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´╗┐Title: Godolphin, Volume 1.
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
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.

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GODOLPHIN, Volume 1.
By Edward Bulwer Lytton
(Lord Lytton)

TO COUNT ALFRED D'ORSAY.

MY DEAR COUNT D'ORSAY,

When the parentage of Godolphin was still unconfessed and unknown, you
were pleased to encourage his first struggles with the world: Now, will
you permit the father he has just discovered to re-introduce him to your
notice?  I am sorry to say, however, that my unfilial offspring, having
been so long disowned, is not sufficiently grateful for being acknowledged
at last: he says that he belongs to a very numerous family, and, wishing
to be distinguished from his brothers, desires not only to reclaim your
acquaintance, but to borrow your name.  Nothing less will content his
ambition than the most public opportunity in his power of parading his
obligations to the most accomplished gentleman of our time.  Will you,
then, allow him to make his new appearance in the world under your wing,
and thus suffer the son as well as the father to attest the kindness of
your heart and to boast the honour of your friendship?

                              Believe me,
                         My dear Count d'Orsay,
                              With the sincerest regard,
                         Yours, very faithfully and truly,
                                                E. B. L.



PREFACE TO GODOLPHIN.

In the Prefaces to this edition of my works, I have occasionally so far
availed myself of that privilege of self-criticism which the French comic
writer, Mons. Picord, maintains or exemplifies in the collection of his
plays,--as, if not actually to sit in judgment on my own performances,
still to insinuate some excuse for their faults by extenuatory depositions
as to their character and intentions.  Indeed, a writer looking back to
the past is unconsciously inclined to think that he may separate himself
from those children of his brain which have long gone forth to the world;
and though he may not expatiate on the merits his paternal affection would
ascribe to them, that he may speak at least of the mode in which they were
trained and reared--of the hopes he cherished, or the objects he
entertained, when he finally dismissed them to the opinions of others and
the ordeal of Fate or Time.

For my part, I own that even when I have thought but little of the value
of a work, I have always felt an interest in the author's account of its
origin and formation, and, willing to suppose that what thus affords a
gratification to my own curiosity, may not be wholly unattractive to
others, I shall thus continue from time to time to play the Showman to my
own machinery, and explain the principle of the mainspring and the
movement of the wheels.

This novel was begun somewhere in the third year of my authorship, and
completed in the fourth.  It was, therefore, composed almost
simultaneously with Eugene Aram, and afforded to me at least some relief
from the gloom of that village tragedy.  It is needless to observe how
dissimilar in point of scene, character, and fable, the one is from the
other; yet they are alike in this--that both attempt to deal with one of
the most striking problems in the spiritual history of man, viz., the
frustration or abuse of power in a superior intellect originally inclined
to good.  Perhaps there is no problem that more fascinates the attention
of a man of some earnestness at that period of his life, when his eye
first disengages itself from the external phenomena around him, and his
curiosity leads him to examine the cause and account for the
effect;--when, to cite reverently the words of the wisest, "He applies his
heart to know and to search, and to seek out wisdom and the reason of
things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and
madness."

In Eugene Aram, the natural career of genius is arrested by a single
crime; in Godolphin, a mind of inferior order, but more fanciful
colouring, is wasted away by the indulgence of those morbid sentiments
which are the nourishment of egotism, and the gradual influence of the
frivolities which make the business of the idle.  Here the Demon tempts or
destroys the hermit in his solitary cell.  There, he glides amidst the
pomps and vanities of the world, and whispers away the soul in the voice
of his soft familiars, Indolence and Pleasure.

Of all my numerous novels, Pelham and Godolphin are the only ones which
take their absolute groundwork in what is called "The Fashionable World."
I have sought in each to make the general composition in some harmony with
the principal figure in the foreground.  Pelham is represented as almost
wholly unsusceptible to the more poetical influences.  He has the physical
compound, which, versatile and joyous, amalgamates easily with the
world--he views life with the lenient philosophy that Horace commends in
Aristippus: he laughs at the follies he shares; and is ever ready to turn
into uses ultimately (if indirectly) serious, the frivolities that only
serve to sharpen his wit, and augment that peculiar expression which we
term "knowledge of the world."  In a word, dispel all his fopperies, real
or assumed, he is still the active man of crowds and cities, determined to
succeed, and gifted with the ordinary qualities of success.  Godolphin, on
the contrary, is the man of poetical temperament, out of his place alike
among the trifling idlers and the bustling actors of the world--wanting
the stimulus of necessity--or the higher motive which springs from
benevolence, to give energy to his powers, or definite purpose to his
fluctuating desires; not strong enough to break the bonds that confine his
genius--not supple enough to accommodate its movements to their purpose.
He is the moral antipodes to Pelham.  In evading the struggles of the
world, he grows indifferent to its duties--he strives with no
obstacles--he can triumph in no career.  Represented as possessing mental
qualities of a higher and a richer nature than those to which Pelham can
pretend, he is also represented as very inferior to him in constitution
of character, and he is certainly a more ordinary type of the intellectual
trifler.

The characters grouped around Godolphin are those with which such a man
usually associates his life.  They are designed to have a certain grace--a
certain harmony with one form or the other of his twofold
temperament:--viz., either its conventional elegance of taste, or its
constitutional poetry of idea.  But all alike are brought under varying
operations of similar influences; or whether in Saville, Constance, Fanny,
or Lucilla--the picture presented is still the picture of gifts
misapplied--of life misunderstood.  The Preacher who exclaimed, "Vanity
of vanities! all is vanity," perhaps solved his own mournful saying, when
he added elsewhere, "This only have I found, that God made men
upright--but they have sought out many inventions."

This work was first published anonymously, and for that reason perhaps it
has been slow in attaining to its rightful station amongst its
brethren--whose parentage at first was openly acknowledged.  If compared
with Pelham, it might lose, at the first glance, but would perhaps gain on
any attentive reperusal.

For although it must follow from the inherent difference in the design of
the two works thus referred to, that in Godolphin there can be little of
the satire or vivacity which have given popularity to its predecessor,
yet, on the other hand, in Godolphin there ought to be a more faithful
illustration of the even polish that belongs to luxurious life,--of the
satiety that pleasure inflicts upon such of its votaries as are worthy of
a higher service.  The subject selected cannot adroit the same facility
for observation of things that lie on the surface--but it may well lend
itself to subtler investigation of character--allow more attempt at
pathos, and more appeal to reflection.

Regarded as a story, the defects of Godolphin most apparent to myself, are
in the manner in which Lucilla is re-introduced in the later chapters, and
in the final catastrophe of the hero.  There is an exaggerated romance in
the one, and the admission of accident as a crowning agency in the other,
which my maturer judgment would certainly condemn, and which at all events
appear to me out of keeping with the natural events, and the more patient
investigation of moral causes and their consequences, from which the
previous interest of the tale is sought to be attained.  On the other
hand, if I may presume to conjecture the most probable claim to favour
which the work, regarded as a whole, may possess--it may possibly be found
in a tolerably accurate description of certain phases of modern
civilisation, and in the suggestion of some truths that may be worth
considering in our examination of social influences or individual conduct.



CHAPTER I.

THE DEATH-BED OF JOHN VERNON.--HIS DYING WORDS.--DESCRIPTION OF HIS
DAUGHTER, THE HEROINE.--THE OATH.

"Is the night calm, Constance?"

"Beautiful! the moon is up."

"Open the shutters wider, there.  It _is_ a beautiful night.  How
beautiful!  Come hither, my child."

The rich moonlight that now shone through the windows streamed on little
that it could invest with poetical attraction.  The room was small, though
not squalid in its character and appliances.  The bed-curtains, of a dull
chintz, were drawn back, and showed the form of a man, past middle age,
propped by pillows, and bearing on his countenance the marks of
approaching death.  But what a countenance it still was!  The broad, pale,
lofty brow; the fine, straight, Grecian nose; the short, curved lip; the
full, dimpled chin; the stamp of genius in every line and
lineament;--these still defied disease, or rather borrowed from its very
ghastliness a more impressive majesty.  Beside the bed was a table spread
with books of a motley character.  Here an abstruse system of Calculations
on Finance; there a volume of wild Bacchanalian Songs; here the lofty
aspirations of Plato's Phoedon; and there the last speech of some County
Paris on a Malt Tax: old newspapers and dusty pamphlets completed the
intellectual litter; and above them rose, mournfully enough, the tall,
spectral form of a half-emptied phial, and a chamber-candlestick, crested
by its extinguisher.

A light step approached the bedside, and opposite the dying man now stood
a girl, who might have seen her thirteenth year.  But her features--of an
exceeding, and what may be termed a regal beauty--were as fully developed
as those of one who had told twice her years; and not a trace of the bloom
or the softness of girlhood could be marked on her countenance.  Her
complexion was pale as the whitest marble, but clear, and lustrous; and
her raven hair, parted over her brow in a fashion then uncommon, increased
the statue-like and classic effect of her noble features.  The expression
of her countenance seemed cold, sedate, and somewhat stern; but it might,
in some measure, have belied her heart; for, when turned to the moonlight,
you might see that her eyes were filled with tears, though she did not
weep; and you might tell by the quivering of her lip, that a little
hesitation in replying to any remark from the sufferer arose from her
difficulty in commanding her emotions.

"Constance," said the invalid, after a pause, in which he seemed to have
been gazing with a quiet heart on the soft skies, that, blue and eloquent
with stars, he beheld through the unclosed windows:--"Constance, the hour
is coming; I feel it by signs which I cannot mistake.  I shall die this
night."

"Oh, God!--my father!--my dear, dear father!" broke from Constance's
lips; "do not speak thus--do not--I will go to Doctor ----"

"No, child, no!--I loathe--I detest the thought of help.  They denied it
me while it was yet time.  They left me to starve or to rot in gaol, or to
hang myself!  They left me like a dog, and like a dog I will die!  I would
not have one iota taken from the justice--the deadly and dooming weight of
my dying curse."  Here violent spasms broke on the speech of the sufferer;
and when, by medicine and his daughter's attentions, he had recovered, he
said, in a lower and calmer key:--"Is all quiet below, Constance?  Are
all in bed?  The landlady--the servants--our fellow-lodgers?"

"All, my father."

"Ay; then I shall die happy.  Thank Heaven, you are my only nurse and
attendant.  I remember the day when I was ill after one of their rude
debauches.  Ill!--a sick headache--a fit of the spleen--a spoiled lapdog's
illness!  Well: they wanted me that night to support one of their paltry
measures--their parliamentary measures.  And I had a prince feeling my
pulse, and a duke mixing my draught, and a dozen earls sending their
doctors to me.  I was of use to them then!  Poor me!  Read me that note,
Constance--Flamborough's note.  Do you hesitate?  Read it, I say!"

Constance trembled and complied.

"My dear Vernon,
"I am really au desespoir to hear of your melancholy state;--so sorry I
cannot assist you: but you know my embarrassed circumstances.  By the by,
I saw his Royal Highness yesterday.  'Poor Vernon!' said he; 'would a
hundred pounds do him any good?'  So we don't forget you, mon cher.  Ah!
how we missed you at the Beefsteak!  Never shall we know again so glorious
a bona vivant.  You would laugh to hear L----  attempting to echo your old
jokes.  But time presses: I must be off to the House.  You know what a
motion it is!  Would to Heaven you were to bring it on instead of that ass
T----.  Adieu!  I wish I could come and see you; but it would break my
heart.  Can I send you any books from Hookham's?
                                               "Yours ever,
                                                  "FLAMBOROUGH."

"This is the man whom I made Secretary of State," said Vernon.  "Very
well!--oh, it's very well,--very well indeed.  Let me kiss thee, my girl.
Poor Constance!  You will have good friends when I am dead! they will be
proud enough to be kind to Vernon's daughter, when Death has shown them
that Vernon is a loss.  You are very handsome.  Your poor mother's eyes
and hair--my father's splendid brow and lip; and your figure, even now so
stately!  They will court you: you will have lords and great men enough at
your feet; but you will never forget this night, nor the agony of your
father's death-bed face, and the brand they have burned in his heart.  And
now, Constance, give me the Bible in which you read to me this morning:
that will do:--stand away from the light and fix your eyes on mine, and
listen as if your soul were in your ears.

"When I was a young man, toiling my way to fortune through the labours of
the Bar,--prudent, cautious, indefatigable, confident of success,--certain
lords, who heard I possessed genius, and thought I might become their
tool, came to me, and besought me to enter parliament.  I told them I was
poor--was lately married--that my public ambition must not be encouraged
at the expense of my private fortunes.  They answered, that they pledged
themselves those fortunes should be their care.  I yielded; I deserted my
profession; I obeyed their wishes; I became famous--and a ruined man!
They could not dine without me; they could not sup without me; they could
not get drunk without me; no pleasure was sweet but in my company.  What
mattered it that, while I ministered to their amusement, I was necessarily
heaping debt upon debt--accumulating miseries for future years--laying up
bankruptcy, and care, and shame, and a broken heart, and an early death?
But listen, Constance!  Are you listening?--attentively?--Well! note now,
I am a just man.  I do not blame my noble friends, my gentle patrons, for
this.  No: if I were forgetful of my interests, if I preferred their
pleasure to my happiness and honour, that was any crime, and I deserve the
punishment!  But, look you,--time went by, and my constitution was broken;
debts came upon me; I could not pay; men mistrusted my word; my name in
the country fell: With my health, my genius deserted me; I was no longer
useful to my party; I lost my seat in parliament; and when I was on a
sick-bed--you remember it, Constancy--the bailiffs came, and tore me away
for a paltry debt--the value of one of those suppers the Prince used to
beg me to give him.  From that time my familiars forsook me!--not a visit,
not a kind act, not a service for him whose day of work was over!  'Poor
Vernon's character was gone!  Shockingly involved--could not perform his
promises to his creditors--always so extravagant--quite unprincipled--must
give him up!'

"In those sentences lies the secret of their conduct.  They did not
remember that _for_ them, _by_ them, the character was gone, the promises
broken, the ruin incurred!  They thought not how I had served them; how my
best years had been devoted to advance them--to ennoble their cause in the
lying page of History!  All this was not thought of: my life was reduced
to two epochs--that of use to them--that not.  During the first, I was
honoured; during the last, I was left to starve--to rot!  Who freed me
from prison?--who protects me now?  One of my 'party'--my 'noble
friends'--my 'honourable, right honourable friends'?  No! a tradesman whom
I once served in my holyday, and who alone, of all the world, forgets me
not in my penance.  You see gratitude, friendship, spring up only in
middle life; they grow not in high stations!

"And now, come nearer, for my voice falters, and I would have these words
distinctly heard.  Child, girl as you are--you I consider pledged to
record, to fulfil my desire--my curse!  Lay your hand on mine: swear that
through life to death,--swear!  You speak not! repeat my words after
me:"--Constance obeyed:--"through life to death; through good, through
ill, through weakness, through power, you will devote yourself to humble,
to abase that party from whom your father received ingratitude,
mortification, and death!  Swear that you will not marry a poor and
powerless man, who cannot minister to the ends of that solemn retribution
I invoke!  Swear that you will seek to marry from amongst the great; not
through love, not through ambition, but through hate, and for revenge!
You will seek to rise that you may humble those who have betrayed me!  In
the social walks of life you will delight to gall their vanities in state
intrigues, you will embrace every measure that can bring them to their
eternal downfall.  For this great end you will pursue all means.  What!
you hesitate?  Repeat, repeat, repeat!--You will lie, cringe, fawn, and
think vice not vice, if it bring you one jot nearer to Revenge!  With this
curse on my foes, I entwine my blessing, dear, dear Constance, on
you,--you, who have nursed, watched, all but saved me!  God, God bless
you, my child!"  And Vernon burst into tears.

It was two hours after this singular scene, and exactly in the third hour
of morning, that Vernon woke from a short and troubled sleep.  The grey
dawn (for the time was the height of summer) already began to labour
through the shades and against the stars of night.  A raw and comfortless
chill crept over the earth, and saddened the air in the death-chamber.
Constance sat by her father's bed, her eyes fixed upon him, and her cheek
more wan than ever by the pale light of that crude and cheerless dawn.
When Vernon woke, his eyes, glazed with death, rolled faintly towards her,
fixing and dimming in their sockets as they gazed;--his throat rattled.
But for one moment his voice found vent; a ray shot across his countenance
as he uttered his last words--words that sank at once and eternally to the
core of his daughter's heart--words that ruled her life, and sealed her
destiny: "Constance, remember--the Oath--Revenge!"



CHAPTER II.

REMARK ON THE TENURE OF LIFE.--THE COFFINS OF GREAT MEN SELDOM
NEGLECTED.--CONSTANCE TAKES REFUGE WITH LADY ERPINGHAM.--THE HEROINE'S
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CHARACTER.-THE MANOEUVRING TEMPERAMENT.

What a strange life this is! what puppets we are!  How terrible an enigma
is Fate!  I never set my foot without my door, but what the fearful
darkness that broods over the next moment rushes upon me.  How awful an
event may hang over our hearts!  The sword is always above us, seen or
invisible!

And with this life--this scene of darkness and dreadsome men would have us
so contented as to desire, to ask for no other!

Constance was now without a near relation in the world.  But her father
predicted rightly: vanity supplied the place of affection.  Vernon, who
for eighteen months preceding his death had struggled with the sharpest
afflictions of want--Vernon, deserted in life by all, was interred with
the insulting ceremonials of pomp and state.  Six nobles bore his pall:
long trains of carriages attended his funeral: the journals were filled
with outlines of his biography and lamentations at his decease.  They
buried him in Westminster Abbey, and they made subscriptions for a
monument in the very best sort of marble.  Lady Erpingham, a distant
connection of the deceased, invited Constance to live with her; and
Constance of course consented, for she had no alternative.

On the day that she arrived at Lady Erpingham's house, in Hill Street,
there were several persons present in the drawing-room.

"I fear, poor girl," said Lady Erpingham,--for they were talking of
Constance's expected arrival,--"I fear that she will be quite abashed by
seeing so many of us, and under such unhappy circumstances."

"How old is she?" asked a beauty.

"About thirteen, I believe."

"Handsome?"

"I have not seen her since she was seven years old.  She promised then to
be very beautiful: but she was a remarkably shy, silent child."

"Miss Vernon," said the groom of the chambers, throwing open the door.

With the slow step and self-possessed air of womanhood, but with a far
haughtier and far colder mien than women commonly assume, Constance Vernon
walked through the long apartment, and greeted her future guardian.
Though every eye was on her, she did not blush; though the Queens of the
London World were round her, her gait and air were more royal than all.
Every one present experienced a revulsion of feeling.  They were prepared
for pity; this was no case in which pity could be given.  Even the words
of protection died on Lady Erpingham's lip, and she it was who felt
bashful and disconcerted.

I intend to pass rapidly over the years that elapsed till Constance became
a woman.  Let us glance at her education.  Vernon had not only had her
instructed in the French and Italian; but, a deep and impassioned scholar
himself, he had taught her the elements of the two great languages of the
ancient world.  The treasures of those languages she afterwards conquered
of her own accord.

Lady Erpingham had one daughter, who married when Constance had reached
the age of sixteen.  The advantages Lady Eleanor Erpingham possessed in
her masters and her governess Constance shared.  Miss Vernon drew well,
and sang divinely; but she made no very great proficiency in the science
of music.  To say truth, her mind was somewhat too stern, and somewhat too
intent on other subjects, to surrender to that most jealous of
accomplishments the exclusive devotion it requires.

But of all her attractions, and of all the evidences of her cultivated
mind, none equalled the extraordinary grace of her conversation.  Wholly
disregarding the conventional leading-strings in which the minds of young
ladies are accustomed to be held--leading-strings, disguised by the name
of "proper diffidence" and "becoming modesty,"--she never scrupled to
share, nay, to lead, discussions even of a grave and solid nature.  Still
less did she scruple to adorn the common trifles that make the sum of
conversation with the fascinations of a wit, which, playful, yet deep,
rivalled even the paternal source from which it was inherited.

It seems sometimes odd enough to me, that while young ladies are so
sedulously taught the accomplishments that a husband disregards, they are
never taught the great one he would prize.  They are taught to be
_exhibitors_; he wants a _companion_.  He wants neither a singing animal,
nor a drawing animal, nor a dancing animal: he wants a talking animal.
But to talk they are never taught; all they know of conversation is
slander, and that "comes by nature."

But Constance _did_ talk _beautifully_; not like a pedant, or a blue, or a
Frenchwoman.  A child would have been as much charmed with her as a
scholar; but _both_ would have been charmed.  Her father's eloquence had
descended to her; but in him eloquence commanded, in her it won.  There
was another trait she possessed in common with her father: Vernon (as most
disappointed men are wont) had done the world injustice by his
accusations.  It was not his poverty and his distresses alone which had
induced his party to look coolly on his declining day.  They were not
without some apparent excuse for desertion--they doubted his _sincerity_.
It is true that it was without actual cause.  No modern politician had
ever been more consistent.  He had refused bribes, though poor; and place,
though ambitious.  But he was essentially--here is the secret--essentially
an intriguant.  Bred in the old school of policy, he thought that
manoeuvring was wisdom, and duplicity the art of governing.  Like
Lysander,[1] he loved plotting, yet neglected self-interest.  There was
not a man less open, or more honest.  This character, so rare in all
countries, is especially so in England.  Your blunt squires, your
politicians at Bellamy's, do not comprehend it.  They saw in Vernon the
arts which deceive enemies, and they dreaded lest, though his friends,
they themselves should be deceived.  This disposition, so fatal to Vernon,
his daughter inherited.  With a dark, bold, and passionate genius, which
in a man would have led to the highest enterprises, she linked the
feminine love of secrecy and scheming.  To borrow again from Plutarch and
Lysander, "When the skin of the lion fell short, she was quite of opinion
that it should be eked out with the fox's."

[1] Plutarch's Life of Lysander.



CHAPTER III.

THE HERO INTRODUCED TO OUR READER'S NOTICE.--DIALOGUE BETWEEN HIMSELF AND
HIS FATHER.--PERCY GODOLPHIN's CHARACTER AS A BOY.--THE CATASTROPHE OF HIS
SCHOOL LIFE.

"Percy, remember that it is to-morrow you will return to school," said Mr.
Godolphin to his only son.

Percy pouted, and after a momentary silence replied, "No, father, I think
I shall go to Mr. Saville's.  He has asked me to spend a month with him;
and he says rightly that I shall learn more with him than at Dr.
Shallowell's, where I am already head of the sixth form."

"Mr. Saville is a coxcomb, and you are another!" replied the father, who,
dressed in an old flannel dressing-gown, with a worn velvet cap on his
head, and cowering gloomily over a wretched fire, seemed no bad
personification of that mixture of half-hypochondriac, half-miser, which
he was in reality.  "Don't talk to me of going to town, sir, or--"

"Father," interrupted Percy, in a cool and nonchalant tone, as he folded
his arms, and looked straight and shrewdly on the paternal face--"father,
let us understand each other.  My schooling, I suppose, is rather an
expensive affair?"

"You may well say that, sir!  Expensive!--It is frightful, horrible,
ruinous!--Expensive!  Twenty pounds a year board and Latin; five guineas
washing; five more for writing and arithmetic.  Sir, if I were not
resolved that you should not want education, though you may want fortune,
I should--yes, I should--what do you mean, sir?--you are laughing!  Is
this your respect, your gratitude to your father?"

A slight shade fell over the bright and intelligent countenance of the
boy.

"Don't let us talk of gratitude," said he sadly; "Heaven knows what either
you or I have to be grateful for!  Fortune has left to your proud name but
these bare walls and a handful of barren acres; to me she gave a father's
affection--not such as Nature had made it, but cramped and soured by
misfortunes."

Here Percy paused, and his father seemed also struck and affected.  "Let
us," renewed in a lighter strain this singular boy, who might have passed,
by some months, his sixteenth year,--"let us see if we cannot accommodate
matters to our mutual satisfaction.  You can ill afford my schooling, and
I am resolved that at school I will not stay.  Saville is a relation of
ours; he has taken a fancy to me; he has even hinted that he may leave me
his fortune; and he has promised, at least, to afford me a home and his
tuition as long as I like.  Give me free passport hereafter to come and go
as I list, and I in turn, will engage never to cost you another shilling.
Come, sir, shall it be a compact?"

"You wound me, Percy," said the father, with a mournful pride in his tone;
"I have not deserved this, at least from you.  You know not, boy--you know
not all that has hardened this heart; but to you it has not been hard, and
a taunt from you--yes, that is the serpent's tooth!"

Percy in an instant was at his father's feet; he seized both his hands,
and burst into a passionate fit of tears.  "Forgive me," he said, in
broken words; "I--I meant not to taunt you.  I am but a giddy boy!--send
me to school!--do with me as you will!"

"Ay," said the old man, shaking his head gently, "you know not what pain a
son's bitter word can send to a parent's heart.  But it is all natural,
perfectly natural!  You would reproach me with a love of money, it is the
sin to which youth is the least lenient.  But what! can I look round the
world and not see its value, its necessity?  Year after year, from my
first manhood, I have toiled and toiled to preserve from the hammer these
last remnants of my ancestor's remains.  Year after year fortune has
slipped from my grasp; and, after all my efforts, and towards the close of
a long life, I stand on the very verge of penury.  But you cannot tell--no
man whose heart is not seared with many years can tell or can appreciate,
the motives that have formed my character.  You, however,"--and his voice
softened as he laid his hand on his son's head, "you, however,--the gay,
the bold, the young,--should not have your brow crossed and your eye
dimmed by the cares that surround me.  Go!  I will accompany you to town;
I will see Saville myself.  If he be one with whom my son can, at so
tender an age, be safely trusted, you shall pay him the visit you wish."

Percy would have replied but his father checked him; and before the end of
the evening, the father had resolved to forget as much as he pleased of
the conversation.

The elder Godolphin was one of those characters on whom it is vain to
attempt making a permanent impression.  The habits of his mind were
durably formed: like waters, they yielded to any sudden intrusion, but
closed instantly again.  Early in life he had been taught that he ought to
marry an heiress for the benefit of his estate--his ancestral estate; the
restoration of which he had been bred to consider the grand object and
ambition of life.  His views had been strangely baffled; but the more they
were thwarted the more pertinaciously he clung to them.  Naturally kind,
generous, and social, he had sunk, at length, into the anchorite and the
miser.  All other speculations that should retrieve his ancestral honours
had failed: but there is one speculation that never fails--the speculation
of _saving!_  It was to this that he now indissolubly attached himself.
At moments he was open to all his old habits; but such moments were rare
and few.  A cold, hard, frosty penuriousness was his prevalent
characteristic.  He had sent this son, with eighteen pence in his pocket,
to a school of twenty pounds a-year; where, naturally enough, he learned
nothing but mischief and cricket: yet he conceived that his son owed him
eternal obligations.

Luckily for Percy, he was an especial favourite with a certain not
uncelebrated character of the name of Saville; and Saville claimed the
privilege of a relation to supply him with money and receive him at his
home.  Wild, passionate, fond to excess of pleasure, the young Godolphin
caught eagerly at these occasional visits; and at each his mind, keen and
penetrating as it naturally was, took new flights, and revelled in new
views.  He was already the leader of his school, the torment of the
master, and the lover of the master's daughter.  He was sixteen years old,
but a character.  A secret pride, a secret bitterness, and an open wit and
recklessness of bearing, rendered him to all seeming a boy more endowed
with energies than affections.  Yet a kind word from a friend's lips was
never without its effect on him, and he might have been led by the silk
while he would have snapped the chain.  But these were his boyish traits
of mind: the world soon altered them.

The subject of the visit to Saville was not again touched upon.  A little
reflection showed Mr. Godolphin how nugatory were the promises of a
schoolboy that he should not cost his father another shilling; and he knew
that Saville's house was not exactly the spot in which economy was best
learned.  He thought it, therefore, more prudent that his son should
return to school.

To school went Percy Godolphin; and about three weeks afterwards, Percy
Godolphin was condemned to expulsion for returning, with considerable
unction, a slap in the face that he had received from Dr. Shallowell.
Instead of waiting for his father's arrival, Percy made up a small bundle
of clothes, let himself drop, by the help of the bed-curtains, from the
window of the room in which he was confined, and towards the close of a
fine summer's evening, found himself on the highroad between and London,
with independence at his heart and (Saville's last gift) ten guineas in
his pocket.



CHAPTER IV.

PERCY'S FIRST ADVENTURE AS A FREE AGENT.

It was a fine, picturesque outline of road on which the young outcast
found himself journeying, whither he neither knew nor cared.  His heart
was full of enterprise and the unfledged valour of inexperience.  He had
proceeded several miles, and the dusk of the evening was setting in, when
he observed a stage-coach crawling heavily up a hill, a little ahead of
him, and a tall, well-shaped man, walking alongside of it, and
gesticulating somewhat violently.  Godolphin remarked him with some
curiosity; and the man, turning abruptly round, perceived, and in his turn
noticed very inquisitively, the person and aspect of the young traveller.

"And how now?" said he, presently, and in an agreeable, though familiar
and unceremonious tone of voice; "whither are you bound this time of day?"

"It is no business of yours, friend," said the boy with the proud
petulance of his age; "mind what belongs to yourself."

"You are sharp on me, young sir," returned the other; "but it is our
business to be loquacious.  Know, sir,"--and the stranger frowned--"that
we have ordered many a taller fellow than yourself to execution for a much
smaller insolence than you seem capable of."

A laugh from the coach caused Godolphin to lift up his eyes, and he saw
the door of the vehicle half-open, as if for coolness, and an arch female
face looking down on him.

"You are merry on me, I see," said Percy; "come out, and I'll be even with
you, pretty one."

The lady laughed yet more loudly at the premature gallantry of the
traveller; but the man, without heeding her, and laying his hand on
Percy's shoulder, said--

"Pray, sir, do you live at B----?" naming the town they were now
approaching.

"Not I," said Godolphin, freeing himself from the intrusion.

"You will, perhaps, sleep there?"

"Perhaps I shall."

"You are too young to travel alone."

"And you are too old to make such impertinent remarks," retorted
Godolphin, reddening with anger.

"Faith, I like this spirit, my Hotspur," said the stranger, coolly.  "If
you are really going to put up for the night at B----, suppose we sup
together?"

"And who and what are you?" asked Percy, bluntly.

"Anything and everything! in other words, an actor!"

"And the young lady----?'

"Is our prima donna.  In fact, except the driver, the coach holds none but
the ladies and gentlemen of our company.  We have made an excellent
harvest at A----, and we are now on our way to the theatre at B----;
pretty theatre it is, too, and has been known to hold seventy-one pounds
eight shillings."  Here the actor fell into a reverie; and Percy, moving
nearer to the coach-door, glanced at the damsel, who returned the look
with a laugh which, though coquettish, was too low and musical to be
called cold.

"So that gentleman, so free and easy in his manners, is not your husband?"

"Heaven forbid!  Do you think I should be so gay if he were?  But, pooh!
what can you know of married life?  No!" she continued, with a pretty air
of mock dignity; "I am the Belvidera, the Calista, of the company; above
all control, all husbanding, and reaping thirty-three shillings a week."

"But are you above lovers as well as husbands?" asked Percy with a rakish
air, borrowed from Saville.

"Bless the boy!  No: but then my lovers must be at least as tall, and at
least as rich, and, I am afraid, at least as old, as myself."

"Don't frighten yourself, my dear," returned Percy; "I was not about to
make love to you."

"Were you not?  Yes, you were, and you know it.  But why will you not sup
with us?"

"Why not, indeed?" thought Percy, as the idea, thus more enticingly put
than it was at first, pressed upon him.  "If _you_ ask me," he said, "I
will."

"I _do_ ask you, then," said the actress; and here the hero of the company
turned abruptly round with a theatrical start, and exclaimed, "To sup or
not to sup? that is the question."

"To sup, sir," said Godolphin.

"Very well!  I am glad to hear it.  Had you not better mount and rest
yourself in the coach?  You can take my place--I am studying a new part.
We have two miles farther to B---- yet."

Percy accepted the invitation, and was soon by the side of the pretty
actress.  The horses broke into a slow trot, and thus delighted with his
adventure, the son of the ascetic Godolphin, the pupil of the courtly
Saville, entered the town of B----, and commenced his first independent
campaign in the great world.



CHAPTER V.

THE MUMMERS.--GODOLPHIN IN LOVE.--THE EFFECT OF FANNY MILLINGER'S ACTING
UPON HIM.--THE TWO OFFERS.--GODOLPHIN QUITS THE PLAYERS.

Our travellers stopped at the first inn in the outskirts of the town.
Here they were shown into a large room on the ground-floor, sanded, with a
long table in the centre; and, before the supper was served, Percy had
leisure to examine all the companions with whom he had associated himself.

In the first place, there was an old gentleman, of the age of sixty-three,
in a bob-wig, and inclined to be stout, who always played the _lover_.  He
was equally excellent in the pensive Romeo and the bustling Rapid.  He had
an ill way of talking off the stage, partly because he had lost all his
front teeth: a circumstance which made him avoid, in general, those parts
in which he had to force a great deal of laughter.  Next, there was a
little girl, of about fourteen, who played angels, fairies, and, at a
pinch, was very effective as an old woman.  Thirdly, there was our
free-and-easy cavalier, who, having a loud voice and a manly presence,
usually performed the tyrant.  He was great in Macbeth, greater in
Bombastes Furioso.  Fourthly, came this gentleman's wife, a pretty,
slatternish woman, much painted.  She usually performed the second
female--the confidante, the chambermaid--the Emilia to the Desdemona.  And
fifthly, was Percy's new inamorata,--a girl of about oneand-twenty, fair,
with a nez retrousse: beautiful auburn hair, that was always a little
dishevelled; the prettiest mouth, teeth, and dimple imaginable; a natural
colour; and a person that promised to incline hereafter towards that
roundness of proportion which is more dear to the sensual than the
romantic.  This girl, whose name was Fanny Millinger, was of so frank,
good-humoured, and lively a turn, that she was the idol of the whole
company, and her superiority in acting was never made a matter of
jealousy.  Actors may believe this, or not, as they please.

"But is this all your company?" said Percy.

"All? no!" replied Fanny, taking off her bonnet, and curling up her
tresses by the help of a dim glass.  "The rest are provided at the theatre
along with the candle-snuffer and scene-shifters part of the fixed
property.  Why won't _you_ take to the stage?  I wish you would! you would
make a very respectable--page."

"Upon my word!" said Percy, exceedingly offended.

"Come, come!" cried the actress, clapping her hands, and perfectly
unheeding his displeasure--"why don't you help me off with my cloak?--why
don't you set me a chair?--why don't you take this great box out of my
way?--why don't you----Heaven help me!" and she stamped her little foot
quite seriously on the floor.  "A pretty person for a lover you are!"

"Oho! then I am a lover, you acknowledge?"

"Nonsense!--get a chair next me at supper."

The young Godolphin was perfectly fascinated by the lively actress; and it
was with no small interest that he stationed himself the following night
in the stage-box of the little theatre at ----, to see how his Fanny
acted.  The house was tolerably well filled, and the play was _She Stoops
to Conquer_.  The male parts were, on the whole, respectably managed;
though Percy was somewhat surprised to observe that a man, who had joined
the corps that morning, blessed with the most solemn countenance in the
world--a fine Roman nose, and a forehead like a sage's--was now dressed in
nankeen tights, and a coat without skirts, splitting the sides of the
gallery in the part of Tony Lumpkin.  But into the heroine, Fanny
Millinger threw a grace, a sweetness, a simple, yet dignified spirit of
trite love that at once charmed and astonished all present.  The applause
was unbounded; and Percy Godolphin felt proud of himself for having
admired one whom every one else seemed also resolved upon admiring.

When the comedy was finished, he went behind the scenes, and for the first
time felt the rank which intellect bestows.  This idle girl, with whom he
had before been so familiar; who had seemed to him, boy as he was, only
made for jesting and coquetry, and trifling, he now felt to be raised to a
sudden eminence that startled and abashed him.  He became shy and awkward,
and stood at a distance stealing a glance towards her, but without the
courage to approach and compliment her.

The quick eye of the actress detected the effect she had produced.  She
was naturally pleased at it, and coming up to Godolphin, she touched his
shoulder, and with a smile rendered still more brilliant by the rouge yet
unwashed from the dimpled cheeks, said--"Well, most awkward swain? no
flattery ready for me?  Go to! you won't suit me: get yourself another
empress."

"You have pleased me into respecting you," said Godolphin.

There was a delicacy in the expression that was very characteristic of the
real mind of the speaker, though that mind was not yet developed; and the
pretty actress was touched by it at the moment, though, despite the grace
of her acting, she was by nature far too volatile to think it at all
advantageous to be _respected_ in the long run.  She did not act in the
afterpiece, and Godolphin escorted her home to the inn.

So long as his ten guineas lasted--which the reader will conceive was not
very long--Godolphin stayed with the gay troop, as the welcome lover of
its chief ornament.  To her he confided his name and history: she laughed
heartily at the latter--for she was one of Venus's true children, fond of
striking mirth out of all subjects.  "But what," said she, patting his
cheek affectionately, "what should hinder you from joining us for a little
while?  I could teach you to be an actor in three lessons.  Come now,
attend!  It is but a mere series of tricks, this art that seems to you so
admirable."

Godolphin grew embarrassed.  There was in him a sort of hidden pride that
could never endure to subject itself to the censure of others.  He had no
propensity to imitation, and he had a strong susceptibility to the
ridiculous.  These traits of mind thus early developed--which in later
life prevented his ever finding fit scope for his natural powers, which
made him too proud to bustle, and too philosophical to shine--were of
service to him on this occasion, and preserved him from the danger into
which he might otherwise have fallen.  He could not be persuaded to act:
the fair Fanny gave up the attempt in despair.  "Yet stay with us," said
she, tenderly, "and share my poor earnings."

Godolphin started; and in the wonderful contradictions of the proud human
heart, this generous offer from the poor actress gave him a distaste, a
displeasure, that almost reconciled him to parting from her.  It seemed to
open to him at once the equivocal mode of life he had entered upon.  "No,
Fanny," said he, after a pause, "I am here because I resolved to be
independent: I cannot, therefore, choose dependence."

"Miss Millinger is wanted instantly for rehearsal," said the little girl
who acted fairies and old women, putting her head suddenly into the room.

"Bless me!" cried Fanny, starting up; "is it so late?  Well, I must go
now.  Good-bye! look in upon us--do!"

But Godolphin, moody and thoughtful, walked into the street; and lo! the
first thing that greeted his eyes was a handbill on the wall, describing
his own person, and offering twenty guineas reward for his detention.
"Let him return to his afflicted parent," was the conclusion of the bill,
"and all shall be forgiven."

Godolphin crept back to his apartment; wrote a long, affectionate letter
to Fanny; inclosed her his watch, as the only keepsake in his power; gave
her his address at Saville's; and then, towards dusk, once more sallied
forth, and took a place in the mail for London.  He had no money for his
passage, but his appearance was such that the coachman readily trusted
him; and the next morning at daybreak he was under Saville's roof.



CHAPTER VI.

PERCY GODOLPHIN THE GUEST OF SAVILLE.--HE ENTERS THE LIFE-GUARDS AND
BECOMES THE FASHION.

"And so," said Saville, laughing, "you really gave them the slip:
excellent!  But I envy you your adventures with the player folk.  'Gad! if
I were some years younger, I would join them myself; I should act Sir
Pertinax Macsycophant famously; I have a touch of the mime in me.  Well!
but what do you propose to do?--live with me?--eh!"

"Why, I think that might be the best, and certainly it would be the
pleasantest mode of passing my life.  But----"

"But what?"

"Why, I can scarcely quarter myself on your courtesy; I should soon grow
discontented.  So I shall write to my father, whom I, kindly and
considerately, by the way, informed of my safety the very first day of my
arrival at B----.  I told him to direct his letters to your house; but I
regret to find that the handbill which so frightened me from my propriety
is the only notice he has deigned to take of my whereabout.  I shall write
to him therefore again, begging him to let me enter the army.  It is not a
profession I much fancy; but what then!  I shall be my own master."

"Very well said!" answered Saville; "and here I hope I can serve you.  If
your father will pay the lawful sum for a commission in the Guards, why, I
think I have interest to get you in for that sum alone--no trifling
favour."

Godolphin was enchanted at this proposal, and instantly wrote to his
father, urging it strongly upon him; Saville, in a separate epistle,
seconded the motion.  "You see," wrote the latter, "you see, my dear sir,
that your son is a wild, resolute scapegrace.  You can do nothing with him
by schools and coercion: put him to discipline in the king's service, and
condemn him to live on his pay.  It is a cheap mode, after all, of
providing for a reprobate; and as he will have the good fortune to enter
the army at so early an age, by the time he is thirty, he may be a colonel
on full pay.  Seriously, this is the best thing you can do with
him,--unless you have a living in your family."

The old gentleman was much discomposed by these letters, and by his son's
previous elopement.  He could not, however, but foresee, that if he
resisted the boy's wishes, he was likely to have a troublesome time of it.
Scrape after scrape, difficulty following difficulty, might ensue, all
costing both anxiety and money.  The present offer furnished him with a
fair excuse for ridding himself, for a long time to come, of further
provision for his offspring; and now growing daily more and more attached
to the indolent routine of solitary economies in which be moved, he was
glad of an opportunity to deliver himself from future interruption, and
surrender his whole soul to his favourite occupation.

At length, after a fortnight's delay and meditation, he wrote shortly to
Saville and his son; saying, after much reproach to the latter, that if
the commission could really be purchased at the sum specified he was
willing to make a sacrifice, for which he must pinch himself, and conclude
the business.  This touched the son, but Saville laughed him out of the
twinge of good feeling; and very shortly afterwards, Percy Godolphin was
gazetted as a cornet in the ---- Life-Guards.

The life of a soldier, in peace, is indolent enough, Heaven knows!  Percy
liked the new uniforms and the new horses--all of which were bought on
credit.  He liked his new companions; he liked balls; he liked flirting;
he did not dislike Hyde Park from four o'clock till six; and he was not
very much bored by drills and parade.  It was much to his credit in the
world that he was the protege of a man who had so great a character for
profligacy and gambling as Augustus Saville; and under such auspices he
found himsef launched at once into the full tide of "good society."

Young, romantic, high-spirited--with the classic features of an Antinous,
and a very pretty knack of complimenting and writing verses--Percy
Godolphin soon became, while yet more fit in years for the nursery than
the world, "the curled darling" of that wide class of high-born women who
have nothing to do but to hear love made to them, and who, all artifice
themselves, think the love sweetest which srings from the most natural
source.  They like boyhood when it is not bashful; and from sixteen to
twenty, a Juan need scarcely go to Seville to find a Julia.

But love was not the worst danger that menaced the intoxicated boy.
Saville, the most seductive of tutors--Saville who, in his wit; his bon
ton, his control over the great world, seemed as a god to all less
elevated and less aspiring,--Saville was Godolphin's constant companion;
and Saville was worse than a profligate--he was a gambler!  One would
think that gaming was the last vice that could fascinate the young: its
avarice, its grasping, its hideous selfishness, its cold, calculating
meanness, would, one might imagine, scare away all who have yet other and
softer deities to worship.  But, in fact, the fault of youth is that it
can rarely resist whatever is the Mode.  Gaming, in all countries, is the
vice of an aristocracy.  The young find it already established in the best
circles; they are enticed by the habit of others, and ruined when the
habit becomes their own.

"You look feverish, Percy," said Saville, as he met his pupil in the Park.
"I don't wonder at it; you lost infernally last night."

"More than I can pay," replied Percy, with a quivering lip.

"No! you shall pay it to-morrow, for you shall go shares with me to-night.
Observe," continued Saville, lowering his voice, "_I never lose_."

"How _never?_"

"Never, unless by design.  I play at no game where chance only presides.
Whist is my favourite game: it is not popular: I am sorry for it.  I take
up with other games,--I am forced to do it; but, even at rouge et noir, I
carry about with me the rules of whist.  I calculate--I remember."

"But hazard?"

"I never play at that," said Saville, solemnly.  "It is the devil's game;
it defies skill.  Forsake hazard, and let me teach you ecarte; it is
coming into fashion."

Saville took great pains with Godolphin; and Godolphin, who was by nature
of a contemplative, not hasty mood, was no superficial disciple.  As his
biographer, I grieve to confess, that he became, though a punctiliously
honest, a wise and fortunate gamester; and thus he eked out betimes the
slender profits of a subaltern's pay.

This was the first great deterioration in Percy's mind--a mind which ought
to have made him a very different being from what he became, but which no
vice, no evil example, could ever entirely pervert.



CHAPTER VII.

SAVILLE EXCUSED FOR HAVING HUMAN AFFECTIONS.--GODOLPHIN SEES ONE WHOM HE
NEVER SEES AGAIN.--THE NEW ACTRESS.

Saville was deemed the consummate man of the world--wise and heartless.
How came he to take such gratuitous pains with the boy Godolphin?  In the
first place, Saville had no legitimate children; Godolphin was his
relation; in the second place it may be observed that hackneyed and sated
men of the world are fond of the young, in whom they recognise
something--a better something belonging to themselves.  In Godolphin's
gentleness and courage, Saville thought he saw the mirror of his own
crusted urbanity and scheming perseverance; in Godolphin's fine
imagination and subtle intellect he beheld his own cunning and hypocrisy.
The boy's popularity flattered him; the boy's conversation amused.  No man
is so heartless but that he is capable of strong likings, when they do not
put him much out of his way; it was this sort of liking that Saville had
for Godolphin.  Besides, there was yet another reason for attachment,
which might at first seem too delicate to actuate the refined voluptuary;
but examined closely, the delicacy vanished.  Saville had loved, at least
had offered his hand to--Godolphin's mother (she was supposed an heiress!)
He thought he had just missed being Godolphin's father: his vanity made
him like to show the boy what a much better father he would have been than
the one that Providence had given him.  His resentment, too, against the
accepted suitor, made him love to exercise a little spiteful revenge
against Godolphin's father; he was glad to show that the son preferred
where the mother rejected.  All these motives combined made Saville take,
as it were, to the young Percy; and being rich, and habitually profuse,
though prudent, and a shrewd speculator withal, the pecuniary part of his
kindness cost him no pain.  But Godolphin, who was not ostentatious, did
not trust himself largely to the capricious fount of the worldling's
generosity.  Fortune smiled on her boyish votary; and during the short
time he was obliged to cultivate her favours, showered on him at least a
sufficiency for support, or even for display.

Crowded with fine people, and blazing with light, were the rooms of the
Countess of B----, as, flushed from a late dinner at Saville's, young
Godolphin made his appearance in the scene.  He was not of those numerous
gentlemen, the stock-flowers of the parterre, who stick themselves up
against walls in the panoply of neckclothed silence.  He came not to balls
from the vulgar motive of being seen there in the most conspicuous
situation--a motive so apparent among the stiff exquisites of England.  He
came to amuse himself; and if he found no one capable of amusing him, he
saw no necessity in staying.  He was always seen, therefore, conversing or
dancing, or listening to music--or he was not seen at all.

In exchanging a few words with a Colonel D----, a noted roue and gamester,
he observed, gazing on him very intently--and as Percy thought, very
rudely--an old gentleman in a dress of the last century.  Turn where he
would, Godolphin could not rid himself of the gaze; so at length he met it
with a look of equal scrutiny and courage.  The old gentleman slowly
approached.  "Percy Godolphin, I think?" said he.

"That is _my_ name, sir," replied Percy.  "Yours----"

"No matter!  Yet stay! you shall know it.  I am Henry Johnstone--old Harry
Johnstone.  You have heard of him?--your father's first cousin.  Well, I
grieve, young sir, to find that you associate with that rascal
Saville--Nay, never interrupt me sir!--I grieve to find that you, thus
young, thus unguarded, are left to be ruined in heart and corrupted in
nature by any one who will take the trouble!  Yet I like your
countenance!--I like your countenance!--it is open, yet thoughtful; frank,
and yet it has something of melancholy.  You have not Charles's coloured
hair; but you are much younger--much.  I am glad I have seen you; I came
here on purpose; good-night!"--and without waiting for an answer, the old
man disappeared.

Godolphin, recovering from his surprise, recollected that he had often
heard his father speak of a rich and eccentric relation named Johnstone.
This singular interview made a strong but momentary impression on him.  He
intended to seek out the old man's residence; but one thing or another
drove away the fulfilment of the intention, and in this world the
relations never met again.

Percy, now musingly gliding through the crowd, sank into a seat beside a
lady of forty-five, who sometimes amused herself in making love to
him--because there could be no harm in such a mere boy!--and presently
afterwards, a Lord George Somebody, sauntering up, asked the lady if he
had not seen her at the play on the previous night.

"O, yes! we went to see the new actress.  How pretty she is!--so
unaffected too;--how well she sings!"

"Pretty well--er!" replied Lord George, passing his hand through his hair.
"Very nice girl--er!--good ankles.  Devilish hot--er, is it not--er--er?
What a bore this is: eh!  Ah! Godolphin! don't forget Wattier's--er!" and
his lordship er'd himself off.

"What actress is this?"

"Oh, a very good one indeed!--came out in _The Belle's Stratagem_.  We are
going to see her to-morrow; will you dine with us early, and be our
cavalier?"

"Nothing will please me more!  Your ladyship has dropped your
handkerchief."

"Thank you!" said the lady, bending till her hair touched Godolphin's
cheek, and gently pressing the hand that was extended to her.  It was a
wonder that Godolphin never became a coxcomb.

He dined at Wattier's the next day according to appointment: he went to
the play; and at the moment his eye first turned to the stage, a universal
burst of applause indicated the entrance of the new actress--Fanny
Millinger!



CHAPTER VIII.

GODOLPHIN'S PASSION FOR THE STAGE.--THE DIFFERENCE IT ENGENDERED IN HIS
HABITS OF LIFE.

Now this event produced a great influence over Godolphin's habits--and I
suppose, therefore, I may add, over his character.  He renewed his
acquaintance with the lively actress.

"What a change!" cried both.

"The strolling player risen into celebrity!"

"And the runaway boy polished into fashion!"

"You are handsomer than ever, Fanny."

"I return the compliment," replied Fanny; with a curtsey.

And now Godolphin became a constant attendant at the theatre.  This led
him into a mode of life quite different from that which he had lately
cultivated.

There are in London two sets of idle men: one set, the butterflies of
balls; the loungers of the regular walks of society; diners out; the "old
familiar faces," seen everywhere, known to every one: the other set, a
more wild, irregular, careless race; who go little into parties, and vote
balls a nuisance; who live in clubs; frequent theatres; drive about late
o' nights in mysterious-looking vehicles and enjoy a vast acquaintance
among the Aspasias of pleasure.  These are the men who are the critics of
theatricals: black-neckclothed and well-booted, they sit in their boxes
and decide on the ankles of a dancer or the voice of a singer.  They have
a smattering of literature, and use a great deal of French in their
conversation: they have something of romance in their composition, and
have been known to marry for love.  In short, there is in their whole
nature, a more roving, liberal, Continental character of dissipation, than
belongs to the cold, tame, dull, prim, hedge-clipped indolence of more
national exquisitism.  Into this set, out of the other set, fell young
Godolphin; and oh! the merry mornings at actresses' houses; the jovial
suppers after the play; the buoyancy, the brilliancy, the esprit, with
which the hours, from midnight to cockcrow, were often pelted with
rose-leaves and drowned in Rhenish.

By degrees, however, as Godolphin warmed into his attendance at the
playhouses, the fine intellectual something that lay yet undestroyed at
his heart stirred up emotions which he felt his more vulgar associates
were unfitted to share.

There is that in theatrical representation which perpetually awakens
whatever romance belongs to our character.  The magic lights; the pomp of
scene; the palace, the camp; the forest; the midnight wold; the moonlight
reflected on the water; the melody of the tragic rhythm; the grace of the
comic wit; the strange art that give such meaning to the poet's lightest
word;--the fair, false, exciting life that is detailed before us--crowding
into some three little hours all that our most busy ambition could
desire--love, enterprise, war, glory! the kindling exaggeration of the
sentiments which belong to the stage--like our own in our boldest moments:
all these appeals to our finer senses are not made in vain.  Our taste for
castle-building and visions deepens upon us; and we chew a mental opium
which stagnates all the other faculties, but wakens that of the ideal.

Godolphin was peculiarly fascinated by the stage; he loved to steal away
from his companions, and, alone, and unheeded, to feast his mind on the
unreal stream of existence that mirrored images so beautiful.  And oh!
while yet we are young--while yet the dew lingers on the green leaf of
spring--while all the brighter, the more enterprising part of the future
is to come--while we know not whether the true life may not be visionary
and excited as the false--how deep and rich a transport is it to see, to
feel, to hear Shakspeare's conceptions made actual, though all
imperfectly, and only for an hour!  Sweet Arden! are we in thy
forest?--thy "shadowy groves and unfrequented glens"?  Rosalind, Jaques,
Orlando, have you indeed a being upon earth!  Ah! this is true
enchantment! and when we turn back to life, we turn from the colours which
the Claude glass breathes over a winter's landscape to the nakedness of
the landscape itself!



CHAPTER IX.

THE LEGACY.--A NEW DEFORMITY IN SAVILLE.--THE NATURE OF WORLDLY
LIAISONS.--GODOLPHIN LEAVES ENGLAND.

But then, it is not always a sustainer of the stage delusion to be
enamoured of an actress: it takes us too much behind the scenes.
Godolphin felt this so strongly that he liked those plays least in which
Fanny performed.  Off the stage her character had so little romance, that
he could not deceive himself into the romance of her character before the
lamps.  Luckily, however, Fanny did not attempt Shakspeare.  She was
inimitable in vaudeville, in farce, and in the lighter comedy; but she had
prudently abandoned tragedy in deserting the barn.  She was a girl of much
talent and quickness, and discovered exactly the paths in which her vanity
could walk without being wounded.  And there was a simplicity, a
frankness, about her manner, that made her a most agreeable companion.

The attachment between her and Godolphin was not very violent; it was a
silken tie, which opportunity could knit and snap a hundred times over
without doing much wrong to the hearts it so lightly united.  Over
Godolphin the attachment itself had no influence, while the effects of the
attachment had an influence so great.

One night, after an absence from town of two or three days Godolphin
returned home from the theatre, and found among the letters waiting his
arrival one from his father.  It was edged with black; the seal, too, was
black.  Godolphin's heart misgave him: tremblingly he opened it, and read
as follows:

"DEAR PERCY,

"I have news for you, which I do not know whether I should call good or
bad.  On the one hand, your cousin, that old oddity, Harry Johnstone, is
dead, and has left you, out of his immense fortune, the poor sum of twenty
thousand pounds.  But mark! on condition that you leave the Guards, and
either reside with me, or at least leave London, till your majority is
attained.  If you refuse these conditions you lose the legacy.  It is
rather strange that this curious character should take such pains with
your morals, and yet not leave _me_ a single shilling.  But justice is out
of fashion nowadays; your showy virtues only are the rage.  I beg, if you
choose to come down here, that you will get me twelve yards of
house-flannel; I inclose a pattern of the quality.  Snugg, in Oxford
Street, near Tottenham Court Road, is my man.  It is certainly a handsome
thing in old Johnstone: but so odd to omit me.  How did you get acquainted
witk him?  The twenty thousand pounds will, however, do much for the poor
property.  Pray take care of it, Percy,--pray do.

"I have had a touch of the gout, for the first time.  I have been too
luxurious: by proper abstinence, I trust to bring it down.  Compliments
to that smooth rogue, Saville.

"Your affectionate,                A. G.

"P. S.--Discharged Old Sally for flirting with the butcher's boy:
flirtations of that sort make meat weigh much heavier.  Bess is my only
she-helpmate now, besides the old creature who shows the ruins: so much
the better.  What an eccentric creature that Johnstone was!  I hate
eccentric people."

The letter fell from Percy's hands.  And this, then, was the issue of his
single interview with the poor old man!  It was events like these, wayward
and strange (events which chequered his whole life), that, secretly to
himself, tinged Godolphin's character with superstition.  He afterwards
dealt con amore with fatalities and influences.

You may be sure that he did not sleep much that night.  Early the next
morning he sought Saville, and imparted to him the intelligence he had
received.

"Droll enough!" said Saville, languidly, and more than a little
displeased at this generosity to Godolphin from another; for, like all
small-hearted persons, he was jealous; "droll enough!  Hem! and you never
knew him but once, and then he abused me!  I wonder at that; I was very
obliging to his vulgar son."

"What! he had a son, then?"

"Some two-legged creature of that sort, raw and bony, dropped into London,
like a ptarmigan, wild, and scared out of his wits.  Old Johnstone was in
the country, taking care of his wife, who had lost the use of her limbs
ever since she had been married;--caught a violent--husband--the first day
of wedlock!  The boy, sole son and heir, came up to town at the age of
discretion; got introduced to me; I patronised him; brought him into a
decent degree of fashion; played a few games at cards with him; won some
money; would not win any more; advised him to leave off; too young to
play; neglected my advice; went on, and, d--n the fellow! if he did not
cut his throat one morning; and the father, to my astonishment, laid the
blame upon me!"

Godolphin stood appalled in speechless disgust.  He never loved Saville
from that hour.

"In fact," resumed Saville, carelessly, "he had lost very considerably.
His father was a stern, hard man, and the poor boy was frightened at the
thought of his displeasure.  I suppose Monsieur Papa imagined me a sort of
moral ogre, eating up all the little youths that fall in my way! since he
leaves you twenty thousand pounds on condition that you take care of
yourself and shun the castle I live in.  Well, well! 'tis all very
flattering!  And where will you go?  To Spain?"

This story affected Percy sensibly.  He regretted deeply that he had not
sought out the bereaved father, and been of some comfort to his later
hours.  He appreciated all that warmth of sympathy, that delicacy of
heart, which had made the old man compassionate his young relation's
unfriended lot, and couple his gift with a condition, likely perhaps, to
limit Percy's desires to the independence thus bestowed, and certain to
remove his more tender years from a scene of constant contagion.  Thus
melancholy and thoughtful, Godolphin repaired to the house of the now
famous, the now admired Miss Millinger.

Fanny received the good news of his fortune with a smile, and the bad news
of his departure from England with a tear.  There are some attachments, of
which we so easily sound the depth, that the one never thinks of exacting
from the other the sacrifices that seemed inevitable to more earnest
affections.  Fanny never dreamed of leaving her theatrical career, and
accompanying Godolphin; Godolphin never dreamed of demanding it.  These
are the connections of the great world: my good reader, learn the great
world as you look at them!

All was soon settled.  Godolphin was easily disembarrassed of his
commission.  Six hundred a year from his fortune was allowed him during
his minority.  He insisted on sharing this allowance with his father; the
moiety left to himself was quite sufficient for all that a man so young
could require.  At the age of little more than seventeen, but with a
character which premature independence had half formed, and also half
enervated, the young Godolphin saw the shores of England recede before
him, and felt himself alone in the universe--the lord of his own fate.



CHAPTER X.

THE EDUCATION OF CONSTANCE'S MIND.

Meanwhile, Constance Vernon grew up in womanhood and beauty.  All around
her contributed to feed that stern remembrance which her father's dying
words had bequeathed.  Naturally proud, quick, susceptible, she felt
slights, often merely incidental, with a deep and brooding resentment.
The forlorn and dependent girl could not, indeed, fail to meet with many
bitter proofs that her situation was not forgotten by a world in which
prosperity and station are the cardinal virtues.  Many a loud whisper,
many an intentional "aside," reached her haughty ear, and coloured her
pale cheek.  Such accidents increased her early-formed asperity of
thought; chilled the gushing flood of her young affections; and sharpened,
with a relentless edge, her bitter and caustic hatred to a society she
deemed at once insolent and worthless.  To a taste intuitively fine and
noble the essential vulgarities--the fierceness to-day, the cringing
to-morrow; the veneration for power; the indifference to virtue, which
characterised the framers and rulers of "society"--could not but bring
contempt as well as anger; and amidst the brilliant circles, to which so
many aspirers looked up with hopeless ambition, Constance moved only to
ridicule, to loathe, to despise.

So strong, so constantly nourished, was this sentiment of contempt, that
it lasted with equal bitterness when Constance afterwards became the queen
and presider over that great world in which she now shone--to dazzle, but
not to rule.  What at first might have seemed an exaggerated and insane
prayer on the part of her father, grew, as her experience ripened, a
natural and laudable command.  She was thrown entirely with that party
amongst whom were his early friends and his late deserters.  She resolved
to humble the crested arrogance around her, as much from her own desire,
as from the wish to obey and avenge her father.  From contempt for rank
rose naturally the ambition of rank.  The young beauty resolved, to banish
love from her heart; to devote herself to one aim and object; to win title
and station, that she might be able to give power and permanence to her
disdain of those qualities in others; and in the secrecy of night she
repeated the vow which had consoled her father's death-bed, and solemnly
resolved to crush love within her heart and marry solely for station and
for power.

As the daughter of so celebrated a politician, it was natural that
Constance should take interest in politics.  She lent to every discussion
of state events an eager and thirsty ear.  She embraced with masculine
ardour such sentiments as were then considered the extreme of liberality;
and she looked on that career which society limits to man, as the noblest,
the loftiest in the world.  She regretted that she was a woman, and
prevented from personally carrying into effect the sentiments she
passionately espoused.  Meanwhile, she did not neglect, nor suffer to
rust, the bright weapon of a wit which embodied at times all the biting
energies of her contempt.  To insolence she retorted sarcasm; and, early
able to see that society, like virtue, must be trampled upon in order to
yield forth its incense, she rose into respect by the hauteur of her
manner, the bluntness of her satire, the independence of her mind, far
more than by her various accomplishments and her unrivalled beauty.

Of Lady Erpingham she had nothing to complain; kind, easy, and
characterless, her protectress sometimes wounded her by carelessness, but
never through design; on the contrary, the Countess at once loved and
admired her, and was as anxious that her protegee should form a brilliant
alliance as if she had been her own daughter.  Constance, therefore, loved
Lady Erpingham with sincere and earnest warmth, and endeavoured to forget
all the commonplaces and littlenesses which made up the mind of her
protectress, and which, otherwise, would have been precisly of that nature
to which one like Constance would have been the least indulgent.



CHAPTER XI.

CONVERSATION BETWEEN LADY ERPINGHAM AND CONSTANCE.--FURTHER PARTICULARS OF
GODOLPHIN'S FAMILY, ETC.


Lady Erpingham was a widow; her jointure, for she had been an heiress and
a duke's daughter, was large; and the noblest mansion of all the various
seats possessed by the wealthy and powerful house of Erpingham had been
allotted by her late lord for her widowed residence.  Thither she went
punctually on the first of every August, and quitted it punctually on the
eighth of every January.

It was some years after the date of Godolphin's departure from England,
and the summer following the spring in which Constance had been "brought
out;" and, after a debut of such splendour that at this day (many years
subsequent to that period) the sensation she created is not only a matter
of remembrance but of conversation, Constance, despite the triumph of her
vanity, was not displeased to seek some refuge, even from admiration,
among the shades of Wendover Castle.

"When," said she one morning, as she was walking with Lady Erpingham upon
a terrace beneath the windows of the castle, which overlooked the country
for miles,--"when will you go with me, dear Lady Erpingham, to see those
ruins of which I have heard so much and so often, and which I have never
been able to persuade you to visit?  Look! the day is so clear that we can
see their outline now--there, to the right of that church!--they cannot be
so very far from Wendover."

"Godolphin Priory is about twelve miles off," said Lady Erpingham; "but it
may seem nearer, for it is situated on the highest spot of the county.
Poor Arthur Godolphin! he is lately dead!" Lady Erpingham sighed.

"I never heard you speak of him before."

"There might be a reason for my silence, Constance.  He was the person, of
all whom I ever saw, who appeared to me when I was at your age, the most
fascinating.  Not, Constance, that I was in love with him, or that he gave
me any reason to become so through gratitude for any affection on his
part.  It was a girl's fancy, idle and short-lived--nothing more!"

"And the young Godolphin--the boy who, at so early an age, has made
himself known for his eccentric life abroad?"

"Is his son; the present owner of those ruins, and, I fear, of little
more, unless it be the remains of a legacy received from a relation."

"Was the father extravagant, then?"

"Not he!  But his father had exceeded a patrimony greatly involved, and
greatly reduced from its ancient importance.  All the lands we see
yonder---those villages, those woods--once belonged to the Godolphins.
They were the most ancient and the most powerful family in this part of
England; but the estates dwindled away with each successive generation,
and when Arthur Godolphin, my Godolphin, succeeded to the property,
nothing was left for him but the choice of three evils--a profession,
obscurity, or a wealthy marriage.  My father, who had long destined me for
Lord Erpingham, insinuated that it was in me that Mr. Godolphin wished to
find the resource I have last mentioned, and that in such resource was my
only attraction in his eyes.  I have some reason to believe he proposed to
the Duke; but he was silent to me, from whom, girl as I was, he might have
been less certain of refusal."

"What did he at last?"

"Married a lady who was supposed to be an heiress; but he had scarcely
enjoyed her fortune a year before it became the subject of a lawsuit.  He
lost the cause and the dowry; and, what was worse, the expenses of
litigation, and the sums he was obliged to refund, reduced him to what,
for a man of his rank, might be considered absolute poverty.  He was
thoroughly chagrined and soured by this event; retired to those ruins, or
rather to the small cottage that adjoins them, and there lived to the day
of his death, shunning society, and certainly not exceeding his income."

"I understand you: he became parsimonious."

"To the excess which his neighbours called miserly."

"And his wife?"

"Poor woman! she was a mere fine lady, and died, I believe, of the same
vexation which nipped, not the life, but the heart of her husband."

"Had they only one son?"

"Only the present owner: Percy, I think--yes, Percy; it was his mother's
surname--Percy Godolphin."

"And how came this poor boy to be thrown so early on the world?  Did he
quarrel with Mr. Godolphin?"

"I believe not: but when Percy was about sixteen, he left the obscure
school at which he was educated, and resided for some little time with a
relation, Augustus Saville.  He stayed with him in London for about a
year, and went everywhere with him, though so mere a boy.  His manners
were, I well remember, assured and formed.  A relation left him some
moderate legacy, and afterwards he went abroad alone."

"But the ruins!  The late Mr. Godolphin, notwithstanding his reserve, did
not object to indulging the curiosity of his neighbours."

"No: he was proud of the interest the ruins of his hereditary mansion so
generally excited,--proud of their celebrity in print-shops and in tours;
but he himself was never seen.  The cottage in which he lived, though it
adjoins the ruins, was, of course, sacred from intrusion, and is so walled
in, that that great delight of English visitors at show-places--peeping in
at windows--was utterly forbidden.  However that be, during Mr.
Godolphin's life, I never had courage to visit what, to me, would have
been a melancholy scene now, the pain would be somewhat less; and since
you wish it, suppose we drive over and visit the ruins to-morrow?  It is
the regular day for seeing them, by the by."

"Not, dear Lady Erpingham, if it give you the least--"

"My sweet girl," interrupted Lady Erpingham, when a servant approached to
announce visitors at the castle.

"Will you go into the saloon, Constance?" said the elder lady, as,
thinking still of love and Arthur Godolphin, she took her way to her
dressing-room to renovate her rouge.

It would have been a pretty amusement to one of the lesser devils, if,
during the early romance of Lady Erpingham's feelings towards Arthur
Godolphin, he had foretold her the hour when she would tell how Arthur
Godolphin died a miser--just five minutes before she repaired to the
toilette to decorate the cheek of age for the heedless eyes of a common
acquaintance.  'Tis the world's way!  For my part, I would undertake to
find a better world in that rookery opposite my windows.



CHAPTER XII.

DESCRIPTION OF GODOLPHIN'S HOUSE.--THE FIRST INTERVIEW.--ITS EFFECT ON
CONSTANCE.

"But," asked Constance, as, the next day, Lady Erpinghain and herself were
performing the appointed pilgrimage to the ruins of Godolphin Priory, "if
the late Mr. Godolphin, as he grew in years, acquired a turn of mind so
penurious, was he not enabled to leave his son some addition to the pied
de terre we are about to visit?"

"He must certainly have left some ready money," answered Lady Erpinghain.
"But is it, after all, likely that so young a man as Percy Godolphin could
have lived in the manner he has done without incurring debts?  It is most
probable that he had some recourse to those persons so willing to
encourage the young and extravagant, and that repayment to them will more
than swallow up any savings his father might have amassed."

"True enough!" said Constance; and the conversation glided into remarks on
avaricious fathers and prodigal sons.  Constance was witty on the subject,
and Lady Erpingham laughed herself into excellent humour.

It was considerably past noon when they arrived at the ruins.

The carriage stopped before a small inn, at the entrance of a dismantled
park; and, taking advantage of the beauty of the day, Lady Erpingham and
Constance walked slowly towards the remains of the Priory.

The scene, as they approached, was wild and picturesque in the extreme.  A
wide and glassy lake lay stretched beneath them: on the opposite side
stood the ruins.  The large oriel window--the Gothic arch--the broken, yet
still majestic column, all embrowned and mossed with age, were still
spared, and now mirrored themselves in the waveless and silent tide.
Fragments of stone lay around, for some considerable distance, and the
whole was backed by hills, covered with gloomy and thick woods of pine and
fir.  To the left, they saw the stream which fed the lake, stealing away
through grassy banks, overgrown with the willow and pollard oak: and
there, from one or two cottages, only caught in glimpses, thin wreaths of
smoke rose in spires against the clear sky.  To the right, the ground was
broken into a thousand glens and hollows: the deer-loved fern, the golden
broom, were scattered about profusely; and here and there were dense
groves of pollards; or, at very rare intervals, some single tree decaying
(for all round bore the seal of vassalage to Time), but mighty, and
greenly venerable in its decay.

As they passed over a bridge that, on either side of the stream, emerged,
as it were, from a thick copse, they caught a view of the small abode that
adjoined the ruins.  It seemed covered entirely with ivy; and, so far from
diminishing, tended rather to increase the romantic and imposing effect of
the crumbling pile from which it grew.

They opened a little gate at the other extremity of the bridge, and in a
few minutes more, they stood at the entrance to the Priory.

It was an oak door, studded with nails.  The jessamine grew upon either
side; and, to descend to a commonplace matter, they had some difficulty in
finding the bell among the leaves in which it was imbedded.  When they had
found and touched it, its clear and lively sound rang out in that still
and lovely though desolate spot, with an effect startling and impressive
from its contrast.  There is something very fairy-like in the cheerful
voice of a bell sounding among the wilder scenes of nature, particularly
where Time advances his claim to the sovereignty of the landscape; for the
cheerfulness is a little ghostly, and might serve well enough for a tocsin
to the elvish hordes whom our footsteps may be supposed to disturb.

An old woman, in the neat peasant dress of our country, when, taking a
little from the fashion of the last century (the cap and the kerchief), it
assumes no ungraceful costume,--replied to their summons.  She was the
solitary cicerone of the place.  She had lived there, a lone and childless
widow, for thirty years; and, of all the persons I have ever seen, would
furnish forth the best heroine to one of those pictures of homely life
which Wordsworth has dignified with the partriarchal tenderness of his
genius.

They wound a narrow passage, and came to the ruins of the great hall.  Its
gothic arches still sprang lightly upward on either side; and, opening a
large stone box that stood in a recess, the old woman showed them the
gloves, and the helmet, and the tattered banners, which had belonged to
that Godolphin who had fought side by side with Sidney, when he, whose
life--as the noblest of British lyrists hath somewhere said--was "poetry
put into action,"[1] received his death-wound in the field of Zutphen.

Thence they ascended by the dilapidated and crumbling staircase, to a
small room, in which the visitors were always expected to rest themselves,
and enjoy the scene in the garden below.  A large chasm yawned where the
casement once was; and round this aperture the ivy wreathed itself in
fantastic luxuriance.  A sort of ladder, suspended from this chasm to the
ground, afforded a convenience for those who were tempted to a short
excursion by the view without.

And the view _was_ tempting!  A smooth green lawn, surrounded by shrubs
and flowers, was ornamented in the centre by a fountain.  The waters were,
it is true, dried up; but the basin, and the "Triton with his wreathed
shell," still remained.  A little to the right was an old monkish
sun-dial; and through the green vista you caught the glimpse of one of
those gray, grotesque statues with which the taste of Elizabeth's day
shamed the classic chisel.

There was something quiet and venerable about the whole place; and when
the old woman said to Constance, "Would you not like, my lady, to walk
down and look at the sun-dial and the fountain?" Constance felt she
required nothing more to yield to her inclination.  Lady Erpingham, less
adventurous, remained in the ruined chamber; and the old woman, naturally
enough, honoured the elder lady with her company.

Constance, therefore, descended the rude steps alone.  As she paused by
the fountain, an indescribable and delicious feeling of repose stole over
a mind that seldom experienced any sentiment so natural or so soft.  The
hour, the stillness, the scene, all conspired to lull the heart into that
dreaming and half-unconscious reverie in which poets would suppose the
hermits of elder times to have wasted a life, indolent, and yet scarcely,
after all, unwise.  "Methinks," she inly soliloquised, "while I look
around, I feel as if I could give up my objects of life; renounce my
hopes; forget to be artificial and ambitious; live in these ruins, and,"
(whispered the spirit within,) "loved and loving, fulfil the ordinary doom
of woman."

Indulging a mood, which the proud and restless Constance, who despised
love as the poorest of human weaknesses, though easily susceptible to all
other species of romance, had scarcely ever known before, she wandered
away from the lawn into one of the alleys cut amidst the grove around.
Caught by the murmur of an unseen brook, she tracked it through the trees,
as its sound grew louder and louder on her ear, till at length it stole
upon her sight.  The sun, only winning through the trees at intervals,
played capriciously upon the cold and dark waters as they glided on, and
gave to her, as the same effect has done to a thousand poets, ample matter
for a simile or a moral.

She approached the brook, and came unawares upon the figure of a young
man, leaning against a stunted tree that overhung the waters, and occupied
with the idle amusement of dropping pebbles in the stream.  She saw only
his profile; but that view is, in a fine countenance, almost always the
most striking and impressive, and it was eminently so in the face before
her.  The stranger, who was scarcely removed from boyhood, was dressed in
deep mourning.  He seemed slight, and small of stature.  A travelling cap
of sables contrasted, not hid, light brown hair of singular richness and
beauty.  His features were of that pure and severe Greek of which the only
fault is that in the very perfection of the chiselling of the features
there seems something hard and stern.  The complexion was pale, even to
wanness; and the whole cast and contour of the head were full of
intellect, and betokening that absorption of mind which cannot be marked
in any one without exciting a certain vague curiosity and interest.

So dark and wondrous are the workings of our nature, that there are
scarcely any of us, however light and unthinking, who would not be
arrested by the countenance of one in deep reflection--who would not
pause, and long to pierce into the mysteries that were agitating that
world, most illimitable by nature, but often most narrowed by custom--the
world within.

And this interest, powerful as it is, spelled and arrested Constance at
once.  She remained for a minute gazing on the countenance of the young
stranger, and then she--the most self-possessed and stately of human
creatures--blushing deeply, and confused though unseen, turned lightly
away and stopped not on her road till she regained the old chamber and
Lady Erpingham.

The old woman was descanting upon the merits of the late Lord of Godolphin
Priory,--

"For though they called him close, and so forth, my lady, yet he was
generous to others; it was only himself he pinched.  But, to be sure, the
present squire won't take after him there."

"Has Mr. Percy Godolphin been here lately?" asked Lady Erpingham.

"He is at the cottage now, my lady," replied the old woman.  "He came two
days ago."

"Is he like his father?"

"Oh! not near so fine-looking a gentleman! much smaller, and quite
pale-like.  He seems sickly: them foreign parts do nobody no good.  He was
as fine a lad at sixteen years old as ever I seed; but now he is not like
the same thing."

So then it was evidently Percy Godolphin whom Constance had seen by the
brook--the owner of a home without coffers, and estates without a
rent-roll--the Percy Godolphin, of whom, before he had attained the age
when others have left the college, or even the school, every one had
learned to speak--some favourably, all with eagerness.  Constance felt a
vague interest respecting him spring up in her mind.  She checked it, for
it was a sin in her eye to think with interest on a man neither rich nor
powerful; and as she quitted the ruins with Lady Erpingham, she
communicated to the latter her adventure.  She was, however, disingenuous;
for though Godolphin's countenance was exactly of that cast which
Constance most admired, she described him just as the old woman had done;
and Lady Erpingham figured to herself, from the description, a little
yellow man, with white hair and a turned-up nose.  O Truth! what a hard
path is thine!  Does any keep it for three inches together in the
commonest trifle?--and yet two sides of my library are filled with
histories!

[1] Campbell.



CHAPTER XIII.

A BALL ANNOUNCED.--GODOLPHIN'S VISTT TO WENDOVER CASTLE.--HIS MANNERS AND
CONVERSATION.

Lady Erpingham (besides her daughter, Lady Eleanor, married to Mr. Clare,
a county member, of large fortune) was blessed with one son.

The present Earl had been for the last two years abroad.  He had never,
since his accession to his title, visited Wendover Castle; and Lady
Erpingham one morning experienced the delight of receiving a letter from
him, dated Dover, and signifying his intention of paying her a visit.  In
honour of this event, Lady Erpingham resolved to give a grand ball.  Cards
were issued to all the families in the county; and, among others, to Mr.
Godolphin.

On the third day after this invitation had been sent to the person I have
last named, as Lady Erpingham and Constance were alone in the saloon, Mr.
Percy Godolphin was announced.  Constance blushed as she looked up, and
Lady Erpingham was struck by the nobleness of his address, and the perfect
self-possession of his manner.  And yet nothing could be so different as
was his deportment from that which she had been accustomed to admire--from
that manifested by the exquisites of the day.  The calm, the nonchalance,
the artificial smile of languor, the evenness, so insipid, yet so
irreproachable, of English manners when considered most polished,--all
this was the reverse of Godolphin's address and air.  In short, in all he
said or did there was something foreign, something unfamiliar.  He was
abrupt and enthusiastic in conversation, and used gestures in speaking.
His countenance lighted up at every word that broke from hint on the
graver subjects of discussion.  You felt, indeed, with him that you were
with a man of genius--a wayward and a spoiled man, who had acquired his
habits in solitude, but his graces in the world.

They conversed about the ruins of the Priory, and Constance expressed her
admiration of their romantic and picturesque beauty.  "Ah!" said he
smiling, but with a slight blush, in which Constance detected something of
pain; "I heard of your visit to my poor heaps of stone.  My father took
great pleasure in the notice they attracted.  When a proud man has not
riches to be proud of, he grows proud of the signs of his poverty itself.
This was the case with my poor father.  Had he been rich, the ruins would
not have existed: he would have rebuilt the old mansion.  As he was poor,
he valued himself on their existence, and fancied magnificence in every
handful of moss.  But all life is delusion: all pride, all vanity, all
pomp, are equally deceit.  Like the Spanish hidalgo, we put on spectacles
when we eat our cherries, in order that they may seem ten times as big as
they are!"

Constance smiled; and Lady Erpingham, who had more kindness than delicacy,
continued her praises of the Priory and the scenery round it.

"The old park," said she, "with its wood and water, is so beautiful!  It
wants nothing but a few deer, just tame enough to come near the ruins, and
wild enough to start away as you approach."

"Now you would borrow an attraction from wealth," said Godolphin, who,
unlike English persons in general, seemed to love alluding to his poverty:
"it is not for the owner of a ruined Priory to consult the aristocratic
enchantments of that costly luxury, the Picturesque.  Alas!  I have not
even wherewithal to feed a few solitary partridges; and I hear, that if I
go beyond the green turf, once a park, I shall be warned off forthwith,
and my very qualification disputed."

"Are you fond of shooting?" said Lady Erpingham.

"I fancy I should be; but I have never enjoyed the sport in England."

"Do pray come, then," said Lady Erpingham, kindly, "and spend your first
week in September here.  Let me see: the first of the month will be next
Thursday; dine with us on Wednesday.  We have keepers and dogs here
enough, thanks to Robert; so you need only bring your gun."

"You are very kind, dear Lady Erpingham," said Godolphin warmly: "I accept
your invitation at once."

"Your father was a very old friend of mine," said the lady with a sigh.

"He was an old admirer," said the gentleman, with a bow.



CHAPTER XIV.

CONVERSATION BETWEEN GODOLPHIN AND CONSTANCE.--THE COUNTRY LINE AND THE
TOWN LINE.

And Godolphin came on the appointed Wednesday.  He was animated that day
even to brilliancy.  Lady Erpingham thought him the most charming of men;
and even Constance forgot that he was no match for herself.  Gifted and
cultivated as she was, it was not without delight that she listened to his
glowing descriptions of scenery, and to his playful yet somewhat
melancholy strain of irony upon men and their pursuits.  The peculiar
features of her mind made her, indeed, like the latter more than she could
appreciate the former; for in her nature there was more bitterness than
sentiment.  Still, his rich language and fluent periods, even in
description, touched her ear and fancy, though they sank not to her heart;
and she yielded insensibly to the spells she would almost have despised in
another.

The next day, Constance, who was no very early riser, tempted by the
beauty of the noon, strolled into the gardens.  She was surprised to hear
Godolphin's voice behind her: she turned round and he joined her.

"I thought you were on your shooting expedition?"

"I have been shooting, and I am returned.  I was out by daybreak, and I
came back at noon in the hope of being allowed to join you in your ride or
walk."

Constance smilingly acknowledged the compliment; and as they passed up the
straight walks of the old-fashioned and stately gardens, Godolphin turned
the conversation upon the varieties of garden scenery; upon the poets who
have described those varieties best; upon that difference between the town
life and the country, on which the brothers of the minstrel craft have, in
all ages, so glowingly insisted.  In this conversation, certain points of
contrast between the characters of these two young persons might be
observed.

"I confess to you," said Godolphin, "that I have little faith in the
permanence of any attachment professed for the country by the inhabitants
of cities.  If we can occupy our minds solely with the objects around
us,--if the brook and the old tree, and the golden sunset, and the summer
night, and the animal and homely life that we survey,--if these can fill
our contemplation, and take away from us the feverish schemes of the
future,--then indeed I can fully understand the reality of that tranquil
and happy state which our elder poets have described as incident to a
country life.  But if we carry with us to the shade all the restless and
perturbed desires of the city; if we only employ present leisure in
schemes for an agitated future--then it is in vain that we affect the
hermit and fly to the retreat.  The moment the novelty of green fields is
over, and our projects are formed, we wish to hurry to the city to execute
them.  We have, in a word, made our retirement only a nursery for schemes
now springing up, and requiring to be transplanted."

"You are right," said Constance, quickly; "and who would pass life as if
it were a dream?  It seems to me that we put retirement to the right use
when we make it only subservient to our aims in the world."

"A strange doctrine for a young beauty," thought Godolphin, "whose head
ought to be full of groves and love."  "Then," said he aloud, "I must rank
among those who abuse the purposes of retirement; for I have hitherto been
flattered to think that I enjoy it for itself.  Despite the artificial
life I have led, everything that speaks of nature has a voice that I can
rarely resist.  What feelings created in a city can compare with those
that rise so gently and so unbidden within us when the trees and the
waters are our only companions--our only sources of excitement and
intoxication?  Is not contemplation better than ambition?"

"Can you believe it?" said Constance, incredulously.

"I do."

Constance smiled; and there would have been contempt in that beautiful
smile, had not Godolphin interested her in spite of herself.





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