position will
always be felt in all societies, mark it outwardly as little as you
will. Humiliation, more or less, is a penalty which poverty must always
pay. These humbler offices in the University were founded by a charity
as wise as benevolent, which has afforded to hundreds of men of talent,
but of humble means, an education equal to that of the highest noble in
the land, and, in consequence, a position and usefulness in after life
which otherwise they could never have hoped for. And if the somewhat
servile tenure by which they are held (which in late years has in most
colleges been very much relaxed) were wholly done away with, there is
reason to fear the charity of the founders would be liable to continual
abuse, by their being bestowed upon many who required no such
assistance. As it is, this occurs too often; and it is much to be
desired that the same regulations were followed in their distribution
throughout the University, which some colleges have long most properly
adopted: namely, that the appointment should be bestowed on the
successful candidate after examination, strict regard being had to
the circumstances of all the parties before they are allowed to offer
themselves. It would make their position far more definite and
respectable, because all would then be considered honourable to a
certain degree, as being the reward of merit; instead of which, too
often, they are convenient items of patronage in the hands of the
Principal and Fellows, the nomination to them depending on private
interest, which, by no means insuring the nominee's being a gentleman by
birth, while it is wholly careless of his being a scholar by education,
tends to lower the general standing of the order in the University.

This struck me forcibly in Smith's case. Poor fellow! with an excellent
heart and a great deal of sound common sense, he had neither the
breeding nor the talent to make a gentleman of. I doubt if an university
education was any real boon to him. It insured him four years of
hard work--harder, perhaps, than if he had sat at a desk all the
time--without the society of any of his own class and habits, and with
the prospect of very little remuneration ultimately. I think he might
have been very happy in his own sphere, and I do not see how he could be
happy at Oxford. And whether he or the world in general ever profited
much by the B.A. which he eventually attached to his name, is a point at
least doubtful.

I could not get him to come and dine with me in my own college. He knew
his own position, as it seemed, and was not ashamed of it; in fact, in
his case, it could not involve any consciousness of degradation; and I
am sure his only reason for refusing my invitations of that kind was,
that he thought it possible my dignity might be compromised by so open
an association with him. He would come over to my rooms in the evening
to tea, he said; and he came accordingly. When I told him in the morning
that Russell had inquired very kindly after him, he was much affected;
but it had evidently been a comfort to him to feel that he was not
forgotten, and during the hour or two which we spent together in the
evening, he seemed much more cheerful.

"Perhaps they will let me see him to-morrow, if he is better?" he said,
with an appealing look to me. I assured him I would mention his wish to
Russell, and his countenance at once brightened up, as if he thought
only his presence were needed to insure our friend's recovery.

But the next morning all our hopes were dashed again; delirium had
returned, as had been feared, and the feverish symptoms seemed to gain
strength rather than abate. Bleeding and other usual remedies had been
had recourse to already to a perilous extent, and in Russell's present
reduced state, no further treatment of the kind could be ventured upon.
"All we can do now, sir," said Dr Wilson, "is little more than to let
nature take her course. I _have known_ such cases recover." I did not
ask to see Mary Russell that day; for what could I have answered to her
fears and inquiries? But I thought of Ormiston's words; surely she ought
to have some friend--some one of her own family, or some known and tried
companion of her own sex, would surely come to her at a moment's notice,
did they but know of her trying situation. If--if her brother were to
die--she surely would not be left here among strangers, quite alone? Yet
I much feared, from what had escaped him at our last interview, that
they had both incurred the charge of wilfulness in refusing offers of
assistance at the time of their father's disgrace and flight, and
that having, contrary to the advice of their friends, and perhaps
imprudently, taken the step they had done in coming to Oxford, Mary
Russell, with something of her brother's spirit, had made up her mind
now, however heavy and unforeseen the blow that was to fall, to suffer
all in solitude and silence. For Ormiston, too, I felt with an interest
and intensity that was hourly increasing. I met him after morning
chapel, and though he appeared intentionally to avoid any conversation
with me, I knew by his countenance that he had heard the unfavourable
news of the morning; and it could be no common emotion that had left its
visible trace upon features usually so calm and impassible.

From thoughts of this nature, indulged in the not very appropriate
locality of the centre of the quadrangle, I was roused by the
good-humoured voice of Mrs Meredith--"our governess," as we used to call
her--who, with the Doctor himself, was just then entering the college,
and found me right in the line of her movements towards the door of "the
lodgings." I was not until that moment aware of her return, and
altogether was considerably startled as she addressed me with--"Oh! how
do you do, Mr Hawthorne? You young gentlemen don't take care of
yourselves, you see, when I am away--I am so sorry to hear this about
poor Mr Russell. Is he so very ill? Dr Meredith is just going to see
him."

I coloured up, I dare say, for it was a trick I was given to in those
days, and, in the confusion, replied rather to my own thoughts than to
Mrs Meredith's question.

"Mrs Meredith! I really beg your pardon," I first stammered out as a
very necessary apology, for I had nearly stumbled over her--"May I say
how very glad I am you are returned, on Miss Russell's account--I am
sure"----

"Really, Mr Hawthorne, it is very natural I suppose, but you gentlemen
seem to expend your whole sympathy upon the young lady, and forget the
brother altogether! Mr Ormiston actually took the trouble to write to me
about her"----

"My dear!" interposed the Principal.

"Nay, Dr Meredith, see how guilty Mr Hawthorne looks! and as to Mr
Ormiston"---- "Well, never mind" (the Doctor was visibly checking his
lady's volubility), "I love the poor dear girl so much myself, that I am
really grieved to the heart for her. I shall go down and see her
directly, and make her keep up her spirits. Dr Wilson is apt to make out
all the bad symptoms he can--I shall try if I can cure Mr Russell
myself, after all; a little proper nursing in those cases is worth a
whole staff of doctors--and, as to this poor girl, what can she know
about it? I dare say she sits crying her eyes out, poor thing, and doing
nothing--_I'll_ see about it. Why, I wouldn't lose Mr Russell from the
college for half the young men in it--would I, Dr Meredith?"

I bowed, and they passed on. Mrs Principal, if somewhat pompous
occasionally, was a kind-hearted woman. I believe an hour scarcely
elapsed after her return to Oxford, before she was in Russell's
lodgings, ordering everything about as coolly as if it were in her own
house, and all but insisting on seeing the patient and prescribing
herself for him, in spite of all professional injunctions to the
contrary. The delirium passed off again, and though it left Russell
sensibly weaker, so weak, that when I next was admitted to see him with
Smith, he could do little more than feebly grasp our hands, yet the
fever was evidently abated; and in the course of the next day, whether
it was to be attributed to the remedies originally used, or to his
own youth and good constitution, or to Mrs Meredith's experienced
directions in the way of nursing, and the cheerful spirit which that
good lady, in spite of a little fussiness, succeeded generally in
producing around her, there was a decided promise of amendment, which
happily each succeeding hour tended gradually to fulfil. Ormiston had
been unremitting in his inquiries; but I believe had never since sought
an interview either with the brother or sister. I took advantage of the
first conversation Russell was able to hold with me, to mention how very
sincerely I believed him to have felt the interest he expressed. A
moment afterwards I felt almost sorry I had mentioned the name--it was
the first time I had done so during Russell's illness. He almost started
up in bed, and his face glowed again with more than the flush of fever,
as he caught up my words.

"Sincere, did you say? Ormiston sincere! You don't know the man as I do.
Inquired here, did he? What right has he to intrude his"----

"Hush, my dear Russell," I interposed, really almost alarmed at his
violence. "Pray, don't excite yourself--I think you do him great
injustice; but we will drop the subject, if you please."

"I tell you, Hawthorne, if you knew all, you would despise him as much
as I do."

It is foolish to argue with an invalid--but really even my friendship
for Russell would not allow me to bear in silence an attack so
unjustifiable, as it seemed to me, on the character of a man who had
every claim to my gratitude and respect. I replied therefore somewhat
incautiously, that perhaps I did know a little more than Russell
suspected.

He stared at me with a look of bewilderment. "What do you know?" he
asked quickly.

It was too late to hesitate or retract. I had started an unfortunate
subject; but I knew Russell too well to endeavour now to mislead him. "I
have no right perhaps to say I know anything; but I have gathered from
Ormiston's manner, that he has very strong reasons for the anxiety he
has shown on your account. I will not say more."

"And how do you know this? Has Mr Ormiston dared"----

"No, no, Russell," said I, earnestly; "see how unjust you are, in this
instance." I wished to say something to calm him, and it would have been
worse than useless to say anything but the truth. I saw he guessed to
what I alluded; and I gave him briefly my reasons for what I thought,
not concealing the interview with his sister, at which I had
unintentionally been present.

It was a very painful scene. When he first understood that Ormiston had
sought the meeting, his temper, usually calm, but perhaps now tried by
such long hours of pain and heaviness, broke out with bitter expressions
against both. I told him, shortly and warmly, that such remarks towards
his sister were unmanly and unkind; and then he cried, like a chidden
and penitent child, till his remorse was as painful to look upon as his
passion. "Mary! my own Mary! even you, Hawthorne, know and feel her
value better than I do! I for whom she has borne so much."

"I am much mistaken," said I, "if Ormiston has not learned to appreciate
her even yet more truly. And why not?"

"Leave me now," he said; "I am not strong enough to talk; but if you
wish to know what cause I have to speak as I have done of your friend
Ormiston, you shall hear again."

So exhausted did he seem by the excess of feeling which I had so
unfortunately called forth, that I would not see him again for some
days, contenting myself with learning that no relapse had taken place,
and that he was still progressing rapidly towards recovery.

I had an invitation to visit my aunt again during the Easter vacation,
which had already commenced, and had only been prevented from leaving
Oxford by Russell's alarming state. As soon, therefore, as all danger
was pronounced over, I prepared to go up to town at once, and my next
visit to Russell was in fact to wish him good-by for two or three weeks.
He was already sitting up, and fast regaining strength. He complained
of having seen so little of me lately, and asked me if I had seen
his sister. "I had not noticed it until the last few days," he
said--"illness makes one selfish, I suppose; but I think Mary looks
thin and ill--very different from what she did a month back."

But watching and anxiety, as I told him, were not unlikely to produce
that effect; and I advised him strongly to take her somewhere for a few
weeks for change of air and scene. "It will do you both good," I said;
"and you can draw another £50 from your unknown friend for that purpose;
it cannot be better applied, and I should not hesitate for a moment."

"I would not," he replied, "if I wanted money; but I do not. Do you
know that Dr Wilson would take no fee whatever from Mary during the
whole of his attendance; and when I asked him to name some sufficient
remuneration, assuring him I could afford it, he said he would never
forgive me if I ever mentioned the subject again. So what remains of the
fifty you drew for me, will amply suffice for a little trip somewhere
for us. And I quite agree with you in thinking it desirable, on every
account, that Mary should move from Oxford--perhaps altogether--for one
reason, to be out of the way of a friend of yours."

"Ormiston?"

"Yes, Ormiston; he called here again since I saw you, and wished to see
me; but I declined the honour. Possibly," he added bitterly, "as we
have succeeded in keeping out of jail here, he thinks Mary has grown
rich again." And then he went on to tell me how, in the days of his
father's reputed wealth, Ormiston had been a constant visitor at their
house in town, and how his attentions to his sister had even attracted
his father's attention, and led to his name being mentioned as likely to
make an excellent match with the rich banker's daughter. "My father did
not like it," he said, "for he had higher views for her, as was perhaps
excusable--though I doubt if he would have refused Mary anything. I did
not like it for another reason: because I knew all the time how matters
really stood, and that any man who looked for wealth with my sister
would in the end be miserably disappointed. What Mary's own feelings
were, and what actually passed between her and Ormiston, I never asked;
but she knew my views on the subject, and would, I am certain, never
have accepted any man under the circumstances in which she was placed,
and which she could not explain. I did hope and believe, however, then,
that there was sufficient high principle about Ormiston to save Mary
from any risk of throwing away her heart upon a man who would desert her
upon a change of fortune. I think he loved her at the time--as well
as such men as he can love any one; but from the moment the crash
came--Ormiston, you know, was in town at the time--there was an end of
everything. It was an opportunity for a man to show feeling if he had
any; and though I do not affect much romance, I almost think that in
such a case even an ordinary heart might have been warmed into devotion;
but Ormiston--cold, cautious, calculating as he is--I could almost have
laughed at the sudden change that came over him when he heard the news.
He pretended, indeed, great interest for us, and certainly did seem cut
up about it; but he had not committed himself, I conclude, and took care
to retreat in time. Thank Heaven! even if Mary did ever care for him,
she is not the girl to break her heart for a man who proves so unworthy
of her regard. But why he should insist on inflicting his visits upon us
now, is what I cannot make out; and what I will not endure."

I listened with grief and surprise. I knew well that not even the strong
prejudice which I believed Russell to have always felt against Ormiston,
would tempt him to be guilty of misrepresentation; and, again, I gave
him credit for too much penetration to have been easily deceived. Yet I
could not bring myself all at once to think so ill of Ormiston. He had
always been considered in pecuniary matters liberal almost to a fault;
that he really loved Mary Russell, I felt more than ever persuaded; and,
at my age, it was hard to believe that a few thousand pounds could
affect any man's decision in such a point, even for a moment. Why, the
very fact of her being poor and friendless was enough to make one fall
in love with such a girl at once! So when Russell, after watching the
effect of his disclosure, misconstruing my silence, proceeded to ask
somewhat triumphantly--"_Now_, what say you of Mr Ormiston?"--I answered
at once, that I was strongly convinced there was a mistake.

"Ay," rejoined he with a sneering laugh; "on Ormiston's part, you mean;
decidedly there was."

"I mean," said I, "there has been some misunderstanding, which time may
yet explain: I do not, and will not believe him capable of what you
impute to him. Did you ever ask your sister for a full and unreserved
explanation of what has passed between them?"

"Never; but I know that she has shunned all intercourse with him as
carefully as I have, and that his recently renewed civilities have given
her nothing but pain." My own observation certainly tended to confirm
this; so, changing the subject--for it was one on which I had scarce any
right to give an opinion, still less offer advice, I asked whether I
could do anything for him in town; and, after exchanging a cordial
good-by with Miss Russell, in whose appearance I was sorry to see strong
confirmation of her brother's fears for her health, I took my leave, and
the next morning saw me on the top of "The Age," on my way to town.

There I received a letter from my father, in which he desired me to
take the opportunity of calling upon his attorney, Mr Rushton, in order
to have some leases and other papers read and explained to me, chiefly
matters of form, but which would require my signature upon my coming of
age. It concluded with the following PS.:--

     "I was sorry to hear of your friend's illness, and trust he will
     now do very well. Bring him down with you at Christmas, if you can.
     I hear, by the way, there is a _Miss_ Russell in the case--a very
     fascinating young lady, whom you never mention at all--a fact which
     your mother, who is up to all those things, says is very
     suspicious. All I can say is, if she is as good a girl as her
     mother was before her--I knew her well once--you may bring her down
     with you too, if you like."

How very unlucky it is that the home authorities seldom approve of any
little affairs of the kind except those of which one is perfectly
innocent! Now, if I _had_ been in love with Mary Russell, the governor
would, in the nature of things, have felt it his duty to be
disagreeable.

I put off the little business my father alluded to day after day, to
make way for more pleasant engagements, until my stay in town was
drawing to a close. Letters from Russell informed me of his having left
Oxford for Southampton, where he was reading hard, and getting quite
stout; but he spoke of his sister's health in a tone that alarmed me,
though he evidently was trying to persuade himself that a few weeks'
sea-air would quite restore it. At last I devoted a morning to call on
Mr Rushton, whom I found at home, though professing, as all lawyers do,
to be full of business. He made my acquaintance as politely as if I had
been the heir-expectant of an earldom, instead of the very moderate
amount of acres which had escaped sale and subdivision in the Hawthorne
family. In fact, he seemed a very good sort of fellow, and we ran over
the parchments together very amicably--I almost suspected he was
cheating me, he seemed so very friendly, but therein I did him wrong.

"And now, my dear sir," continued he, as we shut up the last of them,
"will you dine with me to-day? Let me see; I fear I can't say before
seven, for I have a great deal of work to get through. Some bankruptcy
business, about which I have taken some trouble," he continued, rubbing
his hands, "and which we shall manage pretty well in the end, I fancy.
By the way, it concerns some friends of yours, too: is not Mr Ormiston
of your college? Ay, I thought he was; he is two thousand pounds richer
than he fancied himself yesterday."

"Really?" said I, somewhat interested; "how, may I ask?"

"Why, you see, when Russell's bank broke--bad business that--we all
thought the first dividend--tenpence-halfpenny in the pound, I believe
it was--would be the final one: however, there are some foreign
securities which, when they first came into the hands of the assignees,
were considered of no value at all, but have gone up wonderfully in the
market just of late; so that we have delayed finally closing accounts
till we could sell them to such advantage as will leave some tolerable
pickings for the creditors after all."

"Had Ormiston money in Mr Russell's bank, then, at the time?"

"Oh, yes: something like eight thousand pounds: not all his own, though:
five thousand he had in trust for some nieces of his, which he had
unluckily just sold out of the funds, and placed with Russell, while he
was engaged in making arrangements for a more profitable investment; the
rest was his own."

"He lost it all, then?"

"All but somewhere about three hundred pounds, as it appeared at the
time. What an excellent fellow he is! You know him well, I dare say.
They tell me that he pays the interest regularly to his nieces for their
money out of his own income still."

I made no answer to Mr Rushton at the moment, for a communication so
wholly unexpected had awakened a new set of ideas, which I was busily
following out in my mind. I seemed to hold in my hands the clue to a
good deal of misunderstanding and unhappiness. My determination was soon
taken to go to Southampton, see Russell at once, and tell him what I
had just heard, and of which I had no doubt he had hitherto been as
ignorant as myself. I was rather induced to take this course, as I felt
persuaded that Miss Russell's health was suffering rather from mental
than bodily causes; and, in such a case, a great deal of mischief is
done in a short time. I would leave town at once.

My purse was in the usual state of an undergraduate's at the close of a
visit to London; so, following up the train of my own reflections, I
turned suddenly upon Mr Rushton, who was again absorbed in his papers,
and had possibly forgotten my presence altogether, and attacked him
with--

"My dear sir, can you lend me ten pounds?"

"Certainly," said Mr Rushton, taking off his spectacles, and feeling in
his pockets, at the same time looking at me with some little
curiosity--"certainly--with great pleasure."

"I beg your pardon for taking such a liberty," said I, apologetically;
"but I find I must leave town to-night."

"To-night!" said the lawyer, looking still more inquiringly at me; "I
thought you were to dine with me?"

"I cannot exactly explain to you at this moment, sir, my reasons; but I
have reasons, and I think sufficient ones, though they have suddenly
occurred to me."

I pocketed the money, leaving Mr Rushton to speculate on the
eccentricities of Oxonians as he pleased, and a couple of hours found me
seated on the Southampton mail.

The Russells were surprised at my sudden descent upon them, but welcomed
me cordially; and even Mary's pale face did not prevent my being in
excellent spirits. As soon as I could speak to Russell by himself, I
told him what I had heard from Mr Rushton.

He never interrupted me, but his emotion was evident. When he did speak,
it was in an altered and humbled voice.

"I never inquired," he said, "who my father's creditors were--perhaps I
ought to have done so; but I thought the knowledge could only pain me. I
see it all now; how unjust, how ungrateful I have been! Poor Mary!"

We sat down, and talked over those points in Ormiston's conduct, upon
which Russell had put so unfavourable a construction. It was quite
evident, that a man who could act with so much liberality and
self-denial towards others, could have had no interested motives in his
conduct with regard to Mary Russell; and her brother was now as eager to
express his confidence in Ormiston's honour and integrity, as he was
before hasty in misjudging him.

Where all parties are eager for explanation, matters are soon
explained. Russell had an interview with his sister, which brought her
to the breakfast table the next morning with blushing cheeks and
brightened eyes. _Her_ misgivings, if she had any, were easily set at
rest. He then wrote to Ormiston a letter full of generous apologies and
expressions of his high admiration of his conduct, which was answered by
that gentleman in person by return of post. How Mary Russell and he met,
or what they said, must ever be a secret, for no one was present but
themselves. But all embarrassment was soon over, and we were a very
happy party for the short time we remained at Southampton together; for,
feeling that my share in the matter was at an end--a share which I
contemplated with some little self-complacency--I speedily took my
departure.

If I have not made Ormiston's conduct appear in as clear colours to the
reader as it did to ourselves, I can only add, that the late
misunderstanding seemed a painful subject to all parties, and that the
mutual explanations were rather understood than expressed. The anonymous
payment to Russell's credit at the bank was no longer a mystery: it was
the poor remains of the College Tutor's little fortune, chiefly the
savings of his years of office--the bulk of which had been lost through
the fault of the father--generously devoted to meet the necessities of
the son. That he would have offered Mary Russell his heart and hand at
once when she was poor, as he hesitated to do when she was rich, none
of us for a moment doubted, had not his own embarrassments, caused by
the failure of the bank, and the consequent claims of his orphan nieces,
to replace whose little income he had contracted all his own expenses,
made him hesitate to involve the woman he loved in an imprudent
marriage.

They were married, however, very soon--and still imprudently the world
said, and my good aunt among the rest; for, instead of waiting an
indefinite time for a good college living to fall in, Ormiston took the
first that offered, a small vicarage of £300 a-year, intending to add to
his income by taking pupils. However, fortune sometimes loves to have a
laugh at the prudent ones, and put to the rout all their wise
prognostications; for, during Ormiston's "year of grace"--while he still
virtually held his fellowship, though he had accepted the living--our
worthy old Principal died somewhat suddenly, and regret at his loss only
gave way to the universal joy of every individual in the college
(except, I suppose, any disappointed aspirants), when Mr Ormiston was
elected almost unanimously to the vacant dignity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr Russell the elder has never returned to England. On the mind of such
a man, after the first blow, and the loss of his position in the world,
the disgrace attached to his name had comparatively little effect. He
lives in some small town in France, having contrived, with his known
_clever management_, to keep himself in comfortable circumstances; and
his best friends can only strive to forget his existence, rather than
wish for his return. His son and daughter pay him occasional visits, for
their affection survives his disgrace and forgets his errors. Charles
Russell took a first class, after delaying his examination a couple of
terms, owing to his illness, and is now a barrister, with a reputation
for talent, but as yet very little business. However, as I hear the city
authorities have had the impudence to seize some of the college plate in
discharge of a disputed claim for rates, and that Russell is retained as
one of the counsel in an action of replevin, I trust he will begin a
prosperous career, by contributing to win the cause for the "gown."

I spent a month with Dr and Mrs Ormiston at their vicarage in the
country, before the former entered upon his official residence as
Principal; and can assure the reader that, in spite of ten--it may be
more--years of difference in age, they are the happiest couple I ever
saw. I may almost say, the only happy couple I ever saw, most of my
married acquaintance appearing at the best only _contented_ couples, not
drawing their happiness so exclusively from each other as suits my
notion of what such a tie ought to be. Of course, I do not take my own
matrimonial experience into account; the same principle of justice which
forbids a man to give evidence in his own favour, humanely excusing him
from making any admission which may criminate himself. Mrs Ormiston is
as beautiful, as amiable, as ever, and has lost all the reserve and
sadness which, in her maiden days, overshadowed her charms; and so
sincere was and is my admiration of her person and character, and so
warmly was I in the habit of expressing it, that I really believe my
dilating upon her attractions used to make Mrs. Francis Hawthorne
somewhat jealous, until she had the happiness to make her acquaintance,
and settled the point by falling in love with the lady herself.



THE MAGIC LAY OF THE ONE-HORSE CHAY.

BY THE LATE JOHN HUGHES, A.M.

[_MAGA._ OCTOBER 1824.]


AIR--_Eveleen's Bower._

                              I.

 Mr Bubb was a Whig orator, also a Soap Laborator,
 For everything's new christen'd in the present day;
 He was follow'd and adored by the Common Council board,
 And lived quite genteel with a one-horse chay.


                             II.

 Mrs Bubb was gay and free, fair, fat, and forty-three,
 And blooming as a peony in buxom May;
 The toast she long had been of Farringdon-Within,
 And fill'd the better-half of the one-horse chay.


                            III.

 Mrs Bubb said to her Lord, "You can well, Bubb, afford
 Whate'er a Common Council man in prudence may;
 We've no brats to plague our lives, and the soap concern it thrives,
 So let's have a trip to Brighton in the one-horse chay.


                             IV.

 "We'll view the pier and shipping, and enjoy many dipping,
 And walk for a stomach in our best array;
 I longs more nor I can utter, for shrimps and bread and butter,
 And an airing on the Steyne in the one-horse chay.


                              V.

 "We've a right to spare for nought that for money can be bought,
 So to get matters ready, Bubb, do you trudge away;
 To my dear Lord Mayor I'll walk, just to get a bit of talk
 And an imitation shawl for the one-horse chay."


                             VI.

 Mr Bubb said to his wife, "Now I think upon't, my life
 'Tis three weeks at least to next boiling-day;
 The dog-days are set in, and London's growing thin,
 So I'll order out old Nobbs and the one-horse chay."


                            VII.

 Now Nobbs, it must be told, was rather fat and old,
 His colour it was white, and it had been grey;
 He was round as a pot, and when soundly whipt would trot
 Full five miles an hour in the one-horse chay.


                           VIII.

 When at Brighton they were housed, and had stuffed and caroused,
 O'er a bowl of rack punch, Mr Bubb did say,
 "I've ascertain'd, my dear, the mode of dipping here
 From the ostler, who is cleaning up my one-horse chay.


                             IX.

 "You're shut up in a box, ill convenient as the stocks,
 And eighteenpence a-time are obliged for to pay;
 Court corruption here, say I, makes everything so high,
 And I wish I had come without my one-horse chay."


                              X.

 "As I hope," says she, "to thrive, 'tis flaying folks alive,
 The King and them extortioners are leagued, I say;
 'Tis encouraging of such for to go to pay so much,
 So we'll set them at defiance with our one-horse chay.


                             XI.

 "Old Nobbs, I am sartin, may be trusted gig or cart in,
 He takes every matter in an easy way;
 He'll stand like a post, while we dabble on the coast,
 And return back to dress in our one-horse chay."


                            XII.

 So out they drove, all drest so gaily in their best,
 And finding, in their rambles, a snug little bay,
 They uncased at their leisure, paddled out to take their pleasure,
 And left everything behind in the one-horse chay.


                           XIII.

 But while, so snugly sure that all things were secure,
 They flounced about like porpoises or whales at play,
 Some young unlucky imps, who prowl'd about for shrimps,
 Stole up to reconnoitre the one-horse chay.


                            XIV.

 Old Nobbs, in quiet mood, was sleeping as he stood
 (He might possibly be dreaming of his corn or hay);
 Not a foot did he wag, so they whipt out every rag,
 And gutted the contents of the one-horse chay.


                             XV.

 When our pair were soused enough, and returned in their buff,
 Oh, there was the vengeance and old Nick to pay!
 Madam shriek'd in consternation, Mr Bubb he swore----!
 To find the empty state of the one-horse chay.


                            XVI.

 "If I live," said she, "I swear, I'll consult my dear Lord Mayor,
 And a fine on this vagabond town he shall lay;
 But the gallows thieves, so tricky, hasn't left me e'en a dicky,
 And I shall catch my death in the one-horse chay."


                           XVII.

 "Come, bundle in with me, we must squeeze for once," says he,
 "And manage this here business the best we may;
 We've no other step to choose, nor a moment must we lose,
 Or the tide will float us off in our one-horse chay."


                          XVIII.

 So noses, sides, and knees, all together did they squeeze,
 And, pack'd in little compass, they trotted it away,
 As dismal as two dummies, head and hands stuck out like mummies
 From beneath the little apron of the one-horse chay.


                            XIX.

 The Steyne was in a throng, as they jogg'd it along,
 Madam hadn't been so put to it for many a day;
 Her pleasure it was damped, and her person somewhat cramped,
 Doubled up beneath the apron of the one-horse chay.


                             XX.

 "Oh would that I were laid," Mr Bubb in sorrow said,
 "In a broad-wheeled waggon, well covered with hay!
 I'm sick of sporting smart, and would take a tilted cart
 In exchange for this bauble of a one-horse chay.


                            XXI.

 "I'd give half my riches for my worst pair of breeches,
 Or the apron that I wore last boiling-day;
 They would wrap my arms and shoulders from these impudent beholders,
 And allow me to whip on in my one-horse chay."


                           XXII.

 Mr Bubb ge-hupped in vain, and strove to jerk the rein,
 Nobbs felt he had his option to work or play,
 So he wouldn't mend his pace, though they'd fain have run a race,
 To escape the merry gazers at the one-horse chay.


                          XXIII.

 Now, good people, laugh your fill, and fancy if you will
 (For I'm fairly out of breath, and have said my say),
 The trouble and the rout, to wrap and get them out,
 When they drove to their lodgings in their one-horse chay.


                           XXIV.

 The day was swelt'ring warm, so they took no cold or harm,
 And o'er a smoking lunch soon forgot their dismay;
 But, fearing Brighton mobs, started off at night with Nobbs,
 To a snugger watering-place, in the one-horse chay.


PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors; otherwise,
every effort has been made to remain true to the authors' words and
intent.





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