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Title: Ernest Maltravers — Volume 05
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ernest Maltravers — Volume 05" ***

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BOOK V.

PARODY.

   My hero, turned author, lies mute in this section,
   You may pass by the place if you're bored by reflection:
   But if honest enough to be fond of the Muse,
   Stay, and read where you're able, and sleep where you choose.
     THEOC. /Epig. in Hippon/.

CHAPTER I.

               "My genius spreads her wing,
   And flies where Britain courts the western spring.

  *  *  *  *  *

   Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
   I see the lords of human kind pass by,
   Intent on high designs."-GOLDSMITH.

I HAVE no respect for the Englishman who re-enters London after long
residence abroad without a pulse that beats quick and a heart that
heaves high.  The public buildings are few, and, for the most part,
mean; the monuments of antiquity not comparable to those which the
pettiest town in Italy can boast of; the palaces are sad rubbish; the
houses of our peers and princes are shabby and shapeless heaps of brick.
But what of all this? the spirit of London is in her thoroughfares--her
population!  What wealth--what cleanliness--what order--what animation!
How majestic, and yet how vivid, is the life that runs through her
myriad veins!  How, as the lamps blaze upon you at night, and street
after street glides by your wheels, each so regular in its symmetry, so
equal in its civilization--how all speak of the CITY OF FREEMEN.

Yes, Maltravers felt his heart swell within him as the post-horses
whirled on his dingy carriage--over Westminster Bridge--along
Whitehall--through Regent Street--towards one of the quiet and
private-house-like hotels that are scattered round the neighbourhood of
Grosvenor Square.

Ernest's arrival had been expected.  He had written from Paris to
Cleveland to announce it; and Cleveland had, in reply, informed him that
he had engaged apartments for him at Mivart's.  The smiling waiters
ushered him into a spacious and well-aired room--the armchair was
already wheeled by the fire--a score or so of letters strewed the table,
together with two of the evening papers.  And how eloquently of busy
England do those evening papers speak!  A stranger might have felt that
he wanted no friend to welcome him--the whole room smiled on him a
welcome.

Maltravers ordered his dinner and opened his letters: they were of no
importance; one from his steward, one from his banker, another about the
county races, a fourth from a man he had never heard of, requesting the
vote and powerful interest of Mr. Maltravers for the county of B------,
should the rumour of a dissolution be verified; the unknown candidate
referred Mr. Maltravers to his "well-known public character."  From
these epistles Ernest turned impatiently, and perceived a little
three-cornered note which had hitherto escaped his attention.  It was
from Cleveland, intimating that he was in town; that his health still
precluded his going out, but that he trusted to see his dear Ernest as
soon as he arrived.

Maltravers was delighted at the prospect of passing his evening so
agreeably; he soon despatched his dinner and his newspapers, and walked
in the brilliant lamplight of a clear frosty evening of early December
in London, to his friend's house in Curzon Street: a small house,
bachelor-like and unpretending; for Cleveland spent his moderate though
easy fortune almost entirely at his country villa.  The familiar face of
the old valet greeted Ernest at the door, and he only paused to hear
that his guardian was nearly recovered to his usual health, ere he was
in the cheerful drawing-room, and--since Englishmen do not
embrace--returning the cordial gripe of the kindly Cleveland.

"Well, my dear Ernest," said Cleveland, after they had gone through the
preliminary round of questions and answers, "here you are at last:
Heaven be praised; and how well you are looking--how much you are
improved!  It is an excellent period of the year for your /debut/ in
London.  I shall have time to make you intimate with people before the
whirl of 'the season' commences."

"Why, I thought of going to Burleigh, my country-place.  I have not seen
it since I was a child."

"No, no! you have had solitude enough at Como, if I may trust to your
letter; you must now mix with the great London world; and you will enjoy
Burleigh the more in the summer."

"I fancy this great London world will give me very little pleasure; it
may be pleasant enough to young men just let loose from college, but
your crowded ball-rooms and monotonous clubs will be wearisome to one
who has grown fastidious before his time.  /J'ai vecu beaucoup dans peu
d'annees.  I have drawn in youth too much upon the capital of existence
to be highly delighted with the ostentatious parsimony with which our
great men economise pleasure."

"Don't judge before you have gone through the trial," said Cleveland:
"there is something in the opulent splendour, the thoroughly sustained
magnificence, with which the leaders of English fashion conduct even the
most insipid amusements, that is above contempt.  Besides, you need not
necessarily live with the butterflies.  There are plenty of bees that
will be very happy to make your acquaintance.  Add to this, my dear
Ernest, the pleasure of being made of--of being of importance in your
own country.  For you are young, well-born, and sufficiently handsome to
be an object of interest to mothers and to daughters; while your name,
and property, and interest, will make you courted by men who want to
borrow your money and obtain your influence in your county.  No,
Maltravers, stay in London--amuse yourself your first year, and decide
on your occupation and career the next; but reconnoitre before you give
battle."

Maltravers was not ill-pleased to follow his friend's advice, since by
so doing he obtained his friend's guidance and society.  Moreover, he
deemed it wise and rational to see, face to face, the eminent men in
England, with whom, if he fulfilled his promise to De Montaigne, he was
to run the race of honourable rivalry.  Accordingly, he consented to
Cleveland's propositions.

"And have you," said he, hesitating, as he loitered by the door after
the stroke of twelve had warned him to take his leave--"have you never
heard anything of my--my--the unfortunate Alice Darvil?"

"Who?--Oh, that poor young woman; I remember!--not a syllable."

Maltravers sighed deeply and departed.



CHAPTER II.

  "Je trouve que c'est une folie de vouloir etudier le monde en
   simple spectateur. * * * Dans l'ecole du monde, comme dans
   cette de l'amour, il faut commencer par pratiquer cc qu'on veut
   apprendre."*--ROUSSEAU.

* I find that it is a folly to wish to study the world like a simple
spectator. * * * In the school of the world, as in that of love, it is
necessary to begin by practising what we wish to learn.

ERNEST MALTRAVERS was now fairly launched upon the wide ocean of London.
Amongst his other property was a house in Seamore Place--that quiet, yet
central street, which enjoys the air without the dust of the park.  It
had been hitherto let, and, the tenant now quitting very opportunely,
Maltravers was delighted to secure so pleasant a residence: for he was
still romantic enough to desire to look out upon trees and verdure
rather than brick houses.  He indulged only in two other luxuries: his
love of music tempted him to an opera-box, and he had that English
feeling which prides itself in the possession of beautiful horses,--a
feeling that enticed him into an extravagance on this head that baffled
the competition and excited the envy of much richer men.  But four
thousand a year goes a great way with a single man who does not gamble,
and is too philosophical to make superfluities wants.

The world doubled his income, magnified his old country-seat into a
superb chateau, and discovered that his elder brother, who was only
three or four years older than himself, had no children.  The world was
very courteous to Ernest Maltravers.

It was, as Cleveland said, just at that time of year when people are at
leisure to make new acquaintances.  A few only of the most difficult
houses in town were open; and their doors were cheerfully expanded to
the accomplished ward of the popular Cleveland.  Authors and statesmen,
and orators, and philosophers--to all he was presented;--all seemed
pleased with him, and Ernest became the fashion before he was conscious
of the distinction.  But he had rightly foreboded.  He had commenced
life too soon; he was disappointed; he found some persons he could
admire, some whom he could like, but none with whom he could grow
intimate, or for whom he could feel an interest.  Neither his heart nor
his imagination was touched; all appeared to him like artificial
machines; he was discontented with things like life, but in which
something or other was wanting.  He more than ever recalled the
brilliant graces of Valerie de Ventadour, which had thrown a charm over
the most frivolous circles; he even missed the perverse and fantastic
vanity of Castruccio.  The mediocre poet seemed to him at least less
mediocre than the worldlings about him.  Nay, even the selfish good
spirits and dry shrewdness of Lumley Ferrers would have been an
acceptable change to the dull polish and unrevealed egotism of jealous
wits and party politicians.  "If these are the flowers of the parterre,
what must be the weeds?" said Maltravers to himself, returning from a
party at which he had met half a score of the most orthodox lions.

He began to feel the aching pain of satiety.

But the winter glided away--the season commenced, and Maltravers was
whirled on with the rest into the bubbling vortex.



CHAPTER III.

  "And crowds commencing mere vexation,
   Retirement sent its invitation."--SHENSTONE.

THE tench, no doubt, considers the pond in which he lives as the Great
World.  There is no place, however stagnant, which is not the great
world to the creatures that move about, in it.  People who have lived
all their lives in a village still talk of the world as if they had ever
seen it!  An old woman in a hovel does not put her nose out of her door
on a Sunday without thinking she is going amongst the pomps and vanities
of the great world.  /Ergo/, the great world is to all of us the little
circle in which we live.  But as fine people set the fashion, so the
circle of fine people is called the Great World /par excellence/.  Now
this great world is not a bad thing when we thoroughly understand it;
and the London great world is at least as good as any other.  But then
we scarcely do understand that or anything else in our /beaux
jours/,--which, if they are sometimes the most exquisite, are also often
the most melancholy and the most wasted portion of our life.  Maltravers
had not yet found out either /the set/ that pleased him or the species
of amusement that really amused. Therefore he drifted on and about the
vast whirlpool, making plenty of friends--going to balls and
dinners--and bored with both as men are who have no object in society.
Now the way society is enjoyed is to have a pursuit, a /metier/ of some
kind, and then to go into the world, either to make the individual
object a social pleasure, or to obtain a reprieve from some toilsome
avocation.  Thus, if you are a politician--politics at once make an
object in your closet, and a social tie between others and yourself when
you are in the world.  The same may be said of literature, though in a
less degree; and though, as fewer persons care about literature than
politics, your companions must be more select.  If you are very young,
you are fond of dancing; if you are very profligate, perhaps you are
fond of flirtations with your friend's wife.  These last are objects in
their way: but they don't last long, and, even with the most frivolous,
are not occupations that satisfy the whole mind and heart, in which
there is generally an aspiration after something useful.  It is not
vanity alone that makes a man of the /mode/ invent a new bit or give his
name to a new kind of carriage; it is the influence of that mystic
yearning after utility, which is one of the master-ties between the
individual and the species.

Maltravers was not happy--that is a lot common enough; but he was not
amused--and that is a sentence more insupportable.  He lost a great part
of his sympathy with Cleveland, for, when a man is not amused, he feels
an involuntary contempt for those who are.  He fancies they are pleased
with trifles which his superior wisdom is compelled to disdain.
Cleveland was of that age when we generally grow social--for by being
rubbed long and often against the great loadstone of society, we obtain,
in a thousand little minute points, an attraction in common with our
fellows.  Their petty sorrows and small joys--their objects of interest
or employment, at some time or other have been ours.  We gather up a
vast collection of moral and mental farthings of exchange: and we
scarcely find any intellect too poor, but what we can deal with it in
some way.  But in youth, we are egotists and sentimentalists, and
Maltravers belonged to the fraternity who employ

     "The heart in passion and the head in rhymes."

At length--just when London begins to grow most pleasant--when
flirtations become tender, and water-parties numerous--when birds sing
in the groves of Richmond, and whitebait refresh the statesman by the
shores of Greenwich,--Maltravers abruptly fled from the gay metropolis,
and arrived, one lovely evening in July, at his own ivy-grown porch of
Burleigh.

What a soft, fresh, delicious evening it was!  He had quitted his
carriage at the lodge, and followed it across the small but picturesque
park alone and on foot.  He had not seen the place since childhood--he
had quite forgotten its aspect.  He now wondered how he could have lived
anywhere else.  The trees did not stand in stately avenues, nor did the
antlers of the deer wave above the sombre fern; it was not the domain of
a grand seigneur, but of an old, long-descended English squire.
Antiquity spoke in the moss-grown palings in the shadowy groves, in the
sharp gable-ends and heavy mullions of the house, as it now came in
view, at the base of a hill covered with wood--and partially veiled by
the shrubs of the neglected pleasure-ground, separated from the park by
the invisible ha-ha.  There, gleamed in the twilight the watery face of
the oblong fish-pool, with its old-fashioned willows at each
corner--there, grey and quaint, was the monastic dial--and there was the
long terrace walk, with discoloured and broken vases, now filled with
the orange or the aloe, which, in honour of his master's arrival, the
gardener had extracted from the dilapidated green-house.  The very
evidence of neglect around, the very weeds and grass on the
half-obliterated road, touched Maltravers with a sort of pitying and
remorseful affection for his calm and sequestered residence.  And it was
not with his usual proud step and erect crest that he passed from the
porch to the solitary library, through a line of his servants:--the two
or three old retainers belonging to the place were utterly unfamiliar to
him, and they had no smile for their stranger lord.



CHAPTER IV.

  "/Lucian./  He that is born to be a man neither should nor can
   be anything nobler, greater, and better than a man.

  "/Peregrine./  But, good Lucian, for the very reason that he may
   not become less than a man, he should be always striving to be
   more."--WIELAND'S /Peregrinus Proteus/.

IT was two years from the date of the last chapter before Maltravers
again appeared in general society.  These two years had sufficed to
produce a revolution in his fate.  Ernest Maltravers had lost the happy
rights of the private individual; he had given himself to the Public; he
had surrendered his name to men's tongues, and was a thing that all had
a right to praise, to blame, to scrutinise, to spy.  Ernest Maltravers
had become an author.

Let no man tempt Gods and Columns, without weighing well the
consequences of his experiment.  He who publishes a book, attended with
a moderate success, passes a mighty barrier.  He will often look back
with a sigh of regret at the land he has left for ever.  The beautiful
and decent obscurity of hearth and home is gone.  He can no longer feel
the just indignation of manly pride when he finds himself ridiculed or
reviled.  He has parted with the shadow of his life.  His motives may be
misrepresented, his character belied; his manners, his person, his
dress, the "very trick of his walk" are all fair food for the cavil and
the caricature.  He can never go back, he cannot even pause; he has
chosen his path, and all the natural feelings that make the nerve and
muscle of the active being urge him to proceed.  To stop short is to
fail.  He has told the world that he will make a name; and he must be
set down as a pretender, or toil on till the boast be fulfilled.  Yet
Maltravers thought nothing of all this when, intoxicated with his own
dreams and aspirations, he desired to make a world his confidant; when
from the living nature, and the lore of books, and the mingled result of
inward study and external observation, he sought to draw forth something
that might interweave his name with the pleasurable associations of his
kind.  His easy fortune and lonely state gave him up to his own thoughts
and contemplations; they suffused his mind, till it ran over upon the
page which makes the channel that connects the solitary Fountain with
the vast Ocean of Human Knowledge.  The temperament of Maltravers was,
as we have seen, neither irritable nor fearful.  He formed himself, as a
sculptor forms, with a model before his eyes and an ideal in his heart.
He endeavoured, with labour and patience, to approach nearer and nearer
with every effort to the standard of such excellence as he thought might
ultimately be attained by a reasonable ambition; and when, at last, his
judgment was satisfied, he surrendered the product with a tranquil
confidence to a more impartial tribunal.

His first work was successful; perhaps for this reason--that it bore the
stamp of the Honest and the Real.  He did not sit down to report of what
he had never seen, to dilate on what he had never felt.  A quiet and
thoughtful observer of life, his descriptions were the more vivid,
because his own first impressions were not yet worn away.  His
experience had sunk deep; not on the arid surface of matured age, but in
the fresh soil of youthful emotions.  Another reason, perhaps, that
obtained success for his essay was, that he had more varied and more
elaborate knowledge than young authors think it necessary to possess.
He did not, like Cesarini, attempt to make a show of words upon a
slender capital of ideas.  Whether his style was eloquent or homely; it
was still in him a faithful transcript of considered and digested
thought.  A third reason--and I dwell on these points not more to
elucidate the career of Maltravers than as hints which may be useful to
others--a third reason why Maltravers obtained a prompt and favourable
reception from the public was, that he had not hackneyed his
peculiarities of diction and thought in that worst of all schools for
the literary novice--the columns of a magazine.  Periodicals form an
excellent mode of communication between the public and an author
/already/ established, who has lost the charm of novelty, but gained the
weight of acknowledged reputation; and who, either upon politics or
criticism, seeks for frequent and continuous occasions to enforce his
peculiar theses and doctrines.  But, upon the young writer, this mode of
communication, if too long continued, operates most injuriously both as
to his future prospects and his own present taste and style.  With
respect to the first, it familiarises the public to his mannerism (and
all writers worth reading have mannerism) in a form to which the said
public are not inclined to attach much weight.  He forestalls in a few
months what ought to be the effect of years; namely, the wearying a
world soon nauseated with the /toujours perdrix/.  With respect to the
last, it induces a man to write for momentary effects; to study a false
smartness of style and reasoning; to bound his ambition of durability to
the last day of the month; to expect immediate returns for labour; to
recoil at the "hope deferred" of serious works on which judgment is
slowly formed.  The man of talent who begins young at periodicals, and
goes on long, has generally something crude and stunted about both his
compositions and his celebrity.  He grows the oracle of small coteries;
and we can rarely get out of the impression that he is cockneyfied and
conventional.  Periodicals sadly mortgaged the claims that Hazlitt, and
many others of his contemporaries, had upon a vast reversionary estate
of Fame.  But I here speak too politically; to some the /res angustoe
domi/ leave no option.  And, as Aristotle and the Greek proverb have it,
we cannot carve out all things with the knife of the Delphic cutler.

The second work that Maltravers put forth, at an interval of eighteen
months from the first, was one of a graver and higher nature; it served
to confirm his reputation: and that is success enough for a second work,
which is usually an author's "/pons asinorum/."  He who, after a
triumphant first book, does not dissatisfy the public with a second, has
a fair chance of gaining a fixed station in literature.  But now
commenced the pains and perils of the after-birth.  By a maiden effort
an author rarely makes enemies.  His fellow-writers are not yet prepared
to consider him as a rival; if he be tolerably rich, they unconsciously
trust that he will not become a regular, or, as they term it, "a
professional" author: he did something just to be talked of; he may
write no more, or his second book may fail.  But when that second book
comes out, and does not fail, they begin to look about them; envy
wakens, malice begins.  And all the old school--gentlemen who have
retired on their pensions of renown--regard him as an intruder: then the
sneer, then the frown, the caustic irony, the biting review, the
depreciating praise.  The novice begins to think that he is further from
the goal than before he set out upon the race.

Maltravers had, upon the whole, a tolerably happy temperament; but he
was a very proud man, and he had the nice soul of a courageous,
honourable, punctilious gentleman.  He thought it singular that society
should call upon him, as a gentleman, to shoot his best friend, if that
friend affronted him with a rude word; and yet that, as an author, every
fool and liar might, with perfect impunity, cover reams of paper with
the most virulent personal abuse of him.

It was one evening in the early summer that, revolving anxious and
doubtful thoughts, Ernest sauntered gloomily along his terrace,

     "And watched with wistful eyes the setting sun."

when he perceived a dusty travelling carriage whirled along the road by
the ha-ha, and a hand waved in recognition from the open window.  His
guests had been so rare, and his friends were so few, that Maltravers
could not conjecture who was his intended visitant.  His brother, he
knew, was in London.  Cleveland, from whom he had that day heard, was at
his villa.  Ferrers was enjoying himself in Vienna.  Who could it be?
We may say of solitude what we please; but, after two years of solitude,
a visitor is a pleasurable excitement.  Maltravers retraced his steps,
entered his house, and was just in time to find himself almost in the
arms of De Montaigne.



CHAPTER V.

         "Quid tam dextro pede concipis ut te,
   Conatus non poeniteat, votique peracti?"*--JUV.

* What, under such happy auspices do you conceive that you may not
repent of your endeavour and accomplished wish?

"YES," said De Montaigne, "in my way I also am fulfilling my destiny.  I
am a member of the /Chambre des Deputes/, and on a visit to England upon
some commercial affairs.  I found myself in your neighbourhood, and, of
course, could not resist the temptation: so you must receive me as your
guest for some days."

"I congratulate you cordially on your senatorial honours.  I have
already heard of your rising name."

"I return the congratulations with equal warmth.  You are bringing my
prophecies to pass.  I have read your works with increased pride at our
friendship."

Maltravers sighed slightly, and half turned away.

"The desire of distinction," said he, after a pause, "grows upon us till
excitement becomes disease.  The child who is born with the mariner's
instinct laughs with glee when his paper bark skims the wave of a pool.
By and by nothing will content him but the ship and the ocean.--Like the
child is the author."

"I am pleased with your simile," said De Montaigne, smiling.  "Do not
spoil it, but go on with your argument."

Maltravers continued: "Scarcely do we win the applause of a moment, ere
we summon the past and conjecture the future.  Our contemporaries no
longer suffice for competitors, our age for the Court to pronounce on
our claims: we call up the Dead as our only true rivals--we appeal to
Posterity as our sole just tribunal.  Is this vain in us?  Possibly.
Yet such vanity humbles.  'Tis then only we learn all the difference
between Reputation and Fame--between To-Day and Immortality!"

"Do you think," replied De Montaigne, "that the dead did not feel the
same when they first trod the path that leads to the life beyond life?
Continue to cultivate the mind, to sharpen by exercise the genius, to
attempt to delight or to instruct your race; and even supposing you fall
short of every model you set before you--supposing your name moulder
with your dust, still yon will have passed life more nobly than the
unlaborious herd.  Grant that you win not that glorious accident, 'a
name below,' how can you tell but what you may have fitted yourself for
high destiny and employ in the world not of men, but of spirits?  The
powers of the mind are things that cannot be less immortal than the mere
sense of identity; their acquisitions accompany us through the Eternal
Progress; and we may obtain a lower or a higher grade hereafter, in
proportion as we are more or less fitted by the exercise of our
intellect to comprehend and execute the solemn agencies of God.  The
wise man is nearer to the angels than the fool is.  This may be an
apocryphal dogma, but it is not an impossible theory."

"But we may waste the sound enjoyments of actual life in chasing the
hope you justly allow to be 'apocryphal;' and our knowledge may go for
nothing in the eyes of the Omniscient."

"Very well," said De Montaigne, smiling; "but answer me honestly.  By
the pursuits of intellectual ambition do you waste the sound enjoyments
of life?  If so, you do not pursue the system rightly.  Those pursuits
ought only to quicken your sense for such pleasures as are the true
relaxations of life.  And this, with you peculiarly, since you are
fortunate enough not to depend for subsistence upon literature;--did you
do so, I might rather advise you to be a trunkmaker than an author.  A
man ought not to attempt any of the highest walks of Mind and Art, as
the mere provision of daily bread; not literature alone, but everything
else of the same degree.  He ought not to be a statesman, or an orator,
or a philosopher, as a thing of pence and shillings: and usually all
men, save the poor poet, feel this truth insensibly."

"This may be fine preaching," said Maltravers; "but you may be quite
sure that the pursuit of literature is a pursuit apart from the ordinary
objects of life, and you cannot command the enjoyments of both."

"I think otherwise," said De Montaigne; "but it is not in a country
house eighty miles from the capital, without wife, guests, or friends,
that the experiment can be fairly made.  Come, Maltravers, I see before
you a brave career, and I cannot permit you to halt at the onset."

"You do not see all the calumnies that are already put forth against me,
to say nothing of all the assurances (and many by clever men) that there
is nothing in me!"

"Dennis was a clever man, and said the same thing of your Pope.  Madame
de Sevigne was a clever woman, but she thought Racine would never be
very famous.  Milton saw nothing in the first efforts of Dryden that
made him consider Dryden better than a rhymester.  Aristophanes was a
good judge of poetry, yet how ill he judged of Euripides!  But all this
is commonplace, and yet you bring arguments that a commonplace answers
in evidence against yourself."

"But it is unpleasant not to answer attacks--not to retaliate on
enemies."

"Then answer attacks, and retaliate on enemies."

"But would that be wise?"

"If it give you pleasure--it would not please /me/."

"Come, De Montaigne, you are reasoning Socratically.  I will ask you
plainly and bluntly, would you advise an author to wage war on his
literary assailants, or to despise them?"

"Both; let him attack but few, and those rarely.  But it is his policy
to show that he is one whom it is better not to provoke too far.  The
author always has the world on his side against the critics, if he
choose his opportunity.  And he must always recollect that he is 'A
STATE' in himself, which must sometimes go to war in order to procure
peace.  The time for war or for peace must be left to the State's own
diplomacy and wisdom."

"You would make us political machines."

"It would make every man's conduct more or less mechanical; for system
is the triumph of mind over matter; the just equilibrium of all the
powers and passions may seem like machinery.  Be it so.  Nature meant
the world--the creation--man himself, for machines."

"And one must even be in a passion mechanically, according to your
theories."

"A man is a poor creature who is not in a passion sometimes; but a very
unjust, or a very foolish one, if he be in a passion with the wrong
person, and in the wrong place and time.  But enough of this, it is
growing late."

"And when will Madame visit England?"

"Oh, not yet, I fear.  But you will  meet Cesarini in London this year
or the next.  He is persuaded that you did not see justice done to his
poems, and is coming here as soon as his indolence will let him, to
proclaim your treachery in a biting preface to some toothless satire."

"Satire!"

"Yes; more than one of your poets made their way by a satire, and
Cesarini is persuaded he shall do the same.  Castruccio is not as
far-sighted as his namesake, the Prince of Lucca.  Good night, my dear
Ernest."



CHAPTER VI.

  "When with much pains this boasted learning's got,
   'Tis an affront to those who have it not."
     CHURCHILL: /The Author/.

THERE was something in De Montaigne's conversation, which, without
actual flattery, reconciled Maltravers to himself and his career.  It
served less, perhaps, to excite than to sober and brace his mind.  De
Montaigne could have made no man rash, but he could have made many men
energetic and persevering.  The two friends had some points in common;
but Maltravers had far more prodigality of nature and passion about
him--had more of flesh and blood, with the faults and excellences of
flesh and blood.  De Montaigne held so much to his favourite doctrine of
moral equilibrium, that he had really reduced himself in much to a
species of clockwork.  As impulses are formed from habits, so the
regularity of De Montaigne's habits made his impulses virtuous and just,
and he yielded to them as often as a hasty character might have done;
but then those impulses never urged to anything speculative or daring.
De Montaigne could not go beyond a certain defined circle of action.  He
had no sympathy for any reasonings based purely on the hypotheses of the
imagination: he could not endure Plato, and he was dumb to the eloquent
whispers of whatever was refining in poetry or mystical in wisdom.

Maltravers, on the contrary, not disdaining Reason, ever sought to
assist her by the Imaginative Faculty, and held all philosophy
incomplete and unsatisfactory that bounded its inquiries to the limits
of the Known and Certain.  He loved the inductive process; but he
carried it out to Conjecture as well as Fact.  He maintained that, by a
similar hardihood, all the triumphs of science, as well as art, had been
accomplished--that Newton, that Copernicus, would have done nothing if
they had not imagined as well as reasoned, guessed as well as
ascertained.  Nay, it was an aphorism with him, that the very soul of
philosophy is conjecture.  He had the most implicit confidence in the
operations of the mind and the heart properly formed, and deemed that
the very excesses of emotion and thought, in men well trained by
experience and study, are conducive to useful and great ends.  But the
more advanced years, and the singularly practical character of De
Montaigne's views, gave him a superiority in argument over Maltravers
which the last submitted to unwillingly.  While, on the other hand, De
Montaigne secretly felt that his young friend reasoned from a broader
base, and took in a much wider circumference; and that he was, at once,
more liable to failure and error, and more capable of new discovery and
of intellectual achievement.  But their ways in life being different,
they did not clash; and De Montaigne, who was sincerely interested in
Ernest's fate, was contented to harden his friend's mind against the
obstacles in his way, and leave the rest to experiment and to
Providence.  They went up to London together: and De Montaigne returned
to Paris.  Maltravers appeared once more in the haunts of the gay and
great.  He felt that his new character had greatly altered his position.
He was no longer courted and caressed for the same vulgar and
adventitious circumstances of fortune, birth, and connections, as
before--yet for circumstances that to him seemed equally unflattering.
He was not sought for his merit, his intellect, his talents; but for his
momentary celebrity.  He was an author in fashion, and run after as
anything else in fashion might have been.  He was invited, less to be
talked to than to be stared at.  He was far too proud in his temper, and
too pure in his ambition, to feel his vanity elated by sharing the
enthusiasm of the circles with a German prince or an industrious flea.
Accordingly he soon repelled the advances made to him, was reserved and
supercilious to fine ladies, refused to be the fashion, and became very
unpopular with the literary exclusives.  They even began to run down the
works, because they were dissatisfied with the author.  But Maltravers
had based his experiments upon the vast masses of the general Public.
He had called the PEOPLE of his own and other countries to be his
audience and his judges; and all the coteries in the world could have
not injured him.  He was like the member for an immense constituency,
who may offend individuals, so long as he keep his footing with the body
at large.  But while he withdrew himself from the insipid and the idle,
he took care not to become separated from the world.  He formed his own
society according to his tastes: took pleasure in the manly and exciting
topics of the day; and sharpened his observation and widened his sphere
as an author, by mixing freely and boldly with all classes as a citizen.
But literature became to him as art to the artist--as his mistress to
the lover--an engrossing and passionate delight.  He made it his
glorious and divine profession--he loved it as a profession--he devoted
to its pursuits and honours his youth, cares, dreams--his mind, and his
heart, and his soul.  He was a silent but intense enthusiast in the
priesthood he had entered.  From LITERATURE he imagined had come all
that makes nations enlightened and men humane.  And he loved Literature
the more, because her distinctions were not those of the world--because
she had neither ribbands, nor stars, nor high places at her command.  A
name in the deep gratitude and hereditary delight of men--this was the
title she bestowed.  Hers was the Great Primitive Church of the world,
without Popes or Muftis--sinecures, pluralities and hierarchies.  Her
servants spoke to the earth as the prophets of old, anxious only to be
heard and believed.  Full of this fanaticism, Ernest Maltravers pursued
his way in the great procession of the myrtle-bearers to the sacred
shrine.  He carried the thyrsus, and he believed in the god.  By degrees
his fanaticism worked in him the philosophy which De Montaigne would
have derived from sober calculation; it made him indifferent to the
thorns in the path, to the storms in the sky.  He learned to despise the
enmity he provoked, the calumnies that assailed him.  Sometimes he was
silent, but sometimes he retorted.  Like a soldier who serves a cause,
he believed that when the cause was injured in his person, the weapons
confided to his hands might be wielded without fear and without
reproach.  Gradually he became feared as well as known.  And while many
abused him, none could contemn.

It would not suit the design of this work to follow Maltravers step by
step in his course.  I am only describing the principal events, not the
minute details, of his intellectual life.  Of the character of his works
it will be enough to say that, whatever their faults, they were
original--they were his own.  He did not write according to copy, nor
compile from commonplace books.  He was an artist, it is true,--for what
is genius itself but art? but he took laws, and harmony, and order, from
the great code of Truth and Nature: a code that demands intense and
unrelaxing study--though its first principles are few and simple: that
study Maltravers did not shrink from.  It was a deep love of truth that
made him a subtle and searching analyst, even in what the dull world
considers trifles; for he knew that nothing in literature is in itself
trifling--that it is often but a hairsbreadth that divides a truism from
a discovery.  He was the more original, because he sought rather after
the True than the New.  No two minds are ever the same; and therefore
any man who will give us fairly and frankly the results of his own
impressions, uninfluenced by the servilities of imitation, will be
original.  But it was not from originality, which really made his
predominant merit, that Maltravers derived his reputation, for his
originality was not of that species which generally dazzles the
vulgar--it was not extravagant nor /bizarre/--he affected no system and
no school.  Many authors of his day seemed more novel and /unique/ to
the superficial.  Profound and durable invention proceeds by subtle and
fine gradations--it has nothing to do with those jerks and starts, those
convulsions and distortions, which belong not to the vigour and health,
but to the epilepsy and disease, of Literature.



CHAPTER VII.

  "Being got out of town, the first thing I did was to give my
   mule her head."--/Gil Blas/.

ALTHOUGH the character of Maltravers was gradually becoming more hard
and severe,--although as his reason grew more muscular, his imagination
lost something of its early bloom, and he was already very different
from the wild boy who had set the German youths in a blaze, and had
changed into a Castle of Indolence the little cottage tenanted with
Poetry and Alice,--he still preserved many of his old habits; he loved,
at frequent intervals, to disappear from the great world--to get rid of
books and friends, and luxury and wealth, and make solitary excursions,
sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, through this fair garden of
England.

It was one soft May-day that he found himself on such an expedition,
slowly riding through one of the green lanes of ------shire.  His cloak
and his saddle-bags comprised all his baggage, and the world was before
him "where to choose his place of rest."  The lane wound at length into
the main road, and just as he came upon it he fell in with a gay party
of equestrians.

Foremost of its cavalcade rode a lady in a dark green habit, mounted on
a thoroughbred English horse, which she managed with so easy a grace
that Maltravers halted in involuntary admiration.  He himself was a
consummate horseman, and he had the quick eye of sympathy for those who
shared the accomplishment.  He thought, as he gazed, that he had never
seen but one woman whose air and mien on horseback were so full of that
nameless elegance which skill and courage in any art naturally
bestow--that woman was Valerie de Ventadour.  Presently, to his great
surprise, the lady advanced from her companions, neared Maltravers, and
said, in a voice which he did not at first distinctly recognise--" Is it
possible?--do I see Mr. Maltravers?"

She paused a moment, and then threw aside her veil, and Ernest
beheld--Madame de Ventadour!  By this time a tall, thin gentleman had
joined the Frenchwoman.

"Has /madame/ met with an acquaintance?" said he; "and, if so, will she
permit me to partake her pleasure?"

The interruption seemed a relief to Valerie;--she smiled and coloured.

"Let me introduce you to Mr. Maltravers.  Mr. Maltravers, this is my
host, Lord Doningdale."

The two gentlemen bowed, the rest of the cavalcade surrounded the trio,
and Lord Doningdale, with a stately yet frank courtesy, invited
Maltravers to return with the party to his house, which was about four
miles distant.  As may be supposed, Ernest readily accepted the
invitation.  The cavalcade proceeded, and Maltravers hastened to seek an
explanation from Valerie.  It was soon given.  Madame de Ventadour had a
younger sister, who had lately married a son of Lord Doningdale.  The
marriage had been solemnized in Paris, and Monsieur and Madame de
Ventadour had been in England a week on a visit to the English peer.

The /rencontre/ was so sudden and unexpected that neither recovered
sufficient self-possession for fluent conversation.  The explanation
given, Valerie sank into a thoughtful silence, and Maltravers rode by
her side equally taciturn, pondering on the strange chance which, after
the lapse of years, had thrown them again together.

Lord Doningdale, who at first lingered with his other visitors, now
joined them, and Maltravers was struck with his high-bred manner, and a
singular and somewhat elaborate polish in his emphasis and expression.
They soon entered a noble park, which attested far more care and
attention than are usually bestowed upon those demesnes, so peculiarly
English.  Young plantations everywhere contrasted the venerable
groves--new cottages of picturesque design adorned the outskirts--and
obelisks and columns, copied from the antique, and evidently of recent
workmanship, gleamed upon them as they neared the house--a large pile,
in which the fashion of Queen Anne's day had been altered into the
French roofs and windows of the architecture of the Tuileries.  "You
reside much in the country, I am sure, my lord," said Maltravers.

"Yes," replied Lord Doningdale, with a pensive air, "this place is
greatly endeared to me.  Here his Majesty Louis XVIII., when in England,
honoured me with an annual visit.  In compliment to him, I sought to
model my poor mansion into an humble likeness of his own palace, so that
he might as little as possible miss the rights he had lost.  His own
rooms were furnished exactly like those he had occupied at the
Tuileries.  Yes, the place is endeared to me--I think of the old times
with pride.  It is something to have sheltered a Bourbon in his
misfortunes."

"It cost /milord/ a vast sum to make these alterations," said Madame de
Ventadour, glancing archly at Maltravers.

"Ah, yes," said the old lord; and his face, lately elated, became
overcast--"nearly three hundred thousand pounds: but what then?--'Les
souvenirs, madame, sont sans prix/!'"

"Have you visited Paris since the restoration, Lord Doningdale," asked
Maltravers.

His lordship looked at him sharply, and then turned his eye to Madame de
Ventadour.

"Nay," said Valerie; laughing, "I did not dictate the question."

"Yes," said Lord Doningdale, "I have been at Paris."

"His Majesty must have been delighted to return your lordship's
hospitality."

Lord Doningdale looked a little embarrassed, and made no reply, but put
his horse into a canter.

"You have galled our host," said Valerie, smiling.  "Louis XVIII. and
his friends lived here as long as they pleased, and as sumptuously as
they could; their visits half ruined the owner, who is the model of a
/gentilhomme/ and /preux chevalier/.  He went to Paris to witness their
triumph; he expected, I fancy, the order of the St. Esprit.  Lord
Doningdale has royal blood in his veins.  His Majesty asked him once to
dinner, and, when he took leave, said to him, 'We are happy, Lord
Doningdale, to have thus requited our obligations to your lordship.'
Lord Doningdale went back in dudgeon, yet he still boasts of his
/souvenirs/, poor man."

"Princes are not grateful, neither are republics," said Maltravers.

"Ah, who is grateful," rejoined Valerie, "except a dog and a woman?"

Maltravers found himself ushered into a vast dressing-room, and was
informed, by a French valet, that in the country Lord Doningdale dined
at six--the first bell would ring in a few minutes.  While the valet was
speaking, Lord Doningdale himself entered the room.  His lordship had
learned, in the meanwhile, that Maltravers was of the great and ancient
commoner's house whose honours were centred in his brother; and yet
more, that he was the Mr. Maltravers whose writings every one talked of,
whether for praise or abuse.  Lord Doningdale had the two
characteristics of a high-bred gentleman of the old school--respect for
birth and respect for talent; he was, therefore, more than ordinarily
courteous to Ernest, and pressed him to stay some days with so much
cordiality, that Maltravers could not but assent.  His travelling toilet
was scanty, but Maltravers thought little of dress.



CHAPTER VIII.

  "It is the soul that sees.  The outward eyes
   Present the object, but the mind descries;
   And thence delight, disgust, or cool indifference rise.
     "CRABBE.

WHEN Maltravers entered the enormous saloon, hung with damask, and
decorated with the ponderous enrichments and furniture of the time of
Louis XIV. (that most showy and barbarous of all tastes, which has
nothing in it of the graceful, nothing of the picturesque, and which,
nowadays, people who should know better imitate with a ludicrous
servility), he found sixteen persons assembled.  His host stepped up
from a circle which surrounded him, and formally presented his new
visitor to the rest.  He was struck with the likeness which the sister
of Valerie bore to Valerie herself; but it was a sobered and chastened
likeness--less handsome, less impressive.  Mrs. George Herbert--such was
the name she now owned--was a pretty, shrinking, timid girl, fond of her
husband, and mightily awed by her father-in-law.  Maltravers sat by her,
and drew her into conversation.  He could not help pitying the poor
lady, when he found she was to live altogether at Doningdale
Park--remote from all the friends and habits of her childhood--alone, so
far as the affections were concerned, with a young husband, who was
passionately fond of field-sports, and who, from the few words Ernest
exchanged with him, seemed to have only three ideas--his dogs, his
horses, and his wife.  Alas! the last would soon be the least in
importance.  It is a sad position--that of a lively young Frenchwoman
entombed in an English country-house!  Marriages with foreigners are
seldom fortunate experiments.  But Ernest's attention was soon diverted
from the sister by the entrance of Valerie herself, leaning on her
husband's arm.  Hitherto he had not very minutely observed what change
time had effected in her--perhaps he was half afraid.  He now gazed at
her with curious interest.  Valerie was still extremely handsome, but
her face had grown sharper, her form thinner and more angular; there was
something in her eye and lip, discontented, restless, almost
querulous:--such is the too common expression in the face of those born
to love, and condemned to be indifferent.  The little sister was more to
be envied of the two--come what may, she loved her husband, such as he
was, and her heart might ache, but it was not with a void.

Monsieur de Ventadour soon shuffled up to Maltravers--his nose longer
than ever.

"Hein--hein--how d'ye do--how d'ye do?--charmed to see you--saw madame
before me--hein--hein--I suspect--I suspect--"

"Mr. Maltravers, will you give Madame de Ventadour your arm?" said Lord
Doningdale, as he stalked on to the dining-room with a duchess on his
own.

"And you have left Naples," said Maltravers: "left it for good?"

"We do not think of returning."

"It was a charming place--how I loved it!--how well I remember it!"
Ernest spoke calmly--it was but a general remark.

Valerie sighed gently.

During dinner, the conversation between Maltravers and Madame de
Ventadour was vague and embarrassed.  Ernest was no longer in love with
her--he had outgrown that youthful fancy.  She had exercised influence
over him--the new influences that he had created had chased away her
image.  Such is life.  Long absences extinguish all the false lights,
though not the true ones.  The lamps are dead in the banquet-room of
yesterday; but a thousand years hence, and the stars we look on to-night
will burn as brightly.  Maltravers was no longer in love with Valerie.
But Valerie--ah, perhaps /hers/ had been true love!

Maltravers was surprised when he came to examine the state of his own
feelings--he was surprised to find that his pulse did not beat quicker
at the touch of one whose very glance had once thrilled him to the
soul--he was surprised, but rejoiced.  He was no longer anxious to seek,
but to shun excitement, and he was a better and a higher being than he
had been on the shores of Naples.



CHAPTER IX.

  "Whence that low voice, a whisper from the heart,
   That told of days long past?"--WORDSWORTH.

ERNEST stayed several days at Lord Doningdale's, and every day he rode
out with Valerie, but it was with a large party; and every evening he
conversed with her, but the whole world might have overheard what they
said.  In fact, the sympathy that had once existed between the young
dreamer and the proud, discontented woman had in much passed away.
Awakened to vast and grand objects, Maltravers was a dreamer no more.
Inured to the life of trifles she had once loathed, Valerie had settled
down into the usages and thoughts of the common world--she had no longer
the superiority of earthly wisdom over Maltravers, and his romance was
sobered in its eloquence, and her ear dulled to its tone.  Still Ernest
felt a deep interest in her, and still she seemed to feel a sensitive
pride in his career.

One evening Maltravers had joined a circle in which Madame de Ventadour,
with more than her usual animation, presided--and to which, in her
pretty, womanly, and thoroughly French way, she was lightly laying down
the law on a hundred subjects--Philosophy, Poetry, Sevres china, and the
balance of power in Europe.  Ernest listened to her, delighted, but not
enchanted.  Yet Valerie was not natural that night--she was speaking
from forced spirits.

"Well," said Madame de Ventadour at last, tired, perhaps of the part she
had been playing, and bringing to a sudden close an animated description
of the then French court--"well, see now if we ought not to be ashamed
of ourselves--our talk has positively interrupted the music.  Did you
see Lord Doningdale stop it with a bow to me, as much as to say, with
his courtly reproof, 'It shall not disturb you, madam'?  I will no
longer be accessory to your crime of bad taste!"

With this the Frenchwoman rose, and, gliding through the circle, retired
to the further end of the room.  Ernest followed her with his eyes.
Suddenly she beckoned to him, and he approached and seated himself by
her side.

"Mr. Maltravers," said Valerie, then, with great sweetness in her
voice,--"I have not yet expressed to you the delight I have felt from
your genius.  In absence you have suffered me to converse with you--your
books have been to me dear friends; as we shall soon part again, let me
now tell you of this, frankly and without compliment."

This paved the way to a conversation that approached more on the
precincts of the past than any they had yet known.  But Ernest was
guarded; and Valerie watched his words and looks with an interest she
could not conceal--an interest that partook of disappointment.

"It is an excitement," said Valerie, "to climb a mountain, though it
fatigue; and though the clouds may even deny us a prospect from its
summit--it is an excitement that gives a very universal pleasure, and
that seems almost as if it were the result of a common human instinct
which makes us desire to rise--to get above the ordinary thoroughfares
and level of life.  Some such pleasure you must have in intellectual
ambition, in which the mind is the upward traveller."

"It is not the /ambition/ that pleases," replied Maltravers, it is the
following a path congenial to our tastes, and made dear to us in a short
time by habit.  The moments in which we look beyond our work, and fancy
ourselves seated beneath the Everlasting Laurel, are few.  It is the
work itself, whether of action or literature, that interests and excites
us.  And at length the dryness of toil takes the familiar sweetness of
custom.  But in intellectual labour there is another charm--we become
more intimate with our own nature.  The heart and the soul grow friends,
as it were, and the affections and the aspirations unite.  Thus, we are
never without society--we are never alone; all that we have read,
learned and discovered, is company to us.  This is pleasant," added
Maltravers, "to those who have no clear connections in the world
without."

"And is that your case?"  asked Valerie, with a timid smile.

"Alas, yes! and since I conquered one affection,--Madame de Ventadour, I
almost think I have outlived the capacity of loving.  I believe that
when we cultivate very largely the reason or the imagination, we blunt,
to a certain extent, our young susceptibilities to the fair impressions
of real life.  From 'idleness,' says the old Roman poet, 'Love feeds his
torch.'"

"You are too young to talk thus."

"I speak as I feel."

Valerie said no more.  Shortly afterwards Lord Doningdale approached
them, and proposed that they should make an excursion the next day to
see the ruins of an old abbey, some few miles distant.



CHAPTER X.

  "If I should meet thee
   After long years,
   How shall I greet thee?"--BYRON.

IT was a smaller party than usual the next day, consisting only of Lord
Doningdale, his son George Herbert, Valerie and Ernest.  They were
returning from the ruins, and the sun, now gradually approaching the
west, threw its slant rays over the gardens and houses of a small,
picturesque town, or, perhaps, rather village, on the high North Road.
It is one of the prettiest places in England, that town or village, and
boasts an excellent old-fashioned inn, with a large and quaint
pleasure-garden.  It was through the long and straggling street that our
little party slowly rode, when the sky became suddenly overcast, and, a
few large hailstones falling, gave notice of an approaching storm.

"I told you we should not get safely through the day," said George
Herbert.  "Now we are in for it."

"George, that is a vulgar expression," said Lord Doningdale, buttoning
up his coat.  While he spoke, a vivid flash of lightning darted across
their very path, and the sky grew darker and darker.

"We may as well rest at the inn," said Maltravers: "the storm is coming
on apace, and Madame de Ventadour--"

"You are right," interrupted Lord Doningdale; and he put his horse into
a canter.

They were soon at the door of the old hotel.  Bells rang dogs
barked--hostlers ran.  A plain, dark, travelling post-chariot was before
the inn-door; and, roused perhaps by the noise below, a lady in the
"first-floor front, No. 2," came to the window.  This lady owned the
travelling-carriage, and was at this time alone in that apartment.  As
she looked carelessly at the party, her eyes rested on one form--she
turned pale, uttered a faint cry, and fell senseless on the floor.

Meanwhile, Lord Doningdale and his guests were shown into the room next
to that tenanted by the lady.  Properly speaking, both the rooms made
one long apartment for balls and county meetings, and the division was
formed by a thin partition, removable at pleasure.  The hail now came on
fast and heavy, the trees groaned, the thunder roared; and in the large,
dreary room there was a palpable and oppressive sense of coldness and
discomfort.  Valerie shivered--a fire was lighted--and the Frenchwoman
drew near to it.

"You are wet, my dear lady," said Lord Doningdale.  "You should take off
that close habit, and have it dried."

"Oh, no; what matters it?" said Valerie bitterly, and almost rudely.

"It matters everything," said Ernest; "pray be ruled."

"And do you care for me?" murmured Valerie.

"Can you ask that question?" replied Ernest, in the same tone, and with
affectionate and friendly warmth.

Meanwhile, the good old lord had summoned the chambermaid, and, with the
kindly imperiousness of a father, made Valerie quit the room.  The three
gentlemen, left together, talked of the storm, wondered how long it
would last, and debated the propriety of sending to Doningdale for the
carriage.  While they spoke, the hail suddenly ceased, though clouds in
the distant horizon were bearing heavily up to renew the charge.  George
Herbert, who was the most impatient of mortals, especially of rainy
weather in a strange place, seized the occasion, and insisted on riding
to Doningdale, and sending back the carriage.

"Surely a groom would do as well, George," said the father.

"My dear father, no; I should envy the rogue too much.  I am bored to
death here.  Marie will be frightened about us.  Brown Bess will take me
back in twenty minutes.  I am a hardy fellow, you know.  Good-bye."

Away darted the young sportsman, and in two minutes they saw him spur
gaily from the inn-door.

"It is very odd that /I/ should have such a son," said Lord Doningdale,
musingly,--"a son who cannot amuse himself indoors for two minutes
together.  I took great pains with his education, too.  Strange that
people should weary so much of themselves that they cannot brave the
prospect of a few minutes passed in reflection--that a shower and the
resources of their own thoughts are evils so galling--very strange
indeed.  But it is a confounded climate this, certainly.  I wonder when
it will clear up."

Thus muttering, Lord Doningdale walked, or rather marched, to and fro
the room, with his hands in his coat pockets, and his whip sticking
perpendicularly out of the right one.  Just at this moment the waiter
came to announce that his lordship's groom was without, and desired much
to see him.  Lord Doningdale had then the pleasure of learning that his
favourite grey hackney, which he had ridden, winter and summer, for
fifteen years, was taken with shivers, and, as the groom expressed it,
seemed to have "the colic in its bowels!"

Lord Doningdale turned pale, and hurried to the stables without saying a
word.

Maltravers, who, plunged in thought, had not overheard the low and brief
conference between master and groom, remained alone, seated by the fire,
his head buried in his bosom, and his arms folded.

Meanwhile, the lady, who occupied the adjoining chamber, had recovered
slowly from her swoon.  She put both hands to her temples, as if trying
to recollect her thoughts.  Hers was a fair, innocent, almost childish
face; and now, as a smile shot across it, there was something so sweet
and touching in the gladness it shed over that countenance, that you
could not have seen it without strong and almost painful interest.  For
it was the gladness of a person who has known sorrow.  Suddenly she
started up, and said: "No, then!  I do not dream.  He is come back--he
is here--all will be well again!  Ha! it is his voice.  Oh, bless him,
it is /his/ voice!"  She paused, her finger on her lip, her face bent
down.  A low and indistinct sound of voices reached her straining ear
through the thin door that divided her from Maltravers.  She listened
intently, but she could not overhear the import.  Her heart beat
violently.  "He is not alone!" she murmured, mournfully.  "I will wait
till the sound ceases, and then I will venture in!"

And what was the conversation carried on in that chamber?  We must
return to Ernest.  He was sitting in the same thoughtful posture when
Madame de Ventadour returned.

The Frenchwoman coloured when she found herself alone with Ernest, and
Ernest himself was not at his ease.

"Herbert has gone home to order the carriage, and Lord Doningdale has
disappeared, I scarce know whither.  You do not, I trust, feel the worse
for the rain?"

"No," said Valerie.

"Shall you have any commands in London?" asked Maltravers; "I return to
town to-morrow."

"So soon!" and Valerie sighed.  "Ah!" she added, after a pause, "we
shall not meet again for years, perhaps.  Monsieur de Ventadour is to be
appointed ambassador to the Court and so--and so--.  Well, it is no
matter.  What has become of the friendship we once swore to each other?"

"It is here," said Maltravers, laying his hand on his heart.  "Here, at
least, lies the half of that friendship which was my charge; and more
than friendship, Valerie de Ventadour--respect--admiration--gratitude.
At a time of life when passion and fancy, most strong, might have left
me an idle and worthless voluptuary, you convinced me that the world has
virtue, and that woman is too noble to be our toy--the idol of to-day,
the victim of to-morrow.  Your influence, Valerie, left me a more
thoughtful man--I hope a better one."

"Oh!" said Madame de Ventadour, strongly affected; "I bless you for what
you tell me: you cannot know--you cannot guess how sweet it is to me.
Now I recognise you once more.  What--what did my resolution cost me?
Now I am repaid!"

Ernest was moved by her emotion, and by his own remembrances; he took
her hand, and pressing it with frank and respectful tenderness--"I did
not think, Valerie," said he, "when I reviewed the past, I did not think
that you loved me--I was not vain enough for that; but, if so, how much
is your character raised in my eyes--how provident, how wise your
virtue!  Happier and better for both, our present feelings, each to
each, than if we had indulged a brief and guilty dream of passion, at
war with all that leaves passion without remorse, and bliss without
alloy.  Now--"

"Now," interrupted Valerie, quickly, and fixing on him her dark
eyes--"now you love me no longer!  Yet it is better so.  Well, I will go
back to my cold and cheerless state of life, and forget once more that
Heaven endowed me with a heart!"

"Ah, Valerie! esteemed, revered, still beloved, not indeed with the
fires of old, but with a deep, undying, and holy tenderness, speak not
thus to me.  Let me not believe you unhappy; let me think that, wise,
sagacious, brilliant as you are, you have employed your gifts to
reconcile yourself to a common lot.  Still let me look up to you when I
would despise the circles in which you live, and say: 'On that pedestal
an altar is yet placed, to which the heart may bring the offerings of
the soul.'"

"It is in vain--in vain that I struggle," said Valerie, half-choked with
emotion, and clasping her hands passionately.  "Ernest, I love you
still--I am wretched to think you love me no more: I would give you
nothing--yet I exact all; my youth is going--my beauty dimmed--my very
intellect is dulled by the life I lead; and yet I ask from you that
which your young heart once felt for me.  Despise me, Maltravers, I am
not what I seemed--I am a hypocrite--despise me."

"No," said Ernest, again possessing himself of her hand, and falling on
his knee by her side.  "No, never-to-be-forgotten, ever-to-be-honoured
Valerie, hear me."  As he spoke, he kissed the hand he held; with the
other, Valerie covered her face and wept bitterly, but in silence.
Ernest paused till the burst of her feelings had subsided, her hand
still in his--still warmed by his kisses--kisses as pure as cavalier
ever impressed on the hand of his queen.

At this time, the door communicating with the next room gently opened.
A fair form--a form fairer and younger than that of Valerie de
Ventadour--entered the apartment; the silence had deceived her--she
believed that Maltravers was alone.  She had entered with her heart upon
her lips; love, sanguine, hopeful love, in every vein, in every
thought--she had entered dreaming that across that threshold life would
dawn upon her afresh--that all would be once more as it had been, when
the common air was rapture.  Thus she entered; and now she stood
spell-bound, terror-stricken, pale as death--life turned to
stone--youth--hope--bliss were for ever over to her!  Ernest kneeling to
another was all she saw!  For this had she been faithful and true amidst
storm and desolation; for this had she hoped--dreamed--lived.  They did
not note her; she was unseen--unheard.  And Ernest, who would have gone
barefoot to the end of the earth to find her, was in the very room with
her, and knew it not!

"Call me again /beloved/!" said Valerie, very softly.

"Beloved Valerie, hear me."

These words were enough for the listener; she turned noiselessly away:
humble as that heart was, it was proud.  The door closed on her--she had
obtained the wish of her whole being--Heaven had heard her prayer--she
had once more seen the lover of her youth; and thenceforth all was night
and darkness to her.  What matter what became of her?  One moment, what
an effect it produces upon years!--ONE MOMENT!--virtue, crime, glory,
shame, woe, rapture, rest upon moments!  Death itself is but a moment,
yet Eternity is its successor!

"Hear me!" continued Ernest, unconscious of what had passed--" hear me;
let us be what human nature and worldly forms seldom allow those of
opposite sexes to be--friends to each other, and to virtue also--friends
through time and absence--friends through all the vicissitudes of
life--friends on whose affection shame and remorse never cast a
shade--friends who are to meet hereafter!  Oh! there is no attachment so
true, no tie so holy, as that which is founded on the old chivalry of
loyalty and honour; and which is what love would be, if the heart and
the soul were unadulterated by clay."

There was in Ernest's countenance an expression so noble, in his voice a
tone so thrilling, that Valerie was brought back at once to the nature
which a momentary weakness had subdued.  She looked at him with an
admiring and grateful gaze, and then said, in a calm but low voice,
"Ernest, I understand you; yes, your friendship is dearer to me than
love."

At this time they heard the voice of Lord Doningdale on the stairs.
Valerie turned away.  Maltravers, as he rose, extended his hand; she
pressed it warmly, and the spell was broken, the temptation conquered,
the ordeal passed.  While Lord Doningdale entered the room, the
carriage, with Herbert in it, drove to the door.  In a few minutes the
little party were within the vehicle.  As they drove away, the hostlers
were harnessing the horses to the dark green travelling-carriage.  From
the window, a sad and straining eye gazed upon the gayer equipage of the
peer--that eye which Maltravers would have given his whole fortune to
meet again.  But he did not look up; and Alice Darvil turned away, and
her fate was fixed!



CHAPTER XI.

  "Strange fits of passion I have known.
      And I will dare to tell."--WORDSWORTH.

  "*  *  *  *  *  The food of hope
   Is meditated action."--WORDSWORTH.

MALTRAVERS left Doningdale the next day.  He had no further conversation
with Valerie; but when he took leave of her, she placed in his hand a
letter, which he read as he rode slowly through the beech avenues of the
park.  Translated, it ran thus:


"Others would despise me for the weakness I showed--but you will not!
It is the sole weakness of a life.  None can know what I have passed
through--what hours of dejection and gloom.  I, whom so many envy!
Better to have been a peasant girl, with love, than a queen whose life
is but a dull mechanism.  You, Maltravers, I never forgot in absence;
and your image made yet more wearisome and trite the things around me.
Years passed, and your name was suddenly on men's lips.  I heard of you
wherever I went--I could not shut you from me.  Your fame was as if you
were conversing by my side.  We met at last, suddenly and unexpectedly.
I saw that you loved me no more, and that thought conquered all my
resolves: anguish subdues the nerves of the mind as sickness those of
the body.  And thus I forgot, and humbled, and might have undone myself.
Juster and better thoughts are once more awakened within me, and when we
meet again I shall be worthy of your respect.  I see how dangerous are
that luxury of thought, that sin of discontent which I indulged.  I go
back to life, resolved to vanquish all that can interfere with its
claims and duties.  Heaven guide and preserve you, Ernest.  Think of me
as one whom you will not blush to have loved--whom you will not blush
hereafter to present to your wife.  With so much that is soft, as well
as great within you, you were not formed like me--to be alone.

     "FAREWELL!"


Maltravers read, and re-read this letter; and when he reached his home,
he placed it carefully amongst the things he most valued.  A lock of
Alice's hair lay beside it--he did not think that either was dishonoured
by the contact.

With an effort, he turned himself once more to those stern yet high
connections which literature makes with real life.  Perhaps there was a
certain restlessness in his heart which induced him ever to occupy his
mind.  That was one of the busiest years of his life--the one in which
he did most to sharpen jealousy and confirm fame.



CHAPTER XII.

  "In effect he entered my apartment."--/Gil Blas/.

  "'I am surprised,' said he, 'at the caprice of Fortune,
   who sometimes delights in loading an execrable author
   with favours, whilst she leaves good writers to perish
   for want.'"--/Gil Blas/.

IT was just twelve months after his last interview with Valerie, and
Madame de Ventadour had long since quitted England, when one morning, as
Maltravers sat alone in his study, Castruccio Cesarini was announced.

"Ah, my dear Castruccio, how are you?" cried Maltravers, eagerly, as the
opening door presented the form of the Italian.

"Sir," said Castruccio, with great stiffness, and speaking in French,
which was his wont when he meant to be distant--"sir, I do not come to
renew our former acquaintance--you are a great man [here a bitter
sneer], I an obscure one [here Castruccio drew himself up]--I only come
to discharge a debt to you which I find I have incurred."

"What tone is this, Castruccio; and what debt do you speak of?"

"On my arrival in town yesterday," said the poet solemnly, "I went to
the man whom you deputed some years since to publish my little volume,
to demand an account of its success; and I found that it had cost one
hundred and twenty pounds, deducting the sale of forty-nine copies which
had been sold.  /Your/ books sell some thousands, I am told.  It is well
contrived--mine fell still-born, no pains were taken with it--no
matter--[a wave of the hand].  You discharged this debt, I repay you:
there is a cheque for the money.  Sir, I have done!  I wish you a good
day, and health to enjoy /your/ reputation."

"Why, Cesarini, this is folly."

"Sir--"

"Yes, it is folly; for there is no folly equal to that of throwing away
friendship in a world where friendship is so rare.  You insinuate that I
am to blame for any neglect which your work experienced.  Your publisher
can tell you that I was more anxious about your book than I have ever
been about my own."

"And the proof is that forty-nine copies were sold!"

"Sit down, Castruccio; sit down, and listen to reason;" and Maltravers
proceeded to explain, and soothe, and console.  He reminded the poor
poet that his verses were written in a foreign tongue--that even English
poets of great fame enjoyed but a limited sale for their works--that it
was impossible to make the avaricious public purchase what the stupid
public would not take an interest in--in short, he used all those
arguments which naturally suggested themselves as best calculated to
convince and soften Castruccio; and he did this with so much evident
sympathy and kindness, that at length the Italian could no longer
justify his own resentment.  A reconciliation took place, sincere on the
part of Maltravers, hollow on the part of Cesarini; for the disappointed
author could not forgive the successful one.

"And how long shall you stay in London?"

"Some months."

"Send for your luggage, and be my guest."

"No; I have taken lodgings that suit me.  I am formed for solitude."

"While you stay here, you will, however, go into the world."

"Yes, I have some letters of introduction, and I hear that the English
can honour merit, even in an Italian."

"You hear the truth, and it will amuse you, at least, to see our eminent
men.  They will receive you most hospitably.  Let me assist you as a
cicerone."

"Oh, your /valuable/ time!"

"Is at your disposal: but where are you going?"

"It is Sunday, and I have had my curiosity excited to hear a celebrated
preacher--Mr. ------, who they tell me, is now more talked of than /any
author/ in London."

"They tell you truly--I will go with you--I myself have not yet heard
him, but proposed to do so this very day."

"Are you not jealous of a man so much spoken of?"

"Jealous!--why, I never set up for a popular preacher!--/ce n'est pas
mon metier/."

"If I were a /successful/ author, I should be jealous if the
dancing-dogs were talked of."

"No, my dear Cesarini, I am sure you would not.  You are a little
irritated at present by natural disappointment; but the man who has as
much success as he deserves is never morbidly jealous, even of a rival
in his own line.  Want of success sours us; but a little sunshine smiles
away the vapours.  Come, we have no time to lose."

Maltravers took his hat, and the two young men bent their way to ------
Chapel.  Cesarini still retained the singular fashion of his dress,
though it was now made of handsomer materials, and worn with more
coxcombry and pretension.  He had much improved in person--had been
admired in Paris, and told that he looked like a man of genius--and,
with his black ringlets flowing over his shoulders, his long moustache,
his broad Spanish-shaped hat, and eccentric garb, he certainly did not
look like other people.  He smiled with contempt at the plain dress of
his companion.  "I see," said he, "that you follow the fashion, and look
as if you passed your life with /elegans/ instead of students.  I wonder
you condescend to such trifles as fashionably-shaped hats and coats."

"It would be worse trifling to set up for originality in hats and coats,
at least in sober England.  I was born a gentleman, and I dress my
outward frame like others of my order.  Because I am a writer, why
should I affect to be different from other men?"

"I see that you are not above the weakness of your countryman Congreve,"
said Cesarini, "who deemed it finer to be a gentleman than an author."

"I always thought that anecdote misconstrued.  Congreve had a proper and
manly pride, to my judgment, when he expressed a dislike to be visited
merely as a raree-show."

"But is it policy to let the world see that an author is like other
people?  Would he not create a deeper personal interest if he showed
that even in person alone he was unlike the herd?  He ought to be seen
seldom--not to stale his presence--and to resort to the arts that belong
to the royalty of intellect as well as the royalty of birth."

"I dare say an author, by a little charlatanism of that nature, might be
more talked of--might be more adored in the boarding-schools, and make a
better picture in the exhibition.  But I think, if his mind be manly, he
would lose in self-respect at every quackery of the sort.  And my
philosophy is, that to respect oneself is worth all the fame in the
world."

Cesarini sneered and shrugged his shoulders; it was quite evident that
the two authors had no sympathy with each other.

They arrived at last at the chapel, and with some difficulty procured
seats.

Presently the service began.  The preacher was a man of unquestionable
talent and fervid eloquence; but his theatrical arts, his affected
dress, his artificial tones and gestures; and, above all, the fanatical
mummeries which he introduced into the House of God, disgusted
Maltravers, while they charmed, entranced, and awed Cesarini.  The one
saw a mountebank and impostor--the other recognised a profound artist
and an inspired prophet.

But while the discourse was drawing towards a close, while the preacher
was in one of his most eloquent bursts--the ohs! and ahs! of which were
the grand prelude to the pathetic peroration--the dim outline of a
female form, in the distance, riveted the eyes and absorbed the thoughts
of Maltravers.  The chapel was darkened, though it was broad daylight;
and the face of the person that attracted Ernest's attention was
concealed by her head-dress and veil.  But that bend of the neck, so
simply graceful, so humbly modest, recalled to his heart but one image.
Every one has, perhaps, observed that there is a physiognomy (if the
bull may be pardoned) of /form/ as well as face, which it rarely happens
that two persons possess in common.  And this, with most, is peculiarly
marked in the turn of the head, the outline of the shoulders, and the
ineffable something that characterises the postures of each individual
in repose.  The more intently he gazed, the more firmly Ernest
was persuaded that he saw before him the long-lost, the
never-to-be-forgotten mistress of his boyish days, and his first love.
On one side of the lady in question sat an elderly gentleman, whose eyes
were fixed upon the preacher; on the other, a beautiful little girl,
with long fair ringlets, and that cast of features which, from its
exquisite delicacy and expressive mildness, painters and poets call the
"angelic."  These persons appeared to belong to the same party.
Maltravers literally trembled, so great were his impatience and
agitation.  Yet still, the dress of the supposed likeness of Alice, the
appearance of her companions, were so evidently above the ordinary rank,
that Ernest scarcely ventured to yield to the suggestions of his own
heart.  Was it possible that the daughter of Luke Darvil, thrown upon
the wide world, could have risen so far beyond her circumstances and
station?  At length the moment came when he might resolve his
doubts--the discourse was concluded--the extemporaneous prayer was at an
end--the congregation broke up, and Maltravers pushed his way, as well
as he could, through the dense and serried crowd.  But every moment some
vexatious obstruction, in the shape of a fat gentleman or three
close-wedged ladies, intercepted his progress.  He lost sight of the
party in question amidst the profusion of tall bonnets and waving
plumes.  He arrived at last, breathless and pale as death (so great was
the struggle within him), at the door of the chapel.  He arrived in time
to see a plain carriage with servants in grey undress liveries, driving
from the porch--and caught a glimpse, within the vehicle, of the golden
ringlets of a child.  He darted forward, he threw himself almost before
the horses.  The coachman drew in, and with an angry exclamation, very
much like an oath, whipped his horses aside and went off.  But that
momentary pause sufficed.--"It is she--it is!  O Heaven, it is Alice!"
murmured Maltravers.  The whole place reeled before his eyes, and he
clung, overpowered and unconscious, to a neighbouring lamp-post for
support.  But he recovered himself with an agonising effort, as the
thought struck upon this heart that he was about to lose sight of her
again for ever.  And he rushed forward, like one frantic, in pursuit of
the carriage.  But there was a vast crowd of other carriages, besides
stream upon stream of foot-passengers,--for the great and the gay
resorted to that place of worship, as a fashionable excitement in a dull
day.  And after a weary and a dangerous chase, in which he had been
nearly run over three times, Maltravers halted at last, exhausted and in
despair.  Every succeeding Sunday, for months, he went to the same
chapel, but in vain; in vain, too, he resorted to every public haunt of
dissipation and amusement.  Alice Darvil he beheld no more!



CHAPTER XIII.

               "Tell me, sir,
   Have you cast up your state, rated your land,
   And find it able to endure the charge?"
     /The Noble Gentleman/.

By degrees, as Maltravers sobered down from the first shock of that
unexpected meeting, and from the prolonged disappointment that followed
it, he became sensible of a strange kind of happiness or contentment.
Alice was not in poverty, she was not eating the unhallowed bread of
vice, or earning the bitter wages of laborious penury.  He saw her in
reputable, nay, opulent circumstances.  A dark nightmare, that had
often, amidst the pleasures of youth, or the triumphs of literature,
weighed upon his breast, was removed.  He breathed more freely--he could
sleep in peace.  His conscience could no longer say to him, "She who
slept upon thy bosom is a wanderer upon the face of the earth--exposed
to every temptation, perishing perhaps for want."  That single sight of
Alice had been like the apparition of the injured Dead conjured up at
Heraclea--whose sight could pacify the aggressor and exorcise the
spectres of remorse.  He was reconciled with himself, and walked on to
the Future with a bolder step and a statelier crest.  Was she married to
that staid and sober-looking personage whom he had beheld with her? was
that child the offspring of their union?  He almost hoped so--it was
better to lose than to destroy her.  Poor Alice! could she have dreamed,
when she sat at his feet gazing up into his eyes, that a time would come
when Maltravers would thank Heaven for the belief that she was happy
with another?

Ernest Maltravers now felt a new man: the relief of conscience operated
on the efforts of his genius.  A more buoyant and elastic spirit entered
into them--they seemed to breathe as with a second youth.

Meanwhile, Cesarini threw himself into the fashionable world, and to his
own surprise was /feted/ and caressed.  In fact, Castruccio was exactly
the sort of person to be made a lion of.  The letters of introduction
that he had brought from Paris were addressed to those great personages
in England between whom and personages equally great in France politics
makes a bridge of connection.  Cesarini appeared to them as an
accomplished young man, brother-in-law to a distinguished member of the
French Chamber.  Maltravers, on the other hand, introduced him to the
literary dilettanti, who admire all authors that are not rivals.  The
singular costume of Cesarini, which would have revolted persons in an
Englishman, enchanted them in an Italian. He looked, they said, like a
poet.  Ladies like to have verses written to them, and Cesarini, who
talked very little, made up for it by scribbling eternally.  The young
man's head soon grew filled with comparisons between himself in London
and Petrarch at Avignon.  As he had always thought that fame was in the
gift of lords and ladies, and had no idea of the multitude, he fancied
himself already famous.  And, since one of his strongest feelings was
his jealousy of Maltravers, he was delighted at being told he was a much
more interesting creature than that haughty personage, who wore his
neckcloth like other people, and had not even those indispensable
attributes of genius--black curls and a sneer.  Fine society, which, as
Madame de Stael well says, depraves the frivolous mind and braces the
strong one, completed the ruin of all that was manly in Cesarini's
intellect.  He soon learned to limit his desire of effect or distinction
to gilded saloons; and his vanity contented itself upon the scraps and
morsels from which the lion heart of true ambition turns in disdain.
But this was not all.  Cesarini was envious of the greater affluence of
Maltravers.  His own fortune was in a small capital of eight or nine
thousand pounds: but, thrown in the midst of the wealthiest society in
Europe, he could not bear to sacrifice a single claim upon its esteem.
He began to talk of the satiety of wealth, and young ladies listened to
him with remarkable interest when he did so--he obtained the reputation
of riches--he was too vain not to be charmed with it.  He endeavoured to
maintain the claim by adopting the extravagant excesses of the day.  He
bought horses--he gave away jewels--he made love to a marchioness of
forty-two, who was very kind to him and very fond of /ecarte/--he
gambled--he was in the high road to destruction.





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