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Title: The Disowned — Volume 06
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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CHAPTER LIX

    Change and time take together their flight.--Golden Violet.

One evening in autumn, about three years after the date of our last
chapter, a stranger on horseback, in deep mourning, dismounted at the
door of the Golden Fleece, in the memorable town of W----.  He walked
into the taproom, and asked for a private apartment and accommodation
for the night.  The landlady, grown considerably plumper than when we
first made her acquaintance, just lifted up her eyes to the stranger's
face, and summoning a short stout man (formerly the waiter, now the
second helpmate of the comely hostess), desired him, in a tone which
partook somewhat more of the authority indicative of their former
relative situations than of the obedience which should have
characterized their present, "to show the gentleman to the Griffin,
No. 4."

The stranger smiled as the sound greeted his ears, and he followed not
so much the host as the hostess's spouse into the apartment thus
designated.  A young lady, who some eight years ago little thought
that she should still be in a state of single blessedness, and who
always honoured with an attentive eye the stray travellers who, from
their youth, loneliness, or that ineffable air which usually
designates the unmarried man, might be in the same solitary state of
life, turned to the landlady and said,--

"Mother, did you observe what a handsome gentleman that was?"

"No," replied the landlady; "I only observed that he brought no
servant"

"I wonder," said the daughter, "if he is in the army? he has a
military air!"

"I suppose he has dined," muttered the landlady to herself, looking
towards the larder.

"Have you seen Squire Mordaunt within a short period of time?" asked,
somewhat abruptly, a little thick-set man, who was enjoying his pipe
and negus in a sociable way at the window-seat.  The characteristics
of this personage were, a spruce wig, a bottle nose, an elevated
eyebrow, a snuff-coloured skin and coat, and an air of that
consequential self-respect which distinguishes the philosopher who
agrees with the French sage, and sees "no reason in the world why a
man should not esteem himself."

"No, indeed, Mr. Bossolton," returned the landlady; "but I suppose
that, as he is now in the Parliament House, he will live less retired.
It is a pity that the inside of that noble old Hall of his should not
be more seen; and after all the old gentleman's improvements too!
They say that the estate now, since the mortgages were paid off, is
above 10,000 pounds a year, clear!"

"And if I am not induced into an error," rejoined Mr. Bossolton,
refilling his pipe, "old Vavasour left a great sum of ready money
besides, which must have been an aid, and an assistance, and an
advantage, mark me, Mistress Merrylack, to the owner of Mordaunt Hall,
that has escaped the calculation of your faculty,--and the--and the--
faculty of your calculation!"

"You mistake, Mr. Boss," as, in the friendliness of diminutives, Mrs.
Merrylack sometimes styled the grandiloquent practitioner, "you
mistake: the old gentleman left all his ready money in two bequests,--
the one to the College of ----, in the University of Cambridge, and
the other to an hospital in London.  I remember the very words of the
will; they ran thus, Mr. Boss.  'And whereas my beloved son, had he
lived, would have been a member of the College of ---- in the
University of Cambridge, which he would have adorned by his genius,
learning, youthful virtue, and the various qualities which did equal
honour to his head and heart, and would have rendered him alike
distinguished as the scholar and the Christian, I do devise and
bequeath the sum of thirty-seven thousand pounds sterling, now in the
English Funds,' etc; and then follows the manner in which he will have
his charity vested and bestowed, and all about the prize which shall
be forever designated and termed 'The Vavasour Prize,' and what shall
be the words of the Latin speech which shall be spoken when the said
prize be delivered, and a great deal more to that effect: so, then, he
passes to the other legacy, of exactly the same sum, to the hospital,
usually called and styled ----, in the city of London, and says, 'And
whereas we are assured by the Holy Scriptures, which, in these days of
blasphemy and sedition, it becomes every true Briton and member of the
Established Church to support, that "charity doth cover a multitude of
sins," so I do give and devise,' etc., 'to be forever termed in the
deeds,' etc., 'of the said hospital, "The Vavasour Charity;" and
always provided that on the anniversary of the day of my death a
sermon shall be preached in the chapel attached to the said hospital
by a clergyman of the Established Church, on any text appropriate to
the day and deed so commemorated.'  But the conclusion is most
beautiful, Mr. Bossolton: 'And now having discharged my duties, to the
best of my humble ability, to my God, my king, and my country, and
dying in the full belief of the Protestant Church, as by law
established, I do set my hand and seal,' etc."

"A very pleasing and charitable and devout and virtuous testament or
will, Mistress Merrylack," said Mr. Bossolton; "and in a time when
anarchy with gigantic strides does devastate and devour and harm the
good old customs of our ancestors and forefathers, and tramples with
its poisonous breath the Magna Charta and the glorious revolution, it
is beautiful, ay, and sweet, mark you, Mrs. Merrylack, to behold a
gentleman of the aristocratic classes or grades supporting the
institutions of his country with such remarkable energy of sentiments
and with--and with, Mistress Merrylack, with sentiments of such
remarkable energy."

"Pray," said the daughter, adjusting her ringlets by a little glass
which hung over the tap, "how long has Mr. Mordaunt's lady been dead?"

"Oh! she died just before the squire came to the property," quoth the
mother.  "Poor thing! she was so pretty!  I am sure I cried for a
whole hour when I heard it!  I think it was three years last month
when it happened.  Old Mr. Vavasour died about two months afterwards."

"The afflicted husband" (said Mr. Bossolton, who was the victim of a
most fiery Mrs. Boss at home) "went into foreign lands or parts, or,
as it is vulgarly termed, the Continent, immediately after an event or
occurrence so fatal to the cup of his prosperity and the sunshine of
his enjoyment, did he not, Mrs. Merrylack?"

"He did.  And you know, Mr. Boss, he only returned about six months
ago."

"And of what borough or burgh or town or city is he the member and
representative?" asked Mr. Jeremiah Bossolton, putting another lump of
sugar into his negus.  "I have heard, it is true, but my memory is
short; and, in the multitude and multifariousness of my professional
engagements, I am often led into a forgetfulness of matters less
important in their variety, and less--less various in their
importance."

"Why," answered Mrs. Merrylack, "somehow or other, I quite forget too;
but it is some distant borough.  The gentleman wanted him to stand for
the county, but he would not hear of it; perhaps he did not like the
publicity of the thing, for he is mighty reserved."

"Proud, haughty, arrogant, and assumptious!" said Mr. Bossolton, with
a puff of unusual length.

"Nay, nay," said the daughter (young people are always the first to
defend), "I'm sure he's not proud: he does a mort of good, and has the
sweetest smile possible!  I wonder if he'll marry again!  He is very
young yet, not above two or three and thirty."  (The kind damsel would
not have thought two or three and thirty very young some years ago;
but we grow wonderfully indulgent to the age of other people as we
grow older ourselves!)

"And what an eye he has!" said the landlady.  "Well, for my part,--
but, bless me.  Here, John, John, John, waiter, husband I mean,--
here's a carriage and four at the door.  Lizzy, dear, is my cap
right?"

And mother, daughter, and husband all flocked, charged with simper,
courtesy, and bow, to receive their expected guests.  With a
disappointment which we who keep not inns can but very imperfectly
conceive, the trio beheld a single personage,--a valet, descend from
the box, open the carriage door, and take out--a desk!  Of all things
human, male or female, the said carriage was utterly empty.

The valet bustled up to the landlady: "My master's here, ma'am, I
think; rode on before!"

"And who is your master?" asked Mrs. Merrylack, a thrill of alarm, and
the thought of No. 4, coming across her at the same time.

"Who!" said the valet, rubbing his hands; "who!--why, Clarence Talbot
Linden, Esq., of Scarsdale Park, county of York, late Secretary of
Legation at the court of ----, now M.P., and one of his Majesty's
Under Secretaries of State."

"Mercy upon us!" cried the astounded landlady, "and No. 4! only think
of it.  Run, John,--John,--run, light a fire (the night's cold, I
think) in the Elephant, No. 16; beg the gentleman's pardon; say it was
occupied till now; ask what he'll have for dinner,--fish, flesh, fowl,
steaks, joints, chops, tarts; or, if it's too late (but it's quite
early yet; you may put back the day an hour or so), ask what he'll
have for supper; run, John, run: what's the oaf staying for? run, I
tell you!  Pray, sir, walk in (to the valet, our old friend Mr.
Harrison)--you'll be hungry after your journey, I think; no ceremony,
I beg."

"He's not so handsome as his master," said Miss Elizabeth, glancing at
Harrison discontentedly; "but he does not look like a married man,
somehow.  I'll just step up stairs and change my cap: it would be but
civil if the gentleman's gentleman sups with us."

Meanwhile Clarence, having been left alone in the quiet enjoyment of
No. 4, had examined the little apartment with an interest not
altogether unmingled with painful reflections.  There are few persons,
however fortunate, who can look back to eight years of their life, and
not feel somewhat of disappointment in the retrospect; few persons,
whose fortunes the world envy, to whom the token of past time suddenly
obtruded on their remembrance does not awaken hopes destroyed and
wishes deceived which that world has never known.  We tell our
triumphs to the crowd, but our own hearts are the sole confidants of
our sorrows.  "Twice," said Clarence to himself, "twice before have I
been in this humble room; the first was when, at the age of eighteen,
I was just launched into the world,--a vessel which had for its only
hope the motto of the chivalrous Sidney,--

    'Aut viam inveniam, aut--faciam;'
    ["I will either find my way, or--make it.]

yet, humble and nameless as I was, how well I can recall the
exaggerated ambition, nay, the certainty of success, as well as its
desire, which then burned within me.  I smile now at the overweening
vanity of those hopes,--some, indeed, realized, but how many nipped
and withered forever! seeds, of which a few fell upon rich ground and
prospered, but of which how far the greater number were scattered:
some upon the wayside, and were devoured by immediate cares; some on
stony places, and when the sun of manhood was up they were scorched,
and because they had no root withered away; and some among thorns, and
the thorns sprang up and choked them.  I am now rich, honoured, high
in the favour of courts, and not altogether unknown or unesteemed
arbitrio popularis aurae: and yet I almost think I was happier when,
in that flush of youth and inexperience, I looked forth into the wide
world, and imagined that from every corner would spring up a triumph
for my vanity or an object for my affections.  The next time I stood
in this little spot, I was no longer the dependant of a precarious
charity, or the idle adventurer who had no stepping-stone but his
ambition.  I was then just declared the heir of wealth, which I could
not rationally have hoped for five years before, and which was in
itself sufficient to satisfy the aspirings of ordinary men.  But I was
corroded with anxieties for the object of my love, and regret for the
friend whom I had lost: perhaps the eagerness of my heart for the one
rendered me, for the moment, too little mindful of the other; but, in
after years, memory took ample atonement for that temporary suspension
of her duties.  How often have I recalled, in this world of cold ties
and false hearts, that true and generous friend, from whose lessons my
mind took improvement, and from whose warnings example; who was to me,
living, a father, and from whose generosity whatever worldly
advantages I have enjoyed or distinctions I have gained are derived!
Then I was going, with a torn yet credulous heart, to pour forth my
secret and my passion to her, and, within one little week thence, how
shipwrecked of all hope, object, and future happiness I was!  Perhaps,
at that time, I did not sufficiently consider the excusable cautions
of the world: I should not have taken such umbrage at her father's
letter; I should have revealed to him my birth and accession of
fortune; nor bartered the truth of certain happiness for the trials
and manoeuvres of romance.  But it is too late to repent now.  By this
time my image must be wholly obliterated from her heart: she has seen
me in the crowd, and passed me coldly by; her cheek is pale, but not
for me; and in a little, little while, she will be another's, and lost
to me forever!  Yet have I never forgotten her through change or time,
the hard and harsh projects of ambition, the labours of business, or
the engrossing schemes of political intrigue.  Never! but this is a
vain and foolish subject of reflection now."

And not the less reflecting upon it for that sage and veracious
recollection, Clarence turned from the window, against which he had
been leaning, and drawing one of the four chairs to the solitary
table, he sat down, moody and disconsolate, and leaning his face upon
his hands, pursued the confused yet not disconnected thread of his
meditations.

The door abruptly opened, and Mr. Merrylack appeared.

"Dear me, sir!" cried he, "a thousand pities you should have been put
here, sir!  Pray step upstairs, sir; the front drawing-room is just
vacant, sir; what will you please to have for dinner, sir?" etc.,
according to the instructions of his wife.  To Mr. Merrylack's great
dismay, Clarence, however, resolutely refused all attempts at
locomotion, and contenting himself with entrusting the dinner to the
discretion of the landlady, desired to be left alone till it was
prepared.

Now, when Mr. John Merrylack returned to the taproom, and communicated
the stubborn adherence to No. 4 manifested by its occupier, our good
hostess felt exceedingly discomposed.  "You are so stupid, John," said
she: "I'll go and expostulate like with him;" and she was rising for
that purpose when Harrison, who was taking particularly good care of
himself, drew her back; "I know my master's temper better than you do,
ma'am," said he; "and when he is in the humour to be stubborn, the
very devil himself could not get him out of it.  I dare say he wants
to be left to himself: he is very fond of being alone now and then;
state affairs, you know" (added the valet, mysteriously touching his
forehead), "and even I dare not disturb him for the world; so make
yourself easy, and I'll go to him when he has dined, and I supped.
There is time enough for No. 4 when we have taken care of number one.
Miss, your health!"

The landlady, reluctantly overruled in her design, reseated herself.

"Mr. Clarence Linden, M. P., did you say, sir?" said the learned
Jeremiah: "surely, I have had that name or appellation in my books,
but I cannot, at this instant of time, recall to my recollection the
exact date and circumstance of my professional services to the
gentleman so designated, styled, or, I may say, termed."

"Can't say, I am sure, sir," said Harrison; "lived with my master many
years; never had the pleasure of seeing you before, nor of travelling
this road,--a very hilly road it is, sir.  Miss, this negus is as
bright as your eyes and as warm as my admiration."

"Oh, sir!"

"Pray," said Mr. Merrylack, who like most of his tribe was a bit of a
politician; "is it the Mr. Linden who made that long speech in the
House the other day?"

"Precisely, sir.  He is a very eloquent gentleman, indeed: pity he
speaks so little; never made but that one long speech since he has
been in the House, and a capital one it was too.  You saw how the
prime minister complimented him upon it.  'A speech,' said his
lordship, 'which had united the graces of youthful genius with the
sound calculations of matured experience."'

"Did the prime minister really so speak?" said Jeremiah "what a
beautiful, and noble, and sensible compliment!  I will examine my
books when I go home,--'the graces of youthful genius with the sound
calculations of matured experience'!"

"If he is in the Parliament House," quoth the landlady, "I suppose he
will know our Mr. Mordaunt, when the squire takes his seat next--what
do you call it--sessions?"

"Know Mr. Mordaunt!" said the valet.  "It is to see him that we have
come down here.  We intended to have gone there to-night, but Master
thought it too late, and I saw he was in a melancholy humour: we
therefore resolved to come here; and so Master took one of the horses
from the groom, whom we have left behind with the other, and came on
alone.  I take it, he must have been in this town before, for he
described the inn so well.--Capital cheese this! as mild,--as mild as
your sweet smile, miss."

"Oh, sir!"

"Pray, Mistress Merrylack," said Mr. Jeremiah Bossolton, depositing
his pipe on the table, and awakening from a profound revery, in which
for the last five minutes his senses had been buried, "pray, Mistress
Merrylack, do you not call to your mind or your reminiscence or your--
your recollection, a young gentleman, equally comely in his aspect and
blandiloquent (ehem!) in his address, who had the misfortune to have
his arm severely contused and afflicted by a violent kick from Mr.
Mordaunt's horse, even in the yard in which your stables are situated,
and who remained for two or three days in your house or tavern or
hotel?  I do remember that you were grievously perplexed because of
his name, the initials of which only he gave or entrusted or
communicated to you, until you did exam--"

"I remember," interrupted Miss Elizabeth, "I remember well,--a very
beautiful young gentleman, who had a letter directed to be left here,
addressed to him by the letters C. L., and who was afterwards kicked,
and who admired your cap, Mother, and whose name was Clarence Linden.
You remember it well enough, Mother, surely?"

"I think I do, Lizzy," said the landlady, slowly; for her memory, not
so much occupied as her daughter's by beautiful young gentlemen,
struggled slowly amidst dim ideas of the various travellers and
visitors with whom her house had been honoured, before she came, at
last, to the reminiscence of Clarence Linden, "I think I do; and
Squire Mordaunt was very attentive to him; and he broke one of the
panes of glass in No. 8 and gave me half a guinea to pay for it.  I do
remember perfectly, Lizzy.  So that is the Mr. Linden now here?--only
think!"

"I should not have known him, certainly," said Miss Elizabeth; "he is
grown so much taller, and his hair looks quite dark now, and his face
is much thinner than it was; but he's very handsome still; is he not,
sir?" turning to the valet.

"Ah! ah! well enough," said Mr. Harrison, stretching out his right
leg, and falling away a little to the left, in the manner adopted by
the renowned Gil Blas, in his address to the fair Laura, "well enough;
but he's a little too tall and thin, I think."

Mr. Harrison's faults in shape were certainly not those of being too
tall and thin.

"Perhaps so!" said Miss Elizabeth, who scented the vanity by a kindred
instinct, and had her own reasons for pampering it, "perhaps so!"

"But he is a great favourite with the ladies all the same; however, he
only loves one lady.  Ah, but I must not say who, though I know.
However, she is so handsome: such eyes, they would go through you like
a skewer; but not like yours,--yours, miss, which I vow and protest
are as bright as a service of plate."

"Oh, sir!"

And amidst these graceful compliments the time slipped away, till
Clarence's dinner and his valet's supper being fairly over, Mr.
Harrison presented himself to his master, a perfectly different being
in attendance to what he was in companionship: flippancy,
impertinence, forwardness, all merged in the steady, sober, serious
demeanour which characterize the respectful and well-bred domestic.

Clarence's orders were soon given.  They were limited to the
appurtenances of writing; and as soon as Harrison reappeared with his
master's writing-desk, he was dismissed for the night.

Very slowly did Clarence settle himself to his task, and attempt to
escape the ennui of his solitude, or the restlessness of thought
feeding upon itself, by inditing the following epistle:--

TO THE DUKE OF HAVERFIELD.

I was very unfortunate, my dear Duke, to miss seeing you, when I
called in Arlington Street the evening before last, for I had a great
deal to say to you,--something upon public and a little upon private
affairs.  I will reserve the latter, since I only am the person
concerned, for a future opportunity.  With respect to the former--
     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

And now, having finished the political part of my letter, let me
congratulate you most sincerely upon your approaching marriage with
Miss Trevanion.  I do not know her myself; but I remember that she was
the bosom friend of Lady Flora Ardenne, whom I have often heard speak
of her in the highest and most affectionate terms, so that I imagine
her brother could not better atone to you for dishonestly carrying off
the fair Julia some three years ago, than by giving you his sister in
honourable and orthodox exchange,--the gold amour for the brazen.

As for my lot, though I ought not, at this moment, to dim yours by
dwelling upon it, you know how long, how constantly, how ardently I
have loved Lady Flora Ardenne; how, for her sake, I have refused
opportunities of alliance which might have gratified to the utmost
that worldliness of heart which so many who saw me only in the crowd
have been pleased to impute to me.  You know that neither pleasure,
nor change, nor the insult I received from her parents, nor the sudden
indifference which I so little deserved from herself, has been able to
obliterate her image.  You will therefore sympathize with me, when I
inform you that there is no longer any doubt of her marriage with
Borodaile (or rather Lord Ulswater, since his father's death), as soon
as the sixth month of his mourning expires; to this period only two
months remain.

Heavens! when one thinks over the past, how incredulous one could
become to the future: when I recall all the tokens of love I received.
from that woman, I cannot persuade myself that they are now all
forgotten, or rather, all lavished upon another.

But I do not blame her: may she be happier with him than she could
have been with me! and that hope shall whisper peace to regrets which
I have been foolish to indulge so long, and it is perhaps well for me
that they are about to be rendered forever unavailing.

I am staying at an inn, without books, companions, or anything to
beguile time and thought, but this pen, ink, and paper.  You will see,
therefore, a reason and an excuse for my scribbling on to you, till my
two sheets are filled, and the hour of ten (one can't well go to bed
earlier) arrived.

You remember having often heard me speak of a very extraordinary man
whom I met in Italy, and with whom I became intimate.  He returned to
England some months ago; and on hearing it my desire of renewing our
acquaintance was so great that I wrote to invite myself to his house.
He gave me what is termed a very obliging answer, and left the choice
of time to myself.  You see now, most noble Festus, the reason of my
journey hitherwards.

His house, a fine old mansion, is situated about five or six miles
from this town: and as I arrived here late in the evening, and knew
that his habits were reserved and peculiar, I thought it better to
take "mine ease in my inn" for this night, and defer my visit to
Mordaunt Court till to-morrow morning.  In truth, I was not averse to
renewing an old acquaintance,--not, as you in your malice would
suspect, with my hostess, but with her house.  Some years ago, when I
was eighteen, I first made a slight acquaintance with Mordaunt at this
very inn, and now, at twenty-six, I am glad to have one evening to
myself on the same spot, and retrace here all that has since happened
to me.

Now do not be alarmed: I am not going to inflict upon you the unquiet
retrospect with which I have just been vexing myself; no, I will
rather speak to you of my acquaintance and host to be.  I have said
that I first met Mordaunt some years since at this inn,--an accident,
for which his horse was to blame, brought us acquainted,--I spent a
day at his house, and was much interested in his conversation; since
then, we did not meet till about two years and a half ago, when we
were in Italy together.  During the intermediate interval Mordaunt had
married; lost his property by a lawsuit; disappeared from the world
(whither none knew) for some years; recovered the estate he had lost
by the death of his kinsman's heir, and shortly afterwards by that of
the kinsman himself; and had become a widower, with one only child, a
beautiful little girl of about four years old.  He lived in perfect
seclusion, avoided all intercourse with society, and seemed so
perfectly unconscious of having ever seen me before, whenever in our
rides or walks we met, that I could not venture to intrude myself on a
reserve so rigid and unbroken as that which characterized his habits
and life.

The gloom and loneliness, however, in which Mordaunt's days were
spent, were far from partaking of that selfishness so common, almost
so necessarily common, to recluses.  Wherever he had gone in his
travels through Italy, he had left light and rejoicing behind him.  In
his residence at ----, while unknown to the great and gay, he was
familiar with the outcast and the destitute.  The prison, the
hospital, the sordid cabins of want, the abodes (so frequent in Italy,
that emporium of artists and poets) where genius struggled against
poverty and its own improvidence,--all these were the spots to which
his visits were paid, and in which "the very stones prated of his
whereabout."  It was a strange and striking contrast to compare the
sickly enthusiasm of those who flocked to Italy to lavish their
sentiments on statues, and their wealth on the modern impositions
palmed upon their taste as the masterpieces of ancient art,--it was a
noble contrast, I say, to compare that ludicrous and idle enthusiasm
with the quiet and wholesome energy of mind and heart which led
Mordaunt, not to pour forth worship and homage to the unconscious
monuments of the dead but to console, to relieve, and to sustain the
woes, the wants, the feebleness of the living.

Yet while he was thus employed in reducing the miseries and enlarging
the happiness of others, the most settled melancholy seemed to mark
himself "as her own."  Clad in the deepest mourning, a stern and un
broken gloom sat forever upon his countenance.  I have observed, that
if in his walks or rides any one, especially of the better classes,
appeared to approach, he would strike into a new path.  He could not
bear even the scrutiny of a glance or the fellowship of a moment: and
his mien, high and haughty, seemed not only to repel others, but to
contradict the meekness and charity which his own actions so
invariably and unequivocally displayed.  It must, indeed, have been a
powerful exertion of principle over feeling which induced him
voluntarily to seek the abodes and intercourse of the rude beings he
blessed and relieved.

We met at two or three places to which my weak and imperfect charity
had led me, especially at the house of a sickly and distressed artist:
for in former life I had intimately known one of that profession; and
I have since attempted to transfer to his brethren that debt of
kindness which an early death forbade me to discharge to himself.  It
was thus that I first became acquainted with Mordaunt's occupations
and pursuits; for what ennobled his benevolence was the remarkable
obscurity in which it was veiled.  It was in disguise and in secret
that his generosity flowed; and so studiously did he conceal his name,
and hide even his features, during his brief visits to "the house of
mourning," that only one like myself, a close and minute investigator
of whatever has once become an object of interest, could have traced
his hand in the various works of happiness it had aided or created.

One day, among some old ruins, I met him with his young daughter.  By
great good-fortune I preserved the latter, who had wandered away from
her father, from a fall of loose stones, which would inevitably have
crushed her.  I was myself much hurt by my effort, having received
upon my shoulder a fragment of the falling stones; and thus our old
acquaintance was renewed, and gradually ripened into intimacy; not, I
must own, without great patience and constant endeavour on my part;
for his gloom and lonely habits rendered him utterly impracticable of
access to any (as Lord Aspeden would say) but a diplomatist.  I saw a
great deal of him during the six months I remained in Italy, and--but
you know already how warmly I admire his extraordinary powers and
venerate his character--Lord Aspeden's recall to England separated us.

A general election ensued.  I was returned for ----.  I entered
eagerly into domestic politics; your friendship, Lord Aspeden's
kindness, my own wealth and industry, made my success almost
unprecedentedly rapid.  Engaged heart and hand in those minute yet
engrossing labours for which the aspirant in parliamentary and state
intrigue must unhappily forego the more enlarged though abstruser
speculations of general philosophy, and of that morality which may be
termed universal, politics, I have necessarily been employed in very
different pursuits from those to which Mordaunt's contemplations are
devoted, yet have I often recalled his maxims, with admiration at
their depth, and obtained applause for opinions which were only
imperfectly filtered from the pure springs of his own.

It is about six months since he has returned to England, and he has
very lately obtained a seat in Parliament: so that we may trust soon
to see his talents displayed upon a more public and enlarged theatre
than they hitherto have been; and though I fear his politics will be
opposed to ours, I anticipate his public debut with that interest
which genius, even when adverse to one's self, always inspires.  Yet I
confess that I am desirous to see and converse with him once more in
the familiarity and kindness of private intercourse.  The rage of
party, the narrowness of sectarian zeal, soon exclude from our
friendship all those who differ from our opinions; and it is like
sailors holding commune for the last time with each other, before
their several vessels are divided by the perilous and uncertain sea,
to confer in peace and retirement for a little while with those who
are about to be launched with us on that same unquiet ocean where any
momentary caprice of the winds may disjoin us forever, and where our
very union is only a sympathy in toil and a fellowship in danger.

Adieu, my dear duke! it is fortunate for me that our public opinions
are so closely allied, and that I may so reasonably calculate in
private upon the happiness and honour of subscribing myself your
affectionate friend,                                  C. L.

Such was the letter to which we shall leave the explanation of much
that has taken place within the last three years of our tale, and
which, in its tone, will serve to show the kindness and generosity of
heart and feeling that mingled (rather increased than abated by the
time which brought wisdom) with the hardy activity and resolute
ambition that characterized the mind of our "Disowned."  We now
consign him to such repose as the best bedroom in the Golden Fleece
can afford, and conclude the chapter.



CHAPTER LX.

    Though the wilds of enchantment all vernal and bright,
      In the days of delusion by fancy combined
    With the vanishing phantoms of love and delight,
    Abandon my soul, like a dream of the night,
      And leave but a desert behind,

    Be hush'd my dark spirit, for Wisdom condemns
      When the faint and the feeble deplore;
    Be strong as the rock of the ocean that stems
      A thousand wild waves on the shore.--CAMPBELL.

"Shall I order the carriage round, sir?" said Harrison; "it is past
one."

"Yes; yet stay: the day is fine; I will ride; let the carriage come on
in the evening; see that my horse is saddled; you looked to his mash
last night?"

"I did, sir.  He seems wonderfully fresh: would you please to have me
stay here with the carriage, sir, till the groom comes on with the
other horse?"

"Ay, do: I don't know yet how far strange servants may be welcome
where I am going."

"Now, that's lucky!" said Harrison to himself, as he shut the door: "I
shall have a good five hours' opportunity of making my court here.
Miss Elizabeth is really a very pretty girl, and might not be a bad
match.  I don't see any brothers; who knows but she may succeed to the
inn--hem!  A servant may be ambitious as well as his master, I
suppose."

So meditating, Harrison sauntered to the stables; saw (for he was an
admirable servant, and could, at a pinch, dress a horse as well as its
master) that Clarence's beautiful steed received the utmost nicety of
grooming which the ostler could bestow; led it himself to the door;
held the stirrup for his master, with the mingled humility and grace
of his profession, and then strutted away--"pride on his brow and
glory in his eye"--to be the cynosure and oracle of the taproom.

Meanwhile Linden rode slowly onwards.  As he passed that turn of the
town by which he had for the first time entered it, the recollection
of the eccentric and would-be gypsy flashed upon him.  "I wonder,"
thought he, "where that singular man is now, whether he still
preserves his itinerant and woodland tastes,--

    'Si flumina sylvasque inglorius amet,'
    ["If, unknown to fame, he love the streams and the woods."]

or whether, as his family increased in age or number, he has turned
from his wanderings, and at length found out 'the peaceful hermitage?'
How glowingly the whole scene of that night comes across me,--the wild
tents, their wilder habitants, the mingled bluntness, poetry, honest
good-nature, and spirit of enterprise which constituted the chief's
nature; the jovial meal and mirth round the wood fire, and beneath the
quiet stars, and the eagerness and zest with which I then mingled in
the merriment.  Alas! how ill the fastidiousness and refinement of
after days repay us for the elastic, buoyant, ready zeal with which
our first youth enters into whatever is joyous, without pausing to ask
if its cause and nature be congenial to our habits or kindred to our
tastes.  After all, there really was something philosophical in the
romance of the jovial gypsy, childish as it seemed; and I should like
much to know if the philosophy has got the better of the romance, or
the romance, growing into habit, become commonplace and lost both its
philosophy and its enthusiasm.  Well, after I leave Mordaunt, I will
try and find out my old friend."

With this resolution Clarence's thoughts took a new channel, and he
soon entered upon Mordaunt's domain.  As he rode through the park
where brake and tree were glowing in the yellow tints which Autumn,
like Ambition, gilds ere it withers, he paused for a moment to recall
the scene as he last beheld it.  It was then spring--spring in its
first and flushest glory--when not a blade of grass but sent a perfume
to the air, the happy air,--

    "Making sweet music while the young leaves danced:"

when every cluster of the brown fern, that now lay dull and motionless
around him, and amidst which the melancholy deer stood afar off gazing
upon the intruder, was vocal with the blithe melodies of the infant
year,--the sharp, yet sweet, voices of birds,--and (heard at
intervals) the chirp of the merry grasshopper or the hum of the
awakened bee.  He sighed, as he now looked around, and recalled the
change both of time and season; and with that fondness of heart which
causes man to knit his own little life to the varieties of time, the
signs of heaven, or the revolutions of Nature, he recognized something
kindred in the change of scene to the change of thought and feeling
which years had wrought in the beholder.

Awaking from his revery, he hastened his horse's pace, and was soon
within sight of the house.  Vavasour, during the few years he had
possessed the place, had conducted and carried through improvements
and additions to the old mansion, upon a scale equally costly and
judicious.  The heavy and motley magnificence of the architecture in
which the house had been built remained unaltered; but a wing on
either side, though exactly corresponding in style to the intermediate
building, gave, by the long colonnade which ran across the one and the
stately windows which adorned the other, an air not only of grander
extent, but more cheerful lightness to the massy and antiquated pile.
It was, assuredly, in the point of view by which Clarence now
approached it, a structure which possessed few superiors in point of
size and effect; and harmonized so well with the nobly extent of the
park, the ancient woods, and the venerable avenues, that a very slight
effort of imagination might have poured from the massive portals the
pageantries of old days, and the gay galliard of chivalric romance
with which the scene was in such accordance, and which in a former age
it had so often witnessed.

Ah, little could any one who looked upon that gorgeous pile, and the
broad lands which, beyond the boundaries of the park, swelled on the
hills of the distant landscape, studded at frequent intervals with the
spires and villages, which adorned the wide baronies of Mordaunt,--
little could he who thus gazed around have imagined that the owner of
all he surveyed had passed the glory and verdure of his manhood in the
bitterest struggles with gnawing want, rebellious pride, and urgent
passion, without friend or aid but his own haughty and supporting
virtue, sentenced to bear yet in his wasted and barren heart the sign
of the storm he had resisted, and the scathed token of the lightning
he had braved.  None but Crauford, who had his own reasons for
taciturnity, and the itinerant broker, easily bribed into silence, had
ever known of the extreme poverty from which Mordaunt had passed to
his rightful possessions.  It was whispered, indeed, that he had been
reduced to narrow and straitened circumstances; but the whisper had
been only the breath of rumour, and the imagined poverty far short of
the reality: for the pride of Mordaunt (the great, almost the sole,
failing in his character) could not endure that all he had borne and
baffled should be bared to the vulgar eye; and by a rare anomaly of
mind, indifferent as he was to renown, he was morbidly susceptible of
shame.

When Clarence rang at the ivy-covered porch, and made inquiry for
Mordaunt, he was informed that the latter was in the park, by the
river, where most of his hours during the day-time were spent.

"Shall I send to acquaint him that you are come, sir?" said the
servant.

"No," answered Clarence, "I will leave my horse to one of the grooms,
and stroll down to the river in search of your master."

Suiting the action to the word, he dismounted, consigned his steed to
the groom, and following the direction indicated to him, bent his way
to the "river."

As he descended the hill, the brook (for it did not deserve, though it
received, a higher name) opened enchantingly upon his view.  Amidst
the fragrant reed and the wild-flower, still sweet though fading, and
tufts of tedded grass, all of which, when crushed beneath the foot,
sent a mingled tribute to its sparkling waves, the wild stream took
its gladsome course, now contracted by gloomy firs, which, bending
over the water, cast somewhat of their own sadness upon its surface;
now glancing forth from the shade, as it "broke into dimples and
laughed in the sun;" now washing the gnarled and spreading roots of
some lonely ash, which, hanging over it still and droopingly, seemed--
the hermit of the scene--to moralize on its noisy and various
wanderings; now winding round the hill and losing itself at last
amidst thick copses, where day did never more than wink and glimmer,
and where, at night, its waters, brawling through their stony channel,
seemed like a spirit's wail, and harmonized well with the scream of
the gray owl wheeling from her dim retreat, or the moaning and rare
sound of some solitary deer.

As Clarence's eye roved admiringly over the scene before him, it dwelt
at last upon a small building situated on the wildest part of the
opposite bank; it was entirely overgrown with ivy, and the outline
only remained to show the Gothic antiquity of the architecture.  It
was a single square tower, built none knew when or wherefore, and,
consequently, the spot of many vagrant guesses and wild legends among
the surrounding gossips.  On approaching yet nearer, he perceived,
alone and seated on a little mound beside the tower, the object of his
search.

Mordaunt was gazing with vacant yet earnest eye upon the waters
beneath; and so intent was either his mood or look that he was unaware
of Clarence's approach.  Tears fast and large were rolling from those
haughty eyes, which men who shrank from their indifferent glance
little deemed were capable of such weak and feminine emotion.  Far,
far through the aching void of time were the thoughts of the reft and
solitary mourner; they were dwelling, in all the vivid and keen
intensity of grief which dies not, upon the day when, about that hour
and on that spot, he sat with Isabel's young cheek upon his bosom, and
listened to a voice now only heard in dreams.  He recalled the moment
when the fatal letter, charged with change and poverty, was given to
him, and the pang which had rent his heart as he looked around upon a
scene over which spring had just then breathed, and which he was about
to leave to a fresh summer and a new lord; and then that deep, fond,
half-fearful gaze with which Isabel had met his eye, and the feeling,
proud even in its melancholy, with which he had drawn towards his
breast all that earth had left to him, and thanked God in his heart of
hearts that she was spared.

"And I am once more master," thought he, "not only of all I then held,
but of all which my wealthier forefathers possessed.  But she who was
the sharer of my sorrows and want,--oh, where is she?  Rather, ah,
rather a hundredfold that her hand was still clasped in mine, her
spirit supporting me through poverty and trial, and her soft voice
murmuring the comfort that steals away care, than to be thus heaped
with wealth and honour, and alone,--alone, where never more can come
love or hope, or the yearnings of affection or the sweet fulness of a
heart that seems fathomless in its tenderness, yet overflows!  Had my
lot, when she left me, been still the steepings of bitterness, the
stings of penury, the moody silence of hope, the damp and chill of
sunless and aidless years, which rust the very iron of the soul away;
had my lot been thus, as it had been, I could have borne her death, I
could have looked upon her grave, and wept not,--nay, I could have
comforted my own struggles with the memory of her escape; but thus, at
the very moment of prosperity, to leave the altered and promising
earth, 'to house with darkness and with death;' no little gleam of
sunshine, no brief recompense for the agonizing past, no momentary
respite between tears and the tomb.  Oh, Heaven! what--what avail is a
wealth which comes too late, when she, who could alone have made
wealth bliss, is dust; and the light that should have gilded many and
happy days flings only a ghastly glare upon the tomb?"

Starting from these reflections, Mordaunt half-unconsciously rose, and
dashing the tears from his eyes, was about to plunge into the
neighbouring thicket, when, looking up, he beheld Clarence, now within
a few paces of him.  He started, and seemed for one moment irresolute
whether to meet or shun his advance, but probably deeming it too late
for the latter, he banished, by one of those violent efforts with
which men of proud and strong minds vanquish emotion, all outward sign
of the past agony; and hastening towards his guest, greeted him with a
welcome which, though from ordinary hosts it might have seemed cold,
appeared to Clarence, who knew his temper, more cordial than he had
ventured to anticipate.



CHAPTER LXI.

    Mr father urged me sair,
      But my mither didna speak,
    Though she looked into my face,
      Till my heart was like to break.--Auld Robin Gray.

"It is rather singular," said Lady Westborough to her daughter as they
sat alone one afternoon in the music-room at Westborough Park,--"it is
rather singular that Lord Ulswater should not have come yet.  He said
he should certainly be here before three o'clock."

"You know, Mamma, that he has some military duties to detain him at
W----," answered Lady Flora, bending over a drawing in which she
appeared to be earnestly engaged.

"True, my dear, and it was very kind in Lord ---- to quarter the troop
he commands in his native county; and very fortunate that W----, being
his head-quarters, should also be so near us.  But I cannot conceive
that any duty can be sufficiently strong to detain him from you,"
added Lady Westborough, who had been accustomed all her life to a
devotion unparalleled in this age.  "You seem very indulgent, Flora."

"Alas! she should rather say very indifferent," thought Lady Flora:
but she did not give her thought utterance; she only looked up at her
mother for a moment, and smiled faintly.

Whether there was something in that smile or in the pale cheek of her
daughter that touched her we know not, but Lady Westborough was
touched: she threw her arms round Lady Flora's neck, kissed her
fondly, and said, "You do not seem well to-day, my love, are you?"

"Oh!--very--very well," answered Lady Flora, returning her mother's
caress, and hiding her eyes, to which the tears had started.

"My child," said Lady Westborough, "you know that both myself and your
father are very desirous to see you married to Lord Ulswater,--of high
and ancient birth, of great wealth, young, unexceptionable in person
and character, and warmly attached to you, it would be impossible even
for the sanguine heart of a parent to ask for you a more eligible
match.  But if the thought really does make you wretched,--and yet,--
how can it?"

"I have consented," said Flora, gently; "all I ask is, do not speak to
me more of the--the event than you can avoid."

Lady Westborough pressed her hand, sighed, and replied not.

The door opened, and the marquis, who had within the last year become
a cripple, with the great man's malady, dire podagra, was wheeled in
on his easy-chair; close behind him followed Lord Ulswater.

"I have brought you," said the marquis, who piqued himself on a vein
of dry humour,--"I have brought you, young lady, a consolation for my
ill humours.  Few gouty old fathers make themselves as welcome as I
do; eh, Ulswater?"

"Dare I apply to myself Lord Westborough's compliment?" said the young
nobleman, advancing towards Lady Flora; and drawing his seat near her,
he entered into that whispered conversation so significant of
courtship.  But there was little in Lady Flora's manner by which an
experienced eye would have detected the bride elect: no sudden blush,
no downcast, yet sidelong look, no trembling of the hand, no
indistinct confusion of the voice, struggling with unanalyzed
emotions.  No: all was calm, cold, listless; her cheek changed not
tint nor hue, and her words, clear and collected, seemed to contradict
whatever the low murmurs of her betrothed might well be supposed to
insinuate.  But, even in his behaviour, there was something which, had
Lady Westborough been less contented than she was with the externals
and surface of manner, would have alarmed her for her daughter.  A
cloud, sullen and gloomy, sat upon his brow; and his lip alternately
quivered with something like scorn, or was compressed with a kind of
stifled passion.  Even in the exultation that sparkled in his eye,
when he alluded to their approaching marriage, there was an expression
that almost might have been termed fierce, and certainly was as little
like the true orthodox ardour of "gentle swain," as Lady Flora's sad
and half unconscious coldness resembled the diffident passion of the
"blushing maiden."

"You have considerably passed the time in which we expected you, my
lord," said Lady Westborough, who, as a beauty herself, was a little
jealous of the deference due to the beauty of her daughter.

"It is true.," said Lord Ulswater, glancing towards the opposite
glass, and smoothing his right eyebrow with his forefinger, "it is
true, but I could not help it.  I had a great deal of business to do
with my troop: I have put them into a new manoeuvre.  Do you know, my
lord [turning to the marquis], I think it very likely the soldiers may
have some work on the ---- of this month?"

"Where, and wherefore?" asked Lord Westborough, whom a sudden twinge
forced into the laconic.

"At W----.  Some idle fellows hold a meeting there on that day; and if
I may judge by bills and advertisements, chalkings on the walls, and,
more than all popular rumour, I have no doubt but what riot and
sedition are intended: the magistrates are terribly frightened.  I
hope we shall have some cutting and hewing: I have no patience with
the rebellious dogs."

"For shame! for shame!" cried Lady Westborough, who, though a worldly,
was by no means an unfeeling, woman "the poor people are misguided;
they mean no harm."

Lord Ulswater smiled scornfully.  "I never dispute upon politics, but
at the head of my men," said he, and turned the conversation.

Shortly afterwards Lady Flora, complaining of indisposition, rose,
left the apartment, and retired to her own room.  There she sat
motionless and white as death for more than an hour.  A day or two
afterwards Miss Trevanion received the following letter from her:--

Most heartily, most truly do I congratulate you, my dearest Eleanor,
upon your approaching marriage.  You may reasonably hope for all that
happiness can afford; and though you do affect (for I do not think
that you feel) a fear lest you should not be able to fix a character,
volatile and light, like your lover's; yet when I recollect his warmth
of heart and high sense, and your beauty, gentleness, charms of
conversation, and purely disinterested love for one whose great
worldly advantages might so easily bias or adulterate affection, I own
that I have no dread for your future fate, no feeling that can at all
darken the brightness of anticipation.  Thank you, dearest, for the
delicate kindness with which you allude to my destiny: me indeed you
cannot congratulate as I can you.  But do not grieve for me, my
generous Eleanor: if not happy, I shall, I trust, be at least
contented.  My poor father implored me with tears in his eyes; my
mother pressed my hand, but spoke not; and I, whose affections were
withered and hopes strewn, should I not have been hard-hearted indeed
if they had not wrung from me a consent?  And oh should I not be
utterly lost, if in that consent which blessed them I did not find
something of peace and consolation?

Yes, dearest, in two months, only two months, I shall be Lord
Ulswater's wife; and when we meet, you shall look narrowly at me, and
see if he or you have any right to complain of me.

Have you seen Mr. Linden lately?  Yet do not answer the question: I
ought not to cherish still that fatal clinging interest for one who
has so utterly forgotten me.  But I do rejoice in his prosperity; and
when I hear his praises, and watch his career, I feel proud that I
should once have loved him!  Oh, how could he be so false, so cruel,
in the very midst of his professions of undying, unswerving faith to
me; at the very moment when I was ill, miserable, wasting my very
heart, for anxiety on his account,--and such a woman too!  And had be
loved me, even though his letter was returned, would not his
conscience have told him he deserved it, and would he not have sought
me out in person, and endeavoured to win from my folly his
forgiveness?  But without attempting to see me, or speak to me, or
soothe a displeasure so natural, to leave the country in silence,
almost in disdain; and when we met again, to greet me with coldness
and hauteur, and never betray, by word, sign, or look, that he had
ever been to me more than the merest stranger!  Fool! Fool! that I am,
to waste another thought upon him; but I will not, and ought not to do
so.  In two months I shall not even have the privilege of remembrance.

I wish, Eleanor,--for I assure you that I have tried and tried,--that
I could find anything to like and esteem (since love is out of the
question) in this man, who seems so great, and, to me, so
unaccountable a favourite with my parents.  His countenance and voice
are so harsh and stern; his manner at once so self-complacent and
gloomy; his very sentiments so narrow, even in their notions of
honour; his very courage so savage, and his pride so constant and
offensive,--that I in vain endeavour to persuade myself of his
virtues, and recur, at least, to the unwearying affection for me which
he professes.  It is true that he has been three times refused; that I
have told him I cannot love him; that I have even owned former love to
another: he still continues his suit, and by dint of long hope has at
length succeeded.  But at times I could almost think that he married
me from very hate, rather than love: there is such an artificial
smoothness in his stern voice, such a latent meaning in his eye; and
when he thinks I have not noticed him, I have, on suddenly turning
towards him, perceived so dark and lowering an expression upon his
countenance that my heart has died within me for very fear.

Had my mother been the least less kind, my father the least less
urgent, I think, nay, I know, I could not have gained such a victory
over myself as I have done in consenting to the day.  But enough of
this.  I did not think I should have run on so long and so foolishly;
but we, dearest, have been children and girls and women together: we
have loved each other with such fondness and unreserve that opening my
heart to you seems only another phrase for thinking aloud.

However, in two months I shall have no right even to thoughts; perhaps
I may not even love you: till then, dearest Eleanor, I am, as ever,
your affectionate and faithful friend,                F. A.

Had Lord Westborough, indeed, been "less urgent," or her mother "less
kind," nothing could ever have wrung from Lady Flora her consent to a
marriage so ungenial and ill-omened.

Thrice had Lord Ulswater (then Lord Borodaile) been refused, before
finally accepted; and those who judge only from the ordinary effects
of pride would be astonished that he should have still persevered.
But his pride was that deep-rooted feeling which, so far from being
repelled by a single blow, fights stubbornly and doggedly onward, till
the battle is over and its object gained.  From the moment he had
resolved to address Lady Flora Ardenne he had also resolved to win
her.  For three years, despite of a refusal, first gently, then more
peremptorily, urged, he fixed himself in her train.  He gave out that
he was her affianced.  In all parties, in all places, he forced
himself near her, unheeding alike of her frowns or indifference; and
his rank, his hauteur, his fierceness of mien, and acknowledged
courage kept aloof all the less arrogant and hardy pretenders to Lady
Flora's favour.  For this, indeed, she rather thanked than blamed him;
and it was the only thing which in the least reconciled her modesty to
his advances or her pride to his presumption.

He had been prudent as well as bold.  The father he had served, and
the mother he had won.  Lord Westborough, addicted a little to
politics, a good deal to show, and devotedly to gaming, was often
greatly and seriously embarrassed.  Lord Ulswater, even during the
life of his father (who was lavishly generous to him), was provided
with the means of relieving his intended father-in-law's necessities;
and caring little for money in comparison to a desired object, he was
willing enough, we do not say to bribe, but to influence, Lord
Westborough's consent.  These matters of arrangement were by no means
concealed from the marchioness, who, herself ostentatious and profuse,
was in no small degree benefited by them; and though they did not
solely procure, yet they certainly contributed to conciliate, her
favour.

Few people are designedly and systematically wicked: even the worst
find good motives for bad deeds, and are as intent upon discovering
glosses for conduct to deceive themselves as to delude others.  What
wonder, then, that poor Lady Westborough, never too rigidly addicted
to self-examination, and viewing all things through a very worldly
medium, saw only, in the alternate art and urgency employed against
her daughter's real happiness, the various praiseworthy motives of
permanently disentangling Lady Flora from an unworthy attachment, of
procuring for her an establishment proportioned to her rank, and a
husband whose attachment, already shown by such singular perseverance,
was so likely to afford her everything which, in Lady Westborough's
eyes, constituted felicity?

All our friends, perhaps, desire our happiness; but then it must
invariably be in their own way.  What a pity that they do not employ
the same zeal in making us happy in ours!



CHAPTER LXII.

If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for
  understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid
  treasures:
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the
  knowledge of God.--Proverbs ii. 3, 4, 5.

While Clarence was thus misjudged by one whose affections and conduct
he, in turn, naturally misinterpreted; while Lady Flora was
alternately struggling against and submitting to the fate which Lady
Westborough saw approach with gladness, the father with indifference,
and the bridegroom with a pride that partook less of rapture than
revenge,--our unfortunate lover was endeavouring to glean, from
Mordaunt's conversation and example, somewhat of that philosophy so
rare except in the theories of the civilized and the occasional
practice of the barbarian, which, though it cannot give us a charm
against misfortune, bestows, at least, upon us the energy to support
it.

We have said already that when the first impression produced by
Mordaunt's apparent pride and coldness wore away, it required little
penetration to discover the benevolence and warmth of his mind.  But
none ignorant of his original disposition, or the misfortunes of his
life, could ever have pierced the depth of his self-sacrificing
nature, or measured the height of his lofty and devoted virtue.  Many
men may perhaps be found who will give up to duty a cherished wish or
even a darling vice; but few will ever renounce to it their rooted
tastes, or the indulgence of those habits which have almost become by
long use their happiness itself.  Naturally melancholy and thoughtful,
feeding the sensibilities of his heart upon fiction, and though
addicted to the cultivation of reason rather than fancy, having
perhaps more of the deeper and acuter characteristics of the poet than
those calm and half-callous properties of nature supposed to belong to
the metaphysician and the calculating moralist, Mordaunt was above all
men fondly addicted to solitude, and inclined to contemplations less
useful than profound.  The untimely death of Isabel, whom he had loved
with that love which is the vent of hoarded and passionate musings
long nourished upon romance, and lavishing the wealth of a soul that
overflows with secreted tenderness upon the first object that can
bring reality to fiction,--that event had not only darkened melancholy
into gloom, but had made loneliness still more dear to his habits by
all the ties of memory and all the consecrations of regret.  The
companionless wanderings; the midnight closet; the thoughts which, as
Hume said of his own, could not exist in the world, but were all busy
with life in seclusion,--these were rendered sweeter than ever to a
mind for which the ordinary objects of the world were now utterly
loveless; and the musings of solitude had become, as it were, a
rightful homage and offering to the dead.  We may form, then, some
idea of the extent to which, in Mordaunt's character, principle
predominated over inclination, and regard for others over the love of
self, when we see him tearing his spirit from its beloved retreats and
abstracted contemplations, and devoting it to duties from which its
fastidious and refined characteristics were particularly calculated to
revolt.  When we have considered his attachment to the hermitage, we
can appreciate the virtue which made him among the most active
citizens in the great world; when we have considered the natural
selfishness of grief, the pride of philosophy, the indolence of
meditation, the eloquence of wealth, which says, "Rest, and toil not,"
and the temptation within, which says, "Obey the voice,"--when we have
considered these, we can perhaps do justice to the man who, sometimes
on foot and in the coarsest attire, travelled from inn to inn and from
hut to hut; who made human misery the object of his search and human
happiness of his desire; who, breaking aside an aversion to rude
contact, almost feminine in its extreme, voluntarily sought the
meanest companions, and subjected himself to the coarsest intrusions;
for whom the wail of affliction or the moan of hunger was as a summons
which allowed neither hesitation nor appeal; who seemed possessed of a
ubiquity for the purposes of good almost resembling that attributed to
the wanderer in the magnificent fable of Melmoth for the temptations
to evil; who, by a zeal and labour that brought to habit and
inclination a thousand martyrdoms, made his life a very hour-glass, in
which each sand was a good deed or a virtuous design.

Many plunge into public affairs, to which they have had a previous
distaste, from the desire of losing the memory of a private
affliction; but so far from wishing to heal the wounds of remembrance
by the anodynes which society can afford, it was only in retirement
that Mordaunt found the flowers from which balm could be distilled.
Many are through vanity magnanimous, and benevolent from the
selfishness of fame but so far from seeking applause where he bestowed
favour, Mordaunt had sedulously shrouded himself in darkness and
disguise.  And by that increasing propensity to quiet, so often found
among those addicted to lofty or abstruse contemplation, he had
conquered the ambition of youth with the philosophy of a manhood that
had forestalled the affections of age.  Many, in short, have become
great or good to the community by individual motives easily resolved
into common and earthly elements of desire; but they who inquire
diligently into human nature have not often the exalted happiness to
record a character like Mordaunt's, actuated purely by a systematic
principle of love, which covered mankind, as heaven does earth, with
an atmosphere of light extending to the remotest corners and
penetrating the darkest recesses.

It was one of those violent and gusty evenings which give to an
English autumn something rude, rather than gentle, in its
characteristics, that Mordaunt and Clarence sat together,

    "And sowed the hours with various seeds of talk."

The young Isabel, the only living relic of the departed one, sat by
her father's side upon the floor; and though their discourse was far
beyond the comprehension of her years, yet did she seem to listen with
a quiet and absorbed attention.  In truth, child as she was, she so
loved, and almost worshipped, her father that the very tones of his
voice had in them a charm which could always vibrate, as it were, to
her heart; and hush her into silence; and that melancholy and deep
though somewhat low voice, when it swelled or trembled with thought,--
which in Mordaunt was feeling,--made her sad, she knew not why; and
when she heard it, she would creep to his side, and put her little
hand on his, and look up to him with eyes in whose tender and
glistening blue the spirit of her mother seemed to float.  She was
serious and thoughtful and loving beyond the usual capacities of
childhood; perhaps her solitary condition and habits of constant
intercourse with one so grave as Mordaunt, and who always, when not
absent on his excursions of charity, loved her to be with him, had
given to her mind a precocity of feeling, and tinctured the simplicity
of infancy with what ought to have been the colours of after years.
She was not inclined to the sports of her age; she loved, rather, and
above all else, to sit by Mordaunt's side and silently pore over some
books or feminine task, and to steal her eyes every now and then away
from her employment, in order to watch his motions or provide for
whatever her vigilant kindness of heart imagined he desired.  And
often, when he saw her fairy and lithe form hovering about him and
attending on his wants, or her beautiful countenance glow with
pleasure, when she fancied she supplied them, he almost believed that
Isabel yet lived, though in another form, and that a love so intense
and holy as hers had been, might transmigrate, but could not perish.

The young Isabel had displayed a passion for music so early that it
almost seemed innate; and as, from the mild and wise education she
received, her ardour had never been repelled on the one hand or
overstrained on the other, so, though she had but just passed her
seventh year, she had attained to a singular proficiency in the art,--
an art that suited well with her lovely face and fond feelings and
innocent heart; and it was almost heavenly, in the literal acceptation
of the word, to hear her sweet though childish voice swell along the
still pure airs of summer, and to see her angelic countenance all rapt
and brilliant with the enthusiasm which her own melodies created.

Never had she borne the bitter breath of unkindness, nor writhed
beneath that customary injustice which punishes in others the sins of
our own temper and the varied fretfulness of caprice; and so she had
none of the fears and meannesses and acted untruths which so usually
pollute and debase the innocence of childhood.  But the promise of her
ingenuous brow (over which the silken hair flowed, parted into two
streams of gold), and of the fearless but tender eyes, and of the
quiet smile which sat forever upon the rosy mouth, like Joy watching
Love, was kept in its fullest extent by the mind, from which all
thoughts, pure, kind, and guileless, flowed like waters from a well
which a spirit has made holy for its own dwelling.

On this evening we have said that she sat by her father's side and
listened, though she only in part drank in its sense, to his
conversation with his guest.

The room was of great extent and surrounded with books, over which at
close intervals the busts of the departed Great and the immortal Wise
looked down.  There was the sublime beauty of Plato, the harsher and
more earthly countenance of Tully, the only Roman (except Lucretius)
who might have been a Greek.  There the mute marble gave the broad
front of Bacon (itself a world), and there the features of Locke
showed how the mind wears away the links of flesh with the file of
thought.  And over other departments of those works which remind us
that man is made little lower than the angels, the stern face of the
Florentine who sung of hell contrasted with the quiet grandeur
enthroned on the fair brow of the English poet,--"blind but bold,"--
and there the glorious but genial countenance of him who has found in
all humanity a friend, conspicuous among sages and minstrels, claimed
brotherhood with all.

The fire burned clear and high, casting a rich twilight (for there was
no other light in the room) over that Gothic chamber, and shining
cheerily upon the varying countenance of Clarence and the more
contemplative features of his host. In the latter you might see that
care and thought had been harsh but not unhallowed companions.  In the
lines which crossed his expanse of brow, time seemed to have buried
many hopes; but his mien and air, if loftier, were gentler than in
younger days; and though they had gained somewhat in dignity, had lost
greatly in reserve.

There was in the old chamber, with its fretted roof and ancient
"garniture," the various books which surrounded it, walls that the
learned built to survive themselves, and in the marble likenesses of
those for whom thought had won eternity, joined to the hour, the
breathing quiet, and the hearth-light, by whose solitary rays we love
best in the eves of autumn to discourse on graver or subtler themes,--
there was in all this a spell which seemed particularly to invite and
to harmonize with that tone of conversation, some portions of which we
are now about to relate.

"How loudly," said Clarence, "that last gust swept by; you remember
that beautiful couplet in Tibullus,--

    'Quam juvat immites ventos audire cubantem,
     Et dominam tenero detinuisse sinu.'"
    ["Sweet on our couch to hear the winds above,
     And cling with closer heart to her we love."]

"Ay," answered Mordaunt, with a scarcely audible sigh, "that is the
feeling of the lover at the immites ventos, but we sages of the lamp
make our mistress Wisdom, and when the winds rage without it is to her
that we cling.  See how, from the same object, different conclusions
are drawn!  The most common externals of nature, the wind and the
wave, the stars and the heavens, the very earth on which we tread,
never excite in different bosoms the same ideas; and it is from our
own hearts, and not from an outward source, that we draw the hues
which colour the web of our existence."

"It is true," answered Clarence.  "You remember that in two specks of
the moon the enamoured maiden perceived two unfortunate lovers, while
the ambitious curate conjectured that they were the spires of a
cathedral?  But it is not only to our feelings, but also to our
reasonings, that we give the colours which they wear.  The moral, for
instance, which to one man seems atrocious, to another is divine.  On
the tendency of the same work what three people will agree?  And how
shall the most sanguine moralist hope to benefit mankind when he finds
that, by the multitude, his wisest endeavours to instruct are often
considered but as instruments to pervert?"

"I believe," answered Mordaunt, "that it is from our ignorance that
our contentions flow: we debate with strife and with wrath, with
bickering and with hatred; but of the thing debated upon we remain in
the profoundest darkness.  Like the labourers of Babel, while we
endeavour in vain to express our meaning to each other, the fabric by
which, for a common end, we would have ascended to heaven from the
ills of earth remains forever unadvanced and incomplete.  Let us hope
that knowledge is the universal language which shall reunite us.  As,
in their sublime allegory, the Ancients signified that only through
virtue we arrive at honour, so let us believe that only through
knowledge can we arrive at virtue!"

"And yet," said Clarence, "that seems a melancholy truth for the mass
of the people, who have no time for the researches of wisdom."

"Not so much so as at first we might imagine," answered Mordaunt: "the
few smooth all paths for the many.  The precepts of knowledge it is
difficult to extricate from error but, once discovered, they gradually
pass into maxims; and thus what the sage's life was consumed in
acquiring becomes the acquisition of a moment to posterity.  Knowledge
is like the atmosphere: in order to dispel the vapour and dislodge the
frost, our ancestors felled the forest, drained the marsh, and
cultivated the waste, and we now breathe without an effort, in the
purified air and the chastened climate, the result of the labour of
generations and the progress of ages!  As to-day, the common mechanic
may equal in science, however inferior in genius, the friar [Roger
Bacon] whom his contemporaries feared as a magician, so the opinions
which now startle as well as astonish may be received hereafter as
acknowledged axioms, and pass into ordinary practice.  We cannot even
tell how far the sanguine theories of certain philosophers [See
Condorcet "On the Progress of the Human Mind," written some years
after the supposed date of this conversation, but in which there is a
slight, but eloquent and affecting, view of the philosophy to which
Mordaunt refers.] deceive them when they anticipate, for future ages,
a knowledge which shall bring perfection to the mind, baffle the
diseases of the body, and even protract to a date now utterly unknown
the final destination of life: for Wisdom is a palace of which only
the vestibule has been entered; nor can we guess what treasures are
hid in those chambers of which the experience of the past can afford
us neither analogy nor clew."

"It was, then," said Clarence, who wished to draw his companion into
speaking of himself, "it was, then, from your addiction to studies not
ordinarily made the subject of acquisition that you date (pardon me)
your generosity, your devotedness, your feeling for others, and your
indifference to self?"

"You flatter me," said Mordaunt, modestly (and we may be permitted to
crave attention to his reply, since it unfolds the secret springs of a
character so singularly good and pure), "you flatter me: but I will
answer you as if you had put the question without the compliment; nor,
perhaps, will it be wholly uninstructive, as it will certainly be new,
to sketch, without recurrence to events or what I may call exterior
facts, a brief and progressive History of One Human Mind."

"Our first era of life is under the influence of the primitive
feelings: we are pleased, and we laugh; hurt, and we weep: we vent our
little passions the moment they are excited: and so much of novelty
have we to perceive, that we have little leisure to reflect.  By and
by, fear teaches us to restrain our feelings: when displeased, we seek
to revenge the displeasure, and are punished; we find the excess of
our joy, our sorrow, our anger, alike considered criminal, and chidden
into restraint.  From harshness we become acquainted with deceit: the
promise made is not fulfilled, the threat not executed, the fear
falsely excited, and the hope wilfully disappointed; we are surrounded
by systematized delusion, and we imbibe the contagion."

"From being forced into concealing thoughts which we do conceive, we
begin to affect those which we do not: so early do we learn the two
main tasks of life, To Suppress and To Feign, that our memory will not
carry us beyond that period of artifice to a state of nature when the
twin principles of veracity and belief were so strong as to lead the
philosophers of a modern school into the error of terming them
innate."  [Reid: On the Human Mind.]

"It was with a mind restless and confused, feelings which were
alternately chilled and counterfeited (the necessary results of my
first tuition), that I was driven to mix with others of my age.  They
did not like me, nor do I blame them.  'Les manieres que l'on neglige
comme de petites choses, sont souvent ce qui fait que les hommes
decident de vous en bien ou en mal.  ["Those manners which one
neglects as trifling are often the cause of the opinion, good or bad,
formed of you by men."]  Manner is acquired so imperceptibly that we
have given its origin to Nature, as we do the origin of all else for
which our ignorance can find no other source.  Mine was
unprepossessing: I was disliked, and I returned the feeling; I sought
not, and I was shunned.  Then I thought that all were unjust to me,
and I grew bitter and sullen and morose: I cased myself in the
stubbornness of pride; I pored over the books which spoke of the
worthlessness of man; and I indulged the discontent of myself by
brooding over the frailties of my kind."

"My passions were strong: they told me to suppress them.  The precept
was old, and seemed wise: I attempted to enforce it.  I had already
begun, in earlier infancy, the lesson: I had now only to renew it.
Fortunately I was diverted from this task, or my mind in conquering
its passions would have conquered its powers.  I learned in after
lessons that the passions are not to be suppressed; they are to be
directed; and, when directed, rather to be strengthened than subdued."

"Observe how a word may influence a life: a man whose opinion I
esteemed, made of me the casual and trite remark, that 'my nature was
one of which it was impossible to augur evil or good: it might be
extreme in either.'  This observation roused me into thought: could I
indeed be all that was good or evil? had I the choice, and could I
hesitate which to choose?  But what was good and what was evil?  That
seemed the most difficult inquiry."

"I asked and received no satisfactory reply: in the words of Erasmus,
'Totius negotii caput ac fontem ignorant, divinant, ac delirant
omnes;' ["All ignore, guess, and rave about the head and fountain of
the whole question at issue."] so I resolved myself to inquire and to
decide.  I subjected to my scrutiny the moralist and the philosopher.
I saw that on all sides they disputed, but I saw that they grew
virtuous in the dispute: they uttered much that was absurd about the
origin of good, but much more that was exalted in its praise; and I
never rose from any work which treated ably upon morals, whatever were
its peculiar opinions, but I felt my breast enlightened and my mind
ennobled by my studies.  The professor of one sect commanded me to
avoid the dogmatist of another as the propagator of moral poison; and
the dogmatist retaliated on the professor: but I avoided neither; I
read both, and turned all 'into honey and fine gold.'  No inquiry into
wisdom, however superficial, is undeserving attention.  The vagaries
of the idlest fancy will often chance, as it were, upon the most
useful discoveries of truth, and serve as a guide to after and to
slower disciples of wisdom; even as the peckings of birds in an
unknown country indicate to the adventurous seamen the best and the
safest fruits."

"From the works of men I looked into their lives; and I found that
there was a vast difference (though I am not aware that it has before
been remarked) between those who cultivated a talent, and those who
cultivated the mind: I found that the mere men of genius were often
erring or criminal in their lives; but that vice or crime in the
disciples of philosophy was strikingly unfrequent and rare.  The
extremest culture of reason had not, it is true, been yet carried far
enough to preserve the labourer from follies of opinion, but a
moderate culture had been sufficient to deter him from the vices of
life.  And only to the sons of Wisdom, as of old to the sages of the
East, seemed given the unerring star, which, through the travail of
Earth and the clouds of Heaven, led them at the last to their God!"

"When I gleaned this fact from biography, I paused, and said, 'Then
must there be something excellent in Wisdom, if it can even in its
most imperfect disciples be thus beneficial to morality.'  Pursuing
this sentiment, I redoubled my researches, and, behold, the object of
my quest was won!  I had before sought a satisfactory answer to the
question, 'What is Virtue?' from men of a thousand tenets, and my
heart had rejected all I had received.  'Virtue,' said some, and my
soul bowed reverently to the dictate, 'Virtue is Religion.'  I heard
and humbled myself before the Divine Book.  Let me trust that I did
not humble myself in vain!  But the dictate satisfied less than it
awed; for either it limited Virtue to the mere belief, or by extending
it to the practice, of Religion, it extended also the inquiry to the
method in which the practice should be applied.  But with the first
interpretation of the dictate who could rest contented?--for while, in
the perfect enforcement of the tenets of our faith, all virtue may be
found, so in the passive and the mere belief in its divinity, we find
only an engine as applicable to evil as to good: the torch which
should illumine the altar has also lighted the stake, and the zeal of
the persecutor has been no less sincere than the heroism of the
martyr.  Rejecting, therefore, this interpretation, I accepted the
other: I felt in my heart, and I rejoiced as I felt it, that in the
practice of Religion the body of all virtue could be found.  But, in
that conviction, had I at once an answer to my inquiries?  Could the
mere desire of good be sufficient to attain it; and was the attempt at
virtue synonymous with success?  On the contrary, have not those most
desirous of obeying the precepts of God often sinned the most against
their spirit, and has not zeal been frequently the most ardent when
crime was the most rife?  [There can be no doubt that they who
exterminated the Albigenses, established the Inquisition, lighted the
fires at Smithfield, were actuated, not by a desire to do evil, but
(monstrous as it may seem) to do good; not to counteract, but to
enforce what they believed the wishes of the Almighty; so that a good
intention, without the enlightenment to direct it to a fitting object,
may be as pernicious to human happiness as one the most fiendish.  We
are told of a whole people who used to murder their guests, not from
ferocity or interest, but from the pure and praiseworthy motive of
obtaining the good qualities, which they believed, by the murder of
the deceased, devolved upon them!]  But what, if neither sincerity nor
zeal was sufficient to constitute goodness; what if in the breasts of
the best-intentioned crime had been fostered the more dangerously
because the more disguised,--what ensued?  That the religion which
they professed, they believed, they adored, they had also
misunderstood; and that the precepts to be drawn from the Holy Book
they had darkened by their ignorance or perverted by their passions!
Here then, at once, my enigma was solved; here then, at once, I was
led to the goal of my inquiry!  Ignorance and the perversion of
passion are but the same thing, though under different names; for only
by our ignorance are our passions perverted.  Therefore, what
followed?--that, if by ignorance the greatest of God's gifts had been
turned to evil, Knowledge alone was the light by which even the pages
of Religion should be read.  It followed that the Providence that knew
that the nature it had created should be constantly in exercise, and
that only through labour comes improvement, had wisely ordained that
we should toil even for the blessing of its holiest and clearest laws.
It had given us in Religion, as in this magnificent world, treasures
and harvests which might be called forth in incalculable abundance;
but had decreed that through our exertions only should they be called
forth a palace more gorgeous than the palaces of enchantment was
before us, but its chambers were a labyrinth which required a clew."

"What was that clew?  Was it to be sought for in the corners of earth,
or was it not beneficially centred in ourselves?  Was it not the
exercise of a power easy for us to use, if we would dare to do so?
Was it not the simple exertion of the discernment granted to us for
all else?  Was it not the exercise of our reason?  'Reason!' cried the
Zealot, 'pernicious and hateful instrument, it is fraught with peril
to yourself and to others: do not think for a moment of employing an
engine so fallacious and so dangerous.'  But I listened not to the
Zealot: could the steady and bright torch which, even where the Star
of Bethlehem had withheld its diviner light, had guided some patient
and unwearied steps to the very throne of Virtue, become but a
deceitful meteor to him who kindled it for the aid of Religion, and in
an eternal cause?  Could it be perilous to task our reason, even to
the utmost, in the investigation of the true utility and hidden wisdom
of the works of God, when God himself had ordained that only through
some exertion of our reason should we know either from Nature or
Revelation that He himself existed?  'But,' cried the Zealot again,
'but mere mortal wisdom teaches men presumption, and presumption
doubt.'  'Pardon me,' I answered; 'it is not Wisdom, but Ignorance,
which teaches men presumption: Genius may be sometimes arrogant, but
nothing is so diffident as Knowledge.'  'But,' resumed the Zealot,
'those accustomed to subtle inquiries may dwell only on the minutiae
of faith,--inexplicable, because useless to explain, and argue from
those minutiae against the grand and universal truth.'  Pardon me
again: it is the petty not the enlarged mind which prefers casuistry
to conviction; it is the confined and short sight of Ignorance which,
unable to comprehend the great bearings of truth, pries only into its
narrow and obscure corners, occupying itself in scrutinizing the atoms
of a part, while the eagle eye of Wisdom contemplates, in its widest
scale, the luminous majesty of the whole.  Survey our faults, our
errors, our vices,--fearful and fertile field!  Trace them to their
causes: all those causes resolve themselves into one,--Ignorance!  For
as we have already seen that from this source flow the abuses of
Religion, so also from this source flow the abuses of all other
blessings,--of talents, of riches, of power; for we abuse things,
either because we know not their real use, or because, with an equal
blindness, we imagine the abuse more adapted to our happiness.  But as
ignorance, then, is the sole spring of evil, so, as the antidote to
ignorance is knowledge, it necessarily follows that, were we
consummate in knowledge, we should be perfect in good.  He, therefore,
who retards the progress of intellect countenances crime,--nay, to a
State, is the greatest of criminals; while he who circulates that
mental light more precious than the visual is the holiest improver and
the surest benefactor of his race.  Nor let us believe, with the
dupes, of a shallow policy, that there exists upon the earth one
prejudice that can be called salutary or one error beneficial to
perpetrate.  As the petty fish which is fabled to possess the property
of arresting the progress of the largest vessel to which it clings,
even so may a single prejudice, unnoticed or despised, more than the
adverse blast or the dead calm, delay the bark of Knowledge in the
vast seas of Time."

"It is true that the sanguineness of philanthropists may have carried
them too far; it is true (for the experiment has not yet been made)
that God may have denied to us, in this state, the consummation of
knowledge, and the consequent perfection in good; but because we
cannot be perfect are we to resolve we will be evil?  One step in
knowledge is one step from sin: one step from sin is one step nearer
to Heaven: Oh! never let us be deluded by those who, for political
motives, would adulterate the divinity of religious truths; never let
us believe that our Father in Heaven rewards most the one talent
unemployed, or that prejudice and indolence and folly find the most
favour in His sight!  The very heathen has bequeathed to us a nobler
estimate of His nature; and the same sentence which so sublimely
declares 'TRUTH IS THE BODY OF GOD' declares also 'AND LIGHT IS HIS
SHADOW.'"  [Plato.]

"Persuaded, then, that knowledge contained the key to virtue, it was
to knowledge that I applied.  The first grand lesson which it taught
me was the solution of a phrase most hackneyed, least understood;
namely, 'common-sense.'  [Koinonoaemosunae, sensus communis.]  It is
in the Portico of the Greek sage that that phrase has received its
legitimate explanation; it is there we are taught that 'common-sense'
signifies 'the sense of the common interest.'  Yes! it is the most
beautiful truth in morals that we have no such thing as a distinct or
divided interest from our race.  In their welfare is ours; and, by
choosing the broadest paths to effect their happiness, we choose the
surest and the shortest to our own.  As I read and pondered over these
truths, I was sensible that a great change was working a fresh world
out of the former materials of my mind.  My passions, which before I
had checked into uselessness, or exerted to destruction, now started
forth in a nobler shape, and prepared for a new direction: instead of
urging me to individual aggrandizement, they panted for universal
good, and coveted the reward of Ambition only for the triumphs of
Benevolence."

"This is one stage of virtue; I cannot resist the belief that there is
a higher: it is when we begin to love virtue, not for its objects, but
itself.  For there are in knowledge these two excellences: first, that
it offers to every man, the most selfish and the most exalted, his
peculiar inducement to good.  It says to the former, 'Serve mankind,
and you serve yourself;' to the latter, 'In choosing the best means to
secure your own happiness, you will have the sublime inducement of
promoting the happiness of mankind.'"

"The second excellence of Knowledge is that even the selfish man, when
he has once begun to love Virtue from little motives, loses the
motives as he increases the love; and at last worships the deity,
where before he only coveted the gold upon its altar."

"And thus I learned to love Virtue solely for its own beauty.  I said
with one who, among much dross, has many particles of ore, 'If it be
not estimable in itself, I can see nothing estimable in following it
for the sake of a bargain.'  [Lord Shaftesbury.]

"I looked round the world, and saw often Virtue in rags and Vice in
purple: the former conduces to happiness, it is true, but the
happiness lies within and not in externals.  I contemned the deceitful
folly with which writers have termed it poetical justice to make the
good ultimately prosperous in wealth, honour, fortunate love, or
successful desires.  Nothing false, even in poetry, can be just; and
that pretended moral is, of all, the falsest.  Virtue is not more
exempt than Vice from the ills of fate, but it contains within itself
always an energy to resist them, and sometimes an anodyne to soothe,--
to repay your quotation from Tibullus,--

    'Crura sonant ferro, sed canit inter opus!'"
    ["The chains clank on its limbs, but it sings amidst its tasks."]

"When in the depths of my soul I set up that divinity of this nether
earth, which Brutus never really understood, if, because unsuccessful
in its efforts, he doubted its existence, I said in the proud prayer
with which I worshipped it, 'Poverty may humble my lot, but it shall
not debase thee; Temptation may shake my nature, but not the rock on
which thy temple is based; Misfortune may wither all the hopes that
have blossomed around thine altar, but I will sacrifice dead leaves
when the flowers are no more.  Though all that I have loved perish,
all that I have coveted fade away, I may murmur at fate, but I will
have no voice but that of homage for thee!  Nor, while thou smilest
upon my way, would I exchange with the loftiest and happiest of thy
foes!  More bitter than aught of what I then dreamed have been my
trials, but I have fulfilled my vow!'"

"I believe that alone to be a true description of Virtue which makes
it all-sufficient to itself, that alone a just portraiture of its
excellence which does not lessen its internal power by exaggerating
its outward advantages, nor degrade its nobility by dwelling only on
its rewards.  The grandest moral of ancient lore has ever seemed to me
that which the picture of Prometheus affords; in whom neither the
shaking earth, nor the rending heaven, nor the rock without, nor the
vulture within, could cause regret for past benevolence, or terror for
future evil, or envy, even amidst tortures, for the dishonourable
prosperity of his insulter!  [Mercury.--See the "Prometheus" of
Aeschylus.]  Who that has glowed over this exalted picture will tell
us that we must make Virtue prosperous in order to allure to it, or
clothe Vice with misery in order to revolt us from its image?  Oh!
who, on the contrary, would not learn to adore Virtue, from the
bitterest sufferings of such a votary, a hundredfold more than he
would learn to love Vice from the gaudiest triumphs of its most
fortunate disciples?"

Something there was in Mordaunt's voice and air, and the impassioned
glow of his countenance, that, long after he had ceased, thrilled in
Clarence's heart, "like the remembered tone of a mute lyre."  And when
a subsequent event led him at rash moments to doubt whether Virtue was
indeed the chief good, Linden recalled the words of that night and the
enthusiasm with which they were uttered, repented that in his doubt he
had wronged the truth, and felt that there is a power in the deep
heart of man to which even Destiny is submitted!



CHAPTER LXIII.

              Will you hear the letter?
              .     .     .     .     .
    This is the motley-minded gentleman that I have before met in the
    forest.--As You Like It.

A morning or two after the conversation with which our last chapter
concluded, Clarence received the following letter from the Duke of
Haverfield:--

Your letter, my dear Linden, would have been answered before, but for
an occurrence which is generally supposed to engross the whole
attention of the persons concerned in it.  Let me see,--ay, three,--
yes, I have been exactly three days married!  Upon my honour, there is
much less in the event than one would imagine; and the next time it
happens I will not put myself to such amazing trouble and
inconvenience about it.  But one buys wisdom only by experience.  Now,
however, that I have communicated to you the fact, I expect you, in
the first place, to excuse my negligence for not writing before; for
(as I know you are fond of the literae humaniores, I will give the
sentiment the dignity of a quotation)--

    "Un veritable amant ne connoit point d'amis;"
    ["A true lover recognizes no friends."--CORNEILLE.]

and though I have been three days married, I am still a lover!  In the
second place, I expect you to be very grateful that, all things
considered, I write to you so soon; it would indeed not be an ordinary
inducement that could make me "put pen to paper" (is not that the true
vulgar, commercial, academical, metaphorical, epistolary style?) so
shortly after the fatal ceremony.  So, had I nothing to say but in
reply to your comments on state affairs (hang them!) or in applause of
your Italian friend, of whom I say, as Charles II. said of the honest
yeoman, "I can admire virtue, though I can't imitate it," I think it
highly probable that your letter might still remain in a certain box
of tortoise-shell and gold (formerly belonging to the great Richelieu,
and now in my possession), in which I at this instant descry, "with
many a glance of woe and boding dire," sundry epistles, in manifold
handwritings, all classed under the one fearful denomination,--
"unanswered."

No, my good Linden, my heart is inditing of a better matter than this.
Listen to me, and then stay at your host's or order your swiftest
steed, as seems most meet to you.

You said rightly that Miss Trevanion, now her Grace of Haverfield, was
the intimate friend of Lady Flora Ardenne.  I have often talked to
her--namely, Eleanor, not Lady Flora--about you, and was renewing the
conversation yesterday, when your letter, accidentally lying before
me, reminded me of you.

Sundry little secrets passed in due conjugal course from her
possession into mine.  I find that you have been believed by Lady
Flora to have played the perfidious with La Meronville; that she never
knew of your application to her father! and his reply; that, on the
contrary, she accused you of indifference in going abroad without
attempting to obtain an interview or excuse your supposed infidelity;
that her heart is utterly averse to a union with that odious Lord
Boro--bah! I mean Lord Ulswater; and that--prepare, Linden--she still
cherishes your memory, even through time, change, and fancied
desertion, with a tenderness which--which--deuce take it, I never
could write sentiment: but you understand me; so I will not conclude
the phrase.  "Nothing in oratory," said my cousin D----, who was,
entre nous, more honest than eloquent, "like a break!"--"down! you
should have added," said I.

I now, my dear Linden, leave you to your fate.  For my part, though I
own Lord Ulswater is a lord whom ladies in love with the et ceteras of
married pomp might well desire, yet I do think it would be no
difficult matter for you to eclipse him.  I cannot, it is true, advise
you to run away with Lady Flora.  Gentlemen don't run away with the
daughters of gentlemen; but, without running away, you may win your
betrothed and Lord Ulswater's intended.  A distinguished member of the
House of Commons, owner of Scarsdale, and representative of the most
ancient branch of the Talbots,--mon Dieu! you might marry a queen
dowager, and decline settlements!

And so, committing thee to the guidance of that winged god, who, if
three days afford any experience, has made thy friend forsake pleasure
only to find happiness, I bid thee, most gentle Linden, farewell.
                                                 HAVERFIELD.

Upon reading this letter, Clarence felt as a man suddenly transformed.
From an exterior of calm and apathy, at the bottom of which lay one
bitter and corroding recollection, he passed at once into a state of
emotion, wild, agitated, and confused; yet, amidst all, was foremost a
burning and intense hope, which for long years he had not permitted
himself to form.

He descended into the breakfast parlour.  Mordaunt, whose hours of
appearing, though not of rising, were much later than Clarence's, was
not yet down; and our lover had full leisure to form his plans, before
his host made his entree.

"Will you ride to-day?" said Mordaunt; "there are some old ruins in
the neighbourhood well worth the trouble of a visit."

"I grieve to say," answered Clarence, "that I must take my leave of
you.  I have received intelligence this morning which may greatly
influence my future life, and by which I am obliged to make an
excursion to another part of the country, nearly a day's journey, on
horseback."

Mordaunt looked at his guest, and conjectured by his heightened
colour, and an embarrassment which he in vain endeavoured to conceal,
that the journey might have some cause for its suddenness and despatch
which the young senator had his peculiar reasons for concealing.
Algernon contented himself, therefore, with expressing his regret at
Linden's abrupt departure, without incurring the indiscreet
hospitality of pressing a longer sojourn beneath his roof.

Immediately after breakfast, Clarence's horse was brought to the door,
and Harrison received orders to wait with the carriage at W---- until
his master returned.  Not a little surprised, we trow, was the worthy
valet at his master's sudden attachment to equestrian excursions.
Mordaunt accompanied his visitor through the park, and took leave of
him with a warmth which sensibly touched Clarence, in spite of the
absence and excitement of his thoughts; indeed, the unaffected and
simple character of Linden, joined to his acute, bold, and cultivated
mind, had taken strong hold of Mordaunt's interest and esteem.

It was a mild autumnal morning, but thick clouds in the rear
prognosticated rain; and the stillness of the wind, the low flight of
the swallows, and the lowing of the cattle, slowly gathering towards
the nearest shelter within their appointed boundaries, confirmed the
inauspicious omen.  Clarence had passed the town of W----, and was
entering into a road singularly hilly, when he "was aware," as the
quaint old writers of former days expressed themselves, of a tall
stranger, mounted on a neat well-trimmed galloway, who had for the
last two minutes been advancing towards a closely parallel line with
Clarence, and had, by sundry glances and hems, denoted a desire of
commencing acquaintance and conversation with his fellow traveller.

At last he summoned courage, and said, with a respectful, though
somewhat free, air, "That is a very fine horse of yours, sir; I have
seldom seen so fast a walker: if all his other paces are equally good,
he must be quite a treasure."

All men have their vanities.  Clarence's was as much in his horse's
excellence as his own; and, gratified even with the compliment of a
stranger, he replied to it by joining in the praise, though with a
modest and measured forbearance, which the stranger, if gifted with
penetration, could easily have discerned was more affected than
sincere.

"And yet, sir;" resumed Clarence's new companion, "my little palfrey
might perhaps keep pace with your steed; look, I lay the rein on his
neck, and, you see, he rivals--by heaven, he outwalks--yours."

Not a little piqued and incensed, Linden also relaxed his rein, and
urged his horse to a quicker step: but the lesser competitor not only
sustained, but increased, his superiority; and it was only by breaking
into a trot that Linden's impatient and spirited steed could overtake
him.  Hitherto Clarence had not honoured his new companion with more
than a rapid and slight glance; but rivalry, even in trifles, begets
respect, and our defeated hero now examined him with a more curious
eye.

The stranger was between forty and fifty,--an age in which, generally,
very little of the boy has survived the advance of manhood; yet was
there a hearty and frank exhilaration in the manner and look of the
person we describe which is rarely found beyond the first stage of
youth.  His features were comely and clearly cut, and his air and
appearance indicative of a man who might equally have belonged to the
middle or the upper orders.  But Clarence's memory, as well as
attention, was employed in his survey of the stranger; and he
recognized, in a countenance on which time had passed very lightly, an
old and ofttimes recalled acquaintance.  However, he did not
immediately make himself known.  "I will first see," thought he,
"whether he can remember his young guest in the bronzed stranger after
eight years' absence."

"Well," said Clarence, as he approached the owner of the palfrey, who
was laughing with childish glee at his conquest, "well, you have won,
sir; but the tortoise might beat the hare in walking, and I content
myself with thinking that at a trot or a gallop the result of a race
would have been very different."

"I am not so sure of that, sir," said the sturdy stranger, patting the
arched neck of his little favourite: "if you would like to try either,
I should have no objection to venture a trifling wager on the event."

"You are very good," said Clarence, with a smile in which urbanity was
a little mingled with contemptuous incredulity; "but I am not now at
leisure to win your money: I have a long day's journey before me, and
must not tire a faithful servant; yet I do candidly confess that I
think" (and Clarence's recollection of the person he addressed made
him introduce the quotation) "that my horse

                'Excels a common one
     In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone.'"

"Eh, sir," cried our stranger, as his eyes sparkled at the verses: "I
would own that your horse were worth all the horses in the kingdom, if
you brought Will Shakspeare to prove it.  And I am also willing to
confess that your steed does fairly merit the splendid praise which
follows the lines you have quoted,--

    'Round hoofed, short jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
       Broad breast, full eyes, small head, and nostril wide,
     High crest, short ears, straight legs, and passing strong,
       Thin mane, thick tale, broad buttock, tender hide.'"

"Come," said Clarence, "your memory has atoned for your horse's
victory, and I quite forgive your conquest in return for your
compliment; but suffer me to ask how long you have commenced cavalier.
The Arab's tent is, if I err not, more a badge of your profession than
the Arab's steed."

King Cole (for the stranger was no less a person) looked at his
companion in surprise.  "So you know me, then, sir!  Well, it is a
hard thing for a man to turn honest, when people have so much readier
a recollection of his sins than his reform."

"Reform!" quoth Clarence, "am I then to understand that your Majesty
has abdicated your dominions under the greenwood tree?"

"You are," said Cole, eying his acquaintance inquisitively; "you are.

    'I fear no more the heat of the sun,
       Nor the furious winter's rages;
     I my worldly task have done,
       Home am gone, and ta'en my wages.'"

"I congratulate you," said Clarence: "but only in part; for I have
often envied your past state, and do not know enough of your present
to say whether I should equally envy that."

"Why," answered Cole, "after all, we commit a great error in imagining
that it is the living wood or the dead wall which makes happiness.
'My mind to me a kingdom is;' and it is that which you must envy, if
you honour anything belonging to me with that feeling."

"The precept is both good and old," answered Clarence; "yet I think it
was not a very favourite maxim of yours some years ago.  I remember a
time when you thought no happiness could exist out of 'dingle and
bosky dell.'  If not very intrusive on your secrets, may I know how
long you have changed your sentiments and manner of life?  The reason
of the change I dare not presume to ask."

"Certainly," said the quondam gypsy, musingly, "certainly I have seen
your face before, and even the tone of your voice strikes me as not
wholly unfamiliar: yet I cannot for the life of me guess whom I have
the honour of addressing.  However, sir, I have no hesitation in
answering your questions.  It was just five years ago, last summer,
when I left the Tents of Kedar.  I now reside about a mile hence.  It
is but a hundred yards off the high road, and if you would not object
to step aside and suffer a rasher, or aught else, to be 'the shoeing-
horn to draw on a cup of ale,' as our plain forefathers were wont
wittily to say, why, I shall be very happy to show you my habitation.
You will have a double welcome, from the circumstance of my having
been absent from home for the last three days."

Clarence, mindful of his journey, was about to decline the invitation,
when a few heavy drops falling began to fulfil the cloudy promise of
the morning.  "Trust," said Cole, "one who has been for years a
watcher of the signs and menaces of the weather: we shall have a
violent shower immediately.  You have now no choice but to accompany
me home."

"Well," said Clarence, yielding with a good grace, "I am glad of so
good an excuse for intruding on your hospitality.

                      'O sky!
    Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
    And make me travel forth without my cloak?'"

"Bravo!" cried the ex-chief, too delighted to find a comrade so well
acquainted with Shakspeare's sonnets to heed the little injustice
Clarence had done the sky, in accusing it of a treachery its black
clouds had by no means deserved.  "Bravo, sir; and now, my palfrey
against your steed,--trot, eh? or gallop?"

"Trot, if it must be so," said Clarence, superciliously; "but I am a
few paces before you."

"So much the better," cried the jovial chief.  "Little John's mettle
will be the more up: on with you, sir; he who breaks into a canter
loses; on!"

And Clarence slightly touching his beautiful steed, the race was
begun.  At first his horse, which was a remarkable stepper, as the
modern Messrs. Anderson and Dyson would say, greatly gained the
advantage.  "To the right," cried the ci-devant gypsy, as Linden had
nearly passed a narrow lane which led to the domain of the ex-king.
The turn gave "Little John" an opportunity which he seized to
advantage; and, to Clarence's indignant surprise, he beheld Cole now
close behind, now beside, and now--now--before!  In the heat of the
moment he put spurs rather too sharply to his horse, and the spirited
animal immediately passed his competitor, but--in a canter!

"Victoria!" cried Cole, keeping back his own steed.  "Victoria!
confess it!"

"Pshaw," said Clarence, petulantly.

"Nay, sir, never mind it," quoth the retired sovereign; "perhaps it
was but a venial transgression of your horse, and on other ground I
should not have beat you."

It is very easy to be generous when one is quite sure one is the
victor.  Clarence felt this, and, muttering out something about the
sharp angle in the road, turned abruptly from all further comment on
the subject by saying, "We are now, I suppose, entering your
territory.  Does not this white gate lead to your new (at least new to
me) abode?"

"It does," replied Cole, opening the said gate, and pausing as if to
suffer his guest and rival to look round and admire.  The house, in
full view, was of red brick, small and square, faced with stone
copings, and adorned in the centre with a gable roof, on which was a
ball of glittering metal.  A flight of stone steps led to the porch,
which was of fair size and stately, considering the proportions of the
mansion: over the door was a stone shield of arms, surmounted by a
stag's head; and above this heraldic ornament was a window of great
breadth, compared to the other conveniences of a similar nature.  On
either side of the house ran a slight iron fence, the protection of
sundry plots of gay flowers and garden shrubs, while two peacocks were
seen slowly stalking towards the enclosure to seek a shelter from the
increasing shower.  At the back of the building, thick trees and a
rising hill gave a meet defence from the winds of winter; and, in
front, a sloping and small lawn afforded pasture for few sheep and two
pet deer.  Towards the end of this lawn were two large fishponds,
shaded by rows of feathered trees.  On the margin of each of these, as
if emblematic of ancient customs, was a common tent; and in the
intermediate space was a rustic pleasure-house, fenced from the
encroaching cattle, and half hid by surrounding laurel and the
parasite ivy.

All together there was a quiet and old-fashioned comfort, and even
luxury, about the place, which suited well with the eccentric
character of the abdicated chief; and Clarence, as he gazed around,
really felt that he might perhaps deem the last state of the owner not
worse than the first.

Unmindful of the rain, which now began to pour fast and full, Cole
suffered "Little John's" rein to fall over his neck, and the spoiled
favourite to pluck the smooth grass beneath, while he pointed out to
Clarence the various beauties of his seat.

"There, sir," said he, "by those ponds in which, I assure you, old
Isaac might have fished with delight, I pass many a summer's day.  I
was always a lover of the angle, and the farthest pool is the most
beautiful bathing-place imaginable;--as glorious Geoffrey Chaucer
says,--

    'The gravel's gold; the water pure as glass,
       The baukes round the well environing;
     And softe as velvet the younge grass
       That thereupon lustily come springing.'"

"And in that arbour, Lucy--that is, my wife--sits in the summer
evenings with her father and our children; and then--ah! see our pets
come to welcome me," pointing to the deer, who had advanced within a
few yards of him, but, intimidated by the stranger, would not venture
within reach--"Lucy loved choosing her favourites among animals which
had formerly been wild, and, faith, I loved it too.  But you observe
the house, sir: it was built in the reign of Queen Anne; it belonged
to my mother's family; but my father sold it, and his son five years
ago rebought it.  Those arms belonged to my maternal ancestry.  Look,
look at the peacocks creeping along: poor pride theirs that can't
stand the shower!  But, egad, that reminds me of the rain.  Come, sir,
let us make for our shelter."  And, resuming their progress, a minute
more brought them to the old-fashioned porch.  Cole's ring summoned a
man, not decked in "livery gay," but, "clad in serving frock," who
took the horses with a nod, half familiar, half respectful, at his
master's injunctions of attention and hospitality to the stranger's
beast; and then our old acquaintance, striking through a small low
hall, ushered Clarence into the chief sitting-room of the mansion.



CHAPTER LXIV.

    We are not poor; although we have
    No roofs of cedar, nor our brave
                       Baiae, nor keep
    Account of such a flock of sheep,
                       Nor bullocks fed
    To lard the shambles; barbles bred
    To kiss our hands; nor do we wish
    For Pollio's lampreys in our dish.

    If we can meet and so confer
    Both by a shining salt-cellar,
                       And have our roof,
    Although not arched, yet weather-proof,
                       And ceiling free
    From that cheap candle-bawdery,
    We'll eat our bean with that full mirth
    As we were lords of all the earth.
                                HERRICK, from HORACE.

On entering the room, Clarence recognized Lucy, whom eight years had
converted into a sleek and portly matron of about thirty-two, without
stealing from her countenance its original expression of mingled
modesty and good-nature.  She hastened to meet her husband, with an
eager and joyous air of welcome seldom seen on matrimonial faces after
so many years of wedlock.

A fine, stout boy, of about eleven years old, left a crossbow, which
on his father's entrance he had appeared earnestly employed in
mending, to share with his mother the salutations of the Returned.  An
old man sat in an armchair by the fire, gazing on the three with an
affectionate and gladdening eye, and playfully detaining a child of
about four years old, who was struggling to escape to dear "papa"!

The room was of oak wainscot, and the furniture plain, solid, and
strong, and cast in the fashion still frequently found in those
country houses which have remained unaltered by innovation since the
days of George II.

Three rough-coated dogs, of a breed that would have puzzled a
connoisseur, gave themselves the rousing shake, and, deserting the
luxurious hearth, came in various welcome to their master.

One rubbed himself against Cole's sturdy legs, murmuring soft
rejoicings: he was the grandsire of the canine race, and his wick of
life burned low in the socket.  Another sprang up almost to the face
of his master, and yelled his very heart out with joy; that was the
son, exulting in the vigour of matured doghood; and the third
scrambled and tumbled over the others, uttering his paeans in a shrill
treble, and chiding most snappishly at his two progenitors for
interfering with his pretensions to notice; that was the infant dog,
the little reveller in puppy childishness!  Clarence stood by the
door, with his fine countenance smiling benevolently at the happiness
he beheld, and congratulating himself that for one moment the group
had forgot that he was a stranger.

As soon as our gypsy friend had kissed his wife, shaken hands with his
eldest hope, shaken his head at his youngest, smiled his salutation at
the father-in-law, and patted into silence the canine claimants of his
favour, he turned to Clarence, and saying, half bashfully, half good-
humouredly, "See what a troublesome thing it is to return home, even
after three days' absence.  Lucy, dearest, welcome a new friend!" he
placed a chair by the fireside for his guest, and motioned him to be
seated.

The chief expression of Clarence's open and bold countenance was
centred in the eyes and forehead; and, as he now doffed his hat, which
had hitherto concealed that expression, Lucy and her husband
recognized him simultaneously.

"I am sure, sir," cried the former, "that I am glad to see you once
more!"

"Ah! my young guest under the gypsy awning!" exclaimed the latter,
shaking him heartily by the hand: "where were my eyes that they did
not recognize you before?

"Eight years," answered Clarence, "have worked more change with me and
my friend here" (pointing to the boy, whom he had left last so mere a
child) "than they have with you and his blooming mother.  The wonder
is, not that you did not remember me before, but that you remember me
now!"

"You are altered, sir, certainly," said the frank chief.  "Your face is
thinner, and far graver, and the smooth cheeks of the boy (for,
craving your pardon, you were little more then) are somewhat darkened
by the bronzed complexion with which time honours the man."

And the good Cole sighed, as he contrasted Linden's ardent countenance
and elastic figure, when he had last beheld him, with the serious and
thoughtful face of the person now before him: yet did he inly own that
years, if they had in some things deteriorated from, had in others
improved the effect of Clarence's appearance; they had brought
decision to his mien and command to his brow, and had enlarged, to an
ampler measure of dignity and power, the proportions of his form.
Something, too, there was in his look, like that of a man who has
stemmed fate and won success; and the omen of future triumph, which
our fortune-telling chief had drawn from his features when first
beheld, seemed already in no small degree to have been fulfilled.

Having seen her guest stationed in the seat of honour opposite her
father, Lucy withdrew for a few moments, and, when she reappeared, was
followed by a neat-handed sort of Phillis for a country-maiden,
bearing such kind of "savoury messes" as the house might be supposed
to afford.

"At all events, mine host," said Clarence, "you did not desert the
flesh-pots of Egypt when you forsook its tents."

"Nay," quoth the worthy Cole, seating himself at the table, "either
under the roof or the awning we may say, in the words of the old
epilogue,--[To the play of "All Fools," by Chapman.]

    'We can but bring you meat and set you stools,
     And to our best cheer say,
     You all are welcome.'"

"We are plain people still; but if you can stay till dinner, you shall
have a bottle of such wine as our fathers' honest souls would have
rejoiced in."

"I am truly sorry that I cannot tarry with you, after so fair a
promise," replied Clarence; "but before night I must be many miles
hence."

Lucy came forward timidly.  "Do you remember this ring, sir?" said she
(presenting one); "you dropped it in my boy's frock when we saw you
last."

"I did so," answered Clarence.  "I trust that he will not now disdain
a stranger's offering.  May it be as ominous of good luck to him as my
night in your caravan has proved to me!"

"I am heartily glad to hear that you have prospered," said Cole; "now,
let us fall to."



CHAPTER LXV.

                  Out of these convertites
    There is much matter to be heard and learned.--SHAKSPEARE.

"If you are bent upon leaving us so soon," said the honest Cole, as
Clarence, refusing all further solicitation to stay, seized the
opportunity which the cessation of the rain afforded him, and rose to
depart, "if you are bent upon leaving us so soon, I will accompany you
back again into the main road, as in duty bound."

"What, immediately on your return!" said Clarence.  "No, no; not a
step.  What would my fair hostess say to me if I suffered it?"

"Rather, what would she say to me if I neglected such a courtesy?
Why, sir, when I meet one who knows Shakspeare's sonnets, to say
nothing of the lights of the lesser stars, as well as you, only once
in eight years, do you not think I would make the most of him?
Besides, it is but a quarter of a mile to the road, and I love walking
after a shower."

"I am afraid, Mrs. Cole," said Clarence, "that I must be selfish
enough to accept the offer."  And Mrs. Cole, blushing and smiling her
assent and adieu, Clarence shook hands with the whole party,
grandfather and child included, and took his departure.

As Cole was now a pedestrian, Linden threw the rein over his arm, and
walked on foot by his host's side.

"So," said he, smiling, "I must not inquire into the reasons of your
retirement?"

"On the contrary," replied Cole: "I have walked with you the more
gladly from my desire of telling them to you; for we all love to seem
consistent, even in our chimeras.  About six years ago, I confess that
I began to wax a little weary of my wandering life: my child, in
growing up, required playmates; shall I own that I did not like him to
find them among the children of my own comrades?  The old scamps were
good enough for me, but the young ones were a little too bad for my
son.  Between you and me only be it said, my juvenile hope was already
a little corrupted.  The dog Mim--you remember Mim, sir--secretly
taught him to filch as well as if he had been a bantling of his own;
and, faith, our smaller goods and chattels, especially of an edible
nature, began to disappear, with a rapidity and secrecy that our
itinerant palace could very ill sustain.  Among us (i.e. gypsies)
there is a law by which no member of the gang may steal from another:
but my little heaven-instructed youth would by no means abide by that
distinction; and so boldly designed and well executed were his
rogueries that my paternal anxiety saw nothing before him but Botany
Bay on the one hand and Newgate courtyard on the other."

"A sad prospect for the heir apparent!" quoth Clarence.

"It was so!" answered Cole; "and it made me deliberate.  Then, as one
gets older one's romance oozes out a little in rheums and catarrhs.  I
began to perceive that, though I had been bred I had not been educated
as a gypsy; and, what was worse, Lucy, though she never complained,
felt that the walls of our palace were not exempt from the damps of
winter, nor our royal state from the Caliban curses of--

                        'Cramps and
    Side stitches that do pen our breath up.'"

"She fell ill; and during her illness I had sundry bright visions of
warm rooms and coal fires, a friend with whom I could converse upon
Chaucer, and a tutor for my son who would teach him other arts than
those of picking pockets and pilfering larders.  Nevertheless, I was a
little ashamed of my own thoughts; and I do not know whether they
would have been yet put into practice, but for a trifling circumstance
which converted doubt and longing into certainty."

"Our crank cuffins had for some time looked upon me with suspicion and
coldness: my superior privileges and comforts they had at first
forgiven, on account of my birth and my generosity to them; but by
degrees they lost respect for the one and gratitude for the other; and
as I had in a great measure ceased from participating in their
adventures, or, during Lucy's illness, which lasted several months,
joining in their festivities, they at length considered me as a drone
in a hive, by no means compensating by my services as an ally for my
admittance into their horde as a stranger.  You will easily conceive,
when this once became the state of their feelings towards me, with how
ill a temper they brooked the lordship of my stately caravan and my
assumption of superior command.  Above all, the women, who were very
much incensed at Lucy's constant seclusion from their orgies, fanned
the increasing discontent; and, at last, I verily believe that no
eyesore could have been more grievous to the Egyptians than my wooden
habitation and the smoke of its single chimney."

"From ill-will the rascals proceeded to ill acts; and one dark night,
when we were encamped on the very same ground as that which we
occupied when we received you, three of them, Mim at their head,
attacked me in mine own habitation.  I verily believe, if they had
mastered me, they would have robbed and murdered us all; except
perhaps my son, whom they thought ill-used by depriving him of Mim's
instructive society.  Howbeit, I was still stirring when they invaded
me, and, by the help of the poker and a tolerably strong arm, I
repelled the assailants; but that very night I passed from the land of
Egypt, and made with all possible expedition to the nearest town,
which was, as you may remember, W----."

"Here, the very next day, I learned that the house I now inhabit was
to be sold.  It had (as I before said) belonged to my mother's family,
and my father had sold it a little before his death.  It was the home
from which I had been stolen, and to which I had been returned: often
in my star-lit wanderings had I flown to it in thought; and now it
seemed as if Providence itself, in offering to my age the asylum I had
above all others coveted for it, was interested in my retirement from
the empire of an ungrateful people and my atonement in rest for my
past sins in migration."

"Well, sir, in short, I became the purchaser of the place you have
just seen, and I now think that, after all, there is more happiness in
reality than romance: like the laverock, here will I build my nest,--

    'Here give my weary spirit rest,
     And raise my low-pitched thoughts above
     Earth, or what poor mortals love.'"

"And your son," said Clarence, "has he reformed?"

"Oh, yes," answered Cole.  "For my part, I believe the mind is less
evil than people say it is; its great characteristic is imitation, and
it will imitate the good as well as the bad, if we will set the
example.  I thank Heaven, sir, that my boy now might go from Dan to
Beersheba and not filch a groat by the way."

"What do you intend him for?" said Clarence.

"Why, he loves adventure, and, faith, I can't break him of that, for I
love it too; so I think I shall get him a commission in the army, in
order to give him a fitting and legitimate sphere wherein to indulge
his propensities."

"You could not do better," said Clarence.  "But your fine sister, what
says she to your amendment?"

"Oh! she wrote me a long letter of congratulation upon it and every
other summer she is graciously pleased to pay me a visit of three
months long; at which time, I observe, that poor Lucy is unusually
smart and uncomfortable.  We sit in the best room, and turn out the
dogs; my father-in-law smokes his pipe in the arbour, instead of the
drawing-room; and I receive sundry hints, all in vain, on the
propriety of dressing for dinner.  In return for these attentions on
our part, my sister invariably brings my boy a present of a pair of
white gloves, and my wife a French ribbon of the newest pattern; in
the evening, instead of my reading Shakspeare, she tells us anecdotes
of high life, and, when she goes away, she gives us, in return for our
hospitality, a very general and very gingerly invitation to her house.
Lucy sometimes talks to me about accepting it; but I turn a deaf ear
to all such overtures, and so we continue much better friends than we
should be if we saw more of each other."

"And how long has your father-in-law been with you?"

"Ever since we have been here.  He gave up his farm, and cultivates
mine for me; for I know nothing of those agricultural matters.  I made
his coming a little surprise, in order to please Lucy: you should have
witnessed their meeting."

"I think I have now learned all particulars," said Clarence; "it only
remains for me to congratulate you: but are you, in truth, never tired
of the monotony and sameness of domestic life?"

"Yes! and then I do, as I have just done, saddle Little John, and go
on an excursion of three or four days, or even weeks, just as the whim
seizes me; for I never return till I am driven back by the yearning
for home, and the feeling that after all one's wanderings there is no
place like it.  Whether in private life or public, sir, in parting
with a little of one's liberty one gets a great deal of comfort in
exchange."

"I thank you truly for your frankness," said Clarence; "it has solved
many doubts with respect to you that have often occurred to me.  And
now we are in the main road, and I must bid you farewell: we part, but
our paths lead to the same object; you return to happiness, and I seek
it."

"May you find it, and I not lose it, sir," said the wanderer
reclaimed; and, shaking hands, the pair parted.



CHAPTER LXVI.

    Quicquid agit Rufus, nihil est, nisi Naevia Rufo,
      Si gaudet, si flet, si tacet, hanc loquitur;
    Coenat, propinat, poscit, negat, annuit, una est Naevia;
      si non sit Naevia, mutus erit.
    Scriberet hesterna patri cum luce salutem
      Naevia lux, inquit, Naevia numen, ave.--MART.

    ["Whatever Rufus does is nothing, except Naevia be at his elbow.
    Be he joyful or sorrowful, be he even silent, he is still harping
    upon her.  He eats, he drinks, he talks, he denies, he assents;
    Naevia is his sole theme: no Naevia, and he's dumb.  Yesterday at
    daybreak, he would fain write a letter of salutation to his
    father: 'Hail, Naevia, light of my eyes,' quoth he; 'hail, Naevia,
    my divine one.'"]


"The last time," said Clarence to himself, "that I travelled this
road, on exactly the same errand that I travel now, I do remember that
I was honoured by the company of one in all respects the opposite to
mine honest host; for, whereas in the latter there is a luxuriant and
wild eccentricity, an open and blunt simplicity, and a shrewd sense,
which looks not after pence, but peace; so, in the mind of the friend
of the late Lady Waddilove there was a flat and hedged-in primness and
narrowness of thought; an enclosure of bargains and profits of all
species,--mustard-pots, rings, monkeys, chains, jars, and plum-
coloured velvet inexpressibles; his ideas, with the true alchemy of
trade, turned them all into gold: yet was he also as shrewd and acute
as he with whose character he contrasts,--equally with him seeking
comfort and gladness, and an asylum for his old age.  Strange that all
tempers should have a common object, and never a common road to it!
But since I have begun the contrast, let me hope that it may be
extended in its omen unto me; let me hope that as my encountering with
the mercantile Brown brought me ill-luck in my enterprise, thereby
signifying the crosses and vexations of those who labour in the
cheateries and overreachings which constitute the vocation of the
world; so my meeting with the philosophical Cole, who has, both in
vagrancy and rest, found cause to boast of happiness, authorities from
his studies to favour his inclination to each, and reason to despise
what he, with Sir Kenelm Digby, would wisely call--

    'The fading blossoms of the earth;'

so my meeting with him may prove a token of good speed to mine errand,
and thereby denote prosperity to one who seeks not riches, nor honour,
nor the conquest of knaves, nor the good word of fools, but happy
love, and the bourne of its quiet home."

Thus, half meditating, half moralizing, and drawing, like a true
lover, an omen of fear or hope from occurrences in which plain reason
could have perceived neither type nor token, Clarence continued and
concluded his day's journey.  He put up at the same little inn he had
visited three years ago, and watched his opportunity of seeing Lady
Flora alone.  More fortunate in that respect than he had been before,
such opportunity the very next day presented to him.



CHAPTER LXVII.

Duke.--Sir Valentine!
Thur.--Yonder is Silvia, and Silvia's mine.
Val.--Thurio, give back.--The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

"I think, Mamma," said Lady Flora to her mother, "that as the morning
is so beautiful, I will go into the pavilion to finish my drawing."

"But Lord Ulswater will be here in an hour, or perhaps less: may I
tell him where you are, and suffer him to join you?"

"If you will accompany him," answered Lady Flora, coldly, as she took
up her portefeuille and withdrew.

Now the pavilion was a small summer-house of stone, situated in the
most retired part of the grounds belonging to Westborough Park.  It
was a favourite retreat with Lady Flora, even in the winter months,
for warm carpeting, a sheltered site, and a fireplace constructed more
for comfort than economy made it scarcely less adapted to that season
than to the more genial suns of summer.

The morning was so bright and mild that Lady Flora left open the door
as she entered; she seated herself at the table, and, unmindful of her
pretended employment, suffered the portefeuille to remain unopened.
Leaning her cheek upon her hand, she gazed vacantly on the ground, and
scarcely felt the tears which gathered slowly to her eyes, but,
falling not, remained within the fair lids, chill and motionless, as
if the thought which drew them there was born of a sorrow less
agitated than fixed and silent.

The shadow of a man darkened the threshold, and there paused.

Slowly did Flora raise her eyes, and the next moment Clarence Linden
was by her side and at her feet.

"Flora," said he, in a tone trembling with its own emotions, "Flora,
have years indeed separated us forever, or dare I hope that we have
misconstrued each other's hearts, and that at this moment they yearn
to be united with more than the fondness and fidelity of old?  Speak
to me, Flora, one word."

But she had sunk on the chair overpowered, surprised, and almost
insensible; and it was not for some moments that she could utter words
rather wrung from than dictated by her thoughts.

"Cruel and insulting, for what have you come? is it at such a time
that you taunt me with the remembrance of my past folly, or your--
your--" She paused for a moment, confused and hesitating, but
presently recovering herself, rose, and added, in a calmer tone,
"Surely you have no excuse for this intrusion: you will suffer me to
leave you."

"No," exclaimed Clarence, violently agitated, "no!  Have you not
wronged me, stung me, wounded me to the core by your injustice? and
will you not hear now how differently I have deserved from you?  On a
bed of fever and pain I thought only of you; I rose from it animated
by the hope of winning you!  Though, during the danger of my wound and
my consequent illness, your parents alone, of all my intimate
acquaintances, neglected to honour with an inquiry the man whom you
professed to consecrate with your regard, yet scarcely could my hand
trace a single sentence before I wrote to you requesting an interview,
in order to disclose my birth and claim your plighted faith!  That
letter was returned to me unanswered, unopened.  My friend and
benefactor, whose fortune I now inherit, promised to call upon your
father and advocate my cause.  Death anticipated his kindness.  As
soon as my sorrow for his loss permitted me, I came to this very spot!
For three days I hovered about your house, seeking the meeting that
you would fain deny me now.  I could not any longer bear the torturing
suspense I endured: I wrote to you; your father answered the letter.
Here, here I have it still: read! note well the cool, the damning
insult of each line.  I see that you knew not of this: I rejoice at
it!  Can you wonder that, on receiving it, I subjected myself no more
to such affronts?  I hastened abroad.  On my return I met you.  Where?
In crowds, in the glitter of midnight assemblies, in the whirl of what
the vain call pleasure!  I observed your countenance, your manner; was
there in either a single token of endearing or regretful remembrance?
None!  I strove to harden my heart; I entered into politics, business,
intrigue; I hoped, I longed, I burned to forget you, but in vain!"

"At last I heard that Rumour, though it had long preceded, had not
belied, the truth, and that you were to be married,--married to Lord
Ulswater!  I will not say what I suffered, or how idly I summoned
pride to resist affection!  But I would not have come now to molest
you, Flora, to trouble your nuptial rejoicings with one thought of me,
if, forgive me, I had not suddenly dreamed that I had cause to hope
you had mistaken, not rejected my heart; that--you turn away, Flora,
you blush, you weep!  Oh, tell me, by one word, one look, that I was
not deceived!"

"No, no, Clarence," said Flora, struggling with her tears: "it is too
late, too late now!  Why, why did I not know this before?  I have
promised, I am pledged; in less than two months I shall be the wife of
another!"

"Never!" cried Clarence, "never!  You promised on a false belief: they
will not bind you to such a promise.  Who is he that claims you?  I am
his equal in birth, in the world's name,--and oh, by what worlds his
superior in love!  I will advance my claim to you in his very teeth,--
nay, I will not stir from these domains till you, your father, and my
rival, have repaired my wrongs."

"Be it so, sir!" cried a voice behind, and Clarence turned and beheld
Lord Ulswater!  His dark countenance was flushed with rage, which he
in vain endeavoured to conceal; and the smile of scorn that he strove
to summon to his lip made a ghastly and unnatural contrast with the
lowering of his brow and the fire of his eyes.  "Be it so, sir," he
said, slowly advancing, and confronting Clarence.  "You will dispute
my claims to the hand Lady Flora Ardenne has long promised to one who,
however unworthy of the gift, knows, at least, how to defend it.  It
is well; let us finish the dispute elsewhere.  It is not the first
time we shall have met, if not as rivals, as foes."

Clarence turned from him without reply, for he saw Lady Westborough
had just entered the pavilion, and stood mute and transfixed at the
door, with surprise, fear, and anger depicted upon her regal and
beautiful countenance.

"It is to you, madam," said Clarence, approaching towards her, "that I
venture to appeal.  Your daughter and I, four long years ago,
exchanged our vows: you flattered me with the hope that those vows
were not displeasing to you; since then a misunderstanding, deadly to
my happiness and to hers, divided us.  I come now to explain it.  My
birth may have seemed obscure; I come to clear it: my conduct
doubtful; I come to vindicate it.  I find Lord Ulswater my rival.  I
am willing to compare my pretensions to his.  I acknowledge that he
has titles which I have not; that he has wealth, to which mine is but
competence: but titles and wealth, as the means of happiness, are to
be referred to your daughter, to none else.  You have only, in an
alliance with me, to consider my character and my lineage: the latter
flows from blood as pure as that which warms the veins of my rival;
the former stands already upon an eminence to which Lord Ulswater in
his loftiest visions could never aspire.  For the rest, madam, I
adjure you, solemnly, as you value your peace of mind, your daughter's
happiness, your freedom from the agonies of future remorse and
unavailing regret,--I adjure you not to divorce those whom God, who
speaks in the deep heart and the plighted vow, has already joined.
This is a question in which your daughter's permanent woe or lasting
happiness from this present hour to the last sand of life is
concerned.  It is to her that I refer it: let her be the judge."

And Clarence moved from Lady Westborough, who, agitated, confused,
awed by the spell of a power and a nature of which she had not
dreamed, stood pale and speechless, vainly endeavouring to reply: he
moved from her towards Lady Flora, who leaned, sobbing and convulsed
with contending emotions, against the wall; but Lord Ulswater, whose
fiery blood was boiling with passion, placed himself between Clarence
and the unfortunate object of the contention.

"Touch her not, approach her not!" he said, with a fierce and menacing
tone.  "Till you have proved your pretensions superior to mine,
unknown, presuming, and probably base-born as you are, you will only
pass over my body to your claims."

Clarence stood still for one moment, evidently striving to master the
wrath which literally swelled his form beyond its ordinary
proportions; and Lady Westborough, recovering herself in the brief
pause, passed between the two, and, taking her daughter's arm, led her
from the pavilion.

"Stay, madam, for one instant!" cried Clarence, and he caught hold of
her robe.

Lady Westborough stood quite erect and still; and, drawing her stately
figure to its full height, said with that quiet dignity by which a
woman so often stills the angrier passions of men, "I lay the prayer
and command of a mother upon you, Lord Ulswater, and on you, sir,
whatever be your real rank and name, not to make mine and my
daughter's presence the scene of a contest which dishonours both.
Still further, if Lady Flora's hand and my approval be an object of
desire to either, I make it a peremptory condition with both of you,
that a dispute already degrading to her name pass not from word to
act.  For you, Mr. Linden, if so I may call you, I promise that my
daughter shall be left free and unbiased to give that reply to your
singular conduct which I doubt not her own dignity and sense will
suggest."

"By Heaven!" exclaimed Lord Ulswater, utterly beside himself with rage
which, suppressed at the beginning of Lady Westborough's speech, had
been kindled into double fury by its conclusion, "you will not suffer
Lady Flora, no, nor any one but her affianced bridegroom, her only
legitimate defender, to answer this arrogant intruder!  You cannot
think that her hand, the hand of my future wife, shall trace line or
word to one who has so insulted her with his addresses and me with his
rivalry."

"Man!" cried Clarence, abruptly, and seizing Lord Ulswater fiercely by
the arm, "there are some causes which will draw fire from ice: beware,
beware how you incense me to pollute my soul with the blood of a--"

"What!" exclaimed Lord Ulswater.

Clarence bent down and whispered one word in his ear.

Had that word been the spell with which the sorcerers of old disarmed
the fiend, it could not have wrought a greater change upon Lord
Ulswater's mien and face.  He staggered back several paces, the glow
of his swarthy cheek faded into a deathlike paleness; the word which
passion had conjured to his tongue died there in silence; and he stood
with eyes dilated and fixed on Clarence's face, on which their gaze
seemed to force some unwilling certainty.

But Linden did not wait for him to recover his self-possession: he
hurried after Lady Westborough, who, with her daughter, was hastening
home.

"Pardon me, Lady Westborough," he said, as he approached, with a tone
and air of deep respect, "pardon me; but will you suffer me to hope
that Lady Flora and yourself will, in a moment of greater calmness,
consider over all I have said?  and-that she--that you, Lady Flora"
(added he, changing the object of his address), "will vouchsafe one
line of unprejudiced, unbiased reply, to a love which, however
misrepresented and calumniated, has in it, I dare to say, nothing that
can disgrace her to whom, with an enduring constancy, and undimmed,
though unhoping, ardour, it has been inviolably dedicated?"

Lady Flora, though she spoke not, lifted her eyes to his; and in that
glance was a magic which made his heart burn with a sudden and
flashing joy that atoned for the darkness of years.

"I assure you, sir," said Lady Westborough, touched, in spite of
herself, with the sincerity and respect of Clarence's bearing, "that
Lady Flora will reply to any letter of explanation or proposal: for
myself, I will not even see her answer.  Where shall it be sent to
you?"

"I have taken my lodgings at the inn by your park gates.  I shall
remain there till--till--"

Clarence paused, for his heart was full; and, leaving the sentence to
be concluded as his listeners pleased, he drew himself aside from
their path and suffered them to proceed.

As he was feeding his eyes with the last glimpse of their forms, ere a
turn in the grounds snatched them from his view, he heard a rapid step
behind, and Lord Ulswater, approaching, laid his hand upon Linden's
shoulder, and said calmly,--

"Are you furnished with proof to support the word you uttered?"

"I am!" replied Clarence, haughtily.

"And will you favour me with it?"

"At your leisure, my lord," rejoined Clarence.

"Enough!  Name your time and I will attend you."

"On Tuesday: I require till then to produce my witnesses."

"So be it; yet stay: on Tuesday I have military business at W----,
some miles hence; the next day let it be; the place of meeting where
you please."

"Here, then, my lord," answered Clarence; "you have insulted me
grossly before Lady Westborough and your affianced bride, and before
them my vindication and answer should be given."

"You are right," said Lord Ulswater; "be it here, at the hour of
twelve."  Clarence bowed his assent and withdrew.  Lord Ulswater
remained on the spot, with downcast eyes, and a brow on which thought
had succeeded passion.

"If true," said he aloud, though unconsciously, "if this be true, why,
then I owe him reparation, and he shall have it at my hands.  I owe it
to him on my account, and that of one now no more.  Till we meet, I
will not again see Lady Flora; after that meeting, perhaps I may
resign her forever."

And with these words the young nobleman, who, despite of many evil and
overbearing qualities, had, as we have said, his redeeming virtues, in
which a capricious and unsteady generosity was one, walked slowly to
the house; wrote a brief note to Lady Westborough, the purport of
which the next chapter will disclose; and then, summoning his horse,
flung himself on its back, and rode hastily away.





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