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Title: Devereux — Volume 01
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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DEVEREUX

BY

EDWARD BULWER LYTTON
(Lord Lytton)



ADVERTISEMENT TO THE PRESENT EDITION.

IN this edition of a work composed in early youth, I have not attempted
to remove those faults of construction which may be sufficiently
apparent in the plot, but which could not indeed be thoroughly rectified
without re-writing the whole work.  I can only hope that with the
defects of inexperience may be found some of the merits of frank and
artless enthusiasm.  I have, however, lightened the narrative of certain
episodical and irrelevant passages, and relieved the general style of
some boyish extravagances of diction.  At the time this work was written
I was deeply engaged in the study of metaphysics and ethics, and out of
that study grew the character of Algernon Mordaunt.  He is represented
as a type of the Heroism of Christian Philosophy,--a union of love and
knowledge placed in the midst of sorrow, and labouring on through the
pilgrimage of life, strong in the fortitude that comes from belief in
Heaven.

KNEBWORTH, May 3, 1852.

E. B. L.



DEDICATORY EPISTLE

TO

JOHN AULDJO, ESQ., ETC.,

AT NAPLES



LONDON.

MY DEAR AULDJO,--Permit me, as a memento of the pleasant hours we passed
together, and the intimacy we formed by the winding shores and the rosy
seas of the old Parthenope, to dedicate to you this romance.  It was
written in perhaps the happiest period of my literary life,--when
success began to brighten upon my labours, and it seemed to me a fine
thing to make a name.  Reputation, like all possessions, fairer in the
hope than the reality, shone before me in the gloss of novelty; and I
had neither felt the envy it excites, the weariness it occasions, nor
(worse than all) that coarse and painful notoriety, that, something
between the gossip and the slander, which attends every man whose
writings become known,--surrendering the grateful privacies of life to

     "The gaudy, babbling, and remorseless day."

In short, yet almost a boy (for, in years at least, I was little more,
when "Pelham" and "The Disowned" were conceived and composed), and full
of the sanguine arrogance of hope, I pictured to myself far greater
triumphs than it will ever be mine to achieve: and never did architect
of dreams build his pyramid upon (alas!) a narrower base, or a more
crumbling soil! . . . Time cures us effectually of these self-conceits,
and brings us, somewhat harshly, from the gay extravagance of
confounding the much that we design with the little that we can
accomplish.

"The Disowned" and "Devereux" were both completed in retirement, and in
the midst of metaphysical studies and investigations, varied and
miscellaneous enough, if not very deeply conned.  At that time I was
indeed engaged in preparing for the press a Philosophical Work which I
had afterwards the good sense to postpone to a riper age and a more
sobered mind.  But the effect of these studies is somewhat prejudicially
visible in both the romances I have referred to; and the external and
dramatic colourings which belong to fiction are too often forsaken for
the inward and subtile analysis of motives, characters, and actions.
The workman was not sufficiently master of his art to forbear the vanity
of parading the wheels of the mechanism, and was too fond of calling
attention to the minute and tedious operations by which the movements
were to be performed and the result obtained.  I believe that an author
is generally pleased with his work less in proportion as it is good,
than in proportion as it fulfils the idea with which he commenced it.
He is rarely perhaps an accurate judge how far the execution is in
itself faulty or meritorious; but he judges with tolerable success how
far it accomplishes the end and objects of the conception.  He is
pleased with his work, in short, according as he can say, "This has
expressed what I meant it to convey."  But the reader, who is not in the
secret of the author's original design, usually views the work through a
different medium; and is perhaps in this the wiser critic of the two:
for the book that wanders the most from the idea which originated it may
often be better than that which is rigidly limited to the unfolding and
/denouement/ of a single conception.  If we accept this solution, we may
be enabled to understand why an author not unfrequently makes favourites
of some of his productions most condemned by the public.  For my own
part, I remember that "Devereux" pleased me better than "Pelham" or "The
Disowned," because the execution more exactly corresponded with the
design.  It expressed with tolerable fidelity what I meant it to
express.  That was a happy age, my dear Auldjo, when, on finishing a
work, we could feel contented with our labour, and fancy we had done our
best!  Now, alas I I have learned enough of the wonders of the Art to
recognize all the deficiencies of the Disciple; and to know that no
author worth the reading can ever in one single work do half of which he
is capable.

What man ever wrote anything really good who did not feel that he had
the ability to write something better?  Writing, after all, is a cold
and a coarse interpreter of thought.  How much of the imagination, how
much of the intellect, evaporates and is lost while we seek to embody it
in words!  Man made language and God the genius.  Nothing short of an
eternity could enable men who imagine, think, and feel, to express all
they have imagined, thought, and felt.  Immortality, the spiritual
desire, is the intellectual /necessity/.

In "Devereux" I wished to portray a man flourishing in the last century
with the train of mind and sentiment peculiar to the present; describing
a life, and not its dramatic epitome, the historical characters
introduced are not closely woven with the main plot, like those in the
fictions of Sir Walter Scott, but are rather, like the narrative
romances of an earlier school, designed to relieve the predominant
interest, and give a greater air of truth and actuality to the supposed
memoir.  It is a fiction which deals less with the Picturesque than the
Real.  Of the principal character thus introduced (the celebrated and
graceful, but charlatanic, Bolingbroke) I still think that my sketch,
upon the whole, is substantially just.  We must not judge of the
politicians of one age by the lights of another.  Happily we now demand
in a statesman a desire for other aims than his own advancement; but at
that period ambition was almost universally selfish--the Statesman was
yet a Courtier--a man whose very destiny it was to intrigue, to plot, to
glitter, to deceive.  It is in proportion as politics have ceased to be
a secret science, in proportion as courts are less to be flattered and
tools to be managed, that politicians have become useful and honest men;
and the statesman now directs a people, where once he outwitted an
ante-chamber.  Compare Bolingbroke--not with the men and by the rules of
this day, but with the men and by the rules of the last.  He will lose
nothing in comparison with a Walpole, with a Marlborough on the one
side,--with an Oxford or a Swift upon the other.

And now, my dear Auldjo, you have had enough of my egotisms.  As our
works grow up,--like old parents, we grow garrulous, and love to recur
to the happier days of their childhood; we talk over the pleasant pain
they cost us in their rearing, and memory renews the season of dreams
and hopes; we speak of their faults as of things past, of their merits
as of things enduring: we are proud to see them still living, and, after
many a harsh ordeal and rude assault, keeping a certain station in the
world; we hoped perhaps something better for them in their cradle, but
as it is we have good cause to be contented.  You, a fellow-author, and
one whose spirited and charming sketches embody so much of personal
adventure, and therefore so much connect themselves with associations of
real life as well as of the studious closet; /you/ know, and must feel
with me, that these our books are a part of us, bone of our bone and
flesh of our flesh!  They treasure up the thoughts which stirred us, the
affections which warmed us, years ago; they are the mirrors of how much
of what we were!  To the world they are but as a certain number of
pages,--good or bad,--tedious or diverting; but to ourselves, the
authors, they are as marks in the wild maze of life by which we can
retrace our steps, and be with our youth again.  What would I not give
to feel as I felt, to hope as I hoped, to believe as I believed, when
this work was first launched upon the world!  But time gives while it
takes away; and amongst its recompenses for many losses are the memories
I referred to in commencing this letter, and gratefully revert to at its
close.  From the land of cloud and the life of toil, I turn to that
golden clime and the happy indolence that so well accords with it; and
hope once more, ere I die, with a companion whose knowledge can recall
the past and whose gayety can enliven the present, to visit the
Disburied City of Pompeii, and see the moonlight sparkle over the waves
of Naples.  Adieu, my dear Auldjo,

  And believe me,
    Your obliged and attached friend,
      E. B. LYTTON.



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHER'S INTRODUCTION.

MY life has been one of frequent adventure and constant excitement.  It
has been passed, to this present day, in a stirring age, and not without
acquaintance of the most eminent and active spirits of the time.  Men of
all grades and of every character have been familiar to me.  War, love,
ambition, the scroll of sages, the festivals of wit, the intrigues of
states,--all that agitate mankind, the hope and the fear, the labour and
the pleasure, the great drama of vanities, with the little interludes of
wisdom; these have been the occupations of my manhood; these will
furnish forth the materials of that history which is now open to your
survey.  Whatever be the faults of the historian, he has no motive to
palliate what he has committed nor to conceal what he has felt.

Children of an after century, the very time in which these pages will
greet you destroys enough of the connection between you and myself to
render me indifferent alike to your censure and your applause.  Exactly
one hundred years from the day this record is completed will the seal I
shall place on it be broken and the secrets it contains be disclosed.  I
claim that congeniality with you which I have found not among my own
coevals.  /Their/ thoughts, their feelings, their views, have nothing
kindred to my own.  I speak their language, but it is not as a native:
/they/ know not a syllable of mine!  With a future age my heart may have
more in common; to a future age my thoughts may be less unfamiliar, and
my sentiments less strange.  I trust these confessions to the trial!

Children of an after century, between you and the being who has traced
the pages ye behold--that busy, versatile, restless being--there is but
one step,--but that step is a century!  His /now/ is separated from your
now by an interval of three generations!  While he writes, he is
exulting in the vigour of health and manhood; while ye read, the very
worms are starving upon his dust.  This commune between the living and
the dead; this intercourse between that which breathes and moves and
/is/, and that which life animates not nor mortality knows,--annihilates
falsehood, and chills even self-delusion into awe.  Come, then, and look
upon the picture of a past day and of a gone being, without apprehension
of deceit; and as the shadows and lights of a checkered and wild
existence flit before you, watch if in your own hearts there be aught
which mirrors the reflection.

  MORTON DEVEREUX.



NOTE TO THE PRESENT EDITION (1852).

If this work possess any merit of a Narrative order, it will perhaps be
found in its fidelity to the characteristics of an Autobiography.  The
reader must, indeed, comply with the condition exacted from his
imagination and faith; that is to say, he must take the hero of the
story upon the terms for which Morton Devereux himself stipulates; and
regard the supposed Count as one who lived and wrote in the last
century, but who (dimly conscious that the tone of his mind harmonized
less with his own age than with that which was to come) left his
biography as a legacy to the present.  This assumption (which is not an
unfair one) liberally conceded, and allowed to account for occasional
anachronisms in sentiment, Morton Devereux will be found to write as a
man who is not constructing a romance, but narrating a life.  He gives
to Love, its joy and its sorrow, its due share in an eventful and
passionate existence; but it is the share of biography, not of fiction.
He selects from the crowd of personages with whom he is brought into
contact, not only those who directly influence his personal destinies,
but those of whom a sketch or an anecdote would appear to a biographer
likely to have interest for posterity.  Louis XIV., the Regent Orleans,
Peter the Great, Lord Bolingbroke, and others less eminent, but still of
mark in their own day, if growing obscure to ours, are introduced not
for the purposes and agencies of fiction, but as an autobiographer's
natural illustrations of the men and manners of his time.

And here be it pardoned if I add that so minute an attention has been
paid to accuracy that even in petty details, and in relation to
historical characters but slightly known to the ordinary reader, a
critic deeply acquainted with the memoirs of the age will allow that the
novelist is always merged in the narrator.

Unless the Author has failed more in his design than, on revising the
work of his early youth with the comparatively impartial eye of maturer
judgment, he is disposed to concede, Morton Devereux will also be found
with that marked individuality of character which distinguishes the man
who has lived and laboured from the hero of romance.  He admits into his
life but few passions; those are tenacious and intense: conscious that
none who are around him will sympathize with his deeper feelings, he
veils them under the sneer of an irony which is often affected and never
mirthful.  Wherever we find him, after surviving the brief episode of
love, we feel--though he does not tell us so--that he is alone in the
world.  He is represented as a keen observer and a successful actor in
the busy theatre of mankind, precisely in proportion as no cloud from
the heart obscures the cold clearness of the mind.  In the scenes of
pleasure there is no joy in his smile; in the contests of ambition there
is no quicker beat of the pulse.  Attaining in the prime of manhood such
position and honour as would first content and then sate a man of this
mould, he has nothing left but to discover the vanities of this world
and to ponder on the hopes of the next; and, his last passion dying out
in the retribution that falls on his foe, he finally sits down in
retirement to rebuild the ruined home of his youth,--unconscious that to
that solitude the Destinies have led him to repair the waste and ravages
of his own melancholy soul.

But while outward Dramatic harmonies between cause and effect, and the
proportionate agencies which characters introduced in the Drama bring to
bear upon event and catastrophe, are carefully shunned,--as real life
does for the most part shun them,--yet there is a latent coherence in
all that, by influencing the mind, do, though indirectly, shape out the
fate and guide the actions.

Dialogue and adventures which, considered dramatically, would be
episodical,--considered biographically, will be found essential to the
formation, change, and development of the narrator's character.  The
grave conversations with Bolingbroke and Richard Cromwell, the light
scenes in London and at Paris, the favour obtained with the Czar of
Russia, are all essential to the creation of that mixture of wearied
satiety and mournful thought which conducts the Probationer to the
lonely spot in which he is destined to learn at once the mystery of his
past life and to clear his reason from the doubts that had obscured the
future world.

Viewing the work in this more subtile and contemplative light, the
reader will find not only the true test by which to judge of its design
and nature, but he may also recognize sources of interest in the story
which might otherwise have been lost to him; and if so, the Author will
not be without excuse for this criticism upon the scope and intention of
his own work.  For it is not only the privilege of an artist, but it is
also sometimes his duty to the principles of Art, to place the spectator
in that point of view wherein the light best falls upon the canvas.  "Do
not place yourself there," says the painter; "to judge of my composition
you must stand where I place you."



CONTENTS.



Book I.


CHAPTER I.
Of the Hero's Birth and Parentage.--Nothing can differ more from the
  End of Things than their Beginning

CHAPTER II.
A Family Consultation.--A Priest, and an Era in Life

CHAPTER III.
A Change in Conduct and in Character: our evil Passions will some-
  times produce good Effects; and on the contrary, an Alteration for
  the better in Manners will, not unfrequently, have amongst its
  Causes a little Corruption of Mind; for the Feelings are so blended
  that, in suppressing those disagreeable to others, we often suppress
  those which are amiable in themselves

CHAPTER IV.
A Contest of Art and a League of Friendship.--Two Characters in
  mutual Ignorance of each other, and the Reader no wiser than
  either of them

CHAPTER V.
Rural Hospitality.--An extraordinary Guest.--A Fine Gentleman is
  not necessarily a Fool

CHAPTER VI.
A Dialogue, which might be dull if it were longer

CHAPTER VII.
A Change of Prospects.--A new Insight into the Character of the Hero.
  --A Conference between two Brothers

CHAPTER VIII.
First Love

CHAPTER IX.
A Discovery and a Departure

CHAPTER X.
A very short Chapter,--containing a Valet

CHAPTER XI.
The Hero acquits himself honourably as a Coxcomb.--A Fine Lady of
  the Eighteenth Century, and a fashionable Dialogue; the Substance
  of fashionable Dialogue being in all Centuries the same

CHAPTER XII.
The Abbe's Return.--A Sword, and a Soliloquy

CHAPTER XIII.
A mysterious Letter.-A Duel.--The Departure of one of the Family

CHAPTER XIV.
Being a Chapter of Trifles

CHAPTER XV.
The Mother and Son.--Virtue should be the Sovereign of the Feelings,
  not their Destroyer



Book II.


CHAPTER I.
The Hero in London.--Pleasure is often the shortest, as it is the
  earliest road to Wisdom, and we may say of the World what Zeal-of-
  the-Land-Busy says of the Pig-Booth, "We escape so much of the
  other Vanities by our early Entering"

CHAPTER II.
Gay Scenes and Conversations.--The New Exchange and the Puppet-
  Show.--The Actor, the Sexton, and the Beauty

CHAPTER III.
More Lions

CHAPTER IV.
An intellectual Adventure

CHAPTER V.
The Beau in his Den, and a Philosopher discovered

CHAPTER VI.
A universal Genius.--Pericles turned Barber.--Names of Beauties in
  171-.--The Toasts of the Kit-Cat Club

CHAPTER VII.
A Dialogue of Sentiment succeeded by the Sketch of a Character, in
  whose Eyes Sentiment was to Wise Men what Religion is to Fools;
  namely, a Subject of Ridicule

CHAPTER VIII.
Lightly won, lightly lost.--A Dialogue of equal Instruction and
  Amusement.--A Visit to Sir Godfrey Kneller

CHAPTER IX.
A Development of Character, and a long Letter; a Chapter, on the
  whole, more important than it seems

CHAPTER X.
Being a short Chapter, containing a most important Event

CHAPTER XI.
Containing more than any other Chapter in the Second Book of this
History



Book III.


CHAPTER I.
Wherein the History makes great Progress and is marked by one
  important Event in Human Life

CHAPTER II.
Love; Parting; a Death-Bed.--After all human Nature is a beautiful
  Fabric; and even its Imperfections are not odious to him who has
  studied the Science of its Architecture, and formed a reverent
  Estimate of its Creator

CHAPTER III.
A great Change of Prospects

CHAPTER IV.
An Episode.--The Son of the Greatest Man who (one only excepted)
  /ever rose to a Throne/, but by no means of the Greatest Man (save
  one) /who ever existed/

CHAPTER V.
In which the Hero shows Decision on more Points than one.--More of
  Isora's Character is developed

CHAPTER VI.
An Unexpected Meeting.--Conjecture and Anticipation

CHAPTER VII.
The Events of a Single Night.--Moments make the Hues in which
  Years are coloured



Book IV.


CHAPTER I.
A Re-entrance into Life through the Ebon Gate, Affliction

CHAPTER II.
Ambitious Projects

CHAPTER III.

The real Actors Spectators to the false ones

CHAPTER IV.
Paris.--A Female Politician, and an Ecclesiastical One.--Sundry other
  Matters

CHAPTER V.
A Meeting of Wits.--Conversation gone out to Supper in her Dress of
  Velvet and Jewels

CHAPTER VI.
A Court, Courtiers, and a King

CHAPTER VII.
Reflections.--A Soiree.--The Appearance of one important in the
  History.--A Conversation with Madame de Balzac highly satisfactory
  and cheering.--A Rencontre with a curious old Soldier.--
  The Extinction of a once great Luminary

CHAPTER VIII.
In which there is Reason to fear that Princes are not invariably free
  from Human Peccadilloes

CHAPTER IX.
A Prince, an Audience, and a Secret Embassy

CHAPTER X.
Royal Exertions for the Good of the People

CHAPTER XI.
An Interview



Book V.


CHAPTER I.
A Portrait

CHAPTER II.
The Entrance into Petersburg.--A Rencontre with an inquisitive and
  mysterious Stranger.--Nothing like Travel

CHAPTER III.
The Czar.--The Czarina.--A Feast at a Russian Nobleman's

CHAPTER IV.
Conversations with the Czar.--If Cromwell was the greatest Man
  (Caesar excepted) who ever /rose/ to the Supreme Power, Peter was
  the greatest Man ever /born/ to it

CHAPTER V.
Return to Paris.--Interview with Bolingbroke.--A gallant Adventure.
  --Affair with Dubois.--Public Life is a Drama, in which private
  Vices generally play the Part of the Scene-shifters

CHAPTER VI.
A long Interval of Years.--A Change of Mind and its Causes



Book VI.


CHAPTER I.
The Retreat

CHAPTER II.
The Victory

CHAPTER III.
The Hermit of the Well

CHAPTER IV.
The Solution of many Mysteries.--A dark View of the Life and Nature
  of Man

CHAPTER V.
In which the History makes a great Stride towards the final Catastrophe.
  --The Return to England, and the Visit to a Devotee

CHAPTER VI.
The Retreat of a celebrated Man, and a Visit to a great Poet

CHAPTER VII.
The Plot approaches its /Denouement/

CHAPTER VIII.
The Catastrophe



CONCLUSION



DEVEREUX.



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

OF THE HERO'S BIRTH AND PARENTAGE.--NOTHING CAN DIFFER MORE FROM THE END
OF THINGS THAN THEIR BEGINNING.

MY grandfather, Sir Arthur Devereux (peace be with his ashes!) was a
noble old knight and cavalier, possessed of a property sufficiently
large to have maintained in full dignity half a dozen peers,--such as
peers have been since the days of the first James.  Nevertheless, my
grandfather loved the equestrian order better than the patrician,
rejected all offers of advancement, and left his posterity no titles but
those to his estate.

Sir Arthur had two children by wedlock,--both sons; at his death, my
father, the younger, bade adieu to the old hall and his only brother,
prayed to the grim portraits of his ancestors to inspire him, and set
out--to join as a volunteer the armies of that Louis, afterwards
surnamed /le grand/.  Of him I shall say but little; the life of a
soldier has only two events worth recording,--his first campaign and his
last.  My uncle did as his ancestors had done before him, and, cheap as
the dignity had grown, went up to court to be knighted by Charles II.
He was so delighted with what he saw of the metropolis that he forswore
all intention of leaving it, took to Sedley and champagne, flirted with
Nell Gwynne, lost double the value of his brother's portion at one
sitting to the chivalrous Grammont, wrote a comedy corrected by
Etherege, and took a wife recommended by Rochester.  The wife brought
him a child six months after marriage, and the infant was born on the
same day the comedy was acted.  Luckily for the honour of the house, my
uncle shared the fate of Plemneus, king of Sicyon, and all the offspring
he ever had (that is to say, the child and the play) "died as soon as
they were born."  My uncle was now only at a loss what to do with his
wife,--that remaining treasure, whose readiness to oblige him had been
so miraculously evinced.  She saved him the trouble of long cogitation,
an exercise of intellect to which he was never too ardently inclined.
There was a gentleman of the court, celebrated for his sedateness and
solemnity; my aunt was piqued into emulating Orpheus, and, six weeks
after her confinement, she put this rock into motion,--they eloped.
Poor gentleman! it must have been a severe trial of patience to a man
never known before to transgress the very slowest of all possible walks,
to have had two events of the most rapid nature happen to him in the
same week: scarcely had he recovered the shock of being run away with by
my aunt, before, terminating forever his vagrancies, he was run through
by my uncle.  The wits made an epigram upon the event, and my uncle, who
was as bold as a lion at the point of a sword, was, to speak frankly,
terribly disconcerted by the point of a jest.  He retired to the country
in a fit of disgust and gout.  Here his natural goodness soon recovered
the effects of the artificial atmosphere to which it had been exposed,
and he solaced himself by righteously governing domains worthy of a
prince, for the mortifications he had experienced in the dishonourable
career of a courtier.

Hitherto I have spoken somewhat slightingly of my uncle, and in his
dissipation he deserved it, for he was both too honest and too simple to
shine in that galaxy of prostituted genius of which Charles II. was the
centre.  But in retirement he was no longer the same person; and I do
not think that the elements of human nature could have furnished forth a
more amiable character than Sir William Devereux presiding at Christmas
over the merriment of his great hall.

Good old man! his very defects were what we loved best in him: vanity
was so mingled with good-nature, that it became graceful, and we
reverenced one the most, while we most smiled at the other.

One peculiarity had he which the age he had lived in and his domestic
history rendered natural enough; namely, an exceeding distaste to the
matrimonial state: early marriages were misery, imprudent marriages
idiotism, and marriage, at the best, he was wont to say, with a kindling
eye and a heightened colour, marriage at the best was the devil!  Yet it
must not be supposed that Sir William Devereux was an ungallant man.  On
the contrary, never did the /beau sexe/ have a humbler or more devoted
servant.  As nothing in his estimation was less becoming to a wise man
than matrimony, so nothing was more ornamental than flirtation.

He had the old man's weakness, garrulity; and he told the wittiest
stories in the world, without omitting anything in them but the point.
This omission did not arise from the want either of memory or of humour;
but solely from a deficiency in the malice natural to all jesters.  He
could not persuade his lips to repeat a sarcasm hurting even the dead or
the ungrateful; and when he came to the drop of gall which should have
given zest to the story, the milk of human kindness broke its barrier,
despite of himself,--and washed it away.  He was a fine wreck, a little
prematurely broken by dissipation, but not perhaps the less interesting
on that account; tall, and somewhat of the jovial old English girth,
with a face where good-nature and good living mingled their smiles and
glow.  He wore the garb of twenty years back, and was curiously
particular in the choice of his silk stockings.  Between you and me, he
was not a little vain of his leg, and a compliment on that score was
always sure of a gracious reception.

The solitude of my uncle's household was broken by an invasion of three
boys,--none of the quietest,--and their mother, who, the gentlest and
saddest of womankind, seemed to follow them, the emblem of that primeval
silence from which all noise was born.  These three boys were my two
brothers and myself.  My father, who had conceived a strong personal
attachment for Louis XIV., never quitted his service, and the great King
repaid him by orders and favours without number; he died of wounds
received in battle,--a Count and a Marshal, full of renown and destitute
of money.  He had married twice: his first wife, who died without issue,
was a daughter of the noble house of La Tremouille; his second, our
mother, was of a younger branch of the English race of Howard.  Brought
up in her native country, and influenced by a primitive and retired
education, she never loved that gay land which her husband had adopted
as his own.  Upon his death she hastened her return to England, and
refusing, with somewhat of honourable pride, the magnificent pension
which Louis wished to settle upon the widow of his favourite, came to
throw herself and her children upon those affections which she knew they
were entitled to claim.

My uncle was unaffectedly rejoiced to receive us; to say nothing of his
love for my father, and his pride at the honours the latter had won to
their ancient house, the good gentleman was very well pleased with the
idea of obtaining four new listeners, out of whom he might select an
heir, and he soon grew as fond of us as we were of him.  At the time of
our new settlement, I had attained the age of twelve; my second brother
(we were twins) was born an hour after me; my third was about fifteen
months younger.  I had never been the favourite of the three.  In the
first place, my brothers (my youngest especially) were uncommonly
handsome, and, at most, I was but tolerably good-looking: in the second
place, my mind was considered as much inferior to theirs as my body; I
was idle and dull, sullen and haughty,--the only wit I ever displayed
was in sneering at my friends, and the only spirit, in quarrelling with
my twin brother; so said or so thought all who saw us in our childhood;
and it follows, therefore, that I was either very unamiable or very much
misunderstood.

But, to the astonishment of myself and my relations, my fate was now to
be reversed; and I was no sooner settled at Devereux Court than I became
evidently the object of Sir William's pre-eminent attachment.  The fact
was, that I really liked both the knight and his stories better than my
brothers did; and the very first time I had seen my uncle, I had
commented on the beauty of his stocking, and envied the constitution of
his leg; from such trifles spring affection!  In truth, our attachment
to each other so increased that we grew to be constantly together; and
while my childish anticipations of the world made me love to listen to
stories of courts and courtiers, my uncle returned the compliment by
declaring of my wit, as the angler declared of the River Lea, that one
would find enough in it, if one would but angle sufficiently long.

Nor was this all; my uncle and myself were exceedingly like the waters
of Alpheus and Arethusa,--nothing was thrown into the one without being
seen very shortly afterwards floating upon the other.  Every witticism
or legend Sir William imparted to me (and some, to say truth, were a
little tinged with the licentiousness of the times he had lived in), I
took the first opportunity of retailing, whatever might be the audience;
and few boys, at the age of thirteen, can boast of having so often as
myself excited the laughter of the men and the blushes of the women.
This circumstance, while it aggravated my own vanity, delighted my
uncle's; and as I was always getting into scrapes on his account, so he
was perpetually bound, by duty, to defend me from the charges of which
he was the cause.  No man defends another long without loving him the
better for it; and perhaps Sir William Devereux and his eldest nephew
were the only allies in the world who had no jealousy of each other.



CHAPTER II.

A FAMILY CONSULTATION.--A PRIEST, AND AN ERA IN LIFE.

"YOU are ruining the children, my dear Sir William," said my gentle
mother, one day when I had been particularly witty; "and the Abbe
Montreuil declares it absolutely necessary that they should go to
school."

"To school!" said my uncle, who was caressing his right leg, as it lay
over his left knee,--"to school, Madam! you are joking.  What for,
pray?"

"Instruction, my dear Sir William," replied my mother.

"Ah, ah; I forgot that; true, true!" said my uncle, despondingly, and
there was a pause.  My mother counted her rosary; my uncle sank into a
revery; my twin brother pinched my leg under the table, to which I
replied by a silent kick; and my youngest fixed his large, dark,
speaking eyes upon a picture of the Holy Family, which hung opposite to
him.

My uncle broke the silence; he did it with a start.

"Od's fish, Madam,"--(my uncle dressed his oaths, like himself, a little
after the example of Charles II.)--"od's fish, Madam, I have thought of
a better plan than that; they shall have instruction without going to
school for it."

"And how, Sir William?"

"I will instruct them myself, Madam," and William slapped the calf of
the leg he was caressing.

My mother smiled.

"Ay, Madam, you may smile; but I and my Lord Dorset were the best
scholars of the age; you shall read my play."

"Do, Mother," said I, "read the play.  Shall I tell her some of the
jests in it, Uncle?"

My mother shook her head in anticipative horror, and raised her finger
reprovingly.  My uncle said nothing, but winked at me; I understood the
signal, and was about to begin, when the door opened, and the Abbe
Montreuil entered.  My uncle released his right leg, and my jest was cut
off.  Nobody ever inspired a more dim, religious awe than the Abbe
Montreuil.  The priest entered with a smile.  My mother hailed the
entrance of an ally.

"Father," said she, rising, "I have just represented to my good brother
the necessity of sending my sons to school; he has proposed an
alternative which I will leave you to discuss with him."

"And what is it?" said Montreuil, sliding into a chair, and patting
Gerald's head with a benignant air.

"To educate them himself," answered my mother, with a sort of satirical
gravity.  My uncle moved uneasily in his seat, as if, for the first
time, he saw something ridiculous in the proposal.

The smile, immediately fading from the thin lips of the priest, gave way
to an expression of respectful approbation.  "An admirable plan," said
he slowly, "but liable to some little exceptions, which Sir William will
allow me to point out."

My mother called to us, and we left the room with her.  The next time we
saw my uncle, the priest's reasonings had prevailed.  The following week
we all three went to school.  My father had been a Catholic, my mother
was of the same creed, and consequently we were brought up in that
unpopular faith.  But my uncle, whose religion had been sadly undermined
at court, was a terrible caviller at the holy mysteries of Catholicism;
and while his friends termed him a Protestant, his enemies hinted,
falsely enough, that he was a sceptic.  When Montreuil first followed us
to Devereux Court, many and bitter were the little jests my worthy uncle
had provided for his reception; and he would shake his head with a
notable archness whenever he heard our reverential description of the
expected guest.  But, somehow or other, no sooner had he seen the priest
than all his proposed railleries deserted him.  Not a single witticism
came to his assistance, and the calm, smooth face of the ecclesiastic
seemed to operate upon the fierce resolves of the facetious knight in
the same manner as the human eye is supposed to awe into impotence the
malignant intentions of the ignobler animals.  Yet nothing could be
blander than the demeanour of the Abbe Montreuil; nothing more worldly,
in their urbanity, than his manner and address.  His garb was as little
clerical as possible, his conversation rather familiar than formal, and
he invariably listened to every syllable the good knight uttered with a
countenance and mien of the most attentive respect.

What then was the charm by which the singular man never failed to obtain
an ascendency, in some measure allied with fear, over all in whose
company he was thrown?  This was a secret my uncle never could solve,
and which only in later life I myself was able to discover.  It was
partly by the magic of an extraordinary and powerful mind, partly by an
expression of manner, if I may use such a phrase, that seemed to sneer
most, when most it affected to respect; and partly by an air like that
of a man never exactly at ease; not that he was shy, or ungraceful, or
even taciturn,--no! it was an indescribable embarrassment, resembling
that of one playing a part, familiar to him, indeed, but somewhat
distasteful.  This embarrassment, however, was sufficient to be
contagious, and to confuse that dignity in others, which, strangely
enough, never forsook himself.

He was of low origin, but his address and appearance did not betray his
birth.  Pride suited his mien better than familiarity; and his
countenance, rigid, thoughtful, and cold, even through smiles, in
expression was strikingly commanding.  In person he was slightly above
the middle standard; and had not the texture of his frame been
remarkably hard, wiry, and muscular, the total absence of all
superfluous flesh would have given the lean gauntness of his figure an
appearance of almost spectral emaciation.  In reality, his age did not
exceed twenty-eight years; but his high broad forehead was already so
marked with line and furrow, his air was so staid and quiet, his figure
so destitute of the roundness and elasticity of youth, that his
appearance always impressed the beholder with the involuntary idea of a
man considerably more advanced in life.  Abstemious to habitual penance,
and regular to mechanical exactness in his frequent and severe
devotions, he was as little inwardly addicted to the pleasures and
pursuits of youth, as he was externally possessed of its freshness and
its bloom.

Nor was gravity with him that unmeaning veil to imbecility which
Rochefoucauld has so happily called "the mystery of the body."  The
variety and depth of his learning fully sustained the respect which his
demeanour insensibly created.  To say nothing of his lore in the dead
tongues, he possessed a knowledge of the principal European languages
besides his own, namely, English, Italian, German, and Spanish, not less
accurate and little less fluent than that of a native; and he had not
only gained the key to these various coffers of intellectual wealth, but
he had also possessed himself of their treasures.  He had been educated
at St. Omer: and, young as he was, he had already acquired no
inconsiderable reputation among his brethren of that illustrious and
celebrated Order of Jesus which has produced some of the worst and some
of the best men that the Christian world has ever known,--which has, in
its successful zeal for knowledge, and the circulation of mental light,
bequeathed a vast debt of gratitude to posterity; but which, unhappily
encouraging certain scholastic doctrines, that by a mind at once subtle
and vicious can be easily perverted into the sanction of the most
dangerous and systematized immorality, has already drawn upon its
professors an almost universal odium.

So highly established was the good name of Montreuil that when, three
years prior to the time of which I now speak, he had been elected to the
office he held in our family, it was scarcely deemed a less fortunate
occurrence for us to gain so learned and so pious a preceptor, than it
was for him to acquire a situation of such trust and confidence in the
household of a Marshal of France and the especial favourite of Louis
XIV.

It was pleasant enough to mark the gradual ascendency he gained over my
uncle; and the timorous dislike which the good knight entertained for
him, yet struggled to conceal.  Perhaps that was the only time in his
life in which Sir William Devereux was a hypocrite.

Enough of the priest at present; I return to his charge.  To school we
went: our parting with our uncle was quite pathetic; mine in especial.
"Hark ye, Sir Count," whispered he (I bore my father's title), "hark ye,
don't mind what the old priest tells you; your real man of wit never
wants the musty lessons of schools in order to make a figure in the
world.  Don't cramp your genius, my boy; read over my play, and honest
George Etherege's 'Man of Mode;' they'll keep your spirits alive, after
dozing over those old pages which Homer (good soul!) dozed over before.
God bless you, my child; write to me; no one, not even your mother,
shall see your letters; and--and be sure, my fine fellow, that you don't
fag too hard.  The glass of life is the best book, and one's natural wit
the only diamond that can write legibly on it."

Such were my uncle's parting admonitions; it must be confessed that,
coupled with the dramatic gifts alluded to, they were likely to be of
infinite service to the /debutant/ for academical honours.  In fact, Sir
William Devereux was deeply impregnated with the notion of his
time,--that ability and inspiration were the same thing, and that,
unless you were thoroughly idle, you could not be thoroughly a genius.
I verily believe that he thought wisdom got its gems, as Abu Zeid al
Hassan* declares some Chinese philosophers thought oysters got their
pearls, namely, /by gaping/!


* In his Commentary on the account of China by two Travellers.



CHAPTER III.

A CHANGE IN CONDUCT AND IN CHARACTER: OUR EVIL PASSIONS WILL SOMETIMES
PRODUCE GOOD EFFECTS; AND ON THE CONTRARY, AN ALTERATION FOR THE BETTER
IN MANNERS WILL, NOT UNFREQUENTLY, HAVE AMONGST ITS CAUSES A LITTLE
CORRUPTION OF MIND; FOR THE FEELINGS ARE SO BLENDED THAT, IN SUPPRESSING
THOSE DISAGREEABLE TO OTHERS, WE OFTEN SUPPRESS THOSE WHICH ARE AMIABLE
IN THEMSELVES.

MY twin brother, Gerald, was a tall, strong, handsome boy, blessed with
a great love for the orthodox academical studies, and extraordinary
quickness of ability.  Nevertheless, he was indolent by nature in things
which were contrary to his taste; fond of pleasure; and, amidst all his
personal courage, ran a certain vein of irresolution, which rendered it
easy for a cool and determined mind to awe or to persuade him.  I cannot
help thinking, too, that, clever as he was, there was something
commonplace in the cleverness; and that his talent was of that
mechanical yet quick nature which makes wonderful boys but mediocre men.
In any other family he would have been considered the beauty; in ours he
was thought the genius.

My youngest brother, Aubrey, was of a very different disposition of mind
and frame of body; thoughtful, gentle, susceptible, acute; with an
uncertain bravery, like a woman's, and a taste for reading, that varied
with the caprice of every hour.  He was the beauty of the three, and my
mother's favourite.  Never, indeed, have I seen the countenance of man
so perfect, so glowingly yet delicately handsome, as that of Aubrey
Devereux.  Locks, soft, glossy, and twining into ringlets, fell in dark
profusion over a brow whiter than marble; his eyes were black and tender
as a Georgian girl's; his lips, his teeth, the contour of his face, were
all cast in the same feminine and faultless mould; his hands would have
shamed those of Madame de la Tisseur, whose lover offered six thousand
marks to any European who could wear her glove; and his figure would
have made Titania give up her Henchman, and the King of the Fairies be
anything but pleased with the exchange.

Such were my two brothers; or, rather (so far as the internal qualities
are concerned), such they seemed to me; for it is a singular fact that
we never judge of our near kindred so well as we judge of others; and I
appeal to any one, whether, of all people by whom he has been mistaken,
he has not been most often mistaken by those with whom he was brought
up.

I had always loved Aubrey, but they had not suffered him to love me; and
we had been so little together that we had in common none of those
childish remembrances which serve, more powerfully than all else in
later life, to cement and soften affection.  In fact, I was the
scapegoat of the family.  What I must have been in early childhood I
cannot tell; but before I was ten years old I was the object of all the
despondency and evil forebodings of my relations.  My father said I
laughed at /la gloire et le grand monarque/ the very first time he
attempted to explain to me the value of the one and the greatness of the
other.  The countess said I had neither my father's eye nor her own
smile,--that I was slow at my letters and quick with my tongue; and
throughout the whole house nothing was so favourite a topic as the
extent of my rudeness and the venom of my repartee.  Montreuil, on his
entrance into our family, not only fell in with, but favoured and
fostered, the reigning humour against me; whether from that /divide et
impera/ system, which was so grateful to his temper, or from the mere
love of meddling and intrigue, which in him, as in Alberoni, attached
itself equally to petty as to large circles, was not then clearly
apparent; it was only certain that he fomented the dissensions and
widened the breach between my brothers and myself.  Alas! after all, I
believe my sole crime was my candour.  I had a spirit of frankness which
no fear could tame, and my vengeance for any infantine punishment was in
speaking veraciously of my punishers.  Never tell me of the pang of
falsehood to the slandered: nothing is so agonizing to the fine skin of
vanity as the application of a rough truth!

As I grew older, I saw my power and indulged it; and, being scolded for
sarcasm, I was flattered into believing I had wit; so I punned and
jested, lampooned and satirized, till I was as much a torment to others
as I was tormented myself.  The secret of all this was that I was
unhappy.  Nobody loved me: I felt it to my heart of hearts.  I was
conscious of injustice, and the sense of it made me bitter.  Our
feelings, especially in youth, resemble that leaf which, in some old
traveller, is described as expanding itself to warmth, but when chilled,
not only shrinking and closing, but presenting to the spectator thorns
which had lain concealed upon the opposite side of it before.

With my brother Gerald, I had a deadly and irreconcilable feud.  He was
much stouter, taller, and stronger than myself; and, far from conceding
to me that respect which I imagined my priority of birth entitled me to
claim, he took every opportunity to deride my pretensions, and to
vindicate the cause of the superior strength and vigour which
constituted his own.  It would have done your heart good to have seen us
cuff one another, we did it with such zeal.  There is nothing in human
passion like a good brotherly hatred!  My mother said, with the most
feeling earnestness, that she used to feel us fighting even before our
birth: we certainly lost no time directly after it.  Both my parents
were secretly vexed that I had come into the world an hour sooner than
my brother; and Gerald himself looked upon it as a sort of juggle,--a
kind of jockeyship by which he had lost the prerogative of birthright.
This very early rankled in his heart, and he was so much a greater
favourite than myself that, instead of rooting out so unfortunate a
feeling on his part, my good parents made no scruple of openly lamenting
my seniority.  I believe the real cause of our being taken from the
domestic instructions of the Abbe (who was an admirable teacher) and
sent to school, was solely to prevent my uncle deciding everything in my
favour.  Montreuil, however, accompanied us to our academy, and remained
with us during the three years in which we were perfecting ourselves in
the blessings of education.

At the end of the second year, a prize was instituted for the best
proficient at a very severe examination; two months before it took place
we went home for a few days.  After dinner my uncle asked me to walk
with him in the park.  I did so: we strolled along to the margin of a
rivulet which ornamented the grounds.  There my uncle, for the first
time, broke silence.

"Morton," said he, looking down at his left leg, "Morton, let me see;
thou art now of a reasonable age,--fourteen at the least."

"Fifteen, if it please you, sir," said I, elevating my stature as much
as I was able.

"Humph! my boy; and a pretty time of life it is, too.  Your brother
Gerald is taller than you by two inches."

"But I can beat him for all that, uncle," said I, colouring, and
clenching my fist.

My uncle pulled down his right ruffle.  "'Gad so, Morton, you're a brave
fellow," said he; "but I wish you were less of a hero and more of a
scholar.  I wish you could beat him in Greek as well as in boxing.  I
will tell you what Old Rowley said," and my uncle occupied the next
quarter of an hour with a story.  The story opened the good old
gentleman's heart; my laughter opened it still more.  "Hark ye, sirrah!"
said he, pausing abruptly, and grasping my hand with a vigorous effort
of love and muscle, "hark ye, sirrah,--I love you,--'Sdeath, I do.  I
love you better than both your brothers, and that crab of a priest into
the bargain; but I am grieved to the heart to hear what I do of you.
They tell me you are the idlest boy in the school; that you are always
beating your brother Gerald, and making a scurrilous jest of your mother
or myself."

"Who says so? who dares say so?" said I, with an emphasis that would
have startled a less hearty man than Sir William Devereux.  "They lie,
Uncle; by my soul they do.  Idle I am; quarrelsome with my brother I
confess myself; but jesting at you or my mother--never--never.  No, no;
/you/, too, who have been so kind to me,--the only one who ever was.
No, no; do not think I could be such a wretch:" and as I said this the
tears gushed from my eyes.

My good uncle was exceedingly affected.  "Look ye, child," said he, "I
do not believe them.  'Sdeath, not a word; I would repeat to you a good
jest now of Sedley's, 'Gad, I would, but I am really too much moved just
at present.  I tell you what, my boy, I tell you what you shall do:
there is a trial coming on at school--eh?--well, the Abbe tells me
Gerald is certain of being first, and you of being last.  Now, Morton,
you shall beat your brother, and shame the Jesuit.  There; my mind's
spoken; dry your tears, my boy, and I'll tell you the jest Sedley made:
it was in the Mulberry Garden one day--"  And the knight told his story.

I dried my tears, pressed my uncle's hand, escaped from him as soon as I
was able, hastened to my room, and surrendered myself to reflection.

When my uncle so good-naturedly proposed that I should conquer Gerald at
the examination, nothing appeared to him more easy; he was pleased to
think I had more talent than my brother, and talent, according to his
creed, was the only master-key to unlock every science.  A problem in
Euclid or a phrase in Pindar, a secret in astronomy or a knotty passage
in the Fathers, were all riddles, with the solution of which application
had nothing to do.  One's mother-wit was a precious sort of necromancy,
which could pierce every mystery at first sight; and all the gifts of
knowledge, in his opinion, like reading and writing in that of the sage
Dogberry, "came by nature."  Alas! I was not under the same pleasurable
delusion; I rather exaggerated than diminished the difficulty of my
task, and thought, at the first glance, that nothing short of a miracle
would enable me to excel my brother.  Gerald, a boy of natural talent,
and, as I said before, of great assiduity in the orthodox
studies,--especially favoured too by the instruction of Montreuil,--had
long been esteemed the first scholar of our little world; and though I
knew that with some branches of learning I was more conversant than
himself, yet, as my emulation had been hitherto solely directed to
bodily contention, I had never thought of contesting with him a
reputation for which I cared little, and on a point in which I had been
early taught that I could never hope to enter into any advantageous
comparison with the "genius" of the Devereuxs.

A new spirit now passed into me: I examined myself with a jealous and
impartial scrutiny; I weighed my acquisitions against those of my
brother; I called forth, from their secret recesses, the unexercised and
almost unknown stores I had from time to time laid up in my mental
armoury to moulder and to rust.  I surveyed them with a feeling that
they might yet be polished into use; and, excited alike by the stimulus
of affection on one side and hatred on the other, my mind worked itself
from despondency into doubt, and from doubt into the sanguineness of
hope.  I told none of my design; I exacted from my uncle a promise not
to betray it; I shut myself in my room; I gave out that I was ill; I saw
no one, not even the Abbe; I rejected his instructions, for I looked
upon him as an enemy; and, for the two months before my trial, I spent
night and day in an unrelaxing application, of which, till then, I had
not imagined myself capable.

Though inattentive to the school exercises, I had never been wholly
idle.  I was a lover of abstruser researches than the hackneyed subjects
of the school, and we had really received such extensive and judicious
instructions from the Abbe during our early years that it would have
been scarcely possible for any of us to have fallen into a thorough
distaste for intellectual pursuits.  In the examination I foresaw that
much which I had previously acquired might be profitably
displayed,--much secret and recondite knowledge of the customs and
manners of the ancients, as well as their literature, which curiosity
had led me to obtain, and which I knew had never entered into the heads
of those who, contented with their reputation in the customary
academical routine, had rarely dreamed of wandering into less beaten
paths of learning.  Fortunately too for me, Gerald was so certain of
success that latterly he omitted all precaution to obtain it; and as
none of our schoolfellows had the vanity to think of contesting with
him, even the Abbe seemed to imagine him justified in his supineness.

The day arrived.  Sir William, my mother, the whole aristocracy of the
neighbourhood, were present at the trial.  The Abbe came to my room a
few hours before it commenced: he found the door locked.

"Ungracious boy," said he, "admit me; I come at the earnest request of
your brother Aubrey to give you some hints preparatory to the
examination."

"He has indeed come at my wish," said the soft and silver voice of
Aubrey, in a supplicating tone: "do admit him, dear Morton, for my
sake!"

"Go," said I, bitterly, from within, "go: ye are both my foes and
slanderers; you come to insult my disgrace beforehand; but perhaps you
will yet be disappointed."

"You will not open the door?" said the priest.

"I will not; begone."

"He will indeed disgrace his family," said Montreuil, moving away.

"He will disgrace himself," said Aubrey, dejectedly.

I laughed scornfully.  If ever the consciousness of strength is
pleasant, it is when we are thought most weak.

The greater part of our examination consisted in the answering of
certain questions in writing, given to us in the three days immediately
previous to the grand and final one; for this last day was reserved the
paper of composition (as it was termed) in verse and prose, and the
personal examination in a few showy, but generally understood, subjects.
When Gerald gave in his paper, and answered the verbal questions, a buzz
of admiration and anxiety went round the room.  His person was so
handsome, his address so graceful, his voice so assured and clear, that
a strong and universal sympathy was excited in his favour.  The
head-master publicly complimented him.  He regretted only the deficiency
of his pupil in certain minor but important matters.  I came next, for I
stood next to Gerald in our class.  As I walked up the hall, I raised my
eyes to the gallery in which my uncle and his party sat.  I saw that my
mother was listening to the Abbe, whose eye, severe, cold, and
contemptuous, was bent upon me.  But my uncle leaned over the railing of
the gallery, with his plumed hat in his hand, which, when he caught my
look, he waved gently,--as if in token of encouragement, and with an air
so kind and cheering, that I felt my step grow prouder as I approached
the conclave of the masters.

"Morton Devereux," said the president of the school, in a calm, loud,
austere voice, that filled the whole hall, "we have looked over your
papers on the three previous days, and they have given us no less
surprise than pleasure.  Take heed and time how you answer us now."

At this speech a loud murmur was heard in my uncle's party, which
gradually spread round the hall.  I again looked up: my mother's face
was averted; that of the Abbe was impenetrable; but I saw my uncle
wiping his eyes, and felt a strange emotion creeping into my own, I
turned hastily away, and presented my paper; the head master received
it, and, putting it aside, proceeded to the verbal examination.
Conscious of the parts in which Gerald was likely to fail, I had paid
especial attention to the minutiae of scholarship, and my forethought
stood me in good stead at the present moment.  My trial ceased; my last
paper was read.  I bowed, and retired to the other end of the hall.  I
was not so popular as Gerald; a crowd was assembled round him, but I
stood alone.  As I leaned against a column, with folded arms, and a
countenance which I felt betrayed little of my internal emotions, my eye
caught Gerald's.  He was very pale, and I could see that his hand
trembled.  Despite of our enmity, I felt for him.  The worst passions
are softened by triumph, and I foresaw that mine was at hand.

The whole examination was over.  Every boy had passed it.  The masters
retired for a moment; they reappeared and reseated themselves.  The
first sound I heard was that of my own name.  I was the victor of the
day: I was more; I was one hundred marks before my brother.  My head
swam round; my breath forsook me.  Since then I have been placed in many
trials of life, and had many triumphs; but never was I so overcome as at
that moment.  I left the hall; I scarcely listened to the applauses with
which it rang.  I hurried to my own chamber, and threw myself on the bed
in a delirium of intoxicated feeling, which had in it more of rapture
than anything but the gratification of first love or first vanity can
bestow.

Ah! it would be worth stimulating our passions if it were only for the
pleasure of remembering their effect; and all violent excitement should
be indulged less for present joy than for future retrospection.

My uncle's step was the first thing which intruded on my solitude.

"Od's fish, my boy," said he, crying like a child, "this is fine
work,--'Gad, so it is.  I almost wish I were a boy myself to have a
match with you,--faith I do,--see what it is to learn a little of life!
If you had never read my play, do you think you would have done half so
well?--no, my boy, I sharpened your wits for you.  Honest George
Etherege and I,--we were the making of you! and when you come to be a
great man, and are asked what made you so, you shall say, 'My uncle's
play;' 'Gad, you shall.  Faith, boy, never smile!  Od's fish, I'll tell
you a story as /a propos/ to the present occasion as if it had been made
on purpose.  Rochester and I and Sedley were walking one day,
and--/entre nous/--awaiting certain appointments--hem!--for my part I
was a little melancholy or so, thinking of my catastrophe,--that is, of
my play's catastrophe; and so, said Sedley, winking at Rochester, 'Our
friend is sorrowful.'  'Truly,' said I, seeing they were about to banter
me,--for you know they were arch fellows,--'truly, little Sid' (we
called Sedley Sid), 'you are greatly mistaken;'--you see, Morton, I was
thus sharp upon him because when you go to court you will discover that
it does not do to take without giving.  And then Rochester said, looking
roguishly towards me, the wittiest thing against Sedley that ever I
heard; it was the most celebrated /bon mot/ at court for three weeks; he
said--no, boy, od's fish, it was so stinging I can't tell it thee;
faith, I can't.  Poor Sid; he was a good fellow, though malicious,--and
he's dead now.  I'm sorry I said a word about it.  Nay, never look so
disappointed, boy.  You have all the cream of the story as it is.  And
now put on your hat, and come with me.  I've got leave for you to take a
walk with your old uncle."

That night, as I was undressing, I heard a gentle rap at the door, and
Aubrey entered.  He approached me timidly, and then, throwing his arms
round my neck, kissed me in silence.  I had not for years experienced
such tenderness from him; and I sat now mute and surprised.  At last I
said, with the sneer which I must confess I usually assumed towards
those persons whom I imagined I had a right to think ill of:--

"Pardon me, my gentle brother, there is something portentous in this
sudden change.  Look well round the room, and tell me at your earliest
leisure what treasure it is that you are desirous should pass from my
possession into your own."

"Your love, Morton," said Aubrey, drawing back, but apparently in pride,
not anger; "your love: I ask nothing more."

"Of a surety, kind Aubrey," said I, "the favour seems somewhat slight to
have caused your modesty such delay in requesting it.  I think you have
been now some years nerving your mind to the exertion."

"Listen to me, Morton," said Aubrey, suppressing his emotion; "you have
always been my favourite brother.  From our first childhood my heart
yearned to you.  Do you remember the time when an enraged bull pursued
me, and you, then only ten years old, placed yourself before it and
defended me at the risk of your own life?  Do you think I could ever
forget that,--child as I was?--never, Morton, never!"

Before I could answer the door was thrown open, and the Abbe entered.
"Children," said he, and the single light of the room shone full upon
his unmoved, rigid, commanding features--"children, be as Heaven
intended you,--friends and brothers.  Morton, I have wronged you, I own
it; here is my hand: Aubrey, let all but early love, and the present
promise of excellence which your brother displays, be forgotten."

With these words the priest joined our hands.  I looked on my brother,
and my heart melted.  I flung myself into his arms and wept.

"This is well," said Montreuil, surveying us with a kind of grim
complacency, and, taking my brother's arm, he blest us both, and led
Aubrey away.

That day was a new era in my boyish life.  I grew henceforth both better
and worse.  Application and I having once shaken hands became very good
acquaintance.  I had hitherto valued myself upon supplying the frailties
of a delicate frame by an uncommon agility in all bodily exercises.  I
now strove rather to improve the deficiencies of my mind, and became
orderly, industrious, and devoted to study.  So far so well; but as I
grew wiser, I grew also more wary.  Candour no longer seemed to me the
finest of virtues.  I thought before i spoke: and second thought
sometimes quite changed the nature of the intended speech; in short,
gentlemen of the next century, to tell you the exact truth, the little
Count Devereux became somewhat of a hypocrite!



CHAPTER IV.

A CONTEST OF ART AND A LEAGUE OF FRIENDSHIP.--TWO CHARACTERS IN MUTUAL
IGNORANCE OF EACH OTHER, AND THE READER NO WISER THAN EITHER OF THEM.

THE Abbe was now particularly courteous to me.  He made Gerald and
myself breakfast with him, and told us nothing was so amiable as
friendship among brothers.  We agreed to the sentiment, and, like all
philosophers, did not agree a bit the better for acknowledging the same
first principles.  Perhaps, notwithstanding his fine speeches, the Abbe
was the real cause of our continued want of cordiality.  However, we did
not fight any more: we avoided each other, and at last became as civil
and as distant as those mathematical lines which appear to be taking all
possible pains to approach one another and never get a jot the nearer
for it.  Oh! your civility is the prettiest invention possible for
dislike!  Aubrey and I were inseparable, and we both gained by the
intercourse.  I grew more gentle, and he more masculine; and, for my
part, the kindness of his temper so softened the satire of mine that I
learned at last to smile full as often as to sneer.

The Abbe had obtained a wonderful hold over Aubrey; he had made the poor
boy think so much of the next world, that he had lost all relish for
this.  He lived in a perpetual fear of offence: he was like a chemist of
conscience, and weighed minutiae by scruples.  To play, to ride, to run,
to laugh at a jest, or to banquet on a melon, were all sins to be atoned
for; and I have found (as a penance for eating twenty-three cherries
instead of eighteen) the penitent of fourteen standing, barefooted, in
the coldest nights of winter, upon the hearthstones, almost utterly
naked, and shivering like a leaf, beneath the mingled effect of frost
and devotion.  At first I attempted to wrestle with this exceeding
holiness, but finding my admonitions received with great distaste and
some horror, I suffered my brother to be happy in his own way.  I only
looked with a very evil and jealous eye upon the good Abbe, and
examined, while I encouraged them, the motives of his advances to
myself.  What doubled my suspicions of the purity of the priest was my
perceiving that he appeared to hold out different inducements for
trusting him to each of us, according to his notions of our respective
characters.  My brother Gerald he alternately awed and persuaded, by the
sole effect of superior intellect.  With Aubrey he used the mechanism of
superstition.  To me, he, on the one hand, never spoke of religion, nor,
on the other, ever used threats or persuasion, to induce me to follow
any plan suggested to my adoption; everything seemed to be left to my
reason and my ambition.  He would converse with me for hours upon the
world and its affairs, speak of courts and kings, in an easy and
unpedantic strain; point out the advantage of intellect in acquiring
power and controlling one's species; and, whenever I was disposed to be
sarcastic upon the human nature I had read of, he supported my sarcasm
by illustrations of the human nature he had seen.  We were both, I think
(for myself I can answer), endeavouring to pierce the real nature of the
other; and perhaps the talent of diplomacy for which, years afterwards,
I obtained some applause, was first learnt in my skirmishing warfare
with the Abbe Montreuil.

At last, the evening before we quitted school for good arrived.  Aubrey
had just left me for solitary prayers, and I was sitting alone by my
fire, when Montreuil entered gently.  He sat himself down by me, and,
after giving me the salutation of the evening, sank into a silence which
I was the first to break.

"Pray, Abbe," said I, "have one's years anything to do with one's age?"

The priest was accustomed to the peculiar tone of my sagacious remarks,
and answered dryly,--

"Mankind in general imagine that they have."

"Faith, then," said I, "mankind know very little about the matter.
To-day I am at school, and a boy; to-morrow I leave school; if I hasten
to town I am presented at court; and lo! I am a man; and this change
within half-a-dozen changes of the sun! therefore, most reverend father,
I humbly opine that age is measured by events, not years."

"And are you not happy at the idea of passing the age of thraldom, and
seeing arrayed before you the numberless and dazzling pomps and
pleasures of the great world?" said Montreuil, abruptly, fixing his dark
and keen eye upon me.

"I have not yet fully made up my mind whether to be happy or not," said
I, carelessly.

"It is a strange answer;" said the priest; "but" (after a pause) "you
are a strange youth: a character that resembles a riddle is at your age
uncommon, and, pardon me, unamiable.  Age, naturally repulsive, requires
a mask; and in every wrinkle you may behold the ambush of a scheme: but
the heart of youth should be open as its countenance!  However, I will
not weary you with homilies; let us change the topic.  Tell me, Morton,
do you repent having turned your attention of late to those graver and
more systematic studies which can alone hereafter obtain you
distinction?"

"No, father," said I, with a courtly bow, "for the change has gained me
your good opinion."

A smile, of peculiar and undefinable expression, crossed the thin lips
of the priest; he rose, walked to the door, and saw that it was
carefully closed.  I expected some important communication, but in vain;
pacing the small room to and fro, as if in a musing mood, the Abbe
remained silent, till, pausing opposite some fencing foils, which among
various matters (books, papers, quoits, etc.) were thrown idly in one
corner of the room, he said,--

"They tell me that you are the best fencer in the school--is it so?"

"I hope not, for fencing is an accomplishment in which Gerald is very
nearly my equal," I replied.

"You run, ride, leap, too, better than any one else, according to the
votes of your comrades?"

"It is a noble reputation," said I, "in which I believe I am only
excelled by our huntsman's eldest son."

"You are a strange youth," repeated the priest; "no pursuit seems to
give you pleasure, and no success to gratify your vanity.  Can you not
think of any triumph which would elate you?"

I was silent.

"Yes," cried Montreuil, approaching me,--"yes," cried he, "I read your
heart, and I respect it; these are petty competitions and worthless
honours.  You require a nobler goal, and a more glorious reward.  He who
feels in his soul that Fate has reserved for him a great and exalted
part in this world's drama may reasonably look with indifference on
these paltry rehearsals of common characters."

I raised my eye, and as it met that of the priest, I was irresistibly
struck with the proud and luminous expression which Montreuil's look had
assumed.  Perhaps something kindred to its nature was perceptible in my
own; for, after surveying me with an air of more approbation than he had
ever honoured me with before, he grasped my arm firmly, and said,
"Morton, you know me not; for many years I have not known you: that time
is past.  No sooner did your talents develop themselves than I was the
first to do homage to their power: let us henceforth be more to each
other than we have been; let us not be pupil and teacher; let us be
friends.  Do not think that I invite you to an unequal exchange of good
offices: you may be the heir to wealth and a distinguished name; I may
seem to you but an unknown and undignified priest; but the authority of
the Almighty can raise up, from the sheepfold and the cotter's shed, a
power, which, as the organ of His own, can trample upon sceptres and
dictate to the supremacy of kings.  And /I/--/I/"--the priest abruptly
paused, checked the warmth of his manner, as if he thought it about to
encroach on indiscretion, and, sinking into a calmer tone, continued,
"yes, I, Morton, insignificant as I appear to you, can, in /every/ path
through this intricate labyrinth of life, be more useful to your desires
than you can ever be to mine.  I offer to you in my friendship a fervour
of zeal and energy of power which in none of your equals, in age and
station, you can hope to find.  Do you accept my offer?"

"Can you doubt," said I, with eagerness, "that I would avail myself of
the services of any man, however displeasing to me, and worthless in
himself?  How, then, can I avoid embracing the friendship of one so
extraordinary in knowledge and intellect as yourself?  I do embrace it,
and with rapture."

The priest pressed my hand.  "But," continued he, fixing his eyes upon
mine, "all alliances have their conditions: I require implicit
confidence; and for some years, till time gives you experience, regard
for your interests induces me also to require obedience.  Name any wish
you may form for worldly advancement, opulence, honour, the smile of
kings, the gifts of states, and--I--I will pledge myself to carry that
wish into effect.  Never had eastern prince so faithful a servant among
the Dives and Genii as Morton Devereux shall find in me: but question me
not of the sources of my power; be satisfied when their channel wafts
you the success you covet.  And, more, when I in my turn (and this shall
be but rarely) request a favour of you, ask me not for what end nor
hesitate to adopt the means I shall propose.  You seem startled; are you
content at this understanding between us, or will you retract the bond?"

"My father," said I, "there is enough to startle me in your proposal; it
greatly resembles that made by the Old Man of the Mountains to his
vassals, and it would not exactly suit my inclinations to be called upon
some morning to act the part of a private executioner."

The priest smiled.  "My young friend," said he, "those days have passed;
neither religion nor friendship requires of her votaries sacrifices of
blood.  But make yourself easy; whenever I ask of you what offends your
conscience, even in a punctilio, refuse my request.  With this
exception, what say you?"

"That I think I will agree to the bond: but, father, I am an irresolute
person; I must have time to consider."

"Be it so.  To-morrow, having surrendered my charge to your uncle, I
depart for France."

"For France!" said I; "and how?  Surely the war will prevent your
passage."

The priest smiled.  Nothing ever displeased me more than that priest's
smile.  "The ecclesiastics," said he, "are the ambassadors of Heaven,
and have nothing to do with the wars of earth.  I shall find no
difficulty in crossing the Channel.  I shall not return for several
months, perhaps not till the expiration of a year: I leave you, till
then, to decide upon the terms I have proposed to you.  Meanwhile,
gratify my vanity by employing my power; name some commission in France
which you wish me to execute."

"I can think of none,--yet, stay;" and I felt some curiosity to try the
power of which he boasted,--"I have read that kings are blest with a
most accommodating memory, and perfectly forget their favourites when
they can be no longer useful.  You will see, perhaps, if my father's
name has become a Gothic and unknown sound at the court of the Great
King.  I confess myself curious to learn this, though I can have no
personal interest in it."

"Enough, the commission shall be done.  And now, my child, Heaven bless
you! and send you many such friends as the humble priest, who, whatever
be his failings, has, at least, the merit of wishing to serve those whom
he loves."

So saying, the priest closed the door.  Sinking into a revery, as his
footsteps died upon my ear, I muttered to myself: "Well, well, my sage
ecclesiastic, the game is not over yet; let us see if, at sixteen, we
cannot shuffle cards, and play tricks with the gamester of thirty.  Yet
he may be in earnest, and faith I believe he is; but I must look well
before I leap, or consign my actions into such spiritual keeping.
However, if the worst come to the worst, if I do make this compact, and
am deceived,--if, above all, I am ever seduced, or led blindfold into
one of those snares which priestcraft sometimes lays to the cost of
honour,--why, I shall have a sword, which I shall never be at a loss to
use, and it can find its way through a priest's gown as well as a
soldier's corselet."

Confess that a youth who could think so promptly of his sword was well
fitted to wear one!



CHAPTER V.

RURAL HOSPITALITY.--AN EXTRAORDINARY GUEST.--A FIN$ GENTLEMAN IS NOT
NECESSARILY A FOOL.

WE were all three (my brothers and myself) precocious geniuses.  Our
early instructions, under a man like the Abbe, at once learned and
worldly, and the society into which we had been initiated from our
childhood, made us premature adepts in the manners of the world; and I,
in especial, flattered myself that a quick habit of observation rendered
me no despicable profiter by my experience.  Our academy, too, had been
more like a college than a school; and we had enjoyed a license that
seemed to the superficial more likely to benefit our manners than to
strengthen our morals.  I do not think, however, that the latter
suffered by our freedom from restraint.  On the contrary, we the earlier
learned that vice, but for the piquancy of its unlawfulness, would never
be so captivating a goddess; and our errors and crimes in after life had
certainly not their origin in our wanderings out of academical bounds.

It is right that I should mention our prematurity of intellect, because,
otherwise, much of my language and reflections, as detailed in the first
book of this history, might seem ill suited to the tender age at which
they occurred.  However, they approach, as nearly as possible, to my
state of mind at that period; and I have, indeed, often mortified my
vanity in later life by thinking how little the march of time has
ripened my abilities, and how petty would have been the intellectual
acquisitions of manhood, if they had not brought me something like
content!

My uncle had always, during his retirement, seen as many people as he
could assemble out of the "mob of gentlemen who /live at/ ease."  But,
on our quitting school and becoming men, he resolved to set no bounds to
his hospitality.  His doors were literally thrown open; and as he was by
far the greatest person in the district--to say nothing of his wines,
and his French cook--many of the good people of London did not think it
too great an honour to confer upon the wealthy representative of the
Devereuxs the distinction of their company and compliments.  Heavens!
what notable samples of court breeding and furbelows did the crane-neck
coaches, which made our own family vehicle look like a gilt tortoise,
pour forth by couples and leashes into the great hall; while my gallant
uncle, in new periwig and a pair of silver-clocked stockings (a present
from a /ci-devant/ fine lady), stood at the far end of the
picture-gallery to receive his visitors with all the graces of the last
age.

My mother, who had preserved her beauty wonderfully, sat in a chair of
green velvet, and astonished the courtiers by the fashion of a dress
only just imported.  The worthy Countess (she had dropped in England the
loftier distinction of /Madame la Marechale/) was however quite innocent
of any intentional affectation of the /mode/; for the new stomacher, so
admired in London, had been the last alteration in female garniture at
Paris a month before my father died.  Is not this "Fashion" a noble
divinity to possess such zealous adherents?--a pitiful, lackey-like
creature, which struts through one country with the cast-off finery of
another!

As for Aubrey and Gerald, they produced quite an effect; and I should
most certainly have been thrown irrevocably into the background had I
not been born to the good fortune of an eldest son.  This was far more
than sufficient to atone for the comparative plainness of my person; and
when it was discovered that I was also Sir William's favourite, it is
quite astonishing what a beauty I became!  Aubrey was declared too
effeminate; Gerald too tall.  And the Duchess of Lackland one day, when
she had placed a lean, sallow ghost of a daughter on either side of me,
whispered my uncle in a voice, like the /aside/ of a player, intended
for none but the whole audience, that the young Count had the most
imposing air and the finest eyes she had ever seen.  All this inspired
me with courage, as well as contempt; and not liking to be beholden
solely to my priority of birth for my priority of distinction, I
resolved to become as agreeable as possible.  If I had not in the vanity
of my heart resolved also to be "myself alone," Fate would have
furnished me at the happiest age for successful imitation with an
admirable model.

Time rolled on; two years were flown since I had left school, and
Montreuil was not yet returned.  I had passed the age of eighteen, when
the whole house, which, as it was summer, when none but cats and
physicians were supposed gifted by Providence with the power to exist in
town, was uncommonly full,--the whole house, I say, was thrown into a
positive fever of expectation.  The visit of a guest, if not of greater
consequence at least of greater interest than any who had hitherto
honoured my uncle, was announced.  Even the young Count, with the most
imposing air in the world and the finest eyes, was forgotten by
everybody but the Duchess of Lackland and her daughters, who had just
returned to Devereux Court to observe how amazingly the Count had grown!
Oh! what a prodigy wisdom would be, if it were but blest with a memory
as keen and constant as that of interest!

Struck with the universal excitement, I went to my uncle to inquire the
name of the expected guest.  My uncle was occupied in fanning the Lady
Hasselton, a daughter of one of King Charles's Beauties.  He had only
time to answer me literally, and without comment; the guest's name was
Mr. St. John.

I had never conned the "Flying Post," and I knew nothing about politics.
"Who is Mr. St. John?" said I; my uncle had renewed the office of a
zephyr.  The daughter of the Beauty heard and answered, "The most
charming person in England."  I bowed and turned away.  "How vastly
explanatory!" said I.  I met a furious politician.  "Who is Mr. St.
John?" I asked.

"The cleverest man in England," answered the politician, hurrying off
with a pamphlet in his hand.

"Nothing can be more satisfactory," thought I.  Stopping a coxcomb of
the first water, "Who is Mr. St. John?" I asked.

"The finest gentleman in England," answered the coxcomb, settling his
cravat.

"Perfectly intelligible!" was my reflection on this reply; and I
forthwith arrested a Whig parson,--"Who is Mr. St. John?" said I.

"The greatest reprobate in England!" answered the Whig parson, and I was
too stunned to inquire more.

Five minutes afterwards the sound of carriage wheels was heard in the
courtyard, then a slight bustle in the hall, and the door of the
ante-room being thrown open Mr. St. John entered.

He was in the very prime of life, about the middle height, and of a mien
and air so strikingly noble that it was some time before you recovered
the general effect of his person sufficiently to examine its peculiar
claims to admiration.  However, he lost nothing by a further survey: he
possessed not only an eminently handsome but a very extraordinary
countenance.  Through an air of /nonchalance/, and even something of
lassitude; through an ease of manners sometimes sinking into effeminate
softness, sometimes bordering upon licentious effrontery,--his eye
thoughtful, yet wandering, seemed to announce that the mind partook but
little of the whim of the moment, or of those levities of ordinary life
over which the grace of his manner threw so peculiar a charm.  His brow
was, perhaps, rather too large and prominent for the exactness of
perfect symmetry, but it had an expression of great mental power and
determination.  His features were high, yet delicate, and his mouth,
which, when closed, assumed a firm and rather severe expression,
softened, when speaking, into a smile of almost magical enchantment.
Richly but not extravagantly dressed, he appeared to cultivate rather
than disdain the ornaments of outward appearance; and whatever can
fascinate or attract was so inherent in this singular man that all which
in others would have been most artificial was in him most natural: so
that it is no exaggeration to add that to be well dressed seemed to the
elegance of his person not so much the result of art as of a property
innate and peculiar to himself.

Such was the outward appearance of Henry St. John; one well suited to
the qualities of a mind at once more vigorous and more accomplished than
that of any other person with whom the vicissitudes of my life have ever
brought me into contact.

I kept my eye on the new guest throughout the whole day: I observed the
mingled liveliness and softness which pervaded his attentions to women,
the intellectual yet unpedantic superiority he possessed in his
conversations with men; his respectful demeanour to age; his careless,
yet not over-familiar, ease with the young; and, what interested me more
than all, the occasional cloud which passed over his countenance at
moments when he seemed sunk into a revery that had for its objects
nothing in common with those around him.

Just before dinner St. John was talking to a little group, among whom
curiosity seemed to have drawn the Whig parson whom I have before
mentioned.  He stood at a little distance, shy and uneasy; one of the
company took advantage of so favourable a butt for jests, and alluded to
the bystander in a witticism which drew laughter from all but St. John,
who, turning suddenly towards the parson, addressed an observation to
him in the most respectful tone.  Nor did he cease talking with him
(fatiguing as the conference must have been, for never was there a
duller ecclesiastic than the gentleman conversed with) until we
descended to dinner.  Then, for the first time, I learned that nothing
can constitute good breeding that has not good-nature for its
foundation; and then, too, as I was leading Lady Barbara Lackland to the
great hall by the tip of her forefinger I made another observation.
Passing the priest, I heard him say to a fellow-clerk,--

"Certainly, he is the greatest man in England;" and I mentally remarked,
"There is no policy like politeness; and a good manner is the best thing
in the world, either to get one a good name or to supply the want of
it."



CHAPTER VI.

A DIALOGUE, WHICH MIGHT BE DULL IF IT WERE LONGER.

THREE days after the arrival of St. John, I escaped from the crowd of
impertinents, seized a volume of Cowley, and, in a fit of mingled poetry
and melancholy, strolled idly into the park.  I came to the margin of
the stream, and to the very spot on which I had stood with my uncle on
the evening when he had first excited my emulation to scholastic rather
than manual contention with my brother; I seated myself by the
water-side, and, feeling indisposed to read, leaned my cheek upon my
hand, and surrendered my thoughts as prisoners to the reflections which
I could not resist.

I continued I know not how long in my meditation, till I was roused by a
gentle touch upon my shoulder; I looked up, and saw St. John.

"Pardon me, Count," said he, smiling, "I should not have disturbed your
reflections had not your neglect of an old friend emboldened me to
address you upon his behalf."  And St. John pointed to the volume of
Cowley which he had taken up without my perceiving it.

"Well," added he, seating himself on the turf beside me, "in my younger
days, poetry and I were better friends than we are now.  And if I had
had Cowley as a companion, I should not have parted with him as you have
done, even for my own reflections."

"You admire him then?" said I.

"Why, that is too general a question.  I admire what is fine in him, as
in every one else, but I do not love him the better for his points and
his conceits.  He reminds me of what Cardinal Pallavicino said of
Seneca, that he 'perfumes his conceits with civet and ambergris.'
However, Count, I have opened upon a beautiful motto for you:--

  "'Here let me, careless and unthoughtful lying,
    Hear the soft winds above me flying,
    With all their wanton boughs dispute,
    And the more tuneful birds to both replying;
    Nor be myself too mute.'

"What say you to that wish?  If you have a germ of poetry in you such
verse ought to bring it into flower."

"Ay," answered I, though not exactly in accordance with the truth; "but
I have not that germ.  I destroyed it four years ago.  Reading the
dedications of poets cured me of the love for poetry.  What a pity that
the Divine Inspiration should have for its oracles such mean souls!"

"Yes, and how industrious the good gentlemen are in debasing themselves!
Their ingenuity is never half so much shown in a simile as in a
compliment; I know nothing in nature more melancholy than the discovery
of any meanness in a great man.  There is so little to redeem the dry
mass of follies and errors from which the materials of this life are
composed, that anything to love or to reverence becomes, as it were, the
sabbath for the mind.  It is better to feel, as we grow older, how the
respite is abridged, and how the few objects left to our admiration are
abased.  What a foe not only to life, but to all that dignifies and
ennobles it, is Time!  Our affections and our pleasures resemble those
fabulous trees described by Saint Oderic: the fruits which they bring
forth are no sooner ripened into maturity than they are transformed into
birds and fly away.  But these reflections cannot yet be familiar to
you.  Let us return to Cowley.  Do you feel any sympathy with his prose
writings?  For some minds they have a great attraction."

"They have for mine," answered I: "but then I am naturally a dreamer;
and a contemplative egotist is always to me a mirror in which I behold
myself."

"The world," answered St. John, with a melancholy smile, "will soon
dissolve, or forever confirm, your humour for dreaming; in either case,
Cowley will not be less a favourite.  But you must, like me, have long
toiled in the heat and travail of business, or of pleasure, which is
more wearisome still, in order fully to sympathize with those beautiful
panegyrics upon solitude which make perhaps the finest passages in
Cowley.  I have often thought that he whom God hath gifted with a love
of retirement possesses, as it were, an extra sense.  And among what our
poet so eloquently calls 'the vast and noble scenes of Nature,' we find
the balm for the wounds we have sustained among the 'pitiful shifts of
policy;' for the attachment to solitude is the surest preservative from
the ills of life: and I know not if the Romans ever instilled, under
allegory, a sublimer truth than when they inculcated the belief that
those inspired by Feronia, the goddess of woods and forests, could walk
barefoot and uninjured over burning coals."

At this part of our conference, the bell swinging hoarsely through the
long avenues, and over the silent water, summoned us to the grand
occupation of civilized life; we rose and walked slowly towards the
house.

"Does not," said I, "this regular routine of petty occurrence, this
periodical solemnity of trifles, weary and disgust you?  For my part, I
almost long for the old days of knight-errantry, and would rather be
knocked on the head by a giant, or carried through the air by a flying
griffin, than live in this circle of dull regularities,--the brute at
the mill."

"You may live even in these days," answered St. John, "without too tame
a regularity.  Women and politics furnish ample food for adventure, and
you must not judge of all life by country life."

"Nor of all conversation," said I, with a look which implied a
compliment, "by the insipid idlers who fill our saloons.  Behold them
now, gathered by the oriel window, yonder; precious distillers of
talk,--sentinels of society with certain set phrases as watchwords,
which they never exceed; sages, who follow Face's advice to Dapper,--

  "'Hum thrice, and buzz as often.'"



CHAPTER VII.

A CHANGE OF PROSPECTS.--A NEW INSIGHT INTO THE CHARACTER OF THE HERO.--A
CONFERENCE BETWEEN TWO BROTHERS.

A DAY or two after the conversation recorded in my last chapter, St.
John, to my inexpressible regret, left us for London; however, we had
enjoyed several conferences together during his stay, and when we parted
it was with a pressing invitation on his side to visit him in London,
and a most faithful promise on mine to avail myself of the request.

No sooner was he fairly gone than I went to seek my uncle; I found him
reading one of Farquhar's comedies.  Despite my sorrow at interrupting
him in so venerable a study, I was too full of my new plot to heed
breaking off that in the comedy.  In very few words I made the good
knight understand that his descriptions had infected me, and that I was
dying to ascertain their truth; in a word, that his hopeful nephew was
fully bent on going to town.  My uncle first stared, then swore, then
paused, then looked at his leg, drew up his stocking, frowned, whistled,
and told me at last to talk to him about it another time.  Now, for my
part, I think there are only two classes of people in the world
authorized to put one off to "another time,"--prime ministers and
creditors; accordingly, I would not take my uncle's dismissal.  I had
not read plays, studied philosophy, and laid snares for the Abbe
Montreuil without deriving some little wisdom from my experience; so I
took to teasing, and a notable plan it is too!  Whoever has pursued it
may guess the result.  My uncle yielded, and that day fortnight was
fixed for my departure.

Oh! with what transport did I look forward to the completion of my
wishes, the goal of my ambition!  I hastened forth; I hurried into the
woods; I sang out in the gladness of my heart, like a bird released; I
drank in the air with a rapturous sympathy in its freedom; my step
scarcely touched the earth, and my whole frame seemed ethereal, elated,
exalted by the vivifying inspiration of my hopes.  I paused by a little
streamlet, which, brawling over stones and through unpenetrated
thicknesses of wood, seemed, like confined ambition, not the less
restless for its obscurity.

"Wild brooklet," I cried, as my thoughts rushed into words, "fret on,
our lot is no longer the same; your wanderings and your murmurs are
wasted in solitude and shade; your voice dies and re-awakes, but without
an echo; your waves spread around their path neither fertility nor
terror; their anger is idle, and their freshness is lavished on a
sterile soil; the sun shines in vain for you, through these unvarying
wastes of silence and gloom; Fortune freights not your channel with her
hoarded stores, and Pleasure ventures not her silken sails upon your
tide; not even the solitary idler roves beside you, to consecrate with
human fellowship your melancholy course; no shape of beauty bends over
your turbid waters, or mirrors in your breast the loveliness that
hallows earth.  Lonely and sullen, through storm or sunshine, you repine
along your desolate way, and only catch, through the matted boughs that
darken over you, the beams of the wan stars, which, like human hopes,
tremble upon your breast, and are broken, even before they fade, by the
very turbulence of the surface on which they fall.  Rove, repine, murmur
on!  Such was my fate, but the resemblance is no more.  I shall no
longer be a lonely and regretful being; my affections will no longer
waste themselves upon barrenness and stone.  I go among the living and
warm world of mortal energies and desires; my existence shall glide
alternately through crested cities, and bowers in which Poetry worships
Love; and the clear depths of my heart shall reflect whatever its young
dreams have shadowed forth, the visioned form, the gentle and fairy
spirit, the Eve of my soul's imagined and foreboded paradise."

Venting, in this incoherent strain, the exultation which filled my
thoughts, I wandered on, throughout the whole day, till my spirits had
exhausted themselves by indulgence; and, wearied alike by mental
excitement and bodily exertion, I turned, with slow steps, towards the
house.  As I ascended the gentle acclivity on which it stood, I saw a
figure approaching towards me: the increasing shades of the evening did
not allow me to recognize the shape until it was almost by my side; it
was Aubrey.

Of late I had seen very little of him.  His devotional studies and
habits seemed to draw him from the idle pursuits of myself and my
uncle's guests; and Aubrey was one peculiarly susceptible of neglect,
and sore, to morbidity, at the semblance of unkindness; so that he
required to be sought, and rarely troubled others with advances: that
night, however, his greeting was unusually warm.

"I was uneasy about you, Morton," said he, drawing my arm in his; "you
have not been seen since morning; and, oh! Morton, my uncle told me,
with tears in his eyes, that you were going to leave us.  Is it so?"

"Had he tears in his eyes?  Kind old man!  And you, Aubrey, shall you,
too, grieve for my departure?"

"Can you ask it, Morton?  But why will you leave us? Are we not all
happy here, now?  /Now/ that there is no longer any barrier or
difference between us,--/now/ that I may look upon you, and listen to
you, and love you, and /own/ that I love you?  Why will you leave us
now?  And [continued Aubrey, as if fearful of giving me time to
answer]--and every one praises you so here; and my uncle and all of us
are so proud of you.  Why should you desert our affections merely
because they are not new?  Why plunge into that hollow and cold world
which all who have tried it picture in such fearful hues?  Can you find
anything there to repay you for the love you leave behind?"

"My brother," said I, mournfully, and in a tone which startled him,--it
was so different from that which I usually assumed,--"my brother, hear
before you reproach me.  Let us sit down upon this bank, and I will
suffer you to see more of my restless and secret heart than any hitherto
have beheld."

We sat down upon a little mound: how well I remember the spot!  I can
see the tree which shadows it from my window at this moment.  How many
seasons have the sweet herb and the emerald grass been withered there
and renewed!  Ah, what is this revival of all things fresh and youthful
in external Nature but a mockery of the wintry spot which lies perished
and /irrenewable/ within!

We drew near to each other, and as my arm wound around him, I said,
"Aubrey, your love has been to me a more precious gift than any who have
not, like me, thirsted and longed even for the love of a dog, can
conceive.  Never let me lose that affection!  And do not think of me
hereafter as of one whose heart echoed all that his lip uttered.  Do not
believe that irony, and sarcasm, and bitterness of tongue flowed from a
malignant or evil source.  That disposition which seems to you
alternately so light and gloomy had, perhaps, its origin in a mind too
intense in its affections, and too exacting in having them returned.
Till you sought my friendship, three short years ago, none but my uncle,
with whom I could have nothing in common but attachment, seemed to care
for my very existence.  I blame them not; they were deceived in my
nature: but blame /me/ not too severely if my temper suffered from their
mistake.  Your friendship came to me, not too late to save me from a
premature misanthropy, but too late to eradicate every morbidity of
mind.  Something of sternness on the one hand, and of satire on the
other, has mingled so long with my better feelings that the taint and
the stream have become inseparable.  Do not sigh, Aubrey.  To be
unamiable is not to be ungrateful; and I shall not love you the less if
I have but a few objects to love.  You ask me my inducement to leave
you.  'The World' will be sufficient answer.  I cannot share your
contempt of it, nor your fear.  I am, and have been of late, consumed
with a thirst,--eager, and burning, and unquenchable: it is ambition!"

"Oh, Morton!" said Aubrey, with a second sigh, longer and deeper than
the first, "that evil passion! the passion which lost an angel heaven."

"Let us not now dispute, my brother, whether it be sinful in itself, or
whether, if its object be virtuous, it is not a virtue.  In baring my
soul before you, I only speak of my motives, and seek not to excuse
them.  Perhaps on this earth there is no good without a little evil.
When my mind was once turned to the acquisition of mental superiority,
every petty acquisition I made increased my desire to attain more, and
partial emulation soon widened into universal ambition.  We three,
Gerald and ourselves, are the keepers of a treasure more valuable than
gold,--the treasure of a not ignoble nor sullied name.  For my part, I
confess that I am impatient to increase the store of honour which our
father bequeathed to us.  Nor is this all: despite our birth, we are
poor in the gifts of fortune.  We are all dependants on my uncle's
favour; and, however we may deserve it, there would be something better
in earning an independence for ourselves."

"That," said Aubrey, "may be an argument for mine and Gerald's
exertions; but not for yours.  You are the eldest, and my uncle's
favourite.  Nature and affection both point to you as his heir."

"If so, Aubrey, may many years pass before that inheritance be mine!
Why should those years that might produce so much lie fallow?  But
though I would not affect an unreal delicacy, and disown my chance of
future fortune, yet you must remember that it is a matter possible, not
certain.  My birthright gives me no claim over my uncle, whose estates
are in his own gift; and favour, even in the good, is a wind which
varies without power on our side to calculate the season or the cause.
However this be,--and I love the person on whom fortune depends so much
that I cannot, without pain, speak of the mere chance of its passing
from his possession into mine,--you will own at least that I shall not
hereafter deserve wealth the less for the advantages of experience."

"Alas!" said Aubrey, raising his eyes, "the worship of our Father in
Heaven finds us ample cause for occupation, even in retirement; and the
more we mix with His creatures, the more, I fear, we may forget the
Creator.  But if it must be so, I will pray for you, Morton; and you
will remember that the powerless and poor Aubrey can still lift up his
voice in your behalf."

As Aubrey thus spoke, I looked with mingled envy and admiration upon the
countenance beside me, which the beauty of a spirit seemed at once to
soften and to exalt.

Since our conference had begun, the dusk of twilight had melted away;
and the moon had called into lustre--living, indeed, but unlike the
common and unhallowing life of day--the wood and herbage, and silent
variations of hill and valley, which slept around us; and, as the still
and shadowy light fell over the upward face of my brother, it gave to
his features an additional, and not wholly earth-born, solemnity of
expression.  There was indeed in his face and air that from which the
painter of a seraph might not have disdained to copy: something
resembling the vision of an angel in the dark eyes that swam with tears,
in which emotion had so little of mortal dross; in the youthful and soft
cheeks, which the earnestness of divine thought had refined by a pale
but transparent hue; in the high and unclouded forehead, over which the
hair, parted in the centre, fell in long and wavelike curls; and in the
lips, silent, yet moving with internal prayer, which seemed the more
fervent, because unheard.

I did not interrupt him in the prayer, which my soul felt, though my ear
caught it not, was for me.  But when he had ceased, and turned towards
me, I clasped him to my breast.  "My brother," I said, "we shall part,
it is true, but not till our hearts have annihilated the space that was
between them; not till we have felt that the love of brotherhood can
pass the love of woman.  Whatever await you, your devoted and holy mind
will be, if not your shield from affliction, at least your balm for its
wounds.  Remain here.  The quiet which breathes around you well becomes
your tranquillity within; and sometimes bless me in your devotions, as
you have done now.  For me, I shall not regret those harder and harsher
qualities which you blame in me, if thereafter their very sternness can
afford me an opportunity of protecting your gentleness from evil, or
redressing the wrongs from which your nature may be too innocent to
preserve you.  And now let us return home in the conviction that we have
in our friendship one treasure beyond the reach of fate."

Aubrey did not answer; but he kissed my forehead, and I felt his tears
upon my cheek.  We rose, and with arms still embracing each other as we
walked, bent our steps to the house.

Ah, earth! what hast thou more beautiful than the love of those whose
ties are knit by nature, and whose union seems ordained to begin from
the very moment of their birth?



CHAPTER VIII.

FIRST LOVE.

WE are under very changeful influences in this world!  The night on
which occurred the interview with Aubrey that I have just narrated, I
was burning to leave Devereux Court.  Within one little week from that
time my eagerness was wonderfully abated.  The sagacious reader will
readily discover the cause of this alteration.  About eight miles from
my uncle's house was a seaport town; there were many and varied rides
leading to it, and the town was a favourite place of visitation with all
the family.  Within a few hundred yards of the town was a small cottage,
prettily situated in the midst of a garden, kept with singular neatness,
and ornamented with several rare shrubs and exotics.  I had more than
once observed in the garden of this house a female in the very first
blush of youth, and beautiful enough to excite within me a strong
curiosity to learn the owner of the cottage.  I inquired, and
ascertained that its tenant was a Spaniard of high birth, and one who
had acquired a melancholy celebrity by his conduct and misfortunes in
the part he had taken in a certain feeble but gallant insurrection in
his native country.  He had only escaped with life and a very small sum
of money, and now lived in the obscure seaport of ------, a refugee and
a recluse.  He was a widower, and had only one child,--a daughter; and I
was therefore at no loss to discover who was the beautiful female I had
noted and admired.

On the day after my conversation with Aubrey detailed in the last
chapter, in riding past this cottage alone, I perceived a crowd
assembled round the entrance; I paused to inquire the cause.

"Why, your honour," quoth a senior of the village, "I believe the
tipstaves be come to take the foreigner for not paying his rent; and he
does not understand our English liberty like, and has drawn his sword,
and swears, in his outlandish lingo, he will not be made prisoner
alive."

I required no further inducement to make me enter the house.  The crowd
gave way when they saw me dismount, and suffered me to penetrate into
the first apartment.  There I found the gallant old Spaniard with his
sword drawn, keeping at bay a couple of sturdy-looking men, who appeared
to be only prevented from using violence by respect for the person or
the safety of a young woman, who clung to her father's knees and
implored him not to resist where resistance was so unavailing.  Let me
cut short this scene; I dismissed the bailiffs, and paid the debt.  I
then endeavoured to explain to the Spaniard, in French, for he scarcely
understood three words of our language, the cause of a rudeness towards
him which he persisted in calling a great insult and inhospitality
manifested to a stranger and an exile.  I succeeded at length in
pacifying him.  I remained for more than an hour at the cottage, and I
left it with a heart beating at a certain persuasion that I had
established therein the claim of acquaintance and visitation.

Will the reader pardon me for having curtailed this scene?  It is
connected with a subject on which I shall better endure to dwell as my
narrative proceeds.  From that time I paid frequent visits to the
cottage; the Spaniard soon grew intimate with me, and I thought the
daughter began to blush when I entered, and to sigh when I departed.

One evening I was conversing with Don Diego D'Alvarez (such was the
Spaniard's name), as he sat without the threshold, inhaling the gentle
air, that stole freshness from the rippling sea that spread before us,
and fragrance from the earth, over which the summer now reigned in its
most mellow glory.  Isora (the daughter) sat at a little distance.

"How comes it," said Don Diego, "that you have never met our friend
Senor Bar--Bar--these English names are always escaping my memory.  How
is he called, Isora?"

"Mr.--Mr. Barnard," said Isora (who, brought early to England, spoke its
language like a native), but with evident confusion, and looking down as
she spoke--"Mr. Barnard, I believe, you mean."

"Right, my love," rejoined the Spaniard, who was smoking a long pipe
with great gravity, and did not notice his daughter's embarrassment,--"a
fine youth, but somewhat shy and over-modest in manner."

"Youth!" thought I, and I darted a piercing look towards Isora.  "How
comes it, indeed," I said aloud, "that I have not met him?  Is he a
friend of long standing?"

"Nay, not very,--perhaps of some six weeks earlier date than you, Senor
Don Devereux.  I pressed him, when he called this morning, to tarry your
coming: but, poor youth, he is diffident, and not yet accustomed to mix
freely with strangers, especially those of rank; our own presence a
little overawes him;" and from Don Diego's gray mustachios issued a yet
fuller cloud than was ordinarily wont to emerge thence.

My eyes were still fixed on Isora; she looked up, met them, blushed
deeply, rose, and disappeared within the house.  I was already
susceptible of jealousy.  My lip trembled as I resumed: "And will Don
Diego pardon me for inquiring how commenced his knowledge of this
ingenuous youth?"

The question was a little beyond the pale of good breeding; perhaps the
Spaniard, who was tolerably punctilious in such matters, thought so, for
he did not reply.  I was sensible of my error, and apologizing for it,
insinuated, nevertheless, the question in a more respectful and covert
shape.  Still Don Diego, inhaling the fragrant weed with renewed
vehemence, only--like Pion's tomb, recorded by Pausanias--replied to the
request of his petitioner /by smoke/.  I did not venture to renew my
interrogatories, and there was a long silence.  My eyes fixed their gaze
on the door by which Isora had disappeared.  In vain; she returned not;
and as the chill of the increasing evening began now to make itself felt
by the frame of one accustomed to warmer skies, the Spaniard soon rose
to re-enter his house, and I took my farewell for the night.

There were many ways (as I before said) by which I could return home,
all nearly equal in picturesque beauty; for the county in which my
uncle's estates were placed was one where stream roved and woodland
flourished even to the very strand or cliff of the sea.  The shortest
route, though one the least frequented by any except foot-passengers,
was along the coast, and it was by this path that I rode slowly
homeward.  On winding a curve in the road about one mile from Devereux
Court, the old building broke slowly, tower by tower, upon me.  I have
never yet described the house, and perhaps it will not be uninteresting
to the reader if I do so now.

It had anciently belonged to Ralph de Bigod.  From his possession it had
passed into that of the then noblest branch the stem of Devereux,
whence, without break or flaw in the direct line of heritage, it had
ultimately descended to the present owner.  It was a pile of vast
extent, built around three quadrangular courts, the farthest of which
spread to the very verge of the gray, tall cliffs that overhung the sea;
in this court was a rude tower, which, according to tradition, had
contained the apartments ordinarily inhabited by our ill-fated namesake
and distant kinsman, Robert Devereux, the favourite and the victim of
Elizabeth, whenever he had honoured the mansion with a visit.  There was
nothing, it is true, in the old tower calculated to flatter the
tradition, for it contained only two habitable rooms, communicating with
each other, and by no means remarkable for size or splendour; and every
one of our household, save myself, was wont to discredit the idle rumour
which would assign to so distinguished a guest so unseemly a lodgment.
But, as I looked from the narrow lattices of the chambers, over the wide
expanse of ocean and of land which they commanded; as I noted, too, that
the tower was utterly separated from the rest of the house, and that the
convenience of its site enabled one on quitting it, to escape at once,
and privately, either to the solitary beach, or to the glades and groves
of the wide park which stretched behind,--I could not help indulging the
belief that the unceremonious and not unromantic noble had himself
selected his place of retirement, and that, in so doing, the gallant of
a stately court was not perhaps undesirous of securing at well-chosen
moments a brief relaxation from the heavy honours of country homage; or
that the patron and poetic admirer of the dreaming Spenser might have
preferred, to all more gorgeous accommodation, the quiet and unseen
egress to that sea and shore, which, if we may believe the accomplished
Roman,* are so fertile in the powers of inspiration.


* "O mare, O litus, verum secretumque Movoetov, quam multa dictatis,
quam multa invenitis!"--PLINIUS.

"O sea, O shore, true and secret sanctuary of the Muses, how many things
ye dictate, how many things ye discover!"


However this be, I had cheated myself into the belief that my conjecture
was true, and I had petitioned my uncle, when, on leaving school, he
assigned to each of us our several apartments, to grant me the exclusive
right to this dilapidated tower.  I gained my boon easily enough;
and--so strangely is our future fate compounded from past trifles--I
verily believe that the strong desire which thenceforth seized me to
visit courts and mix with statesmen--which afterwards hurried me into
intrigue, war, the plots of London, the dissipations of Paris, the
perilous schemes of Petersburg, nay, the very hardships of a Cossack
tent--was first formed by the imaginary honour of inhabiting the same
chamber as the glittering but ill-fated courtier of my own name.  Thus
youth imitates where it should avoid; and thus that which should have
been to me a warning became an example.

In the oaken floor to the outer chamber of this tower was situated a
trap-door, the entrance into a lower room or rather cell, fitted up as a
bath; and here a wooden door opened into a long subterranean passage
that led out into a cavern by the sea-shore.  This cave, partly by
nature, partly by art, was hollowed into a beautiful Gothic form; and
here, on moonlight evenings, when the sea crept gently over the yellow
and smooth sands and the summer tempered the air from too keen a
freshness, my uncle had often in his younger days, ere gout and rheum
had grown familiar images, assembled his guests.  It was a place which
the echoes peculiarly adapted for music; and the scene was certainly not
calculated to diminish the effect of "sweet sounds."  Even now, though
my uncle rarely joined us, we were often wont to hold our evening revels
in this spot; and the high cliffs, circling either side in the form of a
bay, tolerably well concealed our meetings from the gaze of the vulgar.
It is true (for these cliffs were perforated with numerous excavations)
that some roving peasant, mariner, or perchance smuggler, would now and
then, at low water, intrude upon us.  But our London Nereids and courtly
Tritons were always well pleased with the interest of what they
graciously termed "an adventure;" and our assemblies were too numerous
to think an unbroken secrecy indispensable.  Hence, therefore, the
cavern was almost considered a part of the house itself; and though
there was an iron door at the entrance which it gave to the passage
leading to my apartments, yet so great was our confidence in our
neighbours or ourselves that it was rarely secured, save as a defence
against the high tides of winter.

The stars were shining quietly over the old gray castle (for castle it
really was), as I now came within view of it.  To the left, and in the
rear of the house, the trees of the park, grouped by distance, seemed
blent into one thick mass of wood; to the right, as I now (descending
the cliff by a gradual path) entered on the level sands, and at about
the distance of a league from the main shore, a small islet, notorious
as the resort and shelter of contraband adventurers, scarcely relieved
the wide and glassy azure of the waves.  The tide was out; and passing
through one of the arches worn in the bay, I came somewhat suddenly by
the cavern.  Seated there on a crag of stone I found Aubrey.

My acquaintance with Isora and her father had so immediately succeeded
the friendly meeting with Aubrey which I last recorded, and had so
utterly engrossed my time and thoughts, that I had not taken of that
interview all the brotherly advantage which I might have done.  My heart
now smote me for my involuntary negligence.  I dismounted, and fastening
my horse to one of a long line of posts that ran into the sea,
approached Aubrey and accosted him.

"Alone, Aubrey? and at an hour when my uncle always makes the old walls
ring with revel?  Hark! can you not hear the music even now?  It comes
from the ball-room, I think, does it not?"

"Yes," said Aubrey, briefly, and looking down upon a devotional book,
which (as was his wont) he had made his companion.

"And we are the only truants!--Well, Gerald will supply our places with
a lighter step, and, perhaps, a merrier heart."

Aubrey sighed.  I bent over him affectionately (I loved that boy with
something of a father's as well as a brother's love), and as I did bend
over him, I saw that his eyelids were red with weeping.

"My brother--my own dear brother," said I, "what grieves you?--are we
not friends, and more than friends?--what can grieve you that grieves
not me?"

Suddenly raising his head, Aubrey gazed at me with a long, searching
intentness of eye; his lips moved, but he did not answer.

"Speak to me, Aubrey," said I, passing my arm over his shoulder; "has
any one, anything, hurt you?  See, now, if I cannot remedy the evil."

"Morton," said Aubrey, speaking very slowly, "do you believe that Heaven
pre-orders as well as foresees our destiny?"

"It is the schoolman's question," said I, smiling; "but I know how these
idle subtleties vex the mind; and you, my brother, are ever too occupied
with considerations of the future.  If Heaven does pre-order our
destiny, we know that Heaven is merciful, and we should be fearless, as
we arm ourselves in that knowledge."

"Morton Devereux," said Aubrey, again repeating my name, and with an
evident inward effort that left his lip colourless, and yet lit his dark
dilating eye with a strange and unwonted fire,--"Morton Devereux, I feel
that I am predestined to the power of the Evil One!"

I drew back, inexpressibly shocked.  "Good Heavens!" I exclaimed, "what
can induce you to cherish so terrible a phantasy?  what can induce you
to wrong so fearfully the goodness and mercy of our Creator?"

Aubrey shrank from my arm, which had still been round him, and covered
his face with his hands.  I took up the book he had been reading; it was
a Latin treatise on predestination, and seemed fraught with the most
gloomy and bewildering subtleties.  I sat down beside him, and pointed
out the various incoherencies and contradictions of the work, and the
doctrine it espoused: so long and so earnestly did I speak that at
length Aubrey looked up, seemingly cheered and relieved.

"I wish," said he, timidly, "I wish that you loved me, and that you
loved /me only/: but you love pleasure, and power, and show, and wit,
and revelry; and you know not what it is to feel for me as I feel at
times for you,--nay, perhaps you really dislike or despise me."

Aubrey's voice grew bitter in its tone as he concluded these words, and
I was instantly impressed with the belief that some one had insinuated
distrust of my affection for him.

"Why should you think thus?" I said; "has any cause occurred of late to
make you deem my affection for you weaker than it was?  Has any one
hinted a surmise that I do not repay your brotherly regard?"

Aubrey did not answer.

"Has Gerald," I continued, "jealous of our mutual attachment, uttered
aught tending to diminish it?  Yes, I see that he has."

Aubrey remained motionless, sullenly gazing downward and still silent.

"Speak," said I, "in justice to both of us,--speak!  You know, Aubrey,
how I /have/ loved and love you: put your arms round me, and say that
thing on earth which you wish me to do, and it shall be done!"

Aubrey looked up; he met my eyes, and he threw himself upon my neck, and
burst into a violent paroxysm of tears.

I was greatly affected.  "I see my fault," said I, soothing him; "you
are angry, and with justice, that I have neglected you of late; and,
perhaps, while I ask your confidence, you suspect that there is some
subject on which I should have granted you mine.  You are right, and, at
a fitter moment, I will.  Now let us return homeward: our uncle is never
merry when we are absent; and when my mother misses your dark locks and
fair cheek, I fancy that she sees little beauty in the ball.  And yet,
Aubrey," I added, as he now rose from my embrace and dried his tears, "I
will own to you that I love this scene better than any, however gay,
within;" and I turned to the sea, starlit as it was, and murmuring with
a silver voice, and I became suddenly silent.

There was a long pause.  I believe we both felt the influence of the
scene around us, softening and tranquillizing our hearts; for, at
length, Aubrey put his hand in mine, and said, "You were always more
generous and kind than I, Morton, though there are times when you seem
different from what you are; and I know you have already forgiven me."

I drew him affectionately towards me, and we went home.  But although I
meant from that night to devote myself more to Aubrey than I had done of
late, my hourly increasing love for Isora interfered greatly with my
resolution.  In order, however, to excuse any future neglect, I, the
very next morning, bestowed upon him my confidence.  Aubrey did not much
encourage my passion: he represented to me Isora's situation, my own
youth, my own worldly ambition; and, more than all (reminding me of my
uncle's aversion even to the most prosperous and well-suited marriage),
he insisted upon the certainty that Sir William would never yield
consent to the lawful consummation of so unequal a love.  I was not too
well pleased with this reception of my tale, and I did not much trouble
my adviser with any further communication and confidence on the subject.
Day after day I renewed my visits to the Spaniard's cottage; and yet
time passed on, and I had not told Isora a syllable of my love.  I was
inexpressibly jealous of this Barnard, whom her father often eulogized,
and whom I never met.  There appeared to be some mystery in his
acquaintance with Don Diego, which that personage carefully concealed;
and once, when I was expressing my surprise to have so often missed
seeing his friend, the Spaniard shook his head gravely, and said that he
had now learnt the real reason for it: there were circumstances of state
which made men fearful of new acquaintances even in their own country.
He drew back, as if he had said too much, and left me to conjecture that
Barnard was connected with him in some intrigue, more delightful in
itself than agreeable to the government.  This belief was strengthened
by my noting that Alvarez was frequently absent from home, and this too
in the evening, when he was generally wont to shun the bleakness of the
English air,--an atmosphere, by the by, which I once heard a Frenchman
wittily compare to Augustus placed between Horace and Virgil; namely, in
the /bon mot/ of the emperor himself, /between sighs and tears/.

But Isora herself never heard the name of this Barnard mentioned without
a visible confusion, which galled me to the heart; and at length, unable
to endure any longer my suspense upon the subject, I resolved to seek
from her own lips its termination.  I long tarried my opportunity; it
was one evening that coming rather unexpectedly to the cottage, I was
informed by the single servant that Don Diego had gone to the
neighbouring town, but that Isora was in the garden.  Small as it was,
this garden had been cultivated with some care, and was not devoid of
variety.  A high and very thick fence of living box-wood, closely
interlaced with the honeysuckle and the common rose, screened a few
plots of rarer flowers, a small circular fountain, and a rustic arbour,
both from the sea breezes and the eyes of any passer-by, to which the
open and unsheltered portion of the garden was exposed.  When I passed
through the opening cut in the fence, I was somewhat surprised at not
immediately seeing Isora.  Perhaps she was in the arbour.  I approached
the arbour trembling.  What was my astonishment and my terror when I
beheld her stretched lifeless on the ground!

I uttered a loud cry, and sprang forward.  I raised her from the earth,
and supported her in my arms; her complexion--through whose pure and
transparent white the wandering blood was wont so gently, yet so
glowingly, to blush, undulating while it blushed, as youngest
rose-leaves which the air just stirs into trembling--was blanched into
the hues of death.  My kisses tinged it with a momentary colour not its
own; and yet as I pressed her to my heart, methought hers, which seemed
still before, began as if by an involuntary sympathy, palpably and
suddenly to throb against my own.  My alarm melted away as I held her
thus,--nay, I would not, if I could, have recalled her /yet/ to life; I
was forgetful, I was unheeding, I was unconscious of all things else,--a
few broken and passionate words escaped my lips, but even they ceased
when I felt her breath just stirring and mingling with my own.  It
seemed to me as if all living kind but ourselves had, by a spell,
departed from the earth, and we were left alone with the breathless and
inaudible Nature from which spring the love and the life of all things.

Isora slowly recovered; her eyes in opening dwelt upon mine; her blood
rushed at once to her cheek, and as suddenly left it hueless as before.
She rose from my embrace, but I still extended my arms towards her; and
words over which I had no control, and of which now I have no
remembrance, rushed from my lips.  Still pale, and leaning against the
side of the arbour, Isora heard me, as--confused, incoherent, impetuous,
but still intelligible to her--my released heart poured itself forth.
And when I had ceased, she turned her face towards me, and my blood
seemed at once frozen in its channel.  Anguish, deep ineffable anguish,
was depicted upon every feature; and when she strove at last to speak,
her lips quivered so violently that, after a vain effort, she ceased
abruptly.  I again approached; I seized her hand, which I covered with
my kisses.

"Will you not answer me, Isora?"  said I, trembling.  "/Be/ silent,
then; but give me one look, one glance of hope, of pardon, from those
dear eyes, and I ask no more."

Isora's whole frame seemed sinking beneath her emotions; she raised her
head, and looked hurriedly and fearfully round; my eye followed hers,
and I then saw upon the damp ground the recent print of a man's
footstep, not my own: and close to the spot where I had found Isora lay
a man's glove.  A pang shot through me; I felt my eyes flash fire, and
my brow darken, as I turned to Isora and said, "I see it; I see all: I
have a rival, who has but just left you; you love me not; your
affections are for him!"  Isora sobbed violently, but made no reply.
"You love him," said I, but in a milder and more mournful tone, "you
love him; it is enough; I will persecute you no more; and yet--"  I
paused a moment, for the remembrance of many a sign, which my heart had
interpreted flatteringly, flashed upon me, and my voice faltered.
"Well, I have no right to murmur--only, Isora--only tell me with your
lips that you love another, and I will depart in peace."

Very slowly Isora turned her eyes to me, and even through her tears they
dwelt upon me with a tender and a soft reproach.

"You love another?" said I; and from her lips, which scarcely parted,
came a single word which thrilled to my heart like fire,--"No!"

"No!" I repeated, "no? say that again, and again; yet who then is this
that has dared so to agitate and overpower you?  Who is he whom you have
met, and whom, even now while I speak, you tremble to hear me recur to?
Answer me one word: is it this mysterious stranger whom your father
honours with his friendship? is it Barnard?"

Alarm and fear again wholly engrossed the expression of Isora's
countenance.

"Barnard!" she said; "yes--yes--it is Barnard!"

"Who is he?" I cried vehemently; "who or what is he; and of what nature
is his influence upon you?  Confide in me," and I poured forth a long
tide of inquiry and solicitation.

By the time I had ended, Isora seemed to have recovered herself.  With
her softness was mingled something of spirit and self-control, which was
rare alike in her country and her sex.

"Listen to me!" said she, and her voice, which faltered a little at
first, grew calm and firm as she proceeded.  "You profess to love me: I
am not worthy your love; and if, Count Devereux, I do not reject nor
disclaim it--for I am a woman, and a weak and fond one--I will not at
least wrong you by encouraging hopes which I may not and I dare not
fulfil.  I cannot,--" here she spoke with a fearful distinctness,--"I
cannot, I can never be yours; and when you ask me to be so, you know not
what you ask nor what perils you incur.  Enough; I am grateful to you.
The poor exiled girl is grateful for your esteem--and--and your
affection.  She will never forget them,--never!  But be this our last
meeting--our very last--God bless you, Morton!" and, as she read my
heart, pierced and agonized as it was, in my countenance, Isora bent
over me, for I knelt beside her, and I felt her tears upon my
cheek,--"God bless you--and farewell!"

"You insult, you wound me," said I, bitterly, "by this cold and taunting
kindness; tell me, tell me only, who it is that you love better than
me."

Isora had turned to leave me, for I was too proud to detain her; but
when I said this, she came back, after a moment's pause, and laid her
hand upon my arm.

"If it make you happy to know /my/ unhappiness," she said, and the tone
of her voice made me look full in her face, which was one deep blush,
"know that I am not insensible--"

I heard no more: my lips pressed themselves involuntarily to hers,--a
long, long kiss,--burning, intense, concentrating emotion, heart, soul,
all the rays of life's light into a single focus; and she tore herself
away from me,--and I was alone.



CHAPTER IX.

A DISCOVERY AND A DEPARTURE.

I HASTENED home after my eventful interview with Isora, and gave myself
up to tumultuous and wild conjecture.  Aubrey sought me the next
morning: I narrated to him all that had occurred: he said little, but
that little enraged me, for it was contrary to the dictates of my own
wishes.  The character of Morose in the "Silent Woman" is by no means an
uncommon one.  Many men--certainly many lovers--would say with equal
truth, always provided they had equal candour, "All discourses but my
own afflict me; they seem harsh, impertinent, and irksome."  Certainly I
felt that amiable sentiment most sincerely with regard to Aubrey.  I
left him abruptly: a resolution possessed me.  "I will see," said I,
"this Barnard; I will lie in wait for him; I will demand and obtain,
though it be by force, the secret which evidently subsists between him
and this exiled family."

Full of this idea, I drew my cloak round me, and repaired on foot to the
neighbourhood of the Spaniard's cottage.  There was no place near it
very commodious for accommodation both of vigil and concealment.
However, I made a little hill, in a field opposite the house, my
warder's station, and, lying at full length on the ground, wrapt in my
cloak, I trusted to escape notice.  The day passed: no visitor appeared.
The next morning I went from my own rooms, through the subterranean
passage into the castle cave, as the excavation I have before described
was generally termed.  On the shore I saw Gerald by one of the small
fishing-boats usually kept there.  I passed him with a sneer at his
amusements, which were always those of conflicts against fish or fowl.
He answered me in the same strain, as he threw his nets into the boat,
and pushed out to sea.  "How is it that you go alone?" said I; "is there
so much glory in the capture of mackerel and dogfish that you will allow
no one to share it?"

"There are other sports besides those for men," answered Gerald,
colouring indignantly: "my taste is confined to amusements in which he
is but a fool who seeks companionship; and if you could read character
better, my wise brother, you would know that the bold rover is ever less
idle and more fortunate than the speculative dreamer."

As Gerald said this, which he did with a significant emphasis, he rowed
vigorously across the water, and the little boat was soon half way to
the opposite islet.  My eyes followed it musingly as it glided over the
waves, and my thoughts painfully revolved the words which Gerald had
uttered.  "What can he mean?" said I, half aloud; "yet what matters it?
Perhaps some low amour, some village conquest, inspires him with that
becoming fulness of pride and vain-glory; joy be with so bold a rover!"
and I strode away along the beach towards my place of watch; once only I
turned to look at Gerald; he had then just touched the islet, which was
celebrated as much for the fishing it afforded as the smuggling it
protected.

I arrived at last at the hillock, and resumed my station.  Time passed
on, till, at the dusk of evening, the Spaniard came out.  He walked
slowly towards the town; I followed him at a distance.  Just before he
reached the town, he turned off by a path which led to the beach.  As
the evening was unusually fresh and chill, I felt convinced that some
cause, not wholly trivial, drew the Spaniard forth to brave it.  My
pride a little revolted at the idea of following him; but I persuaded
myself that Isora's happiness, and perhaps her father's safety, depended
on my obtaining some knowledge of the character and designs of this
Barnard, who appeared to possess so dangerous an influence over both
daughter and sire; nor did I doubt but that the old man was now gone
forth to meet him.  The times were those of mystery and of intrigue: the
emissaries of the House of Stuart were restlessly at work among all
classes; many of them, obscure and mean individuals, made their way the
more dangerously from their apparent insignificance.  My uncle, a
moderate Tory, was opposed, though quietly and without vehemence, to the
claims of the banished House.  Like Sedley, who became so stanch a
revolutionist, he had seen the Court of Charles II. and the character of
that King's brother too closely to feel much respect for either; but he
thought it indecorous to express opposition loudly against a party among
whom were many of his early friends; and the good old knight was too
much attached to private ties to be very much alive to public feeling.
However, at his well-filled board, conversation, generally, though
displeasingly to himself, turned upon politics, and I had there often
listened, of late, to dark hints of the danger to which we were exposed,
and of the restless machinations of the Jacobites.  I did not,
therefore, scruple to suspect this Barnard of some plot against the
existing state, and I did it the more from observing that the Spaniard
often spoke bitterly of the English Court, which had rejected some
claims he had imagined himself entitled to make upon it; and that he was
naturally of a temper vehemently opposed to quiet and alive to
enterprise.  With this impression, I deemed it fair to seize any
opportunity of seeing, at least, even if I could not question, the man
whom the Spaniard himself confessed to have state reasons for
concealment; and my anxiety to behold one whose very name could agitate
Isora, and whose presence could occasion the state in which I had found
her, sharpened this desire into the keenness of a passion.

While Alvarez descended to the beach, I kept the upper path, which wound
along the cliff.  There was a spot where the rocks were rude and broken
into crags, and afforded me a place where, unseen, I could behold what
passed below.  The first thing I beheld was a boat approaching rapidly
towards the shore; one man was seated in it; he reached the shore, and I
recognized Gerald.  That was a dreadful moment.  Alvarez now slowly
joined him; they remained together for nearly an hour.  I saw Gerald
give the Spaniard a letter, which appeared to make the chief subject of
their conversation.  At length they parted, with the signs rather of
respect than familiarity.  Don Diego returned homeward, and Gerald
re-entered the boat.  I watched its progress over the waves with
feelings of a dark and almost unutterable nature.  "My enemy! my rival!
ruiner of my hopes!--/my brother/!--/my twin brother/!" I muttered
bitterly between my ground teeth.

The boat did not make to the open sea: it skulked along the shore, till
distance and shadow scarcely allowed me to trace the outline of Gerald's
figure.  It then touched the beach, and I could just descry the dim
shape of another man enter; and Gerald, instead of returning homewards,
pushed out towards the islet.  I spent the greater part of the night in
the open air.  Wearied and exhausted by the furious indulgence of my
passions, I gained my room at length.  There, however, as elsewhere,
thought succeeded to thought, and scheme to scheme.  Should I speak to
Gerald?  Should I confide in Alvarez?  Should I renew my suit to Isora?
If the first, what could I hope to learn from my enemy?  If the second,
what could I gain from the father, while the daughter remained averse to
me?  If the third,--there my heart pointed, and the third scheme I
resolved to adopt.

But was I sure that Gerald was this Barnard?  Might there not be some
hope that he was not?  No, I could perceive none.  Alvarez had never
spoken to me of acquaintance with any other Englishman than Barnard; I
had no reason to believe that he ever held converse with any other.
Would it not have been natural too, unless some powerful cause, such as
love to Isora, induced silence,--would it not have been natural that
Gerald should have mentioned his acquaintance with the Spaniard?  Unless
some dark scheme, such as that which Barnard appeared to have in common
with Don Diego, commanded obscurity, would it have been likely that
Gerald should have met Alvarez alone,--at night,--on an unfrequented
spot?  What that scheme /was/, I guessed not,--I cared not.  All my
interest in the identity of Barnard with Gerald Devereux was that
derived from the power he seemed to possess over Isora.  Here, too, at
once, was explained the pretended Barnard's desire of concealment, and
the vigilance with which it had been effected.  It was so certain that
Gerald, if my rival, would seek to avoid me; it was so easy for him, who
could watch all my motions, to secure the power of doing so.  Then I
remembered Gerald's character through the country as a gallant and a
general lover; and I closed my eyes as if to shut out the vision when I
recalled the beauty of his form contrasted with the comparative
plainness of my own.

"There is no hope," I repeated; and an insensibility, rather than sleep,
crept over me.  Dreadful and fierce dreams peopled my slumbers; and,
when I started from them at a late hour the next day, I was unable to
rise from my bed: my agitation and my wanderings had terminated in a
burning fever.  In four days, however, I recovered sufficiently to mount
my horse: I rode to the Spaniard's house; I found there only the woman
who had been Don Diego's solitary domestic.  The morning before, Alvarez
and his daughter had departed, none knew for certain whither; but it was
supposed their destination was London.  The woman gave me a note: it was
from Isora; it contained only these lines:


Forget me: we are now parted forever.  As you value my peace of mind--of
happiness I do not speak--seek not to discover our next retreat.  I
implore you to think no more of what has been; you are young, very
young.  Life has a thousand paths for you; any one of them will lead you
from remembrance of me.  Farewell, again and again!

               ISORA D'ALVAREZ.


With this note was another, in French, from Don Diego: it was colder and
more formal than I could have expected; it thanked me for my attentions
towards him; it regretted that he could not take leave of me in person,
and it enclosed the sum by the loan of which our acquaintance had
commenced.

"It is well!" said I, calmly, to myself, "it is well; I will forget
her:" and I rode instantly home.  "But," I resumed in my soliloquy, "I
will yet strive to obtain confirmation to what perhaps needs it not.  I
will yet strive to see if Gerald can deny the depth of his injuries
towards me; there will be at least some comfort in witnessing either his
defiance or his confusion."

Agreeably to this thought, I hastened to seek Gerald.  I found him in
his apartment; I shut the door, and seating myself, with a smile thus
addressed him,--

"Dear Gerald, I have a favour to ask of you."

"What is it?"

"How long have you known a certain Mr. Barnard?"  Gerald changed colour;
his voice faltered as he repeated the name "Barnard!"

"Yes," said I, with affected composure, "Barnard! a great friend of Don
Diego D'Alvarez."

"I perceive," said Gerald, collecting himself, "that you are in some
measure acquainted with my secret: how far it is known to you I cannot
guess; but I tell you, very fairly, that from me you will not increase
the sum of your knowledge."

When one is in a good sound rage, it is astonishing how calm one can be!
I was certainly somewhat amazed by Gerald's hardihood and assurance, but
I continued, with a smile,

"And Donna Isora, how long, if not very intrusive on your confidence,
have you known her?"

"I tell you," answered Gerald, doggedly, "that I will answer no
questions."

"You remember the old story," returned I, "of the two brothers, Eteocles
and Polynices, whose very ashes refused to mingle; faith, Gerald, our
love seems much of the same sort.  I know not if our ashes will exhibit
so laudible an antipathy: but I think our hearts and hands will do so
while a spark of life animates them; yes, though our blood" (I added, in
a voice quivering with furious emotion) "prevents our contest by the
sword, it prevents not the hatred and the curses of the heart."

Gerald turned pale.  "I do not understand you," he faltered out,--"I
know you abhor me; but why, why this excess of malice?"

I cast on him a look of bitter scorn, and turned from the room.

It is not pleasing to place before the reader these dark passages of
fraternal hatred: but in the record of all passions there is a moral;
and it is wise to see to how vast a sum the units of childish animosity
swell, when they are once brought into a heap, by some violent event,
and told over by the nice accuracy of Revenge.

But I long to pass from these scenes, and my history is about to glide
along others of more glittering and smiling aspect.  Thank Heaven, I
write a tale, not only of love, but of a life; and that which I cannot
avoid I can at least condense.



CHAPTER X.

A VERY SHORT CHAPTER,--CONTAINING A VALET.

MY uncle for several weeks had flattered himself that I had quite
forgotten or foregone the desire of leaving Devereux Court for London.
Good easy man! he was not a little distressed when I renewed the subject
with redoubled firmness, and demanded an early period for that event.
He managed, however, still to protract the evil day.  At one time it was
impossible to part with me, because the house was so full; at another
time it was cruel to leave him, when the house was so empty.  Meanwhile,
a new change came over me.  As the first shock of Isora's departure
passed away, I began to suspect the purity of her feelings towards me.
Might not Gerald--the beautiful, the stately, the glittering
Gerald--have been a successful wooer under the disguised name of
Barnard, and /hence/ Isora's confusion when that name was mentioned, and
hence the power which its possessor exercised over her?

This idea, once admitted, soon gained ground.  It is true that Isora had
testified something of favourable feelings towards me; but this might
spring from coquetry or compassion.  My love had been a boy's love,
founded upon beauty and coloured by romance.  I had not investigated the
character of the object; and I had judged of the mind solely by the
face.  I might easily have been deceived: I persuaded myself that I was.
Perhaps Gerald had provided their present retreat for sire and daughter;
perhaps they at this moment laughed over my rivalry and my folly.
Methought Gerald's lip wore a contemptuous curve when we met.  "It shall
have no cause," I said, stung to the soul; "I will indeed forget this
woman, and yet, though in other ways, eclipse this rival.  Pleasure,
ambition, the brilliancy of a court, the resources of wealth, invite me
to a thousand joys.  I will not be deaf to the call.  Meanwhile I will
not betray to Gerald, to any one, the scar of the wound I have received;
and I will mortify Gerald, by showing him that, handsome as he is, he
shall be forgotten in my presence!"

Agreeably to this exquisite resolution, I paid incessant court to the
numerous dames by whom my uncle's mansion was thronged; and I resolved
to prepare, among them, the reputation for gallantry and for wit which I
proposed to establish in town.

"You are greatly altered since your love," said Aubrey, one day to me,
"but not by your love.  Own that I did right in dissuading you from its
indulgence!"

"Tell me!" said I, sinking my voice to a whisper, "do you think Gerald
was my rival?" and I recounted the causes of my suspicion.

Aubrey's countenance testified astonishment as he listened.  "It is
strange, very strange," said he; "and the evidence of the boat is almost
conclusive; still I do not think it quite sufficient to leave no
loop-hole of doubt.  But what matters it? you have conquered your love
now."

"Ay," I said, with a laugh, "I have conquered it, and I am now about to
find some other empress of the heart.  What think you of the Lady
Hasselton?--a fair dame and a sprightly.  I want nothing but her love to
be the most enviable of men, and a French /valet-de-chambre/ to be the
most irresistible."

"The former is easier to obtain than the latter, I fear," returned
Aubrey; "all places produce light dames, but the war makes a scarcity of
French valets."

"True," said I, "but I never thought of instituting a comparison between
their relative value.  The Lady Hasselton, no disparagement to her
merits, is but one woman; but a French valet who knows his /metier/ arms
one for conquest over a thousand;" and I turned to the saloon.

Fate, which had destined to me the valuable affections of the Lady
Hasselton, granted me also, at a yet earlier period, the greater boon of
a French valet.  About two or three weeks after this sapient
communication with Aubrey, the most charming person in the world
presented himself a candidate /pour le supreme bonheur de soigner
Monsieur le Comte/.  Intelligence beamed in his eye; a modest assurance
reigned upon his brow; respect made his step vigilant as a zephyr's; and
his ruffles were the envy of the world!

I took him at a glance; and I presented to the admiring inmates of the
house a greater coxcomb than the Count Devereux in the ethereal person
of Jean Desmarais.



CHAPTER XI.

THE HERO ACQUITS HIMSELF HONOURABLY AS A COXCOMB.--A FINE LADY OF THE
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, AND A FASHIONABLE DIALOGUE; THE SUBSTANCE OF
FASHIONABLE DIALOGUE BEING IN ALL CENTURIES THE SAME.

"I AM thinking, Morton," said my uncle, "that if you are to go to town,
you should go in a style suitable to your rank.  What say you to flying
along the road in my green and gold chariot?  'Sdeath!  I'll make you a
present of it.  Nay--no thanks; and you may have four of my black
Flanders mares to draw you."

"Now, my dear Sir William," cried Lady Hasselton, who, it may be
remembered, was the daughter of one of King Charles's Beauties, and who
alone shared the breakfast-room with my uncle and myself,--"now, my dear
Sir William, I think it would be a better plan to suffer the Count to
accompany us to town.  We go next week.  He shall have a seat in our
coach, help Lovell to pay our post-horses, protect us at inns, scold at
the drawers in the pretty oaths of the fashion, which are so innocent
that I will teach them to his Countship myself; and unless I am much
more frightful than my honoured mother, whose beauties you so gallantly
laud, I think you will own, Sir William, that this is better for your
nephew than doing solitary penance in your chariot of green and gold,
with a handkerchief tied over his head to keep away cold, and with no
more fanciful occupation than composing sonnets to the four Flanders
mares."

"'Sdeath, Madam, you inherit your mother's wit as well as beauty," cried
my uncle, with an impassioned air.

"And his Countship," said I, "will accept your invitation without asking
his uncle's leave."

"Come, that is bold for a gentleman of--let me see, thirteen--are you
not?"

"Really," answered I, "one learns to forget time so terribly in the
presence of Lady Hasselton that I do not remember even how long it has
existed for me."

"Bravo!" cried the knight, with a moistening eye; "you see, Madam, the
boy has not lived with his old uncle for nothing."

"I am lost in astonishment!" said the lady, glancing towards the glass;
"why, you will eclipse all our beaux at your first appearance;
but--but--Sir William--how green those glasses have become!  Bless me,
there is something so contagious in the effects of the country that the
very mirrors grow verdant.  But--Count--Count--where are you, Count?  [I
was exactly opposite to the fair speaker.]  Oh, there you are!  Pray, do
you carry a little pocket-glass of the true quality about you?  But, of
course you do; lend it me."

"I have not the glass you want, but I carry with me a mirror that
reflects your features much more faithfully."

"How!  I protest I do not understand you!"

"The mirror is here!" said I, laying my hand to my heart.

"'Gad, I must kiss the boy!" cried my uncle, starting up.

"I have sworn," said I, fixing my eyes upon the lady,--"I have sworn
never to be kissed, even by women.  You must pardon me, Uncle."

"I declare," cried the Lady Hasselton, flirting her fan, which was
somewhat smaller than the screen that one puts into a great hall, in
order to take off the discomfort of too large a room,--"I declare,
Count, there is a vast deal of originality about you.  But tell me, Sir
William, where did your nephew acquire, at so early an age--eleven, you
say, he is--such a fund of agreeable assurance?"

"Nay, Madam, let the boy answer for himself."

"/Imprimis/, then," said I, playing with the ribbon of my
cane,--"/imprimis/, early study of the best authors,--Congreve and
Farquhar, Etherege and Rochester; secondly, the constant intercourse of
company which gives one the spleen so overpoweringly that despair
inspires one with boldness--to get rid of them; thirdly, the personal
example of Sir William Devereux; and, fourthly, the inspiration of
hope."

"Hope, sir?" said the Lady Hasselton, covering her face with her fan, so
as only to leave me a glimpse of the farthest patch upon her left
cheek,--"hope, sir?"

"Yes, the hope of being pleasing to you.  Suffer me to add that the hope
has now become certainty."

"Upon my word, Count--"

"Nay, you cannot deny it; if one can once succeed in impudence, one is
irresistible."

"Sir William," cried Lady Hasselton, "you may give the Count your
chariot of green and gold, and your four Flanders mares, and send his
mother's maid with him.  He shall not go with me."

"Cruel! and why?" said I.

"You are too"--the lady paused, and looked at me over her fan.  She was
really very handsome--"you are too /old/, Count.  You must be more than
nine."

"Pardon me," said I, "I /am/ nine,--a very mystical number nine is too,
and represents the Muses, who, you know, were always attendant upon
Venus--or you, which is the same thing; so you can no more dispense with
my company than you can with that of the Graces."

"Good morning, Sir William," cried the Lady Hasselton, rising.

I offered to hand her to the door; with great difficulty, for her hoop
was of the very newest enormity of circumference; I effected this
object.  "Well, Count," said she, "I am glad to see you have brought so
much learning from school; make the best use of it while it lasts, for
your memory will not furnish you with a single simile out of the
mythology by the end of next winter."

"That would be a pity," said I, "for I intend having as many goddesses
as the heathens had, and I should like to worship them in a classical
fashion."

"Oh, the young reprobate!" said the beauty, tapping me with her fan.
"And pray, what other deities besides Venus do I resemble?"

"All!" said I,--"at least, all the celestial ones!"

Though half way through the door, the beauty extricated her hoop, and
drew back.  "Bless me, the gods as well as the goddesses?"

"Certainly."

"You jest: tell me how."

"Nothing can be easier; you resemble Mercury because of your thefts."

"Thefts!"

"Ay; stolen hearts, and," added I, in a whisper, "glances; Jupiter,
partly because of your lightning, which you lock up in the said
glances,--principally because all things are subservient to you;
Neptune, because you are as changeable as the seas; Vulcan, because you
live among the flames you excite; and Mars, because--"

"You are so destructive," cried my uncle.

"Exactly so; and because," added I--as I shut the door upon the
beauty--"because, thanks to your hoop, you cover nine acres of ground."

"Ods fish, Morton," said my uncle, "you surprise me at times: one while
you are so reserved, at another so assured; to-day so brisk, to-morrow
so gloomy.  Why now, Lady Hasselton (she is very comely, eh! faith, but
not comparable to her mother) told me, a week ago, that she, gave you up
in despair, that you were dull, past hoping for; and now, 'Gad, you had
a life in you that Sid himself could not have surpassed.  How comes it,
Sir, eh?"

"Why, Uncle, you have explained the reason; it was exactly because she
said I was dull that I was resolved to convict her in an untruth."

"Well, now, there is some sense in that, boy; always contradict ill
report by personal merit.  But what think you of her ladyship?  'Gad,
you know what old Bellair said of Emilia.  'Make much of her: she's one
of the best of your acquaintance.  I like her countenance and behaviour.
Well, she has a modesty not i' this age, a-dad she has.'  Applicable
enough; eh, boy?"

"'I know her value, Sir, and esteem her accordingly,'" answered I, out
of the same play, which by dint of long study I had got by heart.  "But,
to confess the truth," added I, "I think you might have left out the
passage about her modesty."

"There, now; you young chaps are so censorious; why, 'sdeath, sir, you
don't think the worse of her virtue because of her wit?"

"Humph!"

"Ah, boy! when you are my age, you'll know that your demure cats are not
the best; and that reminds me of a little story; shall I tell it you,
child?"

"If it so please you, Sir."

"Zauns--where's my snuff-box?--oh, here it is.  Well, Sir, you shall
have the whole thing, from beginning to end.  Sedley and I were one day
conversing together about women.  Sid was a very deep fellow in that
game: no passion you know; no love on his own side; nothing of the sort;
all done by rule and compass; knew women as well as dice, and calculated
the exact moment when his snares would catch them, according to the
principles of geometry.  D----d clever fellow, faith; but a confounded
rascal: but let it go no further; mum's the word! must not slander the
dead; and 'tis only my suspicion, you know, after all.  Poor fellow: I
don't think he was such a rascal; he gave a beggar an angel once,--well,
boy, have a pinch?--Well, so I said to Sir Charles, 'I think you will
lose the widow, after all,--'Gad I do.'  'Upon what principle of
science, Sir William?' said he.  'Why, faith, man, she is so modest, you
see, and has such a pretty way of blushing.'  'Hark ye, friend
Devereux,' said Sir Charles, smoothing his collar and mincing his words
musically, as he was wont to do,--'hark ye, friend Devereux, I will give
you the whole experience of my life in one maxim: I can answer for its
being new, and I think it is profound; and that maxim is--,' no, faith,
Morton--no, I can't tell it thee: it is villanous, and then it's so
desperately against all the sex."

"My dear uncle, don't tantalize me so: pray tell it me; it shall be a
secret."

"No, boy, no: it will corrupt thee; besides, it will do poor Sid's
memory no good.  But, 'sdeath, it was a most wonderfully shrewd
saying,--i' faith, it was.  But, zounds, Morton, I forgot to tell you
that I have had a letter from the Abbe to-day."

"Ha! and when does he return?"

"To-morrow, God willing!" said the knight, with a sigh.

"So soon, or rather after so long an absence!  Well, I am glad of it.  I
wish much to see him before I leave you."

"Indeed!" quoth my uncle; "you have an advantage over me, then!  But,
ods fish, Morton, how is it that you grew so friendly with the priest
before his departure?  He used to speak very suspiciously of thee
formerly; and, when I last saw him, he lauded thee to the skies."

"Why, the clergy of his faith have a habit of defending the strong and
crushing the weak, I believe; that's all.  He once thought I was dull
enough to damn my fortune, and then he had some strange doubts for my
soul; now he thinks me wise enough to become prosperous, and it is
astonishing what a respect he has conceived for my principles."

"Ha! ha! ha!--you have a spice of your uncle's humour in you; and, 'Gad,
you have no small knowledge of the world, considering you have seen so
little of it."

A hit at the popish clergy was, in my good uncle's eyes, the exact acme
of wit and wisdom.  We are always clever with those who imagine we think
as they do.  To be shallow you must differ from people: to be profound
you must agree with them.  "Why, Sir," answered the sage nephew, "you
forget that I have seen more of the world than many of twice my age.
Your house has been full of company ever since I have been in it, and
you set me to making observations on what I saw before I was thirteen.
And then, too, if one is reading books about real life, at the very time
one is mixing in it, it is astonishing how naturally one remarks and how
well one remembers."

"Especially if one has a genius for it,--eh, boy?  And then too, you
have read my play; turned Horace's Satires into a lampoon upon the boys
at school; been regularly to assizes during the vacation; attended the
county balls, and been a most premature male coquette with the ladies.
Ods fish, boy! it is quite curious to see how the young sparks of the
present day get on with their lovemaking."

"Especially if one has a genius for it,--eh, sir?" said I.

"Besides, too," said my uncle, ironically, "you have had the Abbe's
instructions."

"Ay, and if the priests would communicate to their pupils their
experience in frailty, as well as in virtue, how wise they would make
us!"

"Ods fish!  Morton, you are quite oracular.  How got you that fancy of
priests?--by observation in life already?"

"No, Uncle: by observation in plays, which you tell me are the mirrors
of life; you remember what Lee says,--


               "''Tis thought
  That earth is more obliged to priests for bodies
  Than Heaven for souls.'"


And my uncle laughed, and called me a smart fellow.



CHAPTER XII.

THE ABBE'S RETURN.--A SWORD, AND A SOLILOQUY.

THE next evening, when I was sitting alone in my room, the Abbe
Montreuil suddenly entered.  "Ah, is it you? welcome!" cried I.  The
priest held out his arms, and embraced me in the most paternal manner.

"It is your friend," said he, "returned at last to bless and
congratulate you.  Behold my success in your service," and the Abbe
produced a long leather case richly inlaid with gold.

"Faith, Abbe," said I, "am I to understand that this is a present for
your eldest pupil?"

"You are," said Montreuil, opening the case, and producing a sword.  The
light fell upon the hilt, and I drew back, dazzled with its lustre; it
was covered with stones, apparently of the most costly value.  Attached
to the hilt was a label of purple velvet, on which, in letters of gold,
was inscribed, "To the son of Marshal Devereux, the soldier of France,
and the friend of Louis XIV."

Before I recovered my surprise at this sight, the Abbe said: "It was
from the King's own hand that I received this sword, and I have
authority to inform you that if ever you wield it in the service of
France it will be accompanied by a post worthy of your name."

"The service of France!" I repeated; "why, at present that is the
service of an enemy."

"An enemy only to a /part/ of England!" said the Abbe, emphatically;
"perhaps I have overtures to you from other monarchs, and the friendship
of the court of France may be synonymous with the friendship of the true
sovereign of England."

There was no mistaking the purport of this speech, and even in the midst
of my gratified vanity I drew back alarmed.

The Abbe noted the changed expression of my countenance, and artfully
turned the subject to comments on the sword, on which I still gazed with
a lover's ardour.  Thence he veered to a description of the grace and
greatness of the royal donor: he dwelt at length upon the flattering
terms in which Louis had spoken of my father, and had inquired
concerning myself; he enumerated all the hopes that the illustrious
house into which my father had first married expressed for a speedy
introduction to his son; he lingered with an eloquence more savouring of
the court than of the cloister on the dazzling circle which surrounded
the French throne; and when my vanity, my curiosity, my love of
pleasure, my ambition, all that are most susceptible in young minds,
were fully aroused, he suddenly ceased, and wished me a good night.

"Stay," said I; and looking at him more attentively than I had hitherto
done, I perceived a change in his external appearance which somewhat
startled and surprised me.  Montreuil had always hitherto been
remarkably plain in his dress; but he was now richly attired, and by his
side hung a rapier, which had never adorned it before.  Something in his
aspect seemed to suit the alteration in his garb: and whether it was
that long absence had effaced enough of the familiarity of his features
to allow me to be more alive than formerly to the real impression they
were calculated to produce, or whether a commune with kings and nobles
had of late dignified their old expression, as power was said to have
clothed the soldier-mien of Cromwell with a monarch's bearing,--I do not
affect to decide; but I thought that, in his high brow and Roman
features, the compression of his lip, and his calm but haughty air,
there was a nobleness, which I acknowledged for the first time.  "Stay,
my father," said I, surveying him, "and tell me, if there be no
irreverence in the question, whether brocade and a sword are compatible
with the laws of the Order of Jesus?"

"Policy, Morton," answered Montreuil, "often dispenses with custom; and
the declarations of the Institute provide, with their usual wisdom, for
worldly and temporary occasions.  Even while the constitution ordains us
to discard habits repugnant to our professions of poverty, the following
exception is made: 'Si in occurrenti aliqua occasione, vel necessitate,
quis vestibus melioribus, honestis tamen, indueretur.'"*


* "But should there chance any occasion or necessity, one may wear
better though still decorous garments."


"There is now, then, some occasion for a more glittering display than
ordinary?" said I.

"There is, my pupil," answered Montreuil; "and whenever you embrace the
offer of my friendship made to you more than two years ago,--whenever,
too, your ambition points to a lofty and sublime career,--whenever to
make and unmake kings, and in the noblest sphere to execute the will of
God, indemnifies you for a sacrifice of petty wishes and momentary
passions,--I will confide to you schemes worthy of your ancestors and
yourself."

With this the priest departed.  Left to myself, I revolved his hints,
and marvelled at the power he seemed to possess.  "Closeted with kings,"
said I, soliloquizing,--"bearing their presents through armed men and
military espionage; speaking of empires and their overthrow as of
ordinary objects of ambition; and he himself a low-born and undignified
priest, of a poor though a wise order,--well, there is more in this than
I can fathom: but I will hesitate before I embark in his dangerous and
concealed intrigues; above all, I will look well ere I hazard my safe
heritage of these broad lands in the service of that House which is
reported to be ungrateful, and which is certainly exiled."

After this prudent and notable resolution, I took up the sword,
re-examined it, kissed the hilt once and the blade twice, put it under
my pillow, sent for my valet, undressed, went to bed, fell asleep, and
dreamed that I was teaching the Marechal de Villars the thrust /en
seconde/.

But Fate, that arch-gossip, who, like her prototypes on earth, settles
all our affairs for us without our knowledge of the matter, had decreed
that my friendship with the Abbe Montreuil should be of very short
continuance, and that my adventures on earth should flow through a
different channel than, in all probability, they would have done under
his spiritual direction.



CHAPTER XIII.

A MYSTERIOUS LETTER.--A DUEL.--THE DEPARTURE OF ONE OF THE FAMILY.

THE next morning I communicated to the Abbe my intention of proceeding
to London.  He received it with favour.  "I myself," said he, "shall
soon meet you there: my office in your family has expired; and your
mother, after so long an absence, will perhaps readily dispense with my
spiritual advice to her.  But time presses: since you depart so soon,
give me an audience to-night in your apartment.  Perhaps our
conversation may be of moment."

I agreed; the hour was fixed, and I left the Abbe to join my uncle and
his guests.  While I was employing among them my time and genius with
equal dignity and profit, one of the servants informed me that a man at
the gate wished to see me--and alone.

Somewhat surprised, I followed the servant out of the room into the
great hall, and desired him to bid the stranger attend me there.  In a
few minutes, a small, dark man, dressed between gentility and meanness,
made his appearance.  He greeted me with great respect, and presented a
letter, which, he said, he was charged to deliver into my own hands,
"with," he added in a low tone, "a special desire that none should, till
I had carefully read it, be made acquainted with its contents."  I was
not a little startled by this request; and, withdrawing to one of the
windows, broke the seal.  A letter, enclosed in the envelope, in the
Abbe's own handwriting, was the first thing that met my eyes.  At that
instant the Abbe himself rushed into the hall.  He cast one hasty look
at the messenger, whose countenance evinced something of surprise and
consternation at beholding him; and, hastening up to me, grasped my hand
vehemently, and, while his eye dwelt upon the letter I held, cried, "Do
not read it--not a word--not a word: there is poison in it!"  And so
saying, he snatched desperately at the letter.  I detained it from him
with one hand, and pushing him aside with the other, said,--

"Pardon me, Father, directly I have read it you shall have that
pleasure,--not till then!" and, as I said this, my eye falling upon the
letter discovered my own name written in two places.  My suspicions were
aroused.  I raised my eyes to the spot where the messenger had stood,
with the view of addressing some question to him respecting his
employer, when, to my surprise, I perceived he was already gone; I had
no time, however, to follow him.

"Boy," said the Abbe, gasping for breath, and still seizing me with his
lean, bony hand,--"boy, give me that letter instantly; I charge you not
to disobey me."

"You forget yourself, Sir," said I, endeavouring to shake him off, "you
forget yourself: there is no longer between us the distinction of pupil
and teacher; and if you have not yet learned the respect due to my
station, suffer me to tell you that it is time you should."

"Give me that letter, I beseech you," said Montreuil, changing his voice
from anger to supplication; "I ask your pardon for my violence: the
letter does not concern you but me; there is a secret in those lines
which you see are in my handwriting that implicates my personal safety.
Give it me, my dear, dear son: your own honour, if not your affection
for me, demands that you should."

I was staggered.  His violence had confirmed my suspicions, but his
gentleness weakened them.  "Besides," thought I, "the handwriting /is
his/; and even if my life depended upon reading the letter of another, I
do not think my honour would suffer me to do so against his consent."  A
thought struck me,--

"Will you swear," said I, "that this letter does not concern me?"

"Solemnly," answered the Abbe, raising his eyes.

"Will you swear that I am not even mentioned in it?"

"Upon peril of my soul, I will."

"Liar! traitor! perjured blasphemer!" cried I, in an inexpressible rage,
"look here, and here!" and I pointed out to the priest various lines in
which my name legibly and frequently occurred.  A change came over
Montreuil's face: he released my arm and staggered back against the
wainscot; but recovering his composure instantaneously, he said, "I
forgot, my son--I forgot--your name is mentioned, it is true, but with
honourable eulogy, that is all."

"Bravo, honest Father!" cried I, losing my fury in admiring surprise at
his address,--"bravo!  However, if that be all, you can have no
objection to allow me to read the lines in which my name occurs; your
benevolence cannot refuse me such a gratification as the sight of your
written panegyric!"

"Count Devereux," said the Abbe, sternly, while his dark face worked
with suppressed passion, "this is trifling with me, and I warn you not
to push my patience too far.  I /will/ have that letter, or--" he ceased
abruptly, and touched the hilt of his sword.

"Dare you threaten me?" I said, and the natural fierceness of my own
disposition, deepened by vague and strong suspicions of some treachery
designed against me, spoke in the tones of my voice.

"Dare I?" repeated Montreuil, sinking and sharpening his voice into a
sort of inward screech.  "Dare I!--ay, were your whole tribe arrayed
against me.  Give me the letter, or you will find me now and forever
your most deadly foe; deadly--ay--deadly, deadly!" and he shook his
clenched hand at me, with an expression of countenance so malignant and
menacing that I drew back involuntarily, and laid my hand on my sword.

The action seemed to give Montreuil a signal for which he had hitherto
waited.  "Draw then," he said through his teeth, and unsheathed his
rapier.

Though surprised at his determination, I was not backward in meeting it.
Thrusting the letter in my bosom, I drew my sword in time to parry a
rapid and fierce thrust.  I had expected easily to master Montreuil, for
I had some skill at my weapon: I was deceived; I found him far more
adroit than myself in the art of offence; and perhaps it would have
fared ill for the hero of this narrative had Montreuil deemed it wise to
direct against my life all the science he possessed.  But the moment our
swords crossed, the constitutional coolness of the man, which rage or
fear had for a brief time banished, returned at once, and he probably
saw that it would be as dangerous to him to take away the life of his
pupil as to forfeit the paper for which he fought.  He, therefore,
appeared to bend all his efforts towards disarming me.  Whether or not
he would have effected this it is hard to say, for my blood was up, and
any neglect of my antagonist, in attaining an object very dangerous,
when engaged with a skilful and quick swordsman, might have sent him to
the place from which the prayers of his brethren have (we are bound to
believe) released so many thousands of souls.  But, meanwhile, the
servants, who at first thought the clashing of swords was the wanton
sport of some young gallants as yet new to the honour of wearing them,
grew alarmed by the continuance of the sound, and flocked hurriedly to
the place of contest.  At their intrusion we mutually drew back.
Recovering my presence of mind (it was a possession I very easily lost
at that time), I saw the unseemliness of fighting with my preceptor, and
a priest.  I therefore burst, though awkwardly enough, into a laugh,
and, affecting to treat the affair as a friendly trial of skill between
the Abbe and myself, resheathed my sword and dismissed the intruders,
who, evidently disbelieving my version of the story, retreated slowly,
and exchanging looks.  Montreuil, who had scarcely seconded my attempt
to gloss over our /rencontre/, now approached me.

"Count," he said, with a collected and cool voice, "suffer me to request
you to exchange three words with me in a spot less liable than this to
interruption."

"Follow me then!" said I; and I led the way to a part of the grounds
which lay remote and sequestered from intrusion.  I then turned round,
and perceived that the Abbe had left his sword behind.  "How is this?" I
said, pointing to his unarmed side, "have you not come hither to renew
our engagement?"

"No!" answered Montreuil, "I repent me of my sudden haste, and I have
resolved to deny myself all further possibility of unseemly warfare.
That letter, young man, I still demand from you; I demanded it from your
own sense of honour and of right: it was written by me; it was not
intended for your eye; it contains secrets implicating the lives of
others besides myself; now, read it if you will."

"You are right, Sir," said I, after a short pause; "there is the letter;
never shall it be said of Morton Devereux that he hazarded his honour to
secure his safety.  But the tie between us is broken now and forever!"

So saying, I flung down the debated epistle, and strode away.  I
re-entered the great hall.  I saw by one of the windows a sheet of
paper; I picked it up, and perceived that it was the envelope in which
the letter had been enclosed.  It contained only these lines, addressed
me in French:--


A friend of the late Marshal Devereux encloses to his son a letter, the
contents of which it is essential for His safety that he should know.

               C. D. B.


"Umph!" said I, "a very satisfactory intimation, considering that the
son of the late Marshal Devereux is so very well assured that he shall
not know one line of the contents of the said letter.  But let me see
after this messenger!" and I immediately hastened to institute inquiry
respecting him.  I found that he was already gone; on leaving the hall
he had remounted his horse and taken his departure.  One servant,
however, had seen him, as he passed the front court, address a few words
to my valet, Desmarais, who happened to be loitering there.  I summoned
Desmarais and questioned him.

"The dirty fellow," said the Frenchman, pointing to his spattered
stockings with a lachrymose air, "splashed me, by a prance of his horse,
from head to foot, and while I was screaming for very anguish, he
stopped and said, 'Tell the Count Devereux that I was unable to tarry,
but that the letter requires no answer.'"

I consoled Desmarais for his misfortune, and hastened to my uncle with a
determination to reveal to him all that had occurred.  Sir William was
in his dressing-room, and his gentleman was very busy in adorning his
wig.  I entreated him to dismiss the /coiffeur/, and then, without much
preliminary detail, acquainted him with all that had passed between the
Abbe and myself.

The knight seemed startled when I came to the story of the sword.
"'Gad, Sir Count, what have you been doing?" said he; "know you not that
this may be a very ticklish matter?  The King of France is a very great
man, to be sure,--a very great man,--and a very fine gentleman; but you
will please to remember that we are at war with his Majesty, and I
cannot guess how far the accepting such presents may be held
treasonable."

And Sir William shook his head with a mournful significance.  "Ah,"
cried he, at last (when I had concluded my whole story), with a
complacent look, "I have not lived at court, and studied human nature,
for nothing: and I will wager my best full-bottom to a night-cap that
the crafty old fox is as much a Jacobite as he is a rogue!  The letter
would have proved it, Sir; it would have proved it!"

"But what shall be done now?" said I; "will you suffer him to remain any
longer in the house?"

"Why," replied the knight, suddenly recollecting his reverence to the
fair sex, "he is your mother's guest, not mine; we must refer the matter
to her.  But zauns, Sir, with all deference to her ladyship, we cannot
suffer our house to be a conspiracy-hatch as well as a popish chapel;
and to attempt your life too--the devil!  Ods fish, boy, I will go to
the countess myself, if you will just let Nicholls finish my wig,--never
attend the ladies /en deshabille/,--always, with them, take care of your
person most, when you most want to display your mind;" and my uncle
ringing a little silver bell on his dressing-table, the sound
immediately brought Nicholls to his toilet.

Trusting the cause to the zeal of my uncle, whose hatred to the
ecclesiastic would, I knew, be an efficacious adjunct to his diplomatic
address, and not unwilling to avoid being myself the person to acquaint
my mother with the suspected delinquency of her favourite, I hastened
from the knight's apartment in search of Aubrey.  He was not in the
house.  His attendants (for my uncle, with old-fashioned grandeur of
respect, suitable to his great wealth and aristocratic temper, allotted
to each of us a separate suite of servants as well as of apartments)
believed he was in the park.  Thither I repaired, and found him, at
length, seated by an old tree, with a large book of a religious cast
before him, on which his eyes were intently bent.

"I rejoice to have found thee, my gentle brother," said I, throwing
myself on the green turf by his side; "in truth you have chosen a
fitting and fair place for study."

"I have chosen," said Aubrey, "a place meet for the peculiar study I am
engrossed in; for where can we better read of the power and benevolence
of God than among the living testimonies of both?  Beautiful--how very
beautiful!--is this happy world; but I fear," added Aubrey, and the glow
of his countenance died away,--"I fear that we enjoy it too much."

"We hold different interpretations of our creed then," said I, "for I
esteem enjoyment the best proof of gratitude; nor do I think we can pay
a more acceptable duty to the Father of all Goodness than by showing
ourselves sensible of the favours He bestows upon us."

Aubrey shook his head gently, but replied not.

"Yes," resumed I, after a pause,--"yes, it is indeed a glorious and fair
world which we have for our inheritance.  Look how the sunlight sleeps
yonder upon fields covered with golden corn; and seems, like the divine
benevolence of which you spoke, to smile upon the luxuriance which its
power created.  This carpet at our feet, covered with flowers that
breathe, sweet as good deeds, to Heaven; the stream that breaks through
that distant copse, laughing in the light of noon, and sending its voice
through the hill and woodland, like a messenger of glad tidings; the
green boughs over our head, vocal with a thousand songs, all
inspirations of a joy too exquisite for silence; the very leaves, which
seem to dance and quiver with delight,--think you, Aubrey, that these
are so sullen as not to return thanks for the happiness they imbibe with
being: what are those thanks but the incense of their joy?  The flowers
send it up to heaven in fragrance; the air and the wave, in music.
Shall the heart of man be the only part of His creation that shall
dishonour His worship with lamentation and gloom?  When the inspired
writers call upon us to praise our Creator, do they not say to us,--'Be
/joyful/ in your God?'"

"How can we be joyful with the Judgment-Day ever before us?" said
Aubrey; "how can we be joyful" (and here a dark shade crossed his
countenance, and his lip trembled with emotion) "while the deadly
passions of this world plead and rankle at the heart?  Oh, none but they
who have known the full blessedness of a commune with Heaven can dream
of the whole anguish and agony of the conscience, when it feels itself
sullied by the mire and crushed by the load of earth!" Aubrey paused,
and his words, his tone, his look, made upon me a powerful impression.
I was about to answer, when, interrupting me, he said, "Let us talk not
of these matters; speak to me on more worldly topics."

"I sought you," said I; "that I might do so," and I proceeded to detail
to Aubrey as much of my private intercourse with the Abbe as I deemed
necessary in order to warn him from too close a confidence in the wily
ecclesiastic.  Aubrey listened to me with earnest attention: the affair
of the letter; the gross falsehood of the priest in denying the mention
of my name, in his epistle, evidently dismayed him.  "But," said he,
after a long silence,--"but it is not for us, Morton,--weak, ignorant,
inexperienced as we are,--to judge prematurely of our spiritual pastors.
To them also is given a far greater license of conduct than to us, and
ways enveloped in what to our eyes are mystery and shade; nay, I know
not whether it be much less impious to question the paths of God's
chosen than to scrutinize those of the Deity Himself."

"Aubrey, Aubrey, this is childish!" said I, somewhat moved to anger.
"Mystery is always the trick of imposture: God's chosen should be
distinguished from their flock only by superior virtue, and not by a
superior privilege in deceit."

"But," said Aubrey, pointing to a passage in the book before him, "see
what a preacher of the word has said!" and Aubrey recited one of the
most dangerous maxims in priestcraft, as reverently as if he were
quoting from the Scripture itself.  "'The nakedness of truth should
never be too openly exposed to the eyes of the vulgar.  It was wisely
feigned by the ancients that Truth did lie concealed in a well!'"

"Yes," said I, with enthusiasm, "but that well is like the holy stream
at Dodona, which has the gift of enlightening those who seek it, and the
power of illumining every torch which touches the surface of its water!"

Whatever answer Aubrey might have made was interrupted by my uncle, who
appeared approaching towards us with unusual satisfaction depicted on
his comely countenance.

"Well, boys, well," said he, when he came within hearing, "a holyday for
you!  Ods fish,--and a holier day than my old house has known since its
former proprietor, Sir Hugo, of valorous memory, demolished the nunnery,
of which some remains yet stand on yonder eminence.  Morton, my man of
might, the thing is done; the court is purified; the wicked one is
departed.  Look here, and be as happy as I am at our release;" and he
threw me a note in Montreuil's writing:--


TO SIR WILLIAM DEVEREUX, KT.

MY HONOURED FRIEND,--In consequence of a dispute between your eldest
nephew, Count Morton Devereux, and myself, in which he desired me to
remember, not only that our former relationship of tutor and pupil was
at an end, but that friendship for his person was incompatible with the
respect due to his superior station, I can neither so far degrade the
dignity of letters, nor, above all, so meanly debase the sanctity of my
divine profession, as any longer to remain beneath your hospitable
roof,--a guest not only unwelcome to, but insulted by, your relation and
apparent heir.  Suffer me to offer you my gratitude for the favours you
have hitherto bestowed on me, and to bid you farewell forever.

     I have the honour to be,
          With the most profound respect, etc.,
               JULIAN MONTREUIL.


"Well, sir, what say you?" cried my uncle, stamping his cane firmly on
the ground, when I had finished reading the letter, and had transmitted
it to Aubrey.

"That the good Abbe has displayed his usual skill in composition.  And
my mother?  Is she imbued with our opinion of his priestship?"

"Not exactly, I fear.  However, Heaven bless her, she is too soft to say
'nay.' But those Jesuits are so smooth-tongued to women.  'Gad, they
threaten damnation with such an irresistible air, that they are as much
like William the Conqueror as Edward the Confessor.  Ha! master Aubrey,
have you become amorous of the old Jacobite, that you sigh over his
crabbed writing, as if it were a /billet-doux/?"

"There seems a great deal of feeling in what he says, Sir," said Aubrey,
returning the letter to my uncle.

"Feeling!" cried the knight; "ay, the reverend gentry always have a
marvellously tender feeling for their own interest,--eh, Morton?"

"Right, dear sir," said I, wishing to change a subject which I knew
might hurt Aubrey; "but should we not join yon party of dames and
damsels?  I see they are about to make a water excursion."

"'Sdeath, sir, with all my heart," cried the good-natured knight; "I
love to see the dear creatures amuse themselves; for, to tell you the
truth, Morton," said he, sinking his voice into a knowing whisper, "the
best thing to keep them from playing the devil is to encourage them in
playing the fool!" and, laughing heartily at the jest he had purloined
from one of his favourite writers, Sir William led the way to the
water-party.



CHAPTER XIV.

BEING A CHAPTER OF TRIFLES.

THE Abby disappeared!  It is astonishing how well everybody bore his
departure.  My mother scarcely spoke on the subject; but along the
irrefragable smoothness of her temperament all things glided without
resistance to their course, or trace where they had been.  Gerald, who,
occupied solely in rural sports or rustic loves, seldom mingled in the
festivities of the house, was equally silent on the subject.  Aubrey
looked grieved for a day or two: but his countenance soon settled into
its customary and grave softness; and, in less than a week, so little
was the Abbe spoken of or missed that you would scarcely have imagined
Julian Montreuil had ever passed the threshold of our gate.  The
oblivion of one buried is nothing to the oblivion of one disgraced.

Meanwhile I pressed for my departure; and, at length, the day was
finally fixed.  Ever since that conversation with Lady Hasselton which
has been set before the reader, that lady had lingered and
lingered--though the house was growing empty, and London, in all
seasons, was, according to her, better than the country in any--until
the Count Devereux, with that amiable modesty which so especially
characterized him, began to suspect that the Lady Hasselton lingered on
his account.  This emboldened that bashful personage to press in earnest
for the fourth seat in the beauty's carriage, which we have seen in the
conversation before mentioned had been previously offered to him in
jest.  After a great affectation of horror at the proposal, the Lady
Hasselton yielded.  She had always, she said, been dotingly fond of
children, and it was certainly very shocking to send such a chit as the
little Count to London by himself.

My uncle was charmed with the arrangement.  The beauty was a peculiar
favourite of his, and, in fact, he was sometimes pleased to hint that he
had private reasons for love towards her mother's daughter.  Of the
truth of this insinuation I am, however, more than somewhat suspicious,
and believe it was only a little ruse of the good knight, in order to
excuse the vent of those kindly affections with which (while the
heartless tone of the company his youth had frequented made him ashamed
to own it) his breast overflowed.  There was in Lady Hasselton's
familiarity--her ease of manner--a certain good-nature mingled with her
affectation, and a gayety of spirit, which never flagged,--something
greatly calculated to win favour with a man of my uncle's temper.

An old gentleman who filled in her family the office of "the
/chevalier/" in a French one; namely, who told stories; not too long,
and did not challenge you for interrupting them; who had a good air, and
unexceptionable pedigree,--a turn for wit, literature, note-writing, and
the management of lap-dogs; who could attend /Madame/ to auctions,
plays, courts, and the puppet-show; who had a right to the best company,
but would, on a signal, give up his seat to any one the pretty
/capricieuse/ whom he served might select from the worst,--in short a
very useful, charming personage, "vastly" liked by all, and
"prodigiously" respected by none,--this gentleman, I say, by name Mr.
Lovell, had attended her ladyship in her excursion to Devereux Court.
Besides him there came also a widow lady, a distant relation, with one
eye and a sharp tongue,--the Lady Needleham, whom the beauty carried
about with her as a sort of /gouvernante/ or duenna.  These excellent
persons made my /compagnons de voyage/, and filled the remaining
complements of the coach.  To say truth, and to say nothing of my
/tendresse/ for the Lady Hasselton, I was very anxious to escape the
ridicule of crawling up to the town like a green beetle, in my uncle's
verdant chariot, with the four Flanders mares trained not to exceed two
miles an hour.  And my Lady Hasselton's /private/ raileries--for she was
really well bred, and made no jest of my uncle's antiquities of taste,
in his presence, at least--had considerably heightened my intuitive
dislike to that mode of transporting myself to the metropolis.  The day
before my departure, Gerald, for the first time, spoke of it.

Glancing towards the mirror, which gave in full contrast the magnificent
beauty of his person, and the smaller proportions and plainer features
of my own, he said with a sneer, "Your appearance must create a
wonderful sensation in town."

"No doubt of it," said I, taking his words literally, and arraying my
laced cravat with the air of a /petit-maitre/.

"What a wit the Count has!" whispered the Duchess of Lackland, who had
not yet given up all hope of the elder brother.

"Wit!" said the Lady Hasselton; "poor child, he is a perfect simpleton!"



CHAPTER XV.

THE MOTHER AND SON.--VIRTUE SHOULD BE THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FEELINGS, NOT
THEIR DESTROYER.

I TOOK the first opportunity to escape from the good company who were so
divided in opinion as to my mental accomplishments, and repaired to my
mother; for whom, despite of her evenness of disposition, verging
towards insensibility, I felt a powerful and ineffaceable affection.
Indeed, if purity of life, rectitude of intentions, and fervour of piety
can win love, none ever deserved it more than she.  It was a pity that,
with such admirable qualities, she had not more diligently cultivated
her affections.  The seed was not wanting; but it had been neglected.
Originally intended for the veil, she had been taught, early in life,
that much feeling was synonymous with much sin; and she had so long and
so carefully repressed in her heart every attempt of the forbidden fruit
to put forth a single blossom, that the soil seemed at last to have
become incapable of bearing it.  If, in one corner of this barren but
sacred spot, some green and tender verdure of affection did exist, it
was, with a partial and petty reserve for my twin-brother, kept
exclusive, and consecrated to Aubrey.  His congenial habits of pious
silence and rigid devotion; his softness of temper; his utter freedom
from all boyish excesses, joined to his almost angelic beauty,--a
quality which, in no female heart, is ever without its value,--were
exactly calculated to attract her sympathy, and work themselves into her
love.  Gerald was also regular in his habits, attentive to devotion, and
had, from an early period, been high in the favour of her spiritual
director.  Gerald, too, if he had not the delicate and dream-like beauty
of Aubrey, possessed attractions of a more masculine and decided order;
and for Gerald, therefore, the Countess gave the little of love that she
could spare from Aubrey.  To me she manifested the most utter
indifference.  My difficult and fastidious temper; my sarcastic turn of
mind; my violent and headstrong passions; my daring, reckless and, when
roused, almost ferocious nature,--all, especially, revolted the even and
polished and quiescent character of my maternal parent.  The little
extravagances of my childhood seemed to her pure and inexperienced mind
the crimes of a heart naturally distorted and evil; my jesting vein,
which, though it never, even in the wantonness of youth, attacked the
substances of good, seldom respected its semblances and its forms, she
considered as the effusions of malignity; and even the bursts of love,
kindness, and benevolence, which were by no means unfrequent in my wild
and motley character, were so foreign to her stillness of temperament
that they only revolted her by their violence, instead of affecting her
by their warmth.

Nor did she like me the better for the mutual understanding between my
uncle and myself.  On the contrary, shocked by the idle and gay turn of
the knight's conversation, the frivolities of his mind, and his
heretical disregard for the forms of the religious sect which she so
zealously espoused, she was utterly insensible to the points which
redeemed and ennobled his sterling and generous character; utterly
obtuse to his warmth of heart,--his overflowing kindness of
disposition,--his charity,--his high honour,--his justice of principle,
that nothing save benevolence could warp,--and the shrewd, penetrating
sense, which, though often clouded by foibles and humorous eccentricity,
still made the stratum of his intellectual composition.  Nevertheless,
despite her prepossessions against us both, there was in her temper
something so gentle, meek, and unupbraiding, that even the sense of
injustice lost its sting, and one could not help loving the softness of
her character, while one was most chilled by its frigidity.  Anger,
hope, fear, the faintest breath or sign of passion, never seemed to stir
the breezeless languor of her feelings; and quiet was so inseparable
from her image that I have almost thought, like that people described by
Herodotus, her very sleep could never be disturbed by dreams.

Yes! how fondly, how tenderly I loved her!  What tears, secret but deep,
bitter but unreproaching, have I retired to shed, when I caught her cold
and unaffectionate glance!  How (unnoticed and uncared for) have I
watched and prayed and wept without her door when a transitory sickness
or suffering detained her within; and how, when stretched myself upon
the feverish bed to which my early weakness of frame often condemned
me,--how have I counted the moments to her punctilious and brief visit,
and started as I caught her footstep, and felt my heart leap within me
as she approached! and then, as I heard her cold tone and looked upon
her unmoved face, how bitterly have I turned away with all that
repressed and crushed affection which was construed into sullenness or
disrespect!  O mighty and enduring force of early associations, that
almost seems, in its unconquerable strength, to partake of an innate
prepossession, that binds the son to the mother who concealed him in her
womb and purchased life for him with the travail of death?--fountain of
filial love, which coldness cannot freeze, nor injustice embitter, nor
pride divert into fresh channels, nor time, and the hot suns of our
toiling manhood, exhaust,--even at this moment, how livingly do you gush
upon my heart, and water with your divine waves the memories that yet
flourish amidst the sterility of years?

I approached the apartments appropriated to my mother: I knocked at her
door; one of her women admitted me.  The Countess was sitting on a
high-backed chair, curiously adorned with tapestry.  Her feet, which
were remarkable for their beauty, were upon a velvet cushion; three
hand-maids stood round her, and she herself was busily employed in a
piece of delicate embroidery, an art in which she eminently excelled.

"The Count, Madam!" said the woman who had admitted me, placing a chair
beside my mother, and then retiring to join her sister maidens.

"Good day to you, my son," said the Countess, lifting her eyes for a
moment, and then dropping them again upon her work.

"I have come to seek you, dearest mother, as I know not, if, among the
crowd of guests and amusements which surround us, I shall enjoy another
opportunity of having a private conversation with you: will it please
you to dismiss your women?"

My mother again lifted up her eyes.  "And why, my son? surely there
/can/ be nothing between us which requires their absence; what is your
reason?"

"I leave you to-morrow, Madam: is it strange that a son should wish to
see his mother alone before his departure?"

"By no means, Morton; but your absence will not be very long, will it?"

"Forgive my importunity, dear Mother; but /will/ you dismiss your
attendants?"

"If you wish it, certainly; but I dislike feeling alone, especially in
these large rooms; nor did I think being unattended quite consistent
with our rank: however, I never contradict you, my son," and the
Countess directed her women to wait in the anteroom.

"Well, Morton, what is your wish?"

"Only to bid you farewell, and to ask if London contains nothing which
you will commission me to obtain for you?"

The Countess again raised her eyes from her work.  "I am greatly obliged
to you, my dear son; this is a very delicate attention on your part.  I
am informed that stomachers are worn a thought less pointed than they
were.  I care not, you well know, for such vanities; but respect for the
memory of your illustrious father renders me desirous to retain a seemly
appearance to the world, and my women shall give you written
instructions thereon to Madame Tourville; she lives in St. James's
Street, and is the only person to be employed in these matters.  She is
a woman who has known misfortune, and appreciates the sorrowful and
subdued tastes of those whom an exalted station has not preserved from
like afflictions.  So you go to-morrow: will you get me the scissors?
They are on the ivory table yonder.  When do you return?"

"Perhaps never!" said I, abruptly.

"Never, Morton; how singular--why?"

"I may join the army, and be killed."

"I hope not.  Dear, how cold it is: will you shut the window? pray
forgive my troubling you, but you /would/ send away the women.  Join the
army, you say?  It is a very dangerous profession; your poor father
might be alive now but for having embraced it; nevertheless, in a
righteous cause, under the Lord of Hosts, there is great glory to be
obtained beneath its banners.  Alas, however, for its private evils!
alas, for the orphan and the widow!  You will be sure, my dear son, to
give the note to Madame Tourville herself?  Her assistants have not her
knowledge of my misfortunes, nor indeed of my exact proportions; and at
my age, and in my desolate state, I would fain be decorous in these
things, and that reminds me of dinner.  Have you aught else to say,
Morton?"

"Yes!" said I, suppressing my emotions, "yes, Mother! do bestow on me
one warm wish, one kind word, before we part: see,--I kneel for your
blessing,--will you not give it me?"

"Bless you, my child,--bless you! look you now; I have dropped my
needle!"

I rose hastily, bowed profoundly (my mother returned the courtesy with
the grace peculiar to herself), and withdrew. I hurried into the great
drawing-room, found Lady Needleham alone, rushed out in despair,
encountered the Lady Hasselton, and coquetted with her the rest of the
evening.  Vain hope! to forget one's real feelings by pretending those
one never felt!

The next morning, then, after suitable adieux to all (Gerald excepted)
whom I left behind; after some tears too from my uncle, which, had it
not been for the presence of the Lady Hasselton, I could have returned
with interest; and after a long caress to his dog Ponto, which now, in
parting with that dear old man, seemed to me as dog never seemed before,
I hurried into the Beauty's carriage, bade farewell forever to the
Rubicon of Life, and commenced my career of manhood and citizenship by
learning, under the tuition of the prettiest coquette of her time, the
dignified duties of a Court Gallant and a Town Beau.





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