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Title: Vivian Grey
Author: Disraeli, Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Vivian Grey" ***

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VIVIAN GREY

By The Earl Of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli



The English Comédie Humaine

Second Series

[Illustration: frontispiece]

[Illustration: titlepage]


PUBLISHER’S NOTE.

As a novelist, Benjamin Disraeli belongs to the early part of the
nineteenth century. “Vivian Grey” (1826-27) and “Sybil” (1845) mark the
beginning and the end of his truly creative period; for the two
productions of his latest years, “Lothair” (1870) and “Endymion” (1880),
add nothing to the characteristics of his earlier volumes except the
changes of feeling and power which accompany old age. His period, thus,
is that of Bulwer, Dickens, and Thackeray, and of the later years of Sir
Walter Scott--a fact which his prominence as a statesman during the last
decade of his life, as well as the vogue of “Lothair” and “Endymion,”
 has tended to obscure. His style, his material, and his views of English
character and life all date from that earlier time. He was born in 1804
and died in 1881.

Disraeli was barely twenty-one when he published “Vivian Grey,” his
first work of fiction; and the young author was at once hailed as a
master of his art by an almost unanimous press.

In this, as in his subsequent books, it was not so much Disraeli’s
notable skill as a novelist but rather his portrayal of the social and
political life of the day that made him one of the most popular writers
of his generation, and earned for him a lasting fame as a man of
letters. In “Vivian Grey” is narrated the career of an ambitious young
man of rank; and in this story the brilliant author has preserved to us
the exact tone of the English drawing-room, as he so well knew it,
sketching with sure and rapid strokes a whole portrait gallery of
notables, disguised in name may be, but living characters nevertheless,
who charm us with their graceful manners and general air of being people
of consequence. “Vivian Grey,” then, though not a great novel is beyond
question a marvelously true picture of the life and character of an
interesting period of English history and made notable because of
Disraeli’s fine imagination and vivid descriptive powers.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Is there anything you want, sir?

He distinctly beheld Mrs. Felix Lorraine open a small silver box.

It was very slowly that the dark thought came over his mind.



VIVIAN GREY



BOOK I


CHAPTER I


We are not aware that the infancy of Vivian Grey was distinguished by
any extraordinary incident. The solicitude of the most affectionate of
mothers, and the care of the most attentive of nurses, did their best to
injure an excellent constitution. But Vivian was an only child, and
these exertions were therefore excusable. For the first five years of
his life, with his curly locks and his fancy dress, he was the pride of
his own and the envy of all neighbouring establishments; but, in process
of time, the spirit of boyism began to develop itself, and Vivian not
only would brush his hair straight and rebel against his nurse, but
actually insisted upon being--breeched! At this crisis it was discovered
that he had been spoiled, and it was determined that he should be sent
to school. Mr. Grey observed, also, that the child was nearly ten years
old, and did not know his alphabet, and Mrs. Grey remarked that he was
getting ugly. The fate of Vivian was decided.

“I am told, my dear,” observed Mrs. Grey, one day after dinner to her
husband, “I am told, my dear, that Dr. Flummery’s would do very well for
Vivian. Nothing can exceed the attention which is paid to the pupils.
There are sixteen young ladies, all the daughters of clergymen, merely
to attend to the morals and the linen; terms moderate: 100 guineas per
annum, for all under six years of age, and few extras, only for fencing,
pure milk, and the guitar. Mrs. Metcalfe has both her boys there, and
she says their progress is astonishing! Percy Metcalfe, she assures me,
was quite as backward as Vivian; indeed, backwarder; and so was Dudley,
who was taught at home on the new system, by a pictorial alphabet, and
who persisted to the last, notwithstanding all the exertions of Miss
Barrett, in spelling A-P-E, monkey, merely because over the word there
was a monster munching an apple.”

“And quite right in the child, my dear. Pictorial alphabet! pictorial
fool’s head!”

“But what do you say to Flummery’s, Horace?”

“My dear, do what you like. I never trouble myself, you know, about
these matters;” and Mr. Grey refreshed himself, after this domestic
attack, with a glass of claret.

Mr. Grey was a gentleman who had succeeded, when the heat of youth was
over, to the enjoyment of a life estate of some two thousand a year. He
was a man of lettered tastes, and had hailed with no slight pleasure his
succession to a fortune which, though limited in its duration, was still
a great thing for a young lounger about town, not only with no
profession, but with a mind unfitted for every species of business.
Grey, to the astonishment of his former friends, the wits, made an
excellent domestic match; and, leaving the whole management of his
household to his lady, felt himself as independent in his magnificent
library as if he had never ceased to be that true freeman, A MAN
OF CHAMBERS.

The young Vivian had not, by the cares which fathers are always heirs
to, yet reminded his parent that children were anything else but
playthings. The intercourse between father and son was, of course,
extremely limited; for Vivian was, as yet, the mother’s child; Mr.
Grey’s parental duties being confined to giving his son a daily glass of
claret, pulling his ears with all the awkwardness of literary affection,
and trusting to God “that the urchin would never scribble.”

“I won’t go to school, mamma,” bawled Vivian.

“But you must, my love,” answered Mrs. Grey; “all good boys go to
school;” and in the plenitude of a mother’s love she tried to make her
offspring’s hair curl.

“I won’t have my hair curl, mamma; the boys will laugh at me,” rebawled
the beauty.

“Now who could have told the child that?” monologised mamma, with all a
mamma’s admiration.

“Charles Appleyard told me so; his hair curled, and the boys called him
girl. Papa! give me some more claret; I won’t go to school.”



CHAPTER II


Three or four years passed over, and the mind of Vivian Grey
astonishingly developed itself. He had long ceased to wear frills, had
broached the subject of boots three or four times, made a sad inroad
during the holidays in Mr. Grey’s bottle of claret, and was reported as
having once sworn at the butler. The young gentleman began also to hint,
during every vacation, that the fellows at Flummery’s were somewhat too
small for his companionship, and (first bud of puppyism!) the former
advocate of straight hair now expended a portion of his infant income in
the purchase of Macassar, and began to cultivate his curls. Mrs. Grey
could not entertain for a moment the idea of her son’s associating with
children, the eldest of whom (to adopt his own account) was not above
eight years old; so Flummery, it was determined, he should leave. But
where to go? Mr. Grey was for Eton, but his lady was one of those women
whom nothing in the world can persuade that a public school is anything
else but a place where boys are roasted alive; and so with tears, and
taunts, and supplications, the point of private education was conceded.

At length it was resolved that the only hope should remain at home a
season, until some plan should be devised for the cultivation of his
promising understanding. During this year Vivian became a somewhat more
constant intruder into the library than heretofore; and living so much
among books, he was insensibly attracted to those silent companions,
that speak so eloquently.

How far the character of the parent may influence the character of the
child the metaphysician must decide. Certainly the character of Vivian
Grey underwent, at this period of his life, a sensible change.
Doubtless, constant communion with a mind highly refined, severely
cultivated, and much experienced, cannot but produce a beneficial
impression, even upon a mind formed and upon principles developed: how
infinitely more powerful must the influence of such communion be upon a
youthful heart, ardent, innocent, and unpractised! As Vivian was not to
figure in the microcosm of a public school, a place for which, from his
temper, he was almost better fitted than any young genius whom the
playing fields of Eton or the hills of Winton can remember, there was
some difficulty in fixing upon his future Academus. Mr. Grey’s two
axioms were, first, that no one so young as his son should settle in the
metropolis, and that Vivian must consequently not have a private tutor;
and, secondly, that all private schools were quite worthless; and,
therefore, there was every probability of Vivian not receiving any
education whatever.

At length, an exception to axiom second started up in the establishment
of Mr. Dallas. This gentleman was a clergyman, a profound Grecian, and a
poor man. He had edited the Alcestis, and married his laundress; lost
money by his edition, and his fellowship by his match. In a few days the
hall of Mr. Grey’s London mansion was filled with all sorts of
portmanteaus, trunks, and travelling cases, directed in a boy’s
sprawling hand to “Vivian Grey, Esquire, at the Reverend Everard
Dallas, Burnsley Vicarage, Hants.”

“God bless you, my boy! write to your mother soon, and remember your
Journal.”



CHAPTER III


The rumour of the arrival of “a new fellow” circulated with rapidity
through the inmates of Burnsley Vicarage, and about fifty young devils
were preparing to quiz the newcomer, when the school-room door opened,
and Mr. Dallas, accompanied by Vivian, entered.

“A dandy, by Jove!” whispered St. Leger Smith. “What a knowing set
out!” squeaked Johnson secundus. “Mammy-sick!” growled Barlow primus.
This last exclamation was, however, a scandalous libel, for certainly no
being ever stood in a pedagogue’s presence with more perfect sang froid,
and with a bolder front, than did, at this moment, Vivian Grey.

One principle in Mr. Dallas’s system was always to introduce a new-comer
in school-hours. He was thus carried immediately in medias res, and the
curiosity of his co-mates being in a great degree satisfied at the time
when that curiosity could not personally annoy him, the new-comer was,
of course, much better prepared to make his way when the absence of the
ruler became a signal for some oral communication with “the arrival.”

However, in the present instance the young savages at Burnsley Vicarage
had caught a Tartar; and in a very few days Vivian Grey was decidedly
the most popular fellow in the school. He was “so dashing! so devilish
good-tempered! so completely up to everything!” The magnates of the land
were certainly rather jealous of his success, but their very sneers bore
witness to his popularity. “Cursed puppy,” whispered St. Leger Smith.
“Thinks himself knowing,” squeaked Johnson secundus. “Thinks himself
witty,” growled Barlow primus.

Notwithstanding this cabal, days rolled on at Burnsley Vicarage only to
witness the increase of Vivian’s popularity. Although more deficient
than most of his own age in accurate classical attainments, he found
himself, in talents and various acquirements, immeasurably their
superior. And singular is it that at school distinction in such points
is ten thousand times more admired by the multitude than the most
profound knowledge of Greek Metres, or the most accurate acquaintance
with the value of Roman coins. Vivian Grey’s English verses and Vivian
Grey’s English themes were the subject of universal commendation. Some
young lads made copies of these productions, to enrich, at the Christmas
holidays, their sisters’ albums; while the whole school were scribbling
embryo prize-poems, epics of twenty lines on “the Ruins of Paestum” and
“the Temple of Minerva;” “Agrigentum,” and “the Cascade of Terni.”
 Vivian’s productions at this time would probably have been rejected by
the commonest twopenny publication about town, yet they turned the brain
of the whole school; while fellows who were writing Latin Dissertations
and Greek Odes, which might have made the fortune of the Classical
Journal, were looked on by the multitude as as great dunderheads as
themselves. Such is the advantage which, even in this artificial world,
everything that is genuine has over everything that is false and forced.
The dunderheads who wrote “good Latin” and “Attic Greek” did it by a
process by means of which the youngest fellow in the school was
conscious he could, if he chose, attain the same perfection. Vivian
Grey’s verses were unlike anything which had yet appeared in the
literary Annals of Burnsley Vicarage, and that which was quite novel was
naturally thought quite excellent.

There is no place in the world where greater homage is paid to talent
than an English school. At a public school, indeed, if a youth of great
talents be blessed with an amiable and generous disposition, he ought
not to envy the Minister of England. If any captain of Eton or praefect
of Winchester be reading these pages, let him dispassionately consider
in what situation of life he can rationally expect that it will be in
his power to exercise such influence, to have such opportunities of
obliging others, and be so confident of an affectionate and grateful
return. Aye, there’s the rub! Bitter thought! that gratitude should
cease the moment we become men.

And sure I am that Vivian Grey was loved as ardently and as faithfully
as you might expect from innocent young hearts. His slight
accomplishments were the standard of all perfection, his sayings were
the soul of all good fellowship, and his opinion the guide in any crisis
which occurred in the monotonous existence of the little commonwealth.
And time flew gaily on.

One winter evening, as Vivian, with some of his particular cronies, were
standing round the school-room fire, they began, as all schoolboys do
when it grows rather dark and they grow rather sentimental, to talk
of HOME.

“Twelve weeks more,” said Augustus Etherege; “twelve weeks more, and we
are free! The glorious day should be celebrated.”

“A feast, a feast!” exclaimed Poynings.

“A feast is but the work of a night,” said Vivian Grey; “something more
stirring for me! What say you to private theatricals?”

The proposition was, of course, received with enthusiasm, and it was not
until they had unanimously agreed to act that they universally
remembered that acting was not allowed. And then they consulted whether
they should ask Dallas, and then they remembered that Dallas had been
asked fifty times, and then they “supposed they must give it up;” and
then Vivian Grey made a proposition which the rest were secretly sighing
for, but which they were afraid to make themselves; he proposed that
they should act without asking Dallas. “Well, then, we’ll do it without
asking him,” said Vivian; “nothing is allowed in this life, and
everything is done: in town there is a thing called the French play, and
that is not allowed, yet my aunt has got a private box there. Trust me
for acting, but what shall we perform?”

This question was, as usual, the fruitful source of jarring opinions.
One proposed Othello, chiefly because it would be so easy to black a
face with a burnt cork. Another was for Hamlet, solely because he wanted
to act the ghost, which he proposed doing in white shorts and a
night-cap. A third was for Julius Caesar, because the murder scene would
be such fun.

“No! no!” said Vivian, tired at these various and varying proposals,
“this will never do. Out upon Tragedies; let’s have a Comedy!”

“A Comedy! a Comedy! oh! how delightful!”



CHAPTER IV


After an immense number of propositions, and an equal number of
repetitions, Dr. Hoadley’s bustling drama was fixed upon. Vivian was to
act Ranger, Augustus Etherege was to personate Clarinda, because he was
a fair boy and always blushing; and the rest of the characters found
able representatives. Every half-holiday was devoted to rehearsals, and
nothing could exceed the amusement and thorough fun which all the
preparations elicited. All went well; Vivian wrote a pathetic prologue
and a witty epilogue. Etherege got on capitally in the mask scene, and
Poynings was quite perfect in Jack Maggot. There was, of course, some
difficulty in keeping all things in order, but then Vivian Grey was such
an excellent manager! and then, with infinite tact, the said manager
conciliated the Classics, for he allowed St. Leger Smith to select a
Greek motto, from the Andromache, for the front of the theatre; and
Johnson secundus and Barlow primus were complimented by being allowed to
act the chairmen.

But alas! in the midst of all this sunshine, the seeds of discord and
dissension were fast flourishing. Mr. Dallas himself was always so
absorbed in some freshly-imported German commentator that it was a fixed
principle with him never to trouble himself with anything that concerned
his pupils “out of school hours.” The consequence was, that certain
powers were necessarily delegated to a certain set of beings
called USHERS.

The usherian rule had, however, always been comparatively light at
Burnsley Vicarage, for the good Dallas, never for a moment entrusting
the duties of tuition to a third person, engaged these deputies merely
as a sort of police, to regulate the bodies, rather than the minds, of
his youthful subjects. One of the first principles of the new theory
introduced into the establishment of Burnsley Vicarage by Mr. Vivian
Grey was, that the ushers were to be considered by the boys as a
species of upper servants; were to be treated with civility, certainly,
as all servants are by gentlemen; but that no further attention was to
be paid them, and that any fellow voluntarily conversing with an usher
was to be cut dead by the whole school. This pleasant arrangement was no
secret to those whom it most immediately concerned, and, of course,
rendered Vivian rather a favourite with them. These men had not the tact
to conciliate the boy, and were, notwithstanding, too much afraid of his
influence in the school to attack him openly; so they waited with that
patience which insulted beings can alone endure.

One of these creatures must not be forgotten; his name was Mallett; he
was a perfect specimen of the genuine usher. The monster wore a black
coat and waistcoat; the residue of his costume was of that mysterious
colour known by the name of pepper-and-salt. He was a pallid wretch with
a pug nose, white teeth, and marked with the small-pox: long, greasy,
black hair, and small black, beady eyes. This daemon watched the
progress of the theatrical company with eyes gloating with vengeance. No
attempt had been made to keep the fact of the rehearsal a secret from
the police; no objection, on their part, had as yet been made; the
twelve weeks diminished to six; Ranger had secretly ordered a dress from
town, and was to get a steel-handled sword from Fentum’s for Jack
Maggot; and everything was proceeding with delightful success, when one
morning, as Mr. Dallas was apparently about to take his departure, with
a volume of Becker’s Thucydides under his arm, the respected Dominie
stopped, and thus harangued: “I am informed that a great deal is going
on in this family with which it is intended that I shall be kept
unacquainted. It is not my intention to name anybody or anything at
present; but I must say that of late the temper of this family has sadly
changed. Whether there be any seditious stranger among you or not, I
shall not at present even endeavour to discover; but I will warn my old
friends of their new ones:” and so saying, the Dominie withdrew.

All eyes were immediately fixed on Vivian, and the faces of the Classics
were triumphant with smiles; those of the manager’s particular friends,
the Romantics, we may call them, were clouded; but who shall describe
the countenance of Mallett? In a moment the school broke up with an
agitated and tumultuous uproar. “No stranger!” shouted St. Leger Smith;
“no stranger!” vociferated a prepared gang. Vivian’s friends were
silent, for they hesitated to accept for their leader the insulting
title. Those who were neither Vivian’s friends nor in the secret, weak
creatures who side always with the strongest, immediately swelled the
insulting chorus of Mr. St. Leger Smith. That worthy, emboldened by his
success and the smiles of Mallett, contained himself no longer: “Down
with the manager!” he cried. His satellites chorussed. But now Vivian
rushed forward. “Mr. Smith, I thank you for being so definite; take
that!” and he struck Smith with such force that the Cleon staggered and
fell; but Smith instantly recovered, and a ring was instantly formed. To
a common observer, the combatants were unequally matched; for Smith was
a burly, big-limbed animal, alike superior to Grey in years and
strength. But Vivian, though delicate in frame and more youthful, was
full his match in spirit, and, thanks to being a Cockney! ten times his
match in science. He had not built a white great coat or drunk blue ruin
at Ben Burn’s for nothing!

Oh! how beautifully he fought! how admirably straight he hit! and his
stops quick as lightning! and his followings up confounding his
adversary with their painful celerity! Smith alike puzzled and punished,
yet proud in his strength, hit round, and wild, and false, and foamed
like a furious elephant. For ten successive rounds the result was
dubious; but in the eleventh the strength of Smith began to fail him,
and the men were more fairly matched. “Go it, Ranger! go it, Ranger!”
 halloed the Greyites; “No stranger! no stranger!” eagerly bawled the
more numerous party. “Smith’s floored, by Jove!” exclaimed Poynings, who
was Grey’s second. “At it again! at it again!” exclaimed all. And now,
when Smith must certainly have given in, suddenly stepped forward Mr.
Mallett, accompanied by--Dallas!

“How, Mr. Grey! No answer, sir; I understand that you have always an
answer ready. I do not quote Scripture lightly, Mr. Grey; but ‘Take heed
that you offend not, even with your tongue.’ Now, sir, to your room.”

When Vivian Grey again joined his companions, he found himself almost
universally shunned. Etherege and Poynings were the only individuals who
met him with their former frankness.

“A horrible row, Grey,” said the latter. “After you went, the Doctor
harangued the whole school, and swears you have seduced and ruined us
all; everything was happiness until you came, &c. Mallett is of course
at the bottom of the whole business: but what can we do? Dallas says you
have the tongue of a serpent, and that he will not trust himself to hear
your defence. Infamous shame! I swear! And now every fellow has got a
story against you: some say you are a dandy, others want to know whether
the next piece performed at your theatre will be ‘The Stranger;’ as for
myself and Etherege, we shall leave in a few weeks, and it does not
signify to us; but what the devil you’re to do next half, by Jove, I
can’t say. If I were you, I would not return.”

“Not return, eh! but that will I, though; and we shall see who, in
future, can complain of the sweetness of my voice! Ungrateful fools!”



CHAPTER V


The Vacation was over, and Vivian returned to Burnsley Vicarage. He
bowed cavalierly to Mr. Dallas on his arrival, and immediately sauntered
up into the school-room, where he found a tolerable quantity of wretches
looking as miserable as schoolboys who have left their pleasant homes
generally do for some four-and-twenty hours. “How d’ye do, Grey? How
d’ye do, Grey?” burst from a knot of unhappy fellows, who would have
felt quite delighted had their newly arrived co-mate condescended to
entertain them, as usual, with some capital good story fresh from town.
But they were disappointed.

“We can make room for you at the fire, Grey,” said Theophilus

“I thank you, I am not cold.”

“I suppose you know that Poynings and Etherege don’t come back, Grey?”

“Everybody knew that last half:” and so he walked on.

“Grey, Grey!” halloed King, “don’t go into the dining-room; Mallett is
there alone, and told us not to disturb him. By Jove, the fellow is
going in: there will be a greater row this half between Grey and Mallett
than ever.”

Days, the heavy first days of the half, rolled on, and all the citizens
of the little commonwealth had returned.

“What a dull half this will be!” said Eardley; “how one misses Grey’s
set! After all, they kept the school alive: Poynings was a first-rate
fellow, and Etherege so deuced good-natured! I wonder whom Grey will
crony with this half; have you seen him and Dallas speak together yet?
He cut the Doctor quite dead at Greek to-day.”

“Why, Eardley! Eardley! there is Grey walking round playing fields with
Mallett!” halloed a sawney who was killing the half-holiday by looking
out of the window.

“The devil! I say, Matthews, whose flute is that? It is a devilish
handsome one!”

“It’s Grey’s! I clean it for him,” squeaked a little boy. “He gives me
sixpence a week!”

“Oh, you sneak!” said one.

“Cut him over!”

“Roast him!” cried a third.

“To whom are you going to take the flute?” asked a fourth.

“To Mallett,” squeaked the little fellow. “Grey lends his flute to
Mallett every day.”

“Grey lends his flute to Mallett! The deuce he does! So Grey and Mallett
are going to crony!”

A wild exclamation burst forth from the little party; and away each of
them ran, to spread in all directions the astounding intelligence.

If the rule of the ushers had hitherto been light at Burnsley Vicarage,
its character was materially changed during this half-year. The
vexatious and tyrannical influence of Mallett was now experienced in all
directions, meeting and interfering with the comforts of the boys in
every possible manner. His malice was accompanied, too, by a tact which
could not have been expected from his vulgar mind, and which, at the
same time, could not have been produced by the experience of one in his
situation. It was quite evident to the whole community that his conduct
was dictated by another mind, and that that mind was one versed in all
the secrets of a school-boy’s life, and acquainted with all the workings
of a school-boy’s mind: a species of knowledge which no pedagogue in the
world ever yet attained. There was no difficulty in discovering whose
was the power behind the throne. Vivian Grey was the perpetual companion
of Mallett in his walks, and even in the school; he shunned also the
converse of every one of the boys, and did not affect to conceal that
his quarrel was universal. Superior power, exercised by a superior mind,
was for a long time more than a match even for the united exertions of
the whole school. If any one complained, Mallett’s written answer (and
such Dallas always required) was immediately ready, explaining
everything in the most satisfactory manner, and refuting every complaint
with the most triumphant spirit. Dallas, of course, supported his
deputy, and was soon equally detested. This tyranny had continued
through a great part of the long half-year, and the spirit of the school
was almost broken, when a fresh outrage occurred, of such a nature that
the nearly enslaved multitude conspired.

The plot was admirably formed. On the first bell ringing for school, the
door was to be immediately barred, to prevent the entrance of Dallas.
Instant vengeance was then to be taken on Mallett and his companion--the
sneak! the spy! the traitor! The bell rang: the door was barred: four
stout fellows seized on Mallett, four rushed to Vivian Grey: but stop:
he sprang upon his desk, and, placing his back against the wall, held a
pistol at the foremost: “Not an inch nearer, Smith, or I fire. Let me
not, however, baulk your vengeance on yonder hound: if I could suggest
any refinements in torture, they would be at your service.” Vivian Grey
smiled, while the horrid cries of Mallett indicated that the boys were
“roasting” him. He then walked to the door and admitted the barred-out
Dominie. Silence was restored. There was an explanation and no defence;
and Vivian Grey was expelled.



CHAPTER VI


Vivian was now seventeen; and the system of private education having so
decidedly failed, it was resolved that he should spend the years
antecedent to his going to Oxford at home. Nothing could be a greater
failure than the first weeks of his “course of study.” He was
perpetually violating the sanctity of the drawing-room by the presence
of Scapulas and Hederics, and outraging the propriety of morning
visitors by bursting into his mother’s boudoir with lexicons
and slippers.

“Vivian, my dear,” said his father to him one day, “this will never do;
you must adopt some system for your studies, and some locality for your
reading. Have a room to yourself; set apart certain hours in the day
for your books, and allow no consideration on earth to influence you to
violate their sacredness; and above all, my dear boy, keep your papers
in order. I find a dissertation on ‘The Commerce of Carthage’ stuck in
my large paper copy of ‘Dibdin’s Decameron,’ and an ‘Essay on the
Metaphysics of Music’ (pray, my dear fellow, beware of magazine
scribbling) cracking the back of Montfaucon’s ‘Monarchie.’”

Vivian apologised, promised, protested, and finally sat down “TO READ.”
 He had laid the foundations of accurate classical knowledge under the
tuition of the learned Dallas; and twelve hours a day and
self-banishment from society overcame, in twelve months, the ill effects
of his imperfect education. The result of this extraordinary exertion
may be conceived. At the end of twelve months, Vivian, like many other
young enthusiasts, had discovered that all the wit and wisdom of the
world were concentrated in some fifty antique volumes, and he treated
the unlucky moderns with the most sublime spirit of hauteur imaginable.
A chorus in the Medea, that painted the radiant sky of Attica, disgusted
him with the foggy atmosphere of Great Britain; and while Mrs. Grey was
meditating a visit to Brighton, her son was dreaming of the gulf of
Salamis. The spectre in the Persae was his only model for a ghost, and
the furies in the Orestes were his perfection of tragical machinery.

Most ingenious and educated youths have fallen into the same error, but
few have ever carried such feelings to the excess that Vivian Grey did;
for while his mind was daily becoming more enervated under the beautiful
but baneful influence of Classic Reverie, the youth lighted upon PLATO.

Wonderful is it that while the whole soul of Vivian Grey seemed
concentrated and wrapped in the glorious pages of the Athenian; while,
with keen and almost inspired curiosity, he searched, and followed up,
and meditated upon, the definite mystery, the indefinite development;
while his spirit alternately bowed in trembling and in admiration, as he
seemed to be listening to the secrets of the Universe revealed in the
glorious melodies of an immortal voice; wonderful is it, I say, that the
writer, the study of whose works appeared to the young scholar, in the
revelling of his enthusiasm, to be the sole object for which man was
born and had his being, was the cause by which Vivian Grey was saved
from being all his life a dreaming scholar.

Determined to spare no exertions, and to neglect no means, by which he
might enter into the very penetralia of his mighty master’s meaning,
Vivian determined to attack the latter Platonists. These were a race of
men, of whose existence he knew merely by the references to their
productions which were sprinkled in the commentaries of his “best
editions.” In the pride of boyish learning, Vivian had limited his
library to Classics, and the proud leaders of the later schools did not
consequently grace his diminutive bookcase. In this dilemma he flew to
his father, and confessed by his request that his favourites were not
all-sufficient.

“Father! I wish to make myself master of the latter Platonists. I want
Plotinus, and Porphyry, and Iamblichus, and Syrirnus, and Maximus
Tyrius, and Proclus, and Hierocles, and Sallustius, and Damascius.”

Mr. Grey stared at his son, and laughed.

“My dear Vivian! are you quite convinced that the authors you ask for
are all pure Platonists? or have not some of them placed the great end
rather in practical than theoretic virtue, and thereby violated the
first principles of your master? which would be shocking. Are you sure,
too, that these gentlemen have actually ‘withdrawn the sacred veil,
which covers from profane eyes the luminous spectacles?’ Are you quite
convinced that every one of these worthies lived at least five hundred
years after the great master? for I need not tell so profound a
Platonist as yourself that it was not till that period that even
glimpses of the great master’s meaning were discovered. Strange! that
TIME should alike favour the philosophy of theory and the philosophy of
facts. Mr. Vivian Grey, benefiting, I presume, by the lapse of further
centuries, is about to complete the great work which Proclus and
Porphyry commenced.”

“My dear sir! you are pleased to be amusing this morning.”

“My dear boy! I smile, but not with joy. Sit down, and let us have a
little conversation together. Father and son, and father and son on such
terms as we are, should really communicate oftener together than we do.
It has been, perhaps, my fault; it shall not be so again.”

“My dear sir!”

“Nay, nay, it shall be my fault now. Whose it shall be in future,
Vivian, time will show. My dear Vivian, you have now spent upwards of a
year under this roof, and your conduct has been as correct as the most
rigid parent might require. I have not wished to interfere with the
progress of your mind, and I regret it. I have been negligent, but not
wilfully so. I do regret it; because, whatever may be your powers,
Vivian, I at least have the advantage of experience. I see you smile at
a word which I so often use. Well, well, were I to talk to you for ever,
you would not understand what I mean by that single word. The time will
come when you will deem that single word everything. Ardent youths in
their closets, Vivian, too often fancy that they are peculiar beings;
and I have no reason to believe that you are an exception to the general
rule. In passing one whole year of your life, as you have done, you
doubtless imagine that you have been spending your hours in a manner
which no others have done before. Trust me, my boy, thousands have done
the same; and, what is of still more importance, thousands are doing,
and will do, the same. Take the advice of one who has committed as many,
ay more, follies than yourself; but who would bless the hour that he had
been a fool if his experience might be of benefit to his beloved son.”

“My father!”

“Nay, don’t agitate yourself; we are consulting together. Let us see
what is to be done. Try to ascertain, when you are alone, what may be
the chief objects of your existence in this world. I want you to take no
theological dogmas for granted, nor to satisfy your doubts by ceasing to
think; but, whether we are in this world in a state of probation for
another, or whether we cease altogether when we cease to breathe, human
feelings tell me that we have some duties to perform; to our fellow
creatures, to our friends, to ourselves. Pray tell me, my dear boy, what
possible good your perusal of the latter Platonists can produce to
either of these three interests? I trust that my child is not one of
those who look with a glazed eye on the welfare of their fellow-men, and
who would dream away an useless life by idle puzzles of the brain;
creatures who consider their existence as an unprofitable mystery, and
yet are afraid to die. You will find Plotinus in the fourth shelf of the
next room, Vivian.”



CHAPTER VII


In England, personal distinction is the only passport to the society of
the great. Whether this distinction arise from fortune, family, or
talent, is immaterial; but certain it is, to enter into high society, a
man must either have blood, a million, or a genius.

The reputation of Mr. Grey had always made him an honoured guest among
the powerful and the great. It was for this reason that he had always
been anxious that his son should be at home as little as possible; for
he feared for a youth the fascination of London society. Although busied
with his studies, and professing “not to visit,” Vivian could not avoid
occasionally finding himself in company in which boys should never be
seen; and, what was still worse, from a certain social spirit, an
indefinable tact with which Nature had endowed him, this boy of nineteen
began to think this society delightful. Most persons of his age would
have passed through the ordeal with perfect safety; they would have
entered certain rooms, at certain hours, with stiff cravats, and Nugee
coats, and black velvet waistcoats; and after having annoyed all those
who condescended to know of their existence, with their red hands and
their white gloves, they would have retired to a corner of the room, and
conversationised with any stray four-year-older not yet sent to bed.

But Vivian Grey was a graceful, lively lad, with just enough of dandyism
to preserve him from committing gaucheries, and with a devil of a
tongue. All men will agree with me that the only rival to be feared by a
man of spirit is a clever boy. What makes them so popular with women it
is difficult to explain; however, Lady Julia Knighton, and Mrs. Frank
Delmington, and half a score of dames of fashion, were always
patronising our hero, who found an evening spent in their society not
altogether dull, for there is no fascination so irresistible to a boy as
the smile of a married woman. Vivian had passed such a recluse life for
the last two years and a half, that he had quite forgotten that he was
once considered an agreeable fellow; and so, determined to discover what
right he ever had to such a reputation, he dashed into all these
amourettes in beautiful style.

But Vivian Grey was a young and tender plant in a moral hothouse. His
character was developing itself too soon. Although his evenings were now
generally passed in the manner we have alluded to, this boy was, during
the rest of the day, a hard and indefatigable student; and having now
got through an immense series of historical reading, he had stumbled
upon a branch of study certainly the most delightful in the world; but,
for a boy, as certainly the most perilous, THE STUDY OF POLITICS.

And now everything was solved! the inexplicable longings of his soul,
which had so often perplexed him, were at length explained. The want,
the indefinable want, which he had so constantly experienced, was at
last supplied; the grand object on which to bring the powers of his mind
to bear and work was at last provided. He paced his chamber in an
agitated spirit, and panted for the Senate.

It may be asked, what was the evil of all this? and the reader will,
perhaps, murmur something about an honourable spirit and youthful
ambition. The evil was great. The time drew nigh for Vivian to leave his
home for Oxford, that is, for him to commence his long preparation for
entering on his career in life. And now this person, who was about to be
a pupil, this stripling, who was going to begin his education, had all
the desires of a matured mind, of an experienced man, but without
maturity and without experience. He was already a cunning reader of
human hearts; and felt conscious that his was a tongue which was born to
guide human beings. The idea of Oxford to such an individual was
an insult!



CHAPTER VIII


We must endeavour to trace, if possible, more accurately the workings of
Vivian Grey’s mind at this period of his existence. In the plenitude of
his ambition, he stopped one day to enquire in what manner he could
obtain his magnificent ends.

“The Bar: pooh! law and bad jokes till we are forty; and then, with the
most brilliant success, the prospect of gout and a coronet. Besides, to
succeed as an advocate, I must be a great lawyer; and, to be a great
lawyer, I must give up my chance of being a great man. The Services in
war time are fit only for desperadoes (and that truly am I); but, in
peace, are fit only for fools. The Church is more rational. Let me see:
I should certainly like to act Wolsey; but the thousand and one chances
against me! And truly I feel my destiny should not be on a chance. Were
I the son of a millionaire, or a noble, I might have all. Curse on my
lot! that the want of a few rascal counters, and the possession of a
little rascal blood, should mar my fortunes!”

Such was the general tenor of Vivian’s thoughts, until, musing himself
almost into madness, he at last made, as he conceived, the Grand
Discovery. Riches are Power, says the Economist; and is not Intellect?
asks the Philosopher. And yet, while the influence of the millionaire is
instantly felt in all classes of society, how is it that “Noble Mind” so
often leaves us unknown and unhonoured? Why have there been statesmen
who have never ruled, and heroes who have never conquered? Why have
glorious philosophers died in a garret? and why have there been poets
whose only admirer has been Nature in her echoes? It must be that these
beings have thought only of themselves, and, constant and elaborate
students of their own glorious natures, have forgotten or disdained the
study of all others. Yes! we must mix with the herd; we must enter into
their feelings; we must humour their weaknesses; we must sympathise with
the sorrows that we do not feel; and share the merriment of fools. Oh,
yes! to rule men, we must be men; to prove that we are strong, we must
be weak; to prove that we are giants, we must be dwarfs; even as the
Eastern Genie was hid in the charmed bottle. Our wisdom must be
concealed under folly, and our constancy under caprice.

“I have been often struck by the ancient tales of Jupiter’s visits to
the earth. In these fanciful adventures, the god bore no indication of
the Thunderer’s glory; but was a man of low estate, a herdsman, a hind,
often even an animal. A mighty spirit has in Tradition, Time’s great
moralist, perused ‘the wisdom of the ancients.’ Even in the same spirit,
I would explain Jove’s terrestrial visitings. For, to govern man, even
the god appeared to feel as a man; and sometimes as a beast, was
apparently influenced by their vilest passions. Mankind, then, is my
great game.

“At this moment, how many a powerful noble wants only wit to be a
Minister; and what wants Vivian Grey to attain the same end? That
noble’s influence. When two persons can so materially assist each
other, why are they not brought together? Shall I, because my birth
baulks my fancy, shall I pass my life a moping misanthrope in an old
château? Supposing I am in contact with this magnifico, am I prepared?
Now, let me probe my very soul. Does my cheek blanch? I have the mind
for the conception; and I can perform right skilfully upon the most
splendid of musical instruments, the human voice, to make those
conceptions beloved by others. There wants but one thing more: courage,
pure, perfect courage; and does Vivian Grey know fear?” He laughed an
answer of bitterest derision.



CHAPTER IX


Is it surprising that Vivian Grey, with a mind teeming with such
feelings, should view the approach of the season for his departure to
Oxford with sentiments of disgust? After hours of bitter meditation, he
sought his father; he made him acquainted with his feelings, but
concealed from him his actual views, and dwelt on the misery of being
thrown back in life, at a period when society seemed instinct with a
spirit peculiarly active, and when so many openings were daily offered
to the adventurous and the bold.

“Vivian,” said Mr. Grey, “beware of endeavouring to become a great man
in a hurry. One such attempt in ten thousand may succeed: these are
fearful odds. Admirer as you are of Lord Bacon, you may perhaps remember
a certain parable of his, called ‘Memnon, or a youth too forward.’ I
hope you are not going to be one of those sons of Aurora, ‘who, puffed
up with the glittering show of vanity and ostentation, attempt actions
above their strength.’

“You talk to me about the peculiarly active spirit of society; if the
spirit of society be so peculiarly active, Mr. Vivian Grey should beware
lest it outstrip him. Is neglecting to mature your mind, my boy, exactly
the way to win the race? This is an age of unsettled opinions and
contested principles; in the very measures of our administration, the
speculative spirit of the present day is, to say the least, not
impalpable. Nay, don’t start, my dear fellow, and look the very
Prosopopeia of Political Economy! I know exactly what you are going to
say; but, if you please, we will leave Turgot and Galileo to Mr.
Canning and the House of Commons, or your Cousin Hargrave and his
Debating Society. However, jesting apart, get your hat, and walk with me
as far as Evans’s, where I have promised to look in, to see the Mazarin
Bible, and we will talk this affair over as we go along.

“I am no bigot, you know, Vivian. I am not one of those who wish to
oppose the application of refined philosophy to the common business of
life. We are, I hope, an improving race; there is room, I am sure, for
great improvement, and the perfectibility of man is certainly a pretty
dream. (How well that Union Club House comes out now, since they have
made the opening), but, although we may have steam kitchens, human
nature is, I imagine, much the same this moment that we are walking in
Pall Mall East, as it was some thousand years ago, when as wise men were
walking on the banks of the Ilyssus. When our moral powers increase in
proportion to our physical ones, then huzza, for the perfectibility of
man! and respectable, idle loungers like you and I, Vivian, may then
have a chance of walking in the streets of London without having their
heels trodden upon, a ceremony which I have this moment undergone. In
the present day we are all studying science, and none of us are studying
ourselves. This is not exactly the Socratic process; and as for the
[Greek: gnothi seauton] of the more ancient Athenian, that principle is
quite out of fashion in the nineteenth century (I believe that’s the
phrase). Self is the only person whom we know nothing about.

“But, my dear Vivian, as to the immediate point of our consideration. In
my library, uninfluenced and uncontrolled by passion or by party, I
cannot but see that it is utterly impossible that all that we are
wishing and striving for can take place, without some, without much
evil. In ten years’ time, perhaps, or less, the fever will have
subsided, and in ten years’ time, or less, your intellect will be
matured. Now, my good sir, instead of talking about the active spirit of
the age, and the opportunities offered to the adventurous and the bold,
ought you not rather to congratulate yourself that a great change is
effecting at a period of your life when you need not, individually, be
subjected to the possibility of being injured by its operation; and when
you are preparing your mind to take advantage of the system, when that
system is matured and organised?

“As to your request, it assuredly is one of the most modest, and the
most rational, that I have lately been favoured with. Although I would
much rather that any influence which I may exercise over your mind,
should be the effect of my advice as your friend than of my authority as
your father; still I really feel it my duty, parentally, to protest
against this crude proposition of yours. However, if you choose to lose
a term or two, do. Don’t blame me, you know, if afterwards you
repent it.”

Here dashed by the gorgeous equipage of Mrs. Ormolu, the wife of a man
who was working all the gold and silver mines in Christendom. “Ah! my
dear Vivian,” said Mr. Grey, “it is this which has turned all your
brains. In this age every one is striving to make an immense fortune,
and what is most terrific, at the same time a speedy one. This thirst
for sudden wealth it is which engenders the extravagant conceptions, and
fosters that wild spirit of speculation which is now stalking abroad;
and which, like the Daemon in Frankenstein, not only fearfully wanders
over the whole wide face of nature, but grins in the imagined solitude
of our secret chambers. Oh! my son, it is for the young men of the
present day that I tremble; seduced by the temporary success of a few
children of fortune, I observe that their minds recoil from the
prospects which are held forth by the ordinary, and, mark me, by the
only modes of acquiring property, fair trade, and honourable
professions. It is for you and your companions that I fear. God grant
that there may not be a moral as well as a political disorganisation!
God grant that our youth, the hope of our state, may not be lost to us!
For, oh! my son, the wisest has said, ‘He that maketh haste to be rich
shall not be innocent.’ Let us step into Clarke’s and take an ice.”



BOOK II


CHAPTER I


The Marquess of Carabas started in life as the cadet of a noble family.
The earl, his father, like the woodman in the fairy tale, was blessed
with three sons: the first was an idiot, and was destined for the
Coronet; the second was a man of business, and was educated for the
Commons; the third was a Roué, and was shipped to the Colonies.

The present Marquess, then the Honourable Sidney Lorraine, prospered in
his political career. He was servile, and pompous, and indefatigable,
and loquacious, so whispered the world: his friends hailed him as, at
once, a courtier and a sage, a man of business and an orator. After
revelling in his fair proportion of commissionerships, and
under-secretaryships, and the rest of the milk and honey of the
political Canaan, the apex of the pyramid of his ambition was at length
visible, for Sidney Lorraine became President of a Board, and wriggled
into the adytum of the cabinet.

At this moment his idiot brother died. To compensate for his loss of
office, and to secure his votes, the Earl of Carabas was promoted in the
peerage, and was presented with some magnificent office, meaning
nothing; swelling with dignity, and void of duties. As years rolled on,
various changes took place in the administration, of which his Lordship
was once a component part; and the ministry, to their surprise, getting
popular, found that the command of the Carabas interest was not of such
vital importance to them as heretofore, and so his Lordship was voted a
bore, and got shelved. Not that his Lordship was bereaved of his
splendid office, or that anything occurred, indeed, by which the
uninitiated might have been led to suppose that the beams of his
Lordship’s consequence were shorn; but the Marquess’s secret
applications at the Treasury were no longer listened to, and pert
under-secretaries settled their cravats, and whispered “that the Carabas
interest was gone by.”

The noble Marquess was not insensible to his situation, for he was what
the world calls ambitious; but the vigour of his faculties had vanished
beneath the united influence of years and indolence and ill-humour; for
his Lordship, to avoid ennui, had quarrelled with his son, and then,
having lost his only friend, had quarrelled with himself.

Such was the distinguished individual who graced, one day at the latter
end of the season of 18--, the classic board of Horace Grey, Esquire.
The reader will, perhaps, be astonished, that such a man as his Lordship
should be the guest of such a man as our hero’s father; but the truth
is, the Marquess of Carabas had just been disappointed in an attempt on
the chair of the President of the Royal Society, which, for want of
something better to do, he was ambitious of filling, and this was a
conciliatory visit to one of the most distinguished members of that
body, and one who had voted against him with particular enthusiasm. The
Marquess, still a politician, was now, as he imagined, securing his
host’s vote for a future St. Andrew’s day.

The cuisine of Mr. Grey was superb; for although an enthusiastic
advocate for the cultivation of the mind, he was an equally ardent
supporter of the cultivation of the body. Indeed, the necessary
dependence of the sanity of the one on the good keeping of the other,
was one of his favourite theories, and one which, this day, he was
supporting with pleasant and facetious reasoning. His Lordship was
delighted with his new friend, and still more delighted with his new
friend’s theory. The Marquess himself was, indeed, quite of the same
opinion as Mr. Grey; for he never made a speech without previously
taking a sandwich, and would have sunk under the estimates a thousand
times, had it not been for the juicy friendship of the fruit
of Portugal.

The guests were not numerous. A regius professor of Greek; an officer
just escaped from Sockatoo; a man of science, and two M.P.’s with his
Lordship; the host, and Mr. Vivian Grey, constituted the party. Oh, no!
there were two others. There was a Mr. John Brown, a fashionable poet,
and who, ashamed of his own name, published his melodies under the more
euphonious and romantic title of “Clarence Devonshire,” and there was a
Mr. Thomas Smith, a fashionable novelist; that is to say, a person who
occasionally publishes three volumes, one half of which contain the
adventures of a young gentleman in the country, and the other volume and
a half the adventures of the same young gentleman in the metropolis; a
sort of writer, whose constant tattle about beer and billiards, and
eating soup, and the horribility of “committing” puns, give truly an
admirable and accurate idea of the conversation of the refined society
of the refined metropolis of Great Britain. These two last gentlemen
were “pets” of Mrs. Grey.

The conversation may be conceived. Each person was of course prepared
with a certain quota of information, without which no man in London is
morally entitled to dine out; and when the quota was expended, the
amiable host took the burthen upon his own shoulders, and endeavoured,
as the phrase goes, to draw out his guests.

O London dinners! empty artificial nothings! and that beings can be
found, and those too the flower of the land, who, day after day, can
act the same parts in the same dull, dreary farce! The officer had
discoursed sufficiently about “his intimate friend, the Soudan,” and
about the chain armour of the Sockatoo cuirassiers; and one of the
M.P.’s, who was in the Guards, had been defeated in a ridiculous attempt
to prove that the breast-plates of the household troops of Great Britain
were superior to those of the household troops of Timtomtoo. Mrs. Grey,
to whose opinion both parties deferred, gave it in favour of the Soudan.
And the man of science had lectured about a machine which might destroy
fifteen square feet of human beings in a second, and yet be carried in
the waistcoat pocket. And the classic, who, for a professor, was quite a
man of the world, had the latest news of the new Herculaneum process,
and was of opinion that, if they could but succeed in unrolling a
certain suspicious-looking scroll, we might be so fortunate as to
possess a minute treatise on &c., &c., &c. In short, all had said their
say. There was a dead pause, and Mrs. Grey looked at her husband,
and rose.

How singular it is, that when this move takes place every one appears to
be relieved, and yet every one of any experience must be quite aware
that the dead bore work is only about to commence. Howbeit, all filled
their glasses, and the peer, at the top of the table, began to talk
politics. I am sure I cannot tell what the weighty subject was that was
broached by the ex-minister; for I did not dine with Grey that day, and
had I done so, I should have been equally ignorant, for I am a dull man,
and always sleep at dinner. However, the subject was political, the
claret flew round, and a stormy argument commenced. The Marquess was
decidedly wrong, and was sadly badgered by the civil M.P. and the
professor. The host, who was of no party, supported his guest as long as
possible, and then left him to his fate. The military M.P. fled to the
drawing-room to philander with Mrs. Grey; and the man of science and the
African had already retired to the intellectual idiocy of a May Fair “At
Home.” The novelist was silent, for he was studying a scene; and the
poet was absent, for he was musing a sonnet.

The Marquess refuted, had recourse to contradiction, and was too acute a
man to be insensible to the forlornness of his situation; when, at this
moment, a voice proceeded from the end of the table, from a young
gentleman, who had hitherto preserved a profound silence, but whose
silence, if the company were to have judged from the tones of his
voice, and the matter of his communication, did not altogether proceed
from a want of confidence in his own abilities. “In my opinion,” said
Mr. Vivian Grey, as he sat lounging in his father’s vacated seat, “in my
opinion his Lordship has been misunderstood; and it is, as is generally
the case, from a slight verbal misconception in the commencement of this
argument, that the whole of this difference arises.”

The eyes of the Marquess sparkled, and the mouth of the Marquess was
closed. His Lordship was delighted that his reputation might yet be
saved; but as he was not perfectly acquainted in what manner that
salvation was to be effected, he prudently left the battle to his
youthful champion.

Mr. Vivian Grey proceeded with the utmost sang froid; he commented upon
expressions, split and subtilised words, insinuated opinions, and
finally quoted a whole passage of Bolingbroke to prove that the opinion
of the most noble the Marquess of Carabas was one of the soundest,
wisest, and most convincing of opinions that ever was promulgated by
mortal man. The tables were turned, the guests looked astounded, the
Marquess settled his ruffles, and perpetually exclaimed, “Exactly what I
meant!” and his opponents, full of wine and quite puzzled, gave in.

It was a rule with Vivian Grey never to advance any opinion as his own.
He had been too deep a student of human nature, not to be aware that the
opinions of a boy of twenty, however sound, and however correct, stand
but a poor chance of being adopted by his elder, though feebler,
fellow-creatures. In attaining any end, it was therefore his system
always to advance his opinion as that of some eminent and considered
personage; and when, under the sanction of this name, the opinion or
advice was entertained and listened to, Vivian Grey had no fear that he
could prove its correctness and its expediency. He possessed also the
singular faculty of being able to improvise quotations, that is, he
could unpremeditatedly clothe his conceptions in language characteristic
of the style of any particular author; and Vivian Grey was reputed in
the world as having the most astonishing memory that ever existed; for
there was scarcely a subject of discussion in which he did not gain the
victory, by the great names he enlisted on his side of the argument. His
father was aware of the existence of this dangerous faculty, and had
often remonstrated with his son on the use of it. On the present
occasion, when the buzz had somewhat subsided, Mr. Grey looked smiling
to his son, and said, “Vivian, my dear, can you tell me in what work of
Bolingbroke I can find the eloquent passage you have just quoted?”

“Ask Mr. Hargrave, sir,” replied the son, with perfect coolness; then,
turning to the member, “You know, Mr. Hargrave, you are reputed the most
profound political student in the House, and more intimately acquainted
than any other person with the works of Bolingbroke.”

Mr. Hargrave knew no such thing; but he was a weak man, and, seduced by
the compliment, he was afraid to prove himself unworthy of it by
confessing his ignorance of the passage.

Coffee was announced.

Vivian did not let the peer escape him in the drawing-room. He soon
managed to enter into conversation with him; and certainly the Marquess
of Carabas never found a more entertaining companion. Vivian discoursed
on a new Venetian liqueur, and taught the Marquess how to mull Moselle,
an operation of which the Marquess had never heard (as who has?); and
then the flood of anecdotes, and little innocent personalities, and the
compliments so exquisitely introduced, that they scarcely appeared to be
compliments; and the voice so pleasant, and conciliating, and the
quotation from the Marquess’s own speech; and the wonderful art of which
the Marquess was not aware, by which, during all this time, the lively,
chattering, amusing, elegant conversationist, so full of scandal,
politics, and cookery, did not so much appear to be Mr. Vivian Grey as
the Marquess of Carabas himself.

“Well, I must be gone,” said the fascinated noble; “I really have not
felt in such spirits for some time; I almost fear I have been vulgar
enough to be amusing, eh! eh! eh! but you young men are sad fellows, eh!
eh! eh! Don’t forget to call on me; good evening! and Mr. Vivian Grey!
Mr. Vivian Grey!” said his lordship, returning, “you will not forget the
receipt you promised me for making tomahawk punch.”

“Certainly not, my Lord,” said the young man; “only it must be invented
first,” thought Vivian, as he took up his light to retire. “But never
mind, never mind;

     Chapeau bas! chapeau bas!
     Glorie au Marquis de Carabas!!”



CHAPTER II


A few days after the dinner at Mr. Grey’s, as the Marquess of Carabas
was sitting in his library, and sighing, in the fulness of his ennui, as
he looked on his large library table, once triply covered with official
communications, now thinly besprinkled with a stray parliamentary paper
or two, his steward’s accounts, and a few letters from some grumbling
tenants, Mr. Vivian Grey was announced.

“I fear I am intruding on your Lordship, but I really could not refrain
from bringing you the receipt I promised.”

“Most happy to see ye, most happy to see ye.”

“This is exactly the correct receipt, my Lord. TO EVERY TWO BOTTLES OF
STILL CHAMPAGNE, ONE PINT OF CURAÇOA.” The Peer’s eyes glistened, and
his companion proceeded; “ONE PINT OF CURAÇOA; CATCH THE AROMA OF A
POUND OF GREEN TEA, AND DASH THE WHOLE WITH GLENLIVET.”

“Splendid!” ejaculated the Marquess.

“The nice point, however, which it is impossible to define in a receipt,
is catching the aroma. What sort of a genius is your Lordship’s chêf?”

“First-rate! Laporte _is_ a genius.”

“Well, my Lord! I shall be most happy to superintend the first
concoction for you; and remember particularly,” said Vivian, rising,
“remember it must be iced.”

“Certainly, my dear fellow; but pray don’t think of going yet.”

“I am very sorry, my Lord; but such a pressure of engagements; your
Lordship’s kindness is so great, and, really, I fear, that at this
moment especially, your Lordship can scarcely be in a humour for my
trifling.”

“Why this moment especially, Mr. Vivian Grey?”

“Oh, my Lord! I am perfectly aware of your Lordship’s talents for
business; but still I had conceived, that the delicate situation in
which your Lordship is now placed, requiring such anxious
attention such--”

“Delicate situation! anxious attention! why man! you speak riddles. I
certainly have a great deal of business to transact: people are so
obstinate, or so foolish, they will consult me, certainly; and certainly
I feel it my duty, Mr. Vivian Grey; I feel it the duty, sir of every
Peer in this happy country (here his Lordship got parliamentary): yes,
sir, I feel it due to my character, to my family, to, to, to assist with
my advice all those who think fit to consult me.” Splendid peroration!

“Oh, my Lord!” carelessly remarked Vivian, “I thought it was a mere on
dit.”

“Thought what, my dear sir? you really quite perplex me.”

“I mean to say, my Lord; I, I thought it was impossible the overtures
had been made.”

“Overtures, Mr. Vivian Grey?”

“Yes, my Lord! Overtures; has not your Lordship seen the _Post_. But I
knew it was impossible; I said so, I--”

“Said what, Mr. Vivian Grey?”

“Said that the whole paragraph was unfounded.”

“Paragraph! what paragraph?” and his Lordship rose, and rang the library
bell with vehemence: “Sadler, bring me the _Morning Post_.”

The servant entered with the paper. Mr. Vivian Grey seized it from his
hands before it reached the Marquess, and glancing his eye over it with
the rapidity of lightning, doubled up the sheet in a convenient readable
form, and pushing it into his Lordship’s hands, exclaimed, “There, my
Lord! there, that will explain all.”

His Lordship read:

“We are informed that some alteration in the composition of the present
administration is in contemplation; Lord Past Century, it is said, will
retire; Mr. Liberal Principles will have the--; and Mr. Charlatan Gas
the--. A noble Peer, whose practised talents have already benefited the
nation, and who, on vacating his seat in the Cabinet, was elevated in
the Peerage, is reported as having had certain overtures made him, the
nature of which may be conceived, but which, under present
circumstances, it would be indelicate in us to hint at.”

It would have been impossible for a hawk to watch its quarry with eyes
of more fixed and anxious earnestness than did Vivian Grey the Marquess
of Carabas, as his Lordship’s eyes wandered over the paragraph. Vivian
drew his chair close to the table opposite to the Marquess, and when the
paragraph was read, their eyes met.

“Utterly untrue,” whispered the Peer, with an agitated voice, and with
a countenance which, for a moment, seemed intellectual.

“But why Mr. Vivian Grey should deem the fact of such overtures having
been made ‘impossible,’ I confess, astonishes me.”

“Impossible, my Lord!”

“Ay, Mr. Grey, impossible, that was your word.”

“Oh, my Lord! what should I know about these matters?”

“Nay, nay, Mr. Grey, something must have been floating in your mind: why
impossible, why impossible? Did your father think so?”

“My father! Oh! no, he never thinks about these matters; ours is not a
political family; I am not sure that he ever looks at a newspaper.”

“But, my dear Mr. Grey, you would not have used the word without some
meaning. Why did you think it impossible? impossible is such a peculiar
word.” And here the Marquess looked up with great earnestness to a
portrait of himself, which hung over the fire-place. It was one of Sir
Thomas’s happiest efforts; but it was not the happiness of the likeness,
or the beauty of the painting, which now attracted his Lordship’s
attention; he thought only of the costume in which he appeared in that
portrait: the court dress of a Cabinet Minister. “Impossible, Mr. Grey,
you must confess, is a very peculiar word,” reiterated his Lordship.

“I said impossible, my Lord, because I did conceive, that had your
Lordship been of a disposition to which such overtures might have been
made with any probability of success, the Marquess of Carabas would have
been in a situation which would have precluded the possibility of those
overtures being made at all.”

“Hah!” and the Marquess nearly started from his seat.

“Yes, my Lord, I am a young, an inexperienced young man, ignorant of the
world’s ways; doubtless I was wrong, but I have much to learn,” and his
voice faltered; “but I did conceive, that having power at his command,
the Marquess of Carabas did not exercise it, merely because he despised
it: but what should I know of such matters, my Lord?”

“Is power a thing so easily to be despised, young man?” asked the
Marquess. His eye rested on a vote of thanks from the “Merchants and
Bankers of London to the Right Honourable Sydney Lorraine, President,
&c., &c., &c.,” which, splendidly emblazoned, and gilt, and framed, and
glazed, was suspended opposite the President’s portrait.

“Oh, no! my Lord, you mistake me,” eagerly burst forth Vivian. “I am no
cold-blooded philosopher that would despise that, for which, in my
opinion, men, real men, should alone exist. Power! Oh! what sleepless
nights, what days of hot anxiety! what exertions of mind and body! what
travel! what hatred! what fierce encounters! what dangers of all
possible kinds, would I not endure with a joyous spirit to gain it! But
such, my Lord, I thought were feelings peculiar to inexperienced young
men: and seeing you, my Lord, so situated, that you might command all
and everything, and yet living as you do, I was naturally led to believe
that the object of my adoration was a vain glittering bauble, of which
those who could possess it, knew the utter worthlessness.”

The Peer sat in a musing mood, playing the Devil’s tattoo on the library
table; at last he raised his eyes, and said in a low whisper, “Are you
so certain that I can command all and everything?”

“All and everything! did I say all and everything? Really, my Lord, you
scan my expressions so critically! but I see your Lordship is smiling at
my boyish nonsense! and really I feel that I have already wasted too
much of your Lordship’s valuable time, and displayed too much of my own
ignorance.”

“My dear sir! I am not aware that I was smiling.”

“Oh! your Lordship is so very kind.”

“But, my dear sir! you are really labouring under a great mistake. I am
desirous, I am particularly desirous, of having your opinion upon
this subject.”

“My opinion, my Lord! what should my opinion be, but an echo of the
circle in which I live, but a faithful representation of the feelings of
general society?”

“And, Mr. Grey, I should be glad to know what can possibly be more
interesting to me than a faithful representation of the feelings of
general society on this subject?”

“The many, my Lord, are not always right.”

“Mr. Grey, the many are not often wrong. Come, my dear sir, do me the
favour of being frank, and let me know why the public is of opinion that
all and everything are in my power, for such, after all, were
your words.”

“If I did use them, my Lord, it was because I was thinking, as I often
do, what, after all, in this country is public life? Is it not a race
in which the swiftest must surely win the prize; and is not that prize
power? Has not your Lordship treasure? There is your moral steam which
can work the world. Has not your Lordship’s treasure most splendid
consequence, pure blood and aristocratic influence? The Millionaire has
in his possession the seeds of everything, but he must wait for half a
century till his descendant finds himself in your Lordship’s state; till
he is yclept noble, and then he starts fair in the grand course. All
these advantages your Lordship has apparently at hand, with the
additional advantage (and one, oh! how great!) of having already proved
to your country that you know how to rule.”

There was a dead silence, which at length the Marquess broke. “There is
much in what you say; but I cannot conceal it from myself, I have no
wish to conceal it from you; I am not what I was.” O, ambition! art thou
the parent of truth?

“Ah! my Lord!” eagerly rejoined Vivian, “here is the terrible error into
which you great statesmen have always fallen. Think you not, that
intellect is as much a purchasable article as fine parks and fair
castles? With your Lordship’s tried and splendid talents, everything
might be done; but, in my opinion, if, instead of a practised, an
experienced, and wary Statesman, I was now addressing an idiot Earl, I
should not see that the great end might not equally be consummated.”

“Say you so, my merry man, and how?”

“Why, my Lord: but, but, I feel that I am trespassing on your Lordship’s
time, otherwise I think I could show why society is of opinion that your
Lordship can do all and everything; how, indeed, your Lordship might, in
a very short time, be Prime Minister.”

“No, Mr. Grey; this conversation must be finished. I will just give
orders that we may not be disturbed, and then we shall proceed
immediately. Come, now! your manner takes me, and we shall converse in
the spirit of the most perfect confidence.”

Here, as the Marquess settled at the same time his chair and his
countenance, and looked as anxious as if Majesty itself were consulting
him on the formation of a ministry, in burst the Marchioness,
notwithstanding all the remonstrances, entreaties, threats, and
supplications of Mr. Sadler.

Her Ladyship had been what they style a splendid woman; that was now
past, although, with the aid of cashmeres, diamonds, and turbans, her
general appearance was still striking. Her Ladyship was not remarkable
for anything save a correct taste for poodles, parrots, and bijouterie,
and a proper admiration of Theodore Hook and John Bull.

“Oh! Marquess,” exclaimed her Ladyship, and a favourite green parrot,
which came flying in after its accustomed perch, her Ladyship’s left
shoulder, shrieked at the same time in concert, “Oh! Marquess, my poor
Julie! You know we have noticed how nervous she has been for some days
past, and I had just given her a saucer of arrow-root and milk, and she
seemed a little easier, and I said to Miss Graves. ‘I really do think
she is a leetle better’ and Miss Graves said, ‘Yes, my Lady, I hope she
is; ‘when just as we flattered ourselves that the dear little creature
was enjoying a quiet sleep, Miss Graves called out, ‘Oh, my Lady! my
Lady! Julie’s in a fit!’ and when I turned round she was lying on her
back, kicking, with her eyes shut.’ And here the Marchioness detected
Mr. Grey, and gave him as sublime a stare as might be expected from a
lady patroness of Almack’s.

“The Marchioness, Mr. Vivian Grey, my love, I assure you we are engaged
in a most important, a most--”

“Oh! I would not disturb you for the world, only if you will just tell
me what you think ought to be done; leeches, or a warm bath; or shall I
send for Doctor Blue Pill?”

The Marquess looked a little annoyed, as if he wished her Ladyship in
her own room again. He was almost meditating a gentle reprimand, vexed
that his grave young friend should have witnessed this frivolous
intrusion, when that accomplished stripling, to the astonishment of the
future minister, immediately recommended “the warm bath,” and then
lectured, with equal rapidity and erudition, on dogs, and their diseases
In general.

The Marchioness retired, “easier in her mind about Julie than she had
been for some days,” as Vivian assured her “that it was not apoplexy,
but only the first symptom of an epidemic.” And as she retired, she
murmured her gratitude gracefully to Julie’s young physician.

“Now, Mr. Grey,” said his Lordship, endeavouring to recover his dignity,
“we were discussing the public sentiments you know on a certain point,
when this unfortunate interruption--”

Vivian had not much difficulty in collecting his ideas, and he
proceeded, not as displeased as his Lordship with the domestic scene.

“I need not remind your Lordship that the two great parties into which
this State is divided are apparently very unequally proportioned. Your
Lordship well knows how the party to which your Lordship is said to
belong: your Lordship knows, I imagine, how that is constituted. We have
nothing to do with the other. My Lord, I must speak out. No thinking
man, and such, I trust, Vivian Grey is, no thinking man can for a moment
suppose, that your Lordship’s heart is very warm in the cause of a
party, which, for I will not mince my words, has betrayed you. How is
it, it is asked by thinking men, how is it that the Marquess of Carabas
is the tool of a faction?”

The Marquess breathed aloud, “They say so, do they?”

“Why, my Lord, listen even to your servants in your own hall, need I say
more? How, then! is this opinion true? Let us look to your conduct to
the party to which you are said to belong. Your votes are theirs, your
influence is theirs; and for all this, what return, my Lord Marquess,
what return? My Lord, I am not rash enough to suppose, that your
Lordship, alone and unsupported, can make yourself the arbiter of this
country’s destinies. It would be ridiculous to entertain such an idea
for a second. The existence of such a man would not be endured by the
nation for a second. But, my Lord, union is strength. Nay, my Lord,
start not; I am not going to advise you to throw yourself into the arms
of opposition; leave such advice for greenhorns. I am not going to adopt
a line of conduct, which would, for a moment, compromise the consistency
of your high character; leave such advice for fools. My Lord, it is to
preserve your consistency, it is to vindicate your high character, it is
to make the Marquess of Carabas perform the duties which society
requires from him, that I, Vivian Grey, a member of that society, and an
humble friend of your Lordship, speak so boldly.”

“My friend,” said the agitated Peer, “you cannot speak too boldly. My
mind opens to you. I have felt, I have long felt, that I was not what I
ought to be, that I was not what society requires me to be; but where is
your remedy? what is the line of conduct that I should pursue?”

“The remedy, my Lord! I never conceived, for a moment, that there was
any doubt of the existence of means to attain all and everything. I
think that was your Lordship’s phrase. I only hesitated as to the
existence of the inclination on the part of your Lordship.”

“You cannot doubt it now,” said the Peer, in a low voice; and then his
Lordship looked anxiously round the room, as if he feared that there had
been some mysterious witness to his whisper.

“My Lord,” said Vivian, and he drew his chair close to the Marquess,
“the plan is shortly this. There are others in a similar situation with
yourself. All thinking men know, your Lordship knows still better, that
there are others equally influential, equally ill-treated. How is it
that I see no concert, among these individuals? How is it that, jealous
of each other, or each trusting that he may ultimately prove an
exception to the system of which he is a victim; how is it, I say, that
you look with cold hearts on each other’s situation? My Lord Marquess,
it is at the head of these that I would place you, it is these that I
would have act with you; and this is the union which is strength.”

“You are right, you are right; there is Courtown, but we do not speak;
there is Beaconsfield, but we are not intimate: but much might be done.”

“My Lord, you must not be daunted at a few difficulties, or at a little
exertion. But as for Courtown, or Beaconsfield, or fifty other offended
men, if it can be shown to them that their interest is to be your
Lordship’s friend, trust me, that ere six months are over, they will
have pledged their troth. Leave all this to me, give me your Lordship’s
name,” said Vivian, whispering most earnestly in the Marquess’s ear, and
laying his hand upon his Lordship’s arm; “give me your Lordship’s name,
and your Lordship’s influence, and I will take upon myself the whole
organisation of the Carabas party.”

“The Carabas party! Ah! we must think more of this.”

The Marquess’s eyes smiled with triumph, as he shook Vivian cordially by
the hand, and begged him to call upon him on the morrow.



CHAPTER III


The intercourse between the Marquess and Vivian after this interview was
constant. No dinner-party was thought perfect at Carabas House without
the presence of the young gentleman; and as the Marchioness was
delighted with the perpetual presence of an individual whom she could
always consult about Julie, there was apparently no domestic obstacle to
Vivian’s remaining in high favour.

The Earl of Eglamour, the only child in whom were concentrated all the
hopes of the illustrious House of Lorraine, was in Italy. The only
remaining member of the domestic circle who was wanting was the
Honourable Mrs. Felix Lorraine, the wife of the Marquess’s younger
brother. This lady, exhausted by the gaiety of the season, had left town
somewhat earlier than she usually did, and was inhaling fresh air, and
studying botany, at the magnificent seat of the Carabas family, Château
Desir, at which splendid place Vivian was to pass the summer.

In the meantime all was sunshine with Vivian Grey. His noble friend and
himself were in perpetual converse, and constantly engaged in deep
consultation. As yet, the world knew nothing, except that, according to
the Marquess of Carabas, “Vivian Grey was the most astonishingly clever
and prodigiously accomplished fellow that ever breathed;” and, as the
Marquess always added, “resembled himself very much when he was young.”

But it must not be supposed that Vivian was to all the world the
fascinating creature that he was to the Marquess of Carabas. Many
complained that he was reserved, silent, satirical, and haughty. But the
truth was, Vivian Grey often asked himself, “Who is to be my enemy
to-morrow?” He was too cunning a master of the human mind, not to be
aware of the quicksands upon which all greenhorns strike; he knew too
well the danger of unnecessary intimacy. A smile for a friend, and a
sneer for the world, is the way to govern mankind, and such was the
motto of Vivian Grey.



CHAPTER IV


How shall we describe Château Desir, that place fit for all princes? In
the midst of a park of great extent, and eminent for scenery, as varied
as might please nature’s most capricious lover; in the midst of green
lawns and deep winding glens, and cooling streams, and wild forest, and
soft woodland, there was gradually formed an elevation, on which was
situate a mansion of great size, and of that bastard, but picturesque
style of architecture, called the Italian Gothic. The date of its
erection was about the middle of the sixteenth century. You entered by a
noble gateway, in which the pointed style still predominated; but in
various parts of which, the Ionic column, and the prominent keystone,
and other creations of Roman architecture, intermingled with the
expiring Gothic, into a large quadrangle, to which the square casement
windows, and the triangular pediments or gable ends supplying the place
of battlements, gave a varied and Italian feature. In the centre of the
court, from a vast marble basin, the rim of which was enriched by a
splendidly sculptured lotus border, rose a marble group representing
Amphitrite with her marine attendants, whose sounding shells and coral
sceptres sent forth their subject element in sparkling showers. This
work, the chef d’oeuvre celebrated artist of Vicenza, had been purchased
by Valerian, first Lord Carabas, who having spent the greater part of
his life as the representative of his monarch at the Ducal Court of
Venice, at length returned to his native country; and in the creation of
Château Desir endeavoured to find some consolation for the loss of his
beautiful villa on the banks of the Adige.

Over the gateway there rose a turreted tower, the small square window of
which, notwithstanding its stout stanchions, illumined the muniment room
of the House of Carabas. In the spandrils of the gateway and in many
other parts of the building might be seen the arms of the family; while
the tall twisted stacks of chimneys, which appeared to spring from all
parts of the roof, were carved and built in such curious and quaint
devices that they were rather an ornament than an excrescence. When you
entered the quadrangle, you found one side solely occupied by the old
hall, the huge carved rafters of whose oak roof rested on corbels of the
family supporters against the walls. These walls were of stone, but
covered half-way from the ground with a panelling of curiously-carved
oak; whence were suspended, in massy frames, the family portraits,
painted by Dutch and Italian artists. Near the dais, or upper part of
the hall, there projected an oriel window, which, as you beheld, you
scarcely knew what most to admire, the radiancy of its painted panes or
the fantastic richness of Gothic ornament, which was profusely lavished
in every part of its masonry. Here too the Gothic pendent and the Gothic
fan-work were intermingled with the Italian arabesques, which, at the
time of the building of the Château, had been recently introduced into
England by Hans Holbein and John of Padua.

How wild and fanciful are those ancient arabesques! Here at Château
Desir, in the panelling of the old hall, might you see fantastic
scrolls, separated by bodies ending in termini, and whose heads
supported the Ionic volute, while the arch, which appeared to spring
from these capitals, had, for a keystone, heads more monstrous than
those of the fabled animals of Ctesias; or so ludicrous, that you forgot
the classic griffin in the grotesque conception of the Italian artist.
Here was a gibbering monkey, there a grinning pulcinello; now you viewed
a chattering devil, which might have figured in the “Temptation of St.
Anthony;” and now a mournful, mystic, bearded countenance, which might
have flitted in the back scene of a “Witches’ Sabbath.”

A long gallery wound through the upper story of two other sides of the
quadrangle, and beneath were the show suite of apartments with a sight
of which the admiring eyes of curious tourists were occasionally
delighted.

The grey stone walls of this antique edifice were, in many places,
thickly covered with ivy and other parasitical plants, the deep green of
whose verdure beautifully contrasted with the scarlet glories of the
pyrus japonica, which gracefully clustered round the windows of the
lower chambers. The mansion itself was immediately surrounded by
numerous ancient forest trees. There was the elm with its rich branches
bending down like clustering grapes; there was the wide-spreading oak
with its roots fantastically gnarled; there was the ash, with its smooth
bark and elegant leaf; and the silver beech, and the gracile birch; and
the dark fir, affording with its rough foliage a contrast to the trunks
of its more beautiful companions, or shooting far above their branches,
with the spirit of freedom worthy of a rough child of the mountains.

Around the Castle were extensive pleasure-grounds, which realised the
romance of the “Gardens of Verulam.” And truly, as you wandered through
their enchanting paths there seemed no end to their various beauties,
and no exhaustion of their perpetual novelty. Green retreats succeeded
to winding walks; from the shady berçeau you vaulted on the noble
terrace; and if, for an instant, you felt wearied by treading the velvet
lawn, you might rest in a mossy cell, while your mind was soothed by the
soft music of falling waters. Now your curious eyes were greeted by
Oriental animals, basking in a sunny paddock; and when you turned from
the white-footed antelope and the dark-eyed gazelle, you viewed an
aviary of such extent, that within its trellised walls the imprisoned,
songsters could build, in the free branches of a tree, their
natural nests.

“O fair scene!” thought Vivian Grey, as he approached, on a fine
summer’s afternoon, the splendid Château, “O fair scene! doubly fair to
those who quit for thee the thronged and agitated city. And can it be,
that those who exist within this enchanted domain, can think of anything
but sweet air, and do aught but revel in the breath of perfumed
flowers?” And here he gained the garden-gate: so he stopped his
soliloquy, and gave his horse to his groom.



CHAPTER V


The Marquess had preceded Vivian in his arrival about three or four
days, and of course, to use the common phrase, the establishment “was
quite settled.” It was, indeed, to avoid the possibility of witnessing
the domestic arrangements of a nobleman in any other point of view save
that of perfection, that Vivian had declined accompanying his noble
friend to the Château. Mr. Grey, junior, was an epicurean, and all
epicureans will quite agree with me, that his conduct on this head was
extremely wise. I am not very nice myself about these matters; but there
are, we all know, a thousand little things that go wrong on the arrivals
of even the best regulated families; and to mention no others, for any
rational being voluntarily to encounter the awful gaping of an English
family, who have travelled one hundred miles in ten successive hours,
appears to me to be little short of madness.

“Grey, my boy, quite happy to see ye! later than I expected; first bell
rings in five minutes. Sadler will show you your room. Your father, I
hope, quite well?”

Such was the salutation of the Marquess; and Vivian accordingly retired
to arrange his toilet.

The first bell rang, and the second bell rang, and Vivian was seated at
the dinner-table. He bowed to the Marchioness, and asked after her
poodle, and gazed with some little curiosity at the vacant chair
opposite him.

“Mrs. Felix Lorraine, Mr. Vivian Grey,” said the Marquess, as a lady
entered the room.

Now, although we are of those historians who are of opinion that the
nature of the personages they celebrate should be developed rather by a
recital of their conduct than by a set character on their introduction,
it is, nevertheless, incumbent upon us to devote a few lines to the lady
who has just entered, which the reader will be so good as to get
through, while she is accepting an offer of some white soup; by this
means he will lose none of the conversation.

The Honourable Felix Lorraine we have before described as a roué. After
having passed through a career with tolerable credit, which would have
blasted the character of any vulgar personage, Felix Lorraine ended by
pigeoning a young nobleman, whom, for that purpose, he had made his
intimate friend. The affair got wind; after due examination, was
proclaimed “too bad,” and the guilty personage was visited with the
heaviest vengeance of modern society; he was expelled his club. By this
unfortunate exposure, Mr. Felix Lorraine was obliged to give in a match,
which was on the tapis, with the celebrated Miss Mexico, on whose
million he had determined to set up a character and a chariot, and at
the same time pension his mistress, and subscribe to the Society for the
Suppression of Vice. Felix left England for the Continent, and in due
time was made drum-major at Barbadoes, or fiscal at Ceylon, or something
of that kind. While he loitered in Europe, he made a conquest of the
heart of the daughter of some German baron, and after six weeks passed
in the most affectionate manner, the happy couple performing their
respective duties with perfect propriety, Felix left Germany for his
colonial appointment, and also left his lady behind him.

Mr. Lorraine had duly and dutifully informed his family of his marriage;
and they, as amiably and affectionately, had never answered his letters,
which he never expected they would. Profiting by their example, he never
answered his wife’s, who, in due time, to the horror of the Marquess,
landed in England, and claimed the protection of her “beloved husband’s
family.” The Marquess vowed he would never see her; the lady, however,
one morning gained admittance, and from that moment she had never
quitted her brother-in-law’s roof, and not only had never quitted it,
but now made the greatest favour of her staying.

The extraordinary influence which Mrs. Felix Lorraine possessed was
certainly not owing to her beauty, for the lady opposite Vivian Grey
had apparently no claims to admiration, on the score of her personal
qualifications. Her complexion was bad, and her features were
indifferent, and these characteristics were not rendered less
uninterestingly conspicuous by, what makes an otherwise ugly woman quite
the reverse, namely, a pair of expressive eyes; for certainly this
epithet could not be applied to those of Mrs. Felix Lorraine, which
gazed in all the vacancy of German listlessness.

The lady did bow to Mr. Grey, and that was all; and then she negligently
spooned her soup, and then, after much parade, sent it away untouched.
Vivian was not under the necessity of paying any immediate courtesy to
his opposite neighbour, whose silence, he perceived, was for the nonce,
and consequently for him. But the day was hot, and Vivian had been
fatigued by his ride, and the Marquess’ champagne was excellent; and so,
at last, the floodgates of his speech burst, and talk he did. He
complimented her Ladyship’s poodle, quoted German to Mrs. Felix
Lorraine, and taught the Marquess to eat cabinet pudding with Curaçoâ
sauce (a custom which, by-the-bye, I recommend to all); and then his
stories, his scandal, and his sentiment; stories for the Marquess,
scandal for the Marchioness, and sentiment for the Marquess’ sister!
That lady, who began to find out her man, had no mind to be longer
silent, and although a perfect mistress of the English language, began
to articulate a horrible patois, that she might not be mistaken for an
Englishwoman, an occurrence which she particularly dreaded. But now came
her punishment, for Vivian saw the effect which he had produced on Mrs.
Felix Lorraine, and that Mrs. Felix Lorraine now wished to produce a
corresponding effect upon him, and this he was determined she should not
do; so new stories followed, and new compliments ensued, and finally he
anticipated her sentences, and sometimes her thoughts. The lady sat
silent and admiring! At last the important meal was finished, and the
time came when good dull English dames retire; but of this habit Mrs.
Felix Lorraine did not approve, and although she had not yet prevailed
upon Lady Carabas to adopt her ideas on field-days, still, when alone,
the good-natured Marchioness had given in, and to save herself from
hearing the din of male voices at a time at which during her whole life
she had been unaccustomed to them, the Marchioness of Carabas dozed. Her
worthy spouse, who was prevented, by the presence of Mrs. Felix
Lorraine, from talking politics with Vivian, passed the bottle pretty
briskly, and then, conjecturing that “from the sunset we should have a
fine day to-morrow,” fell back in his easy-chair, and snored.

Mrs. Felix Lorraine looked at her noble relatives, and shrugged up her
shoulders with an air which baffleth all description. “Mr. Grey, I
congratulate you on this hospitable reception; you see we treat you
quite en famille. Come! ‘tis a fine evening; you have seen as yet but
little of Château Desir: we may as well enjoy the fine air on
the terrace.”



CHAPTER VI


“You must know, Mr. Grey, that this is my favourite walk, and I
therefore expect that it will be yours.”

“It cannot indeed fail to be such, the favourite as it alike is of
nature and Mrs. Felix Lorraine.”

“On my word, a very pretty sentence! And who taught you, young sir, to
bandy words so fairly?”

“I never can open my mouth, except in the presence of a woman,” observed
Vivian, with impudent mendacity; and he looked interesting and innocent.

“Indeed! And what do you know about such wicked work as talking to
women?” and here Mrs. Felix Lorraine imitated Vivian’s sentimental
voice. “Do you know,” she continued, “I feel quite happy that you have
come down here; I begin to think that we shall be great friends.”

“Nothing appears to me more evident,” said Vivian.

“How delicious is friendship!” exclaimed Mrs. Felix Lorraine;
“delightful sentiment, that prevents life from being a curse! Have you a
friend, Mr. Vivian Grey?”

“Before I answer that question, I should like to know what meaning Mrs.
Felix Lorraine attaches to that important monosyllable, friend.”

“Oh, you want a definition. I hate definitions; and of all the
definitions in the world, the one I have been most unfortunate in has
been a definition of friendship; I might say” (and here her voice sunk),
“I might say of all the sentiments in the world, friendship is the one
which has been must fatal to me; but I must not inoculate you with my
bad spirits, bad spirits are not for young blood like yours, leave them
to old persons like myself.”

“Old!” said Vivian, in a proper tone of surprise.

“Old! ay old; how old do you think I am?”

“You may have seen twenty summers,” gallantly conjectured Vivian.

The lady looked pleased, and almost insinuated that she had seen one or
two more.

“A clever woman,” thought Vivian, “but vain; I hardly know what to think
of her.”

“Mr. Grey, I fear you find me in bad spirits to-day; but alas! I--I have
cause. Although we see each other to-day for the first time, yet there
is something in your manner, something in the expression of your eyes,
that make me believe my happiness is not altogether a matter of
indifference to you.” These words, uttered in one of the sweetest voices
by which ever human being was fascinated, were slowly and deliberately
spoken, as if it were intended that they should rest on the ear of the
object to whom they were addressed.

“My dearest madam! it is impossible that I can have but one sentiment
with regard to you, that of--”

“Of what, Mr. Grey?”

“Of solicitude for your welfare.”

The lady gently took the arm of the young man, and then with an agitated
voice, and a troubled spirit, dwelt upon the unhappiness of her lot, and
the cruelty of her fortunes. Her husband’s indifference was the
sorrowful theme of her lamentations; and she ended by asking Mr. Vivian
Grey’s advice, as to the line of conduct which she should pursue with
regard to him; first duly informing Vivian that this was the only time
and he the only person to whom this subject had been ever mentioned.

“And why should I mention it here, and to whom? The Marquess is the best
of men, but--” and here she looked up in Vivian’s face, and spoke
volumes; “and the Marchioness is the most amiable of women: at least, I
suppose her lap-dog thinks so.”

The advice of Vivian was concise. He sent the husband to the devil in
two seconds, and insisted upon the wife’s not thinking of him for
another moment; and then the lady dried her eyes, and promised to do
her best.

“And now,” said Mrs. Felix Lorraine, “I must talk about your own
affairs. I think your plan excellent.”

“Plan, madam!”

“Yes, plan, sir! the Marquess has told me all. I have no head for
politics, Mr. Grey; but if I cannot assist you in managing the nation, I
perhaps may in managing the family, and my services are at your command.
Believe me, you will have enough to do: there, I pledge you my troth. Do
you think it a pretty hand?”

Vivian did think it a very pretty hand, and he performed due courtesies
in a becoming style.

“And now, good even to you,” said the lady; “this little gate leads to
my apartments. You will have no difficulty in finding your way back.” So
saying, she disappeared.



CHAPTER VII


The first week at Château Desir passed pleasantly enough. Vivian’s
morning was amply occupied in maturing with the Marquess the grand
principles of the new political system: in weighing interests, in
balancing connections, and settling “what side was to be taken on the
great questions?” O politics, thou splendid juggle! The whole business,
although so magnificent in its result, appeared very easy to the two
counsellors, for it was one of the first principles of Mr. Vivian Grey,
that everything was possible. Men did fail in life to be sure, and after
all, very little was done by the generality; but still all these
failures, and all this inefficiency, might be traced to a want of
physical and mental courage. Some men were bold in their conceptions,
and splendid heads at a grand system, but then, when the day of battle
came, they turned out very cowards; while others, who had nerve enough
to stand the brunt of the hottest fire, were utterly ignorant of
military tactics, and fell before the destroyer, like the brave
untutored Indians before the civilised European. Now Vivian Grey was
conscious that there was at least one person in the world who was no
craven either in body or in mind, and so he had long come to the
comfortable conclusion, that it was impossible that his career could be
anything but the most brilliant. And truly, employed as he now was, with
a peer of the realm, in a solemn consultation on that realm’s most
important interests, at a time when creatures of his age were moping in
Halls and Colleges, is it to be wondered at that he began to imagine
that his theory was borne out by experience and by fact? Not that it
must be supposed, even for a moment, that Vivian Grey was what the world
calls conceited. Oh no! he knew the measure of his own mind, and had
fathomed the depth of his powers with equal skill and impartiality; but
in the process he could not but feel that he could conceive much, and
dare do more.

We said the first week at Château Desir passed pleasantly enough; and so
it did, for Vivian’s soul revelled in the morning councils on his future
fortunes, with as much eager joy as a young courser tries the turf,
preliminary to running for the plate. And then, in the evening, were
moonlit walks with Mrs. Felix Lorraine! And then the lady abused England
so prettily, and initiated her companion, in all the secrets of German
Courts, and sang beautiful French songs, and told the legends of her
native land in such, an interesting, semi-serious tone, that Vivian
almost imagined, that she believed them; and then she would take him
beside the luminous lake in the park, and now it looked just like the
dark blue Rhine! and then she remembered Germany, and grew sad, and
abused her husband; and then she taught Vivian the guitar, and some
other fooleries besides.



CHAPTER VIII


The second week of Vivian’s visit had come round, and the flag waved
proudly on the proud tower of Château Desir, indicating to the admiring
county, that the most noble Sidney, Marquess of Carabas, held public
days twice a week at his grand castle. And now came the neighbouring
peer, full of grace and gravity, and the mellow baronet, with his hearty
laugh, and the jolly country squire, and the middling gentry, and the
jobbing country attorney, and the flourishing country surveyor; some
honouring by their presence, some who felt the obligation equal, and
others bending before the noble host, as if paying him adoration was
almost an equal pleasure with that of guzzling his venison pasties and
quaffing his bright wines.

Independently of all these periodical visitors, the house was full of
permanent ones. There were the Viscount and Viscountess Courtown and
their three daughters, and Lord and Lady Beaconsfield and their three
sons, and Sir Berdmore and Lady Scrope, and Colonel Delmington of the
Guards, and Lady Louisa Manvers and her daughter Julia. Lady Louisa was
the only sister of the Marquess, a widow, proud and penniless.

To all these distinguished personages Vivian was introduced by the
Marquess as “a monstrous clever young man, and his Lordship’s most
particular friend,” and then the noble Carabas left the game in his
young friend’s hands.

And right well Vivian did his duty. In a week’s time it would have been
hard to decide with whom of the family of the Courtowns Vivian was the
greatest favourite. He rode with the Viscount, who was a good horseman,
and was driven by his Lady, who was a good whip; and when he had
sufficiently admired the tout ensemble of her Ladyship’s pony phaeton,
he entrusted her, “in confidence,” with some ideas of his own about
martingales, a subject which he assured her Ladyship “had been the
object of his mature consideration.” The three honourable Misses were
the most difficult part of the business; but he talked sentiment with
the first, sketched with the second, and romped with the third.

Ere the Beaconsfields could be jealous of the influence of the
Courtowns, Mr. Vivian Grey had promised his Lordship, who was a
collector of medals, an unique which had never yet been heard of; and
her Ladyship, who was a collector of autographs, the private letters of
every man of genius that ever had been heard of. In this division of the
Carabas guests he was not bored with a family; for sons he always made
it a rule to cut dead; they are the members of a family who, on an
average, are generally very uninfluential, for, on an average, they are
fools enough to think it very knowing to be very disagreeable. So the
wise man but little loves them, but woe to the fool who neglects the
daughters!

Sir Berdmore Scrope Vivian found a more unmanageable personage; for the
baronet was confoundedly shrewd, and without a particle of sentiment in
his composition. It was a great thing, however, to gain him; for Sir
Berdmore was a leading country gentleman, and having quarrelled with
Ministers about the corn laws, had been counted disaffected ever since.
The baronet, however, although a bold man to the world, was luckily
henpecked; so Vivian made love to the wife and secured the husband.



CHAPTER IX


I think that Julia Manvers was really the most beautiful creature that
ever smiled in this fair world. Such a symmetrically formed shape, such
perfect features, such a radiant complexion, such luxuriant auburn hair,
and such blue eyes, lit up by a smile of such mind and meaning, have
seldom blessed the gaze of admiring man! Vivian Grey, fresh as he was,
was not exactly the creature to lose his heart very speedily. He looked
upon marriage as a comedy in which, sooner or later, he was, as a
well-paid actor, to play his part; and could it have advanced his views
one jot he would have married the Princess Caraboo to-morrow. But of all
wives in the world, a young and handsome one was that which he most
dreaded; and how a statesman who was wedded to a beautiful woman could
possibly perform his duties to the public, did most exceedingly puzzle
him. Notwithstanding these sentiments, however, Vivian began to think
that there really could be no harm in talking to so beautiful a creature
as Julia, and a little conversation with her would, he felt, be no
unpleasing relief to the difficult duties in which he was involved.

To the astonishment of the Honourable Buckhurst Stanhope, eldest son of
Lord Beaconsfield, Mr. Vivian Grey, who had never yet condescended to
acknowledge his existence, asked him one morning, with the most
fascinating of smiles and with the most conciliating voice, “whether
they should ride together.” The young heir-apparent looked stiff and
assented. He arrived again at Château Desir in a couple of hours,
desperately enamoured of the eldest Miss Courtown. The sacrifice of two
mornings to the Honourable Dormer Stanhope and the Honourable Gregory
Stanhope sent them home equally captivated by the remaining sisters.
Having thus, like a man of honour, provided for the amusement of his
former friends, the three Miss Courtowns, Vivian left Mrs. Felix
Lorraine to the Colonel, whose moustache, by-the-bye, that lady
considerably patronised; and then, having excited an universal feeling
of gallantry among the elders, Vivian found his whole day at the service
of Julia Manvers.

“Miss Manvers, I think that you and I are the only faithful subjects in
this Castle of Indolence. Here am I lounging on an ottoman, my ambition
reaching only so far as the possession of a chibouque, whose aromatic
and circling wreaths, I candidly confess, I dare not here excite; and
you, of course, much too knowing to be doing anything on the first of
August save dreaming of races, archery feats, and county balls: the
three most delightful things which the country can boast, either for
man, woman, or child.”

“Of course, you except sporting for yourself, shooting especially, I
suppose.”

“Shooting, oh! ah! there is such a thing. No, I am no shot; not that I
have not in my time cultivated a Manton; but the truth is, having, at an
early age, mistaken my intimate friend for a cock pheasant, I sent a
whole crowd of fours into his face, and thereby spoilt one of the
prettiest countenances in Christendom; so I gave up the field. Besides,
as Tom Moore says, I have so much to do in the country, that, for my
part, I really have no time for killing birds and jumping over ditches:
good work enough for country squires, who must, like all others, have
their hours of excitement. Mine are of a different nature, and boast a
different locality; and so when I come into the country, ‘tis for
pleasant air, and beautiful trees, and winding streams; things which, of
course, those who live among them all the year round do not suspect to
be lovely and adorable creations. Don’t you agree with Tom Moore,
Miss Manvers?”

“Oh, of course! but I think it is very improper, that habit, which every
one has, of calling a man of such eminence as the author of ‘Lalla
Rookh’ _Tom_ Moore.”

“I wish he could but hear you! But, suppose I were to quote Mr. Moore,
or Mr. Thomas Moore, would you have the most distant conception whom I
meant? Certainly not. By-the-bye, did you ever hear the pretty name they
gave him at Paris?”

“No, what was it?”

“One day Moore and Rogers went to call on Denon. Rogers gave their names
to the Swiss, Monsieur Rogers et Monsieur Moore. The Swiss dashed open
the library door, and, to the great surprise of the illustrious
antiquary, announced, Monsieur l’Amour! While Denon was doubting whether
the God of Love was really paying him a visit or not, Rogers entered. I
should like to have seen Denon’s face!”

“And Monsieur Denon did take a portrait of Mr. Rogers as Cupid, I
believe?”

“Come, madam, ‘no scandal about Queen Elizabeth.’ Mr. Rogers is one of
the most elegant-minded men in the country.”

“Nay! do not lecture me with such a laughing face, or else your moral
will be utterly thrown away.”

“Ah! you have Retsch’s ‘Faust’ there. I did not expect on a drawing-room
table at Château Desir to see anything so old, and so excellent, I
thought the third edition of Tremaine would be a very fair specimen of
your ancient literature, and Major Denham’s hair-breadth escapes of your
modern. There was an excellent story about, on the return of Denham and
Clapperton. The travellers took different routes, in order to arrive at
the same point of destination. In his wanderings the Major came unto an
unheard-of Lake, which, with the spirit which they of the Guards surely
approved, he christened ‘Lake Waterloo.’ Clapperton arrived a few days
after him; and the pool was immediately re-baptized ‘Lake Trafalgar.’
There was a hot quarrel in consequence. Now, if I had been there, I
would have arranged matters, by proposing as a title, to meet the views
of all parties, ‘The United Service Lake.’”

“That would have been happy.”

“How beautiful Margaret is,” said Vivian, rising from his ottoman, and
seating himself on the sofa by the lady. “I always think that this is
the only Personification where Art has not rendered Innocence insipid.”

“Do you think so?”

“Why, take Una in the Wilderness, or Goody Two Shoes. These, I believe,
were the most innocent persons that ever existed, and I am sure you will
agree with me, they always look the most insipid. Nay, perhaps I was
wrong in what I said; perhaps it is Insipidity that always looks
innocent, not Innocence always insipid.”

“How can you refine so, when the thermometer is at 100°! Pray, tell me
some more stories.”

“I cannot, I am in a refining humour: I could almost lecture to-day at
the Royal Institution. You would not call these exactly Prosopopeias of
Innocence?” said Vivian, turning over a bundle of Stewart Newton’s
beauties, languishing, and lithographed. “Newton, I suppose, like Lady
Wortley Montague, is of opinion, that the face is not the most beautiful
part of woman; at least, if I am to judge from these elaborate ankles.
Now, the countenance of this Donna, forsooth, has a drowsy placidity
worthy of the easy-chair she is lolling in, and yet her ankle would not
disgrace the contorted frame of the most pious faquir.”

“Well! I am an admirer of Newton’s paintings.”

“Oh! so am I. He is certainly a cleverish fellow, but rather too much
among the blues; a set, of whom, I would venture to say, Miss Manvers
knoweth little about.”

“Oh, not the least! Mamma does not visit that way. What are they?”

“Oh, very powerful people! though ‘Mamma does not visit that way.’ Their
words are Ukases as far as Curzon Street, and very Decretals in the
general vicinity of May Fair; but you shall have a further description
another time. How those rooks bore! I hate staying with ancient
families; you are always cawed to death. If ever you write a novel, Miss
Manvers, mind you have a rookery in it. Since Tremaine, and Washington
Irving, nothing will go down without.”

“By-the-bye, who is the author of Tremaine?”

“It is either Mr. Ryder, or Mr. Spencer Percival, or Mr. Dyson, or Miss
Dyson, or Mr. Bowles, or the Duke of Buckingham, or Mr. Ward, or a young
officer in the Guards, or an old Clergyman in the North of England, or a
middle-aged Barrister on the Midland Circuit.”

“Mr. Grey, I wish you could get me an autograph of Mr. Washington
Irving; I want it for a particular friend.”

“Give me a pen and ink; I will write you one immediately.”

“Ridiculous!”

“There! now you have made me blot Faustus.”

At this moment the room-door suddenly opened, and as suddenly shut.

“Who was that?”

“Mephistopheles, or Mrs. Felix Lorraine; one or the other, perhaps
both.”

“What!”

“What do you think of Mrs. Felix Lorraine, Miss Manvers?”

“Oh! I think her a very amusing woman, a very clever woman a
very--but--”

“But what?”

“But I cannot exactly make her out.”

“Nor I; she is a dark riddle; and, although I am a very Oedipus, I
confess I have not yet unravelled it. Come, there is Washington Irving’s
autograph for you; read it; is it not quite in character? Shall I write
any more? One of Sir Walter’s, or Mr. Southey’s, or Mr. Milman’s or Mr.
Disraeli’s? or shall I sprawl a Byron?”

“I really cannot sanction such unprincipled conduct. You may make me one
of Sir Walter’s, however.”

“Poor Washington!” said Vivian, writing. “I knew him well. He always
slept at dinner. One day, as he was dining at: Mr. Hallam’s, they took
him, when asleep, to Lady Jersey’s: and, to see the Sieur Geoffrey, they
say, when he opened his eyes in the illumined saloons, was really quite
admirable! quite an Arabian tale!”

“How delightful! I should have so liked to have seen him! He seems quite
forgotten now in England. How came we to talk of him?”

“Forgotten! Oh! he spoilt his elegant talents in writing German and
Italian twaddle with all the rawness of a Yankee. He ought never to have
left America, at least in literature; there was an uncontested and
glorious field for him. He should have been managing director of the
Hudson Bay Company, and lived all his life among the beavers.”

“I think there is nothing more pleasant than talking over the season, in
the country, in August.”

“Nothing more agreeable. It was dull though, last season, very dull; I
think the game cannot be kept going another year. If it were not for the
General Election, we really must have a war for variety’s sake. Peace
gets quite a bore. Everybody you dine with has a good cook, and gives
you a dozen different wines, all perfect. We cannot bear this any
longer; all the lights and shadows of life are lost. The only good thing
I heard this year was an ancient gentlewoman going up to Gunter and
asking him for ‘the receipt for that white stuff,’ pointing to his Roman
punch. I, who am a great man for receipts, gave it her immediately: ‘One
hod of mortar to one bottle of Noyau.’”

“And did she thank you?”

“Thank me! ay, truly; and pushed a card into my hand, so thick and sharp
that it cut through my glove. I wore my arm in a sling for a month
afterwards.”

“And what was the card?”

“Oh, you need not look so arch. The old lady was not even a faithless
duenna. It was an invitation to an assembly, or something of the kind,
at a place, somewhere, as Theodore Hook or Mr. Croker would say,
‘between Mesopotamia and Russell Square.’”

“Pray, Mr. Grey, is it true that all the houses in Russell Square are
tenantless?”

“Quite true; the Marquess of Tavistock has given up the county in
consequence. A perfect shame, is it not? Let us write it up.”

“An admirable plan! but we will take the houses first, at a pepper-corn
rent.”

“What a pity, Miss Manvers, the fashion has gone out of selling oneself
to the devil.”

“Good gracious, Mr. Grey!”

“On my honour, I am quite serious. It does appear to me to be a very
great pity. What a capital plan for younger brothers! It is a kind of
thing I have been trying to do all my life, and never could succeed. I
began at school with toasted cheese and a pitchfork; and since then I
have invoked, with all the eloquence of Goethe, the evil one in the
solitude of the Hartz, but without success. I think I should make an
excellent bargain with him: of course I do not mean that ugly vulgar
savage with a fiery tail. Oh, no! Satan himself for me, a perfect
gentleman! Or Belial: Belial would be the most delightful. He is the
fine genius of the Inferno, I imagine, the Beranger of Pandemonium.”

“I really cannot listen to such nonsense one moment longer. What would
you have if Belial were here?”

“Let us see. Now, you shall act the spirit, and I, Vivian Grey. I wish
we had a short-hand writer here to take down the Incantation Scene. We
would send it to Arnold. Commençons: Spirit! I will have a fair castle.”

The lady bowed.

“I will have a palace in town.”

The lady bowed.

“I will have a fair wife. Why, Miss Manvers, you forget to bow!”

“I really beg your pardon!”

“Come, this is a novel way of making an offer, and, I hope, a successful
one.”

“Julia, my dear,” cried a voice in the veranda, “Julia, my dear, I want
you to walk with me.”

“Say you are engaged with the Marchioness,” whispered Vivian, with a low
but distinct--voice; his eyes fixed on the table, and his lips not
appearing to move.

“Mamma, I am--”

“I want you immediately and particularly, Julia,” cried Lady Louisa, in
an earnest voice.

“I am coming, I am coming. You see I must go.”



CHAPTER X


“Confusion on that old hag! Her eye looked evil on me, at the very
moment! Although a pretty wife is really the destruction of a young
man’s prospects, still, in the present case, the niece of my friend, my
patron, high family, perfectly unexceptionable, &c. &c. &c. Such blue
eyes! upon my honour, this must be an exception to the general rule,”
 Here a light step attracted his attention, and, on turning round, he
found Mrs. Felix Lorraine at his elbow.

“Oh! you are here, Mr. Grey, acting the solitaire in the park! I want
your opinion about a passage in ‘Herman and Dorothea.’”

“My opinion is always at your service; but if the passage is not
perfectly clear to Mrs. Felix Lorraine, it will be perfectly obscure, I
am convinced, to me.”

“Ah! yes, of course. Oh, dear! after all my trouble, I have forgotten my
book. How mortifying! Well, I will show it to you after dinner: adieu!
and, by-the-bye, Mr. Grey, as I am here, I may as well advise you not to
spoil all the Marquess’s timber, by carving a certain person’s name on
his park trees. I think your plans in that quarter are admirable. I have
been walking with Lady Louisa the whole morning, and you cannot think
how I puffed you! Courage, Cavalier, and we shall soon be connected, not
only in friendship, but in blood.”

The next morning, at breakfast, Vivian was surprised to find that the
Manvers party was suddenly about to leave the Castle. All were
disconsolate at their departure: for there was to be a grand
entertainment at Château Desir that very day, but particularly Mrs.
Felix Lorraine and Mr. Vivian Grey. The sudden departure was accounted
for by the arrival of “unexpected,” &c. &c. &c. There was no hope; the
green post-chariot was at the door, a feeble promise of a speedy return;
Julia’s eyes were filled with tears. Vivian was springing forward to
press her hand, and bear her to the carriage, when Mrs. Felix Lorraine
seized his arm, vowed she was going to faint, and, ere she could recover
herself, or loosen her grasp, the Manvers were gone.



CHAPTER XI


The gloom which the parting had diffused over all countenances was quite
dispelled when the Marquess entered.

“Lady Carabas,” said he, “you must prepare for many visitors to-day.
There are the Amershams, and Lord Alhambra, and Ernest Clay, and twenty
other young heroes, who, duly informed that the Miss Courtowns were
honouring us with their presence, are pouring in from all quarters; is
it not so, Juliana?” gallantly asked the Marquess of Miss Courtown: “but
who do you think is coming besides?”

“Who, who?” exclaimed all.

“Nay, you shall guess,” said the Peer.

“The Duke of Waterloo?” guessed Cynthia Courtown, the romp.

“Prince Hungary?” asked her sister Laura.

“Is it a gentleman?” asked Mrs. Felix Lorraine.

“No, no, you are all wrong, and all very stupid. It is Mrs. Million.”

“Oh, how delightful!” said Cynthia.

“Oh, how annoying!” said the Marchioness.

“You need not look so agitated, my love,” said the Marquess; “I have
written to Mrs. Million to say that we shall be most happy to see her;
but as the castle is very full, she must not come with five
carriages-and-four, as she did last year.”

“And will Mrs. Million dine with us in the Hall, Marquess?” asked
Cynthia Courtown.

“Mrs. Million will do what she likes; I only know that I shall dine in
the Hall, whatever happens, and whoever comes; and so, I suppose, will
Miss Cynthia Courtown?”

Vivian rode out alone, immediately after breakfast, to cure his
melancholy by a gallop.

Returning home, he intended to look in at a pretty farm-house, where
lived one John Conyers, a great friend of Vivian’s. This man had, about
a fortnight ago, been of essential service to our hero, when a vicious
horse, which he was endeavouring to cure of some ugly tricks, had nearly
terminated his mortal career.

“Why are you crying so, my boy?” asked Vivian of a little Conyers, who
was sobbing bitterly at the floor. He was answered only with
desperate sobs.

“Oh, ‘tis your honour,” said a decent-looking woman, who came out of the
house; “I thought they had come back again.”

“Come back again! why, what is the matter, dame?”

“Oh! your honour, we’re in sad distress; there’s been a seizure this
morning, and I’m mortal fear’d the good man’s beside himself.”

“Good heavens! why did not you come to the Castle?”

“Oh! your honour, we a’nt his Lordship’s tenants no longer; there’s been
a change for Purley Mill, and now we’re Lord Mounteney’s people. John
Conyers has been behind-hand since he had the fever, but Mr. Sedgwick
always gave time: Lord Mounteney’s gem’man says the system’s bad, and so
he’ll put an end to it; and so all’s gone, your honour; all’s gone, and
I’m mortal fear’d the good man’s beside himself.”

“And who is Lord Mounteney’s man of business?”

“Mr. Stapylton Toad,” sobbed the good dame.

“Here, boy, leave off crying, and hold my horse; keep your hold tight,
but give him rein, he’ll be quiet enough then. I will see honest
John, dame.”

“I’m sure your honour’s very kind, but I’m mortal fear’d the good man’s
beside himself, and he’s apt to do very violent things when the fits on
him. He hasn’t been so bad since young Barton behaved so wickedly to
his sister.”

“Never mind! there is nothing like a friend’s face in the hour of
sorrow.”

“I wouldn’t advise your honour,” said the good dame. “It’s an awful hour
when the fit’s on him; he knows not friend or foe, and scarcely knows
me, your honour.”

“Never mind, I’ll see him.”

Vivian entered the house; but who shall describe the scene of
desolation! The room was entirely stripped; there was nothing left, save
the bare whitewashed walls, and the red tiled flooring. The room was
darkened; and seated on an old block of wood, which had been pulled out
of the orchard, since the bailiff had left, was John Conyers. The fire
was out, but his feet were still among the ashes. His head was buried in
his hands, and bowed down nearly to his knees. The eldest girl, a fine
sensible child of about thirteen, was sitting with two brothers on the
floor in a corner of the room, motionless, their faces grave, and still
as death, but tearless. Three young children, of an age too tender to
know grief, were acting unmeaning gambols near the door.

“Oh! pray beware, your honour,” earnestly whispered the poor dame, as
she entered the cottage with the visitor.

Vivian walked up with a silent step to the end of “the room, where
Conyers was sitting. He remembered this little room, when he thought it
the very model of the abode of an English husbandman. The neat row of
plates, and the well-scoured utensils, and the fine old Dutch clock, and
the ancient and amusing ballad, purchased at some neighbouring fair, or
of some itinerant bibliopole, and pinned against the wall, all gone!

“Conyers!” exclaimed Vivian.

There was no answer, nor did the miserable man appear in the slightest
degree to be sensible of Vivian’s presence.

“My good John!”

The man raised his head from his resting-place, and turned to the spot
whence the voice proceeded. There was such an unnatural fire in his
eyes, that Vivian’s spirit almost quailed. His alarm was not decreased,
when he perceived that the master of the cottage did not recognize him.
The fearful stare was, however, short, and again the sufferer’s face
was hid.

The wife was advancing, but Vivian waved his hand to her to withdraw,
and she accordingly fell into the background; but her fixed eye did not
leave her husband for a second.

“John Conyers, it is your friend, Mr. Vivian Grey, who is here,” said
Vivian.

“Grey!” moaned the husbandman; “Grey! who is he?”

“Your friend, John Conyers. Do you quite forget me?” said Vivian
advancing, and with a tone “which Vivian Grey could alone assume.

“I think I have seen you, and you were kind,” and the face was again
hid.

“And always will be kind, John. I have come to comfort you. I thought
that a friend’s voice would do you good. Come, cheer up, my man!” and
Vivian dared to touch him. His hand was not repulsed. “Do you remember
what good service you did me when I rode white-footed Moll? Why, I was
much worse off then than you are now: and yet, you see, a friend came
and saved me. You must not give way so, my good fellow. After all, a
little management will set everything right,” and he took the
husbandman’s sturdy hand.

“I do remember you,” he faintly cried. “You were always very kind.”

“And always will be, John; always to friends like you. Come, come, cheer
up and look about you, and let the sunbeam enter your cottage:” and
Vivian beckoned to the wife to open the closed shutter.

Conyers stared around him, but his eye rested only on bare walls, and
the big tear coursed down his hardy cheek.

“Nay, never mind, man,” said Vivian, “we will soon have chairs and
tables again. And as for the rent, think no more about that at present.”

The husbandman looked up, and then burst into weeping. Vivian could
scarcely hold down his convulsed frame on the rugged seat; but the wife
advanced from the back of the room, and her husband’s head rested
against her bosom. Vivian held his honest hand, and the eldest girl rose
unbidden from her silent sorrow, and clung to her father’s knee.

“The fit is over,” whispered the wife. “There, there, there’s a man, all
is now well;” and Vivian left him resting on his wife’s bosom.

“Here, you curly-headed rascal, scamper down to the village immediately,
and bring up a basket of something to eat; and tell Morgan Price that
Mr. Grey says he is to send up a couple of beds, and some chairs here
immediately, and some plates and dishes, and everything else, and don’t
forget some ale;” so saying, Vivian flung the urchin a sovereign.

“And now, dame, for Heaven’s sake, light the fire. As for the rent,
John, do not waste this trifle on that,” whispered Vivian, slipping his
purse into his hand, “for I will see Stapylton Toad, and get time. Why,
woman, you’ll never strike a light, if your tears drop so fast into the
tinder-box. Here, give it me. You are not fit to work to-day. And how is
the trout in Ravely Mead, John, this hot weather? You know you never
kept your promise with me. Oh! you are a sad fellow! There! there’s a
spark! I wonder why old Toad did not take the tinder-box. It is a very
valuable piece of property, at least to us. Run and get me some wood,
that’s a good boy. And so white-footed Moll is past all recovery? Well,
she was a pretty creature! There, that will do famously,” said Vivian,
fanning the flame with his hat. “See, it mounts well! And now, God bless
you all! for I am an hour too late, and must scamper for my very life.”



CHAPTER XII


Mrs. Million arrived, and kept her promise; only three
carriages-and-four! Out of the first descended the mighty lady herself,
with some noble friends, who formed the most distinguished part of her
suite: out of the second came her physician, Dr. Sly; her toad-eater,
Miss Gusset; her secretary, and her page. The third carriage bore her
groom of the chambers, and three female attendants. There were only two
men servants to each equipage; nothing could be more moderate, or, as
Miss Gusser said, “in better taste.”

Mrs. Million, after having granted the Marquess a private interview in
her private apartments, signified her imperial intention of dining in
public, which, as she had arrived late, she trusted she might do in her
travelling dress. The Marquess kotooed like a first-rate mandarin, and
vowed “that her will was his conduct.”

The whole suite of apartments were thrown open, and were crowded with
guests. Mrs. Million entered; she was leaning on the Marquess’ arm, and
in a travelling dress, namely, a crimson silk pelisse, hat and feathers,
with diamond ear-rings, and a rope of gold round her neck. A train of
about twelve persons, consisting of her noble fellow-travellers,
toad-eaters, physicians, secretaries, &c. &c. &c. followed. The entree
of Her Majesty could not have created a greater sensation than did that
of Mrs. Million. All fell back. Gartered peers, and starred ambassadors,
and baronets with blood older than the creation, and squires, to the
antiquity of whose veins chaos was a novelty; all retreated, with eyes
that scarcely dared to leave the ground; even Sir Plantagenet Pure,
whose family had refused a peerage regularly every century, now, for the
first time in his life, seemed cowed, and in an awkward retreat to make
way for the approaching presence, got entangled with the Mameluke boots
of my Lord Alhambra.

At last a sofa was gained, and the great lady was seated, and the
sensation having somewhat subsided, conversation was resumed; and the
mighty Mrs. Million was not slightly abused, particularly by those who
had bowed lowest at her entree; and now the Marquess of Carabas, as was
wittily observed by Mr. Septimus Sessions, a pert young barrister, “went
the circuit,” that is to say, made the grand tour of the suite of
apartments, making remarks to every one of his guests, and keeping up
his influence in the county.

“Ah, my Lord Alhambra! this is too kind; and how is your excellent
father, and my good friend? Sir Plantagenet, yours most sincerely! we
shall have no difficulty about that right of common. Mr. Leverton, I
hope you find the new plough work well; your son, sir, will do the
county honour. Sir Godfrey, I saw Barton upon that point, as I promised.
Lady Julia, I am rejoiced to see ye at Château Desir, more blooming than
ever! Good Mr. Stapylton Toad, so that little change was effected: My
Lord Devildrain, this is a pleasure indeed!”

“Why, Ernest Clay,” said Mr. Buckhurst Stanhope, “I thought Alhambra
wore a turban; I am quite disappointed.”

“Not in the country. Stanhope; here he only sits cross-legged on an
ottoman, and carves his venison with an ataghan.”

“Well, I am glad he does not wear a turban; that would be bad taste, I
think,” said Fool Stanhope. “Have you read his poem?”

“A little. He sent me a copy, and as I am in the habit of lighting my
pipe or so occasionally with a leaf, why I cannot help occasionally
seeing a line: it seems quite first-rate.”

“Indeed!” said Fool Stanhope; “I must get it.”

“My dear Puff! I am quite glad to find you here,” said Mr. Cayenne, a
celebrated reviewer, to Mr. Partenopex Puff, a small author and smaller
wit. “Have you seen Middle Ages lately?”

“Not very lately,” drawled Mr. Partenopex, “I breakfasted with him
before I left town, and met a Professor Bopp there, a very interesting
man, and Principal of the celebrated University of Heligoland, the model
of the London.”

“Ah, indeed! talking of the London, is Foaming Fudge to come in for
Cloudland?”

“Doubtless! Oh! he is a prodigious fellow! What do you think Booby
says? He says that Foaming Fudge can do more than any man in Great
Britain; that he had one day to plead in the King’s Bench, spout at a
tavern, speak in the House, and fight a duel; and that he found time for
everything but the last.”

“Excellent!” laughed Mr. Cayenne.

Mr. Partenopex Puff was reputed, in a certain set, a sayer of good
things, but he was a modest wit, and generally fathered his bon mots on
his valet Booby, his monkey, or his parrot.

“I saw you in the last number,” said Cayenne. “From the quotations from
your own works, I imagine the review of your own book was by yourself?”

“What do you think Booby said?”

“Mr. Puff, allow me to introduce you to Lord Alhambra,” said Ernest
Clay, by which means Mr. Puff’s servant’s last good thing was lost.

“Mr. Clay, are you an archer?” asked Cynthia Courtown.

“No, fair Dian; but I can act Endymion.”

“I don’t know what you mean. Go away.”

“Aubrey Vere, welcome to ----shire. Have you seen Prima Donna?”

“No; is he here? How did you like his last song in the Age?”

“His last song! Pooh! pooh! he only supplies the scandal.”

“Groves,” said Sir Hanway Etherington, “have you seen the newspaper this
morning? Baron Crupper has tried fifteen men for horse-stealing at York,
and acquitted every one.”

“Well then, Sir Hanway, I think his Lordship’s remarkable wrong; for
when a man gets a horse to suit him, if he loses it, ‘tisn’t so easy to
suit himself again. That’s the ground I stand upon.”

All this time the Marquess of Carabas had wanted Vivian Grey twenty
times, but that gentleman had not appeared. The important moment
arrived, and his Lordship offered his arm to Mrs. Million, who, as the
Gotha Almanack says, “takes precedence of all Archduchesses, Grand
Duchesses, Duchesses, Princesses, Landgravines, Margravines,
Palsgravines, &c. &c. &c.”



CHAPTER XIII


In their passage to the Hall, the Marquess and Mrs. Million met Vivian
Grey, booted and spurred, and covered with mud.

“Oh! Mrs. Million--Mr. Vivian Grey. How is this, my dear fellow? you
will be too late.”

“Immense honour!” said Vivian, bowing to the ground to the lady. “Oh! my
Lord I was late, and made a short cut over Fearnley Bog. It has proved a
very Moscow expedition. However, I am keeping you. I shall be in time
for the guava and liqueurs, and you know that is the only refreshment I
ever take.”

“Who is that, Marquess?” asked Mrs. Million.

“That is Mr. Vivian Grey, the most monstrous clever young man, and
nicest fellow I know.”

“He does, indeed, seem, a very nice young man,” said Mrs. Million.

Some steam process should be invented for arranging guests when they are
above five hundred. In the present instance all went wrong when they
entered the Hall; but, at last, the arrangements, which, of course, were
of the simplest nature, were comprehended, and the guests were seated.
There were three tables, each stretching down the Hall; the dais was
occupied by a military band. The number of guests, the contrast between
the antique chamber and their modern costumes, the music, the various
liveried menials, all combined to produce a whole, which at the same
time was very striking, and “in remarkable good taste.”

In process of time, Mr. Vivian Grey made his entrance. There were a few
vacant seats at the bottom of the table, “luckily for him,” as kindly
remarked Mr. Grumbleton. To the astonishment and indignation, however,
of this worthy squire, the late comer passed by the unoccupied position,
and proceeded onward with undaunted coolness, until he came to about the
middle of the middle table, and which was nearly the best situation
in the Hall.

“Beautiful Cynthia,” said Vivian Grey, softly and sweetly whispering in
Miss Courtown’s ear, “I am sure you will give up your place to me; you
have nerve enough, you know, for anything, and would no more care for
standing out than I for sitting in.” There is nothing like giving a
romp credit for a little boldness. To keep up her character she will
out-herod Herod.

“Oh! Grey, is it you? certainly, you shall have my place immediately;
but I am not sure that we cannot make room for you. Dormer Stanhope,
room must be made for Grey, or I shall leave the table immediately. You
men!” said the hoyden, turning round to a set of surrounding servants,
“push this form down and put a chair between.”

The men obeyed. All who sat lower in the table on Miss Cynthia
Courtown’s side than that lady, were suddenly propelled downwards about
the distance of two feet. Dr. Sly, who was flourishing a carving-knife
and fork, preparatory to dissecting a gorgeous haunch, had these fearful
instruments suddenly precipitated into a trifle, from whose sugared
trellis-work he found great difficulty in extricating them; while Miss
Gusset, who was on the point of cooling herself with some exquisite iced
jelly, found her frigid portion as suddenly transformed into a plate of
peculiarly ardent curry, the property, but a moment before, of old
Colonel Rangoon. Everything, however, receives a civil reception from a
toad-eater, so Miss Gusset burnt herself to death by devouring a
composition, which would have reduced anyone to ashes who had not fought
against Bundoolah.

“Now that is what I call a sensible arrangement; what could go off
better?” said Vivian.

“You may think so, sir,” said Mr. Boreall, a sharp-nosed and
conceited-looking man, who, having got among a set whom he did not the
least understand, was determined to take up Dr. Sly’s quarrel, merely
for the sake of conversation. “You, I say, sir, may think it so, but I
rather imagine that the ladies and gentlemen lower down can hardly think
it a sensible arrangement;” and here Boreall looked as if he had done
his duty, in giving a young man a proper reproof.

Vivian glanced a look of annihilation. “I had reckoned upon two deaths,
sir, when I entered the Hall, and finding, as I do, that the whole
business has apparently gone off without any fatal accident, why, I
think the circumstances bear me out in my expression.”

Mr. Boreall was one of those unfortunate men who always take things to
the letter: he consequently looked amazed, and exclaimed, “Two
deaths, sir?”

“Yes, sir, two deaths; I reckoned, of course, on some corpulent parent
being crushed to death in the scuffle, and then I should have had to
shoot his son through the head for his filial satisfaction. Dormer
Stanhope, I never thanked you for exerting yourself: send me that
fricandeau you have just helped yourself to.”

Dormer, who was, as Vivian well knew, something of an epicure, looked
rather annoyed, but by this time he was accustomed to Vivian Grey, and
sent him the portion he had intended for himself. Could epicure do more?

“Whom are we among, bright Cynthia?” asked Vivian.

“Oh! an odd set,” said the lady, looking dignified; “but you know we can
be exclusive.”

“Exclusive! pooh! trash! Talk to everybody; it looks as if you were
going to stand for the county. Have we any of the millionaires near us?”

“The Doctor and Toady are lower down.”

“Where is Mrs. Felix Lorraine?”

“At the opposite table, with Ernest Clay.”

“Oh! there is Alhambra, next to Dormer Stanhope. Lord Alhambra, I am
quite rejoiced to see you.”

“Ah! Mr. Grey, I am quite rejoiced to see you. How is your father?”

“Extremely well; he is at Paris; I heard from him yesterday. Do you ever
see the Weimar Literary Gazette, my Lord?”

“No; why?”

“There is an admirable review of your poem in the last number I have
received.”

The young nobleman looked agitated. “I think, by the style,” continued
Vivian, “that it is by Goëthe. It is really delightful to see the oldest
poet in Europe dilating on the brilliancy of a new star on the
poetical horizon.”

This was uttered with a perfectly grave voice, and now the young
nobleman blushed. “Who is _Gewter_?” asked Mr. Boreall, who possessed
such a thirst for knowledge that he never allowed an opportunity to
escape him of displaying his ignorance.

“A celebrated German writer,” lisped the modest Miss Macdonald.

“I never heard his name,” persevered the indefatigable Boreall; “how do
you spell it?”

“GOETHE,” re-lisped modesty.

“Oh! _Goty_!” exclaimed the querist. “I know him well: he wrote the
Sorrows of Werter.”

“Did he indeed, sir?” asked Vivian, with the most innocent and inquiring
face.

“Oh! don’t you know that?” said Boreall, “and poor stuff it is!”

“Lord Alhambra! I will take a glass of Johannisberg with you, if the
Marquess’ wines are in the state they should be:

     The Crescent warriors sipped their sherbet spiced,
     For Christian men the various wines were _iced_.

I always think that those are two of the best lines in your Lordship’s
poem,” said Vivian.

His Lordship did not exactly remember them: it would have been a wonder
if he had: but he thought Vivian Grey the most delightful fellow he ever
met, and determined to ask him to Helicon Castle for the
Christmas holidays.

“Flat! flat!” said Vivian, as he dwelt upon the flavour of the Rhine’s
glory. “Not exactly from the favourite bin of Prince Metternich, I
think. By-the-bye, Dormer Stanhope, you have a taste that way; I will
tell you two secrets, which never forget: decant your Johannisberg, and
ice your Maraschino. Ay, do not stare, my dear Gastronome, but do it.”

“O, Vivian! why did not you come and speak to me?” exclaimed a lady who
was sitting at the side opposite Vivian, but higher in the table.

“Ah! adorable Lady Julia! and so you were done on the grey filly.”

“Done!” said the sporting beauty with pouting lips; “but it is a long
story, and I will tell it you another time.”

“Ah! do. How is Sir Peter?”

“Oh! he has had a fit or two, since you saw him last.”

“Poor old gentleman! let us drink his health. Do you know Lady Julia
Knighton?” asked Vivian of his neighbour. “This Hall is bearable to dine
in; but I once breakfasted here, and I never shall forget the ludicrous
effect produced by the sun through the oriel window. Such complexions!
Every one looked like a prize-fighter ten days after a battle. After
all, painted glass is a bore; I wish the Marquess would have it knocked
out, and have it plated.”

“Knock out the painted glass!” said Mr. Boreall; “well, I must confess,
I cannot agree with you.”

“I should have been extremely surprised if you could. If you do not
insult that man, Miss Courtown, in ten minutes I shall be no more. I
have already a nervous fever.”

“May I have the honour of taking a glass of champagne with you, Mr.
Grey?” said Boreall.

“Mr. Grey, indeed!” muttered Vivian: “Sir, I never drink anything but
brandy.”

“Allow me to give _you_ some champagne, Miss,” resumed Boreall, as he
attacked the modest Miss Macdonald: “champagne, you know,” continued he,
with a smile of agonising courtesy, “is quite the lady’s wine.”

“Cynthia Courtown,” whispered Vivian with a sepulchral voice, “‘tis all
over with me: I have been thinking what would come next. This is too
much: I am already dead. Have Boreall arrested; the chain of
circumstantial evidence is very strong.”

“Baker!” said Vivian, turning to a servant, “go and inquire if Mr.
Stapylton Toad dines at the Castle to-day.”

A flourish of trumpets announced the rise of the Marchioness of Carabas,
and in a few minutes the most ornamental portion of the guests had
disappeared. The gentlemen made a general “move up,” and Vivian found
himself opposite his friend, Mr. Hargrave.

“Ah! Mr. Hargrave, how d’ye do? What do you think of the Secretary’s
state paper?”

“A magnificent composition, and quite unanswerable. I was just speaking
of it to my friend here, Mr. Metternich Scribe. Allow me to introduce
you to Mr. Metternich Scribe.”

“Mr. Metternich Scribe, Mr. Vivian Grey!” and here Mr. Hargrave
introduced Vivian to an effeminate-looking, perfumed young man, with a
handsome, unmeaning face and very white hands; in short, as dapper a
little diplomatist as ever tattled about the Congress of Verona, smirked
at Lady Almack’s supper after the Opera, or vowed “that Richmond Terrace
was a most convenient situation for official men.”

“We have had it with us some time before the public received it,” said
the future under-secretary, with a look at once condescending and
conceited.

“Have you?” said Vivian: “well, it does your office credit. It is a
singular thing that Canning and Croker are the only official men who can
write grammar.”

The dismayed young gentleman of the Foreign Office was about to mince a
repartee, when Vivian left his seat, for he had a great deal of business
to transact. “Mr. Leverton,” said he, accosting a flourishing grazier,
“I have received a letter from my friend, M. De Noé. He is desirous of
purchasing some Leicestershires for his estate in Burgundy. Pray, may I
take the liberty of introducing his agent to you?”

Mr. Leverton was delighted.

“I also wanted to see you about some other little business. Let me see,
what was it? Never mind, I will take my wine here, if you can make room
for me; I shall remember it, I dare say, soon. Oh! by-the-bye: ah! that
was it. Stapylton Toad; Mr. Stapylton Toad; I want to know all about Mr.
Stapylton Toad. I dare say you can tell me. A friend of mine intends to
consult him on some parliamentary business, and he wishes to know
something about him before he calls.”

We will condense, for the benefit of the reader, the information of Mr.
Leverton.

Stapylton Toad had not the honour of being acquainted with his father’s
name; but as the son found himself, at an early age, apprenticed to a
solicitor of eminence, he was of opinion that his parent must have been
respectable. Respectable! mysterious word! Stapylton was a diligent and
faithful clerk, but was not so fortunate in his apprenticeship as the
celebrated Whittington, for his master had no daughter and many sons; in
consequence of which, Stapylton, not being able to become his master’s
partner, became his master’s rival.

On the door of one of the shabbiest houses in Jermyn Street the name of
Mr. Stapylton Toad for a long time figured, magnificently engraved on a
broad brass plate. There was nothing however, otherwise, in the
appearance of the establishment, which indicated that Mr. Toad’s
progress was very rapid, or his professional career extraordinarily
prosperous. In an outward office one solitary clerk was seen, oftener
stirring his office fire than wasting his master’s ink; and Mr. Toad was
known by his brother attorneys as a gentleman who was not recorded in
the courts as ever having conducted a single cause. In a few years,
however, a story was added to the Jermyn Street abode, which, new
pointed and new painted, began to assume a mansion-like appearance. The
house-door was also thrown open, for the solitary clerk no longer found
time to answer the often agitated bell; and the eyes of the entering
client were now saluted by a gorgeous green baize office door; the
imposing appearance of which was only equalled by Mr. Toad’s new private
portal, splendid with a brass knocker and patent varnish. And now his
brother attorneys began to wonder “how Toad got on! and who Toad’s
clients were!”

A few more years rolled over, and Mr. Toad was seen riding in the Park
at a classical hour, attended by a groom in a classical livery. And now
“the profession” wondered still more, and significant looks were
interchanged by “the respectable houses:” and flourishing practitioners
in the City shrugged up their shoulders, and talked mysteriously of
“money business,” and “some odd work in annuities.” In spite, however,
of the charitable surmises of his brother lawyers, it must be confessed
that nothing of even an equivocal nature ever transpired against the
character of the flourishing Mr. Toad, who, to complete the
mortification of his less successful rivals, married, and at the same
time moved from Jermyn Street to Cavendish Square. The new residence
of--Mr. Toad had previously been the mansion of a noble client, and one
whom, as the world said, Mr. Toad “had got out of difficulties.” This
significant phrase will probably throw some light upon the nature of the
mysterious business of our prosperous practitioner. Noble Lords who have
been in difficulties will not much wonder at the prosperity of those who
get them out.

About this time Mr. Toad became acquainted with Lord Mounteney, a
nobleman in great distress, with fifty thousand per annum. His Lordship
“really did not know how he had got involved: he never gamed, he was not
married, and his consequent expenses had never been unreasonable: he was
not extraordinarily negligent; quite the reverse: was something of a man
of business, remembered once looking over his accounts; and yet in spite
of his regular and correct career, found himself quite involved, and
must leave England.”

The arrangement of the Mounteney property was the crowning stroke of Mr.
Stapylton Toad’s professional celebrity. His Lordship was not under the
necessity of quitting England, and found himself in the course of five
years in the receipt of a clear rental of five-and-twenty thousand per
annum. His Lordship was in raptures; and Stapylton Toad purchased an
elegant villa in Surrey, and became a Member of Parliament. Goodburn
Park, for such was the name of Mr. Toad’s country residence, in spite of
its double lodges and patent park paling, was not, to Mr. Toad, a very
expensive purchase; for he “took it off the hands” of a distressed
client who wanted an immediate supply, “merely to convenience him,” and,
consequently, became the purchaser at about half its real value.
“Attorneys,” as Bustle the auctioneer says, “have _such_ opportunities!”

Mr. Toad’s career in the House was as correct as his conduct out of it.
After ten years’ regular attendance, the boldest conjecturer would not
have dared to define his political principles. It was a rule with
Stapylton Toad never to commit himself. Once, indeed, he wrote an able
pamphlet on the Corn Laws, which excited the dire indignation of the
Political Economy Club. But Stapylton cared little for their subtle
confutations and their loudly expressed contempt. He had obliged the
country gentlemen of England, and ensured the return, at the next
election, of Lord Mounteney’s brother for the county. At this general
election, also, Stapylton Toad’s purpose in entering the House became
rather more manifest; for it was found, to the surprise of the whole
country, that there was scarcely a place in England; county, town, or
borough; in which Mr. Stapylton Toad did not possess some influence. In
short, it was discovered, that Mr. Stapylton Toad had “a first-rate
parliamentary business;” that nothing could be done without his
co-operation, and everything with it. In spite of his prosperity,
Stapylton had the good sense never to retire from business, and even to
refuse a baronetcy; on condition, however, that it should be offered
to his son.

Stapylton, like the rest of mankind, had his weak points. The late
Marquess of Almack’s was wont to manage him very happily, and Toad was
always introducing that minister’s opinion of his importance. “‘My time
is quite at your service, General,’ although the poor dear Marquess used
to say, ‘Mr. Stapylton Toad, your time is mine.’ He knew the business I
had to get through!” The family portraits also, in ostentatious frames,
now adorned the dining-room of his London mansion; and it was amusing to
hear the worthy M.P. dilate upon his likeness to his respected father.

“You see, my Lord,” Stapylton would say, pointing to a dark, dingy
picture of a gentleman in a rich court dress, “you see, my Lord, it is
not in a very good light, and it certainly is a very dark picture, by
Hudson; all Hudson’s pictures were dark. But if I were six inches
taller, and could hold the light just there, I think your Lordship would
be astonished at the resemblance; but it’s a dark picture, certainly it
is dark; all Hudson’s pictures were.”



CHAPTER XIV


The Cavaliers have left the ancient Hall, and the old pictures frown
only upon empty tables. The Marquess immediately gained a seat by Mrs.
Million, and was soon engrossed in deep converse with that illustrious
lady. In one room, the most eminent and exclusive, headed by Mrs. Felix
Lorraine, were now winding through the soothing mazes of a slow waltz,
and now whirling, with all the rapidity of Eastern dervishes, to true
double Wien time. In another saloon, the tedious tactics of quadrilles
commanded the exertions of less civilised beings: here Liberal Snake,
the celebrated political economist, was lecturing to a knot of alarmed
country gentlemen; and there an Italian improvisatore poured forth to an
admiring audience all the dulness of his inspiration. Vivian Grey was
holding an earnest conversation in one of the recesses with Mr.
Stapylton Toad. He had already charmed that worthy by the deep interest
which he took in everything relating to elections and the House of
Commons, and now they were hard at work on the Corn Laws. Although they
agreed upon the main points, and Vivian’s ideas upon this important
subject had, of course, been adopted after studying Mr. Toad’s “most
luminous and convincing pamphlet,” still there were a few minor points
on which Vivian “was obliged to confess” that “he did not exactly see
his way.” Mr. Toad was astonished, but argumentative, and, of course, in
due time, had made a convert of his companion; “a young man,” as he
afterwards remarked to Lord Mounteney, “in whom he knew not which most
to admire, the soundness of his own views, or the candour with which he
treated those of others.” If you wish to win a man’s heart, allow him to
confute you.

“I think, Mr. Grey, you must admit that my definition of labour is the
correct one?” said Mr. Toad, looking earnestly in Vivian’s face, his
finger just presuming to feel a button.

“That exertion of mind or body which is not the involuntary effect of
the influence of natural sensations,” slowly repeated Vivian, as if his
whole soul was concentrated in each monosyllable. “Y-e-s, Mr. Toad, I do
admit it.”

“Then, my dear sir, the rest follows of course,” triumphantly exclaimed
the member; “don’t you see it?”

“Although I admit the correctness of your definition, Mr. Toad, I am not
free to confess that I am ex-act-ly convinced of the soundness of your
conclusion,” said Vivian, in a musing mood.

“But, my dear sir, I am surprised that you don’t see that--”

“Stop, Mr. Toad,” eagerly exclaimed Vivian; “I see my error. I
misconceived your meaning: you are right, sir; your definition
is correct.”

“I was confident that I should convince you, Mr. Grey.”

“This conversation, I assure you, Mr. Toad, has been to me a peculiarly
satisfactory one. Indeed, sir, I have long wished to have the honour of
making your acquaintance. When but a boy, I remember, at my father’s
table, the late Marquess of Almack’s--”

“Yes, Mr. Grey.”

“One of the ablest men, Mr. Toad, after all, that this country ever
produced.”

“Oh, poor dear man!”

“I remember his observing to a friend of mine, who was at that time
desirous of getting into the House: ‘Hargrave,’ said his Lordship, ‘if
you want any information upon points of practical politics;’ that was
his phrase; you remember, Mr. Toad, that his Lordship was peculiar in
his phrases?”

“Oh! yes, poor dear man; but you were observing, Mr. Grey--”

“Ay, ay! ‘If you want any information,’ said his Lordship, ‘on such
points, there is only one man in the kingdom whom you should consult,
and he is one of the soundest heads I know, and that is Stapylton Toad,
the member for Mounteney;’ you know you were in for Mounteney then,
Mr. Toad.”

“I was, and accepted the Chilterns to make room for Augustus Clay,
Ernest Clay’s brother, who was so involved, that the only way to keep
him out of the House of Correction was to get him into the House of
Commons. But the Marquess said so, eh?”

“Ay, and much more, which I scarcely can remember;” and then followed a
long dissertation on the character of the noble statesman, and his views
as to the agricultural interest, and the importance of the agricultural
interest; and then a delicate hint was thrown out as to “how delightful
it would be to write a pamphlet together” on this mighty agricultural
interest; and then came a panegyric on the character of country
gentlemen, and English yeomen, and the importance of keeping up the old
English spirit in the peasantry, &c. &c. &c. &c.; and then, when Vivian
had led Mr. Toad to deliver a splendid and patriotic oration on this
point, he “just remembered (quite apropos to the sentiments which Mr.
Toad had just delivered, and which, he did not hesitate to say, ‘did
equal honour to his head and heart’) that there was a little point,
which, if it was not trespassing too much on Mr. Toad’s attention, he
would just submit to him;” and then he mentioned poor John Conyers’
case, although “he felt convinced, from Mr. Toad’s well-known benevolent
character, that it was quite unnecessary for him to do so, as he felt
assured that it would be remedied immediately it fell under his
cognisance; but then Mr. Toad had really so much business to transact,
that perhaps these slight matters might occasionally not be submitted to
him,” &c. &c. &c.

What could Stapylton Toad do but, after a little amiable grumbling about
“bad system and bad precedent,” promise everything that Vivian
Grey required?

“Mr. Vivian Grey,” said Mrs. Felix Lorraine, “I cannot understand why
you have been talking to Mr. Toad so long. Will you waltz?”

Before Vivian could answer, a tittering, so audible that it might almost
be termed a shout, burst forth from the whole room. Cynthia Courtown had
stolen behind Lord Alhambra, as he was sitting on an ottoman a la
Turque, and had folded a cashmere shawl round his head with a most
Oriental tie. His Lordship, who, notwithstanding his eccentricities, was
really a very amiable man, bore his blushing honours with a gracious
dignity worthy of a descendant of the Abencerrages. The sensation which
this incident occasioned favoured Vivian’s escape from Mrs. Felix, for
he had not left Mr. Stapylton Toad with any intention of waltzing.

But he had hardly escaped from the waltzers ere he found himself in
danger of being involved in a much more laborious duty; for now he
stumbled on the Political Economist, and he was earnestly requested by
the contending theorists to assume the office of moderator. Emboldened
by his success. Liberal Snake had had the hardihood to attack a
personage of whose character he was not utterly ignorant, but on whom
he was extremely desirous of “making an--impression.” This important
person was Sir Christopher Mowbray, who, upon the lecturer presuming to
inform him “what rent was,” damned himself several times from sheer
astonishment at the impudence of the fellow. I don’t wish to be coarse,
but Sir Christopher is a great man, and the sayings of great men,
particularly when they are representative of the sentiment of a species,
should not pass unrecorded.

Sir Christopher Mowbray is member for the county of ----; and member for
the county he intends to be next election, although he is in his
seventy-ninth year, for he can still follow a fox with as pluck a heart
and with as stout a voice as any squire in Christendom. Sir Christopher,
it must be confessed, is rather peculiar in his ideas. His grandson,
Peregrine Mowbray, who is as pert a genius as the applause of a
common-room ever yet spoiled, and as sublime an orator as the cheerings
of the Union ever yet inspired, says “the Baronet is not up to the
nineteenth century;” and perhaps this phrase will give the reader a more
significant idea of Sir Christopher Mowbray than a character as long and
as laboured as the most perfect of my Lord Clarendon’s. The truth is,
the good Baronet had no idea of “liberal principles,” or anything else
of that school. His most peculiar characteristic is a singular habit
which he has got of styling political economists French Smugglers.
Nobody has ever yet succeeded in extracting a reason from him for this
singular appellation, and even if you angle with the most exquisite
skill for the desired definition, Sir Christopher immediately salutes
you with a volley of oaths, and damns French wines, Bible Societies, and
Mr. Huskisson. Sir Christopher for half a century has supported in the
senate, with equal sedulousness and silence, the constitution and the
corn laws; he is perfectly aware of “the present perilous state of the
country,” and watches with great interest all “the plans and plots” of
this enlightened age. The only thing which he does not exactly
comprehend is the London University. This affair really puzzles the
worthy gentleman, who could as easily fancy a county member not being a
freeholder as an university not being at Oxford or Cambridge. Indeed to
this hour the old gentleman believes that the whole business is “a
hoax;” and if you tell him that, far from the plan partaking of the
visionary nature he conceives, there are actually four acres of very
valuable land purchased near White Conduit House for the erection, and
that there is little apprehension that, in the course of a century, the
wooden poles which are now stuck about the ground will not be as fair
and flourishing as the most leafy bowers of New College Gardens, the old
gentleman looks up to heaven, as if determined not to be taken in, and
leaning back in his chair, sends forth a sceptical and smiling “No! no!
no! that won’t do.”

Vivian extricated himself with as much grace as possible from the toils
of the Economist, and indeed, like a skilful general, turned this little
rencontre to account in accomplishing the very end for the attainment of
which he had declined waltzing with Mrs. Felix Lorraine.

“My dear Lord,” said Vivian, addressing the Marquess, who was still by
the side of Mrs. Million, “I am going to commit a most ungallant act;
but you great men must pay a tax for your dignity. I am going to disturb
you. You are wanted by half the county! What could possibly induce you
ever to allow a Political Economist to enter Château Desir? There are.
at least, three baronets and four squires in despair, writhing under the
tortures of Liberal Snake. They have deputed me to request your
assistance, to save them from being defeated in the presence of half
their tenantry; and I think, my Lord,” said Vivian, with a serious
voice, “if you could possibly contrive to interfere, it would be
desirable. That lecturing knave never knows when to stop, and he is
actually insulting men before whom, after all, he ought not to dare open
his lips. I see that your Lordship is naturally not very much inclined
to quit your present occupation, in order to act moderator to a set of
brawlers; but come, you shall not be quite sacrificed to the county. I
will give up the waltz in which I was engaged, and keep your seat until
your return.”

The Marquess, who was always “keeping up county influence,” was very
shocked at the obstreperous conduct of Liberal Snake. Indeed he had
viewed the arrival of this worthy with no smiling countenance, but what
could he say, as he came in the suit of Lord Pert, who was writing, with
the lecturer’s assistance, a little pamphlet on the Currency?
Apologising to Mrs. Million, and promising to return as soon as possible
and lead her to the music-room, the Marquess retired, with the
determination of annihilating one of the stoutest members of the
Political Economy Club.

Vivian began by apologising to Mrs. Million for disturbing her progress
to the Hall by his sudden arrival before dinner; and then for a quarter
of an hour poured forth the usual quantity of piquant anecdotes and
insidious compliments. Mrs. Million found Vivian’s conversation no
disagreeable relief to the pompous prosiness of his predecessor.

And now, having succeeded in commanding Mrs. Million’s attention by that
general art of pleasing which was for all the world, and which was, of
course, formed upon his general experience of human nature, Vivian began
to make his advances to Mrs. Million’s feelings by a particular art of
pleasing; that is, an art which was for the particular person alone whom
he was at any time addressing, and which was founded on his particular
knowledge of that person’s character.

“How beautiful the old Hall looked to-day! It is a scene which can only
be met with in ancient families.”

“Ah! there is nothing like old families!” remarked Mrs. Million, with
all the awkward feelings of a parvenue.

“Do you think so?” said Vivian; “I once thought so myself, but I confess
that my opinion is greatly changed. After all, what is noble blood? My
eye is now resting on a crowd of nobles; and yet, being among them, do
we treat them in a manner differing in any way from that which we should
employ to individuals of a lower caste who were equally uninteresting?”

“Certainly not,” said Mrs. Million.

“The height of the ambition of the less exalted ranks is to be noble,
because they conceive to be noble implies to be superior; associating in
their minds, as they always do, a pre-eminence over then equals. But to
be noble among nobles, where is the preeminence?”

“Where indeed?” said Mrs. Million; and she thought of herself, sitting
the most considered personage in this grand castle, and yet with
sufficiently base blood flowing in her veins.

“And thus, in the highest circles,” continued Vivian, “a man is of
course not valued because he is a Marquess or a Duke; but because he is
a great warrior, or a great statesman, or very fashionable, or very
witty. In all classes but the highest, a peer, however unbefriended by
nature or by fortune, becomes a man of a certain rate of consequence;
but to be a person of consequence in the highest class requires
something else besides high blood.”

“I quite agree with you in your sentiments, Mr. Grey. Now what
character or what situation in life would you choose, if you had the
power of making your choice?”

“That is really a most metaphysical question. As is the custom of all
young men, I have sometimes, in my reveries, imagined what I conceived
to be a lot of pure happiness: and yet Mrs. Million will perhaps be
astonished that I was neither to be nobly born nor to acquire nobility,
that I was not to be a statesman, or a poet, or a warrior, or a
merchant, nor indeed any profession, not even a professional dandy.”

“Oh! love in a cottage, I suppose,” interrupted Mrs. Million.

“Neither love in a cottage, nor science in a cell.”

“Oh! pray tell me what it is.”

“What it is? Oh! Lord Mayor of London, I suppose; that is the only
situation which answers to my oracular description.”

“Then you have been joking all this time!”

“Not at all. Come then, let us imagine this perfect lot. In the first
place, I would be born in the middle classes of society, or even lower,
because I would wish my character to be impartially developed. I would
be born to no hereditary prejudices, no hereditary passions. My course
in life should not be carved out by the example of a grandfather, nor my
ideas modelled to a preconceived system of family perfection. Do you
like my first principle, Mrs. Million?”

“I must hear everything before I give an opinion.”

“When, therefore, my mind was formed, I would wish to become the
proprietor of a princely fortune.”

“Yes!” eagerly exclaimed Mrs. Million.

“And now would come the moral singularity of my fate. If I had gained
this fortune by commerce, or in any other similar mode, my disposition,
before the creation of this fortune, would naturally have been formed,
and been permanently developed; and my mind would have been similarly
affected, had I succeeded to some ducal father; for I should then, in
all probability, have inherited some family line of conduct, both moral
and political. But under the circumstances I have imagined, the result
would be far different. I should then be in the singular situation of
possessing, at the same time, unbounded wealth, and the whole powers and
natural feelings of my mind unoppressed and unshackled. Oh! how splendid
would be my career! I would not allow the change in my condition to
exercise any influence on my natural disposition. I would experience
the same passions and be subject to the same feelings, only they should
be exercised and influential in a wider sphere. Then would be seen the
influence of great wealth, directed by a disposition similar to that of
the generality of men, inasmuch as it had been formed like that of the
generality of men; and consequently, one much better acquainted with
their feelings, their habits, and their wishes. Such a lot would indeed
be princely! Such a lot would infallibly ensure the affection and
respect of the great majority of mankind; and, supported by them, what
should I care if I were misunderstood by a few fools and abused by a
few knaves?”

Here came the Marquess to lead the lady to the concert. As she quitted
her seat, a smile, beaming with graciousness, rewarded her youthful
companion. “Ah!” thought Mrs. Million, “I go to the concert, but leave
sweeter music than can possibly meet me there. What is the magic of
these words? It is not flattery; such is not the language of Miss
Gusset! It is not a rifacimento of compliments; such is not the style
with which I am saluted by the Duke of Doze and the Earl of Leatherdale!
Apparently I have heard a young philosopher delivering his sentiments
upon an abstract point in human life; and yet have I not listened to a
brilliant apology for my own character, and a triumphant defence of my
own conduct. Of course it was unintentional; and yet how agreeable to be
unintentionally defended!” So mused Mrs. Million, and she made a
thousand vows not to let a day pass over without obtaining a pledge from
Vivian Grey to visit her on their return to the metropolis.

Vivian remained in his seat for some time after the departure of his
companion. “On my honour, I have half a mind to desert my embryo faction
and number myself in her gorgeous retinue. Let me see. What part should
I act? her secretary, or her toad-eater, or her physician, or her cook?
or shall I be her page? Me-thinks I should make a pretty page, and hand
a chased goblet as gracefully as any monkey that ever bent his knee in a
lady’s chamber. Well! at any rate, there is this chance to be kept back,
as the gambler does his last trump, or the cunning fencer his
last ruse.”

He rose to offer his arm to some stray fair one; for crowds were now
hurrying to pineapples and lobster salads: that is to say, supper was
ready in the Long Gallery.

In a moment Vivian’s arm was locked in that of Mrs. Felix Lorraine.

“Oh, Mr. Grey, I have got a much better ghost story than even that of
the Leyden Professor for you; but I am so wearied with waltzing that I
must tell it you to-morrow. How came you to be so late this morning?
Have you been paying many calls to-day? I quite missed you at dinner. Do
you think Ernest Clay handsome? I dare not repeat what Lady Scrope said
of you! You are an admirer of Lady Julia Knighton, I believe? I do not
much like this plan of supping in the Long Gallery; it is a favourite
locale of mine, and I have no idea of my private promenade being invaded
by the uninteresting presence of trifles and Italian creams. Have you
been telling Mrs. Million that she was very witty?” asked Vivian’s
companion, with a significant look.



CHAPTER XV


Sweet reader! you know what a Toadey is? That agreeable animal which you
meet every day in civilised society. But perhaps you have not speculated
very curiously upon this interesting race. So much the worse! for you
cannot live many lustres without finding it of some service to be a
little acquainted with their habits.

The world in general is under a mistake as to the nature of these
vermin. They are by no means characterised by that similarity of
disposition for which your common observer gives them credit. There are
Toadeys of all possible natures.

There is your Common-place Toadey, who merely echoes its feeder’s
common-place observations. There is your Playing-up Toadey, who,
unconscious to its feeder, is always playing up to its feeder’s
weaknesses; and, as the taste of that feeder varies, accordingly
provides its cates and confitures. A little bit of scandal for a dashing
widow, or a pious little hymn for a sainted one; the secret history of a
newly discovered gas for a May Fair feeder, and an interesting anecdote
about a Newgate bobcap or a Penitentiary apron for a charitable one.
Then there is your Drawing-out Toadey, who omits no opportunity of
giving you a chance of being victorious in an argument where there is no
contest, and a dispute where there is no difference; and then there
is--but we detest essay writing, so we introduce you at once to a party
of these vermin. If you wish to enjoy a curious sight, you must watch
the Toadeys when they are unembarrassed by the almost perpetual presence
of their breeders; when they are animated by “the spirit of freedom;”
 when, like Curran’s Negro, the chain bursts by the impulse of their
swelling veins. The great singularity is the struggle between their
natural and their acquired feelings: the eager opportunity which they
seize of revenging their voluntary bondage, by their secret taunts, on
their adopted task-masters, and the servility which they habitually mix
up even with their scandal. Like veritable Grimalkins, they fawn upon
their victims previous to the festival; compliment them upon the length
of their whiskers and the delicacy of their limbs prior to excoriating
them, and dwelling on the flavour of their crashed bones. ‘Tis a
beautiful scene, and ten thousand times more piquant than the humours of
a Servants’ Hall, or the most grotesque and glorious moments of high
life below stairs.

“Dear Miss Graves,” said Miss Gusset, “you can’t imagine how terrified I
was at that horrible green parrot flying upon my head! I declare it
pulled out three locks of hair.”

“Horrible green parrot, my dear madam! Why, it was sent to my Lady by
Prince Xtmnprqtosklw, and never shall I forget the agitation we were in
about that parrot. I thought it would never have got to the Château, for
the Prince could only send his carriage with it as far as Toadcaster.
Luckily my Lady’s youngest brother, who was staying at Desir, happened
to get drowned at the time; and so Davenport, very clever of him! sent
her on in my Lord Dormer’s hearse.”

“In the hearse! Good heavens, Miss Graves! How could you think of green
parrots at such an awful moment? I should have been in fits for three
days; eh! Dr. Sly?”

“Certainly you would, madame; your nerves are very delicate.”

“Well! I, for my part, never could see much use in giving up to one’s
feelings. It is all very well for commoners,” rather rudely exclaimed
the Marchioness’ Toadey; “but we did not choose to expose ourselves to
the servants when the old General died this year. Everything went on as
usual. Her Ladyship attended Almack’s; my Lord took his seat in the
House; and I looked in at Lady Doubtful’s where we do not visit, but
where the Marchioness wishes to be civil.”

“We do not visit Lady Doubtful either,” replied Miss Gusset: “she had
not a card for our fête champêtre. I was so sorry you were not in town.
It was so delightful!”

“Do tell me who was there? I quite long to know all about it. I saw some
account of it. Everything seemed to go off so well. Do tell me who
was there?”

“Oh! there was plenty of Royalty at the head of the list. Really I
cannot go into particulars, but everybody was there who is anybody;
eh! Dr. Sly?”

“Certainly, madam. The pines were most admirable. There are few people
for whom I entertain a higher esteem, than Mr. Gunter.”

“The Marchioness seems very fond of her parrot, Miss Graves; but she is
a sweet woman!”

“Oh, a dear, amiable creature! but I cannot think how she can bear the
eternal screaming of that noisy bird.”

“Nor I, indeed. Well, thank goodness, Mrs. Million has no pets; eh! Dr.
Sly?”

“Certainly. I am clearly of opinion that it cannot be wholesome to have
so many animals about a house. Besides which, I have noticed that the
Marchioness always selects the nicest morsels for that little poodle;
and I am also clearly of opinion, Miss Graves, that the fit it had the
other day arose from repletion.”

“I have no doubt of it in the world. She consumes three pounds of
arrowroot weekly and two pounds of the finest loaf sugar, which I have
the trouble of grating every Monday morning. Mrs. Million appears to be
a most amiable woman, Miss Gusset?”

“Quite perfection; so charitable, so intellectual, such a soul! It is a
pity, though, her manner is so abrupt; she really does not appear to
advantage sometimes; eh! Dr. Sly?”

The Toadey’s Toadey bowed assent as usual. “Well,” rejoined Miss Graves,
“that is rather a fault of the dear Marchioness, a little want of
consideration for another’s feelings; but she means nothing.”

“Oh, no! nor Mrs. Million, dear creature! She means nothing; though I
dare say, not knowing her so well as we do; eh! Dr. Sly? you were a
little surprised at the way in which she spoke to me at dinner.”

“All people have their oddities, Miss Gusset. I am sure the Marchioness
is not aware how she tries my patience about that little wretch Julie. I
had to rub her with warm flannels for an hour and a half before the fire
this morning; that is that Vivian Grey’s doing.”

“Who is this Mr. Grey, Miss Graves?”

“Who, indeed! Some young man the Marquess has picked up, and who comes
lecturing here about poodles and parrots, and thinking himself quite
Lord Paramount, I can assure you. I am surprised that the Marchioness,
who is a most sensible woman, can patronise such conduct a moment; but
whenever she begins to see through him the young gentleman has always
got a story about a bracelet, or a bandeau, and quite turns her head.”

“Very disagreeable, I am sure.”

“Some people are so easily managed! By-the-bye, Miss Gusset, who could
have advised Mrs. Million to wear crimson? So large as she is, it does
not at all suit her. I suppose it’s a favourite colour.”

“Dear Miss Graves, you are always so insinuating. What can Miss Graves
mean; eh! Dr. Sly?”

A Lord Burleigh shake of the head.

“Cynthia Courtown seems as lively as ever,” said Miss Gusset.

“Yes, lively enough; but I wish her manner was less brusque.”

“Brusque, indeed! you may well say so. She nearly pushed me down in the
Hall; and when I looked as if I thought she might have given me a little
more room, she tossed her head and said, ‘Beg pardon, never saw you!’”

“I wonder what Lord Alhambra sees in that girl?”

“Oh! those forward misses always take the men.”

“Well,” said Miss Graves, “I have no notion that it will come to
anything; I am sure, I, for one, hope not,” added she, with all a
Toadey’s venom.

“The Marquess seems to keep a remarkably good table,” said the
physician. “There was a haunch to-day, which I really think was the
finest haunch I ever met with; but that little move at dinner; it was,
to say the least, very ill-timed.”

“Yes, that was Vivian Grey again,” said Miss Graves, very indignantly.

“So you have got the Beaconsfields here, Miss Graves! nice, unaffected,
quiet people.”

“Yes, very quiet.”

“As you say, Miss Graves, very quiet, but a little heavy.”

“Yes, heavy enough.”

“If you had but seen the quantity of pineapples that boy Dormer Stanhope
devoured at our fête champêtre! but I have the comfort of knowing that
they made him very ill; eh! Dr. Sly?”

“Oh! he learnt that from his uncle,” said Miss Graves; “it is quite
disgusting to see how that Vivian Grey encourages him.”

“What an elegant, accomplished woman Mrs. Felix Lorraine seems to be,
Miss Graves! I suppose the Marchioness is very fond of her?”

“Oh, yes; the Marchioness is so good-natured that I dare say she thinks
very well of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. She thinks well of everyone; but I
believe Mrs. Felix is rather a greater favourite with the Marquess.”

“O--h!” drawled out Miss Gusset with a very significant tone. “I suppose
she is one of your playing-up ladies. I think you told me she was only
on a visit here.”

“A pretty long visit, though, for a sister-in-law, if sister-in-law she
be. As I was saying to the Marchioness the other day, when Mrs. Felix
offended her so violently by trampling on the dear little Julie, if it
came into a court of justice I should like to see the proof; that’s all.
At any rate, it is pretty evident that Mr. Lorraine has had enough of
his bargain.”

“Quite evident, I think; eh! Dr. Sly? Those German women never make good
English wives,” continued Miss Gusset, with all a Toadey’s patriotism.

“Talking of wives, did not you think Lady Julia spoke very strangely of
Sir Peter after dinner to-day? I hate that Lady Julia, if it be only for
petting Vivian Grey so.”

“Yes, indeed, it is quite enough to make one sick; eh! Dr. Sly?”

The doctor shook his head mournfully, remembering the haunch.

“They say Ernest Clay is in sad difficulties, Miss Gusset.”

“Well, I always expected his dash would end in that. Those wild
harum-scarum men are monstrous disagreeable. I like a person of some
reflection; eh! Dr. Sly?”

Before the doctor could bow his usual assent there entered a pretty
little page, very daintily attired in a fancy dress of green and silver.
Twirling his richly chased dirk with one tiny white hand, and at the
same time playing with a pet curl which was picturesquely flowing over
his forehead, he advanced with ambling gait to Miss Gusset, and, in a
mincing voice and courtly phrase, summoned her to the imperial presence.

The lady’s features immediately assumed the expression which befitted
the approaching interview, and in a moment Miss Graves and the physician
were left alone.

“Very amiable young woman Miss Gusset appears to be, Dr. Sly?”

“Oh! the most amiable being in the world; I owe her the greatest
obligations.”

“So gentle in her manners.”

“O yes, so gentle.”

“So considerate for everybody.”

“Oh, yes! so considerate,” echoed the Aberdeen M.D.

“I am afraid, though, she must sometimes meet with people who do not
exactly understand her character; such extraordinary consideration for
others is sometimes liable to misconstruction.”

“Very sensibly remarked, Miss Graves. I am sure Miss Gusset means well;
and that kind of thing is all very admirable in its way; but, but--”

“But what, Dr. Sly?”

“Why, I was merely going to hazard an observation, that according to my
feelings, that is, to my own peculiar view of the case, I should prefer
some people thinking more about their own business, and, and, but I
mean nothing.”

“Oh, no, of course not, Dr. Sly! You know we always except our own
immediate friends, at least when we can be sure they are our friends;
but, as you were saying, or going to say, those persons who are so very
anxious about other people’s affairs are not always the most agreeable
persons in the world to live with. It certainly did strike me that that
interference of Miss Gusset’s about Julie to-day was, to say the least,
very odd.”

“Oh, my dear madam! when you know her as well as I do, you will see she
is always ready to put in a word.”

“Well! do you know, Dr. Sly, between ourselves, that was exactly my
impression; and she is then very, very, I do not exactly mean to say
meddling or inquisitive; but, but you understand me, Dr. Sly?”

“Perfectly; and if I were to speak my mind, which I do not hesitate to
do in confidence to you, Miss Graves, I really should say that she is
the most jealous, irritable, malicious, meddling, and at the same time
fawning, disposition that I ever met with in the whole course of my
life, and I speak from experience.”

“Well, do you know, Dr. Sly, from all I have seen, that was exactly my
impression; therefore I have been particularly careful not to commit
myself to such a person.”

“‘Ah! Miss Graves! if all ladies were like you’ O--h!”

“My dear Dr. Sly!”



CHAPTER XVI


Vivian had duly acquainted the Marquess with the successful progress of
his negotiations with their intended partisans, and Lord Carabas had
himself conversed with them singly on the important subject. It was
thought proper, however, in this stage of the proceedings, that the
persons interested should meet together; and so the two Lords, and Sir
Berdmore, and Vivian were invited to dine with the Marquess alone, and
in his library.

There was abundance of dumb waiters and other inventions by which the
ease of the guests might be consulted, without risking even their secret
looks to the gaze of liveried menials. The Marquess’ gentleman sat in an
ante-chamber, in case human aid might be necessary, and everything, as
his Lordship averred, was “on the same system as the Cabinet Dinners.”

In the ancient kingdom of England it hath ever been the custom to dine
previously to transacting business. This habit is one of those few which
are not contingent upon the mutable fancies of fashion, and at this day
we see Cabinet Dinners and Vestry Dinners alike proving the correctness
of our assertion. Whether the custom really expedites the completion or
the general progress of the business which gives rise to it, is a grave
question, which we do not feel qualified to decide. Certain it is that
very often, after the _dinner_, an appointment is made for the
transaction of the _business_ on the following morning: at the same time
it must be remembered that, had it not been for the opportunity which
the banquet afforded of developing the convivial qualities of the
guests, and drawing out, by the assistance of generous wine, their most
kindly sentiments and most engaging feelings, it is very probable that
the appointment for the transaction of the business would never have
been made at all.

There certainly was every appearance that “the great business,” as the
Marquess styled it, would not be very much advanced by the cabinet
dinner at Château Desir. For, in the first place, the table was laden
“with every delicacy of the season,” and really, when a man is either
going to talk sense, fight a duel, or make his will, nothing should be
seen at dinner save cutlets and the lightest Bordeaux. And, in the
second place, it must be confessed, that when it came to the point of
all the parties interested meeting, the Marquess’ courage somewhat
misgave him. Not that any particular reason occurred to him which would
have induced him to yield one jot of the theory of his sentiments, but
the putting them in practice rather made him nervous. In short, he was
as convinced as ever that he was an ill-used man, of great influence and
abilities; but then he remembered his agreeable sinecure and his
dignified office, and he might not succeed. The thought did not please.

But here they were all assembled; receding was impossible; and so the
Marquess took a glass of claret, and felt more courageous.

“My Lords and Gentlemen,” he began, “although I have myself taken the
opportunity of communicating to you singly my thoughts upon a certain
subject, and although, if I am rightly informed, my excellent young
friend has communicated to you more fully upon that subject; yet, my
Lords and Gentlemen, I beg to remark that this is the first time that we
have collectively assembled to consult on the possibility of certain
views, upon the propriety of their nature, and the expediency of their
adoption.” (Here the claret passed.) “The present state of parties,” the
Marquess continued, “has doubtless for a long time engaged your
attention. It is very peculiar, and although the result has been
gradually arrived at, it is nevertheless, now that it is realised,
startling, and not, I apprehend, very satisfactory. There are few
distinctions now between the two sides of the House of Commons, very
different from the times in which most, I believe all, of us, my Lords
and Gentlemen, were members of that assembly. The question then
naturally arises, why a certain body of individuals, who now represent
no opinions, should arrogate to themselves the entire government and
control of the country? A second question would occur, how they contrive
to succeed in such an assumption? They succeed clearly because the
party who placed them in power, because they represented certain
opinions, still continue to them their support. Some of the most
influential members of that party, I am bold to say, may be found in
this room. I don’t know, if the boroughs of Lord Courtown and Lord
Beaconsfield were withdrawn at a critical division, what might be the
result. I am quite sure that if the forty country gentlemen who follow,
I believe I am justified in saying, our friend Sir Berdmore, and wisely
follow him, were to declare their opposition to any particular tax, the
present men would be beaten, as they have been beaten before. I was
myself a member of the government when so beaten, and I know what Lord
Liverpool said the next morning. Lord Liverpool said the next morning.
‘Forty country gentlemen, if they choose, might repeal every tax in the
Budget.’ Under these circumstances, my Lords and Gentlemen, it becomes
us, in my opinion, to consider our situation. I am far from wishing to
witness any general change, or indeed, very wide reconstruction of the
present administration. I think the interests of the country require
that the general tenor of their system should be supported; but there
are members of that administration whose claims to that distinction
appear to me more than questionable, while at the same time there are
individuals excluded, personages of great influence and recognised
talents, who ought no longer, in my opinion, to occupy a position in the
background. Mr. Vivian Grey, a gentleman whom I have the honour to call
my particular friend, and who, I believe, has had already the pleasure
of incidentally conversing with you on the matters to which I have
referred, has given great attention to this important subject. He is a
younger man than any of us, and certainly has much better lungs than I
have. I will take the liberty, therefore, of requesting him to put the
case in its completeness before us.”

A great deal of “desultory conversation,” as it is styled, relative to
the great topic of debate, now occurred. When the blood of the party was
tolerably warmed, Vivian addressed them. The tenor of his oration may be
imagined. He developed the new political principles, demonstrated the
mistake under the baneful influence of which they had so long suffered,
promised them place, and power, and patronage, and personal
consideration, if they would only act on the principles which he
recommended, in the most flowing language and the most melodious voice
in which the glories of ambition were ever yet chaunted. There was a
buzz of admiration when the flattering music ceased; the Marquess smiled
triumphantly, as if to say, “Didn’t I tell you he was a monstrous clever
fellow?” and the whole business seemed settled. Lord Courtown gave in a
bumper, _“Mr. Vivian Grey, and success to his maiden speech!”_ and
Vivian replied by proposing _“The New Union!”_ At last, Sir Berdmore,
the coolest of them all, raised his voice: “He quite agreed with Mr.
Grey in the principles which he had developed; and, for his own part, he
was free to confess that he had perfect confidence in that gentleman’s
very brilliant abilities, and augured from their exertion complete and
triumphant success. At the same time, he felt it his duty to remark to
their Lordships, and also to that gentleman, that the House of Commons
was a new scene to him; and he put it, whether they were quite convinced
that they were sufficiently strong as regarded talent in that assembly.
He could not take it upon himself to offer to become the leader of the
party. Mr. Grey might be capable of undertaking that charge, but still,
it must be remembered that in that assembly he was as yet untried. He
made no apology to Mr. Grey for speaking his mind so freely; he was sure
that his motives could not be misinterpreted. If their Lordships, on the
whole, were of opinion that this charge should be entrusted to him, he,
Sir Berdmore, having the greatest confidence in Mr. Grey’s abilities,
would certainly support him to the utmost.”

“He can do anything,” said the Marquess.

“He is a surprising clever man!” said Lord Courtown.

“He is a surprising clever man!” echoed Lord Beaconsfield.

“Stop, my Lords,” said Vivian; “your good opinion deserves my gratitude,
but these important matters do indeed require a moment’s consideration.
I trust that Sir Berdmore Scrope does not imagine that I am the vain
idiot to be offended at his most excellent remarks, even for a moment.
Are we not met here for the common good, and to consult for the success
of the common cause? Whatever my talents are, they are at your service,
and in your service will I venture anything; but surely, my Lords, you
will not unnecessarily entrust this great business to a raw hand! I need
only aver that I am ready to follow any leader who can play his great
part in a becoming manner.”

“Noble!” said the Marquess.

But who was the leader to be? Sir Berdmore frankly confessed that he
had none to propose; and the Viscount and the Baron were quite silent.

“Gentlemen!” exclaimed the Marquess, “Gentlemen! there is a man who
could do our bidding,” The eyes of every guest were fixed on the
haranguing host.

“Gentlemen, fill your glasses, I give you our leader, Mr. Frederick
Cleveland!”

“Cleveland”’ every one exclaimed. A glass of claret fell from Lord
Courtown’s hand; Lord Beaconsfield stopped as he was about to fill his
glass, and stood gaping at the Marquess with the decanter in his hand;
and Sir Berdmore stared on the table, as men do when something
unexpected and astounding has occurred at dinner which seems past all
their management.

“Cleveland!” exclaimed the guests.

“I should as soon have expected you to have given us Lucifer!” said Lord
Courtown.

“Or the present Secretary!” said Lord Beaconsfield.

“Or yourself,” said Sir Berdmore.

“And does any one maintain that Frederick Cleveland is not capable of
driving out a much stronger Government than he will have to cope with?”
 demanded the Marquess with a rather fierce air.

“We do not deny Mr. Cleveland’s powers, my Lord; we only humbly beg to
suggest that it appears to us that, of all the persons in the world, the
man with whom Mr. Cleveland would be least inclined to coalesce would be
the Marquess of Carabas.”

The Marquess looked somewhat blank.

“Gentlemen,” said Vivian, “do not despair; it is enough for me to know
that there is a man who is capable of doing our work. Be he animate man
or incarnate fiend, provided he can be found within this realm, I pledge
myself that within ten days he is drinking my noble friend’s health at
this very board.”

The Marquess said, “Bravo,” the rest smiled, and rose from the table in
some confusion. Little more was said on the “great business.” The guests
took refuge in coffee and a glass of liqueur. The pledge was, however,
apparently accepted, and Lord Carabas and Vivian were soon left alone.
The Marquess seemed agitated by Vivian’s offer and engagement. “This is
a grave business,” he said: “you hardly know, my dear Vivian, what you
have undertaken; but, if anybody can succeed, you will. We must talk of
this to-morrow. There are some obstacles, and I should once have
thought, invincible. I cannot conceive what made me mention his name;
but it has been often in my mind since you first spoke to me. You and he
together, we might carry everything before us. But there are some
obstacles; no doubt there are some obstacles. You heard what Courtown
said, a man who does not make difficulties, and Beaconsfield, a man who
does not say much. Courtown called him Lucifer. He is Lucifer. But, by
Jove, you are the man to overcome obstacles. We must talk of it
to-morrow. So now, my dear fellow, good night!”

“What have I done?” thought Vivian; “I am sure that Lucifer may know,
for I do not. This Cleveland is, I suppose, after all, but a man. I saw
the feeble fools were wavering, and, to save all, made a leap in the
dark. Well! is my skull cracked? Nous verrons. How hot either this room
or my blood is! Come, for some fresh air (he opened the library window).
How fresh and soft it is! Just the night for the balcony. Hah! music! I
cannot mistake that voice. Singular woman! I will just walk on till I am
beneath her window.”

Vivian accordingly proceeded along the balcony, which extended down one
whole side of the Château. While he was looking at the moon he stumbled
against some one. It was Colonel Delmington. He apologised to the
militaire for treading on his toes, and wondered “how the devil he
got there!”



BOOK III


CHAPTER I


Fredrick Cleveland was educated at Eton and at Cambridge; and after
having proved, both at the school and the University, that he possessed
talents of a high order, he had the courage, in order to perfect them,
to immure himself for three years in a German University. It was
impossible, therefore, for two minds to have been cultivated on more
contrary systems than those of Frederick Cleveland and Vivian Grey. The
systems on which they had been educated were not, however, more
discordant than the respective tempers of the pupils. With that of
Vivian Grey the reader is now somewhat acquainted. It has been shown
that he was one precociously convinced of the necessity of managing
mankind, by studying their tempers and humouring their weaknesses.
Cleveland turned from the Book of Nature with contempt, and although his
was a mind of extraordinary acuteness, he was, at three-and-thirty, as
ignorant of the workings of the human heart as when, in the innocence of
boyhood, he first reached Eton.

Although possessed of no fortune, from his connections and the
reputation of his abilities, he entered Parliament at an early age. His
success was eminent. It was at this period that he formed a great
intimacy with the present Marquess of Carabas, then Under Secretary of
State. His exertions for the party to which Mr. Under Secretary Lorraine
belonged were unremitting; and it was mainly through their influence
that a great promotion took place in the official appointments of the
party. When the hour of reward came, Mr. Lorraine and his friends
unfortunately forgot their youthful champion. He remonstrated, and they
smiled: he reminded them of private friendship, and they answered him
with political expediency. Mr. Cleveland went down to the House, and
attacked his old comates in a spirit of unexampled bitterness. He
examined in review the various members of the party that had deserted
him. They trembled on their seats, while they writhed beneath the
keenness of his satire: but when the orator came to Mr. President
Lorraine, he flourished the tomahawk on high like a wild Indian
chieftain; and the attack was so awfully severe, so overpowering, so
annihilating, that even this hackneyed and hardened official trembled,
turned pale, and quitted the House, Cleveland’s triumph was splendid,
but it was only for a night. Disgusted with mankind, he scouted the
thousand offers of political connections which crowded upon him; and
having succeeded in making an arrangement with his creditors, he
accepted the Chiltern Hundreds.

By the interest of his friends he procured a judicial situation of
sufficient emolument, but of local duty; and to fulfil this duty he was
obliged to reside in North Wales. The locality, indeed, suited him well,
for he was sick of the world at nine-and-twenty; and, carrying his
beautiful and newly-married wife from the world, which without him she
could not love, Mr. Cleveland enjoyed all the luxuries of a cottage
ornée in the most romantic part of the Principality. Here were born unto
him a son and daughter, beautiful children, upon whom the father
lavished all the affection which Nature had intended for the world.

Four years had Cleveland now passed in his solitude, an unhappy man. A
thousand times during the first year of his retirement he cursed the
moment of excitement which had banished him from the world; for he found
himself without resources, and restless as a curbed courser. Like many
men who are born to be orators, like Curran and like Fox, Cleveland was
not blessed, or cursed, with the faculty of composition; and indeed, had
his pen been that of a ready writer, pique would have prevented him from
delighting or instructing a world whose nature he endeavoured to
persuade himself was base, and whose applause ought, consequently, to be
valueless. In the second year he endeavoured to while away his time by
interesting himself in those pursuits which Nature has kindly provided
for country gentlemen. Farming kept him alive for a while; but, at
length, his was the prize ox; and, having gained a cup, he got wearied
of kine too prime for eating, wheat too fine for the composition of the
staff of life, and ploughs so ingeniously contrived that the very
ingenuity prevented them from being useful. Cleveland was now seen
wandering over the moors and mountains, with a gun over his shoulder and
a couple of dogs at his heels; but ennui returned in spite of his patent
percussion: and so, at length, tired of being a sportsman, he almost
became what he had fancied himself in an hour of passion, a misanthrope.

After having been closeted with Lord Carabas for a considerable time the
morning after the cabinet dinner, Vivian left Château Desir.

He travelled night and day, until he arrived in the vicinity of Mr.
Cleveland’s abode. What was he to do now? After some deliberation, he
despatched a note to Mr. Cleveland, informing him “that he (Mr. Grey)
was the bearer to Mr. Cleveland of a ‘communication of importance.’
Under the circumstances of the case, he observed that he had declined
bringing any letters of introduction. He was quite aware, therefore,
that he should have no right to complain if he had to travel back three
hundred miles without having the honour of an interview; but he trusted
that this necessary breach of etiquette would be overlooked.”

The note produced the desired effect, and an appointment was made for
Mr. Grey to call at Kenrich Lodge on the following morning.

Vivian, as he entered the room, took a rapid glance at its master. Mr.
Cleveland was tall and distinguished, with a fare which might have been
a model for manly beauty. He came forward to receive Vivian with a
Newfoundland dog on one side and a large black greyhound on the other;
and the two animals, after having elaborately examined the stranger,
divided between them the luxuries of the rug. The reception which Mr.
Cleveland gave our hero was cold and constrained; but it did not appear
to be purposely uncivil, and Vivian flattered himself that his manner
was not unusually stiff.

“I do not know whether I have the honour of addressing the son of Mr.
Horace Grey?” said Mr. Cleveland, with a frowning countenance, which was
intended to be courteous.

“I have that honour.”

“Your father, sir, is a most amiable and able man. I had the pleasure of
his acquaintance when I was in London, many years ago, at a time when
Mr. Vivian Grey was not entrusted, I rather imagine, with missions ‘of
importance.’” Although Mr. Cleveland smiled when he said this, his smile
was anything but a gracious one. The subdued satire of his keen eye
burst out for an instant, and he looked as if he would have said, “Who
is this yonker who is trespassing upon my retirement?”

Vivian had, unbidden, seated himself by the side of Mr. Cleveland’s
library table; and, not knowing exactly how to proceed, was employing
himself by making a calculation whether there were more black than white
spots on the body of the old Newfoundland, who was now apparently
happily slumbering.

“Well, sir!” continued the Newfoundland’s master, “the nature of your
communication? I am fond of coming to the point.”

Now this was precisely the thing which Vivian had determined not to do;
and so he diplomatised, in order to gain time. “In stating, Mr.
Cleveland, that the communication which I had to make was one of
importance, I beg to be understood, that it was with reference merely to
my opinion of its nature that that phrase was used, and not as relative
to the possible, or, allow me to say, the probable, opinion of Mr.
Cleveland.”

“Well, sir!” said that gentleman, with a somewhat disappointed air.

“As to the purport or nature of the communication it is,” said Vivian,
with one of his sweetest cadences and looking up to Mr. Cleveland’s face
with an eye expressive of all kindness, “it is of a political nature.”

“Well, sir!” again exclaimed Cleveland, looking very anxious, and moving
restlessly on his library chair.

“When we take into consideration, Mr. Cleveland, the present aspect of
the political world, when we call to mind the present situation of the
two great political parties, you will not be surprised, I feel
confident, when I mention that certain personages have thought that the
season was at hand when a move might be made in the political world with
very considerable effect--”

“Mr. Grey, what am I to understand?” interrupted Mr. Cleveland, who
began to suspect that the envoy was no greenhorn.

“I feel confident, Mr. Cleveland, that I am doing very imperfect justice
to the mission with which I am entrusted; but, sir, you must be aware
that the delicate nature of such disclosures, and--”

“Mr. Grey, I feel confident that you do not doubt my honour; and, as for
the rest, the world has, I believe, some foolish tales about me; but,
believe me, you shall be listened to with patience. I am certain that,
whatever may be the communication, Mr. Vivian Grey is a gentleman who
will do its merits justice.”

And now Vivian, having succeeded in exciting Cleveland’s curiosity and
securing himself the certainty of a hearing, and having also made a
favourable impression, dropped the diplomatist altogether, and was
explicit enough for a Spartan.

“Certain Noblemen and Gentlemen of eminence and influence, hitherto
considered as props of the ---- party, are about to take a novel and
decided course next Session. It is to obtain the aid and personal
co-operation of Mr. Cleveland that I am now in Wales.

“Mr. Grey, I have promised to listen to you with patience: you are too
young a man to know much, perhaps, of the history of so insignificant a
personage as myself, otherwise you would have been aware that there is
no subject in the world on which I am less inclined to converse than
that of politics. If I were entitled to take such a liberty, I would
recommend you to think of them as little as I do; but enough of this.
Who is the mover of the party?”

“My Lord Courtown is a distinguished member of it.”

“Courtown, Courtown; powerful enough: but surely the good Viscount’s
skull is not exactly the head for the chief of a cabal?”

“There is my Lord Beaconsfield.”

“Powerful, too; but a dolt.”

“Well,” thought Vivian, “it must out at last; and so to it boldly. And,
Mr. Cleveland, there is little fear that we may secure the great
influence and tried talents of the Marquess of Carabas.”

“The Marquess of Carabas!” almost shrieked Mr. Cleveland, as he started
from his seat and paced the room with hurried steps; and the greyhound
and the Newfoundland jumped up from the rug, shook themselves, growled,
and then imitated their master in promenading the apartment, but with
more dignified and stately paces. “The Marquess of Carabas! Now, Mr.
Grey, speak to me with the frankness which one gentleman should use to
another; is the Marquess of Carabas privy to this application?”

“He himself proposed it.”

“Then he is baser than even I conceived. Mr. Grey, I am a man spare of
my speech to those with whom I am unacquainted, and the world tails me a
soured, malicious man. And yet, when I think for a moment that one so
young as you are, endowed as I must suppose with no ordinary talents,
and actuated as I will believe with a pure and honourable spirit, should
be the dupe, or tool, or even present friend of such a creature as this
perjured Peer, it gives me pang.”

“Mr. Cleveland,” said Vivian, “I am grateful for your kindness; and
although we may probably part, in a few hours, never to meet again, I
will speak to you with the frankness which you have merited, and to
which I feel you are entitled. I am not the dupe of the Marquess of
Carabas; I am not, I trust, the dupe, or tool, of any one whatever.
Believe me, sir, there is that at work in England which, taken at the
tide, may lead on to fortune. I see this, sir; I, a young man,
uncommitted in political principles, unconnected in public life, feeling
some confidence, I confess, in my own abilities, but desirous of
availing myself, at the same time, of the powers of others. Thus
situated, I find myself working for the same end as my Lord Carabas and
twenty other men of similar calibre, mental and moral; and, sir, am I to
play the hermit in the drama of life because, perchance, my
fellow-actors may be sometimes fools, and occasionally knaves? If the
Marquess of Carabas has done you the ill-service which Fame says he
has, your sweetest revenge will be to make him your tool; your most
perfect triumph, to rise to power by his influence.

“I confess that I am desirous of finding in you the companion of my
career. Your splendid talents have long commanded my admiration; and, as
you have given me credit for something like good feeling, I will say
that my wish to find in you a colleague is greatly increased when I see
that those splendid talents are even the least estimable points in Mr.
Cleveland’s character. But, sir, perhaps all this time I am in error;
perhaps Mr. Cleveland is, as the world reports him, no longer the
ambitious being who once commanded the admiration of a listening Senate;
perhaps, convinced of the vanity of human wishes, Mr. Cleveland would
rather devote his attention to the furtherance of the interests of his
immediate circle; and, having schooled his intellect in the Universities
of two nations, is probably content to pass the hours of his life in
mediating in the quarrels of a country village.”

Vivian ceased. Cleveland heard him with his head resting on both his
arms. He started at the last expression, and something like a blush
suffused his cheek, but he did not reply. At last he jumped up and rang
the bell. “Come, Mr. Grey,” said he, “I am in no humour for politics
this morning. You must not, at any rate, visit Wales for nothing.
Morris! send down to the village for this gentleman’s luggage. Even we
cottagers have a bed for a friend, Mr. Grey: come, and I will introduce
you to my wife.”



CHAPTER II


And Vivian was now an inmate of Kenrich Lodge. It would have been
difficult to have conceived a life of more pure happiness than that
which was apparently enjoyed by its gifted master. A beautiful wife and
lovely children, and a romantic situation, and an income sufficient not
only for their own but for the wants of their necessitous neighbours;
what more could man wish? Answer me, thou inexplicable myriad of
sensations which the world calls human nature!

Three days passed over in delightful converse. It was so long since
Cleveland had seen any one fresh from the former scenes of his life,
that the company of any one would have been agreeable; but here was a
companion who knew every one, everything, full of wit and anecdote, and
literature and fashion; and then so engaging in his manners, and with
such a winning voice.

The heart of Cleveland relented; his stern manner gave way; all his
former warm and generous feeling gained the ascendant; he was in turn
amusing, communicative, and engaging. Finding that he could please
another, he began to be pleased himself. The nature of the business upon
which Vivian was his guest rendered confidence necessary; confidence
begets kindness. In a few days Vivian necessarily became more acquainted
with Mr. Cleveland’s disposition and situation than if they had been
acquainted for as many years; in short.

     They talked with open heart and tongue,
     Affectionate and true,
     A pair of friends.

Vivian, for some time, dwelt upon everything but the immediate subject
of his mission; but when, after the experience of a few days, their
hearts were open to each other, and they had mutually begun to discover
that there was a most astonishing similarity in their principles, their
tastes, their feelings, then the magician poured forth his incantation,
and raised the once-laid ghost of Cleveland’s ambition. The recluse
agreed to take the lead of the Carabas party. He was to leave Wales
immediately, and resign his place; in return for which the nephew of
Lord Courtown was immediately to give up, in his favour, an office of
considerable emolument; and, having thus provided some certainty for his
family, Frederick Cleveland prepared himself to combat for a more
important office.



CHAPTER III


“Is Mr. Cleveland handsome?” asked Mrs. Felix Lorraine of Vivian,
immediately on his return, “and what colour are his eyes?”

“Upon my honour, I have not the least recollection of ever looking at
them; but I believe he is not blind.”

“How foolish you are! now tell me, pray, point de moquerie, is he
amusing?”

“What does Mrs. Felix Lorraine mean by amusing?” asked Vivian.

“Oh! you always tease me with your definitions; go away. I will quarrel
with you.”

“By-the-bye, Mrs. Felix Lorraine, how is Colonel Delmington?”

Vivian redeemed his pledge: Mr. Cleveland arrived. It was the wish of
the Marquess, if possible, not to meet his old friend till dinner-time.
He thought that, surrounded by his guests, certain awkward senatorial
reminiscences might be got over. But, unfortunately, Mr. Cleveland
arrived about an hour before dinner, and, as it was a cold autumnal day,
most of the visitors who were staying at Château Desir were assembled in
the drawing-room. The Marquess sallied forward to receive his guest with
a most dignified countenance and a most aristocratic step; but, before
he got half-way, his coronation pace degenerated into a strut, and then
into a shamble, and with an awkward and confused countenance, half
impudent and half flinching, he held forward his left hand to his
newly-arrived visitor. Mr. Cleveland looked terrifically courteous and
amiably arrogant. He greeted the Marquess with a smile at once gracious
and grim, and looked something like Goliath, as you see the Philistine
depicted in some old German painting, looking down upon the pigmy
fighting men of Israel.

As is generally the custom when there is a great deal to be arranged and
many points to be settled, days flew over, and very little of the future
system of the party was matured. Vivian made one or two ineffectual
struggles to bring the Marquess to a business-like habit of mind, but
his Lordship never dared to trust himself alone with Cleveland, and,
indeed, almost lost the power of speech when in presence of the future
leader of his party; so, in the morning, the Marquess played off the two
Lords and Sir Berdmore against his former friend, and then, to
compensate for not meeting Mr. Cleveland in the morning, he was
particularly courteous to him at dinner-time, and asked him always “how
he liked his ride?” and invariably took wine with him. As for the rest
of the day, he had particularly requested his faithful counsellor, Mrs.
Felix Lorraine, “for God’s sake to take this man off his shoulders;” and
so that lady, with her usual kindness, and merely to oblige his
Lordship, was good enough to patronise Mr. Cleveland, and on the fourth
day was taking a moonlit walk with him.

Mr. Cleveland had now been ten days at Château Desir, and was to take
his departure the next morning for Wales, in order to arrange everything
for his immediate settlement in the metropolis. Every point of
importance was postponed until their meeting in London. Mr. Cleveland
only agreed to take the lead of the party in the Commons, and received
the personal pledge of Lord Courtown as to the promised office.

It was a September day, and to escape from the excessive heat of the
sun, and at the same time to enjoy the freshness of the air, Vivian was
writing his letters in the conservatory, which opened into one of the
drawing-rooms. The numerous party which then honoured the Château with
their presence were out, as he conceived, on a picnic excursion to the
Elfin’s Well, a beautiful spot about ten miles off; and among the
adventurers were, as he imagined, Mrs. Felix Lorraine and Mr. Cleveland.

Vivian was rather surprised at hearing voices in the adjoining room, and
he was still more so when, on looking round, he found that the sounds
proceeded from the very two individuals whom he thought were far away.
Some tall American plants concealed him from their view, but he observed
all that passed distinctly, and a singular scene it was. Mrs. Felix
Lorraine was on her knees at the feet of Mr. Cleveland; her countenance
indicated the most contrary passions, contending, as it were, for
mastery; supplication, anger, and, shall I call it, love? Her
companion’s countenance was hid, but it was evident that it was not
wreathed with smiles: there were a few hurried sentences uttered, and
then both quitted the room at different doors, the lady in despair, and
the gentleman in disgust.



CHAPTER IV


And now Château Desir was almost deserted. Mrs. Million continued her
progress northward. The Courtowns, and the Beaconsfields, and the
Scropes quitted immediately after Mr. Cleveland; and when the families
that form the material of the visiting corps retire, the nameless
nothings that are always lounging about the country mansions of the
great, such as artists, tourists, authors, and other live stock, soon
disappear. Mr. Vivian Grey agreed to stay another fortnight, at the
particular request of the Marquess.

Very few days had passed ere Vivian was exceedingly struck at the
decided change which suddenly took place in his Lordship’s general
demeanour towards him.

The Marquess grew reserved and uncommunicative, scarcely mentioning “the
great business” which had previously been the sole subject of his
conversation but to find fault with some arrangement, and exhibiting,
whenever his name was mentioned, a marked acrimony against Mr.
Cleveland. This rapid change alarmed as much as it astonished Vivian,
and he mentioned his feelings and observations to Mrs. Felix Lorraine.
That lady agreed with him that something certainly was wrong; but could
not, unfortunately, afford him any clue to the mystery. She expressed
the liveliest solicitude that any misunderstanding should be put an end
to, and offered her services for that purpose.

In spite, however, of her well-expressed anxiety, Vivian had his own
ideas on the subject; and, determined to unravel the affair, he had
recourse to the Marchioness.

“I hope your Ladyship is well to-day. I had a letter from Count Caumont
this morning. He tells me that he has got the prettiest poodle from
Paris that you can possibly conceive! waltzes like an angel, and acts
proverbs on its hind feet.”

Her Ladyship’s eyes glistened with admiration.

“I have told Caumont to send it me down immediately, and I shall then
have the pleasure of presenting it to your Ladyship.”

Her Ladyship’s eyes sparkled with delight.

“I think,” continued Vivian, “I shall take a ride to-day. By-the-bye,
how is the Marquess? he seems in low spirits lately.”

“Oh, Mr. Grey! I do not know what you have done to him,” said her
Ladyship, settling at least a dozen bracelets; “but, but--”

“But what?”

“He thinks; he thinks.”

“Thinks what, dear lady?”

“That you have entered into a combination, Mr. Grey.”

“Entered into a combination!”

“Yes, Mr. Grey! a conspiracy, a conspiracy against the Marquess, with
Mr. Cleveland. He thinks that you have made him serve your purpose, and
now you are going to get rid of him.”

“Well, that is excellent, and what else does he think?”

“He thinks you talk too loud,” said the Marchioness, still working at
her bracelets.

“Well! that is shockingly vulgar! Allow me to recommend your Ladyship to
alter the order of those bracelets, and place the blue and silver
against the maroon. You may depend upon it, that is the true Vienna
order. And what else dues the Marquess say?”

“He thinks you are generally too authoritative. Not that I think so, Mr.
Grey: I am sure your conduct to me has been most courteous. The blue and
silver next to the maroon, did you say? Yes; certainly it does look
better. I have no doubt the Marquess is quite wrong, and I dare say you
will set things right immediately. You will remember the pretty poodle,
Mr. Grey? and you will not tell the Marquess I mentioned anything.”

“Oh! certainly not. I will give orders for them to book an inside place
for the poodle, and send him down by the coach immediately, I must be
off now. Remember the blue and silver next to the maroon. Good morning
to your Ladyship.”

“Mrs. Felix Lorraine, I am your most obedient slave,” said Vivian Grey,
as he met that lady on the landing-place. “I can see no reason why I
should not drive you this bright day to the Elfin’s Well; we have long
had an engagement to go there.”

The lady smiled a gracious assent: the pony phaeton was immediately
ordered.

“How pleasant Lady Courtown and I used to discourse about martingales! I
think I invented one, did not I? Pray, Mrs. Felix Lorraine, can you tell
me what a martingale is? for upon my honour I have forgotten, or
never knew.”

“If you found a martingale for the mother, Vivian, it had been well if
you had found a curb for the daughter. Poor Cynthia! I had intended once
to advise the Marchioness to interfere; but one forgets these things.”

“One does. O, Mrs. Felix!” exclaimed Vivian, “I told your admirable
story of the Leyden Professor to Mrs. Cleveland. It is universally
agreed to be the best ghost-story extant. I think you said you knew the
Professor.”

“Well! I have seen him often, and heard the story from his own lips.
And, as I mentioned before, far from being superstitious, he was an
esprit fort. Do you know, Mr. Grey, I have such an interesting packet
from Germany to-day; from my cousin, Baron Rodenstein. But I must keep
all the stories for the evening; come to my boudoir, and I will read
them to you. There is one tale which I am sure will make a convert even
of you. It happened to Rodenstein himself, and within these three
months,” added the lady in a serious tone. “The Rodensteins are a
singular family. My mother was a Rodenstein. Do you think this
beautiful?” said Mrs. Felix, showing Vivian a small miniature which was
attached to a chain round her neck. It was the portrait of a youth
habited in the costume of a German student. His rich brown hair was
flowing over his shoulders, and his dark blue eyes beamed with such a
look of mysterious inspiration, that they might have befitted a
young prophet.

“Very, very beautiful!”

“‘Tis Max, Max Rodenstein,” said the lady, with a faltering voice. “He
was killed at Leipsic, at the head of a band of his friends and
fellow-students. O, Mr. Grey! this is a fair work of art, but if you had
but seen the prototype you would have gazed on this as on a dim and
washed-out drawing. There was one portrait, indeed, which did him more
justice; but then that portrait was not the production of
mortal pencil.”

Vivian looked at his companion with a somewhat astonished air, but Mrs.
Felix Lorraine’s countenance was as little indicative of jesting as that
of the young student whose miniature rested on her bosom.

“Did you say _not_ the production of a mortal hand, Mrs. Felix
Lorraine?”

“I am afraid I shall weary you with my stories, but the one I am about
to tell you is so well evidenced that I think even Mr. Vivian Grey will
hear it without a sneer.”

“A sneer! O lady-love, do I ever sneer?”

“Max Rodenstein was the glory of his house. A being so beautiful in body
and in soul you cannot imagine, and I will not attempt to describe. This
miniature has given you some faint idea of his image, and yet this is
only the copy of a copy. The only wish of the Baroness Rodenstein, which
never could be accomplished, was the possession of a portrait of her
youngest son, for no consideration could induce Max to allow his
likeness to be taken. His old nurse had always told him that the moment
his portrait was taken he would die. The condition upon which such a
beautiful being was allowed to remain in the world was, she always said,
that his beauty should not be imitated. About three months before the
battle of Leipsic, when Max was absent at the University, which was
nearly four hundred miles from Rodenstein Castle, there arrived one
morning a large case directed to the Baroness. On opening it it was
found to contain a picture, the portrait of her son. The colouring was
so vivid, the general execution so miraculous, that for some moments
they forgot to wonder at the incident in their admiration of the work of
art. In one corner of the picture, in small characters yet fresh, was an
inscription, which on examining they found consisted of these words:
‘Painted last night. Now, lady, thou hast thy wish.’ My aunt sank into
the Baron’s arms.

“In silence and in trembling the wonderful portrait was suspended over
the fireplace of my aunt’s favourite apartment. The next day they
received letters from Max. He was quite well, but mentioned nothing of
the mysterious painting.

“Three months afterwards, as a lady was sitting alone in the Baroness’s
room, and gazing on the portrait of him she loved right dearly, she
suddenly started from her seat, and would have shrieked, had not an
indefinable sensation prevented her. The eyes of the portrait moved. The
lady stood leaning on a chair, pale, and trembling like an aspen, but
gazing steadfastly on the animated portrait. It was no illusion of a
heated fancy; again the eyelids trembled, there was a melancholy smile,
and then they closed. The clock of Rodenstein Castle struck three.
Between astonishment and fear the lady was tearless. Three days
afterwards came the news of the battle of Leipsic, and at the very
moment that the eyes of the portrait closed Max Rodenstein had been
pierced by a Polish Lancer.”

“And who was this wonderful lady, the witness of this wonderful
incident?” asked Vivian.

“That lady was myself.”

There was something so singular in the tone of Mrs. Felix Lorraine’s
voice, and so peculiar in the expression of her countenance, as she
uttered these words, that the jest died on Vivian’s tongue; and, for
want of something better to do, he lashed the little ponies, which were
already scampering at their full speed.

The road to the Elfin’s Well ran through the wildest parts of the park;
and after an hour and a half’s drive they reached the fairy spot. It was
a beautiful and pellucid spring, that bubbled up in a small wild dell,
which, nurtured by the flowing stream, was singularly fresh and green.
Above the spring had been erected a Gothic arch of grey stone, round
which grew a few fine birch-trees. In short, nature had intended the
spot for picnics. There was fine water, and an interesting tradition;
and as the parties always bring, or always should bring, a trained
punster, champagne, and cold pasties, what more ought Nature to
have provided?

“Come, Mrs. Lorraine, I will tie Gypsey to this ash, and then you and I
will rest ourselves beneath these birch-trees, just where the
fairies dance.”

“Oh, delightful!”

“Now, truly, we should have some book of beautiful poetry to while away
an hour. You will blame me for not bringing one. Do not. I would sooner
listen to your voice; and, indeed, there is a subject on which I wish to
ask your particular advice.”

“Is there?”

“I have been thinking that this is a somewhat rash step of the Marquess;
this throwing himself into the arms of his former bitterest enemy,
Cleveland.”

“You really think so?”

“Why, Mrs. Lorraine, does it appear to you to be the most prudent course
of action which could have been conceived?”

“Certainly not.”

“You agree with me, then, that there is, if not cause for regret at this
engagement, at least for reflection on its probable consequences?”

“I quite agree with you.”

“I know you do. I have had some conversation with the Marquess upon this
subject this very morning.”

“Have you?” eagerly exclaimed the lady, and she looked pale and breathed
short.

“Ay; and he tells me you have made some very sensible observations on
the subject. ‘Tis pity they were not made before Mr. Cleveland left; the
mischief might then have been prevented.”

“I certainly have made some observations.”

“And very kind of you. What a blessing for the Marquess to have such a
friend!”

“I spoke to him,” said Mrs. Felix, with a more assured tone, “in much
the same spirit as you have been addressing me. It does, indeed, seem a
most imprudent act, and I thought it my duty to tell him so.”

“Ay, no doubt; but how came you, lady fair, to imagine that _I_ was also
a person to be dreaded by his Lordship; _I_, Vivian Grey!”

“Did I say _you_?” asked the lady, pale as death.

“Did you not, Mrs. Felix Lorraine? Have you not, regardless of my
interests, in the most unwarrantable and unjustifiable manner; have you
not, to gratify some private pique which you entertain against Mr.
Cleveland; have you not, I ask you, poisoned the Marquess’ mind against
one who never did aught to you but what was kind and honourable?”

“I have been imprudent; I confess it; I have spoken somewhat loosely.”

“Now, listen to me once more,” and Vivian grasped her hand. “What has
passed between you and Mr. Cleveland it is not for me to inquire. I give
you my word of honour that he never even mentioned your name to me. I
can scarcely understand how any man could have incurred the deadly
hatred which you appear to entertain for him. I repeat, I can
contemplate no situation in which you could be placed together which
would justify such behaviour. It could not be justified, even if he had
spurned you while--kneeling at his feet.”

Mrs. Felix Lorraine shrieked and fainted. A sprinkling from the fairy
stream soon recovered her. “Spare me! spare me!” she faintly cried: “say
nothing of what you have seen.”

“Mrs. Lorraine, I have no wish. I have spoken thus explicitly that we
may not again misunderstand each other. I have spoken thus explicitly, I
say, that I may not be under the necessity of speaking again, for if I
speak again it must not be to Mrs. Felix Lorraine. There is my hand; and
now let the Elfin’s Well be blotted out of our memories.”

Vivian drove rapidly home, and endeavoured to talk in his usual tone and
with his usual spirit; but his companion could not be excited. Once, ay
twice, she pressed his hand, and as he assisted her from the phaeton she
murmured something like a blessing. She ran upstairs immediately. Vivian
had to give some directions about the ponies; Gipsey was ill, or Fanny
had a cold, or something of the kind; and so he was detained for about
a quarter of an hour before the house, speaking most learnedly to
grooms, and consulting on cases with a skilled gravity worthy of
Professor Coleman.

When he entered the house he found the luncheon prepared, and Mrs. Felix
pressed him earnestly to take some refreshment. He was indeed wearied,
and agreed to take a glass of hock and seltzer.

“Let me mix it for you,” said Mrs. Felix; “do you like sugar?”

Tired with his drive, Vivian Grey was leaning on the mantelpiece, with
his eyes vacantly gazing on the looking-glass which rested on the marble
slab. It was by pure accident that, reflected in the mirror, he
distinctly beheld Mrs. Felix Lorraine open a small silver box, and throw
some powder into the tumbler which she was preparing for him. She was
leaning down, with her back almost turned to the glass, but still Vivian
saw it distinctly. A sickness came over him, and ere he could recover
himself his Hebe tapped him on the shoulder.

[Illustration: small silver box]

“Here, drink, drink while it is effervescent.”

“I cannot drink,” said Vivian, “I am not thirsty; I am too hot; I am
anything--”

“How foolish you are! It will be quite, spoiled.”

“No, no; the dog shall have it. Here, Fidele, you look thirsty enough;
come here--”

“Mr. Grey, I do not mix tumblers for dogs,” said the lady, rather
agitated: “if you will not take it,” and she held it once more before
him, “here it goes for ever.” So saying she emptied the tumbler into a
large globe of glass, in which some gold and silver fish were swimming
their endless rounds.



CHAPTER V


This last specimen of Mrs. Felix Lorraine was somewhat too much even for
the steeled nerves of Vivian Grey, and he sought his chamber for relief.

“Is it possible? Can I believe my senses? Or has some demon, as we read
of in old tales, mocked me in a magic mirror? I can believe anything.
Oh! my heart is very sick! I once imagined that I was using this woman
for my purpose. Is it possible that aught of good can come to one who
is forced to make use of such evil instruments as these? A horrible
thought sometimes comes over my spirit. I fancy that in this mysterious
foreigner, that in this woman, I have met a kind of double of myself.
The same wonderful knowledge of the human mind, the same sweetness of
voice, the same miraculous management which has brought us both under
the same roof: yet do I find her the most abandoned of all beings; a
creature guilty of that which, even in this guilty age, I thought was
obsolete. And is it possible that I am like her? that I can resemble
her? that even the indefinite shadow of my most unhallowed thought can
for a moment be as vile as her righteousness? O God! the system of my
existence seems to stop. I cannot breathe.” He flung himself upon his
bed, and felt for a moment as if he had quaffed the poisoned draught so
lately offered.

“It is not so; it cannot be so; it shall not be so! In seeking the
Marquess I was unquestionably impelled by a mere feeling of
self-interest; but I have advised him to no course of action in which
his welfare is not equally consulted with my own. Indeed, if not
principle, interest would make me act faithfully towards him, for my
fortunes are bound up in his. But am I entitled, I, who can lose
nothing, am I entitled to play with other men’s fortunes? Am I all this
time deceiving myself with some wretched sophistry? Am I, then, an
intellectual Don Juan, reckless of human minds, as he was of human
bodies; a spiritual libertine? But why this wild declamation? Whatever I
have done, it is too late to recede; even this very moment delay is
destruction, for now it is not a question as to the ultimate prosperity
of our worldly prospects, but the immediate safety of our very bodies.
Poison! O God! O God! Away with all fear, all repentance, all thought of
past, all reckoning of future. If I be the Juan that I fancied myself,
then Heaven be praised! I have a confidant in all my troubles; the most
faithful of counsellors, the craftiest of valets; a Leporello often
tried and never found wanting: my own good mind. And now, thou female
fiend! the battle is to the strongest; and I see right well that the
struggle between two such spirits will be a long and a fearful one. Woe,
I say, to the vanquished! You must be dealt with by arts which even
yourself cannot conceive. Your boasted knowledge of human nature shall
not again stand you in stead; for, mark me, from henceforward Vivian
Grey’s conduct towards you shall have no precedent in human nature.”

As Vivian re-entered the drawing-room he met a servant carrying in the
globe of gold and silver fishes.

“What, still in your pelisse, Mrs. Lorraine!” said Vivian. “Nay, I
hardly wonder at it, for surely, a prettier pelisse never yet fitted
prettier form. You have certainly a most admirable taste in dress; and
this the more surprises me, for it is generally your plain personage
that is the most recherché in frills and fans and flounces.”

The lady smiled.

“Oh! by-the-bye,” continued her companion, “I have a letter from
Cleveland this morning. I wonder how any misunderstanding could possibly
have existed between you, for he speaks of you in such terms.”

“What does he say?” was the quick question.

“Oh! what does he say?” drawled out Vivian; and he yawned, and was most
provokingly uncommunicative.

“Come, come, Mr. Grey, do tell me.”

“Oh! tell you, certainly. Come, let us walk together in the
conservatory:” so saying, he took the lady by the hand, and they
left the room.

“And now for the letter, Mr. Grey.”

“Ay, now for the letter;” and Vivian slowly drew an epistle from his
pocket, and therefrom read some exceedingly sweet passages, which made
Mrs. Felix Lorraine’s very heart-blood tingle. Considering that Vivian
Grey had never in his life received a single letter from Mr. Cleveland,
this was tolerably well: but he was always an admirable improvisatore!
“I am sure that when Cleveland comes to town everything will be
explained; I am sure, at least, that it will not be my fault if you are
not the best friends. I am heroic in saying all this, Mrs. Lorraine;
there was a time when (and here Vivian seemed so agitated that he could
scarcely proceed), there was a time when I could have called that man
liar who would have prophesied that Vivian Grey could have assisted
another in riveting the affections of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. But enough of
this. I am a weak, inexperienced boy, and misinterpret, perhaps, that
which is merely the compassionate kindness natural to all women into a
feeling of a higher nature. But I must learn to contain myself; I really
do feel quite ashamed of my behaviour about the tumbler to-day. To act
with such, unwarrantable unkindness, merely because I had remembered
that you once performed the same kind office for Colonel Delmington, was
indeed too bad.”

“Colonel Delmington is a vain, empty-headed fool. Do not think of him,
my dear Mr. Grey,” said Mrs. Felix, with a countenance beaming
with smiles.

“Well, I will not; and I will try to behave like a man; like a man of
the world, I should say. But indeed you must excuse the warm feelings of
a youth; and truly, when I call to mind the first days of our
acquaintance, and then remember that our moonlit walks are gone for
ever, and that our--”

“Nay, do not believe so, my dear Vivian; believe me, as I ever shall be.
your friend, your--”

“I will, I will, my dear, my own Amalia!”



CHAPTER VI


It was an autumnal night; the wind was capricious and changeable as a
petted beauty, or an Italian greyhound, or a shot silk. Now the breeze
blew so fresh that the white clouds dashed along the sky as if they bore
a band of witches too late for their Sabbath meeting, or some other
mischief; and now, lulled and soft as the breath of a slumbering infant,
you might almost have fancied it Midsummer Eve; and the bright moon,
with her starry court, reigned undisturbed in the light blue sky. Vivian
Grey was leaning against an old beech-tree in the most secluded part of
the park, and was gazing on the moon.

O thou bright moon! thou object of my first love! thou shalt not escape
an invocation, although perchance at this very moment some varlet
sonnetteer is prating of “the boy Endymion” and “thy silver bow.” Here
to thee, Queen of the Night! in whatever name thou most delightest! Or
Bendis, as they hailed thee in rugged Thrace; or Bubastis, as they
howled to thee in mysterious Egypt; or Dian, as they sacrificed to thee
in gorgeous Rome; or Artemis, as they sighed to thee on the bright
plains of ever glorious Greece! Why is it that all men gaze on thee? Why
is it that all men love thee? Why is it that all men worship thee?

Shine on, shine on, sultana of the soul! the Passions are thy eunuch
slaves, Ambition gazes on thee, and his burning brow is cooled, and his
fitful pulse is calm. Grief wanders in her moonlit walk and sheds no
tear; and when thy crescent smiles the lustre of Joy’s revelling eye is
dusked. Quick Anger, in thy light, forgets revenge; and even dove-eyed
Hope feeds on no future joys when gazing on the miracle of thy beauty.

Shine on, shine on! although a pure Virgin, thou art the mighty mother
of all abstraction! The eye of the weary peasant returning from his
daily toil, and the rapt gaze of the inspired poet, are alike fixed on
thee; thou stillest the roar of marching armies, and who can doubt thy
influence o’er the waves who has witnessed the wide Atlantic sleeping
under thy silver beam?

Shine on, shine on! they say thou art Earth’s satellite; yet when I gaze
on thee my thoughts are not of thy suzerain. They teach us that thy
power is a fable, and that thy divinity is a dream. Oh, thou bright
Queen! I will be no traitor to thy sweet authority; and verily, I will
not believe that thy influence o’er our hearts is, at this moment, less
potent than when we worshipped in thy glittering fane of Ephesus, or
trembled at the dark horrors of thine Arician rites. Then, hail to thee,
Queen of the Night! Hail to thee, Diana, Triformis; Cynthia, Orthia,
Taurica; ever mighty, ever lovely, ever holy! Hail! hail! hail!

Were I a metaphysician, I would tell you why Vivian Grey had been gazing
two hours on the moon; for I could then present you with a most logical
programme of the march of his ideas, since he whispered his last honied
speech in the ear of Mrs. Felix Lorraine, at dinner-time, until this
very moment, when he did not even remember that such a being as Mrs.
Felix Lorraine breathed. Glory to the metaphysician’s all-perfect
theory! When they can tell me why, at a bright banquet, the thought of
death has flashed across my mind, who fear not death; when they can tell
me why, at the burial of my beloved friend, when my very heart-strings
seemed bursting, my sorrow has been mocked by the involuntary
remembrance of ludicrous adventures and grotesque tales; when they can
tell me why, in a dark mountain pass, I have thought of an absent
woman’s eyes; or why, when in the very act of squeezing the third lime
into a beaker of Burgundy cup, my memory hath been of lean apothecaries
and their vile drugs; why then, I say again, glory to the
metaphysician’s all-perfect theory! and fare you well, sweet world, and
you, my merry masters, whom, perhaps, I have studied somewhat too
cunningly: nosce teipsum shall be my motto. I will doff my travelling
cap, and on with the monk’s cowl.

There are mysterious moments in some men’s lives when the faces of human
beings are very agony to them, and when the sound of the human voice is
jarring as discordant music. These fits are not the consequence of
violent or contending passions: they grow not out of sorrow, or joy, or
hope, or fear, or hatred, or despair. For in the hour of affliction the
tones of our fellow-creatures are ravishing as the most delicate lute;
and in the flush moment of joy where is the smiler who loves not a
witness to his revelry or a listener to his good fortune? Fear makes us
feel our humanity, and then we fly to men, and Hope is the parent of
kindness. The misanthrope and the reckless are neither agitated nor
agonised. It is in these moments that men find in Nature that
congeniality of spirit which they seek for in vain in their own species.
It is in these moments that we sit by the side of a waterfall and listen
to its music the live-long day. It is in these moments that men gaze
upon the moon. It is in these moments that Nature becomes our Egeria;
and, refreshed and renovated by this beautiful communion, we return to
the world better enabled to fight our parts in the hot war of passions,
to perform the great duties for which man appeared to have been created,
to love, to hate, to slander, and to slay.

It was past midnight, and Vivian was at a considerable distance from the
Château. He proposed entering by a side door, which led into the
billiard-room, and from thence, crossing the Long Gallery, he could
easily reach his apartment without disturbing any of the household. His
way led through the little gate at which he had parted with Mrs. Felix
Lorraine on the first day of their meeting.

As he softly opened the door which led into the Long Gallery he found he
was not alone: leaning against one of the casements was a female. Her
profile was to Vivian as he entered, and the moon, which shone bright
through the window, lit up a countenance which he might be excused for
not immediately recognising as that of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. She was
gazing steadfastly, but her eye did not seem fixed upon any particular
object. Her features appeared convulsed, but their contortions were not
momentary, and, pale as death, a hideous grin seemed chiselled on her
idiot countenance.

Vivian scarcely knew whether to stay or to retire. Desirous not to
disturb her, he determined not even to breathe; and, as is generally the
case, his very exertions to be silent made him nervous, and to save
himself from being stifled he coughed.

Mrs. Lorraine immediately started and stared wildly around her, and when
her eye caught Vivian’s there was a sound in her throat something like
the death-rattle.

“Who are you?” she eagerly asked.

“A friend, and Vivian Grey.”

“How came you here?” and she rushed forward and wildly seized his hand,
and then she muttered to herself, “‘tis flesh.”

“I have been playing, I fear, the mooncalf to-night; and find that,
though I am a late watcher, I am not a solitary one.”

Mrs. Lorraine stared earnestly at him, and then she endeavoured to
assume her usual expression of countenance; but the effort was too much
for her. She dropped Vivian’s arm, and buried her face in her own hands.
Vivian was retiring, when she again looked up. “Where are you going?”
 she asked, with a quick voice.

“To sleep, as I would advise all: ‘tis much past midnight.”

“You say not the truth. The brightness of your eye belies the sentence
of your tongue. You are not for sleep.”

“Pardon me, dear Mrs. Lorraine; I really have been yawning for the last
hour,” said Vivian, and he moved on.

“You are speaking to one who takes her answer from the eye, which does
not deceive, and from the speaking lineaments of the face, which are
Truth’s witnesses. Keep your voice for those who can credit man’s words.
You will go, then? What! are you afraid of a woman, because ‘tis past
midnight,’ and you are in an old gallery?”

“Fear, Mrs. Lorraine, is not a word in my vocabulary.”

“The words in your vocabulary are few, boy! as are the years of your
age. He who sent you here this night sent you here not to slumber. Come
hither!” and she led Vivian to the window: “what see you?”

“I see Nature at rest, Mrs. Lorraine; and I would fain follow the
example of beasts, birds, and fishes.”

“Yet gaze upon this scene one second. See the distant hills, how
beautifully their rich covering is tinted with the moonbeam! These
nearer fir-trees, how radiantly their black skeleton forms are tipped
with silver; and the old and thickly foliaged oaks bathed in light! and
the purple lake reflecting in its lustrous bosom another heaven? la it
not a fair scene?”

“Beautiful! most beautiful!”

“Yet, Vivian, where is the being for whom all this beauty exists? Where
is your mighty creature, Man? The peasant on his rough couch enjoys,
perchance, slavery’s only service-money, sweet sleep; or, waking in the
night, curses at the same time his lot and his lord. And that lord is
restless on some downy couch; his night thoughts, not of this sheeny
lake and this bright moon, but of some miserable creation of man’s
artifice, some mighty nothing, which Nature knows not of, some offspring
of her bastard child, Society. Why, then, is Nature loveliest when man
looks not on her? For whom, then, Vivian Grey, is this scene so fair?”

“For poets, lady; for philosophers; for all those superior spirits who
require some relaxation from the world’s toils; spirits who only
commingle with humanity on the condition that they may sometimes commune
with Nature.”

“Superior spirits! say you?” and here they paced the gallery. “When
Valerian, first Lord Carabas, raised this fair castle; when, profuse for
his posterity, all the genius of Italian art and Italian artists was
lavished on this English palace; when the stuffs and statues, the
marbles and the mirrors, the tapestry, and the carvings, and the
paintings of Genoa, and Florence, and Venice, and Padua, and Vicenza,
were obtained by him at miraculous cost, and with still more miraculous
toil; what think you would have been his sensations. If, while his soul
was revelling in the futurity of his descendants keeping their state in
this splendid pile, some wizard had foretold to him that, ere three
centuries could elapse, the fortunes of his mighty family would be the
sport of two individuals; one of them a foreigner, unconnected in blood,
or connected only in hatred; and the other a young adventurer alike
unconnected with his race, in blood or in love; a being ruling all
things by the power of his own genius, and reckless of all consequences
save his own prosperity? If the future had been revealed to my great
ancestor, the Lord Valerian, think you, Vivian Grey, that you and I
should be walking in this Long Gallery?”

“Really, Mrs. Lorraine, I have been so interested in discovering what
people think in the nineteenth century, that I have had but little time
to speculate on the possible opinions of an old gentleman who flourished
in the sixteenth.”

“You may sneer, sir; but I ask you, if there are spirits so superior to
that of the slumbering Lord of this castle as those of Vivian Grey and
Amelia Lorraine, why may there not be spirits proportionately superior
to our own?”

“If you are keeping me from my bed, Mrs. Lorraine, merely to lecture my
conceit by proving that there are in this world wiser heads than that of
Vivian Grey, on my honour you are giving yourself a great deal of
unnecessary trouble.”

“You will misunderstand me, then, you wilful boy!”

“Nay, lady, I will not affect to misunderstand your meaning; but I
recognise, you know full well, no intermediate essence between my own
good soul and that ineffable and omnipotent spirit in whose existence
philosophers and priests alike agree.”

“Omnipotent and ineffable essence! Leave such words to scholars and to
school-boys! And think you that such indefinite nothings, such unmeaning
abstractions, can influence beings whose veins are full of blood,
bubbling like this?” And here she grasped Vivian with a feverish hand.
“Omnipotent and ineffable essence! Oh! I have lived in a land where
every mountain, and every stream, and every wood, and every ruin, has
its legend and its peculiar spirit; a land in whose dark forests the
midnight hunter, with his spirit-shout, scares the slumbers of the
trembling serf; a land from whose winding rivers the fair-haired Undine
welcomes the belated traveller to her fond and fatal embrace; and you
talk to me of omnipotent and ineffable essence! Miserable Mocker! It is
not true, Vivian Grey; you are but echoing the world’s deceit, and even
at this hour of the night you dare not speak as you do think. You
worship no omnipotent and ineffable essence; you believe in no
omnipotent and ineffable essence. Shrined in this secret chamber of your
soul there is an image before which you bow down in adoration, and that
image is YOURSELF. And truly, when I do gaze upon your radiant eyes,”
 and here the lady’s tone became more terrestrial; “and truly, when I do
look upon your luxuriant curls,” and here the lady’s small white hand
played like lightning through Vivian’s dark hair; “and truly, when I do
remember the beauty of your all-perfect form, I cannot deem your
self-worship a false idolatry,” and here the lady’s arms were locked
round Vivian’s neck, and her head rested on his bosom.

“Oh, Amalia! it would lie far better for you to rest here than to think
of that of which the knowledge is vanity.”

“Vanity!” shrieked Mrs. Lorraine, and she violently loosened her
embrace, and extricated herself from the arm which, rather in courtesy
than in kindness, had been wound round her delicate waist: “Vanity! Oh!
if you knew but what I know, oh! if you had but seen what I have seen;”
 and here her voice failed her, and she stood motionless in the
moonshine, with averted head and outstretched arms.

“Amalia! this is madness; for Heaven’s sake calm yourself!”

“Calm myself! Yes, it is madness; very, very madness! ‘tis the madness
of the fascinated bird; ‘tis the madness of the murderer who is
voluntarily broken on the wheel; ‘tis the madness of the fawn that gazes
with adoration on the lurid glare of the anaconda’s eye; ‘tis the
madness of woman who flies to the arms of her Fate;” and here she sprang
like a tigress round Vivian’s neck, her long light hair bursting from
its bands, and clustering down her shoulders.

And here was Vivian Grey, at past midnight, in this old gallery, with
this wild woman clinging round his neck. The figures in the ancient
tapestry looked living in the moon, and immediately opposite him was one
compartment of some old mythological tale, in which were represented,
grinning, in grim majesty, the Fates.

The wind now rose again, and the clouds which had vanished began to
reassemble in the heavens. As the blue sky was gradually covering, the
gigantic figures of Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos became as gradually
dimmer and dimmer, and the grasp of Vivian’s fearful burden looser and
looser. At last the moon was entirely hid, the figures of the Fates
vanished, and Mrs. Felix Lorraine sank lifeless into his arms.

Vivian groped his way with difficulty to the nearest window, the very
one at which she was leaning when he first entered the gallery. He
played with her wild curls; he whispered to her in a voice sweeter than
the sweetest serenade; but she only raised her eyes from his breast and
stared wildly at him, and then clung round his neck with, if possible, a
tighter grasp.

For nearly half an hour did Vivian stand leaning against the window,
with his mystic and motionless companion. At length the wind again fell;
there was a break in the sky, and a single star appeared in the midst of
the clouds, surrounded with a little heaven of azure.

“See there, see there!” the lady cried, and then she unlocked her arms.
“What would you give, Vivian Grey, to read that star?”

“Am I more interested in that star, Amalia, than in any other of the
bright host?” asked Vivian with a serious tone, for he thought it
necessary to humour his companion.

“Are you not? is it not the star of your destiny?”

“Are you learned in all the learning of the Chaldeans, too?”

“Oh, no, no, no!” slowly murmured Mrs. Lorraine, and then she started:
but Vivian seized her arms, and prevented her from again clasping
his neck.

“I must keep these pretty hands close prisoners,” he said, smiling,
“unless you promise to behave with more moderation. Come, my Amalia! you
shall be my instructress! Why am I so interested in this brilliant
star?” and holding her hands in one of his, he wound his arm round her
waist, and whispered her such words as he thought might calm her
troubled spirit. The wildness of her eyes gradually gave way; at length
she raised them to Vivian with a look of meek tenderness, and her head
sank upon his breast.

“It shines, it shines, it shines, Vivian!” she softly whispered; “glory
to thee and woe to me! Nay, you need not hold my hands; I will not harm
you. I cannot: ‘tis no use. O Vivian! when we first met, how little did
I know to whom I pledged myself!”

“Amalia, forget these wild fancies; estrange yourself from the wild
belief which has exercised so baneful an influence, not only over your
mind, but over the very soul of the land from which you come. Recognise
in me only your friend, and leave the other world to those who value it
more, or more deserve it. Does not this fair earth contain sufficient of
interest and enjoyment?”

“O Vivian! you speak with a sweet voice, but with a sceptic’s spirit.
You know not what I know.”

“Tell me, then, my Amalia; let me share your secrets, provided they be
your sorrows.”

“Almost within this hour, and in this park, there has happened that
which--” and here her voice died, and she looked fear-fully round her.

“Nay, fear not; no one can harm you here, no one shall harm you. Rest
upon me, and tell me all thy grief.”

“I dare not, I cannot tell you.”

“Nay, thou shalt.”

“I cannot speak; your eye scares me. Are you mocking me? I cannot speak
if you look so at me.”

“I will not look on you; I will gaze on yonder star. Now speak on.”

“O Vivian, there is a custom in my native land: the world calls it an
unhallowed one; you, in your proud spirit, will call it a vain one. But
you would not deem it vain if you were the woman now resting on your
bosom. At certain hours of particular nights, and with peculiar
ceremonies, which I need not here mention, we do believe that in a lake
or other standing water fate reveals itself to the solitary votary. O
Vivian, I have been too long a searcher after this fearful science; and
this very night, agitated in spirit, I sought yon water. The wind was in
the right direction, and everything concurred in favouring a propitious
divination. I knelt down to gaze on the lake. I had always been
accustomed to view my own figure performing some future action, or
engaged in some future scene of my life. I gazed, but I saw nothing but
a brilliant star. I looked up into the heavens, but the star was not
there, and the clouds were driving quick across the sky. More than
usually agitated by this singular occurrence, I gazed once more; and
just at the moment when with breathless and fearful expectation I waited
the revelation of my immediate destiny there flitted a figure across the
water. It was there only for the breathing of u second, and as it passed
it mocked me.” Here Mrs. Lorraine writhed in Vivian’s arms; her features
were moulded in the same unnatural expression as when he first entered
the gallery, and the hideous grin was again sculptured on her
countenance. Her whole frame was in such a state of agitation that she
rose up and down in Vivian’s arms, and it was only with the exertions of
his whole strength that he could retain her.

“Why, Amalia, this, this was nothing; your own figure.”

“No, not my own; it was yours!”

Uttering a piercing shriek, which echoed through the winding gallery,
she swooned.

Vivian gazed on her in a state of momentary stupefaction, for the
extraordinary scene had begun to influence his own nerves. And now he
heard the tread of distant feet, and a light shone through the key-hole
of the nearest door. The fearful shriek had alarmed some of the
household. What was to be done? In desperation Vivian caught the lady up
in his arms, and dashing out of an opposite door bore her to
her chamber.



CHAPTER VII


What is this chapter to be about? Come, I am inclined to be courteous!
You shall choose the subject of it. What shall it be, sentiment or
scandal? a love-scene or a lay sermon? You will not choose? Then we must
open the note which Vivian, in the morning, found on his pillow:--

“Did you hear the horrid shriek last night? It must have disturbed every
one. I think it must have been one of the South American birds which
Captain Tropic gave the Marchioness. Do not they sometimes favour the
world with these nocturnal shriekings? Is not there a passage in Spix
apropos to this? A----.”

“Did you hear the shriek last night, Mr. Grey?” asked the Marchioness,
as Vivian entered the breakfast-room.

“Oh, yes! Mr. Grey, did you hear the shriek?” asked Miss Graves.

“Who did not?”

“What could it be?” said the Marchioness.

“What could it be?” said Miss Graves.

“What should it be; a cat in a gutter, or a sick cow, or a toad dying to
be devoured, Miss Graves?”

Always snub toadeys and led captains. It is only your greenhorns who
endeavour to make their way by fawning and cringing to every member of
the establishment. It is a miserable mistake. No one likes his
dependants to be treated with respect, for such treatment affords an
unpleasant contrast to his own conduct. Besides, it makes the toadey’s
blood unruly. There are three persons, mind you, to be attended to: my
lord, or my lady, as the case may be (usually the latter), the pet
daughter, and the pet dog. I throw out these hints en passant, for my
principal objects in writing this work are to amuse myself and to
instruct society. In some future hook, probably the twentieth or
twenty-fifth, when the plot logins to wear threadbare, and we can afford
a digression. I may give a chapter on Domestic Tactics.

“My dear Marchioness,” continued Vivian, “see there: I have kept my
promise, there is your bracelet. How is Julie to-day?”

“Poor dear, I hope she is better.”

“Oh! yes, poor Julie. I think she is better.”

“I do not know that, Miss Graves,” said her Ladyship, somewhat tartly,
not at all approving of a toadey thinking. “I am afraid that scream
last night must have disturbed her. O dear, Mr. Grey, I am afraid she
will be ill again.”

Miss Graves looked mournful, and lifted up her eyes and hands to Heaven,
but did not dare to speak this time.

“I thought she looked a little heavy about the eyes this morning,” said
the Marchioness, apparently very agitated; “and I have heard from
Eglamour this post; he is not well, too; I think everybody is ill now;
he has caught a fever going to see the ruins of Paestum. I wonder why
people go to see ruins!”

“I wonder, indeed,” said Miss Graves; “I never could see anything in a
ruin.”

“O, Mr. Grey!” continued the Marchioness, “I really am afraid Julie is
going to be very ill.”

“Let Miss Graves pull her tail and give her a little mustard seed: she
will be better tomorrow.”

“Remember that, Miss Graves.”

“Oh! y-e-s, my Lady!”

“Mrs. Felix,” said the Marchioness, as that lady entered the room, “you
are late to-day; I always reckon upon you as a supporter of an early
breakfast at Desir.”

“I have been half round the park.”

“Did you hear the scream, Mrs. Felix?”

“Do you know what it was, Marchioness?”

“No: do you?”

“See the reward of early rising and a walk before breakfast. It was one
of your new American birds, and it has half torn down your aviary.”

“One of the new Americans? O the naughty thing; and has it broken the
new fancy wirework?”

Here a little odd-looking, snuffy old man, with a brown scratch wig, who
had been very busily employed the whole breakfast-time with a cold game
pie, the bones of which Vivian observed him most scientifically pick and
polish, laid down his knife and fork, and addressed the Marchioness with
an air of great interest.

“Pray, will your Ladyship have the goodness to inform me what bird this
is?”

The Marchioness looked astounded at any one presuming to ask her a
question; and then she drawled, “Mr. Grey, you know everything; tell
this gentleman what some bird is.”

Now this gentleman was Mr. Mackaw, the most celebrated ornithologist
extant, and who had written a treatise on Brazilian parroquets, in three
volumes folio. He had arrived late at the Château the preceding night,
and, although he had the honour of presenting his letter of introduction
to the Marquess, this morning was the first time he had been seen by any
of the party present, who were of course profoundly ignorant of his
character.

“Oh! we were talking of some South American bird given to the
Marchioness by the famous Captain Tropic; you know him, perhaps;
Bolivar’s brother-in-law, or aide-de-camp, or something of that kind;
and which screams so dreadfully at night that the whole family is
disturbed. The Chowchowtow it is called; is not it, Mrs. Lorraine?”

“The Chowchowtow!” said Mr. Mackaw; “I don’t know it by that name.”

“Do not you? I dare say we shall find an account of it in Spix,
however,” said Vivian, rising, and taking a volume from the book-case;
“ay! here it is; I will read it to you.”

“‘The Chowchowtow is about five feet seven inches in height from the
point of the bill to the extremity of the claws. Its plumage is of a
dingy, yellowish white; its form is elegant, and in its movements and
action a certain pleasing and graceful dignity is observable; but its
head is by no means worthy of the rest of its frame; and the expression
of its eye is indicative of the cunning and treachery of its character.
The habits of this bird are peculiar: occasionally most easily
domesticated, it is apparently sensible of the slightest kindness; but
its regard cannot be depended upon, and for the slightest inducement, or
with the least irritation, it will fly at its feeder. At other times it
seeks perfect solitude, and can only be captured with the utmost skill
and perseverance. It generally feeds three times a day, but its appetite
is not rapacious; it sleeps little, is usually on the wing at sunrise,
and proves that it slumbers but little in the night by its nocturnal and
thrilling shrieks.’”

“What an extraordinary bird! Is that the bird you meant, Mrs. Felix
Lorraine?”

Mr. Mackaw was restless the whole time that Vivian was reading this
interesting passage. At last he burst forth with an immense deal of
science and a great want of construction, a want which scientific men
often experience, always excepting those mealy-mouthed professors who
lecture “at the Royal,” and get patronised by the blues, the Lavoisiers
of May Fair!

“Chowchowtow, my Lady! five feet seven inches high! Brazilian bird! When
I just remind your Ladyship that the height of the tallest bird to be
found in Brazil, and in mentioning this fact, I mention nothing
hypothetical, the tallest bird does not stand higher than four feet
nine. Chowchowtow! Dr. Spix is a name, accurate traveller, don’t
remember the passage, most singular bird! Chowchowtow! don’t know it by
that name. Perhaps your Ladyship is not aware; I think you called that
gentleman Mr. Grey; perhaps Mr. Grey is not aware, that I am Mr. Mackaw,
I arrived late here last night, whose work in three volumes folio, on
Brazilian Parroquets, although I had the honour of seeing his Lordship
is, I trust, a sufficient evidence that I am not speaking at random on
this subject; and consequently, from the lateness of the hour, could not
have the honour of being introduced to your Ladyship.”

“Mr. Mackaw!” thought Vivian. “The deuce you are! Oh! why did I not say
a Columbian cassowary, or a Peruvian penguin, or a Chilian condor, or a
Guatemalan goose, or a Mexican mastard; anything but Brazilian. Oh!
unfortunate Vivian Grey!”

The Marchioness, who was quite overcome with this scientific appeal,
raised her large, beautiful, sleepy eyes from a delicious compound of
French roll and new milk, which she was working up in a Sèvre saucer for
Julie; and then, as usual, looked to Vivian for assistance.

“Mr. Grey, you know everything; tell Mr. Mackaw about a bird.”

“Is there any point on which you differ from Spix in his account of the
Chowchowtow, Mr. Mackaw?”

“My dear sir, I don’t follow him at all. Dr. Spix is a most excellent
man, a most accurate traveller, quite a name; but, to be sure, I’ve only
read his work in our own tongue; and I fear from the passage you have
just quoted, five feet seven inches high! in Brazil! it must be an
imperfect version. I say, that four feet nine is the greatest height I
know. I don’t speak without some foundation for my statement. The only
bird I know above that height is the Paraguay cassowary; which, to be
sure, is sometimes found in Brazil. But the description of your bird,
Mr. Grey, does not answer that at all. I ought to know. I do not speak
at random. The only living specimen of that extraordinary bird, the
Paraguay cassowary, in this country, is in my possession. It was sent me
by Bompland, and was given to him by the Dictator of Paraguay himself. I
call it, in compliment, Doctor Francia. I arrived here so late last
night, only saw his Lordship, or I would have had it on the lawn
this morning.”

“Oh, then, Mr. Mackaw,” said Vivian, “that was the bird which screamed
last night!”

“Oh, yes! oh, yes! Mr. Mackaw,” said Mrs. Felix Lorraine.

“Lady Carabas!” continued Vivian, “it is found out. It is Mr. Mackaw’s
particular friend, his family physician, whom he always travels with,
that awoke us all last night.”

“Is he a foreigner?” asked the Marchioness, looking up.

“My dear Mr. Grey, impossible! the Doctor never screams.”

“Oh! Mr. Mackaw, Mr. Mackaw!” said Vivian.

“Oh! Mr. Mackaw, Mr. Mackaw!” said Mrs. Felix Lorraine.

“I tell you he never screams,” reiterated the man of science; “I tell
you he can’t scream; he’s muzzled.”

“Oh, then, it must Have been the Chowchowtow.”

“Yes, I think it must have been the Chowchowtow.”

“I should very much like to hear Spix’s description again,” said Mr.
Mackaw, “only I fear it is troubling you too much, Mr. Grey.”

“Read it yourself, my dear sir,” said Vivian, putting the book into his
hand, which was the third volume of Tremaine.

Mr. Mackaw looked at the volume, and turned it over, and sideways, and
upside downwards: the brain of a man who has written three folios on
parroquets is soon puzzled. At first, he thought the book was a novel;
but then, an essay on predestination, under the title of Memoirs of a
Man of Refinement, rather puzzled him; then he mistook it for an Oxford
reprint of Pearson on the Creed; and then he stumbled on rather a warm
scene in an old Château in the South of France.

Before Mr. Mackaw could gain the power of speech the door opened, and
entered, who? Dr. Francia.

Mr. Mackaw’s travelling companion possessed the awkward accomplishment
of opening doors, and now strutted in, in quest of his beloved master.
Affection for Mr. Mackaw was not, however, the only cause which induced
this entrance.

The household of Château Desir, unused to cassowaries, had neglected to
supply Dr. Francia with his usual breakfast, which consisted of half a
dozen pounds of rump steaks, a couple of bars of hard iron, some pig
lead, and brown stout. The consequence was, the Dictator was
sadly famished.

All the ladies screamed; and then Mrs. Felix Lorraine admired the
Doctor’s violet neck, and the Marchioness looked with an anxious eye on
Julie, and Miss Graves, as in duty bound, with an anxious eye on the
Marchioness.

There stood the Doctor, quite still, with his large yellow eye fixed on
Mr. Mackaw. At length he perceived the cold pasty, and his little black
wings began to flutter on the surface of his immense body.

“Che, che, che, che!” said the ornithologist, who did not like the
symptoms at all: “Che, che, che, che, don’t be frightened, ladies! you
see he’s muzzled; che, che, che, che, now, my dear doctor, now, now,
now, Franky, Franky, Franky, now go away, go away, that’s a dear doctor,
che, che, che, che!”

But the large yellow eye grew more flaming and fiery, and the little
black wings grew larger and larger; and now the left leg was dashed to
and fro with a fearful agitation. Mackaw looked agonised. What a whirr!
Francia is on the table! All shriek, the chairs tumble over the
ottomans, the Sèvre china is in a thousand pieces, the muzzle is torn
off and thrown at Miss Graves; Mackaw’s wig is dashed in the clotted
cream, and devoured on the spot; and the contents of the boiling urn are
poured over the beauteous and beloved Julie!



CHAPTER VIII


THE HONOURABLE CYNTHIA COURTOWN TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.

“Alburies, Oct. 18--.

“DEAR GREY,

“We have now been at Alburies for a fortnight. Nothing can be more
delightful. Here is everybody in the world that I wish to see, except
yourself. The Knightons, with as many outriders as usual: Lady Julia and
myself are great allies; I like her amazingly. The Marquess of Grandgoût
arrived here last week, with a most delicious party; all the men who
write ‘John Bull.’ I was rather disappointed at the first sight of
Stanislaus Hoax. I had expected, I do not know why, something juvenile
and squibbish, when lo! I was introduced to a corpulent individual, with
his coat buttoned up to his chin, looking dull, gentlemanlike, and
apoplectic. However, on acquaintance, he came out quite rich, sings
delightfully, and improvises like a prophet, ten thousand times more
entertaining than Pistrucci. We are sworn friends; and I know all the
secret history of ‘John Bull.’ There is not much, to be sure, that you
did not tell me yourself; but still there are some things. I must not
trust them, however, to paper, and therefore pray dash down to Alburies
immediately; I shall be most happy to introduce you to Lord Devildrain.
There _was_ an interview. What think you of that? Stanislaus told me
all, circumstantially, and after dinner; I do not doubt that it is quite
true. What would you give for the secret history of the ‘rather yellow,
rather yellow,’ chanson? I dare not tell it you. It came from a quarter
that will quite astound you, and in a very elegant, small, female hand.
You remember Lambton did stir very awkwardly in the Lisbon business.
Stanislaus wrote all the songs that appeared in the first number, except
that; but he never wrote a single line of prose for the first three
months: it all came from Vivida Vis.

“I like the Marquess of Grandgoût so much! I hope he will be elevated in
the peerage: he looks as if he wanted it so! Poor dear man!”

“Oh! do you know I have discovered a liaison between Bull and
Blackwood. I am to be in the next Noctes; I forget the words of the
chorus exactly, but Courtown is to rhyme with port down, or something of
that kind, and then they are to dash their glasses over their heads,
give three cheers, and adjourn to whisky-toddy and the Chaldee chamber.
How delightful!

“The Prima Donnas are at Cheltenham, looking most respectable. Do you
ever see the ‘Age’? It is not proper for me to take it in. Pray send me
down your numbers, and tell me all about it. Is it true that his
Lordship paragraphises a little?

“I have not heard from Ernest Clay, which I think very odd. If you write
to him, mention this, and tell him to send me word how Dormer Stanhope
behaves at mess. I understand there has been a melee, not much; merely a
rouette; do get it all out of him.

“Colonel Delmington is at Cheltenham, with the most knowing beard you
can possibly conceive; Lady Julia rather patronises him. Lady Doubtful
has been turned out of the rooms; fifty challenges in consequence and
one duel; missed fire, of course.

“I have heard from Alhambra; he has been wandering about in all
directions. He has been to the Lakes, and is now at Edinburgh. He likes
Southey. He gave the laureate a quantity of hints for his next volume of
the Peninsular War, but does not speak very warmly of Wordsworth:
gentlemanly man, but only reads his own poetry.

“Here has been a cousin of yours about us; a young barrister going the
circuit; by name Hargrave Grey. The name attracted my notice, and due
inquiries having been made and satisfactorily answered, I patronised the
limb of law. Fortunate for him! I got him to all the fancy balls and
pic-nics that were going on. He was in heaven for a fortnight, and at
length, having overstayed his time, he left us, also leaving his bag and
only brief behind him. They say he is ruined for life. Write soon.

“Yours ever,

“CYNTHIA COURTOWN.”

ERNEST CLAY, ESQ., TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.

“October, 18--.

“DEAR GREY,

“I am sick of key-bugles and country-balls! All the girls in the town
are in love with me, or my foraging cap. I am very much obliged to you
for your letter to Kennet, which procured everything I wanted. The
family turned out bores, as you had prepared me. I never met such a
clever family in my life; the father is summoning up courage to favour
the world with a volume of sermons; and Isabella Kennet most
satisfactorily proved to me, after an argument of two hours, which for
courtesy’s sake I fought very manfully, that Sir Walter Scott was not
the author of Waverley; and then she vowed, as I have heard fifty young
literary ladies vow before, that she had ‘seen the Antiquary in
manuscript.’

“There has been a slight row to diversify the monotony of our military
life. Young Premium, the son of the celebrated loan-monger, has bought
in; and Dormer Stanhope, and one or two others equally fresh,
immediately anticipated another Battier business; but, with the greatest
desire to make a fool of myself, I have a natural repugnance to
mimicking the foolery of others; so with some little exertion, and very
fortunately for young Premium, I got the tenth voted vulgar, on the
score of curiosity, and we were civil to the man. As it turned out, it
was all very well, for Premium is a quiet, gentlemanlike fellow enough,
and exceedingly useful. He will keep extra grooms for the whole mess, if
they want it. He is very grateful to me for what does not deserve any
gratitude, and for what gave me no trouble; for I did not defend him
from any feeling of kindness: and both the Mounteneys, and young
Stapylton Toad, and Augustus, being in the regiment, why, I have very
little trouble in commanding a majority, if it come to a division.

“I dined the other day at old Premium’s, who lives near this town in a
magnificent old hall; which, however, is not nearly splendid enough for
a man who is the creditor of every nation from California to China; and,
consequently, the great Mr. Stucco is building a plaster castle for him
in another part of the park. Glad am I enough that I was prevailed upon
to patronise the Premium; for I think I seldom witnessed a more amusing
scene than I did the day I dined there.

“I was ushered through an actual street of servitors, whose liveries
were really cloth of gold, and whose elaborately powdered heads would
not have disgraced the most ancient mansion in St. James’s Square, into
a large and crowded saloon. I was, of course, received with miraculous
consideration; and the ear of Mrs. Premium seemed to dwell upon the
jingling of my spurs (for I am adjutant) as upon exquisite music. It
was bona fide evidence of ‘the officers being there.’

“Premium is a short, but by no means vulgar-looking man, about fifty,
with a high forehead covered with wrinkles, and with eyes deep sunk in
his head. I never met a man of apparently less bustle, and of a cooler
temperament. He was an object of observation from his very
unobtrusiveness. There were. I immediately perceived, a great number of
foreigners in the room. They looked much too knowing for Arguelles and
Co., and I soon found that they were members of the different embassies,
or missions of the various Governments to whose infant existence Premium
is foster father. There were two striking figures in Oriental costume,
who were shown to me as the Greek Deputies; not that you are to imagine
that they always appear in this picturesque dress. It was only as a
particular favour, and to please Miss Premium (there, Grey, my boy!
there is a quarry!), that the illustrious envoys appeared habited this
day in their national costume.

“You would have enjoyed the scene. In one part of the room was a naval
officer, just hot from the mines of Mexico, and lecturing eloquently on
the passing of the Cordillera. In another was a man of science, dilating
on the miraculous powers of a newly-discovered amalgamation process to a
knot of merchants, who, with bent brows and eager eyes, were already
forming a Company for its adoption. Here floated the latest anecdote of
Bolivar; and there a murmur of some new movement of Cochrane’s. And then
the perpetual babble about ‘rising states,’ and ‘new loans,’ and
‘enlightened views,’ and ‘juncture of the two oceans,’ and ‘liberal
principles,’ and ‘steamboats to Mexico,’ and the earnest look which
every one had in the room. How different to the vacant gaze that we have
been accustomed to! I was really particularly struck by the
circumstance. Every one at Premium’s looked full of some great plan, as
if the fate of empires wag on his very breath. I hardly knew whether
they were most like conspirators, or gamblers, or the lions of a public
dinner, conscious of an universal gaze, and consequently looking
proportionately interesting. One circumstance particularly struck me: as
I was watching the acute countenance of an individual, who young Premium
informed me was the Chilian minister, and who was listening with great
attention to a dissertation from Captain Tropic, the celebrated
traveller, on the feasibility of a railroad over the Andes, I observed a
great sensation among those around me; every one shifting, and
shuffling, and staring, and assisting in that curious and confusing
ceremony called ‘making way.’ Even Premium appeared a little excited
when he came forward with a smile on his face to receive an individual,
apparently a foreigner, and who stepped on with great though gracious
dignity. Being curious to know who this great man was, I found that this
was an ambassador, the representative of a recognised state.

“‘Pon my honour, when I saw all this, I could not refrain from
moralising on the magic of wealth; and when I just remembered the embryo
plot of some young Hussar officers to cut the son of the magician, I
rather smiled; but while I, with even greater reverence than all others,
was making way for his Excellency, I observed Mrs. Premium looking at my
spurs. ‘Farewell Philosophy!’ thought I; ‘Puppyism for ever!’

“Dinner was at last announced, and the nice etiquette which was observed
between recognised states and non-recognised states was really
excessively amusing: not only the ambassador would take precedence of
the mere political agent, but his Excellency’s private secretary was
equally tenacious as to the agent’s private secretary. At length we were
all seated: the spacious dining-room was hung round with portraits of
most of the successful revolutionary leaders, and over Mr. Premium was
suspended a magnificent portrait of Bolivar. If you could but have seen
the plate! By Jove! I have eaten off the silver of most of the first
families in England, yet never in my life did it enter into my
imagination that it was possible for the most ingenious artist that ever
existed to repeat a crest half so often in a tablespoon as in that of
Premium. The crest is a bubble, and really the effect produced by it is
most ludicrous.

“I was very much struck at table by the appearance of an individual who
came in very late, but who was evidently, by his bearing, no
insignificant personage. He was a tall man, with a long hooked nose and
high cheek bones, and with an eye (were you ever at the Old Bailey?
there you may see its fellow); his complexion looked as if it had been
accustomed to the breezes of many climes, and his hair, which had once
been red, was now silvered, or rather iron-greyed, not by age. Yet there
was in his whole bearing, in his slightest actions, even in the easy,
desperate air with which he took a glass of wine, an indefinable
something (you know what I mean) which attracted your unremitting
attention to him. I was not wrung in my suspicions of his celebrity;
for, as Miss Premium, whom I sat next to, whispered, ‘he was quite a
lion.’ It was Lord Oceanville What he is after no one knows. Some say he
is going to Greece, others whisper an invasion of Paraguay, and others,
of course, say other things; perhaps equally correct. I think he is for
Greece. I know he is one of the most extraordinary men I ever met with.
I am getting prosy. Good-bye! Write soon. Any fun going on? How is
Cynthia? I ought to have written. How is Mrs. Felix Lorraine? She is a
deuced odd woman!

“Yours faithfully,

“ERNEST CLAY.”

HARGRAVE GREY, ESQ., TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.

“October, 18--.

“DEAR VIVIAN,

“You ought not to expect a letter from me. I cannot conceive why you do
not occasionally answer your correspondents’ letters, if correspondents
they may be called. It is really a most unreasonable habit of yours; any
one but myself would quarrel with you.

“A letter from Baker met me at this place, and I find that the whole of
that most disagreeable and annoying business is arranged. From the
promptitude, skill, and energy which are apparent in the whole affair, I
suspect I have to thank the very gentleman whom I was just going to
quarrel with. You are a good fellow, Vivian, after all. For want of a
brief, I sit down to give you a sketch of my adventures on this my
first circuit.

“This circuit is a cold and mercantile adventure, and I am disappointed
in it. Not so either, for I looked for but little to enjoy. Take one day
of my life as a specimen; the rest are mostly alike. The sheriff’s
trumpets are playing; one, some tune of which I know nothing, and the
other no tune at all. I am obliged to turn out at eight. It is the first
day of the Assize, so there is some chance of a brief, being a new
place. I push my way into court through files of attorneys, as civil to
the rogues as possible, assuring them there is plenty of room, though I
am at the very moment gasping for breath wedged-in in a lane of
well-lined waistcoats. I get into court, take my place in the quietest
corner, and there I sit, and pass other men’s fees and briefs like a
twopenny postman, only without pay. Well! ‘tis six o’clock, dinner-time,
at the bottom of the table, carve for all, speak to none, nobody speaks
to me, must wait till last to sum up, and pay the bill. Reach home quite
devoured by spleen, after having heard every one abused who happened to
be absent.

“I travelled to this place with Manners, whom I believe you know, and
amused myself by getting from him an account of my fellows,
anticipating, at the same time, what in fact happened; to wit, that I
should afterwards get his character from them. It is strange how freely
they deal with each other; that is, the person spoken of being away. I
would not have had you see our Stanhope for half a hundred pounds; your
jealousy would have been so excited. To say the truth, we are a little
rough; our mane wants pulling and our hoofs trimming, but we jog along
without performing either operation; and, by dint of rattling the whip
against the splash-board, using all one’s persuasion of hand and voice,
and jerking the bit in his mouth, we do contrive to get into the circuit
town, usually, just about the time that the sheriff and his _posse
comitatus_ are starting to meet my Lord the King’s Justice: and that is
the worst of it; for their horses are prancing and pawing coursers just
out of the stable, sleek skins and smart drivers. We begin to be knocked
up just then, and our appearance is the least brilliant of any part of
the day. Here I had to pass through a host of these powdered, scented
fops; and the multitude who had assembled to gaze on the nobler
exhibition rather scoffed at our humble vehicle. As Manners had just
then been set down to find the inn and lodging, I could not jump out and
leave our equipage to its fate, so I settled my cravat, and seemed not
to mind it, only I did.

“But I must leave off this nonsense, and attend to his Lordship’s
charge, which is now about to commence. I have not been able to get you
a single good murder, although I have kept a sharp look-out, as you
desired me; but there is a chance of a first-rate one at ----n.

“I am quite delighted with Mr. Justice St. Prose. He is at this moment
in a most entertaining passion, preparatory to a ‘conscientious’ summing
up; and in order that his ideas may not be disturbed, he has very
liberally ordered the door-keeper to have the door oiled immediately, at
his own expense. Now for my Lord the King’s Justice.

“‘Gentlemen of the Jury,

“‘The noise is insufferable, the heat is intolerable, the door-keepers
let the people keep shuffling in, the ducks in the corner are going
quack, quack, quack, here’s a little girl being tried for her life, and
the judge can’t hear a word that’s said. Bring me my black cap, and I’ll
condemn her to death instantly.’

“‘You can’t, my Lord.’ shrieks the infant sinner; ‘it’s only for petty
larceny!’

“I have just got an invite from the Kearneys. Congratulate me.

“Dear Vivian, yours faithfully,

“HARGRAVE GREY.”


LADY SCROPE TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.

“Ormsby Park, Oct. 18--.

“MY DEAR VIVIAN,

“By desire of Sir Berdmore, I have to request the fulfilment of a
promise, upon the hope of which being performed I have existed through
this dull month. Pray, my dear Vivian, come to us immediately. Ormsby
has at present little to offer for your entertainment. We have had that
unendurable bore Vivacity Dull with us for a whole fortnight. A report
of the death of the Lord Chancellor, or a rumour of the production of a
new tragedy, has carried him up to town; but whether it be to ask for
the seals, or to indite an ingenious prologue to a play which will be
condemned the first night, I cannot inform you. I am quite sure he is
capable of doing either. However, we shall have other deer in a
few days.

“I believe you have never met the Mounteneys. They have never been at
Hallesbrooke since you have been at Desir. They are coming to us
immediately. I am sure you will like them very much. Lord Mounteney is
one of those kind, easy-minded, accomplished men, who, after all, are
nearly the pleasantest society one ever meets. Rather wild in his youth,
but with his estate now unencumbered, and himself perfectly domestic.
His lady is an unaffected, agreeable woman. But it is Caroline Mounteney
whom I wish you particularly to meet. She is one of those delicious
creatures who, in spite of not being married, are actually conversable.
Spirited, without any affectation or brusquerie; beautiful, and knowing
enough to be quite conscious of it; perfectly accomplished, and yet
never annoying you with tattle about Bochsa, and Ronzi de Begnis, and
D’Egville.

“We also expect the Delmonts, the most endurable of the Anglo-Italians
that I know. Mrs. Delmont is not always dropping her handkerchief like
Lady Gusto, as if she expected a miserable cavalier servente to be
constantly upon his knees; or giving those odious expressive looks,
which quite destroy my nerves whenever I am under the same roof as that
horrible Lady Soprano. There is a little too much talk, to be sure,
about Roman churches, and newly-discovered mosaics, and Abbate Maii, but
still we cannot expect perfection. There are reports going about that
Ernest Clay is either ruined or going to be married. Perhaps both are
true. Young Premium has nearly lost his character by driving a
square-built, striped green thing, drawn by one horse. Ernest Clay got
him through this terrible affair. What can be the reasons of the Sieur
Ernest’s excessive amiability?

“Both the young Mounteneys are with their regiment, but Aubrey Vere is
coming to us, and I have half a promise from--; but I know you never
speak to unmarried men, so why do I mention them? Let me, I beseech you,
my dear Vivian, have a few days of you to myself before Ormsby is full,
and before you are introduced to Caroline Mounteney. I did not think it
was possible that I could exist so long without seeing you; but you
really must not try me too much, or I shall quarrel with you. I have
received all your letters, which are very, very agreeable; but I think
rather, rather impudent. Adieu!

“HARRIETTE SCROPE.”

HORACE GREY, ESQ., TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.

“Paris, Oct. 18--.

“MY DEAR VIVIAN,

“I have received yours of the 9th, and have read it with mixed feelings
of astonishment and sorrow.

“You are now, my dear son, a member of what is called the great world;
society formed on anti-social principles. Apparently you have possessed
yourself of the object of your wishes; but the scenes you live in are
very moveable; the characters you associate with are all masked; and it
will always be doubtful whether you can retain that long, which has
been obtained by some slippery artifice. Vivian, you are a juggler; and
the deceptions of your sleight-of-hand tricks depend upon
instantaneous motions.

“When the selfish combine with the selfish, bethink you how many
projects are doomed to disappointment! how many cross interests baffle
the parties at the same time joined together without ever uniting. What
a mockery is their love! but how deadly are their hatreds! All this
great society, with whom so young an adventurer has trafficked, abate
nothing of their price in the slavery of their service and the sacrifice
of violated feelings. What sleepless nights has it cost you to win over
the disobliged, to conciliate the discontented, to cajole the
contumatious! You may smile at the hollow flatteries, answering to
flatteries as hollow, which like bubbles when they touch, dissolve into
nothing; but tell me, Vivian, what has the self-tormentor felt at the
laughing treacheries which force a man down into self-contempt?

“Is it not obvious, my dear Vivian, that true Fame and true Happiness
must rest upon the imperishable social affections? I do not mean that
coterie celebrity which paltry minds accept as fame; but that which
exists independent of the opinions or the intrigues of individuals: nor
do I mean that glittering show of perpetual converse with the world
which some miserable wanderers call Happiness; but that which can only
be drawn from the sacred and solitary fountain of your own feelings.

“Active as you have now become in the great scenes of human affairs, I
would not have you be guided by any fanciful theories of morals or of
human nature. Philosophers have amused themselves by deciding on human
actions by systems; but, as these system? are of the most opposite
natures, it is evident that each philosopher, in reflecting his own
feelings in the system he has so elaborately formed, has only painted
his own character.

“Do not, therefore, conclude, with Hobbes and Mandeville, that man lives
in a state of civil warfare with man; nor with Shaftesbury, adorn with a
poetical philosophy our natural feelings. Man is neither the vile nor
the excellent being which he sometimes imagines himself to be. He does
not so much act by system as by sympathy. If this creature cannot always
feel for others, he is doomed to feel for himself; and the vicious are,
at least, blessed with the curse of remorse.

“You are now inspecting one of the worst portions of society in what is
called the great world (St. Giles’ is bad, but of another kind), and it
may be useful, on the principle that the actual sight of brutal ebriety
was supposed to have inspired youth with the virtue of temperance; on
the same principle that the Platonist, in the study of deformity,
conceived the beautiful. Let me warn you not to fall into the usual
error of youth in fancying that the circle you move in is precisely the
world itself. Do not imagine that there are not other beings, whose
benevolent principle is governed by finer sympathies, by more generous
passions, and by those nobler emotions which really constitute all our
public and private virtues. I give you this hint, lest, in your present
society, you might suppose these virtues were merely historical.

“Once more, I must beseech you not to give loose to any elation of mind.
The machinery by which you have attained this unnatural result must be
so complicated that in the very tenth hour you will find yourself
stopped in some part where you never counted on an impediment; and the
want of a slight screw or a little oil will prevent you from
accomplishing your magnificent end.

“We are, and have been, very dull here. There is every probability of
Madame de Genlis writing more volumes than ever. I called on the old
lady, and was quite amused with the enthusiasm of her imbecility.
Chateaubriand is getting what you call a bore; and the whole city is mad
about a new opera by Boieldieu. Your mother sends her love, and desires
me to say, that the salmi of woodcocks, à la Lucullus, which you write
about, does not differ from the practice here in vogue. How does your
cousin Hargrave prosper on his circuit? The Delmingtons are here, which
makes it very pleasant for your mother, as well as for myself; for it
allows me to hunt over the old bookshops at my leisure. There are no new
books worth sending you, or they would accompany this; but I would
recommend you to get Meyer’s new volume from Treüttel and Wurtz, and
continue to make notes as you read it. Give my compliments to the
Marquess, and believe me,

“Your affectionate father,

“HORACE GREY.”



CHAPTER IX


It was impossible for any human being to behave with more kindness than
the Marquess of Carabas did to Vivian Grey after that young gentleman’s
short conversation with Mrs. Felix Lorraine in the conservatory. The
only feeling which seemed to actuate the Peer was an eager desire to
compensate, by his present conduct, for any past misunderstanding, and
he loaded his young friend with all possible favour. Still Vivian was
about to quit Château Desir; and in spite of all that had passed, he was
extremely loth to leave his noble friend under the guardianship of his
female one.

About this time, the Duke and Duchess of Juggernaut, the very pink of
aristocracy, the wealthiest, the proudest, the most ancient, and most
pompous couple in Christendom, honoured Château Desir with their
presence for two days; only two days, making the Marquess’s mansion a
convenient resting-place in one of their princely progresses to one of
their princely castles.

Vivian contrived to gain the heart of her Grace by his minute
acquaintance with the Juggernaut pedigree; and having taken the
opportunity, in one of their conversations, to describe Mrs. Felix
Lorraine as the most perfect specimen of divine creation with which he
was acquainted, at the same time the most amusing and the most amiable
of women, that lady was honoured with an invitation to accompany her
Grace to Himalaya Castle. As this was the greatest of all possible
honours, and as Desir was now very dull, Mrs. Felix Lorraine accepted
the invitation, or rather obeyed the command, for the Marquess would not
hear of a refusal, Vivian having dilated in the most energetic terms on
the opening which now presented itself of gaining the Juggernaut. The
coast being thus cleared, Vivian set off the next day for Sir
Berdmore Scrope’s.



BOOK IV


CHAPTER I


The important hour drew nigh. Christmas was to be passed by the Carabas
family, the Beaconsfields, the Scropes, and the Clevelands at Lord
Courtown’s villa at Richmond; at which place, on account of its vicinity
to the metropolis, the Viscount had determined to make out the holidays,
notwithstanding the Thames entered his kitchen windows, and the Donna
del Lago was acted in the theatre with real water, Cynthia Courtown
performing Elena, paddling in a punt.

“Let us order our horses, Cleveland, round to the Piccadilly gate, and
walk through the Guards. I must stretch my legs. That bore, Horace
Buttonhole, captured me in Pall Mall East, and has kept me in the same
position for upwards of half an hour. I shall make a note to blackball
him at the Athenaeum. How is Mrs. Cleveland?”

“Extremely well. She goes down to Buckhurst Lodge with Lady Carabas. Is
not that Lord Lowersdale?”

“His very self. He is going to call on Vivida Vis, I have no doubt.
Lowersdale is a man of very considerable talent; much more than the
world gives him credit for.”

“And he doubtless finds a very able counsellor in Monsieur le
Sécrétaire?”

“Can you name a better one?”

“You rather patronise Vivida, I think, Grey?”

“Patronise him! he is my political pet!”

“And yet Kerrison tells me you reviewed the Suffolk papers in the
Edinburgh.”

“So I did; what of that? I defended them in Blackwood.”

“This, then, is the usual method of you literary gentlemen. Thank God! I
never could write a line.”

“York House rises proudly; if York House be its name.”

“This confounded Catholic Question is likely to give us a great deal of
trouble, Grey. It is perfect madness for us to advocate the cause of the
‘six millions of hereditary bondsmen;’ and yet, with not only the
Marchese, but even Courtown and Beaconsfield committed, it is, to say
the least, a very delicate business.”

“Very delicate, certainly; but there are some precedents, I suspect,
Cleveland, for the influence of a party being opposed to measures which
the heads of that party had pledged themselves to adopt.”

“Does old Gifford still live at Pimlico, Grey?”

“Still.”

“He is a splendid fellow, after all.”

“Certainly, a mind of great powers, but bigoted.”

“Oh, yes! I know exactly what you are going to say. It is the fashion, I
am aware, to abuse the old gentleman. He is the Earl of Eldon of
literature; not the less loved because a little vilified. But, when I
just remember what Gifford has done; when I call to mind the perfect and
triumphant success of everything he has undertaken; the Anti-Jacobin,
the Baviad and Maeviad, the Quarterly; all palpable hits, on the very
jugular; I hesitate before I speak of William Gifford in any other
terms, or in any other spirit, than those of admiration and of
gratitude.

“And to think. Grey, that the Tory Administration and the Tory party of
Great Britain should never, by one single act, or in a single instance,
have indicated that they were in the least aware that the exertions of
such a man differed in the slightest degree from those of Hunt and Hone!
Of all the delusions which flourish in this mad world, the delusion of
that man is the most frantic who voluntarily, and of his own accord,
supports the interest of a party. I mention this to you because it is
the rock on which all young politicians strike. Fortunately, you enter
life under different circumstances from those which usually attend most
political debutants. You have your connections formed and your views
ascertained. But if, by any chance, you find yourself independent and
unconnected, never, for a moment, suppose that you can accomplish your
objects by coming forward, unsolicited, to fight the battle of a party.
They will cheer your successful exertions, and then smile at your
youthful zeal; or, crossing themselves for the unexpected succour, be
too cowardly to reward their unexpected champion. No, Grey; make them
fear you, and they will kiss your feet. There is no act of treachery or
meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics
there is no honour.

“As to Gifford, I am surprised at their conduct towards him, although I
know better than most men of what wood a minister is made, and how much
reliance may be placed upon the gratitude of a party: but Canning; from
Canning I certainly did expect different conduct.”

“Oh, Canning! I love the man: but as you say, Cleveland, ministers have
short memories, and Canning’s; that was Antilles that just passed us;
apropos to whom, I quite rejoice that the Marquess has determined to
take such a decided course on the West India Question.”

“Oh, yes! curse your East India sugar.”

“To be sure; slavery and sweetmeats forever!”

“But, aside with joking, Grey, I really think, that if any man of
average ability dare rise in the House, and rescue many of the great
questions of the day from what Dugald Stuart or Disraeli would call the
spirit of Political Religionism, with which they are studiously mixed
up, he would not fail to make a great impression upon the House, and a
still greater one upon the country.”

“I quite agree with you; and certainly I should recommend commencing
with the West India Question. Singular state of affairs when even
Canning can only insinuate his opinion when the very existence of some
of our most valuable colonies is at stake, and when even his
insinuations are only indulged with an audience on the condition that he
favours the House with an introductory discourse of twenty minutes on
‘the divine Author of our faith,’ and an éloge of equal length on the
Génie du Christianisme, in a style worthy of Chateaubriand.”

“Miserable work, indeed! I have got a pamphlet on the West India
Question sent me this morning. Do you know any raving lawyer, any mad
Master in Chancery, or something of the kind, who meddles in
these affairs?”

“Oh! Stephen! a puddle in a storm! He is for a crusade for the
regeneration of the Antilles; the most forcible of feebles, the most
energetic of drivellers; Velluti acting Pietro l’Eremita.”

“Do you know, by any chance, whether Southey’s Vindiciae is out yet? I
wanted to look it over during the holidays.”

“Not out, though it has been advertised some time; but what do you
expect?”

“Nay, it is an interesting controversy, as controversies go. Not exactly
Milton and Salmasius; but fair enough.”

“I do not know. It has long degenerated into a mere personal bickering
between the Laureate and Butler. Southey is, of course, revelling in the
idea of writing an English work with a Latin title! and that, perhaps,
is the only circumstance for which the controversy is prolonged.”

“But Southey, after all, is a man of splendid talents.”

“Doubtless; the most philosophical of bigots, and the most poetical of
prose writers.”

“Apropos to the Catholic Question, there goes Colonial Bother’em trying
to look like Prince Metternich; a decided failure.”

“What can keep him in town?”

“Writing letters, I suppose, Heaven preserve me from receiving any of
them!”

“Is it true, then, that his letters are of the awful length that is
whispered?”

“True! Oh! they are something beyond all conception! Perfect epistolary
Boa Constrictors. I speak with feeling, for I have myself suffered under
their voluminous windings.”

“Have you seen his quarto volume: ‘The Cure for the Catholic Question?’”

“Yes.”

“If you have it, lend it to me. What kind of thing is it?”

“Oh! what should it be! ingenious and imbecile. He advises the
Catholics, in the old nursery language, to behave like good boys; to
open their mouths and shut their eyes, and see what God will send them.”

“Well, that is the usual advice. Is there nothing more characteristic of
the writer?”

“What think you of a proposition of making Jockey of Norfolk Patriarch
of England, and of an ascertained _credo_ for our Catholic
fellow-subjects? Ingenious, is not it?”

“Have you seen Puff’s new volume of Ariosto?”

“I have. What could possibly have induced Mr. Partenopex Puff to have
undertaken such a duty? Mr. Puff is a man destitute of poetical powers,
possessing no vigour of language, and gifted with no happiness of
expression. His translation is hard, dry, and husky, as the outside of a
cocoanut. I am amused to see the excellent tact with which the public
has determined not to read his volumes, in spite of the incessant
exertions of a certain set to ensure their popularity; but the time has
gone by when the smug coterie could create a reputation.”

“Do you think the time ever existed, Cleveland?”

“What could have seduced Puff into being so ambitious? I suppose his
admirable knowledge of Italian; as if a man were entitled to strike a
die for the new sovereign merely because he was aware how much alloy
might legally debase its carats of pure gold.”

“I never can pardon Puff for that little book on Cats. The idea was
admirable; but, instead of one of the most delightful volumes that ever
appeared, to take up a dull, tame compilation from Bingley’s Animal
Biography!”

“Yes! and the impertinence of dedicating such a work to the Officers of
His Majesty’s Household troops! Considering the quarter from whence it
proceeded, I certainly did not expect much, but still I thought that
there was to be some little esprit. The poor Guards! how nervous they
must have been at the announcement! What could have been the point of
that dedication?”

“I remember a most interminable proser, who was blessed with a very
sensible-sounding voice, and who, on the strength of that, and his
correct and constant emphases, was considered by the world, for a great
time, as a sage. At length it was discovered that he was quite the
reverse. Mr. Puff’s wit is very like this man’s wisdom. You take up one
of his little books, and you fancy, from its titlepage, that it is going
to be very witty; as you proceed, you begin to suspect that the man is
only a wag, and then, surprised at not ‘seeing the point,’ you have a
shrewd suspicion that he is a great hand at dry humour. It is not till
you have closed the volume that you wonder who it is that has had the
hardihood to intrude such imbecility upon an indulgent world.”

“Come, come! Mr. Puff is a worthy gentleman. Let him cease to dusk the
radiancy of Ariosto’s sunny stanzas, and I shall be the first man who
will do justice to his merits. He certainly tattles prettily about
tenses and terminations, and is not an inelegant grammarian.”

“Our literature, I think, is at a low ebb.”

“There is nothing like a fall of stocks to affect what it is the fashion
to style the Literature of the present day, a fungus production which
has flourished from the artificial state of our society, the mere
creature of our imaginary wealth. Everybody being very rich, has
afforded to be very literary, books being considered a luxury almost as
elegant and necessary as ottomans, bonbons, and pier-glasses. Consols
at 100 were the origin of all book societies. The Stockbrokers’ ladies
took off the quarto travels and the hot-pressed poetry. They were the
patronesses of your patent ink and your wire-wove paper. That is all
past. Twenty per cent difference in the value of our public securities
from this time last year, that little incident has done more for the
restoration of the old English feeling, than all the exertions of Church
and State united. There is nothing like a fall in Consols to bring the
blood of our good people of England into cool order. It is your grand
state medicine, your veritable Doctor Sangrado!

“A fall in stocks! and halt to ‘the spread of knowledge!’ and ‘the
progress of liberal principles’ is like that of a man too late for
post-horses. A fall in stocks! and where are your London Universities,
and your Mechanics’ Institutes, and your new Docks? Where your
philosophy, your philanthropy, and your competition? National prejudices
revive as national prosperity decreases. If the Consols were at 60 we
should be again bellowing, God save the King! eating roast beef, and
damning the French.”

“And you imagine literature is equally affected, Grey?”

“Clearly. We were literary because we were rich. Amid the myriad of
volumes which issued monthly from the press, what one was not written
for the mere hour? It is all very well to buy mechanical poetry and
historical novels when our purses have a plethora; but now, my dear
fellow, depend upon it, the game is up. We have no scholars now, no
literary recluses, no men who ever appear to think. ‘Scribble, scribble,
scribble’ as the Duke of Cumberland said to Gibbon, should be the motto
of the mighty ‘nineteenth century.’”

“Southey, I think, Grey, is an exception.”

“By no means. Southey is a political writer, a writer for a particular
purpose. All his works, from those in three volumes quarto to those in
one duodecimo, are alike political pamphlets.”

“We certainly want a master-spirit to set us right, Grey. We want
Byron.”

“There was the man! And that such a man should be lost to us at the very
moment that he had begun to discover why it had pleased the Omnipotent
to have endowed him with such powers!”

“If one thing were more characteristic of Byron’s mind than another, it
was his strong, shrewd, common sense; his pure, unalloyed sagacity.”

“You knew him, I think, Cleveland?”

“Well, I was slightly acquainted with him when in England; slightly,
however, for I was then very young. But many years afterwards I met him
in Italy. It was at Pisa, just before he left that place for Genoa. I
was then very much struck at the alteration in his appearance.”

“Indeed.”

“Yes; his face was swollen, and he was getting fat. His hair was grey,
and his countenance had lost that spiritual expression which it once
eminently possessed. His teeth were decaying; and he said that if ever
he came to England it would be to consult Wayte about them. I certainly
was very much struck at his alteration for the worse. Besides, he was
dressed in the most extraordinary manner.”

“Slovenly?”

“Oh, no, no, no! in the most dandified style that you can conceive; but
not that of an English dandy either. He had on a magnificent foreign
foraging cap, which he wore in the room, but his grey curls were quite
perceptible; and a frogged surtout; and he had a large gold chain round
his neck, and pushed into his waistcoat pocket. I imagined, of course,
that a glass was attached to it; but I afterwards found that it bore
nothing but a quantity of trinkets. He had also another gold chain tight
round his neck, like a collar.”

“How odd! And did you converse much with him?”

“I was not long at Pisa, but we never parted, and there was only one
subject of conversation, England, England, England. I never met a man in
whom the maladie du pays was so strong. Byron was certainly at this time
restless and discontented. He was tired of his dragoon captains and
pensioned poetasters, and he dared not come back to England with what he
considered a tarnished reputation. His only thought was of some
desperate exertion to clear himself: it was for this he went to Greece.
When I was with him he was in correspondence with some friends in
England about the purchase of a large tract of land in Colombia. He
affected a great admiration of Bolivar.”

“Who, by-the-bye, is a great man.”

“Assuredly.”

“Your acquaintance with Byron must have been one of the gratifying
incidents of your life, Cleveland?”

“Certainly; I may say with Friar Martin, in Goetz of Berlichingen, ‘The
sight of him touched my heart. It is a pleasure to have seen a
great man.’”

“Hobhouse was a faithful friend to him?”

“His conduct has been beautiful; and Byron had a thorough affection for
him, in spite of a few squibs and a few drunken speeches, which damned
good-natured friends have always been careful to repeat.”

“The loss of Byron can never be retrieved. He was indeed a real man; and
when I say this, I award him the most splendid character which human
nature need aspire to. At least, I, for my part, have no ambition to be
considered either a divinity or an angel; and truly, when I look round
upon the creatures alike effeminate in mind and body of which the world
is, in general, composed, I fear that even my ambition is too exalted.
Byron’s mind was like his own ocean, sublime in its yesty madness,
beautiful in its glittering summer brightness, mighty in the lone
magnificence of its waste of waters, gazed upon from the magic of its
own nature, yet capable of representing, but as in a glass darkly, the
natures of all others.”

“Hyde Park is greatly changed since I was a dandy, Vivian. Pray, do the
Misses Otranto still live in that house?”

“Yes; blooming as ever.”

“It is the fashion to abuse Horace Walpole, but I really think him the
most delightful writer that ever existed. I wonder who is to be the
Horace Walpole of the present century? some one, perhaps, we
least suspect.”

“Vivida Vis, think you?”

“More than probable. I will tell you who ought to be writing Memoirs;
Lord Dropmore. Does my Lord Manfred keep his mansion there, next to the
Misses Otranto?”

“I believe so, and lives there.”

“I knew him in Germany; a singular man, and not understood. Perhaps he
does not understand himself. I see our horses.”

“I will join you in an instant, Cleveland. I just want to speak one word
to Osborne, whom I see coming down here. Well, Osborne, I must come and
knock you up one of these mornings. I have got a commission for you from
Lady Julia Knighton, to which you must pay particular attention.”

“Well, Mr. Grey, how does Lady Julia like the bay mare?”

“Very much, indeed; but she wants to know what you have done about the
chestnut.”

“Oh! put it off, sir, in the prettiest style, on young Mr. Feoffment,
who has just married, and taken a house in Gower Street. He wanted a bit
of blood; hopes he likes it!”

“Hopes he does, Jack. There is a particular favour which you can do for
me, Osborne, and which I am sure you will. Ernest Clay; you know Ernest
Clay; a most excellent fellow is Ernest Clay, you know, and a great
friend of yours, Osborne; I wish you would just step down to Connaught
Place, and look at those bays he bought of Harry Mounteney. He is in a
little trouble, and we must do what we can for him; you know he is an
excellent fellow, and a great friend of yours. Thank you, I knew you
would. Good morning; remember Lady Julia. So you really fitted young
Feoffment with the chestnut; well, that was admirable! Good morning.”

“I do not know whether you care for these things at all, Cleveland, but
Premium, a famous millionaire, has gone this morning, for I know not how
much! Half the new world will be ruined; and in this old one a most
excellent fellow, my friend Ernest Clay. He was engaged to Premium’s
daughter, his last resource, and now, of course, it is all up with him.”

“I was at College with his brother, Augustus Clay. He is a nephew of
Lord Mounteney’s, is he not?”

“The very same. Poor fellow! I do not know what we must do for him. I
think I shall advise him to change his name to Clay_ville_; and if the
world ask him the reason of the euphonious augmentation, why, he can
swear it was to distinguish himself from his brothers. Too many roués of
the same name will never do. And now spurs to our steeds! for we are
going at least three miles out of our way, and I must collect my senses
and arrange my curls before dinner, for I have to flirt with at least
three fair ones.”



CHAPTER II


These conversations play the very deuce with one’s story. We had
intended to have commenced this book with something quite terrific, a
murder or a marriage; and all our great ideas have ended in a lounge.
After all, it is, perhaps, the most natural termination. In life,
surely man is not always as monstrously busy as he appears to be in
novels and romances. We are not always in action, not always making
speeches or making money, or making war, or making love. Occasionally we
talk, about the weather generally; sometimes about, ourselves; oftener
about our friends; as often about our enemies, at least, those who have
any; which, in my opinion, is the vulgarest of all possessions.

But we must get on.

Mr. Cleveland and Mrs. Felix Lorraine again met, and the gentleman
scarcely appeared to be aware that this meeting was not their first. The
lady sighed and remonstrated. She reproached Mr. Cleveland with passages
of letters. He stared, and deigned not a reply to an artifice which he
considered equally audacious and shallow. There was a scene. Vivian was
forced to interfere; but as he deprecated all explanation, his
interference was of little avail; and, as it was ineffectual for one
party and uncalled for by the other, it was, of course, not encouraged.
The presence of Mrs. Cleveland did not tend to assist Mrs. Felix in that
self-control which, with all her wildness, she could appositely
practise. In the presence of the Clevelands she was fitful, capricious,
perplexing; sometimes impertinent, sometimes humble; but always ill at
ease, and never charming.

Peculiar, however, as was her conduct in this particular relation, it
was in all others, at this moment, most exemplary. Her whole soul seemed
concentrated in the success of the approaching struggle. No office was
too mechanical for her attention, or too elaborate for her enthusiastic
assiduity. Her attentions were not confined merely to Vivian and the
Marquess, but were lavished with equal generosity on their colleagues.
She copied letters for Sir Berdmore, and composed letters for Lord
Courtown, and construed letters to Lord Beaconsfield; they, in return,
echoed her praises to her delighted relative, who was daily
congratulated on the possession of “such a fascinating sister in law.”

“Well, Vivian,” said Mrs. Lorraine, to that young gentleman, the day
previous to his departure from Buckhurst Lodge, “you are going to leave
me behind you.”

“Indeed!”

“Yes! I hope you will not want me. I am very annoyed at not being able
to go to town with you, but Lady Courtown is so pressing! and I have
really promised so often to stay a week with her, that I thought it was
better to make out my promise at once than in six months hence.”

“Well! I am exceedingly sorry, for you really are so useful! and the
interest you take in everything is so encouraging, that I very much fear
we shall not be able to get on without you. The important hour
draws nigh.”

“It does, indeed, Vivian; and I assure you that there is no person
awaiting it with intenser interest than myself. I little thought,” she
added, in a low but distinct voice, “I little thought, when I first
reached England, that I should ever again be interested in anything in
this world.”

Vivian was silent, for he had nothing to say.

“Vivian!” very briskly resumed Mrs. Lorraine, “I shall get you to frank
all my letters for me. I shall never trouble the Marquess again. Do you
know, it strikes me you will make a very good speaker!”

“You flatter me exceedingly; suppose you give me a few lessons.”

“But you must leave off some of your wicked tricks, Vivian! You must not
improvise parliamentary papers!”

“Improvise papers, Mrs. Lorraine! What can you mean?”

“Oh! nothing. I never mean anything.”

“But you must have had some meaning.”

“Some meaning! Yes, I dare say I had; I meant; I meant; do you think it
will rain to-day?”

“Every prospect of a hard frost. I never knew before that I was an
improvisatore.”

“Nor I. Have you heard from papa lately? I suppose he is quite in
spirits at your success?”

“My father is a man who seldom gives way to any elation of mind.”

“Ah, indeed! a philosopher, I have no doubt, like his son.”

“I have no claims to the title of philosopher, although I have had the
advantage of studying in the school of Mrs. Felix Lorraine.”

“What do you mean? If I thought you meant to be impertinent, I really
would; but I excuse you; I think the boy means well.”

“The boy ‘means nothing; he never means anything.’”

“Come, Vivian! we are going to part. Do not let us quarrel the last day.
There, there is a sprig of myrtle for you!

     What! not accept my foolish flower?
       Nay, then, I am indeed unblest!

and now you want it all! Unreasonable young man! If I were not the
kindest lady in the land I should tear this sprig into a thousand pieces
sooner; but come, my child! you shall have it. There! it looks quite
imposing in your button-hole. How handsome you look to-day!”

“How agreeable you are! I love compliments!”

“Ah, Vivian! will you never give me credit for anything but a light and
callous heart? Will you never be convinced that, that; but why make this
humiliating confession? Oh! no, let me be misunderstood for ever! The
time may come when Vivian Grey will find that Amalia Lorraine was--”

“Was what, madam?”

“You shall choose the word, Vivian.”

“Say, then, my friend.”

“‘Tis a monosyllable full of meaning, and I will not quarrel with it.
And now, adieu! Heaven prosper you! Believe me, that my first thoughts
and my last are for you and of you!”



CHAPTER III


“This is very kind of you, Grey! I was afraid my note might not have
caught you. You have not breakfasted? Really I wish you would take up
your quarters in Carabas House, for I want you now every moment.”

“What is the urgent business of this morning?”

“Oh! I have seen Bromley.”

“Hah!”

“And everything most satisfactory, I did not go into detail; I left that
for you: but I ascertained sufficient to convince me that management is
now alone required.”

“Well, my Lord, I trust that will not be wanting.”

“No, Vivian; you have opened my eyes to the situation in which fortune
has placed me. The experience of every day only proves the truth and
soundness of your views. Fortunate, indeed, was the hour in which
we met.”

“My Lord, I do trust that it was a meeting which neither of us will live
to repent.”

“Impossible! my dear friend, I do not hesitate to say that I would not
change my present lot for that of any Peer of this realm; no, not for
that of His Majesty’s most favoured counsellor. What! with my character
and my influence, and my connections, I to be a tool! I, the Marquess of
Carabas! I say nothing of my own powers; but, as you often most justly
and truly observe, the world has had the opportunity of judging of them;
and I think I may recur, without vanity, to the days in which my voice
had some weight in the Royal Councils. And, as I have often remarked, I
have friends, I have you, Vivian. My career is before you. I know what I
should have done at your age; not to say what I did do. I to be a tool!
The very last person that ought to be a tool. But I see my error: you
have opened my eyes, and blessed be the hour in which we met. But we
must take care how we act, Vivian; we must be wary; eh! Vivian, wary,
wary. People must know what their situations are; eh! Vivian?”

“Exceedingly useful knowledge; but I do not exactly understand the
particular purport of your Lordship’s last observation.”

“You do not, eh?” asked the Peer; and he fixed his eyes as earnestly and
expressively as he possibly could upon his young companion. “Well, I
thought not. I was positive it was not true,” continued the Marquess
in a murmur.

“What, my Lord?”

“Oh! nothing, nothing; people talk at random, at random, at random. I
feel confident you quite agree with me; eh! Vivian?”

“Really, my Lord, I fear I am unusually dull this morning.”

“Dull! no, no; you quite agree with me. I feel confident you do. People
must be taught what their situations are; that is what I was saying,
Vivian. My Lord Courtown,” added the Marquess, in a whisper, “is not to
have everything his own way; eh! Vivian?”

“Oh, oh!” thought Vivian; “this, then, is the result of that admirable
creature, Miss Felix Lorraine, staying a week with her dear friend, Lady
Courtown.”

“My Lord, it would be singular if, in the Carabas party, the Carabas
interest was not the predominant one.”

“I knew you thought so. I could not believe for a minute that you could
think otherwise: but some people take such strange ideas into their
heads, I cannot account for them. I felt confident what would be your
opinion. My Lord Courtown is not to carry everything before him in the
spirit that I have lately observed; or rather, in the spirit which I
understand, from very good authority, is exhibited. Eh! Vivian; that is
your opinion, is not it?”

“Oh! my dear Marquess, we must think alike on this, as on all points.”

“I knew it. I felt confident as to your sentiments upon this subject. I
cannot conceive why some people take such strange ideas into their
heads! I knew that you could not disagree with me upon this point. No,
no, no; my Lord Courtown must feel which is the predominant interest, as
you so well express it. How choice your expressions always are! I do not
know how it is, but you always hit upon the right expression, Vivian.
The predominant interest, the pre-do-mi-nant in-te-rest. To be sure.
What! with my high character and connections, with my stake in society,
was it to be expected that I, the Marquess of Carabas, was going to make
any move which compromised the predominancy of my interests? No, no, no,
my Lord Courtown; the predominant interest must be kept predominant;
eh! Vivian?”

“To be sure, my Lord; explicitness and decision will soon arrange any
désagrémens.”

“I have been talking to Lady Carabas, Vivian, upon the expediency of her
opening the season early. I think a course of parliamentary dinners
would produce a good effect. It gives a tone to a political party.”

“Certainly; the science of political gastronomy has never been
sufficiently studied.”

“Egad! Vivian, I am in such spirits this morning. This business of
Bromley so delights me; and finding you agree with me about Lord
Courtown, I was confident as to your sentiments on that point. But some
people take such strange ideas into their heads! To be sure, to be sure,
the predominant interest, mine, that is to say ours, Vivian, is the
predominant interest. I have no idea of the predominant interest not
being predominant; that would be singular! I knew you would agree with
me; we always agree. ‘Twas a lucky hour when we met. Two minds so
exactly alike! I was just your very self when I was young; and as for
you, my career is before you.”

Here entered Mr. Sadler with the letters.

“One from Courtown. I wonder if he has seen Mounteney. Mounteney is a
very good-natured fellow, and I think might be managed. Ah! I wish you
could get hold of him, Vivian; you would soon bring him round. What it
is to have brains, Vivian!” and here the Marquess shook his head very
pompously, and at the same time tapped very significantly on his left
temple. “Hah! what, what is all this? Here, read it, read it, man; I
have no head to-day.”

Vivian took the letter, and his quick eye dashed through its contents in
a second. It was from Lord Courtown, and dated far in the country. It
talked of private communications, and premature conduct, and the
suspicious, not to say dishonourable, behaviour of Mr. Vivian Grey: it
trusted that such conduct was not sanctioned by his Lordship, but
“nevertheless obliged to act with decision, regretted the necessity,”
 &c. &c. &c. &c. In short, Lord Courtown had deserted, and recalled his
pledge as to the official appointment promised to Mr. Cleveland,
“because that promise was made while he was the victim of delusions
created by the representations of Mr. Grey.”

“What can all this mean, my Lord?”

The Marquess swore a fearful oath, and threw another letter.

“This is from Lord Beaconsfield, my Lord,” said Vivian, with a face
pallid as death, “and apparently the composition of the same writer; at
least, it is the same tale, the same refacimento of lies, and treachery,
and cowardice, doled out with diplomatic politesse. But I will off
to ----shire instantly. It is not yet too late to save everything. This
is Wednesday; on Thursday afternoon I shall be at Norwood Park. Thank
God! I came this morning.”

The face of the Marquess, who was treacherous as the wind, seemed
already to indicate “Adieu! Mr. Vivian Grey!” but that countenance
exhibited some very different passions when it glanced over the contents
of the next epistle. There was a tremendous oath and a dead silence. His
Lordship’s florid countenance turned as pale as that of his companion.
The perspiration stole down in heavy drops. He gasped for breath!

“Good God! my Lord, what is the matter?”

“The matter!” howled the Marquess, “the matter! That I have been a vain,
weak, miserable fool!” and then there was another oath, and he flung the
letter to the other side of the table.

It was the official congé of the Most Noble Sydney Marquess of Carabas.
His Majesty had no longer any occasion for his services. His successor
was Lord Courtown!

We will not affect to give any description of the conduct of the
Marquess of Carabas at this moment. He raved, he stamped, he
blasphemed! but the whole of his abuse was levelled against his former
“monstrous clever” young friend; of whose character he had so often
boasted that his own was she prototype, but who was now an adventurer, a
swindler, a scoundrel, a liar, a base, deluding, flattering, fawning
villain, &c. &c. &c. &c,

“My Lord,” said Vivian.

“I will not hear you; out on your fair words! They have duped me enough
already. That I, with my high character and connections! that I, the
Marquess of Carabas, should have been the victim of the arts of a young
scoundrel!”

Vivian’s fist was once clenched, but it was only for a moment. The
Marquess leant back in his chair with his eyes shut. In the agony of the
moment a projecting tooth of his upper jaw had forced itself through his
under lip, and from the wound the blood was flowing freely over his dead
white countenance. Vivian left the room.



CHAPTER IV


He stopped one moment on the landing-place, ere he was about to leave
the house for ever.

“‘Tis all over! and so, Vivian Grey, your game is up! and to die, too,
like a dog! a woman’s dupe! Were I a despot, I should perhaps satiate my
vengeance upon this female fiend with the assistance of the rack, but
that cannot be; and, after all, it would be but a poor revenge in one
who has worshipped the Empire of the Intellect to vindicate the agony I
am now enduring upon the base body of a woman. No! ‘tis not all over.
There is yet an intellectual rack of which few dream: far, far more
terrific than the most exquisite contrivances of Parysatis. Jacinte,”
 said he to a female attendant that passed, “is your mistress at home?”

“She is, sir.”

“‘Tis well,” said Vivian, and he sprang upstairs.

“Health to the lady of our love!” said Vivian Grey, as he entered the
elegant boudoir of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. “In spite of the easterly wind,
which has spoiled my beauty for the season, I could not refrain from
inquiring after your prosperity before I went to the Marquess. Have you
heard the news?”

“News! no; what news?”

“‘Tis a sad tale,” said Vivian, with a melancholy voice.

“Oh! then, pray do not tell it me. I am in no humour for sorrow to-day.
Come! a bon-mot, or a calembourg, or exit Mr. Vivian Grey.”

“Well, then, good morning! I am off for a black crape, or a Barcelona
kerchief. Mrs. Cleveland is dead.”

“Dead!” exclaimed Mrs. Lorraine.

“Dead! She died last night, suddenly. Is it not horrible?”

“Shocking!” exclaimed Mrs. Lorraine, with a mournful voice and an eye
dancing with joy. “Why, Mr. Grey, I do declare you are weeping.”

“It is not for the departed!”

“Nay, Vivian! for Heaven’s sake, what is the matter?”

“My dear Mrs. Lorraine!” but here the speaker’s voice was choked with
grief, and he could not proceed.

“Pray compose yourself.”

“Mrs. Felix Lorraine, can I speak with you half an hour, undisturbed?”

“By all means. I will ring for Jacinte. Jacinte! mind I am not at home
to anyone. Well, what is the matter?”

“O! madam, I must pray your patience; I wish you to shrive a penitent.”

“Good God! Mr. Grey! for Heaven’s sake be explicit.”

“For Heaven’s sake, for your sake, for my soul’s sake, I would be
explicit; but explicitness is not the language of such as I am. Can you
listen to a tale of horror? can you promise me to contain yourself?”

“I will promise anything. Pray, pray proceed.”

But in spite of her earnest solicitations her companion was mute. At
length he rose from his chair, and leaning on the chimney-piece, buried
his face in his hands and wept.

“Vivian,” said Mrs. Lorraine, “have you seen the Marquess yet?”

“Not yet,” he sobbed; “I am going to him, but I am in no humour for
business this morning.”

“Compose yourself, I beseech you. I will hear everything. You shall not
complain of an inattentive or an irritable auditor. Now, my dear Vivian,
sit down and tell me all.” She led him to a chair, and then, after
stifling his sobs, with a broken voice he proceeded.

“You will recollect, madam, that accident made me acquainted with
certain circumstances connected with yourself and Mr. Cleveland. Alas!
actuated by the vilest of sentiments, I conceived a violent hatred
against that gentleman, a hatred only to be equalled by my passion for
you; but I find difficulty in dwelling upon the details of this sad
story of jealousy and despair.”

“Oh! speak, speak! compensate for all you have done by your present
frankness; be brief, be brief.”

“I will be brief,” said Vivian, with earnestness: “I will be brief. Know
then, madam, that in order to prevent the intercourse between you and
Mr. Cleveland from proceeding I obtained his friendship, and became the
confidante of his heart’s sweetest secret. Thus situated, I suppressed
the letters with which I was entrusted from him to you, and, poisoning
his mind, I accounted for your silence by your being employed in other
correspondence; nay, I did more; with the malice of a fiend, I boasted
of--; nay, do not stop me; I have more to tell.”

Mrs. Felix Lorraine, with compressed lips and looks of horrible
earnestness, gazed in silence.

“The result of all this you know; but the most terrible part is to come;
and, by a strange fascination, I fly to confess my crimes at your feet,
even while the last minutes have witnessed my most heinous one. Oh!
madam. I have stood over the bier of the departed; I have mingled my
tears with those of the sorrowing widower, his young and tender child
was on my knee, and as I kissed his innocent lips, me thought it was but
my duty to the departed to save the father from his mother’s rival--”
 He stopped.

“Yes, yes, yes,” said Mrs. Felix Lorraine, in a low whisper.

“It was then, even then, in the hour of his desolation, that I mentioned
your name, that it might the more disgust him; and while he wept over
his virtuous and sainted wife, I dwelt on the vices of his rejected
mistress.”

Mrs. Lorraine clasped her hands, and moved restlessly on her seat.

“Nay! do not stop me; let me tell all. ‘Cleveland,’ said I, ‘if ever you
become the husband of Mrs. Felix Lorraine, remember my last words: it
will be well for you if your frame be like that of Mithridates of
Pontus, and proof against ---- poison.’”

“And did you say this?” shrieked the woman.

“Even these were my words.”

“Then may all evil blast you!” She threw herself on the sofa; her voice
was choked with the convulsions of her passion, and she writhed in
fearful agony.

Vivian Grey, lounging in an arm-chair in the easiest of postures, and
with a face brilliant with smiles, watched his victim with the eye of a
Mephistopheles.

She slowly recovered, and, with a broken voice, poured forth her sacred
absolution to the relieved penitent.

“You wonder I do not stab you; hah! hah! hah! there is no need for that!
the good powers be praised that you refused the draught I once
proffered. Know, wretch, that your race is run. Within five minutes you
will breathe a beggar and an outcast. Your golden dreams are over, your
cunning plans are circumvented, your ambitious hopes are crushed for
ever, you are blighted in the very spring of your life. Oh, may you
never die! May you wander for ever, the butt of the world’s malice; and
may the slow moving finger of scorn point where’er you go at the ruined
Charlatan!”

“Hah, hah! is it so? Think you that Vivian Grey would fall by a woman’s
wile? Think you that Vivian Grey could be crushed by such a worthless
thing as you? Know, then, that your political intrigues have been as
little concealed from me as your personal ones; I have been acquainted
with all. The Marquess has himself seen the Minister, and is more firmly
established in his pride of place than ever. I have myself seen our
colleagues, whom you tampered with, and their hearts are still true, and
their purpose still fixed. All, all prospers; and ere five days are
passed ‘the Charlatan’ will be a Senator.”

The shifting expression of Mrs. Lorraine’s countenance, while Vivian was
speaking, would have baffled the most cunning painter. Her complexion
was capricious as the chameleon’s, and her countenance was so convulsed
that her features seemed of all shapes and sizes. One large vein
protruded nearly a quarter of an inch from her forehead, and the dank
light which gleamed in her tearful eye was like an unwholesome meteor
quivering in a marsh. When he ended she sprang from the sofa, and,
looking up and extending her arms with unmeaning wildness, she gave one
loud shriek and dropped like a bird shot on the wing; she had burst a
blood-vessel.

Vivian raised her on the sofa and paid her every possible attention.
There is always a medical attendant lurking about the mansions of the
noble, and to this worthy and the attendant Jacinte Vivian delivered
his patient.

Had Vivian Grey left the boudoir a pledged bridegroom his countenance
could not have been more triumphant; but he was labouring under
unnatural excitement; for it is singular that when, as he left the
house, the porter told him that Mr. Cleveland was with his Lord, Vivian
had no idea at the moment what individual bore that name. The fresh air
of the street revived him, and somewhat cooled the bubbling of his
blood. It was then that the man’s information struck upon his senses.

“So, poor Cleveland!” thought Vivian; “then he knows all!” His own
misery he had not yet thought of; but when Cleveland occurred to him,
with his ambition once more baulked, his high hopes once more blasted,
and his honourable soul once more deceived; when he thought of his fair
wife, and his infant children, and his ruined prospects, a sickness came
over his heart, he grew dizzy, and fell.

“And the gentleman’s ill, I think,” said an honest Irishman; and, in the
fulness of his charity, he placed Vivian on a door-step.

“So it seems,” said a genteel passenger in black; and he snatched, with
great sang-froid, Vivian’s watch. “Stop thief!” hallooed the Hibernian.
Paddy was tripped up. There was a row, in the midst of which Vivian Grey
crawled to an hotel.



CHAPTER V


In half an hour Vivian was at Mr. Cleveland’s door.

“My master is at the Marquess of Carabas’, sir; he will not return, but
is going immediately to Richmond, where Mrs. Cleveland is staying.”

Vivian immediately wrote to Mr. Cleveland. “If your master have left the
Marquess’, let this be forwarded to him at Richmond immediately.”

“CLEVELAND!

“You know all. It would be mockery were I to say that at this moment I
am not thinking of myself. I am a ruined man in body and in mind. But
my own misery is nothing; I can die, I can go mad, and who will be
harmed? But you! I had wished that we should never meet again; but my
hand refuses to trace the thoughts with which my heart is full, and I am
under the sad necessity of requesting you to see me once more. We have
been betrayed, and by a woman; but there has been revenge. Oh,
what revenge!

“VIVIAN GREY.”

When Vivian left Mr. Cleveland’s he actually did not know what to do
with himself. Home, at present, he could not face, and so he continued
to wander about, quite unconscious of locality. He passed in his
progress many of his acquaintance, who, from his distracted air and
rapid pace, imagined that he was intent on some important business. At
length he found himself in one of the most sequestered parts of
Kensington Gardens. It was a cold, frosty day, and as Vivian flung
himself upon one of the summer seats the snow drifted from off the
frozen board; but Vivian’s brow was as burning hot as if he had been an
inhabitant of Sirius. Throwing his arms on a small garden table, he
buried his face in his hands and wept as men can but once weep in
this world.

O, thou sublime and most subtle philosopher, who, in thy lamp-lit cell,
art speculating upon the passions which thou hast never felt! O, thou
splendid and most admirable poet, who, with cunning words, art painting
with a smile a tale of woe! tell me what is Grief, and solve me the
mystery of Sorrow.

Not for himself, for after the first pang he would have whistled off his
high hopes with the spirit of a Ripperda; not even for Cleveland, for at
this moment, it must be confessed, his thoughts were not for his friend,
did Vivian Grey’s soul struggle as if it were about to leave its fleshy
chamber. We said he wept as men can weep but once in this world, and yet
it would have been impossible for him to have defined what, at that
fearful moment, was the cause of his heart’s sorrow. Incidents of
childhood of the most trivial nature, and until this moment forgotten,
flashed across his memory; he gazed on the smile of his mother, he
listened to the sweet tones of his father’s voice, and his hand
clenched, with still more agonised grasp, his rude resting-place, and
the scalding tears dashed down his cheek in still more ardent torrents.
He had no distinct remembrance of what had so lately happened; but
characters flitted before him as in a theatre, in a dream, dim and
shadowy, yet full of mysterious and undefinable interest; and then there
came a horrible idea across his mind that his glittering youth was gone
and wasted; and then there was a dark whisper of treachery, and
dissimulation, and dishonour; and then he sobbed as if his very heart
were cracking. All his boasted philosophy vanished; his artificial
feelings fled him. Insulted Nature reasserted her long-spurned
authority, and the once proud Vivian Grey felt too humble even to curse
himself. Gradually his sobs became less convulsed and his brow more
cool; and, calm from very exhaustion, he sat for upwards of an hour
motionless.

At this moment there issued, with their attendant, from an adjoining
shrubbery, two beautiful children. They were so exceedingly lovely that
the passenger would have stopped to gaze upon them. The eldest, who yet
was very young, was leading his sister hand in hand with slow and
graceful steps, mimicking the courtesy of men. But when his eye caught
Vivian’s the boy uttered a loud cry of exultation, and rushed, with the
eagerness of infantile affection, to his gentle and favourite playmate.
They were the young Clevelands. With what miraculous quickness will man
shake off the outward semblance of grief when his sorrow is a secret!
The mighty merchant, who knows that in four-and-twenty hours the world
must be astounded by his insolvency, will walk in the front of his
confident creditor as if he were the lord of a thousand argosies; the
meditating suicide will smile on the arm of a companion as if to breathe
in this sunny world were the most ravishing and rapturous bliss. We
cling to our stations in our fellow-creatures’ minds and memories; we
know too well the frail tenure on which we are in this world great and
considered personages. Experience makes us shrink from the specious
sneer of sympathy; and when we are ourselves falling, bitter Memory
whispers that we have ourselves been neglectful.

And so it was that even unto these infants Vivian Grey dared not appear
other than a gay and easy-hearted man; and in a moment he was dancing
them on his knee, and playing with their curls, and joining in their
pretty prattle, and pressing their small and fragrant lips.

It was night when he paced down--. He passed his club; that club to
become a member of which had once been the object of his high ambition,
and to gain which privilege had cost such hours of canvassing, such
interference of noble friends, and the incurring of favours from so many
people, “which never could be forgotten!”

A desperate feeling actuated him, and he entered the Club-house. He
walked into the great saloon and met some fifty “most particular
friends,” all of whom asked him “how the Marquess did,” or “have you
seen Cleveland?” and a thousand other as comfortable queries. At length,
to avoid these disagreeable rencontres, and indeed to rest himself, he
went to a smaller and more private room. As he opened the door his eyes
lighted upon Cleveland.

He was standing with his back to the fire. There were only two other
persons in the room; one was a friend of Cleveland’s, and the other an
acquaintance of Vivian’s. The latter was writing at the table.

When Vivian saw Cleveland he would have retired, but he was bid to “come
in” in a voice of thunder.

As he entered he instantly perceived that Cleveland was under the
influence of wine. When in this situation, unlike other men, Mr.
Cleveland’s conduct was not distinguished by any of the little
improprieties of behaviour by which a man is always known by his friends
“to be very drunk.” He neither reeled, nor hiccuped, nor grew maudlin.
The effect of drinking upon him was only to increase the intensity of
the sensation by which his mind was at the moment influenced. He did not
even lose the consciousness of identity of persons. At this moment it
was clear to Vivian that Cleveland was under the influence of the
extremest passion; his eyes rolled wildly, and seemed fixed only upon
vacancy. As Vivian was no friend to scenes before strangers he bowed to
the two gentlemen and saluted Cleveland with his wonted cordiality; but
his proffered hand was rudely repelled.

“Away!” exclaimed Cleveland, in a furious tone; “I have no friendship
for traitors.”

The two gentlemen stared, and the pen of the writer stopped.

“Cleveland!” said Vivian, in an earnest whisper, as he came up close to
him; “for God’s sake contain yourself. I have written you a letter which
explains all; but--”

“Out! out upon you. Out upon your honied words and your soft phrases! I
have been their dupe too long;” and he struck Vivian.

“Sir John Poynings!” said Vivian, with a quivering lip, turning to the
gentleman who was writing at the table, “we were school-fellows;
circumstances have prevented us from meeting often in after-life; but I
now ask you, with the frankness of an old acquaintance, to do me the sad
service of accompanying me in this quarrel, a quarrel which I call
Heaven to witness is not of my seeking.”

The Baronet, who was in the Guards, and although a great dandy, quite a
man of business in these matters, immediately rose from his seat and led
Vivian to a corner of the room. After some whispering he turned round to
Mr. Cleveland, and bowed to him with a very significant look. It was
evident that Cleveland comprehended his meaning, for, though he was
silent, he immediately pointed to the other gentleman, his friend, Mr.
Castleton.

“Mr. Castleton,” said Sir John, giving his card, “Mr. Grey will
accompany me to my rooms in Pall Mall; it is now ten o’clock; we shall
wait two hours, in which time I hope to hear from you. I leave time, and
place, and terms to yourself. I only wish it to be understood that it is
the particular desire of my principal that the meeting should be as
speedy as possible.”

About eleven o’clock the communication from Mr. Castleton arrived. It
was quite evident that Cleveland was sobered, for in one instance Vivian
observed that the style was corrected by his own hand. The hour was
eight the next morning, at ---- Common, about six miles from town.

Poynings wrote to a professional friend to be on the ground at half-past
seven, and then he and Vivian retired.

Did you ever fight a duel? No? nor send a challenge either? Well! you
are fresh, indeed! ‘Tis an awkward business, after all, even for the
boldest. After an immense deal of negotiation, and giving your opponent
every opportunity of coming to an honourable understanding, the fatal
letter is at length signed, sealed, and sent. You pass your mornings at
your second’s apartments, pacing his drawing-room with a quivering lip
and uncertain step. At length he enters with an answer; and while he
reads you endeavour to look easy, with a countenance merry with the most
melancholy smile. You have no appetite for dinner, but you are too brave
not to appear at table; and you are called out after the second glass by
the arrival of your solicitor, who comes to alter your will. You pass a
restless night, and rise in the morning as bilious as a Bengal general.
Urged by impending fate, you make a desperate effort to accommodate
matters; but in the contest between your pride and your terror you at
the same time prove that you are a coward and fail in the negotiation.
You both fire and miss, and then the seconds interfere, and then you
shake hands: everything being arranged in the most honourable manner and
to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. The next day you are seen
pacing Bond Street with an erect front and a flashing eye, with an air
at once dandyish and heroical, a mixture at the same time of Brummell
and the Duke of Wellington.

It was a fine February morning. Sir John drove Vivian to the ground in
his cabriolet.

“Nothing like a cab, Grey, for the business you are going on: you glide
along the six miles in such style that it actually makes you quite
courageous. I remember once going down, on a similar purpose, in a post
and pair, and ‘pon my soul, when I came to the ground, my hand shook so
that I could scarcely draw. But I was green then. Now, when I go in my
cab, with Philidor with his sixteen-mile-an-hour paces, egad! I wing my
man in a trice; and take all the parties home to Pall Mall, to celebrate
the event with a grilled bone, Havannahs, and Regent’s punch. Ah! there!
that is Cleveland that we have just passed, going to the ground in a
chariot: he is a dead man, or my name is not Poynings.”

“Come, Sir John; no fear of Cleveland’s dying,” said Vivian, with a
smile.

“What? You mean to fire in the air, and all that sort of thing?
Sentimental, but slip-slop!”

The ground is measured, all is arranged. Cleveland, a splendid shot,
fired first. He grazed Vivian’s elbow. Vivian fired in the air. The
seconds interfered. Cleveland was implacable, and, “in the most
irregular manner,” as Sir John declared, insisted upon another shot. To
the astonishment of all, he fired quite wild. Vivian shot at random, and
his bullet pierced Cleveland’s heart. Cleveland sprang nearly two yards
from the ground and then fell upon his back. In a moment Vivian was at
the side of his fallen antagonist, but the dying man “made no sign;” he
stared wildly, and then closed his eyes for ever!



CHAPTER VI


When Vivian Grey remembered his existence he found himself in bed. The
curtains of his couch were closed; but as he stared around him they were
softly withdrawn, and a face that recalled everything to his
recollection gazed upon him with a look of affectionate anxiety.

“My father!” exclaimed Vivian; but the finger pressed on the parental
lip warned him to silence. His father knelt by his side, and then the
curtains were again closed.

Six weeks, unconsciously to Vivian, had elapsed since the fatal day, and
he was now recovering from the effects of a fever from which his medical
attendants had supposed he never could have rallied. And what had been
the past? It did indeed seem like a hot and feverish dream. Here was he
once more in his own quiet room, watched over by his beloved parents;
and had there then ever existed such beings as the Marquess, and Mrs.
Lorraine, and Cleveland, or were they only the actors in a vision? “It
must be so,” thought Vivian; and he jumped up in his bed and stared
wildly around him. “And yet it was a horrid dream! Murder, horrible
murder! and so real, so palpable! I muse upon their voices as upon
familiar sounds, and I recall all the events, not as the shadowy
incidents of sleep, that mysterious existence in which the experience of
a century seems caught in the breathing of a second, but as the natural
and material consequences of time and stirring life. O, no! it is too
true!” shrieked the wretched sufferer, as his eye glanced upon a
despatch-box which was on the table, and which had been given to him by
Lord Carabas; “It is true! it is true! Murder! murder!” He foamed at the
mouth, and sank exhausted on his pillow.

But the human mind can master many sorrows, and, after a desperate
relapse and another miraculous rally, Vivian Grey rose from his bed.

“My father, I fear that I shall live!”

“Hope, rather, my beloved.”

“Oh! why should I hope?” and the sufferer’s head sank upon his breast.

“Do not give way, my son; all will yet be well, and we shall all yet be
happy,” said the father, with streaming eyes.

“Happy! oh, not in this world, my father!”

“Vivian, my dearest, your mother visited you this morning, but you were
asleep. She was quite happy to find you slumbering so calmly.”

“And yet my dreams were not the dreams of joy. O, my mother! you were
wont to smile upon me; alas! you smiled upon your sorrow.”

“Vivian, my beloved! you must indeed restrain your feelings. At your age
life cannot be the lost game you think it. A little repose, and I shall
yet see my boy the honour to society which he deserves to be.”

“Alas! my father, you know not what I feel. The springiness of my mind
has gone. O, man, what a vain fool thou art! Nature has been too
bountiful to thee. She has given thee the best of friends, and thou
valuest not the gift of exceeding price until the griefs are past even
friendship’s cure. O, my father! why did I leave thee?” and he seized
Mr. Grey’s hand with convulsive grasp.

Time flew on, even in this house of sorrow. “My boy,” said Mr. Grey to
his son one day, “your mother and I have been consulting together about
you; and we think, now that you have somewhat recovered your strength,
it may be well for you to leave England for a short time. The novelty of
travel will relieve your mind without too much exciting it; and if you
can manage by the autumn to settle down anywhere within a thousand miles
of England, why we will come and join you, and you know that will be
very pleasant. What say you to this little plan?”

In a few weeks after this proposition had been made Vivian Grey was in
Germany. He wandered for some months in that beautiful land of rivers,
among which flows the Rhine, matchless in its loveliness; and at length
the pilgrim shook the dust off his feet at Heidelberg, in which city
Vivian proposed taking up his residence. It is, in truth, a place of
surpassing loveliness, where all the romantic wildness of German scenery
is blended with the soft beauty of the Italian. An immense plain, which,
in its extent and luxuriance, reminds you of the fertile tracts of
Lombardy, is bordered on one side by the Bergstrasse Mountains, and on
the other by the range of the Vosges. Situate on the river Neckar, in a
ravine of the Bergstrasse, amid mountains covered with vines, is
Heidelberg; its ruined castle backing the city, and still frowning from
one of the most commanding heights. In the middle of the broad plain may
be distinguished the shining spires of Mannheim, Worms, and Frankenthal;
and pouring its rich stream through this luxuriant land, the beautiful
and abounding Rhine receives the tribute of the Neckar. The range of the
Vosges forms the extreme distance.

To the little world of the little city of which he was now an habitant
Vivian Grey did not appear a broken-hearted man. He lived neither as a
recluse nor a misanthrope. He became extremely addicted to field sports,
especially to hunting the wild boar; for he feared nothing so much as
thought, and dreaded nothing so much as the solitude of his own chamber.
He was an early riser to escape from hideous dreams; and at break of
dawn he wandered among the wild passes of the Bergstrasse; or, climbing
a lofty ridge, was a watcher for the rising sun; and in the evening he
sailed upon the star-lit Neckar.



BOOK V


CHAPTER I


Thou rapid Aar! thy waves are swollen by the snows of a thousand hills;
but for whom are thy leaping waters fed? Is it for the Rhine?

Calmly, O placid Neckar! does thy blue stream glide through thy
vine-clad vales; but calmer seems thy course when it touches the
rushing Rhine!

How fragrant are the banks which are cooled by thy dark-green waters,
thou tranquil Maine! but is not the perfume sweeter of the gardens of
the Rhine?

Thou impetuous Nah! I lingered by thine islands of nightingales, and I
asked thy rushing waters why they disturbed the music of thy groves?
They told me they were hastening to the Rhine!

Red Moselle! fierce is the swell of thy spreading course; but why do thy
broad waters blush when they meet the Rhine?

Thou delicate Meuse! how clear is the current of thy limpid wave; as the
wife yields to the husband do thy pure waters yield to the Rhine!

And thou, triumphant and imperial River, flushed with the tribute of
these vassal streams! thou art thyself a tributary, and hastenest even
in the pride of conquest to confess thine own vassalage! But no superior
stream exults in the homage of thy servile waters; the Ocean, the
eternal Ocean, alone comes forward to receive thy kiss! not as a
conqueror, but as a parent, he welcomes with proud joy his gifted child,
the offspring of his honour; thy duty, his delight; thy tribute, thine
own glory!

Once more upon thy banks, most beauteous Rhine! In the spring-time of my
youth I gazed on thee, and deemed thee matchless. Thy vine-enamoured
mountains, thy spreading waters, thy traditionary crags, thy shining
cities, the sparkling villages of thy winding shores, thy antique
convents, thy grey and silent castles, the purple glories of thy radiant
grape, the vivid tints of thy teeming flowers, the fragrance of thy sky,
the melody of thy birds, whose carols tell the pleasures of their sunny
woods; are they less lovely now, less beautiful, less sweet?

The keen emotions of our youth are often the occasion of our estimating
too ardently; but the first impression of beauty, though often
overcharged, is seldom supplanted: and as the first great author which
he reads is reverenced by the boy as the most immortal, and the first
beautiful woman that he meets is sanctified by him as the most adorable;
so the impressions created upon us by those scenes of nature which first
realise the romance of our reveries never escape from our minds, and are
ever consecrated in our memories; and thus some great spirits, after
having played their part on the theatre of the world, have retired from
the blaze of courts and cities to the sweet seclusion of some spot with
which they have accidentally met in the earliest years of their career.

But we are to speak of one who had retired from the world before his
time.

Upwards of a year had elapsed since Vivian Grey left England. The mode
of life which he pursued at Heidelberg for many months has already been
mentioned. He felt himself a broken-hearted man, and looked for death,
whose delay was no blessing; but the feelings of youth which had misled
him in his burning hours of joy equally deceived him in his days of
sorrow. He lived; and in the course of time found each day that life was
less burdensome. The truth is, that if it be the lot of man to suffer,
it is also his fortune to forget. Oblivion and sorrow share our being,
as Darkness and Light divide the course of time. It is not in human
nature to endure extremities, and sorrows soon destroy either us or
themselves. Perhaps the fate of Niobe is no fable, but a type of the
callousness of our nature. There is a time in human suffering when
succeeding sorrows are but like snow falling on an iceberg. It is indeed
horrible to think that our peace of mind should arise, not from a
retrospection of the past, but from a forgetfulness of it; but, though
this peace be produced at the best by a mental opiate, it is not
valueless; and Oblivion, after all, is a just judge. As we retain but a
faint remembrance of our felicity, it is but fair that the smartest
stroke of sorrow should, if bitter, at least be brief. But in feeling
that he might yet again mingle in the world, Vivian Grey also felt that
he must meet mankind with different feelings, and view their pursuits
with a different interest. He woke from his secret sorrow in as changed
a state of being as the water nymph from her first embrace; and he woke
with a new possession, not only as miraculous as Undine’s soul, but
gained at as great a price, and leading to as bitter results. The nymph
woke to new pleasures and to new sorrows; and, innocent as an infant,
she deemed mankind a god, and the world a paradise. Vivian Grey
discovered that this deity was but an idol of brass, and this garden of
Eden but a savage waste; for, if the river nymph had gained a soul, he
had gained Experience.

Experience, mysterious spirit! whose result is felt by all, whose nature
is described by none. The father warns the son of thy approach, and
sometimes looks to thee as his offspring’s cure and his own consolation.
We hear of thee in the nursery, we hear of thee in the world, we hear of
thee in books; but who has recognised thee until he was thy subject, and
who has discovered the object of so much fame until he has kissed thy
chain? To gain thee is the work of all and the curse of all; thou art at
the same time necessary to our happiness and destructive of our
felicity; thou art the saviour of all things and the destroyer of all
things; our best friend and our bitterest enemy; for thou teachest us
truth, and that truth is, despair. Ye youth of England, would that ye
could read this riddle!

To wake from your bright hopes, and feel that all is vanity, to be
roused from your crafty plans and know that all is worthless, is a
bitter, but your sure, destiny. Escape is impossible; for despair is the
price of conviction. How many centuries have fled since Solomon, in his
cedar palaces, sung the vanity of man! Though his harp was golden and
his throne of ivory, his feelings were not less keen, and his conviction
not less complete. How many sages of all nations have, since the monarch
of Jerusalem, echoed his sad philosophy! yet the vain bubble still
glitters and still allures, and must for ever.

The genealogy of Experience is brief; for Experience is the child of
Thought, and Thought is the child of Action. We cannot learn men from
books, nor can we form, from written descriptions, a more accurate idea
of the movements of the human heart than we can of the movements of
nature. A man may read all his life, and form no conception of the rush
of a mountain torrent, or the waving of a forest of pines in a storm;
and a man may study in his closet the heart of his fellow-creatures for
ever, and have no idea of the power of ambition, or the strength
of revenge.

It is when we have acted ourselves, and have seen others acting; it is
when we have laboured ourselves under the influence of our passions, and
have seen others labouring; it is when our great hopes have been
attained or have been baulked; it is when, after having had the human
heart revealed to us, we have the first opportunity to think; it is then
that the whole truth lights upon us; it is then that we ask of ourselves
whether it be wise to endure such anxiety of mind, such agitation of
spirit, such harrowing of the soul, to gain what may cease to interest
to-morrow, or for which, at the best, a few years of enjoyment can alone
be afforded; it is then that we waken to the hollowness of all human
things; it is then that the sayings of sages and the warnings of
prophets are explained and understood; it is then that we gain
Experience.

Vivian Grey was now about to join, for the second time, the great and
agitated crowd of beings who are all intent in the search after that
undiscoverable talisman, Happiness. That he entertained any hope of
being the successful inquirer is not to be imagined. He considered that
the happiest moment in human life is exactly the sensation of a sailor
who has escaped a shipwreck, and that the mere belief that his wishes
are to be indulged is the greatest bliss enjoyed by man.

How far his belief was correct, how he prospered in this his second
venture on the great ocean of life, it is our business to relate. There
were moments when he wished himself neither experienced nor a
philosopher; moments when he looked back to the lost paradise of his
innocent boyhood, those glorious hours when the unruffled river of his
Life mirrored the cloudless heaven of his Hope!



CHAPTER II


Vivian pulled up his horse as he ascended through the fine beechwood
which leads immediately to the city of Frankfort from the Darmstadt
road. The crowd seemed to increase every moment, but as they were all
hastening the same way, his progress was not much impeded. It was
Frankfort fair; and all countenances were expressive of that excitement
which we always experience at great meetings of our fellow-creatures;
whether the assemblies be for slaughter, pleasure, or profit, and
whether or not we ourselves join in the banquet, the battle, or the
fair. At the top of the hill is an old Roman tower, and from this point
the flourishing city of Frankfort, with its picturesque Cathedral, its
numerous villas, and beautiful gardens in the middle of the fertile
valley of the Maine, burst upon Vivian’s sight. On crossing the bridge
over the river, the crowd became almost impassable, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that Vivian steered his way through the old narrow
winding streets, full of tall ancient houses, with heavy casements and
notched gable ends. These structures did not, however, at the present
moment, greet the traveller with their usual sombre and antique
appearance: their outside walls were, in most instances, covered with
pieces of broad cloth of the most showy colours, red, blue, and yellow
predominating. These standards of trade were not merely used for the
purpose of exhibiting the quality of the article sold in the interior,
but also of informing the curious traveller the name and nation of their
adventurous owners. Inscriptions in German, French, Russian, English,
Italian, and even Hebrew, appeared in striking characters on each
woollen specimen; and, as if these were not sufficient to attract the
attention of the passenger, an active apprentice, or assistant,
commented in eloquent terms on the peculiar fairness and honesty of his
master. The public squares and other open spaces, and indeed every spot
which was secure from the hurrying wheels of the heavy old-fashioned
coaches of the Frankfort aristocracy and the spirited pawings of their
sleek and long-tailed coach-horses, were covered with large and showy
booths, which groaned under the accumulated treasures of all countries.
French silks and French clocks rivalled Manchester cottons and Sheffield
cutlery, and assisted to attract or entrap the gazer, in company with
Venetian chains, Neapolitan coral, and Vienna pipe-heads: here was the
booth of a great book-seller, who looked to the approaching Leipsic fair
for some consolation for his slow sale and the bad taste of the people
of Frankfort; and there was a dealer in Bologna sausages, who felt quite
convinced that in some things the taste of the Frankfort public was by
no means to be lightly spoken of. All was bustle, bargaining, and
business: there were quarrels and conversation in all languages; and
Vivian Grey, although he had no chance either of winning or losing
money, was amused.

At last Vivian gained the High Street; and here, though the crowd was
not less, the space was greater; and so in time he arrived at the grand
hotel of “the Roman Emperor,” where he stopped. It was a long time
before he could be informed whether Baron Julius von Konigstein at
present honoured that respectable establishment with his presence; for,
although Vivian did sometimes succeed in obtaining an audience of a
hurrying waiter, that personage, when in a hurry, has a peculiar habit
of never attending to a question which a traveller addresses to him. In
this dilemma Vivian was saluted by a stately-looking personage above the
common height. He was dressed in a very splendid uniform of green and
gold, covered with embroidery, and glittering with frogs. He wore a
cocked hat adorned with a flowing parti-coloured plume, and from his
broad golden belt was suspended a weapon of singular shape and costly
workmanship. This personage was as stiff and stately as he was
magnificent. His eyes were studiously preserved from the profanation of
meeting the ground, and his well-supported neck seldom condescended to
move from its perpendicular position. His coat was buttoned to the chin
and over the breast, with the exception of one small aperture, which was
elegantly filled up by a delicate white cambric handkerchief, very
redolent of rich perfumes. This gorgeous gentleman, who might have been
mistaken for an elector of the German Empire, had the German Empire been
in existence, or the governor of the city at the least, turned out to be
the chasseur of the Baron von Konigstein; and with his courtly
assistance Vivian soon found himself ascending the staircase of the
Roman Emperor.

Vivian was ushered into an apartment, in which he found three or four
individuals at breakfast. A middle-aged man of distinguished appearance,
in a splendid chamber robe, sprung up from a many-cushioned easy-chair,
and seized his hand as he was announced.

“My dear Mr. Grey! I have left notes for you at the principal hotels.
And how is Eugene? wild blood for a student, but an excellent heart, and
you have been so kind to him! He feels under such particular obligations
to you. Will you breakfast? Ah! I see you smile at my supposing a
horseman unbreakfasted. And have you ridden here from Heidelberg this
morning? Impossible! Only from Darmstadt! I thought so! You were at the
Opera then last night. And how is the little Signora? We are to gain
her though! trust the good people of Frankfort for that! Pray be
seated, but really I am forgetting the commonest rules of breeding. Next
to the pleasure of having friends is that of introducing them to each
other. Prince, you will have great pleasure in being introduced to my
friend, Mr. Grey: Mr. Grey! Prince Salvinski! my particular friend,
Prince Salvinski. The Count von Altenburgh! Mr. Grey! my very particular
friend, the Count von Altenburgh. And the Chevalier de Boeffleurs! Mr.
Grey! my most particular friend, the Chevalier de Boeffleurs.”

Baron Julius von Konigstein was minister to the Diet of Frankfort from a
first-rate German power. In person he was short, but delicately formed;
his head a little bald, but as he was only five-and-thirty, this could
scarcely be from age; and his remaining hair, black, glossy, and
curling, proved that their companion ringlets had not been long lost.
His features were small, but not otherwise remarkable, except a pair of
liquid black eyes, of great size, which would have hardly become a
Stoic, and which gleamed with great meaning and perpetual animation.

“I understand, Mr. Grey, that you are a regular philosopher. Pray who is
the favourite master? Kant or Fichte? or is there any other new star who
has discovered the origin of our essence, and proved the non-necessity
of eating? Count, let me help you to a little more of these saucisses
aux choux. I am afraid, from Eugene’s account, that you are almost past
redemption; and I am sorry to say that, although I am very desirous of
being your physician and effecting your cure, Frankfort will supply me
with very few means to work your recovery. If you could but get me an
appointment once again to your delightful London, I might indeed produce
some effect; or were I even at Berlin, or at your delicious Vienna,
Count Altenburgh! (the Count bowed); or at that Paradise of women,
Warsaw, Prince Salvinski!! (the Prince bowed); or at Paris, Chevalier!!!
(the Chevalier bowed); why, then, indeed, you should have some
difficulty in finding an excuse for being in low spirits with Julius von
Konigstein! But Frankfort, eh! de Boeffleurs?”

“Oh! Frankfort!” sighed the French Chevalier, who was also attached to a
mission in this very city, and who was thinking of his own gay
Boulevards and his brilliant Tuileries.

“We are mere citizens here!” continued the Baron, taking a long pinch of
snuff, “mere citizens! Do you snuff?” and here he extended to Vivian a
gold box, covered with the portrait of a crowned head, surrounded with
diamonds. “A present from the King of Sardinia, when I negotiated the
marriage of the Duke of ---- and his niece, and settled the
long-agitated controversy about the right of anchovy fishing on the left
shore of the Mediterranean.

“But the women,” continued the Baron, “the women; that is a different
thing. There is some amusement among the little bourgeoises, who are
glad enough to get rid of their commercial beaus; whose small talk,
after a waltz, is about bills of exchange, mixed up with a little
patriotism about their free city, and some chatter about what they call
‘the fine arts;’ their awful collections of ‘the Dutch school:’ school
forsooth! a cabbage, by Gerard Dowl and a candlestick, by Mieris! And
now will you take a basin of soup, and warm yourself, while his Highness
continues his account of being frozen to death this spring at the top of
Mont-Blanc: how was it, Prince?”

“Your Highness has been a great traveller?” said Vivian.

“I have seen a little of most countries. These things are interesting
enough when we are young; but when we get a little more advanced in
life, the novelty wears off, and the excitement ceases. I have been in
all quarters of the globe. In Europe I have seen everything except the
miracles of Prince Hohenlohe. In Asia, everything except the ruins of
Babylon. In Africa, I have seen every thing but Timbuctoo; and, in
America, everything except Croker’s Mountains.”

Next to eating, music is the business in which an Austrian is most
interested, and Count von Altenburgh, having had the misfortune of
destroying, for the present, one great source of his enjoyment, became
now very anxious to know what chance there existed of his receiving some
consolation from the other. Pushing his plate briskly from him, he
demanded with an anxious air, “Can any gentleman inform me what chance
there is of the Signora coming?”

“No news to-day,” said the Baron, with a mournful look; “I am almost in
despair. What do you think of the last notes that have been
interchanged?”

“Very little chance,” said the Chevalier de Boeffleurs, shaking his
head. “Really these burghers, with all their affected enthusiasm, have
managed the business exceedingly bad. No opera can possibly succeed that
is not conducted by a committee of noblemen.”

“Certainly!” said the Baron; “we are sure then to have the best singers,
and be in the Gazette the same season.”

“Which is much better, I think, Von Konigstein, than paying our bills
and receiving no pleasure.”

“But,” continued the Baron, “these clumsy burghers, with their affected
enthusiasm, as you well observe; who could have contemplated such
novices in diplomacy! Whatever may be the issue, I can at least lay my
head upon my pillow and feel that I have done my duty. Did not I, de
Boeffleurs, first place the negotiation on a basis of acknowledged
feasibility and mutual benefit? Who drew the protocol, I should like to
know? Who baffled the intrigues of the English Minister, the Lord
Amelius Fitzfudge Boroughby? Who sat up one whole night with the
Signora’s friend, the Russian Envoy, Baron Squallonoff, and who was it
that first arranged about the extra chariot?” and here the
representative of a first-rate German Power looked very much like a
resigned patriot, who feels that he deserves a ribbon.

“No doubt of it, my dear Von Konigstein,” echoed the French Chargé
d’Affaires, “and I think, whatever may be the result, that I, too, may
look back to this negotiation with no ungratified feelings. Had the
arrangement been left as I had wished, merely to the Ministers of the
Great Powers, I am confident that the Signora would have been singing
this night in our Opera House.”

“What is the grand point of difference at present?” asked the Austrian.

“A terrific one,” said the Baron; “the lady demanded twenty covers, two
tables, two carriages, one of which I arranged should be a chariot; that
at least the town owes to me; and, what else? merely a town mansion and
establishment. Exerting myself day and night, these terms were at length
agreed to by the municipality, and the lady was to ride over from
Darmstadt to sign and seal. In the course of her ride she took a cursed
fancy to the country villa of a great Jew banker, and since that moment
the arrangement has gone off. We have offered her everything; the
commandant’s country castle; his lady’s country farm; the villa of the
director of the Opera; the retreat of our present prima donna; all in
vain. We have even hinted at a temporary repose in a neighbouring royal
residence; but all useless. The banker and the Signora are equally
intractable, and Frankfort is in despair.”

“She ought to have signed and sealed at Darmstadt,” said the Count, very
indignantly.

“To be sure! they should have closed upon her caprice, and taken her
when she was in the fancy.”

“Talking of Opera girls,” commenced the Polish Prince, “I remember the
Countess Katszinski--”

“Your Highness has nothing upon your plate,” quickly retorted the Baron,
who was in no humour for a story.

“Nothing more, I thank you,” continued the Prince: “as I was saying, I
remember the Countess Katszinski--” but just at this moment the door
opened, and Ernstorff entered and handed a despatch to the Baron,
recommending it to his Excellency’s particular attention.

“Business, I suppose,” said the Plenipotentiary; “it may wait till
to-morrow.”

“From M. Clarionet, your Excellency.”

“From M. Clarionet!” eagerly exclaimed the Baron, and tore open the
epistle. “Gentlemen! congratulate me, congratulate yourselves,
congratulate Frankfort;” and the diplomatist, overcome, leant back in
his chair. “She is ours, Salvinski! she is ours, Von Altenburgh! she is
ours, my dear de Boeffleurs! Mr. Grey, you are most fortunate; the
Signora has signed and sealed; all is arranged; she sings to-night! What
a fine-spirited body is this Frankfort municipality! what elevation of
soul! what genuine enthusiasm! eh! de Boeffleurs?”

“Most genuine!” exclaimed the Chevalier, who hated German music with all
his heart, and was now humming an air from La Dame Blanche.

“But mind, my dear friend, this is a secret, a cabinet secret; the
municipality are to have the gratification of announcing the event to
the city in a public decree; it is but fair. I feel that I have only to
hint to secure your silence.”

At this moment, with a thousand protestations of secresy, the party
broke up, each hastening to have the credit of first spreading the
joyful intelligence through the circles, and of depriving the Frankfort
senate of their hard-earned gratification. The Baron, who was in high
spirits, ordered the carriage to drive Vivian round the ramparts, where
he was to be introduced to some of the most fashionable beauties,
previous to the evening triumph.



CHAPTER III


Vivian passed a week very agreeably at Frankfort. In the Baron and his
friends he found the companions that he had need of; their conversation
and pursuits diverted his mind without engaging his feelings, and
allowed him no pause to brood. There were moments, indeed, when he found
in the Baron a companion neither frivolous nor uninstructive. His
Excellency had travelled in most countries, and had profited by his
travels. His taste for the fine arts was equalled by his knowledge of
them; and his acquaintance with many of the most eminent men of Europe
enriched his conversation with a variety of anecdotes, to which his
lively talents did ample justice. He seemed fond at times of showing
Vivian that he was not a mere artificial man of the world, destitute of
all feelings, and thinking only of himself: he recurred with
satisfaction to moments of his life when his passions had been in full
play; and, while he acknowledged the errors of his youth with candour,
he excused them with grace. In short, Vivian and he became what the
world calls friends; that is to say, they were men who had no objection
to dine in each other’s company, provided the dinner were good; assist
each other in any scrape, provided no particular personal responsibility
were incurred by the assistant; and live under the same roof, provided
each were master of his own time. Vivian and the Baron, indeed, did more
than this; they might have been described as particular friends, for his
Excellency had persuaded our hero to accompany him for the summer to the
Baths of Ems, a celebrated German watering-place, situate in the duchy
of Nassau, in the vicinity of the Rhine.

On the morrow they were to commence their journey. The fair of
Frankfort, which had now lasted nearly a month, was at its close. A
bright sunshiny afternoon was stealing into twilight, when Vivian,
escaping from the principal street and the attractions of the Braunfels,
or chief shops under the Exchange, directed his steps to some of the
more remote and ancient streets. In crossing a little square his
attention was excited by a crowd which had assembled round a conjuror,
who, from the top of a small cart, which he had converted into a stage,
was haranguing, in front of a green curtain, an audience with great
fervency, and apparently with great effect; at least Vivian judged so
from the loud applauses which constantly burst forth. The men pressed
nearer, shouted, and clapped their hands; and the anxious mothers
struggled to lift their brats higher in the air that they might early
form a due conception of the powers of magic, and learn that the
maternal threats which were sometimes extended to them at home were not
mere idle boasting. Altogether, the men with their cocked hats, stiff
holiday coats, and long pipes; the women with their glazed gowns of
bright fancy patterns, close lace caps, or richly-chased silver
headgear; and the children with their gaping mouths and long heads of
hair, offered quaint studies for a German or Flemish painter. Vivian
became also one of the audience, and not an uninterested one.

The appearance of the conjuror was peculiar. He was not much more than
five feet high, but so slightly formed that he reminded you rather of
the boy than the dwarf. The upper part of his face was even delicately
moulded; his sparkling black eyes became his round forehead, which was
not too much covered by his short glossy black hair; his complexion was
clear, but quite olive; his nose was very small and straight, and
contrasted singularly with his enormous mouth, the thin bluish lips of
which were seldom closed, and consequently did not conceal his large
square teeth, which, though very white, were set apart, and were so
solid that they looked almost like double teeth. This enormous mouth,
which was supported by large jawbones, attracted the attention of the
spectator so keenly that it was some time before you observed the
prodigious size of the ears, which also adorned this extraordinary
countenance. The costume of this being was not less remarkable than his
natural appearance. He wore a complete under dress of pliant leather,
which fitted close up to his throat and down to his wrists and ankles,
where it was clasped with large fastenings, either of gold or some gilt
material. This, with the addition of a species of hussar jacket of green
cloth, which was quite unadorned with the exception of its vivid red
lining, was the sole covering of the conjuror; who, with a light cap and
feather in his hand, was now haranguing the spectators. The object of
his discourse was a panegyric of himself and a satire on all other
conjurors. He was the only conjuror, the real one, a worthy descendant
of the magicians of old.

“Were I to tell that broad-faced Herr,” continued the conjuror, “who is
now gaping opposite to me, that this rod is the rod of Aaron, mayhap he
would call me a liar; yet were I to tell him that he was the son of his
father, he would not think it wonderful! And yet, can he prove it? My
friends, if I am a liar, the whole world is a liar, and yet any one of
you who’ll go and proclaim that on the Braunfels will get his skull
cracked. Every truth is not to be spoken, and every lie is not to be
punished. I have told you that it is better for you to spend your money
in seeing my tricks than in swigging schnaps in the chimney corner; and
yet, my friends, this may be a lie. I have told you that the profits of
this whole night shall be given to some poor and worthy person in this
town; and perhaps I shall give them to myself. What then! I shall speak
the truth; and you will perhaps crack my skull. Is this a reward for
truth? O generation of vipers! My friends, what is truth? who can find
it in Frankfort? Suppose I call upon you, Mr. Baker, and sup with you
this evening; you will receive me as a neighbourly man should, tell me
to make myself at home, and do as I like. Is it not so? I see you smile,
as if my visit would make you bring out one of the bottles of your best
Asmanshausen!”

Here the crowd laughed out; for we are always glad when there is any
talk of another’s hospitality being put to the test, although we stand
no chance of sharing in the entertainment ourselves. The baker looked
foolish, as all men singled out in a crowd do.

“Well, well,” continued the conjuror, “I have no doubt his wine would
be as ready as your tobacco, Mr. Smith; or a wafila from your basket, my
honest cake-seller;” and so saying, with a long thin wand the conjuror
jerked up the basket of an itinerant and shouting pastry-cook, and
immediately began to thrust the contents into his mouth with a rapidity
ludicrously miraculous. The laugh now burst out again, but the honest
baker joined in it this time with an easy spirit.

“Be not disconcerted, my little custard-monger; if thou art honest, thou
shalt prosper. Did I not say that the profits of this night were for the
most poor and the most honest? If thy stock in trade were in thy basket,
my raspberry-puff, verily thou art not now the richest here; and so,
therefore, if thy character be a fair one, that is to say, if thou only
cheat five times a day, and give a tenth of thy cheatery to the poor,
thou shalt have the benefit. I ask thee again, what is truth? If I sup
with the baker, and he tells me to do what I like with all that is his,
and I kiss his wife, he will kick me out; yet to kiss his wife might be
my pleasure, if her breath were sweet. I ask thee again, what is truth?
Truth, they say, lies in a well; but perhaps this is a lie. How do we
know that truth is not in one of these two boxes?” asked the conjuror,
placing his cap on his head, and holding one small snuff-box to a tall,
savage-looking, one-eyed Bohemian, who, with a comrade, had walked over
from the Austrian garrison at Mentz.

“I see but one box,” growled the soldier.

“It is because thou hast only one eye, friend; open the other, and thou
shalt see two,” said the conjuror, in a slow, malicious tone, with his
neck extended, and his hand with the hateful box outstretched in it.

“Now, by our black Lady of Altoting, I’ll soon stop thy prate,
chitterling!” bellowed the enraged Bohemian.

“Murder! the protection of the free city against the Emperor of Austria,
the King of Bohemia, Hungary, and Lombardy!” and the knave retreated to
the very extremity of the stage, and affecting agitating fear, hid
himself behind the green curtain, from a side of which his head was
alone visible, or rather an immense red tongue, which wagged in all
shapes at the unlucky soldier, except when it retired to the interior of
his mouth, to enable him to reiterate “Murder!” and invoke the
privileges of the free city of Frankfort.

When the soldier was a little cooled, the conjuror again came forward,
and, having moved his small magical table to a corner, and lit two
tapers, one of which he placed at each side of the stage, he stripped
off his hussar jacket, and began to imitate a monkey; an animal which,
by the faint light, in his singular costume, he very much resembled. How
amusing were his pranks! He first plundered a rice plantation, and then
he cracked cocoa-nuts; then he washed his face and arranged his toilet
with, his right paw; and finally he ran a race with his own tail, which
humorous appendage to his body was very wittily performed for the
occasion by a fragment, of an old tarred rope. His gambols were so
diverting that they even extracted applause from his enemy the one-eyed
serjeant; and, emboldened by the acclamations, from monkeys the conjuror
began to imitate men. He first drank like a Dutchman, and having reeled
round with a thousand oaths, to the manifold amusement of the crowd, he
suddenly began to smoke like a Prussian. Nothing could be more admirable
than the look of complacent and pompous stolidity with which he
accompanied each puff of his pipe. The applause was continued; and the
one-eyed Bohemian serjeant, delighted at the ridicule which was heaped
on his military rival, actually threw the mimic some groschen.

“Keep thy pence, friend,” said the conjuror; “thou wilt soon owe me
more; we have not yet closed accounts. My friends, I have drank like a
Dutchman; I have smoked like a Prussian; and now I will eat like an
Austrian!” and here the immense mouth of the actor seemed distended even
a hundred degrees bigger, while with gloating eyes and extended arms he
again set to at the half-emptied wafila basket of the unhappy
pastry-cook.

“Now, by our black Lady of Altoting, thou art an impudent varlet!”
 growled the Austrian soldier.

“You are losing your temper again,” retorted the glutton, with his mouth
full; “how difficult you are to please! Well, then, if the Austrians may
not be touched, what say you to a Bohemian! a tall one-eyed Bohemian
serjeant, with an appetite like a hog and a liver like a lizard?”

“Now, by our black Lady of Altoting, this is too much!” and the soldier
sprang at the conjuror.

“Hold him!” cried Vivian Grey; for the mob, frightened at the soldier,
gave way.

“There is a gentle’s voice under a dark cloak!” cried the conjuror; “but
I want no assistance;” and so saying, with a dexterous spring the
conjuror leaped over the heads of two or three staring children, and
lighted on the nape of the serjeant’s gigantic neck; placing his
forefingers behind each of the soldier’s ears, he threatened to slit
them immediately if he were not quiet. The serjeant’s companion, of
course, came to his rescue, but Vivian engaged him, and attempted to
arrange matters. “My friends, surely a gay word at a fair is not to meet
with military punishment! What is the use of living in the free city of
Frankfort, or, indeed, in any other city, if jokes are to be answered
with oaths, and a light laugh met with a heavy blow? Avoid bloodshed, if
possible, but stand by the conjuror. His business is jibes and jests,
and this is the first time that I ever saw Merry Andrew arrested. Come,
my good fellows!” said he to the soldiers, “we had better be off; men so
important as you and I should not be spectators of these mummeries.” The
Austrians, who understood Vivian’s compliment literally, were not sorry
to make a dignified retreat; particularly as the mob, encouraged by
Vivian’s interference, began to show fight. Vivian also took his
departure as soon as he could possibly steal off unnoticed; but not
before he had been thanked by the conjuror.

“I knew there was gentle blood under that cloak. If you like to see the
Mystery of the Crucifixion, with the Resurrection, and real fireworks,
it begins at eight o’clock, and you shall be admitted gratis. I knew
there was gentle blood under that cloak, and some day or other, when
your Highness is in distress, you shall not want the aid of
ESSPER GEORGE!”



CHAPTER IV


It was late in the evening when a britzska stopped at the post-house at
Coblentz. The passage-boat from Bingen had just arrived; and a portly
judge from the Danube, a tall, gaunt Prussian officer, a sketching
English artist, two University students, and some cloth-merchants,
returning from Frankfort fair, were busily occupied at a long table in
the centre of the room, at an ample banquet, in which sour-crout,
cherry-soup, and savoury sausages were not wanting. So keen were the
appetites of these worthies, that the entrance of the new comers, who
seated themselves at a small table in the corner of the room, was
scarcely noticed; and for half-an-hour nothing was heard but the sound
of crashing jaws and of rattling knives and forks. How singular is the
sight of a dozen hungry individuals intent upon their prey! What a noisy
silence! A human voice was at length heard. It proceeded from the fat
judge; a man at once convivial, dignified, and economical: he had not
spoken for two minutes before his character was evident to every person
in the room, although he flattered himself that his secret purpose was
concealed from all. Tired with the thin Moselle gratuitously allowed to
the table, the judge wished to comfort himself with a glass of more
generous liquor; aware of the price of a bottle of good Rudesheimer, he
was desirous of forming a copartnership with one or two gentlemen in the
venture; still more aware of his exalted situation, he felt it did not
become him to appear in the eyes of any one as an unsuccessful
suppliant.

“This Moselle is very thin,” observed the judge, shaking his head.

“Very fair table-wine, I think” said the artist, refilling his tumbler,
and then proceeding with his sketch, which was a rough likeness, in
black chalk, of the worthy magistrate himself.

“Very good wine, I think,” swore the Prussian, taking the bottle. With
the officer there was certainly no chance.

The cloth-merchants mixed even this thin Moselle with water, and
therefore they could hardly be looked to as boon companions; and the
students were alone left. A German student is no flincher at the bottle,
although he generally drinks beer. These gentry, however, were no great
favourites with the magistrate, who was a loyal man, of regular habits,
and no encourager of brawls, duels, and other still more disgraceful
outrages; to all which abominations, besides drinking beer and chewing
tobacco, the German student is remarkably addicted; but in the present
case what was to be done? He offered the nearest a pinch of snuff, as a
mode of commencing his acquaintance and cultivating his complacency. The
student dug his thumb into the box, and, with the additional aid of the
forefinger sweeping out half its contents, growled out something like
thanks, and then drew up in his seat, as if he had too warmly encouraged
the impertinent intrusion of a Philistine to whom he had never been
introduced.

The cloth-merchant, ceasing from sipping his meek liquor, and taking out
of his pocket a letter, from which he tore off the back, carefully
commenced collecting with his forefinger the particles of dispersed
snuff in a small pyramid, which, when formed, was dexterously slided
into the paper, then folded up and put into his pocket; the prudent
merchant contenting himself for the moment with the refreshment which
was afforded to his senses by the truant particles which had remained
in his nail.

“Waiter, a bottle of Rudesheimer!” bellowed the judge; “and if any
gentleman or gentlemen would like to join me, they may,” he added, in a
more subdued tone. No one answered, and the bottle was put down. The
judge slowly poured out the bright yellow fluid into a tall bell glass,
adorned with a beautiful and encircling wreath of vine leaves; he held
the glass a moment before the lamp, for his eye to dwell with still
greater advantage on the transparent radiancy of the contents; and then
deliberately pouring them down his throat, and allowing them to dwell a
moment on his palate, he uttered an emphatic “bah!” and sucking in his
breath, leaned back in his chair. The student immediately poured out a
glass from the same bottle, and drank it off. The judge gave him a look,
and then blessed himself that, though his boon companion was a brute,
still he would lessen the expense of the bottle, which nearly amounted
to a day’s pay; and so he again filled his glass, but this was merely to
secure his fair portion. He saw the student was a rapid drinker; and,
although he did not like to hurry his own enjoyment, he thought it most
prudent to keep his glass well stored by his side.

“I hope your Lordships have had a pleasant voyage,” exclaimed a man,
entering the room rapidly as he spoke; and, deliberately walking up to
the table, he pushed between two of the cloth-merchants, who quietly
made way; and then placing a small square box before him, immediately
opened it, and sweeping aside the dishes and glasses which surrounded
him, began to fill their places with cups, balls, rings, and other
mysterious-looking matters, which generally accompany a conjuror.

“I hope your Lordships have had a pleasant voyage. I have been thinking
of you all the day. (Here the cups were arranged.) Next to myself, I am
interested for my friends. (Here the rice was sprinkled.) I came from
Fairy-land this morning. (Here the trick was executed.) Will any
gentleman lend me a handkerchief? Now, sir, tie any knot you choose:
tighter, tighter, tight as you can, tight as you can: now pull! Why,
sir, where’s your knot?” Here most of the company good-naturedly
laughed at a trick which had amused them before a hundred times. But
the dignified judge had no taste for such trivial amusements; and,
besides, he thought that all this noise spoilt the pleasure of his wine,
and prevented him from catching the flavour of his Rudesheimer.
Moreover, the Judge was not in a very good humour. The student appeared
to have little idea of the rules and regulations of a fair partnership:
for not only did he not regulate his draughts by the moderate example of
his bottle companion, but actually filled the glass of his University
friend, and even offered the precious green flask to his neighbour, the
cloth-merchant. That humble individual modestly refused the proffer. The
unexpected circumstance of having his health drank by a stranger seemed
alone to have produced a great impression upon him; and adding a little
more water to his already diluted potation, he bowed reverently to the
student, who, in return, did not notice him. All these little
circumstances prevented the judge from laughing at the performances of
our friend Essper George; for we need hardly mention that the conjuror
was no other. His ill-humour did not escape the lord of the cups and
balls, who, as was his custom, immediately began to torment him.

“Will you choose a card?” asked the magician of the judge, with a most
humble look.

“No, sir!”

Essper George looked very penitent, as if he felt he had taken a great
liberty by his application; and so, to compensate for his incorrect
behaviour, he asked the magistrate whether he would have the goodness to
lend him his watch. The judge was irate, and determined to give the
intruder a set down.

“I am not one of those who can be amused by tricks that his grandfather
knew.”

“Grandfather!” shrieked Essper; “what a wonderful grandfather yours must
have been! All my tricks are fresh from Fairyland this morning.
Grandfather, indeed! Pray, is this your grandfather?” and here the
conjuror, leaning over the table, with a rapid catch drew out from the
fat paunch of the judge a long grinning wooden figure, with great
staring eyes, and the parrot nose of a pulcinello. The laugh which
followed this sleight-of-hand was loud, long, and universal. The judge
lost his temper; and Essper George took the opportunity of the confusion
to drink off the glass of Rudesheimer which stood, as we have
mentioned, ready charged, at the magistrate’s elbow.

The waiter now went round to collect the money of the various guests who
had partaken of the boat-supper; and, of course, charged the judge extra
for his ordered bottle, bowing at the same time very low, as was proper
to so good a customer. These little attentions at inns encourage
expenditure. The judge tried at the same time the bottle, which he found
empty, and applied to his two boon companions for their quota; but the
students affected a sort of brutal surprise at any one having the
impudence to imagine that they were going to pay their proportion; and
flinging down the money for their own supper on the table, they retired.
The magistrate, calling loudly for the landlord, followed them out
of the room.

Essper George stood moralising at the table, and emptying every glass
whose contents were not utterly drained, with the exception of the
tumblers of the cloth-merchants, of whose liquor he did not approve.

“Poor man! to get only one glass out of his own bottle! Ay! call for M.
Maas; threaten as you will. Your grandfather will not help you here.
Blood out of a wall and money out of a student come the same day. Ah! is
your Excellency here?” said Essper, turning round to our two travellers
with affected surprise, although he had observed them the whole time.
“Is your Excellency here? I have been looking for you through Frankfort
this whole morning. There! it will do for your glass. It is of chamois
leather, and I made it myself, from a beast I caught last summer in the
valley of the Rhone.” So saying, he threw over Vivian’s neck a neat
chain, or cord, of curiously-worked leather.

“Who the devil is this, Grey?” asked the Baron.

“A funny knave, whom I once saved from a thrashing, or something of the
kind, which I do him the justice to say he well deserved.”

“Who the devil is this?” said Essper George. “Why, that is exactly the
same question I myself asked when I saw a tall, pompous, proud fellow,
dressed like a peacock on a May morning, standing at the door just now.
He looked as if he would pass himself off for an ambassador at least;
but I told him that if he got his wages paid he was luckier than most
servants. Was I right, your Excellency?”

“Poor Ernstorff!” said the Baron, laughing. “Yes; _he_ certainly gets
paid. Here, you are a clever varlet; fill your glass.”

“No; no wine. Don’t you hear the brawling, and nearly the bloodshed,
which are going on upstairs about a sour bottle of Rudesheimer? and here
I see two gentles who have ordered the best wine merely to show that
they are masters and not servants of the green peacock, and lo! cannot
get through a glass. Lord! lord! what is man? If my fat friend and his
grandfather would but come down stairs again, here is liquor enough to
make wine and water of the Danube; for he comes from thence by his
accent. No, I’ll have none of your wine; keep it to throw on the sandy
floor, that the dust may not hurt your delicate shoes, nor dirt the hand
of the gentleman in green and gold when he cleans them for you in
the morning.”

Here the Baron laughed again, and, as he bore his impertinence, Essper
George immediately became polite.

“Does your Highness go to Ems?”

“We hardly know, my friend.”

“Oh! go there, gentlemen. I have tried them all; Aix-la-Chapelle, Spa,
Wiesbaden, Carlsbad, Pyrmont, every one of them; but what are these to
Ems? There we all live in the same house and eat from the same table.
When there I feel that you are all under my protection; I consider you
all as my children. Besides, the country, how delightful! the mountains,
the valleys, the river, the woods, and then the company so select! No
sharpers, no adventurers, no blacklegs: at Ems you can be taken in by no
one except your intimate friend. To Ems, by all means. I would advise
you, however, to send the gentleman in the cocked hat on before you to
engage rooms; for I can assure you that you will have a hard chance. The
baths are very full.”

“And how do you get there, Essper?” asked Vivian.

“Those are subjects on which I never speak,” answered the conjuror, with
a solemn air.

“But have you all your stock-in-trade with you, my good fellow? Where is
the Mystery?”

“Sold, sir; sold! I never keep to anything long. Variety is the mother
of Enjoyment. At Ems I shall not be a conjuror: but I never part with my
box. It takes no more room than one of those medicine chests, which I
dare say you have got with you in your carriage, to prop up your couple
of shattered constitutions.”

“By Jove! you are a merry, impudent fellow,” said the Baron; “and if
you like to get up behind my britzska, you may.”

“No; I carry my own box and my own body, and I shall be at Ems to-morrow
in time enough to receive your Lordships.”



CHAPTER V


In a delightful valley of Nassau, formed by the picturesque windings of
the Taunus Mountains, and on the banks of the noisy river Lahn, stands a
vast brick pile, of irregular architecture, which nearly covers an acre
of ground. This building was formerly a favourite palace of the ducal
house of Nassau; but the present Prince has thought proper to let out
the former residence of his family as an hotel for the accommodation of
the company, who in the season frequent this, the most lovely spot in
his lovely little duchy. This extensive building contains two hundred
and thirty rooms and eighty baths; and these apartments, which are under
the management of an official agent, who lives in the “Princely Bathing
House,” for such is its present dignified title, are to be engaged at
fixed prices, which are marked over the doors. All the rooms in the
upper story of the Princely Bathing House open on, or are almost
immediately connected with, a long corridor, which extends the whole
length of the building. The ground-floor, besides the space occupied by
the baths, also affords a spacious promenade, arched with stone, and
surrounded with stalls, behind which are marshalled vendors of all the
possible articles which can be required by the necessities of the
frequenters of a watering-place. There you are greeted by the jeweller
of the Palais Royal and the marchande de mode of the Rue de la Paix; the
print-seller from Mannheim and the china-dealer from Dresden; and other
small speculators in the various fancy articles which abound in Vienna,
Berlin, Geneva, Basle, Strasburg, and Lausanne; such as pipes, costumes
of Swiss peasantry, crosses of Mont Blanc crystal, and all varieties of
national bijouterie. All things may here be sold, save those which
administer to the nourishment of the body or the pleasure of the palate.
Let not those of my readers who have already planned a trip to the sweet
vales of the Taunus be frightened by this last sentence. At Ems
“eatables and drinkables” are excellent and abounding; but they are
solely supplied by the restaurateur, who farms the monopoly from the
Duke. This gentleman, who is a pupil of Beauvillier’s, and who has
conceived an exquisite cuisine, by adding to the lighter graces of
French cookery something of the more solid virtues of the German,
presides in a saloon of vast size and magnificent decoration, in which,
during the season, upwards of three hundred persons frequent the table
d’hôte. It is the etiquette at Ems that, however distinguished or
however humble the rank of the visitors, their fare and their treatment
must be alike. In one of the most aristocratic countries in the word the
sovereign prince and his tradesman subject may be found seated in the
morning at the same board, and eating from the same dish, as in the
evening they may be seen staking on the same colour at the gaming-table,
and sharing in the same interest at the Redoute.

The situation of Ems is delightful. The mountains which form the valley
are not, as in Switzerland, so elevated that they confine the air or
seem to impede the facility of breathing. In their fantastic forms the
picturesque is not lost in the monotonous, and in the rich covering of
their various woods the admiring eye finds at the same time beauty and
repose. Opposite the ancient palace, on the banks of the Lahn, are the
gardens. In these, in a pavilion, a band of musicians seldom cease from
enchanting the visitors by their execution of the most favourite
specimens of German and Italian music. Numberless acacia arbours and
retired sylvan seats are here to be found, where the student or the
contemplative may seek refuge from the noise of his more gay companions,
and the tedium of eternal conversation. In these gardens, also, are the
billiard-room, and another saloon, in which each night meet, not merely
those who are interested in the mysteries of rouge et noir, and the
chances of roulette, but, in general, the whole of the company, male and
female, who are frequenting the baths. In quitting the gardens for a
moment, we must not omit mentioning the interesting booth of our friend,
the restaurateur, where coffee, clear and hot, and exquisite
confectionery, are never wanting. Nor should we forget the glittering
pennons of the gay boats which glide along the Lahn; nor the handsome
donkeys, who, with their white saddles and red bridles, seem not
unworthy of the princesses whom they sometimes bear. The gardens, with
an alley of limetrees, which are farther on, near the banks of the
river, afford easy promenades to the sick and debilitated; but the more
robust and active need not fear monotony in the valley of the Lahn. If
they sigh for the champaign country, they can climb the wild passes of
the encircling mountains, and from their tops enjoy the most magnificent
views of the Rhineland. There they may gaze on that mighty river,
flowing through the prolific plain which at the same time it nourishes
and adorns, bounded on each side by mountains of every form, clothed
with wood or crowned with castles. Or, if they fear the fatigues of the
ascent, they may wander farther up the valley, and in the wild dells,
romantic forests, and grey ruins of Stein and Nassau, conjure up the old
times of feudal tyranny when the forest was the only free land, and he
who outraged the laws the only one who did not suffer from their
authority.

Besides the Princely Bathing House, I must mention that there was
another old and extensive building near it, which, in very full seasons,
also accommodated visitors on the same system as the palace. At present,
this adjoining building was solely occupied by a Russian Grand Duke, who
had engaged it for the season.

Such is a slight description of Ems, a place almost of unique character;
for it is a watering-place with every convenience, luxury, and
accommodation; and yet without shops, streets, or houses.

The Baron and Vivian were fortunate in finding rooms, for the Baths were
very full; the extraordinary beauty of the weather having occasioned a
very early season. They found themselves at the baths early on the
morning after their arrival at Coblentz, and at three o’clock in the
same day had taken their places at the dinner table in the great saloon.
At the long table upwards of two hundred and fifty guests were
assembled, of different nations, and of very different characters. There
was the cunning, intriguing Greek, who served well his imperial master
the Russian. The order of the patron saint of Moscow, and the glittering
stars of other nations which sparkled on his green uniform, told how
well he had laboured for the interest of all other countries except his
own; but his clear, pale complexion, his delicately trimmed mustachio,
his lofty forehead, his arched eyebrow, and his Eastern eye, recalled to
the traveller, in spite of his barbarian trappings, the fine
countenances of the Aegean, and became a form which apparently might
have struggled in Thermopylae. Next to him was the Austrian diplomatist,
the Sosia of all cabinets, in whose gay address and rattling
conversation you could hardly recognise the sophistical defender of
unauthorised invasion, and the subtle inventor of Holy Alliances and
Imperial Leagues. Then came the rich usurer from Frankfort or the
prosperous merchant from Hamburgh, who, with his wife and daughters,
were seeking some recreation from his flourishing counting-house in the
sylvan gaieties of a German bathing-place. Flirting with these was an
adventurous dancing-master from Paris, whose profession at present was
kept in the background, and whose well-curled black hair, diamond pin,
and frogged coat hinted at the magnifico incog, and also enabled him, if
he did not choose in time to follow his own profession, to pursue
another one, which he had also studied, in the profitable mystery of the
Redoute. There were many other individuals, whose commonplace appearance
did not reveal a character which perhaps they did not possess. There
were officers in all uniforms, and there were some uniforms without
officers. But all looked perfectly comme il faut, and on the whole very
select; and if the great persons endeavoured for a moment to forget
their dignity, still these slight improprieties were amply made up by
the affected dignity of those little persons who had none to forget.

“And how like you the baths of Ems?” the Baron asked of Vivian, “We
shall get better seats to-morrow, and perhaps be among those whom you
shall know. I see many friends and some agreeable ones. In the meantime,
you must make a good dinner to-day, and I will amuse you, and assist
your digestion, by putting you up to some of the characters with whom
you are dining.”

At this moment a party entered the room, who were rather late in their
appearance, but who attracted the attention of Vivian. The group
consisted of three persons; a very good-looking young man, who supported
on each arm a female. The lady on his right arm was apparently of about
five-and-twenty years of age. She was of majestic stature; her
complexion of untinged purity. Her features were like those conceptions
of Grecian sculptors which, in moments of despondency, we sometimes
believe to be ideal. Her full eyes were of the same deep blue as the
mountain lake, and gleamed from under their long lashes as that purest
of waters beneath its fringing sedge. Her brown light hair was braided
from her high forehead, and hung in long full curls over her neck; the
mass gathered up into a Grecian knot, and confined by a bandeau of
cameos. She wore a dress of black velvet, whose folding drapery was
confined round a waist which was in exact symmetry with the proportions
of her full bust and the polished roundness of her bending neck. The
countenance of the lady was dignified, without any expression of pride,
and reserved, without any of the harshness of austerity. In gazing on
her the enraptured spectator for a moment believed that Minerva had
forgotten her severity, and had entered into a delightful rivalry
with Venus.

Her companion was much younger, not so tall, and of slender form. The
long tresses of her chestnut hair shaded her oval face. Her small,
aquiline nose, bright hazel eyes, delicate mouth, and the deep colour of
her lips, were as remarkable as the transparency of her complexion. The
flush of her cheek was singular; it was of a brilliant pink: you may
find it in the lip of an Indian shell. The blue veins played beneath her
arched forehead, like lightning beneath a rainbow. She was dressed in
white, and a damask rose, half hid in her clustering hair, was her only
ornament. This lovely creature glided by Vivian Grey almost unnoticed,
so fixed was his gaze on her companion. Yet, magnificent as was the
style of Lady Madeleine Trevor, there were few who preferred even her
commanding graces to the softer beauties of Violet Fane.

This party, having passed Vivian, proceeded to the top of the room,
where places had been kept for them. Vivian’s eye watched them till they
were lost among surrounding visitors: their peculiar loveliness could
not deceive him.

“English, no doubt,” observed he to the Baron; “who can they be?”

“I have not the least idea; that is, I do not exactly know. I think they
are English,” answered the Baron, in so confused a manner that Vivian
rather stared. After musing a moment, the Baron recovered himself.

“The unexpected sight of a face we feel that we know, and yet cannot
immediately recognise, is extremely annoying; it is almost agitating.
They are English. The lady in black is Lady Madeleine Trevor; I knew her
in London.”

“And the gentleman?” asked Vivian: “is the gentleman Mr. Trevor?”

“No; Trevor, poor Trevor, is dead, I think; is, I am sure, dead. That, I
am confident, is not he. He was of the ---- family, and was in office
when I was in England. It was in my diplomatic capacity that I first
became acquainted with him. Lady Madeleine was, and, as you see, is, a
charming woman; a very charming woman is Lady Madeleine Trevor.”

“And the young lady with her?”

“And the young lady with her, I cannot exactly say; I do not exactly
know. Her face is familiar to me, and yet I cannot remember her name.
She must have been very young, as you may see, when I was in England;
she cannot now be above eighteen. Miss Fane must therefore have been
very young when I was in England, Miss Fane; how singular I should have
recalled her name! that is her name, Violet Fane, a cousin, or some
relation, of Lady Madeleine: good family. Will you have some soup?”

Whether it were from not being among his friends, or some other cause,
the Baron was certainly not in his usual spirits this day at dinner.
Conversation, which with him was generally as easy as it was brilliant,
like a fountain at the same time sparkling and fluent, was evidently
constrained. For a few minutes he talked very fast, and was then
uncommunicative, absent, and dull. He, moreover, drank a great deal of
wine, which was not his custom; but the grape did not inspire him.
Vivian found amusement in his next neighbour, a forward, bustling man,
clever in his talk, very fine, but rather vulgar. He was the manager of
a company of Austrian actors, and had come to Ems on the chance of
forming an engagement for his troop, who generally performed at Vienna,
He had been successful in his adventure, the Archduke having engaged the
whole band at the New House, and in a few days the troop were to arrive;
at which time the manager was to drop the character of a travelling
gentleman, and cease to dine at the table d’hôte of Ems. From this man
Vivian learnt that Lady Madeleine Trevor had been at the Baths for some
time before the season commenced: that at present hers was the party
which, from its long stay and eminent rank, gave the tone to the
amusements of the place; the influential circle which those who have
frequented watering-places have often observed, and which may be seen at
Ems, Spa, or Pyrmont, equally as at Harrowgate, Tunbridge Wells, or
Cheltenham.



CHAPTER VI


When dinner was finished the party broke up, and most of them assembled
in the gardens. The Baron, whose countenance had assumed its wonted
cheerfulness, and who excused his previous dulness by the usual story of
a sudden headache, proposed to Vivian to join the promenade. The gardens
were very full, and the Baron recognised many of his acquaintance.

“My dear Colonel, who possibly expected to meet you here? Why! did you
dine in the saloon? I only arrived this morning. This is my friend, Mr.
Grey; Colonel von Trumpetson.”

“An Englishman, I believe?” said the Colonel, bowing. He was a starch
militaire, with a blue frock coat buttoned up to his chin, a bald head
with a few grey hairs, and long, thin mustachios like a mandarin’s. “An
Englishman, I believe; pray, sir, will you inform me whether the
household troops in England wear the Marboeuf cuirass?”

“Sir!” said Vivian.

“I esteem myself particularly fortunate in thus meeting with an English
gentleman. It was only at dinner to-day that a controversy arose between
Major von Musquetoon and the Prince of Buttonstein on this point. As I
said to the Prince, you may argue for ever, for at present we cannot
decide the fact. How little did I think when I parted from the Major
that in a few minutes I should be able to settle the question beyond a
doubt. I esteem myself particularly fortunate in meeting with an
Englishman.”

“I regret to say, Colonel, that the question is one that I cannot
decide.”

“Sir, I wish you good morning,” said the Colonel, very drily; and,
staring keenly at Vivian, he walked away.

“He is good enough to fight, I suppose,” said the Baron, with a smile
and shrug of the shoulders, which seemed to return thanks to Providence
for having been educated in the civil service.

At this moment Lady Madeleine Trevor, leaning on the arm of the same
gentleman, passed, and the Baron bowed. The bow was coldly returned.

“You know her Ladyship, then! well!”

“I did know her,” said the Baron; “but I see from her bow that I am at
present in no very high favour. The truth is, she is a charming woman,
but I never expected to see her in Germany, and there was some little
commission of hers which I neglected, some little order for Eau de
Cologne, or a message about a worked pocket-handkerchief, which I
utterly forgot: and then, I never wrote! and you know. Grey, that these
little sins of omission are never forgiven by women.”

“My dear friend, De Konigstein, one pinch! one pinch!” chirped out a
little old odd-looking man, with a poudré head, and dressed in a costume
in which the glories of the vieille cour seemed to retire with
reluctance. A diamond ring twinkled on the snuffy hand, which was
encircled by a rich ruffle of dirty lace. The brown coat was not
modern, and yet not quite such an one as was worn by its master when he
went to see the King dine in public at Versailles before the Revolution:
large silver buckles still adorned the well-polished shoes; and silk
stockings, whose hue was originally black, were picked out with
clock-work of gold.

“My dear Marquis, I am most happy to see you; will you try the
boulangero?”

“With pleasure! A-a-h! what a box! a Louis-Quatorze, I think?”

“Oh, no! by no means so old.”

“Pardon me, my dear De Konigstein; I think a Louis-Quatorze.”

“I bought it in Sicily.”

“A-a-h!” slowly exclaimed the little man, shaking his head.

“Well, good afternoon,” said the Baron, passing on.

“My dear De Konigstein, one pinch; you have often said you have a
particular regard for me.”

“My dear Marquis!”

“A-a-h! I thought so; you have often said you would serve me, if
possible.”

“My dear Marquis, be brief.”

“A-a-h! I will. There’s a cursed crusty old Prussian officer here; one
Colonel de Trumpetson.”

“Well, what can I do? you are surely not going to fight him!”

“A-a-h! no, no; I wish you to speak to him.”

“Well, what?”

“He takes snuff.”

“What is that to me?”

“He has got a box.”

“Well!”

“It is a Louis-Quatorze; could not you get it for me?”

“Good morning to you,” said the Baron, pulling on Vivian.

“You have had the pleasure, Grey, of meeting this afternoon two men who
have each only one idea. Colonel von Trumpetson and the Marquis de la
Tabatière are equally tiresome. But are they more tiresome than any
other man who always speaks on the same subject? We are more irritable,
but not more wearied, with a man who is always thinking of the pattern
of a button-hole, or the shape of a snuff-box, than with one who is
always talking about pictures, or chemistry, or politics. The true bore
is that man who thinks the world is only interested in one subject,
because he himself can only comprehend one.”

Here Lady Madeleine passed again, and this time the Baron’s eyes were
fixed on the ground.

A buzz and a bustle at the other end of the gardens, to which the Baron
and Vivian were advancing, announced the entry of the Grand Duke. His
Imperial Highness was a tall man, with a quick, piercing eye, which was
prevented from giving to his countenance the expression of intellect,
which it otherwise would have done, by the dull and almost brutal effect
of his flat, Calmuck nose. He was dressed in a plain green uniform,
adorned by a single star; but his tightened waist, his stiff stock, and
the elaborate attention which had evidently been bestowed upon his
mustachio, denoted the military fop. The Grand Duke was accompanied by
three or four stiff and stately-looking personages, in whom the severity
of the martinet seemed sunk in the servility of the aide-de-camp.

The Baron bowed very low to the Prince as he drew near, and his
Highness, taking off his cocked-hat with an appearance of cordial
condescension, made a full stop. The silent gentlemen in the rear, who
had not anticipated this suspense in their promenade, almost foundered
on the heels of their royal master; and, frightened at the imminency of
the profanation, forgot their stiff pomp in a precipitate retreat of
half a yard.

“Baron,” said his Highness, “why have I not seen you at the New House?”

“I have but this moment arrived, may it please your Imperial Highness.”

“Your companion,” continued the Grand Duke, pointing very graciously to
Vivian.

“My intimate friend, my fellow-traveller, and an Englishman. May I have
the honour of presenting Mr. Grey to your Imperial Highness?”

“Any friends of the Baron von Konigstein I shall always feel great
pleasure in having presented to me. Sir, I feel great pleasure in having
you presented to me. Sir, you ought to be proud of the name of
Englishman; sir, the English are a noble nation; sir, I have the highest
respect for the English nation!”

Vivian of course bowed very low; and of course made a very proper speech
on the occasion, which, as all speeches of that kind should be, was very
dutiful and quite inaudible.

“And what news from Berlin, Baron? let us move on,” and the Baron turned
with the Grand Duke. The silent gentlemen, settling their mustachios,
followed in the rear. For about half an hour, anecdote after anecdote,
scene after scene, caricature after caricature, were poured out with
prodigal expenditure for the amusement of the Prince, who did nothing
during the exhibition but smile, stroke his whiskers, and at the end of
the best stories fence with his forefinger at the Baron’s side, with a
gentle laugh, and a mock shake of the head, and a “Eh! Von Konigstein,
you’re too bad!” Here Lady Madeleine Trevor passed again, and the Grand
Duke’s hat nearly touched the ground. He received a most gracious bow.

“Finish the story about Salvinski, Baron, and then I will present you
for a reward to the most lovely creature in existence, a countrywoman of
your friend, Lady Madeleine Trevor.”

“I have the honour of a slight acquaintance with her,” said the Baron;
“I had the pleasure of knowing her in England.”

“Indeed! Fortunate mortal! I see she has stopped, talking to some
stranger. Let us turn and join her.”

The Grand Duke and the two friends accordingly turned, and of course the
silent gentlemen in the rear followed with due precision.

“Lady Madeleine!” said the Grand Duke, “I flattered myself for a moment
that I might have had the honour of presenting to you a gentleman for
whom I have a great esteem; but he has proved to me that he is more
fortunate than myself, since he had the honour before me of an
acquaintance with Lady Madeleine Trevor.”

“I have not forgotten Baron von Konigstein,” said her ladyship, with a
serious air. “May I ask his Highness how he prospered in his negotiation
with the Austrian troop?”

“Perfectly successful! Inspired by your Ladyship’s approbation, my
steward has really done wonders. He almost deserves a diplomatic
appointment for the talent which he has shown; but what should I do
without Cracowsky? Lady Madeleine, can you conceive what I should do
without Cracowsky?”

“Not in the least.”

“Cracowsky is everything to me. It is impossible to say what Cracowsky
is to me. I owe everything to Cracowsky. To Cracowsky I owe being here.”
 The Grand Duke bowed very low, for this eulogium on his steward also
conveyed a compliment to her Ladyship. The Grand Duke was certainly
right in believing that he owed his summer excursion to Ems to his
steward. That wily Pole regularly every year put his Imperial master’s
summer excursion up to auction, and according to the biddings of the
proprietors of the chief baths did he take care that his master
regulated his visit. The restaurateur of Ems, in collusion with the
official agent of the Duke of Nassau, were fortunate this season in
having the Grand Duke knocked down to them.

“May I flatter myself that Miss Fane feels herself better?” asked the
Grand Duke.

“She certainly does feel herself better, but my anxiety about her does
not decrease. In her illness apparent convalescence is sometimes as
alarming as suffering.”

The Grand Duke continued by the side of Lady Madeleine for about twenty
minutes, seizing every opportunity of uttering, in the most courtly
tone, inane compliments; and then trusting that he might soon have her
Ladyship’s opinion respecting the Austrian troop at the New House, and
that Von Konigstein and his English friend would not delay letting him
see them there, his Imperial Highness, followed by his silent suite,
left the gardens.

“I am afraid Lady Madeleine must have almost mistaken me for a taciturn
lord chamberlain,” said the Baron, occupying immediately the Grand
Duke’s vacated side.

“Baron von Konigstein must be very changed if silence be imputed to him
as a fault,” said Lady Madeleine.

“Baron von Konigstein is very much changed since last he had the
pleasure of conversing with Lady Madeleine Trevor; more changed than she
will perhaps believe; more changed than he can sometimes himself
believe. I hope that he will not be less acceptable to Lady Madeleine
Trevor because he is no longer rash, passionate, and unthinking; because
he has learnt to live more for others and less for himself.”

“Baron von Konigstein does indeed appear changed, since, by his own
account, he has become, in a very few years, a being in whose existence
philosophers scarcely believe, a perfect man.”

“My self-conceit has been so often reproved by you, that I will not
apologise for a quality which I almost flattered myself I no longer
possessed; but you will excuse, I am sure, one who, in zealous haste to
prove himself amended, has, I fear, almost shown that he has
deceived himself.”

Some strange thoughts occurred to Vivian while this conversation was
taking place. “Is this a woman to resent the neglect of an order for Eau
de Cologne? My dear Von Konigstein, you are a very pleasant fellow, but
this is not the way men apologise for the non-purchase of a
pocket-handkerchief!”

“Have you been long at Ems?” inquired the Baron, with an air of great
deference.

“Nearly a month: we are travelling in consequence of the ill-health of a
relation. It was our intention to have gone on to Pisa, but our
physician, in consequence of the extreme heat of the summer, is afraid
of the fatigue of travelling, and has recommended Ems. The air between
these mountains is very soft and pure, and I have no reason to regret at
present that we have not advanced farther on our journey.”

“The lady who was with your party at dinner is, I fear, your invalid.
She certainly does not look like one. I think,” said the Baron, with an
effort, “I think that her face is not unknown to me. It is difficult,
even after so many years, to mistake Miss--”

“Fane,” said Lady Madeleine, firmly; for it seemed that the Baron
required a little assistance at the end of his sentence.

“Ems,” returned his Excellency, with great rapidity of utterance, “Ems
is a charming place, at least to me. I have, within these few years,
quite recurred to the feelings of my boyhood; nothing to me is more
disgustingly wearisome than the gay bustle of a city. My present
diplomatic appointment at Frankfort ensures a constant life among the
most charming scenes of nature. Naples, which was offered to me, I
refused. Eight years ago, I should have thought an appointment at Naples
a Paradise on earth.”

“You must indeed be changed.”

“How beautiful is the vicinity of the Rhine! I have passed within these
three days, for almost the twentieth time in my life, through the
Rheingau; and yet how fresh, and lovely, and novel, seemed all its
various beauties! My young travelling companion is enthusiastic about
this gem of Germany. He is one of your Ladyship’s countrymen. Might I
take the liberty of presenting to you Mr. Grey?”

Lady Madeleine, as if it could now no longer be postponed, introduced to
the two gentlemen her brother, Mr. St. George. This gentleman, who,
during the whole previous conversation, had kept his head in a
horizontal position, looking neither to the right nor to the left, and
apparently unconscious that any one was conversing with his sister,
because, according to the English custom, he was not introduced, now
suddenly turned around, and welcomed his acquaintance with cordiality.

“Mr. Grey,” asked her Ladyship, “are you of Dorsetshire?”

“My mother is a Dorsetshire woman; her family name is Vivian, which name
I also bear.”

“Then I think we are longer acquainted than we have been introduced. I
met your father at Sir Hargrave Vivian’s last Christmas. He spoke of you
in those terms that make me glad that I have met his son. You have been
long from England, I think?”

“Nearly a year and a half.”

The Baron had resigned his place by Lady Madeleine, and was already in
close conversation with Mr. St. George, from whose arm Lady Madeleine’s
was disengaged. No one acted the part of Asmodeus with greater spirit
than his Excellency; and the secret history of every person whose secret
history could be amusing delighted Mr. St. George.

“There,” said the Baron, “goes the son of an unknown father; his mother
followed the camp, and her offspring was early initiated in the
mysteries of military petty larceny. As he grew up he became the most
skilful plunderer that ever rifled the dying of both sides. Before he
was twenty he followed the army as a petty chapman, and amassed an
excellent fortune by re-acquiring after a battle the very goods and
trinkets which he had sold at an immense price before it. Such a wretch
could do nothing but prosper, and in due tune the sutler’s brat became a
commissary-general. He made millions in a period of general starvation,
and cleared at least a hundred thousand dollars by embezzling the shoe
leather during a retreat. He is now a baron, covered with orders, and
his daughters are married to some of our first nobles. There goes a
Polish Count who is one of the greatest gamblers in Christendom. In the
same season he lost to a Russian general, at one game of chess, his
chief castle and sixteen thousand acres of woodland; and recovered
himself on another game, on which he won of a Turkish Pasha one hundred
and eighty thousand leopard skins. The Turk, who was a man of strict
honour, paid the Count by embezzling the tribute in kind of the province
he governed; and as on quarter-day he could not, of course, make up his
accounts with the Divan, he joined the Greeks.”

While the Baron was entertaining Mr. St. George, the conversation
between Lady Madeleine and Vivian proceeded.

“Your father expressed great disappointment to me at his being prevented
paying you a visit. Do you not long to see him?”

“More than I can express. Did you think him in good spirits?”

“Generally so: as cheerful as all fathers can be without their only
son.”

“Did he complain, then, of my absence?”

“He regretted it.”

“I linger in Germany with the hope of seeing him; otherwise I should
have now been much further south. Do you find Sir Hargrave as amusing
as ever?”

“When is he otherwise than the most delightful of old men? Sir Hargrave
is one of my great favourites. I should like to persuade you to return
and see them all. Cannot you fancy Chester Grange very beautiful now?
Albert!” said her Ladyship, turning to her brother, “what is the number
of our apartments? Mr. Grey, the sun has now disappeared, and I fear the
night air among these mountains. We have hardly yet summer nights,
though we certainly have summer days. We shall be happy to see you at
our rooms.” So saying, bowing very cordially to Vivian and coldly to the
Baron, Lady Madeleine left the gardens.

“There goes the most delightful woman in the world,” said the Baron;
“how fortunate that you know her! for really, as you might have
observed, I have no great claims on her indulgent notice. I was
certainly very wild in England; but then young men, you know, Grey! and
I did not leave a card, or call, before I went; and the English are
very stiff and precise about those things; and the Trevors had been very
kind to me. I think we had better take a little coffee now; and then, if
you like, we will just stroll into the REDOUTE.”

In a brilliantly-illuminated saloon, adorned with Corinthian columns and
casts from some of the most famous antique statues, assembled, between
nine and ten o’clock in the evening, many of the visitors at Ems. On
each side of the room was placed a long narrow table, one of which was
covered with green baize, and unattended; while the variously-coloured
leathern surface of the other was closely surrounded by an interested
crowd. Behind this table stood two individuals of different appearance.
The first was a short, thick man, whose only business was dealing
certain portions of playing cards with quick succession one after the
other: and as the fate of the table was decided by this process, did his
companion, a very tall, thin man, throw various pieces of money upon
certain stakes, which were deposited by the bystanders on different
parts of the table; or, which was much oftener the case, with a silver
rake with a long ebony handle, sweep into a large inclosure near him the
scattered sums. This inclosure was called the Bank, and the mysterious
ceremony in which these persons were assisting was the celebrated game
of rouge-et-noir. A deep silence was strictly preserved by those who
immediately surrounded the table; no voice was heard save that of the
little, short, stout dealer, when, without an expression of the least
interest, he seemed mechanically to announce the fate of the different
colours. No other sound was heard, except the jingle of the dollars and
Napoleons, and the ominous rake of the tall, thin banker. The
countenances of those who were hazarding their money were grave and
gloomy: their eyes were fixed, their brows contracted, and their lips
projected; and yet there was an evident effort visible to show that they
were both easy and unconcerned. Each player held in his hand a small
piece of pasteboard, on which, with a steel pricker, he marked, the run
of the cards, in order, from his observations, to regulate his own play.
The rouge-et-noir player imagines that chance is not capricious. Those
who were not interested in the game promenaded in two lines within the
tables, or, seated in recesses between the pillars, formed small parties
for conversation.

“I suppose we must throw away a dollar or two,” said the Baron, as he
walked up to the table.

“My dear De Konigstein, one pinch!”

“Ah! Marquess, what fortune to-night?”

“Bad! I have lost my Napoleon: I never risk further. There is that
cursed crusty old De Trumpet son, persisting, as usual, in his run of
bad luck; because he never will give in. Trust me, my dear De
Konigstein, it will end in his ruin; and then, if there be a sale of his
effects, I shall, perhaps, get his snuff-box; a-a-h!”

“Come, shall I throw down a couple of Napoleons on joint account. I do
not care much for play myself; but I suppose, at Ems, we must make up
our minds to lose a few Louis. Here! now, for the red; joint
account, mind!”

“Done.”

“There’s the Grand Duke! Let us go and make our bow; we need not stick
at the table as if our whole soul were staked with our crown-pieces,” So
saying, the gentlemen walked up to the top of the room.

“Why, Grey! Surely no, it cannot be, and yet it is. De Boeffleurs, how
d’ye do?” said the Baron, with a face beaming with joy and a hearty
shake of the hand. “My dear fellow, how did you manage to get off so
soon? I thought you were not to be here for a fortnight: we only arrived
ourselves to-day.”

“Yes; but I have made an arrangement which I did not anticipate; and so
I posted after you at once. Whom do you think I have brought with me?”

“Who?”

“Salvinski.”

“Ah! And the Count?”

“Follows immediately. I expect him to-morrow or next day. Salvinski is
talking to the Grand Duke; and see, he beckons to me. I suppose I am
going to be presented.”

The Chevalier moved forward, followed by the Baron and Vivian.

“Any friend of Prince Salvinski I shall always have great pleasure in
having presented to me. Chevalier, I feel great pleasure in having you
presented to me. Chevalier, you ought to be proud of the name of
Frenchman. Chevalier, the French are a great nation. Chevalier, I have
the highest respect for the French nation.”

“The most subtile diplomatist,” thought Vivian, as he recalled to mind
his own introduction, “would be puzzled to decide to which interest his
Imperial Highness leans.”

The Grand Duke now entered into conversation with the Prince, and most
of the circle who surrounded him. As his Imperial Highness was
addressing Vivian, the Baron let slip our hero’s arm, and, taking that
of the Chevalier de Boeffleurs, began walking up and down the room with
him, and was soon engaged in animated conversation. In a few minutes the
Grand Duke, bowing to his circle, made a move, and regained the side of
a Saxon lady, from whose interesting company he had been disturbed by
the arrival of Prince Salvinski; an individual of whose long stories and
dull romances the Grand Duke had, from experience, a particular dread:
but his Highness was always very courteous to the Poles.

“Grey, I have despatched De Boeffleurs to the house, to instruct his
servant and Ernstorff to do the impossible, in order that our rooms may
be all together. You will be delighted with De Boeffleurs when you know
him, and I expect you to be great friends. By-the-bye, his unexpected
arrival has quite made us forget our venture at rouge-et-noir. Of course
we are too late now for anything; even if we had been fortunate, our
stake, remaining on the table, is, of course, lost: we may as well,
however, walk up.” So saying, the Baron reached the table.

“That is your Excellency’s stake! that is your Excellency’s stake!”
 exclaimed many voices as he came up.

“What is the matter, my friends?” asked the Baron, calmly.

“There has been a run on the red! there has been a run on the red! and
your Excellency’s stake has doubled each time. It has been 4, 8, 16, 32,
64, 128, 256, and now it is 512!” quickly rattled a little thin man in
spectacles, pointing at the same time to his unparalleled line of
punctures. This was one of those officious, noisy little men who are
always ready to give you unasked information, and who are never so happy
as when they are watching over the interest of some stranger, who never
thanks them for their unnecessary solicitude.

Vivian, in spite of his philosophy, felt the excitement of the moment.
He looked at the Baron, whose countenance, however, was unmoved.

“It seems,” said he, coolly, “we are in luck.”

“The stake, then, is not all your own?” eagerly asked the little man in
spectacles.

“No; part of it is yours, sir,” answered the Baron, drily.

“I am going; to deal,” said the short, thick man behind. “Is the board
cleared?”

“Your Excellency, then, allows the stake to remain?” inquired the tall,
thin banker, with affected nonchalance.

“Oh! certainly,” said the Baron, with real nonchalance.

“Three, eight, fourteen, twenty-four, thirty-four. Rouge 34--”

All crowded nearer; the table was surrounded five or six deep, for the
wonderful run of luck had got wind, and nearly the whole room were round
the table. Indeed, the Grand Duke and Saxon lady, and of course the
silent suite, were left alone at the upper part of the room. The tall
banker did not conceal his agitation. Even the short, stout dealer
ceased to be a machine. All looked anxious except the Baron. Vivian
looked at the table; his Excellency watched, with a keen eye, the little
dealer. No one even breathed as the cards descended. “Ten, twenty (here
the countenance of the banker brightened), twenty-two, twenty-five,
twenty-eight, thirty-one; noir 31. The bank’s broke: no more play
tonight. The roulette table opens immediately.”

In spite of the great interest which had been excited, nearly the whole
crowd, without waiting to congratulate the Baron, rushed to the opposite
side of the room, in order to secure places at the roulette fable.

“Put these five hundred and twelve Napoleons into a bag,” said the
Baron, “Grey, this is your share. With regard to the other half, Mr.
Hermann, what bills have you got?”

“Two on Gogel of Frankfort for two hundred and fifty each, and these
twelve Napoleons will make it right,” said the tall banker, as he opened
a large black pocket-book, from which he took out two small bits of
paper. The Baron examined them, and after having seen them endorsed, put
them into his pocket, not forgetting the twelve Napoleons; and then
taking Vivian’s arm, and regretting extremely that he should have the
trouble of carrying such a weight, he wished Mr. Hermann a very good
night and success at his roulette, and walked with his companion quietly
home. Thus passed a day at Ems!



CHAPTER VII


On the following morning, Vivian met with his friend Essper George,
behind a small stall in the Bazaar.

“Well, my Lord, what do you wish? Here are Eau de Cologne, violet soap,
and watch-ribbons; a smelling bottle of Ems crystal; a snuff-box of
fig-tree wood. Name your price: the least trifle that can be given by a
man who breaks a bank must be more than my whole stock-in-trade
is worth.

“I have not paid you yet, Essper, for my glass chain. There is your
share of my winnings, the fame of which, it seems, has reached even
you!” added Vivian, with no pleased air.

“I thank you, sir, for the Nap; but I hope I have not offended by
alluding to a certain event, which shall be passed over in silence,”
 continued Essper George, with a look of mock solemnity. “I really think
you have but a faint appetite for good fortune. They deserve her most
who value her least.”

“Have you any patrons at Ems, Essper, that have induced you to fix on
this place in particular for your speculations? Here, I should think,
you have many active rivals,” said Vivian, looking round the
various stalls.

“I have a patron here who has never deceived, and who will never desert
me; I want no other; and that’s myself. Now here comes a party: could
you just tell me the name of that tall lady now?”

“If I tell you it is Lady Madeleine Trevor, what will it profit you?”

Before Vivian could well finish his sentence Essper had drawn out a long
horn from beneath his small counter, and sounded a blast which echoed
through the arched passages. The attention of every one was excited, and
no part of the following speech was lost:--

“The celebrated Essper George, fresh from Fairyland, dealer in pomatum
and all sorts of perfumery, watches, crosses, Ems crystal, coloured
prints, Dutch toys, Dresden china, Venetian chains, Neapolitan coral,
French crackers, chamois bracelets, tame poodles, and Cherokee
corkscrews, mender of mandolins and all other musical instruments, to
Lady Madeleine Trevor, has just arrived at Ems, where he only intends to
stay two or three days, and a few more weeks besides. Now, gracious
lady, what do you wish?”

“And who,” said Lady Madeleine, smiling, “is this?”

“The celebrated Essper George, just--” again commenced the conjuror; but
Vivian prevented the repetition.

“He is an odd knave. Lady Madeleine, that I have met with before, at
other places, I believe I may add an honest one. What say you, Essper?”

“More honest than moonlight, gracious lady, for that deceives every one;
and less honest than self-praise, for that deceives no one.”

“My friend, you have a ready wit.”

“My wit is like a bustling servant, gracious lady; always ready when not
wanted, and never present at a pinch.”

“Come, I must have a pair of your chamois bracelets. How sell you them?”

“I sell nothing; all here is gratis to beauty, virtue, and nobility: and
these are my only customers.”

“Thanks will not supply a stock-in-trade though, Essper,” said Vivian.

“Very true! but my customers are apt to leave some slight testimonies
behind them of the obligations which they are under to me; and these, at
the same time, are the prop of my estate and the proof of their
discretion. But who comes here?” said Essper, drawing out his horn. The
sight of this instrument reminded Lady Madeleine how greatly the effect
of music is heightened by distance, and she made a speedy retreat,
yielding her place to a family procession of a striking character.

Three daughters abreast, flanked by two elder sons, formed the first
file. The father, a portly, prosperous-looking man, followed, with his
lady on his arm. Then came two nursery maids, with three children,
between the tender ages of five and six. The second division of the
grand army, consisting of three younger sons, immediately followed. This
was commanded by a tutor. A governess and two young daughters then
advanced; and then came the extreme rear, the sutlers of the camp, in
the persons of two footmen in rich liveries, who each bore a basket on
his arm, filled with various fancy articles, which had been all
purchased during the promenade of this nation through only part of
the bazaar.

The trumpet of Essper George produced a due effect upon the great party.
The commander-in-chief stopped at his little stall, and, as if this were
the signal for general attack and plunder, the files were immediately
broken up. Each individual dashed at his prey, and the only ones who
struggled to maintain a semblance of discipline were the nursery maids,
the tutor, and the governess, who experienced the greatest difficulty in
suppressing the early taste which the detachment of light infantry
indicated for booty. But Essper George was in his element: he joked, he
assisted, he exhibited, he explained; tapped the cheeks of the children
and complimented the elder ones; and finally, having parted at a
prodigious profit, with nearly his whole, stock, paid himself out of a
large and heavy purse, which the portly father, in his utter inability
to comprehend the complicated accounts and the debased currency, with
great frankness deposited in the hands of the master of the stall,
desiring him to settle his own claims.

“I hope I may be allowed to ask after Miss Fane,” said Vivian.

“She continues better; we are now about to join her in the Limewalk. If
you will join our morning stroll, it will give us much pleasure.”

Nothing in the world could give Vivian greater pleasure; he felt himself
impelled to the side of Lady Madeleine; and only regretted his
acquaintance with the Baron because he felt conscious that there was
some secret cause which prevented that intimacy from existing between
his Excellency and the Trevor party which his talents and his position
would otherwise have easily produced.

“By-the-bye,” said Lady Madeleine, “I do not know whether I may be
allowed to congratulate you upon your brilliant success at the Redoute
last night. It is fortunate that all have not to regret your arrival at
Ems so much as poor Mr. Hermann.”

“The run was extraordinary. I am only sorry that the goddess should have
showered her favours on one who neither deserves nor desires them; for I
have no wish to be rich; and as I never lost by her caprices, it is
hardly fair that I should gain by them.”

“You do not play, then, much?”

“I never played in my life till last night. Gambling has never been one
of my follies, although my catalogue of errors is fuller, perhaps, than
most men’s.”

“I think Baron von Konigstein was your partner in the exploit?”

“He was; and apparently as little pleased at the issue as myself.”

“Indeed! Have you known the Baron long?”

“We are only friends of a week. I have been living, ever since I was in
Germany, a very retired life. A circumstance of a most painful nature
drove me from England; a circumstance of which I can hardly flatter
myself, and can hardly wish, that you should be ignorant.”

“I learnt the sad history from one who, while he spoke the truth, spoke
of the living sufferer in terms of the fondest affection.”

“A father!” said Vivian, agitated, “a father can hardly be expected to
be impartial.”

“Such a father as yours may, I only wish that he was with us now, to
assist me in bringing about what he must greatly desire, your return
to England.”

“It cannot be. I look back to the last year which I spent in that
country with feelings of such disgust, I look forward to a return to
that country with feelings of such repugnance that--but I feel I am
trespassing beyond all bounds in touching on these subjects.”

“I promised your father that in case we met, I would seek your society.
I have suffered too much myself not to understand how dangerous and how
deceitful is the excess of grief. You have allowed yourself to be
overcome by that which Providence intended as a lesson of instruction,
not as a sentence of despair. In your solitude you have increased the
shadow of those fantasies of a heated brain, which converse with the
pure sunshine of the world would have enabled you to dispel.”

“The pure sunshine of the world, Lady Madeleine! would that it had ever
lighted me! My youth flourished in the unwholesome sultriness of a
blighted atmosphere, which I mistook for the resplendent brilliancy of a
summer day. How deceived I was, you may judge, not certainly from
finding me here; but I am here because I have ceased to suffer, only in
having ceased to hope.”

“You have ceased to hope, because hope and consolation are not the
companions of solitude, which are of a darker nature. Hope and
consolation spring from the social affections. Converse with the world
will do more for you than all the arguments of philosophers. I hope yet
to find you a believer in the existence of that good which we all
worship and all pursue. Happiness comes when we least expect it, and to
those who strive least to obtain it; as you were fortunate yesterday at
the Redoute, when you played without an idea of winning.”

They were in the Limewalk: gay sounds greeted them, and Miss Fane came
forward from a light-hearted band to welcome her cousin. She had to
propose a walk to the New Spring, which she was prepared for Lady
Madeleine to resist on the ground of her cousin’s health. But Miss Fane
combated all the objections with airy merriment, and with a bright
resource that never flagged. As she bent her head slightly to Vivian,
ere she hastened back to her companions to announce the success of her
mission, it seemed to him that he had never beheld so animated and
beaming a countenance, or glanced upon a form of such ineffable and
sparkling grace.

“You would scarcely imagine, Mr. Grey, that we are travelling for my
cousin’s health, nor do her physicians, indeed, give us any cause for
serious uneasiness; yet I cannot help feeling at times great anxiety.
Her flushed cheek and the alarming languor which succeeds any excitement
make me fear her complaint may be more deeply seated than they are
willing to acknowledge.”

“They were saying the other day that the extraordinary heat of this
season must end in an earthquake, or some great convulsion of nature.
That would bring languor.”

“We are willing to adopt any reasoning that gives us hope, but her
mother died of consumption.”



CHAPTER VIII


When the walking party returned home they found a crowd of idle servants
assembled opposite the house, round a group of equipages, consisting of
two enormous crimson carriages, a britzska, and a large caravan, on all
which vehicles the same coat of arms was ostentatiously blazoned.

“Some new guests!” said Miss Fane.

“It must be the singular party that we watched this morning in the
bazaar,” said Lady Madeleine. “Violet! I have such a curious character
to introduce you to, a particular friend of Mr. Grey, who wishes very
much to have the honour of your acquaintance, MR. ESSPER GEORGE.”

“These carriages, then, belong to him?”

“Not exactly,” said Vivian.

In an hour’s time, the party again met at dinner in the saloon. By the
joint exertions of Ernstorff and Mr. St. George’s servants, the Baron,
Vivian, and the Chevalier de Boeffleurs were now seated next to the
party of Lady Madeleine Trevor.

“My horses fortunately arrived from Frankfort this morning,” said the
Baron. “Mr. St. George and myself have been taking a ride very far up
the valley. Has your Ladyship yet been to the Castle of Nassau?”

“We have not. The expedition has been one of those plans often arranged
and never executed.”

“You should go. The ruin is one of the finest in Germany. An expedition
to Nassau Castle would be a capital foundation for a pic-nic. Conceive a
beautiful valley, discovered by a knight, in the middle ages, following
the track of a stag. How romantic! The very incident vouches for its
sweet seclusion. Cannot you imagine the wooded mountains, the old grey
ruin, the sound of the unseen river? What more should we want, except
agreeable company, fine music, and the best provisions, to fancy
ourselves in Paradise?”

“I wish the plan were practicable,” said Mr. St. George.

“I take the whole arrangement upon myself; there is not a difficulty.
The ladies shall go on donkeys, or we might make a water excursion of it
part of the way, and the donkeys can meet us at the pass near Stein, and
then the gentlemen may walk; and if you fear the water at night, why
then the carriages may come round: and if your own be too heavy for
mountain roads, my britzska is always at your command. You see there is
not a difficulty.”

“Not a difficulty,” said Mr. St. George. “Madeleine, we only wait your
consent.”

“I think we had better put off the execution of our plan till June is a
little more advanced. We must have a fine summer night for Violet.”

“Well, then, I hold the whole party present engaged to follow my
standard, whenever I have permission from authority to unfold it,” said
the Baron, bowing to Lady Madeleine: “and lest, on cool reflection, I
shall not possess influence enough to procure the appointment, I shall,
like a skilful orator, take advantage of your feelings, which gratitude
for this excellent plan must have already enlisted in my favour, and
propose myself as Master of the Ceremonies.” The Baron’s eye caught Lady
Madeleine’s as he uttered this, and something like a smile, rather of
pity than derision, lighted up her face.

Here Vivian turned round to give some directions to an attendant, and to
his annoyance found Essper George standing behind his chair.

[Illustration: frontispiece]

“Is there anything you want, sir?”

“Who ordered you here?”

“My duty.”

“In what capacity do you attend?”

“As your servant, sir.”

“I insist upon your leaving the room directly.”

“Ah! my friend, Essper George,” said Lady Madeleine, “are you there?
What is the matter?”

“This, then, is Essper George!” said Violet Fane. “What kind of being
can he possibly be? What indeed is the matter?”

“I am merely discharging a servant at a moment’s warning, Miss Fane; and
if you wish to engage his constant attendance upon yourself, I have no
objection to give him a character for the occasion.”

“What do you want, Essper?” said Miss Fane.

“Merely to see whether your walk this morning had done your appetites
any good,” answered Essper, looking disconsolate; “and so I thought
I might make myself useful at the same time. And though I do not bring
on the soup in a cocked hat, and carve the venison with a
couteau-de-chasse,” continued he, bowing very low to Ernstorff, who,
standing stiff behind his master’s chair, seemed utterly unaware that
any other person in the room could experience a necessity; “still I can
change a plate or hand the wine without cracking the first, or drinking
the second.”

“And very good qualities, too!” said Miss Fane. “Come, Essper, you shall
put your accomplishments into practice immediately; change my plate.”

This Essper did with dexterity and quiet, displaying at the same time a
small white hand, on the back of which was marked a comet and three
daggers. As he had the discretion not to open his mouth, and performed
all his duties with skill, his intrusion in a few minutes was not only
pardoned but forgotten.

“There has been a great addition to the visitors to-day, I see,” said
Mr. St. George. “Who are the new comers?”

“I will tell you all about them,” said the Baron. “This family is one of
those whose existence astounds the Continent much more than any of your
mighty dukes and earls, whose fortunes, though colossal, can be
conceived, and whose rank is understood. Mr. Fitzloom is a very
different personage, for thirty years ago he was a journeyman cotton
spinner. Some miraculous invention in machinery entitled him to a
patent, which has made him one of the great proprietors of England. He
has lately been returned a member for a manufacturing town, and he
intends to get over the first two years of his parliamentary career by
successively monopolising the accommodation of all the principal cities
of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and by raising the price of
provisions and post-horses through a track of five thousand miles. My
information is authentic, for I had a casual acquaintance with him in
England. There was some talk of a contract for supplying our army from
England, and I saw Fitzloom often on the subject. I have spoken to him
to-day. This is by no means the first of the species that we have had in
Germany. I can assure you that the plain traveller feels seriously the
inconvenience of following such a caravan; their money flows with such
unwise prodigality that real liberality ceases to be valued; and many of
your nobility have complained to me that in their travels they are now
often expostulated with on account of their parsimony, and taunted with
the mistaken extravagance of a stocking-maker or a porter-brewer.”

“What pleasure can such people find in travelling?” wondered Mr. St.
George.

“As much pleasure and more profit than half the young men of the present
day,” replied a middle-aged English gentleman, who was a kinsman of the
St. Georges, and called them cousins. “In my time travelling was
undertaken on a very different system to what it is now. The English
youth then travelled to frequent, what Lord Bacon says are ‘especially
to be seen and observed, the Courts of Princes.’ You all travel now, it
appears, to look at mountains and catch cold in spouting trash on lakes
by moonlight.”

“But, my dear sir!” said the Baron, “although I grant you that the
principal advantages of travel must be the opportunity which it affords
us of becoming acquainted with human nature, knowledge, of course,
chiefly gained where human beings most congregate, great cities, and, as
you say, the Courts of Princes; still, one of its great benefits is,
that it enlarges a man’s experiences, not only of his fellow-creatures
in particular, but of nature in general. Many men pass through life
without seeing a sunrise: a traveller cannot. If human experience be
gained by seeing men in their undress, not only when they are conscious
of the presence of others, natural experience is only to be acquired by
studying nature at all periods, not merely when man is busy and the
beasts asleep.”

“But what is the use of this deep experience of nature? Men are born to
converse with men, not with stocks and stones. He who has studied Le
Sage will be more happy and more successful in this world than the man
who muses over Rousseau.”

“I agree with you. I have no wish to make man an anchorite. But as to
the benefit of a thorough experience of nature, it appears to me to be
evident. It increases our stock of ideas.”

“So does everything.”

“But it does more than this. It calls into being new emotions, it gives
rise to new and beautiful associations; it creates that salutary state
of mental excitement which renders our ideas more lucid and our
conclusions more sound. Can we too much esteem a study which at the same
time stimulates imagination and corrects the judgment?”

“Do not you think that a communion with nature is calculated to elevate
the soul,” said Lady Madeleine, “to--?”

“So is reading your Bible. A man’s soul should always be elevated. If
not, he might look at mountains for ever, but I should not trust him a
jot more.”

“But, sir,” continued the Baron, with unusual warmth, “I am clear that
there are cases in which the influence of nature has worked what you
profess to treat as an impossibility or a miracle. I am myself
acquainted with an instance of a peculiar character. A few years ago, a
gentleman of high rank found himself exposed to the unhappy suspicion of
being connected with some dishonourable transactions which took place in
the highest circles of England. Unable to find any specific charge which
he could meet, he added one to the numerous catalogue of those
unfortunate beings who have sunk in society, the victims of a surmise.
He quitted England, and, disgusted with the world, became the
profligate which he had been falsely believed to be. At the house of
Cardinal ----, at Naples, celebrated for its revels, this gentleman
became a constant guest. He entered with a mad eagerness into every
species of dissipation, although none gave him pleasure, and his
fortune, his health, and the powers of his mind were all fast vanishing.
One night of frantic dissipation a mock election of Master of the Sports
was proposed, and the hero of my tale had the splendid gratification of
being chosen by unanimous consent to this new office. About two o’clock
of the same night he left the palace of the Cardinal, with an intention
of returning; his way on his return led by the Chiaja. It was one of
those nights which we witness only in the south. The blue and brilliant
sea was sleeping beneath a cloudless sky; and the moon not only shed her
light over the orange and lemon trees, which, springing from their green
banks of myrtle, hung over the water, but added fresh lustre to the
white domes and glittering towers of the city, and flooded Vesuvius and
the distant coast with light as far even as Capua. The individual of
whom I am speaking had passed this spot on many nights when the moon was
not less bright, the waves not less silent, and the orange trees not
less sweet; but to-night something irresistible impelled him to stop.
What a contrast to the artificial light and heat and splendour of the
palace to which he was returning! He mused in silence. Would it not be
wiser to forget the world’s injustice in gazing on a moonlit ocean than
in discovering in the illumined halls of Naples the baseness of the
crowd which forms the world’s power? To enjoy the refreshing luxury of a
fanning breeze which now arose he turned and gazed on the other side of
the bay; upon his right stretched out the promontory of Pausilippo;
there were the shores of Baiae. But it was not only the loveliness of
the land which now overcame his spirit; he thought of those whose fame
had made us forget even the beauty of these shores in associations of a
higher character and a more exalted nature. He remembered the time when
it was his only wish to be numbered among them. How had his early hopes
been fulfilled! What just account had he rendered to himself and to his
country; that country that had expected so much, that self that had
aspired even to more!

“Day broke over the city and found him still pacing the Chiaja; he did
not return to the Cardinal’s palace, and in two days he had left Naples.
I can myself, from personal experience, aver that this individual is
now a useful and honourable member of society. The world speaks of him
in more flattering terms.”

The Baron spoke with energy and animation. Miss Fane, who had been
silent, and who certainly had not encouraged by any apparent interest
the previous conversation of the Baron, listened to this anecdote with
eager attention; but the effect it produced upon Lady Madeleine Trevor
was remarkable.

Soon after this the party broke up. The promenade followed; the Grand
Duke, his compliments, and courtiers; then came the Redoute. Mr. Hermann
bowed low as the gentlemen walked up to the table. The Baron whispered
Vivian that it was “expected” that they should play, and give the tables
a chance of winning back their money. Vivian staked with the
carelessness of one who wishes to lose; as is often the case under such
circumstances, he again left the Redoute a considerable winner. He
parted with the Baron at his Excellency’s door and proceeded to the
next, which was his own. Here he stumbled over something at the doorway
which appeared like a large bundle; he bent down with his light to
examine it, and found Essper George lying on his back with his eyes
half-open. It was some moments before Vivian perceived he was asleep;
stepping gently over him, he entered his apartment.



CHAPTER IX


When Vivian rose in the morning a gentle tap at his door announced the
presence of an early visitor, who, being desired to enter, appeared in
the person of Essper George.

“Do you want anything, sir?” asked Essper, with a submissive air.

Vivian stared at him for a moment, and then ordered him to come in.

“I had forgotten, Essper, until this moment, that on returning to my
room last night I found you sleeping at my door. This also reminds me of
your conduct in the saloon yesterday; and as I wish to prevent the
repetition of such improprieties, I shall take this opportunity of
informing you, once for all, that if you do not in future conduct
yourself with more discretion, I must apply to the Maitre d’Hôtel. Now,
sir, what do you want?”

Essper was silent, and stood with his hands crossed on his breast, and
his eyes fixed on the ground.

“If you do not want anything, quit the room immediately.”

Here the singular being began to weep.

“Poor fellow!” thought Vivian, “I fear, with all thy wit and pleasantry,
thou art, after all, but one of those capriccios which Nature sometimes
indulges in, merely to show how superior is her accustomed order to
eccentricities, even accompanied with rare powers.”

“What is your wish, Essper?” continued Vivian, in a kinder tone. “If
there be any service that I can do you, you will not find me backward.
Are you in trouble? you surely are not in want?”

“No!” sobbed Essper; “I wish to be your servant:” here he hid his face
in his hands.

“My servant! why surely it is not very wise to seek dependence upon any
man. I am afraid that you have been keeping company too much with the
lackeys that are always loitering about these bathing-places,
Ernstorff’s green livery and sword, have they not turned your
brain, Essper?”

“No, no, no! I am tired of living alone.”

“But remember, to be a servant, you must be a person of regular habits
and certain reputation. I have myself a good opinion of you, but I have
myself seen very little of you, though more than any one here, and I am
a person of a peculiar turn of mind. Perhaps there is not another
individual in this house who would even allude to the possibility of
engaging a servant without a character.”

“Does the ship ask the wind for a character when he bears her over the
sea without hire and without reward? and shall you require a character
from me when I request to serve you without wages and without pay?”

“Such an engagement, Essper, it would be impossible for me to enter
into, even if I had need of your services, which at present I have not.
But I tell you frankly that I see no chance of your suiting me. I should
require an attendant of steady habits and experience; not one whose very
appearance would attract attention when I wish to be unobserved, and
acquire a notoriety for the master which he detests. I warmly advise you
to give up all idea of entering into a state of life for which you are
not in the least suited. Believe me, your stall will be a better friend
than a master. Now leave me.”

Essper remained one moment with his eyes still fixed on the ground; then
walking very rapidly up to Vivian, he dropped on his knee, kissed his
hand, and disappeared.

Mr. St. George breakfasted with the Baron, and the gentlemen called on
Lady Madeleine early in the morning to propose a drive to Stein Castle;
but she excused herself, and Vivian following her example, the Baron and
Mr. St. George “patronised” the Fitzlooms, because there was nothing
else to do. Vivian again joined the ladies in their morning walk, but
Miss Fane was not in her usual high spirits. She complained more than
once of her cousin’s absence; and this, connected with some other
circumstances, gave Vivian the first impression that her feelings
towards Mr. St. George were not merely those of a relation. As to the
Chevalier de Boeffleurs, Vivian soon found that it was utterly
impossible to be on intimate terms with a being without an idea. The
Chevalier was certainly not a very fit representative of the gay,
gallant, mercurial Frenchman: he rose very late, and employed the whole
of the morning in reading the French journals and playing billiards
alternately with Prince Salvinski and Count von Altenburgh.

These gentlemen, as well as the Baron, Vivian, and Mr. St. George, were
to dine this day at the New House.

They found assembled at the appointed hour a party of about thirty
individuals. The dinner was sumptuous, the wines superb. At the end of
the banquet the company adjourned to another room, where play was
proposed and immediately commenced. His Imperial Highness did not join
in the game, but, seated in a corner of the apartment, was surrounded by
his aides-de-camp, whose business was to bring their master constant
accounts of the fortunes of the table and the fate of his bets. His
Highness did not stake.

Vivian soon found that the game was played on a very different scale at
the New House to what it was at the Redoute. He spoke most decidedly to
the Baron of his detestation of gambling, and expressed his
unwillingness to play; but the Baron, although he agreed with him in his
sentiments, advised him to conform for the evening to the universal
custom. As he could afford to lose, he consented, and staked boldly.
This night very considerable sums were lost and won; but none returned
home greater winners than Mr. St. George and Vivian Grey.



CHAPTER X


The first few days of an acquaintance with a new scene of life and with
new characters generally appear to pass very slowly; not certainly from
the weariness which they induce, but rather from the keen attention
which every little circumstance commands. When the novelty has worn off,
when we have discovered that the new characters differ little from all
others we have met before, and that the scene they inhabit is only
another variety of the great order we have so often observed, we relapse
into our ancient habits of inattention; we think more of ourselves, and
less of those we meet; and musing our moments away in reverie, or in a
vain attempt to cheat the coming day of the monotony of the present one,
we begin to find that the various-vested hours have bounded and are
bounding away in a course at once imperceptible, uninteresting, and
unprofitable. Then it is that, terrified at our nearer approach to the
great river whose dark windings it seems the business of all to forget,
we start from our stupor to mourn over the rapidity of that collective
sum of past-time, every individual hour of which we have in turn
execrated for its sluggishness.

Vivian had now been three weeks at Ems, and the presence of Lady
Madeleine Trevor and her cousin alone induced him to remain. Whatever
the mystery existing between Lady Madeleine and the Baron, his efforts
to attach himself to her party had been successful. The great intimacy
subsisting between the Baron and her brother materially assisted in
bringing about this result. For the first fortnight the Baron was Lady
Madeleine’s constant attendant in the evening promenade, and sometimes
in the morning walk; and though there were few persons whose
companionship could be preferred to that of Baron von Konigstein, still
Vivian sometimes regretted that his friend and Mr. St. George had not
continued their rides. The presence of the Baron seemed always to have
an unfavourable influence upon the spirits of Miss Fane, and the absurd
and evident jealousy of Mr. St. George prevented Vivian from finding in
her agreeable conversation some consolation for the loss of the sole
enjoyment of Lady Madeleine’s exhilarating presence. Mr. St. George had
never met Vivian’s advances with cordiality, and he now treated him with
studied coldness.

The visits of the gentlemen to the New House had been frequent. The
saloon of the Grand Duke was open every evening, and in spite of his
great distaste for the fatal amusement which was there invariably
pursued, Vivian found it impossible to decline frequently attending
without subjecting his motives to painful misconception. His
extraordinary fortune did not desert him, and rendered his attendance
still more a duty. The Baron was not so successful as on his first
evening’s venture at the Redoute; but Mr. St. George’s star remained
favourable. Of Essper Vivian had seen little. In passing through the
bazaar one morning, which he seldom did, he found, to his surprise, that
the former conjuror had doffed his quaint costume, and was now attired
in the usual garb of men of his condition of life. As Essper was busily
employed at the moment, Vivian did not stop to speak to him; but he
received a respectful bow. Once or twice, also, he had met Essper in the
Baron’s apartments; and he seemed to have become a very great favourite
with the servants of his Excellency and the Chevalier de Boeffleurs,
particularly with his former butt, Ernstorff, to whom he now behaved
with great deference.

For the first fortnight the Baron’s attendance on Lady Madeleine was
constant. After this time he began to slacken in his attentions. He
first disappeared from the morning walks, and yet he did not ride; he
then ceased from joining the party at Lady Madeleine’s apartments in the
evening, and never omitted increasing the circle at the New House for a
single night. The whole of the fourth week the Baron dined with his
Imperial Highness. Although the invitation had been extended to all the
gentlemen from the first, it had been agreed that it was not to be
accepted, in order that the ladies should not find their party in the
saloon less numerous or less agreeable. The Baron was the first to break
through a rule which he had himself proposed, and Mr. St. George and the
Chevalier de Boeffleurs soon followed his example.

“Mr. Grey,” said Lady Madeleine one evening, as she was about to leave
the gardens, “we shall be happy to see you to-night, if you are
not engaged.”

“I fear that I am engaged,” said Vivian; for the receipt of some letters
from England made him little inclined to enter into society.

“Oh, no! you cannot be,” said Miss Fane: “pray come! I know you only
want to go to that terrible New House. I wonder what Albert can find to
amuse him there; I fear no good. Men never congregate together for any
beneficial purpose. I am sure, with all his gastronomical affectations,
he would not, if all were right, prefer the most exquisite dinner in the
world to our society. As it is, we scarcely see him a moment. I think
that, you are the only one who has not deserted the saloon. For once,
give up the New House.”

Vivian smiled at Miss Fane’s warmth, and could not persist in his
refusal, although she did dilate most provokingly on the absence of her
cousin. He therefore soon joined them.

“Lady Madeleine is assisting me in a most important work, Mr. Grey. I am
making drawings of the Valley of the Rhine. I know that you are
acquainted with the scenery; you can, perhaps, assist me with your
advice about this view of old Hatto’s Castle.”

Vivian was so completely master of every spot in the Rhineland that he
had no difficulty in suggesting the necessary alterations. The drawings
were vivid representations of the scenery which they professed to
depict, and Vivian forgot his melancholy as he attracted the attention
of the fair artist to points of interest unknown or unnoticed by the
guide-books and the diaries.

“You must look forward to Italy with great interest, Miss Fane?”

“The greatest! I shall not, however, forget the Rhine, even among the
Apennines.”

“Our intended fellow-travellers, Lord Mounteney and his family, are
already at Milan,” said Lady Madeleine to Vivian; “we were to have
joined their party. Lady Mounteney is a Trevor.”

“I have had the pleasure of meeting Lord Mounteney in England, at Sir
Berdmore Scrope’s: do you know him?”

“Slightly. The Mounteneys pass the winter at Rome, where I hope we shall
join them. Do you know the family intimately?”

“Mr. Ernest Clay, a nephew of his Lordship’s, I have seen a great deal
of; I suppose, according to the adopted phraseology, I ought to describe
him as my friend, although I am ignorant where he is at present; and
although, unless he is himself extremely altered, there scarcely can be
two persons who now more differ in their pursuits and tempers than
ourselves.”

“Ernest Clay! is he a friend of yours? He is at Munich, attached to the
Legation. I see you smile at the idea of Ernest Clay drawing up a
protocol!”

“Madeleine, you have never read me Caroline Mounteney’s letter, as you
promised,” said Miss Fane; “I suppose full of raptures; ‘the Alps and
Apennines, the Pyrenaean and the River Po?’”

“By no means; the whole letter is filled with an account of the ballet
at La Scala, which, according to Caroline, is a thousand times more
interesting than Mont Blanc or the Simplon.”

“One of the immortal works of Vigano, I suppose,” said Vivian; “he has
raised the ballet of action to an equality with tragedy. I have heard my
father mention the splendid effect of his Vestale and his Otello.”

“And yet,” said Violet, “I do not like Othello to be profaned. It is not
for operas and ballets. We require the thrilling words.”

“It is very true; yet Pasta’s acting in the opera was a grand
performance; and I have myself seldom witnessed a more masterly effect
produced by any actor in the world than I did a fortnight ago, at the
Opera at Darmstadt, by Wild in Othello.”

“I think the history of Desdemona is the most affecting of all tales,”
 said Miss Fane.

“The violent death of a woman, young, lovely, and innocent, is assuredly
the most terrible of tragedies,” observed Vivian.

“I have often asked myself,” said Miss Fane, “which is the most terrible
destiny for the young to endure: to meet death after a life of anxiety
and suffering, or suddenly to be cut off in the enjoyment of all things
that make life delightful.”

“For my part,” said Vivian, “in the last instance, I think that death
can scarcely be considered an evil. How infinitely is such a destiny to
be preferred to that long apprenticeship of sorrow, at the end of which
we are generally as unwilling to die as at the commencement!”

“And yet,” said Miss Fane, “there is something fearful in the idea of
sudden death.”

“Very fearful,” muttered Vivian, “in some cases;” for he thought of one
whom he had sent to his great account before his time.

“Violet, my dear!” said Lady Madeleine, “have you finished your drawing
of the Bingenloch?” But Miss Fane would not leave the subject.

“Very fearful in all cases, Mr. Grey. How few of us are prepared to
leave this world without warning! And if from youth, or sex, or natural
disposition, a few may chance to be better fitted for the great change
than their companions, still I always think that in those cases in which
we view our fellow-creatures suddenly departing from this world,
apparently without a bodily or mental pang, there must be a moment of
suffering which none of us can understand; a terrible consciousness of
meeting death in the very flush of life; a moment of suffering which,
from its intense and novel character, may appear an eternity of anguish.
I have always looked upon such an end as the most fearful of
dispensations.”

“Violet, my dear.” said her Ladyship, “let us talk no more of death. You
have been silent a fortnight. I think to-night you may sing.” Miss Fane
rose and sat down to the instrument.

It was a lively air, calculated to drive away all melancholy feelings,
and cherishing sunny views of human life. But Rossini’s Muse did not
smile to-night upon her who invoked its gay spirit; and ere Lady
Madeleine could interfere Violet Fane had found more congenial emotions
in one of Weber’s prophetic symphonies.

O Music! miraculous art, that makes a poet’s skill a jest, revealing to
the soul inexpressible feelings by the aid of inexplicable sounds! A
blast of thy trumpet, and millions rush forward to die; a peal of thy
organ, and uncounted nations sink down to pray. Mighty is thy
threefold power!

First, thou canst call up all elemental sounds, and scenes, and
subjects, with the definiteness of reality. Strike the lyre! Lo! the
voice of the winds, the flash of the lightning, the swell of the wave,
the solitude of the valley!

Then thou canst speak to the secrets of a man’s heart as if by
inspiration. Strike the lyre! Lo! our early love, our treasured hate,
our withered joy, our flattering hope!

And, lastly, by thy mysterious melodies thou canst recall man from all
thought of this world and of himself, bringing back to his soul’s memory
dark but delightful recollections of the glorious heritage which he has
lost, but which he may win again. Strike the lyre! Lo! Paradise, with
its palaces of inconceivable splendour and its gates of
unimaginable glory!

When Vivian left the apartment of Lady Madeleine he felt no inclination
to sleep, and, instead of retiring to rest, he bent his steps towards
the gardens. It was a rich summer night; the air, recovered from the
sun’s scorching rays, was cool, not chilling. The moon was still behind
the mountains; but the dark blue heavens were studded with innumerable
stars, whose tremulous light quivered on the face of the river. All
human sounds had ceased to agitate; and the note of the nightingale and
the rush of the waters banished monotony without disturbing reflection.
But not for reflection had Vivian Grey deserted his chamber: his heart
was full, but of indefinable sensations, and, forgetting the world in
the intenseness of his emotions, he felt too much to think.

How long he had been pacing by the side of the river he knew not, when
he was awakened from his reverie by the sound of voices. He looked up,
and saw lights moving at a distance. The party at the New House had just
broke up. He stopped beneath a branching elm-tree for a moment, that the
sound of his steps might not attract their attention, and at this very
instant the garden gate opened and closed with great violence. The
figure of a man approached. As he passed Vivian the moon rose up from
above the brow of the mountain, and lit up the countenance of the Baron.
Despair was stamped on his distracted features.



CHAPTER XI


On the evening of the next day there was to be a grand fête given at the
New House by his Imperial Highness. The ladies would treasure their
energies for the impending ball, and the morning was to pass without an
excursion. Only Lady Madeleine, whom Vivian met taking her usual early
promenade in the gardens, seemed inclined to prolong it, and even
invited him to be her companion. She talked of the fête, and she
expressed a hope that Vivian would accompany their party; but her air
was not festive, she seemed abstracted and disturbed, and her voice more
than once broke off abruptly at the commencement of a sentence which it
seemed she had not courage to finish.

At length she said suddenly, “Mr. Grey, I cannot conceal any longer that
I am thinking of a very different subject from the ball. As you form
part of my thoughts, I shall not hesitate to disburthen my mind to you.
I wish not to keep you in suspense. It is of the mode of life which I
see my brother, which I see you, pursuing here that I wish to speak,”
 she added with a tremulous voice. “May I speak with freedom?”

“With the most perfect unreserve and confidence.”

“You are aware that Ems is not the first place at which I have met
Baron von Konigstein.”

“I am not ignorant that he has been in England.”

“It cannot have escaped you that I acknowledged his acquaintance with
reluctance.”

“I should judge, with the greatest.”

“And yet it was with still more reluctance that I prevailed upon myself
to believe you were his friend. I experienced great relief when you told
me how short and accidental had been your acquaintance. I have
experienced great pain in witnessing to what that acquaintance has led;
and it is with extreme sorrow for my own weakness, in not having had
courage to speak to you before, and with a hope of yet benefiting you,
that I have been induced to speak to you now.”

“I trust there is no cause either for your sorrow or your fear; but
much, much cause for my gratitude.”

“I have observed the constant attendance of yourself and my brother at
the New House with the utmost anxiety. I have seen too much not to be
aware of the danger which young men, and young men of honour, must
always experience at such places. Alas! I have seen too much of Baron
von Konigstein not to know that at such places especially his
acquaintance is fatal. The evident depression of your spirits yesterday
determined me on a step which I have for the last few days been
considering. I can learn nothing from my brother. I fear that I am even
now too late; but I trust that, whatever may be your situation, you will
remember, Mr. Grey, that you have friends; that you will decide on
nothing rash.”

“Lady Madeleine,” said Vivian, “I will not presume to express the
gratitude which your generous conduct allows me to feel. This moment
repays me for a year of agony. I affect not to misunderstand your
meaning. My opinion, my detestation of the gaming table, has always
been, and must always be, the same. I do assure you this, and all
things, upon my honour. Far from being involved, my cheek burns while I
confess that I am master of a considerable sum acquired by this
unhallowed practice. You are aware of the singular fortune which awaited
my first evening at Ems; that fortune was continued at the New House the
very first day I dined there, and when, unexpectedly, I was forced to
play. That fatal fortune has rendered my attendance at the New House
necessary. I found it impossible to keep away without subjecting myself
to painful observations. My depression of yesterday was occasioned by
the receipt of letters from England. I am ashamed of having spoken so
much about myself, and so little about those for whom you are more
interested. So far as I can judge, you have no cause, at present, for
any uneasiness with regard to Mr. St. George. You may, perhaps, have
observed that we are not very intimate, and therefore I cannot speak
with any precision as to the state of his fortunes; but I have reason to
believe that they are by no means unfavourable. And as for the
Baron--”

“Yes, yes!”

“I hardly know what I am to infer from your observations respecting him.
I certainly should infer something extremely bad, were not I conscious
that, after the experience of five weeks, I, for one, have nothing to
complain of him. The Baron, certainly, is fond of play; plays high,
indeed. He has not had equal fortune at the New House as at the Redoute;
at least I imagine so, for he has given me no cause to believe, in any
way, that he is a loser.”

“If you could only understand the relief I feel at this moment, I am
sure you would not wonder that I prevailed upon myself to speak to you.
It may still be in my power, however, to prevent evil.”

“Yes, certainly! I think the best course now would be to speak to me
frankly respecting Von Konigstein; and, if you are aware of anything
which has passed in England of a nature--”

“Stop!” said Lady Madeleine, agitated. Vivian was silent, and some
moments elapsed before his companion again spoke. When she did her eyes
were fixed on the ground, and her tones were low; but her voice was calm
and steady.

“I am going to accept, Mr. Grey, the confidence which you have proffered
me; but I do not affect to conceal that I speak, even now, with
reluctance; an effort, and it will soon be over. It is for the best.”
 Lady Madeleine paused one moment, and then resumed with a firm voice:

“Upwards of six years have now passed since Baron von Konigstein was
appointed Minister to London from the Court of ----. Although apparently
young for such an important mission, he had already distinguished
himself as a diplomatist; and with all the advantages of brilliant
talents, various accomplishments, rank, reputation, person, and a
fascinating address, I need not tell you that he immediately became of
consideration, even in the highest circles. Mr. Trevor, I was then just
married, was at this period in office, and was constantly in personal
communication with the Baron. They became intimate, and he was our
constant guest. He had the reputation of being a man of pleasure. He was
one for whose indiscretions there might be some excuse; nor had anything
ever transpired which could induce us to believe that Baron von
Konigstein could be guilty of anything but an indiscretion. At this
period a relation and former ward of Mr. Trevor’s, a young man of
considerable fortune, and one whom we all fondly loved, resided in our
family. We considered him as our brother. With this individual Baron von
Konigstein formed a strong friendship; they were seldom apart. Our
relation was not exempted from the failings of young men. He led a
dissipated life; but he was very young; and as, unlike most relations,
we never allowed any conduct on his part to banish him from our society,
we trusted that the contrast which his own family afforded to his usual
companions would in time render his habits less irregular. We had now
known Baron von Konigstein for upwards of a year and a half, intimately.
Nothing had transpired during this period to induce Mr. Trevor to alter
the opinion which he had entertained of him from the first; he believed
him to be a man of honour, and, in spite of a few imprudences, of
principle. Whatever might have been my own opinion of him at this
period, I had no reason to doubt the natural goodness of his
disposition; and though I could not hope that he was one who would
assist us in our plans for the reformation of Augustus, I still was not
sorry to believe, that in the Baron he would at least find a companion
very different from the unprincipled and selfish beings by whom he was
too often surrounded. Something occurred at this time which placed Baron
von Konigstein, according to his own declaration, under lasting
obligations to myself. In the warmth of his heart he asked if there was
any real and important service which he could do me. I took advantage of
the moment to speak to him about our young friend; I detailed to him all
our anxieties; he anticipated all my wishes, and promised to watch over
him, to be his guardian, his friend, his real friend. Mr. Grey,”
 continued her Ladyship, “I struggle to restrain my feelings; but the
recollections of this period of my life are so painful that for a
moment I must stop to recover myself.”

For a few minutes they walked on in silence. Vivian did not speak; and
when his companion resumed her tale, he, unconsciously, pressed her arm.

“I try to be brief. About three months after the Baron had given me the
pledge which I mentioned, Mr. Trevor was called up at an early hour one
morning with the intelligence that his late ward was supposed to be at
the point of death at a neighbouring hotel. He instantly repaired to
him, and on the way the fatal truth was broken to him: our friend had
committed suicide! He had been playing all night with one whom I cannot
now name.” Here Lady Madeleine’s voice died away, but with a struggle
she again spoke firmly.

“I mean with the Baron, some foreigners also, and an Englishman, all
intimate friends of Von Konigstein, and scarcely known to the deceased.
Our friend had been the only sufferer; he had lost his whole fortune,
and more than his fortune: and, with a heart full of despair and
remorse, had, with his own hand, terminated his life. The whole
circumstances were so suspicious that they attracted public attention,
and Mr. Trevor spared no exertion to bring the offenders to justice. The
Baron had the hardihood to call upon us the next day; of course, in
vain. He wrote violent letters, protesting his innocence; that he was
asleep during most of the night, and accusing the others who were
present of a conspiracy. The unhappy business now attracted very general
interest. Its consequence on me was an alarming illness of a most
unfortunate kind; I was therefore prevented from interfering, or,
indeed, knowing anything that took place; but my husband informed me
that the Baron was involved in a public correspondence; that the accused
parties recriminated, and that finally he was convinced that Von
Konigstein, if there were any difference, was, if possible, the most
guilty. However this might be, he soon obtained his recall from his own
Government. He wrote to us both before he left England; but I was too
ill to hear of his letters, until Mr. Trevor informed me that he had
returned them unopened. And now, I must give utterance to that which as
yet has always died upon my lips, the unhappy victim was the brother of
Miss Fane!”

“And Mr. St. George,” said Vivian, “knowing all this, which surely he
must have done; how came he to tolerate, for an instant, the advances of
such a man?”

“My brother,” said Lady Madeleine, “is a very good young man, with a
kind heart and warm feelings; but my brother has not much knowledge of
the world, and he is too honourable himself ever to believe that what he
calls a gentleman can be dishonest. My brother was not in England when
the unhappy event took place, and of course the various circumstances
have not made the same impression upon him as upon us. He has heard of
the affair only from me; and young men too often imagine that women are
apt to exaggerate in matters of this nature, which, of course, few of us
can understand. The Baron had not the good feeling, or perhaps had not
the power, connected as he was with the Grand Duke, to affect ignorance
of our former acquaintance, or to avoid a second one. I was obliged
formally to present him to my brother. I was quite perplexed how to act.
I thought of writing to him the next morning, impressing upon him the
utter impossibility of our acquaintance being renewed: but this
proceeding involved a thousand difficulties. How was a man of his
distinction, a man, who not only from his rank, but from his
disposition, is always a remarkable and a remarked character, wherever
he may be; how could he account to the Grand Duke, and to his numerous
friends, for his not associating with a party with whom he was
perpetually in contact. Explanations, and worse, must have been the
consequence. I could hardly expect him to leave Ems; it was, perhaps,
out of his power: and for Miss Fane to leave Ems at this moment was most
strenuously prohibited by her physician. While I was doubtful and
deliberating, the conduct of Baron von Konigstein himself prevented me
from taking any step whatever. Feeling all the awkwardness of his
situation, he seized, with eagerness, the opportunity of becoming
intimate with a member of the family whom he had not before known. His
amusing conversation, and insinuating address, immediately enlisted the
feelings of my brother in his favour. You know yourself that the very
morning after their introduction they were riding together. As they
became more intimate, the Baron boldly spoke to Albert, in confidence,
of his acquaintance with us in England, and of the unhappy circumstances
which led to its termination. Albert was deceived by this seeming
courage and candour. He has become the Baron’s friend, and has adopted
his version of the unhappy story; and as the Baron has had too much
delicacy to allude to the affair in a defence of himself to me, he
calculated that the representations of Albert, who, he was conscious,
would not preserve the confidence which he has always intended him to
betray, would assist in producing in my mind an impression in his
favour. The Neapolitan story which he told the other day at dinner was
of himself. I confess to you, that though I have not for a moment
doubted his guilt, still I was weak enough to consider that his desire
to become reconciled to me was at least an evidence of a repentant
heart; and the Neapolitan story deceived me. Actuated by these feelings,
and acting as I thought wisest under existing circumstances, I ceased to
discourage his advances. Your acquaintance, which we all desired to
cultivate, was perhaps another reason for enduring his presence. His
subsequent conduct has undeceived me: I am convinced now, not only of
his former guilt, but also that he is not changed; and that, with his
accustomed talent, he has been acting a part which for some reason or
other he has no longer any object in maintaining.”

“And Miss Fane,” said Vivian, “she must know all?”

“She knows nothing in detail; she was so young at the time that we had
no difficulty in keeping the particular circumstances of her brother’s
death, and the sensation which it excited, a secret from her. As she
grew up, I have thought it proper that the mode of his death should no
longer be concealed from her; and she has learnt from some incautious
observations of Albert, enough to make her look upon the Baron with
terror. It is for Violet,” continued Lady Madeleine, “that I have the
severest apprehensions. For the last fortnight her anxiety for her
cousin has produced an excitement, which I look upon with more dread
than anything that can happen to her. She has entreated me to speak to
Albert, and also to you. The last few days she has become more easy and
serene. She accompanies us to-night; the weather is so beautiful that
the night air is scarcely to be feared; and a gay scene will have a
favourable influence upon her spirits. Your depression last night did
not, however, escape her notice. Once more let me say how I rejoice at
hearing what you have told me. I unhesitatingly believe all that you
have said. Watch Albert. I have no fear for yourself.”



CHAPTER XII


The company at the Grand Duke’s fête was most select; that is to say, it
consisted of everybody who was then at the Baths: those who had been
presented to his Highness having the privilege of introducing any number
of their friends; and those who had no friend to introduce them
purchasing tickets at an enormous price from Cracowsky, the wily Polish
Intendant. The entertainment was imperial; no expense and no exertion
were spared to make the hired lodging-house look like an hereditary
palace; and for a week previous to the great evening the whole of the
neighbouring town of Wiesbaden, the little capital of the duchy, had
been put under contribution. What a harvest for Cracowsky! What a
commission from the restaurateur for supplying the refreshments! What a
percentage on hired mirrors and dingy hangings!

The Grand Duke, covered with orders, received every one with the
greatest condescension, and made to each of his guests a most flattering
speech. His suite, in new uniforms, simultaneously bowed directly the
flattering speech was finished.

“Madame von Furstenburg, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Madame von
Furstenburg, I trust that your amiable and delightful family are quite
well. [The party passed on.] Cravatischeff!” continued his Highness,
inclining his head round to one of his aides-de-camp, “Cravatischeff! a
very fine woman is Madame von Furstenburg. There are few women whom I
more admire than Madame von Furstenburg.

“Prince Salvinski, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Poland honours no
one more than Prince Salvinski. Cravatischeff! a remarkable bore is
Prince Salvinski. There are few men of whom I have a greater terror than
Prince Salvinski.

“Baron von Konigstein, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Baron von
Konigstein, I have not yet forgotten the story of the fair Venetian.
Cravatischeff! an uncommonly pleasant fellow is Baron von Konigstein.
There are few men whose company I more enjoy than Baron von
Konigstein’s.

“Count von Altenburgh, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. You will not forget
to give me your opinion of my Austrian troop. Cravatischeff! a very good
billiard player is Count von Altenburgh. There are few men whose play I
would sooner bet upon than Count von Altenburgh’s.

“Lady Madeleine Trevor, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Miss Fane, your
servant; Mr. St. George, Mr. Grey. Cravatischeff! a most splendid woman
is Lady Madeleine Trevor. There is no woman whom I more admire than Lady
Madeleine Trevor! and Cravatischeff! Miss Fane, too! a remarkably fine
girl is Miss Fane.”

The great saloon of the New House afforded excellent accommodation for
the dancers. It opened on the gardens, which, though not very large,
were tastefully laid out, and were this evening brilliantly illuminated.
In the smaller saloon the Austrian troop amused those who were not
fascinated by waltz or quadrille with acting proverbs: the regular
dramatic performance was thought too heavy a business for the evening.
There was sufficient amusement for all; and those who did not dance, and
to whom proverbs were no novelty, walked and talked, stared at others,
and were themselves stared at; and this, perhaps, was the greatest
amusement of all. Baron von Konigstein did certainly to-night look
neither like an unsuccessful gamester nor a designing villain. Among
many who were really amusing he was the most so, and, apparently without
the least consciousness of it, attracted the admiration of all. To the
Trevor party he had attached himself immediately, and was constantly at
Lady Madeleine’s side, introducing to her, in the course of the evening,
his own and Mr. St. George’s particular friends, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzloom.
Among many smiling faces Vivian Grey’s was clouded; the presence of the
Baron annoyed him. When they first met he was conscious that he was
stiff and cool. One moment’s reflection convinced him of the folly of
his conduct, and he made a struggle to be very civil. In five minutes’
time he had involuntarily insulted the Baron, who stared at his friend,
and evidently did not comprehend him.

“Grey,” said his Excellency, very quietly, “you are not in a good
humour tonight. What is the matter? This is not at all a temper to come
to a fête in. What! won’t Miss Fane dance with you?’” asked the Baron,
with an arched smile.

“I wonder wind can induce your Excellency to talk such nonsense!”

“Your Excellency! by Jove, that’s good! What the deuce is the matter
with the man? It is Miss Fane, then, eh?”

“Baron von Konigstein, I wish you to understand--”

“My dear fellow, I never could understand anything. I think you have
insulted me in a most disgraceful manner, and I positively must call you
out, unless you promise to dine at my rooms with me to-morrow, to meet
De Boeffleurs.”

“I cannot.”

“Why not? You have no engagement with Lady Madeleine I know, for St.
George has agreed to come.”

“Yes?”

“De Boeffleurs leaves Ems next week. It is sooner than he expected, and
I wish to have a quiet evening together before he goes. I should be very
vexed if you were not there. We have scarcely been enough together
lately. What with the New House in the evening, and riding parties in
the morning, and those Fitzloom girls, with whom St. George is playing a
most foolish game, he will be taken in now, if he is not on his guard;
we really never meet, at: least not in a quiet friendly way; and so now,
will you come?”

“St. George is positively coming?”

“Oh yes’ positively; do not be afraid of his gaining ground on the
little Violet in your absence.”

“Well, then, my dear Von Konigstein, I will come.”

“Well, that is yourself again. It made me quite unhappy to see you look
so sour and melancholy; one would have thought that I was some bore,
Salvinski at least, by the way you spoke to me. Well, mind you come; it
is a promise, good. I must go and say just one word to the lovely little
Saxon girl; by-the-bye, Grey, one word before I am off. List to a
friend; you are on the wrong scent about Miss Fane; St. George, I think,
has no chance there, and now no wish to succeed. The game is your own,
if you like; trust my word, she is an angel. The good powers prosper
you!” So saying, the Baron glided off.

Mr. St. George had danced With Miss Fane the only quadrille in which
Lady Madeleine allowed her to join. He was now waltzing with Aurelia
Fitzloom, and was at the head of a band of adventurous votaries of
Terpsichore; who, wearied with the commonplace convenience of a saloon,
had ventured to invoke the Muse on the lawn.

“A most interesting sight, Lady Madeleine!” said Mr. Fitzloom, as he
offered her his arm, and advised their instant presence as patrons of
the “Fête du Village,” for such Baron von Konigstein had most happily
termed it. “A delightful man, that Baron von Konigstein, and says such
delightful things! Fête du Village! how very good!”

“That is Miss Fitzloom, then, whom my brother is waltzing with?” asked
Lady Madeleine.

“Not exactly, my Lady,” said Mr. Fitzloom, “not exactly _Miss_ Fitzloom,
rather Miss Aurelia Fitzloom, my third daughter; our third eldest, as
Mrs. Fitzloom sometimes says; for really it is necessary to distinguish,
with such a family as ours, you know.”

“Let us walk,” said Miss Fane to Vivian, for she was now leaning upon
his arm; “the evening is deliriously soft, but even with the protection
of a cashmere I scarcely dare venture to stand still. Lady Madeleine
seems very much engaged at present. What amusing people these
Fitzlooms are!”

“Mrs. Fitzloom; I have not heard her voice yet.”

“No; Mrs. Fitzloom does not talk. Albert says she makes it a rule never
to speak in the presence of a stranger. She deals plenteously, however,
at home in domestic apophthegms. If you could but hear him imitating
them all! Whenever she does speak, she finishes all her sentences by
confessing that she is conscious of her own deficiencies, but that she
has taken care to give her daughters the very best education. They are
what Albert calls fine girls, and I am glad he has made friends with
them; for, after all, he must find it rather dull here. By-the-bye, Mr.
Grey, I am afraid that you cannot find this evening very amusing, the
absence of a favourite pursuit always makes a sensible void, and these
walls must remind you of more piquant pleasures than waltzing with fine
London ladies, or promenading up a dull terrace with an invalid.”

“I assure you that you are quite misinformed as to the mode in which I
generally pass my evenings.”

“I hope I am!” said Miss Fane, in rather a serious tone. “I wish I could
also he mistaken in my suspicions of the mode in which Albert spends his
time. He is sadly changed. For the first month that we were here he
seemed to prefer nothing in the world to our society, and now--I was
nearly saying that we had not seen him for one single evening these
three weeks. I cannot understand what you find at this house of such
absorbing interest. Although I know you think I am much mistaken in my
suspicions, still I feel very anxious. I spoke to Albert to-day; but he
scarcely answered me; or said that which it was a pleasure for me
to forget.”

“Mr. St. George should feel highly gratified in having excited such an
interest in the mind of Miss Fane.”

“He should not feel more gratified than all who are my friends; for all
who are such I must ever experience the liveliest interest.”

“How happy must those be who feel that they have a right to count Miss
Fane among their friends!”

“I have the pleasure then, I assure you, of making many happy, and among
them, Mr. Grey.”

Vivian was surprised that he did not utter some complimentary answer;
but he knew not why, the words would not come; and instead of speaking,
he was thinking of what had been spoken.

“How brilliant are these gardens!” said Vivian, looking at the sky.

“Very brilliant!” said Miss Fane, looking on the ground. Conversation
seemed nearly extinct, and yet neither offered to turn back.

“Good heavens! you are ill,” exclaimed Vivian, when, on accidentally
turning to his companion, he found she was in tears. “Shall we go back,
or will you wait here? Can I fetch anything? I fear you are very ill!”

“No, not very ill, but very foolish; let us walk on,” and, sighing, she
seemed suddenly to recover.

“I am ashamed of this foolishness; what can you think? But I am so
agitated, so nervous. I hope you will forget--I hope--”

“Perhaps the air has suddenly affected you; shall we go in? Nothing has
been said, nothing happened; no one has dared to say or do anything to
annoy you? Speak, dear Miss Fane, the, the--” the words died on Vivian’s
lips, yet a power he could not withstand urged him to speak, “the, the,
the Baron?”

“Ah!” almost shrieked Miss Fane. “Stop one second; an effort, and I must
be well; nothing has happened, and no one has done or said anything; but
it is of something that should be said, of something that should be
done, that I was thinking, and it overcame me.”

“Miss Fane,” said Vivian, “if there be anything which I can do or
devise, any possible way that I can exert myself in your service, speak
with the most perfect confidence; do not fear that your motives will be
misconceived, that your purpose will be misinterpreted, that your
confidence will be misunderstood. You are addressing one who would lay
down his life for you, who is willing to perform all your commands, and
forget them when performed. I beseech you to trust me; believe me, that
you shall not repent.”

She answered not, but holding down her head, covered her face with her
small white hand; her lovely face which was crimsoned with her flashing
blood. They were now at the end of the terrace; to return was
impossible. If they remained stationary, they must be perceived and
joined. What was to be done? He led her down a retired walk still
farther from the house. As they proceeded in silence, the bursts of the
music and the loud laughter of the joyous guests became fainter and
fainter, till at last the sounds died away into echo, and echo
into silence.

A thousand thoughts dashed through Vivian’s mind in rapid succession;
but a painful one, a most painful one to him, to any man, always
remained the last. His companion would not speak; yet to allow her to
return home without freeing her mind of the fearful burden which
evidently overwhelmed it, was impossible. At length he broke a silence
which seemed to have lasted an age.

“Do not believe that I am taking advantage of an agitating moment to
extract from you a confidence which you may repent. I feel assured that
I am right in supposing that you have contemplated in a calmer moment
the possibility of my being of service to you; that, in short, there is
something in which you require my assistance, my co-operation; an
assistance, a co-operation, which, if it produce any benefit to you,
will make me at length feel that I have not lived in vain. No feeling of
false delicacy shall prevent me from assisting you in giving utterance
to thoughts which you have owned it is absolutely necessary should be
expressed. Remember that you have allowed me to believe that we are
friends; do not prove by your silence that we are friends only in name.”

“I am overwhelmed; I cannot speak. My face burns with shame; I have
miscalculated my strength of mind, perhaps my physical strength; what,
what must you think of me?” She spoke in a low and smothered voice.

“Think of you! everything which the most devoted respect dare think of
an object which it reverences. Do not believe that I am one who would
presume an instant on my position, because I have accidentally witnessed
a young and lovely woman betrayed into a display of feeling which the
artificial forms of cold society cannot contemplate, and dare to
ridicule. You are speaking to one who also has felt; who, though a man,
has wept; who can comprehend sorrow; who can understand the most secret
sensations of an agitated spirit. Dare to trust me. Be convinced that
hereafter, neither by word nor look, hint nor sign, on my part, shall
you feel, save by your own wish, that you have appeared to Vivian Grey
in any other light than in the saloons we have just quitted.”

“Generous man, I dare trust anything to you that I dare trust to human
being; but--” here her voice died away.

“It is a painful thing for me to attempt to guess your thoughts; but if
it be of Mr. St. George that you are thinking, have no fear respecting
him; have no fear about his present situation. Trust to me that there
shall be no anxiety for his future one. I will be his unknown guardian,
his unseen friend; the promoter of your wishes, the protector of your--”

“No, no,” said Miss Fane, with firmness, and looking quickly up, as if
her mind were relieved by discovering that all this time Vivian had
never imagined she was thinking of him. “No, no, you are mistaken; it is
not of Mr. St. George, of Mr. St. George only, that I am thinking. I am
much better now; I shall be able in an instant to speak; be able, I
trust, to forget how foolish, how very foolish I have been.

“Let us walk on,” continued Miss Fane, “let us walk on; we can easily
account for our absence if it be remarked; and it is better that it
should be all over. I feel quite well, and shall be able to speak quite
firmly now.”

“Do not hurry; there is no fear of our absence being remarked, Lady
Madeleine is so surrounded.”

“After what has passed, it seems ridiculous in me to apologise, as I
had intended, for speaking to you on a graver subject than what has
generally formed the point of conversation between us. I feared that you
might misunderstand the motives which have dictated my conduct. I have
attempted not to appear agitated, and I have been overcome. I trust that
you will not be offended if I recur to the subject of the New House. Do
not believe that I ever would have allowed my fears, my girlish fears,
so to have overcome my discretion; so to have overcome, indeed, all
propriety of conduct on my part; as to have induced me to have sought an
interview with you, to moralise to you about your mode of life. No, no;
it is not of this that I wish to speak, or rather that I will speak. I
will hope, I will pray, that Albert and yourself have never found in
that which you have followed as an amusement, the source, the origin,
the cause of a single unhappy or even anxious moment; Mr. Grey, I will
believe all this.”

“Dearest Miss Fane, believe it with confidence. Of St. George, I can
with sincerity aver, that it is my firm opinion, that, far from being
involved, his fortune is not in the slightest degree injured. Believe
me, I will not attempt to quiet you now, as I would have done at any
other time, by telling you that you magnify your fears, and allow your
feelings to exaggerate the danger which exists. There has been danger.
There is danger; play, high play, has been and is pursued at this New
House, but Mr. St. George has never been a loser; and if the exertions
of man can avail, never shall, at least unfairly. As to the other
individual, whom you have honoured by the interest which you have
professed in his welfare, no one can more thoroughly detest any practice
which exists in this world than he does the gaming-table.”

“Oh! you have made me so happy! I feel so persuaded that you have not
deceived me! the tones of your voice, your manner, your expression,
convince me that you have been sincere, and that I am happy, at least
for the present.”

“For ever, I trust, Miss Fane.”

“Let me now prevent future misery. Let me speak about that which has
long dwelt on my mind like a nightmare, about that which I did fear it
was almost too late to speak. Not of your pursuit, not even of that
fatal pursuit, do I now think, but of your companion in this amusement,
in all amusements! it is he, he whom I dread, whom I look upon with
horror, even to him, I cannot say, with hatred!”

“The Baron?” said Vivian, calmly.

“I cannot name him. Dread him, fear him, avoid him! it is he that I
mean, he of whom I thought that you were the victim. You must have been
surprised, you must have wondered at our conduct towards him. Oh! when
Lady Madeleine turned from him with coolness, when she answered him in
tones which to you might have appeared harsh, she behaved to him, in
comparison to what is his due, and what we sometimes feel to be our
duty, with affection, actually with affection and regard. No human being
can know what horror is, until he looks upon a fellow-creature with the
eyes that I look upon that man.” She leant upon Vivian’s arm with her
whole weight, and even then he thought she must have sunk; neither
spoke. How solemn is the silence of sorrow!

“I am overcome,” continued Miss Fane; “the remembrance of what he has
done overwhelms me. I cannot speak it; the recollection is death; yet
you must know it. That you might know it, I have before attempted. I
wished to have spared myself the torture which I now endure. You must
know it. I will write; ay! that will do. I will write: I cannot speak
now; it is impossible; but beware of him; you are so young.”

“I have no words now to thank you, dear Miss Fane, for this. Had I been
the victim of Von Konigstein, I should have been repaid for all my
misery by feeling that you regretted its infliction; but I trust that I
am in no danger: though young, I fear that I am one who must not count
his time by calendars. ‘An aged interpreter, though young in days.’
Would that I could be deceived! Fear not for your cousin. Trust to one
whom you have made think better of this world, and of his
fellow-creatures.”

The sound of approaching footsteps, and the light laugh of pleasure,
told of some who were wandering like themselves.

“We had better return,” said Miss Fane; “I fear that Lady Madeleine will
observe that I look unwell. Some one approaches! No, they pass only the
top of the walk.” It was Mr. St. George and Aurelia Fitzloom.

Quick flew the brilliant hours; and soon the dance was over, and the
music mute.

It was late when Vivian retired. As he opened his door he was surprised
to find lights in his chamber. The figure of a man appeared seated at
the table. It moved; it was Essper George.



CHAPTER XIII


The reader will remember that Vivian had agreed to dine, on the day
after the fête, with the Baron, in his private apartments. This was an
arrangement which, in fact, the custom of the house did not permit; but
the irregularities of great men who are attended by chasseurs are
occasionally winked at by a supple maître d’hôtel. Vivian had reasons
for not regretting his acceptance of the invitation; and he never shook
hands with the Chevalier de Boeffleurs, apparently, with greater
cordiality, than on the day on which he met him at dinner at the Baron
von Konigstein’s. Mr. St. George had not arrived.

“Past five!” said the Baron; “riding out, I suppose, with the Fitzlooms.
Aurelia is certainly a fine girl; but I should think that Lady Madeleine
would hardly approve the connection. The St. Georges have blood in their
veins; and would, I suppose, as soon think of marrying a Fitzloom as we
Germans should of marrying a woman without a _von_ before her name. We
are quite alone, Grey, only the Chevalier and St. George. I had an idea
of asking Salvinski, but he is such a regular steam-engine, and began
such a long story last night about his interview with the King of
Ashantee, that the bare possibility of his taking it into his head to
finish it to-day frightened me. You were away early from the Grand
Duke’s last night. The business went off well.”

“Very well, indeed!” said the Chevalier de Boeffleurs; completing by
this speech the first dozen of words which he had uttered since his
stay at Ems.

“I think that last night Lady Madeleine Trevor looked perfectly
magnificent; and a certain lady, too, Grey, eh? Here is St. George. My
dear fellow, how are you? Has the fair Aurelia recovered from the last
night’s fatigues? Now, Ernstorff, dinner as soon as possible.”

The Baron made up to-day, certainly, for the silence of his friend the
Chevalier. He outdid himself. Story after story, adventure after
adventure, followed each other with exciting haste. In fact, the Baron
never ceased talking the whole dinner, except when he refreshed himself
with wine, which he drank copiously. A nice observer would, perhaps,
have considered the Baron’s high spirits artificial, and his
conversation an effort. Yet his temper, though lively, was generally
equable; and his ideas, which always appeared to occur easily, were
usually thrown out in fluent phraseology. The dinner was long, and a
great deal of wine was drunk: more than most of the parties present for
a long time had been accustomed to. About eight o’clock the Chevalier
proposed going to the Redoute, but the Baron objected.

“Let us have an evening altogether: surely we have had enough of the
Redoute. In my opinion one of the advantages of the fête is, that there
is no New House to-night. Conversation is a novelty. On a moderate
calculation I must have told you to-day at least fifty original
anecdotes. I have done my duty. It is the Chevalier’s turn now. Come, de
Boeffleurs, a choice one!”

“I remember a story Prince Salvinski once told me.”

“No, no, that is too bad; none of that Polish bear’s romances; if we
have his stories, we may as well have his company.”

“But it is a very curious story,” continued the Chevalier, with a little
animation.

“Oh! so is every story, according to the storier.”

“I think, Von Konigstein, you imagine no one can tell a story but
yourself,” said De Boeffleurs, actually indignant. Vivian had never
heard him speak so much before, and really began to believe that he was
not quite an automaton.

“Let us have it!” said St. George.

“It is a story told of a Polish nobleman, a Count somebody: I never can
remember their crack-jaw names. Well! the point is this,” said the
silent little Chevalier, who, apparently, already repented of the
boldness of his offer, and, misdoubting his powers, wished to begin with
the end of his tale: “the point is this, he was playing one day at
ecarté with the Governor of Wilna; the stake was trifling, but he had a
bet, you see, with the Governor of a thousand roubles; a bet with the
Governor’s secretary, never mind the amount, say two hundred and fifty,
you see; then, he went on the turn-up with the Commandant’s wife; and
took the pips on the trumps with the Archbishop of Warsaw. To understand
the point of the story, you see, you must have a distinct conception how
the game stood. You see, St. George, there was the bet with the
Governor, one thousand roubles; the Governor’s secretary, never mind the
amount, say two hundred and fifty; turn-up with the Commandant’s lady,
and the pips with the Archbishop of Warsaw. Proposed three times, one
for the king, the Governor drew ace; the Governor was already three and
the ten. When the Governor scored king, the Archbishop gave the odds,
drew knave queen one hand. The count offered to propose fourth time.
Governor refused. King to six, ace fell to knave, queen cleared on.
Governor lost, besides bets with the whole état-major; the Secretary
gave his bill; the Commandant’s lady pawned her jewels; and the
Archbishop was done on the pips!”

“By Jove, what a Salvinski!”

“How many trumps had the Governor?” asked St. George.

“Three,” said the Chevalier.

“Then it is impossible: I do not believe the story; it could not be.”

“I beg your pardon,” said the Chevalier; “you see the Governor had--”

“By Jove, don’t let us have it all over again!” said the Baron. “Well!
if this be your model for an after-dinner anecdote, which ought to be as
piquant as an anchovy toast, I will never complain of your silence
in future.”

“The story is a true story,” said the Chevalier; “have you got a pack of
cards, Von Konigstein? I will show it you.”

“There is not such a thing in the room,” said the Baron.

“Well, I never heard of a room without a pack of cards before,” said the
Chevalier; “I will send for one to my own apartments.”

“Perhaps Ernstorff has got a pack. Here, Ernstorff, have you got a pack
of cards? That’s well; bring it immediately.”

The cards were brought, and the Chevalier began to fight his battle over
again; but could not satisfy Mr. St. George. “You see, there was the bet
with the Governor, and the pips, as I said before, with the Archbishop
of Warsaw.”

“My dear De Boeffleurs, let’s no more of this. If you like to have a
game of ecarté with St. George, well and good; but as for quarrelling
the whole evening about some blundering lie of Salvinski’s, it really is
too much. You two can play, and I can talk to Don Vivian, who,
by-the-bye, is rather of the rueful countenance to-night. Why, my dear
fellow, I have not heard your voice this evening: frightened by the fate
of the Archbishop of Warsaw, I suppose?”

“Ecarté is so devilish dull,” said St. George; “and it is such a trouble
to deal.”

“I will deal for both, if you like,” said De Boeffleurs; “I am used to
dealing.”

“Oh! no, I won’t play ecarté; let us have something in which we can all
join.”

“Rouge-et-noir,” suggested the Chevalier, in a careless tone, as if he
had no taste for the amusement.

“There is not enough, is there?” asked St. George.

“Oh! two are enough, you know; one deals, much more four.”

“Well, I don’t care; rouge-et-noir then, let us have rouge-et-noir. Von
Konigstein, what say you to rouge-et-noir? De Boeffleurs says we can
play it here very well. Come, Grey.”

“Oh! rouge-et-noir, rouge-et-noir,” said the Baron; “have not you both
had rouge-et-noir enough? Am I not to be allowed one holiday? Well,
anything to please you; so rouge-et-noir, if it must be so.”

“If all wish it, I have no objection,” said Vivian.

“Well, then, let us sit down; Ernstorff has, I dare say, another pack of
cards, and St. George will be dealer; I know he likes that ceremony.”

“No, no; I appoint the Chevalier.”

“Very well,” said De Boeffleurs, “the plan will be for two to bank
against the table; the table to play on the same colour by joint
agreement. You can join me, Von Konigstein, and pay or receive with me,
from Mr. St. George and Grey.”

“I will bank with you, if you like, Chevalier,” said Vivian.

“Oh! certainly; that is if you like. But perhaps the Baron is more used
to banking; you perhaps don’t understand it.”

“Perfectly; it appears to me to be very simple.”

“No, don’t you bank, Grey,” said St. George. “I want you to play with me
against the Chevalier and the Baron; I like your luck.”

“Luck is very capricious, remember.”

“Oh, no, I like your luck; don’t bank.”

“Be it so.”

Playing commenced. An hour elapsed, and the situation of none of the
parties was materially different from what it had been when they began
the game. Vivian proposed leaving off; but Mr. St. George avowed that he
felt very fortunate, and that he had a presentiment that he should win.
Another hour elapsed, and he had lost considerably. Eleven o’clock:
Vivian’s luck had also deserted him. Mr. St. George was losing
desperately. Midnight: Vivian had lost back half his gains on the
season. St. George still more desperate, all his coolness had deserted
him. He had persisted obstinately against a run on the red; then
floundered and got entangled in a seesaw, which alone cost him
a thousand.

Ernstorff now brought in refreshments; and for a moment they ceased
playing. The Baron opened a bottle of champagne; and St. George and the
Chevalier were stretching their legs and composing their minds in very
different ways, the first in walking rapidly up and down the room, and
the other by lying very quietly at his full length on the sofa; Vivian
was employed in building houses with the cards.

“Grey,” said the Chevalier de Boeffleurs, “I cannot imagine why you do
not for a moment try to forget the cards: that is the only way to win.
Never sit musing over the table.”

But Grey was not to be persuaded to give up building his pagoda: which,
now many stories high, like a more celebrated but scarcely more
substantial structure, fell with a crash. Vivian collected the scattered
cards into two divisions.

“Now!” said the Baron, seating himself, “for St. George’s revenge.”

The Chevalier and the greatest sufferer took their places.

“Is Ernstorff coming in again, Baron?” asked Vivian.

“No! I think not.”

“Let us be sure; it is disagreeable to be disturbed at this time of
night.”

“Lock the door, then,” said St. George.

“A very good plan,” said Vivian; and he locked it accordingly.

“Now, gentlemen,” said Vivian, rising from the table, and putting both
packs of cards into his pocket; “now, gentlemen, I have another game to
play.” The Chevalier started on his chair, the Baron turned pale, but
both were silent. “Mr. St. George,” continued Vivian, “I think that you
owe the Chevalier de Boeffleurs about four thousand Napoleons, and to
Baron von Konigstein something more than half that sum. I have to inform
you that it is unnecessary for you to satisfy the claims of either of
these gentlemen, which are founded neither in law nor in honour.”

“Mr. Grey, what am I to understand?” asked the quiet Chevalier de
Boeffleurs, with the air of a wolf and the voice of a lion.

“Understand, sir!” answered Vivian, sternly, “that I am not one who will
be bullied by a blackleg.”

“Grey! good God! what do you mean?” asked the Baron.

“That which it is my duty, not my pleasure, to explain, Baron von
Konigstein.”

“If you mean to insinuate,” burst forth the Chevalier.

“I mean to insinuate nothing. I leave insinuations and innuendoes to
chevaliers d’industrie. I mean to prove everything.”

Mr. St. George did not speak, but seemed as utterly astounded and
overwhelmed as Baron von Konigstein himself, who, with his arm leaning
on the table, his hands clasped, and the forefinger of his right hand
playing convulsively on his left, was pale as death, and did not
even breathe.

“Gentlemen,” said Vivian, “I shall not detain you long, though I have
much to say that is to the purpose. I am perfectly cool, and, believe
me, perfectly resolute. Let me recommend to you all the same
temperament; it may be better for you. Rest assured, that if you flatter
yourselves that I am one to be pigeoned and then bullied, you are
mistaken. In one word, I am aware of everything that has been arranged
for the reception of Mr. St. George and myself this evening. Your marked
cards are in my pocket, and can only be obtained by you with my life.
Here are two of us against two; we are equally matched in number, and I,
gentlemen, am armed. If I were not, you would not dare to go to
extremities. Is it not, then, the wisest course to be temperate,
my friends?”

“This is some vile conspiracy of your own, fellow,” said De Boeffleurs:
“marked cards, indeed! a pretty tale, forsooth! The Ministers of a
first-rate Power playing with marked cards! The story will gain credit,
and on the faith of whom? An adventurer that no one knows, who, having
failed this night in his usual tricks, and lost money which he cannot
pay, takes advantage of the marked cards, which he has not succeeded in
introducing, and pretends, forsooth, that they are those which he has
stolen from our table; our own cards being, previously to his
accusation, concealed in a secret pocket.”

The impudence of the fellow staggered even Vivian. As for Mr. St.
George, he stared like a wild man. Before Vivian could answer him the
Baron had broken silence. It was with the greatest effort that he seemed
to dig his words out of his breast.

“No, no; this is too much! It is all over! I am lost; but I will not add
crime to crime. Your courage and your fortune have saved you, Mr. Grey,
and your friend from the designs of villains. And you! wretch,” said he,
turning to De Boeffleurs, “sleep now in peace; at length you have undone
me.” He leant on the table, and buried his face in his hands.

“Chicken-hearted fool!” said the Chevalier; “is this the end of all your
promises and all your pledges? But remember, sir! remember. I have no
taste for scenes. Good night, gentlemen. Baron, I expect to hear
from you.”

“Stop, sir!” said Vivian; “no one leaves this room without my
permission.”

“I am at your service, sir, when you please,” said the Chevalier.

“It is not my intention to detain you long, sir; far from it. I have
every inclination to assist you in your last exit from this room; had I
time, it should not be by the door. As it is, go! in the devil’s name.”
 So saying he hurled the adventurous Frenchman half down the corridor.

“Baron von Konigstein,” said Vivian, turning to the Baron, “you have
proved yourself, by your conduct this evening, to be a better man than I
imagined you. I confess that I thought you had been too much accustomed
to such scenes to be sensible of the horror of detection.”

“Never!” said the Baron, with emphasis, with energy. The firm voice and
manner in which he pronounced this single word wonderfully contrasted
with his delivery when he had last spoke; but his voice immediately
died away.

“‘Tis all over! I have no wish to excite your pity, gentlemen, or to
gain your silence, by practising upon your feelings. Be silent. I am not
the less ruined, not the less disgraced, not the less utterly undone. Be
silent; my honour, all the same, in four-and-twenty hours, has gone for
ever. I have no motive, then, to deceive you. You must believe what I
speak; even what _I_ speak, the most degraded of men. I say again,
_never_, never, never, never, never was my honour before sullied, though
guilty of a thousand follies. You see before you, gentlemen, the unhappy
victim of circumstances; of circumstances which he has in vain struggled
to control, to which he has at length fallen a victim. I am not
pretending, for a moment, that my crimes are to be accounted for by an
inexorable fate, and not to be expiated by my everlasting misery. No,
no! I have been too weak to be virtuous: but I have been tried, tried
most bitterly. I am the most unfortunate of men; I was not born to be a
villain. Four years have passed since I was banished from the country in
which I was honoured, my prospects in life blasted, my peace of mind
destroyed; and all because a crime was committed of any participation in
which I am as innocent as yourselves. Driven in despair to wander, I
tried, in the wild dissipation of Naples, to forget my existence and my
misery. I found my fate in the person of this vile Frenchman, who never
since has quitted me. Even after two years of madness in that fatal
place, my natural disposition rallied; I struggled to save myself; I
quitted it. I was already involved to De Boeffleurs; I became still more
so, in gaining from him the means of satisfying all claims against me.
Alas! I found I had sold myself to a devil, a very devil, with a heart
like an adder’s. Incapable of a stray generous sensation, he has looked
upon mankind during his whole life with the eyes of a bully of a
gaming-house. I still struggled to free myself from this man; and I
indemnified him for his advances by procuring him a place in the mission
to which, with the greatest difficulty and perseverance, I had at length
obtained my appointment. In public life I yet hoped to forget my private
misery. At Frankfort I felt that, though not happy, I might be calm. I
determined never again even to run the risk of enduring the slavery of
debt. I foreswore, with the most solemn oaths, the gaming table; and had
it not been for the perpetual sight of De Boeffleurs, I might, perhaps,
have felt at ease; though the remembrance of my blighted prospects, the
eternal feeling that I experienced of being born for nobler ends, was
quite sufficient perpetually to embitter my existence. The second year
of my Frankfort appointment I was tempted to this unhappy place. The
unexpected sight of faces which I had known in England, though they
called up the most painful associations, strengthened me, nevertheless,
in my resolution to be virtuous. My unexpected fortune at the Redoute,
the first night, made me forget all my resolves, and has led to all this
misery. I make my sad tale brief. I got involved at the New House: De
Boeffleurs once more assisted me, though his terms were most severe.
Yet, yet again, I was mad enough, vile enough, to risk what I did not
possess. I lost to Prince Salvinski and a Russian gentleman a
considerable sum on the night before the fête. It is often the custom at
the New House, as you know, among men who are acquainted, to pay and
receive all losses which are considerable on the next night of meeting.
The fête gave me breathing time: it was not necessary to redeem my
pledge till the fourth night. I rushed to De Boeffleurs; he refused to
assist me, alleging his own losses and his previous advance. What was to
be done? No possibility of making any arrangement with Salvinski. Had he
won of me as others have done, an arrangement, though painful, would
perhaps have been possible; but, by a singular fate, whenever I have
chanced to be successful, it is of this man that I have won. De
Boeffleurs, then, was the only chance. He was inexorable. I prayed to
him; I promised him everything; I offered him any terms; in vain! At
length, when he had worked me up to the last point of despair, he
whispered hope. I listened; let me be quick! why finish? You know I
fell!” The Baron again covered his face, and appeared perfectly
overwhelmed.

“By God! it is too horrible,” said St. George. “Grey, let us do
something for him.”

“My dear St. George,” said Vivian, “be calm. You are taken by surprise.
I was prepared for all this. Believe me, it is better for you to leave
us. I recommend you to retire, and meet me in the morning. Breakfast
with me at eight; we can then arrange everything.”

Vivian’s conduct had been so decisive, and evidently so well matured,
that St. George felt that, in the present case, it was for him only to
obey, and he retired with wonder still expressed on his countenance; for
he had not yet, in the slightest degree, recovered from the
first surprise.

“Baron von Konigstein,” said Vivian to the unhappy man, “we are alone.
Mr. St. George has left the room: you are freed from the painful
presence of the cousin of Captain Fane.”

“You know all, then!” exclaimed the Baron quickly, looking up, “or you
have read my secret thoughts. How wonderful! at that very moment I was
thinking of my friend. Would I had died with him! You know all, then;
and now you must believe me guilty. Yet, at this moment of annihilating
sorrow, when I can gain nothing by deceit, I swear; and if I swear
falsely, may I fall down a livid corpse at your feet; I swear that I was
guiltless of the crime for which I suffered, guiltless as yourself.
What may be my fate I know not. Probably a few hours, and all will be
over. Yet, before we part, sir, it would be a relief; you would be doing
a generous service to a dying man, to bear a message from me to one with
whom you are acquainted; to one whom I cannot now name.”

“Lady Madeleine Trevor?”

“Again you have read my thoughts! Lady Madeleine! Is it she who told you
of my early history?”

“All that I know is known to many.”

“I must speak! If you have time, if you can listen for half an hour to a
miserable being, it would be a consolation to me. I should die with ease
if I thought that Lady Madeleine could believe me innocent of that first
great offence.”

“Your Excellency may address anything to me, if it be your wish, even at
this hour of the night. It may be better; after what has passed, we
neither of us can sleep, and this business must be arranged at once.”

“My object is, that Lady Madeleine should receive from me at this
moment, at a time when I can have no interest to deceive, an account of
the particulars of her cousin’s and my friend’s death. I sent it written
after the horrid event; but she was ill, and Trevor, who was very bitter
against me, returned the letters unopened. For four years I have never
travelled without these rejected letters; this year I have them not. But
you could convey to Lady Madeleine my story as now given to you; to you
at this terrible moment.”

“Speak on!”

“I must say one word of my connection with the family to enable you
fully to understand the horrid event, of which, if, as I believe, you
only know what all know, you can form but a most imperfect conception.
When I was Minister at the Court of London I became acquainted; became,
indeed, intimate, with Mr. Trevor, then in office, the husband of Lady
Madeleine. She was just married. Of myself at that time, I may say that,
though depraved, I was not heartless, and that there were moments when I
panted to be excellent. Lady Madeleine and myself became friends; she
found in me a companion who not only respected her talents and delighted
in her conversation, but one who in return was capable of instructing,
and was overjoyed to amuse her. I loved her; but when I loved her I
ceased to be a libertine. At first I thought that nothing in the world
could have tempted me to have allowed her for an instant to imagine that
I dared to look upon her in any other light than as a friend; but the
negligence, the coldness of Trevor, the overpowering mastery of my own
passions, drove me one day past the line, and I wrote that which I dared
not utter. It never entered into my mind for an instant to insult such a
woman with the commonplace sophistry of a ribald. No! I loved her with
all my spirit’s strength. I would have sacrificed all my views in life,
my ambition, my family, my fortune, my country, to have gained her; and
I told her this in terms of respectful adoration. I worshipped the
divinity, even while I attempted to profane the altar. When I had sent
this letter I was in despair. Conviction of the insanity of my conduct
flashed across my mind. I expected never to see her again. There came an
answer; I opened it with the greatest agitation; to my surprise, an
appointment. Why trouble you with a detail of my feelings, my mad hope,
my dark despair! The moment for the interview arrived. I was received
neither with affection nor anger. In sorrow she spoke. I listened in
despair. I was more madly in love with her than ever. That very love
made me give her such evidences of a contrite spirit that I was
pardoned. I rose with a resolution to be virtuous, with a determination
to be her friend: then I made the fatal promise which you know of, to be
doubly the friend of a man whose friend I already was. It was then that
I pledged myself to Lady Madeleine to be the guardian spirit of her
cousin.” Here the Baron, overpowered by his emotions, leant back in his
chair, and ceased to speak. In a few minutes he resumed.

“I did my duty; by all that’s sacred, I did my duty! Night and day I was
with young Fane. A hundred times he was on the brink of ruin; a hundred
times I saved him. One day, one never-to-be-forgotten day, one most dark
and damnable day, I called on him, and found him on the point of joining
a coterie of desperate character. I remonstrated with him, I entreated,
I supplicated him not to go, in vain. At last he agreed to forego his
engagement on condition that I dined with him. There were important
reasons that day for my not staying with him; yet every consideration
vanished when I thought of her for whom I was exerting myself. He was
frantic this day; and, imagining that there was no chance of his
leaving his home, I did not refuse to drink freely, to drink deeply. My
doing so was the only way to keep him at home. As we were passing down
Pall Mall we met two foreigners of distinction and a noble of your
country; they were men of whom we both knew little. I had myself
introduced Fane to the foreigners a few days before, being aware that
they were men of high rank. After some conversation they asked us to
join them at supper at the house of their English friend. I declined;
but nothing could induce Fane to refuse them, and I finally accompanied
them. Play was introduced after supper: I made an ineffectual struggle
to get Fane home, but I was too full of wine to be energetic. After
losing a small sum I got up from the table, and, staggering to a sofa,
fell fast asleep. Even as I passed Fane’s chair in this condition, my
master thought was evident, and I pulled him by the shoulder: all was
useless; I woke to madness!” It was terrible to witness the anguish of
Von Konigstein.

“Could you not clear yourself?” asked Vivian, for he felt it necessary
to speak.

“Clear myself! Everything told against me. The villains were my friends,
not the sufferer’s; I was not injured. My dining with him was part of
the conspiracy; he was intoxicated previous to his ruin. Conscious of my
innocence, quite desperate, but confiding in my character, I accused the
guilty trio; they recriminated and answered, and without clearing
themselves convinced the public that I was their dissatisfied and
disappointed tool. I can speak no more.”

It is awful to witness sudden death; but, oh! how much more awful it is
to witness in a moment the moral fall of a fellow-creature! How
tremendous is the quick succession of mastering passions! The firm, the
terrifically firm, the madly resolute denial of guilt; that eagerness of
protestation which is a sure sign of crime, then the agonising suspense
before the threatened proof is produced, the hell of detection, the
audible anguish of sorrow, the curses of remorse, the silence of
despair! Few of us, unfortunately, have passed through life without
having beheld some instance of this instantaneous degradation of human
nature. But, oh! how terrible is it when the confessed criminal has been
but a moment before our friend! What a contrast to the laugh of joyous
companionship is the quivering tear of an agonised frame! how terrible
to be prayed to by those whose wishes a moment before we lived only to
anticipate!

“Von Konigstein,” said Vivian, after a long silence, “I feel for you.
Had I known this I would have spared both you and myself this night of
misery; I would have prevented you from looking back to this day with
remorse. You have suffered for that of which you were not guilty; you
shall not suffer now for what has passed. Much would I give to see you
freed from that wretched knave, whose vile career I was very nearly
tempted this evening to have terminated for ever. I shall make the
communication you desire, and I will endeavour that it shall be
credited; as to the transactions of this evening, the knowledge of them
can never transpire to the world. It is the interest of De Boeffleurs to
be silent; if he speak no one will credit the tale of such a creature,
who, if he speak truth, must proclaim his own infamy. And now for the
immediate calls upon your honour; in what sum are you indebted to Prince
Salvinski and his friend?”

“Thousands! two, three thousand.”

“I shall then have an opportunity of ridding myself of that the
acquisition of which, to me, has been matter of great sorrow. Your
honour Is saved. I will discharge the claims of Salvinski and
his friend.”

“Impossible! I cannot allow--”

“Stop; in this business I must command. Surely there can be no feelings
of delicacy between us two now. If I gave you the treasures of the
Indies you would not be under so great an obligation to me as you are
already: I say this with pain. I recommend you to leave Ems to-morrow;
public business will easily account for your sudden departure. And now,
your character is yet safe, you are yet in the prime of life, you have
vindicated yourself from that which has preyed upon your mind for years;
cease to accuse your fate!” Vivian was about to leave the room when the
Baron started from his seat and seized his hand. He would have spoken,
but the words died upon his lips, and before he could recover himself
Vivian had retired.



CHAPTER XIV


The sudden departure of Baron von Konigstein from the Baths excited
great surprise and sorrow; all wondered at the cause, and all regretted
the effect. The Grand Duke missed his good stories, the rouge-et-noir
table his constant presence, and Monsieur le Restaurateur gave up, in
consequence, an embryo idea of a fête and fireworks for his own benefit,
which agreeable plan he had trusted that, with his Excellency’s generous
co-operation as patron, he should have had no difficulty in carrying
into execution. But no one was more surprised, and more regretted the
absence of his Excellency, than his friend Mr. Fitzloom. What could be
the reason? Public business, of course; indeed he had learnt as much,
confidentially, from Cracowsky. He tried Mr. Grey, but could elicit
nothing satisfactory; he pumped Mr. St. George, but produced only the
waters of oblivion: Mr. St. George was gifted, when it suited his
purpose, with a most convenient want of memory. There must be something
in the wind, perhaps a war. Was the independence of Greece about to be
acknowledged, or the dependence of Spain about to be terminated? What
first-rate Power had marched a million of soldiers into the land of a
weak neighbour, on the mere pretence of exercising the military? What
patriots had had the proud satisfaction of establishing a constitutional
government without bloodshed, to be set aside in the course of the next
month in the same manner? Had a conspiracy for establishing a republic
in Russia been frustrated by the timely information of the intended
first Consuls? Were the Janissaries learning mathematics, or had Lord
Cochrane taken Constantinople in the James Watt steampacket? One of
these many events must have happened; but which? At length Fitzloom
decided on a general war. England must interfere either to defeat the
ambition of France, or to curb the rapacity of Russia, or to check the
arrogance of Austria, or to regenerate Spain, or to redeem Greece, or to
protect Portugal, or to shield the Brazils, or to uphold the Bible
Societies, or to consolidate the Greek Church, or to monopolise the
commerce of Mexico, or to disseminate the principles of free trade, or
to keep up her high character, or to keep up the price of corn. England
must interfere. In spite of his conviction, however, Fitzloom did not
alter the arrangements of his tour; he still intended to travel for two
years. All he did was to send immediate orders to his broker in England
to sell two millions of consols. The sale was of course effected, the
example followed, stocks fell ten per cent., the exchange turned, money
became scarce. The public funds of all Europe experienced a great
decline, smash went the country banks, consequent runs on the London, a
dozen Baronets failed in one morning, Portland Place deserted, the cause
of infant Liberty at a terrific discount, the Greek loan disappeared
like a vapour in a storm, all the new American States refused to pay
their dividends, manufactories deserted, the revenue in a decline, the
country in despair, Orders in Council, meetings of Parliament, change of
Ministry, and new loan! Such were the terrific consequences of a
diplomatist turning blackleg! The secret history of the late distress is
a lesson to all modern statesmen. Rest assured that in politics, however
tremendous the effects, the causes are often as trifling.

Vivian found his reception by the Trevor party, the morning after the
memorable night, a sufficient reward for all his anxiety and exertion.
St. George, a generous, open-hearted young man, full of gratitude to
Vivian, and regretting his previous want of cordiality towards him, now
delighted in doing full justice to his coolness, courage, and ability.
Lady Madeleine said a great deal in the most graceful and impressive
manner; but Miss Fane scarcely spoke. Vivian, however, read in her eyes
her approbation and her gratitude.

“And now, how came you to discover the whole plot, Mr. Grey?” asked Lady
Madeleine, “for we have not yet heard. Was it at the table?”

“They would hardly have had recourse to such clumsy instruments as would
have given us the chance of detecting the conspiracy by casual
observation. No, no; we owe our preservation and our gratitude to one
whom we must hereafter count among our friends. I was prepared, as I
told you, for everything; and though I had seen similar cards to those
with which they played only a few hours before, it was with difficulty
that I satisfied myself at the table that the cards we lost by were
prepared, so wonderful is the contrivance!”

“But who is the unknown friend?” said Miss Fane, with great eagerness.

“I must have the pleasure of keeping you all in suspense,” said Vivian:
“cannot any of you guess?”

“None, none, none!”

“What say you, then, to--Essper George?”

“Is it possible?”

“It is the fact that he, and he alone, is our preserver. Soon after my
arrival at this place this singular being was seized with the
unaccountable fancy of becoming my servant. You all remember his
unexpected appearance one day in the saloon. In the evening of the same
day, I found him sleeping at the door of my room; and, thinking it high
time that he should be taught more discretion, I spoke to him very
seriously the next morning respecting his troublesome and eccentric
conduct. It was then that I learnt his wish. I objected, of course, to
engaging a servant of whose previous character I was ignorant, and of
which I could not be informed, and one whose peculiar habits would
render both himself and his master notorious. While I declined his
services, I also advised him most warmly to give up all idea of
deserting his present mode of life, for which I thought him extremely
well suited. The consequence of my lecture was, what you all perceived
with surprise, a great change in Essper’s character. He became serious,
reserved, and retiring, and commenced his career as a respectable
character by throwing off his quaint costume. In a short time, by dint
of making a few bad bargains, he ingratiated himself with Ernstorff, Von
Konigstein’s pompous chasseur. His object in forming this connection was
to gain an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the duties of a
gentleman’s servant, and in this he has succeeded. About a week since,
he purchased from Ernstorff a large quantity of cast-off apparel of the
Baron’s, and other perquisites of a great man’s valet; among these were
some playing cards which had been borrowed one evening in great haste
from the servant of that rascal De Boeffleurs, and never returned. On
accidentally examining these cards, Essper detected they were marked.
The system on which the marks are formed and understood is so simple and
novel, that it was long before I could bring myself to believe that his
suspicions were founded even on a probability. At length, however, he
convinced me. It is at Vienna, he tells me, that he has met with these
cards before. The marks are all on the rim of the cards; and an
experienced dealer, that is to say, a blackleg, can with these marks
produce any results and combinations which may suit his purpose. Essper
tells me that De Boeffleurs is even more skilled in sleight-of-hand than
himself. From Ernstorff, Essper learnt on the day of the fête that Mr.
St. George was to dine with the Chevalier at the Baron’s apartments on
the morrow, and that there was a chance that I should join them. He
suspected that villany was in the wind, and when I retired to my room at
a late hour on the night of the fête, I there met him, and it was then
that he revealed to me everything which I have told you. Am I not right,
then, in calling him our preserver?”

“What can be done for him?” said Lady Madeleine.

“His only wish is already granted; he is my servant. That he will serve
me diligently and faithfully I have no doubt. I only wish that he would
accept or could appreciate a more worthy reward.”

“Can man be more amply rewarded,” said Miss Fane, “than by choosing his
own remuneration? I think he has shown in his request his accustomed
talent. I must go and see him this moment.”

“Say nothing of what has passed; he is prepared for silence from all
parties.”

A week, a happy week, passed over, and few minutes of the day found
Vivian absent from the side of Violet Fane; and now he thought again of
England, of his return to that country under very different
circumstances to what he had ever contemplated. Soon, very soon, he
trusted to write to his father, to announce to him the revolution in his
wishes, the consummation of his hopes. Soon, very soon, he trusted that
he should hail his native cliffs, a reclaimed wanderer, with a matured
mind and a contented spirit, his sorrows forgotten, his misanthropy
laid aside.



CHAPTER XV


It was about a week after the departure of the Baron that two young
Englishmen, who had been college friends of Mr. St. George, arrived at
the Baths. These were Mr. Anthony St. Leger and Mr. Adolphus St. John.
In the academic shades of Christchurch these three gentlemen had been
known as “All Saints.” Among their youthful companions they bore the
more martial style of “The Three Champions,” St. George, St. John, and
St. Anthony.

St. John and St. Anthony had just completed the grand tour, and, after
passing the Easter at Rome, had returned through the Tyrol from Italy.
Since then they had travelled over most parts of Germany; and now, in
the beginning of July, found themselves at the Baths of Ems. Two years’
travel had not produced any very beneficial effect on either of these
sainted personages. They had gained, by visiting the capitals of all
Europe, only a due acquaintance with the follies of each; and the only
difference that could be observed in their conduct on their return was,
that their affectation was rather more fantastical, and therefore
more amusing.

“Corpo di Bacco, my champion! who ever thought of meeting thee thou holy
saint! By the eyebrow of Venus, my spirit rejoiceth!” exclaimed St.
Anthony, whose peculiar affectation was an adoption in English of the
Italian oaths.

“This is the sweetest spot, St. Anthony, that we have found since we
left Paradiso; that is, St. George, in the vulgar, since we quitted
Italia. ‘Italia! O Italia!’ I forget the rest; probably you remember it.
Certainly, a most sweet spot this, quite a Gaspar!”

Art was the peculiar affectation of St. John; he was, indeed, quite a
patron of the Belle Arti, had scattered his orders through the studios
of most of the celebrated sculptors of Italy, and spoke on all subjects
and all things only with a view to their capability of forming material
for the painter. According to the school of which Mr. St. John was a
disciple, the only use of the human passions is, that they produce
situations for the historical painter; and nature, according to these
votaries of the [Greek: to kalon], is only to be valued as affording
hints for the more perfect conceptions of a Claude or a Salvator.

“By the girdle of Venus, a devilish fine woman!” exclaimed St. Anthony.

“A splendid bit!” ejaculated St. John; “touched in with freedom, a grand
tournure, great gout in the swell of the neck. What a study for Retsch!”

“In the name of the Graces, who is it, mio Santo?”

“Ay! name la bellissima Signora.”

“The ‘fine bit,’ St. John, is my sister.”

“The devil!”

“Diavolo!”

“Will you introduce us, most holy man?”

This request from both, simultaneously arranging their mustachios.

The two saints were accordingly, in due time, introduced; but finding
the attention of Miss Fane always engrossed, and receiving some not very
encouraging responses from Lady Madeleine, they voted her ladyship
cursedly satirical; and passing a general censure on the annoying
coldness of Englishwomen, they were in four-and-twenty hours attached to
the suite of the Miss Fitzlooms, to whom they were introduced by St.
George as his particular friends, and were received with the most
flattering consideration.

“By the aspect of Diana! fine girls,” swore St. Anthony.

“Truly most gorgeous colouring! quite Venetian! Aurelia is a perfect
Giorgione!” said St. John.

“Madeleine,” said St. George, one morning, to his sister, “have you any
objection to make up a party with the Fitzlooms to pass a day at Nassau?
You know we have often talked of it; and as Violet is so well now, and
the weather so delightful, there surely can be no objection. The
Fitzlooms are very agreeable people; and though you do not admire the
Santi, still, upon my word, when you know them a little more, you will
find them very pleasant fellows, and they are extremely good-natured;
and just the fellows for such a party. Do not refuse me. I have set my
mind upon your joining the party. Pray nod assent; thank you. Now I must
go and arrange everything. Let us see: there are seven Fitzlooms; for we
cannot count on less than two boys; yourself, Grey, Violet, and myself,
four; the Santi; quite enough, a most delightful party. Half a dozen
servants and as many donkeys will manage the provisions. Then three
light carriages will take us all. ‘By the wand of Mercury!’ as St.
Anthony would vow, admirably planned!”

“By the breath of Zephyr! a most lovely day, Miss Fane,” said St.
Anthony, on the morning of the intended excursion.

“Quite a Claude!” said St. John.

“Almost as beautiful as an Italian winter day, Mr. St. Leger?” asked
Miss Fane.

“Hardly!” said St. Anthony, with a serious air; for he imagined the
question to be quite genuine.

The carriages are at the door; into the first ascended Mrs. Fitzloom,
two daughters, and the travelling saints. The second bore Lady
Madeleine, Mr. Fitzloom, and his two sons; the third division was formed
of Mr. St. George and Aurelia Fitzloom, Miss Fane and Vivian.

Away, away, rolled the carriages; the day was beautiful, the sky was
without a cloud, and a mild breeze prevented the heat of the sun from
being overpowering. All were in high spirits; for St. George had made a
capital master of the ceremonies, and had arranged the company in the
carriages to their mutual satisfaction. St. Anthony swore, by the soul
of Psyche! that Augusta Fitzloom was an angel; and St. John was in equal
raptures with Araminta, who had an expression about the eyes which
reminded him, of Titian’s Flora. Mrs. Fitzloom’s natural silence did not
disturb the uninterrupted jargon of the Santi, whose foppery elicited
loud and continued approbation from the fair sisters. The mother sat
admiring these sprigs of noble trees. The young Fitzlooms, in crimson
cravats, conversed with Lady Madeleine with a delightful military air;
and their happy parent, as he gazed upon them with satisfied affection,
internally promised them both a commission in a crack regiment.

The road from Ems to Nassau winds along the banks of the Lahn, through
two leagues of delightful scenery; at the end of which, springing up
from the peak of a bold and richly-wooded mountain, the lofty tower of
the ancient castle of Nassau meets your view. Winding walks round the
sides of the mountain lead through all the varieties of sylvan scenery,
and command in all points magnificent views of the surrounding country.
These finally bring you to the old castle, whose spacious chambers,
though now choked up with masses of grey ruin or covered with underwood,
still bear witness to the might of their former lord! the powerful Baron
whose sword gained for his posterity a throne.

All seemed happy; none happier than Violet Fane. Never did she look so
beautiful as to-day, never was she so animated, never had she boasted
that her pulse beat more melodious music, or her lively blood danced a
more healthful measure. After examining all the antique chambers of the
castle, and discovering, as they flattered themselves, secret passages,
and dark dungeons, and hidden doors, they left this interesting relic of
the middle ages; and soon, by a gradual descent through delightful
shrubberies, they again found themselves at the bottom of the valley.
Here they visited the modern château of Baron von Stein, one of the most
enlightened and able politicians that Germany has ever produced. As
Minister of Prussia, he commenced those reforms which the illustrious
Hardenberg perfected. For upwards of five centuries the family of Stein
have retained their territorial possessions in the valley of the Lahn.
Their family castle, at present a ruin, and formerly a fief of the House
of Nassau, is now only a picturesque object in the pleasure-grounds of
the present lord.

The noon had passed some hours before the delighted wanderers complained
of fatigue, and by that time they found themselves in a pleasant green
glade on the skirts of the forest of Nassau. It was nearly environed by
mountains, covered with hanging woods, which shaded the beautiful
valley, and gave it the appearance of a sylvan amphitheatre. From a
rocky cleft in these green mountains a torrent, dashing down with
impetuous force, and whose fall was almost concealed by the cloud of
spray which it excited, gave birth to a small and gentle river, whose
banks were fringed with beautiful trees, which prevented the sun’s darts
from piercing its coldness, by bowing their fair heads over its waters.
From their extending branches Nature’s choristers sent forth many a
lovely lay

     Of God’s high praise, and of their loves’ sweet teen.

Near the banks of this river, the servants, under the active direction
of Essper George, had prepared a banquet for the party. The cloth had
been laid on a raised work of wood and turf, and rustic seats of the
same material surrounded the picturesque table. It glowed with
materials, and with colours to which Veronese alone could have done
justice: pasties, and birds, and venison, and groups of fish, gleamy
with prismatic hues, while amid pyramids of fruit rose goblets of
fantastic glass, worthy of the famous wines they were to receive.

“Well!” said Miss Fane, “I never will be a member of an adventurous
party like the present, of which Albert is not manager.”

“I must not take the whole credit upon myself, Violet; St. John is
butler, and St. Leger my vice-chamberlain.”

“Well, I cannot praise Mr. St. John till I have tasted the malvoisie
which he has promised; but as for the other part of the entertainment,
Mr. St. Leger, I am sure this is a temptation which it would be a sin,
even in St. Anthony, to withstand.’

“By the body of Bacchus, very good!” swore Mr. St. Leger.

“These mountains,” said Mr. St. John, “remind me of one of Gaspar’s cool
valleys. The party, indeed, give it a different character, quite
a Watteau!”

“Now, Mrs. Fitzloom,” said St. George, who was in his element, “let me
recommend a little of this pike! Lady Madeleine, I have sent you some
lamb. Miss Fitzloom, I hope St. Anthony is taking care of you.
Wrightson, plates to Mr. St. Leger. Holy man, and much beloved! send
Araminta some chicken. Grey has helped you, Violet? Aurelia, this is for
you. William Pitt Fitzloom, I leave you to yourself. George Canning
Fitzloom, take care of the ladies near you. Essper George! Where is
Essper? St. John, who is your deputy in the wine department? Wrightson!
bring those long green bottles out of the river, and put the champagne
underneath the willow. Will your Ladyship take some light claret? Mrs.
Fitzloom, you must use your tumbler; nothing but tumblers allowed, by
Miss Fane’s particular request!”

“St. George, thou holy man!” said Miss Fane, “methinks you are very
impertinent. You shall not be my patron saint if you say such words.”

For the next hour there was nothing heard save the calling of servants,
the rattling of knives and forks, the drawing of corks, and continued
bursts of laughter, which were not occasioned by any brilliant
observations, either of the Saints, or any other persons, but merely the
result of an exuberance of spirits on the part of every one present.

“Well, Aurelia,” said Lady Madeleine, “do you prefer our present mode of
life to feasting in an old hall, covered with banners and battered
shields, and surrounded by mysterious corridors and dark dungeons?”
 Aurelia was so flattered by the notice of Lady Madeleine, that she made
her no answer; probably because she was intent on a plover’s egg.

“I think we might all retire to this valley,” said Miss Fane, “and
revive the feudal times with great success. Albert might take us to
Nassau Castle, and you, Mr. Fitzloom, might re-fortify the old tower of
Stein. With two sons, however, who are about to enter the Guards, I am
afraid we must be your vassals. Then what should we do? We could not
have wood parties every day; I suppose we should get tired of each
other. No! that does seem impossible; do not you all think so?”

Omnes, “Impossible!”

“We must, however, have some regular pursuit, some cause of constant
excitement, some perpetual source of new emotions. New ideas, of course,
we must give up; there would be no going to London for the season, for
new opinions to astound country cousins on our return. Some pursuit must
be invented; we all must have something to do. I have it! Albert shall
be a tyrant.”

“I am very much obliged to you, Violet.”

“Yes! a cruel, unprincipled, vindictive, remorseless tyrant, with a long
black beard, I cannot tell how long, about twenty thousand times longer
than Mr. St. Leger’s mustachios.”

“By the beard of Jove!” swore St. Anthony, as he almost started from his
seat, and arranged with his thumb and forefinger the delicate Albanian
tuft of his upper lip, “by the beard of Jove, Miss Fane, I am obliged
to you.”

“Well, then,” continued Violet, “Albert being a tyrant, Lady Madeleine
must be an unhappy, ill-used, persecuted woman, living on black bread
and green water, in an unknown dungeon. My part shall be to discover her
imprisonment. Sounds of strange music attract my attention to a part of
the castle which I have not before frequented. There I shall distinctly
hear a female voice chaunting the ‘Bridesmaids’ Chorus,’ with Erard’s
double pedal accompaniment. By the aid of the confessors of the two
families, two drinking, rattling, impertinent, most corrupt, and most
amusing friars, to wit, our sainted friends--”

Here both Mr. St. Leger and Mr. St. John bowed low to Miss Fane.

“A most lively personage is Miss Fane,” whispered St. Anthony to his
neighbour, Miss Fitzloom, “great style!”

“Most amusing, delightful girl, great style! rather a display today, I
think.”

“Oh, decidedly! and devilish personal too; some people wouldn’t like it.
I have no doubt she will say something about you next.”

“Oh, I shall be very surprised, indeed, if she does! It may be very well
to you, but Miss Fane must be aware--”

Before this pompous sentence could be finished an incident occurred
which prevented Miss Fane from proceeding with her allotment of
characters, and rendered unnecessary the threatened indignation of
Miss Fitzloom.

Miss Fane, as we mentioned, suddenly ceased speaking; the eyes of all
were turned in the direction in which she was gazing as if she had
seen a ghost.

“What are you looking up at, Violet?” asked St. George.

“Did not you see anything? did not any of you see anything?”

“None, none!”

“Mr. Grey, surely you must have seen it!”

“I saw nothing.”

“It could not be fancy; impossible. I saw it distinctly. I cannot be in
a dream. See there! again, on that topmost branch. It moves!”

Some odd shrill sounds, uttered in the voice of a Pulcinello, attracted
the notice of them all; and lo! high in the air, behind a lofty chestnut
tree, the figure of a Pulcinello did appear, hopping and vaulting in the
unsubstantial air. Now it sent forth another shrill, piercing sound, and
now, with both its hands, it patted and complacently stroked its ample
paunch; dancing all the time with unremitting activity, and wagging its
queer head at the astounded guests.

“Who, what can it be?” cried all. The Misses Fitzloom shrieked, and the
Santi seemed quite puzzled.

“Who, what can it be?”

Ere time could be given for any one to hazard a conjecture, the figure
had advanced from behind the trees, and had spanned in an instant the
festal board, with two enormous stilts, on which they now perceived it
was mounted. The Misses Fitzloom shrieked again. The figure imitated
their cries in his queer voice, and gradually raising one enormous stilt
up into the air, stood only on one support, which was planted behind the
lovely Araminta.

“O! inimitable Essper George!” exclaimed Violet Fane.

Here Signor Punch commenced a song, which he executed in the tone
peculiar to his character, and in a style which drew applauses from all;
and then, with a hop, step, and a jump, he was again behind the
chestnut-tree. In a moment he advanced without his stilts towards the
table. Here, on the turf, he again commenced his antics; kicking his
nose with his right foot, and his hump with his left one; executing
splendid somersets, and cutting every species of caper, and never
ceasing for a moment from performing all his movements to the inspiring
music of his own melodious voice. At last, jumping up very high in the
air, he fell as if all his joints were loosened, and the Misses
Fitzloom, imagining that his bones were really broken, shrieked again.
But now Essper began the wonderful performance of a dead body possessed
by a devil, and in a minute his shattered corpse, apparently without the
assistance of any of its members, began to jump and move about the
ground with miraculous rapidity. At length it disappeared behind the
chestnut-tree.

“I really think,” said Mr. St. George, “it is the most agreeable day I
ever passed in all my life.”

“Decidedly!” said St. Anthony. “St. John, you remember our party to
Paestum with Lady Calabria M’Crater and the Marquis of Agrigentum. It
was nothing to this! Nothing! Do you know I thought that rather dull.”

“Yes, too elaborate; too highly finished; nothing of the pittore
improvisatore. A party of this kind should be more sketchy in its style;
the outline more free, and less detail.”

“Essper is coming out to-day,” said Vivian to Miss Fane, “after a long,
and, I venture to say, painful forbearance. However, I hope you will
excuse him. It seems to amuse us.”

“I think it is delightful. See! here he comes again.”

He now appeared in his original costume; the one in which Vivian first
met him at the fair. Bowing, he threw his hand carelessly over his
mandolin, and having tried the melody of its strings, sang with great
taste, and a sweet voice; sweeter from its contrast with its previous
shrill tones; a very pretty romance. All applauded him very warmly, and
no one more so than Miss Fane.

“Ah! inimitable Essper George, how can we sufficiently thank you! How
well he plays! and his voice is quite beautiful. Oh! could not we dance?
would not it be delightful? and he could play on his guitar. Think of
the delicious turf!”

Omnes, “Delightful! delightful!” They rose from the table.

“Violet, my dear,” asked Lady Madeleine, “what are you going to do?”

“By the toe of Terpsichore!” as Mr. St. Leger would say, “I am going to
dance.”

“But remember, to-day you have done so much! let us be moderate; though
you feel so much better, still think what a change to-day has been from
your usual habits!”

“But, dearest Lady Madeleine, think of dancing on the turf, and I feel
so well!”

“By the Graces! I am for the waltz,” said St. Anthony.

“It has certainly a very free touch to recommend it,” said St. John.

“No, no,” said Violet; “let us all join in a country dance.” But the
Misses Fitzloom preferred a quadrille.

The quadrille was soon formed: Violet made up for not dancing with
Vivian at the Grand Duke’s. She was most animated, and kept up a
successful rivalry with Mr. St. Leger, who evidently prided himself, as
Mr. Fitzloom observed, “on his light fantastic toe.” Now he pirouetted
like Paul, and now he attitudinised like Albert; and now Miss Fane
eclipsed all his exertions by her inimitable imitations of Ronzi
Vestris’ rushing and arrowy manner. St. Anthony, in despair, but quite
delighted, revealed a secret which had been taught him by a Spanish
dancer at Milan; but then Miss Fane vanquished him for ever with the pas
de Zephyr of the exquisite Fanny Bias.

The day was fast declining when the carriages arrived; the young people
were in no humour to return; and as, when they had once entered the
carriage, the day seemed finished for ever, they proposed walking part
of the way home. Lady Madeleine made little objection to Violet joining
the party, as after the exertion that Miss Fane had been making, a drive
in an open carriage might be dangerous: and yet the walk was too long,
but all agreed that it would be impossible to shorten it; and, as Violet
declared that she was not in the least fatigued, the lesser evil was
therefore chosen. The carriages rolled off; at about halfway from Ems,
the two empty ones were to wait for the walking party. Lady Madeleine
smiled with fond affection, as she waved her hand to Violet the moment
before she was out of sight.

“And now,” said St. George, “good people all, instead of returning by
the same road, it strikes me, that there must be a way through this
little wood; you see there is an excellent path. Before the sun is set
we shall have got through it, and it will bring us out, I have no doubt,
by the old cottage which you observed, Grey, when we came along. I saw a
gate and path there; just where we first got sight of Nassau Castle;
there can be no doubt about it. You see it is a regular right-angle, and
besides varying the walk, we shall at least gain a quarter of an hour,
which, after all, as we have to walk nearly three miles, is an object.
It is quite clear, if I have a head for anything, it is for finding
my way.”

“I think you have a head for everything,” said Aurelia Fitzloom, in a
soft sentimental whisper; “I am sure we owe all our happiness to-day
to you!”

“If I have a head for everything, I have a heart only for one person!”

As every one wished to be convinced, no one offered any argument in
opposition to Mr. St. George’s view of the case; and some were already
in the wood.

“Albert,” said Miss Fane, “I do not like walking in the wood so late;
pray come back.”

“Oh, nonsense, Violet! come. If you do not like to come, you can walk by
the road; you will meet us round by the gate, it is only five minutes’
walk.” Ere he had finished speaking, the rest were in the wood, and some
had advanced. Vivian strongly recommended Violet not to join them; he
was sure that Lady Madeleine would not approve of it; he was sure that
it was very dangerous, extremely; and, by-the-bye, while he was talking,
which way had they gone? he did not see them. He halloed; all answered,
and a thousand echoes besides. “We certainly had better go by the road,
we shall lose our way if we try to follow them; nothing is so puzzling
as walking in woods; we had much better keep to the road.” So by the
road they went.

The sun had already sunk behind the mountains, whose undulating forms
were thrown into dark shadow against the crimson sky. The thin crescent
of the new moon floated over the eastern hills, whose deep woods glowed
with the rosy glories of twilight. Over the peak of a purple mountain
glittered the solitary star of evening. As the sun dropped, universal
silence seemed to pervade the whole face of nature. The voice of the
birds was still; the breeze, which had refreshed them during the day,
died away, as if its office were now completed; and none of the dark
sounds and sights of hideous Night yet dared to triumph over the death
of Day. Unseen were the circling wings of the bat; unheard the
screech of the waking owl; silent the drowsy hum of the shade-born
beetle! What heart has not acknowledged the influence of this hour, the
sweet and soothing hour of twilight! the hour of love, the hour of
adoration, the hour of rest! when we think of those we love, only to
regret that we have not loved more dearly; when we remember our enemies
only to forgive them!

And Vivian and his beautiful companion owned the magic of this hour, as
all must do, by silence. No word was spoken, yet is silence sometimes a
language. They gazed, and gazed again, and their full spirits held due
communion with the starlit sky, and the mountains and the woods, and the
soft shadows of the increasing moon. Oh! who can describe what the
o’ercharged spirit feels at this sacred hour, when we almost lose the
consciousness of existence, and our souls seem to struggle to pierce
futurity! In the forest of the mysterious Odenwald, in the solitudes of
the Bergstrasse, had Vivian at this hour often found consolation for a
bruised spirit, often in adoring nature had forgotten man. But now, when
he had never felt nature’s influence more powerful; when he had never
forgotten man and man’s world more thoroughly; when he was experiencing
emotions, which, though undefinable, he felt to be new; he started when
he remembered that all this was in the presence of a human being! Was it
Hesperus he gazed upon, or something else that glanced brighter than an
Evening star? Even as he thought that his gaze was fixed on the
countenance of nature, he found that his eyes rested on the face of
nature’s loveliest daughter!

“Violet! dearest Violet!”

As in some delicious dream the sleeper is awakened from his bliss by the
sound of his own rapturous voice, so was Vivian roused by these words
from his reverie, and called back to the world which he had forgotten.
But ere a moment had passed, he was pouring forth in a rapid voice, and
incoherent manner, such words as men speak only once. He spoke of his
early follies, his misfortunes, his misery; of his matured views, his
settled principles, his plans, his prospects, his hopes, his happiness,
his bliss; and when he had ceased, he listened, in his turn, to some
small still words, which made him the happiest of human beings. He bent
down, he kissed the soft silken cheek which now he could call his own.
Her hand was in his; her head sank upon his breast. Suddenly she clung
to him with a strong grasp. “Violet! my own, my dearest; you are
overcome. I have been rash, I have been imprudent. Speak, speak, my
beloved! say, you are not ill!”

She spoke not, but clung to him with a fearful strength, her head still
upon his breast, her full eyes closed. Alarmed, he raised her off the
ground, and bore her to the river-side. Water might revive her. But when
he tried to lay her a moment on the bank, she clung to him gasping, as a
sinking person clings to a stout swimmer. He leant over her; he did not
attempt to disengage her arms; and, by degrees, by very slow degrees,
her grasp loosened. At last her arms gave way and fell by his side, and
her eyes partly opened.

“Thank God! Violet, my own, my beloved, say you are better!”

She answered not, evidently she did not know him, evidently she did not
see him. A film was on her sight, and her eye was glassy. He rushed to
the water-side, and in a moment he had sprinkled her temples, now
covered with a cold dew. Her pulse beat not, her circulation seemed
suspended. He rubbed the palms of her hands, he covered her delicate
feet with his coat; and then rushing up the bank into the road, he
shouted with frantic cries on all sides. No one came, no one was near.
Again, with a cry of fearful anguish, he shouted as if an hyaena were
feeding on his vitals. No sound; no answer. The nearest cottage was
above a mile off. He dared not leave her. Again he rushed down to the
water-side. Her eyes were still open, still fixed. Her mouth also was no
longer closed. Her hand was stiff, her heart had ceased to beat. He
tried with the warmth of his own body to revive her. He shouted, he
wept, he prayed. All, all in vain. Again he was in the road, again
shouting like an insane being. There was a sound. Hark! It was but the
screech of an owl!

Once more at the river-side, once more bending over her with starting
eyes, once more the attentive ear listening for the soundless breath. No
sound! not even a sigh! Oh! what would he have given for her shriek of
anguish! No change had occurred in her position, but the lower part of
her face had fallen; and there was a general appearance which struck him
with awe. Her body was quite cold, her limbs stiffened. He gazed, and
gazed, and gazed. He bent over her with stupor rather than grief stamped
on his features. It was very slowly that the dark thought came over his
mind, very slowly that the horrible truth seized upon his soul. He gave
a loud shriek, and fell on the lifeless body of VIOLET FANE!

[Illustration: dark thought]



BOOK VI


CHAPTER I


The green and bowery summer had passed away. It was midnight when two
horsemen pulled up their steeds beneath a wide oak; which, with other
lofty trees, skirted the side of a winding road in an extensive forest
in the south of Germany.

“By heavens!” said one, who apparently was the master, “we must even lay
our cloaks, I think, under this oak; for the road winds again, and
assuredly cannot lead now to our village.”

“A starlit sky in autumn can scarcely be the fittest curtain for one so
weak as you, sir; I should recommend travelling on, if we keep on our
horses’ backs till dawn.”

“But if we are travelling in a directly contrary way to our voiturier,
honest as we may suppose him to be, if he find in the morning no
paymaster for his job, he may with justice make free with our baggage.
And I shall be unusually mistaken if the road we are now pursuing does
not lead back to the city.”

“City, town, or village, you must sleep under no forest tree, sir. Let
us ride on. It will be hard if we do not find some huntsman’s or
ranger’s cottage; and for aught we know a neat snug village, or some
comfortable old manor-house, which has been in the family for two
centuries; and where, with God’s blessing, they may chance to have wine
as old as the bricks. I know not how you may feel, sir, but a ten hours’
ride when I was only prepared for half the time, and that, too, in an
autumn night, makes me somewhat desirous of renewing my acquaintance
with the kitchen-fire.”

“I could join you in a glass of hock and a slice of venison, I confess,
my good fellow; but in a nocturnal ride I am no longer your match.
However, if you think it best, we will prick on our steeds for another
hour. If it be only for them, I am sure we must soon stop.”

“Ay! do, sir; and put your cloak well round you; all is for the best.
You are not, I guess, a Sabbath-born child?”

“That am I not, but how would that make our plight worse than it is?
Should we be farther off supper?”

“Nearer, perhaps, than you imagine; for we should then have a chance of
sharing the spoils of the Spirit Hunter.”

“Ah! Essper, is it so?”

“Truly yes, sir; and were either of us a Sabbath-born child, by holy
cross! I would not give much for our chance of a down bed this night.”

Here a great horned owl flew across the road.

“Were I in the north,” said Essper, “I would sing an Ave Mary against
the STUT OZEL.”

“What call you that?” asked Vivian.

“Tis the great bird, sir; the great horned owl, that always flies before
the Wild Hunter. And truly, sir, I have passed through many forests in
my time, but never yet saw I one where I should sooner expect to hear a
midnight bugle. If you will allow me, sir, I will ride by your side.
Thank God, at least, it is not the Walpurgis night!”

“I wish to Heaven it were!” said Vivian, “and that we were on the
Brocken. It must be highly amusing!”

“Hush! hush! it is lucky we are not in the Hartz; but we know not where
we are, nor who at this moment may be behind us.”

And here Essper began pouring forth a liturgy of his own, half Catholic
and half Calvinistic, quite in character with the creed of the country
through which they were travelling.

“My horse has stumbled,” continued Essper, “and yours, sir, is he not
shying? There is a confounded cloud over the moon, but I have no sight
in the dark if that mass before you be not a devil’s-stone. The Lord
have mercy upon our sinful souls!”

“Peace! Essper,” said Vivian, who was surprised to find him really
alarmed; “I see nothing but a block of granite, no uncommon sight in a
German forest.”

“It is a devil-stone, I tell you, sir; there has been some church here,
which he has knocked down in the night. Look! is it the moss-people that
I see! As sure as I am a hungry sinner, the Wild One is out a-hunting
to-night.”

“More luck for us, if we meet him. His dogs, as you say, may gain us a
supper. I think our wisest course will be to join the cry.”

“Hush! hush! you would not talk so if you knew what your share of the
spoils might be. Ay! if you did, sir, your cheek would be paler, and
your very teeth would chatter. I knew one man who was travelling in the
forest, just as we are now; it was about this time; and he believed in
the Wild Huntsman about as much as you, that is, he liked to talk of the
Spirit, merely to have the opportunity of denying that he believed in
him; which showed, as I used to say, that his mind was often thinking of
it. He was a merry knave, and as firm a hand for a boar-spear as ever I
met with, and I have met many. We used to call him, before the accident,
Left-handed Hans, but they call him now, sir, the Child-Hunter. Oh! it
is a very awful tale, and I would sooner tell it in blazing hall than in
free forest. You did not hear any sound to the left, did you?”

“Nothing but the wind, Essper; on with your tale, my man.”

“It is a very awful tale, sir, but I will make short work of it. You
see, sir, it was a night just like this; the moon was generally hid, but
the stars prevented it from ever being pitch dark. And so, sir, he was
travelling alone; he had been up to the castle of the baron, his master;
you see, sir, he was head-ranger to his lordship, and he always returned
home through the forest. What he was thinking of, I cannot say, but most
likely of no good; when all on a sudden he heard the baying of hounds in
the distance. Now directly he heard it; I have heard him tell the story
a thousand times; directly he heard it, it struck him that it must be
the Spirit Huntsman; and though there were many ways to account for the
hounds, still he never for a moment doubted that they were the
hell-dogs. The sounds came nearer and nearer. Now I tell you this,
because if ever, which the Holy Virgin forbid! if ever you meet the Wild
Huntsman, you will know how to act: conduct yourself always with
propriety, make no noise, but behave like a gentleman, and don’t put the
dogs off the scent; stand aside, and let him pass. Don’t talk; he has no
time to lose; for if he hunt after daybreak, a night’s sport is
forfeited for every star left in the morning sky. So, sir, you see
nothing puts him in a greater passion than to lose his time in answering
impertinent questions. Well, sir, Left-handed Hans stood by the
road-side. The baying of the dogs was so distinct, that he felt that in
a moment the Wild One would be up: his horse shivered like a sallow in a
storm. He heard the tramp of the Spirit-steed: they came in sight. As
the tall figure of the Huntsman passed; I cannot tell you what it was;
it might have been; Lord, forgive me for thinking what it might have
been! but a voice from behind Hans, a voice so like his own, that for a
moment he fancied that he had himself spoken, although he was conscious
that his lips had been firmly closed the whole time; a voice from the
road-side, just behind poor Hans, mind, said, ‘Good sport, Sir Huntsman,
‘tis an odd light to track a stag!’ The poor man, sir, was all of an
ague; but how much greater was his horror when the tall huntsman
stopped! He thought that he was going to be eaten up on the spot, at
least: not at all. ‘My friend!’ said the Wild One, in the kindest voice
imaginable; ‘my friend, would you like to give your horse a breathing
with us?’ Poor Hans was so alarmed that it never entered into his head
for a single moment to refuse the invitation, and instantly he was
galloping by the side of the Wild Huntsman. Away they flew! away! away!
away! over bog, and over mere; over ditch, and over hedge; away! away!
away! and the Ranger’s horse never failed, but kept by the side of the
Wild Spirit without the least distress; and yet it is very singular that
Hans was about to sell this very beast only a day before, for a matter
of five crowns: you see, he only kept it just to pick his way at night
from the castle to his own cottage. Well, it is very odd, but Hans soon
lost all fear, for the sport was so fine and he had such a keen relish
for the work, that, far from being alarmed, he thought himself one of
the luckiest knaves alive. But the oddest thing all this time was, that
Hans never caught sight for one moment of either buck or boar, although
he saw by the dogs’ noses that there was something keen in the wind, and
although he felt that if the hunted beast were like any that he had
himself ever followed before, it must have been run down with such dogs,
quicker than a priest could say a paternoster. At last, for he had grown
quite bold, says Hans to the Wild Huntsman, ‘The beasts run quick o’
nights, sir, I think; it has been a long time, I ween, ere I scampered
so far, and saw so little!’ Do you know that the old gentleman was not
the least affronted, but said, in the pleasantest voice imaginable, ‘A
true huntsman should be patient, Hans; you will see the game quick
enough; look forward, man! what see you?’ And sure enough, your
Highness, he did look forward. It was near the skirts of the forest,
there was a green glade before them, and very few trees, and therefore
he could see far a-head. The moon was shining very bright, and sure
enough, what did he see? Running as fleet over the turf as a rabbit, was
a child. The little figure was quite black in the moonlight, and Hans
could not catch its face: in a moment the hell-dogs were on it. Hans
quivered like a windy reed, and the Wild One laughed till the very woods
echoed. ‘How like you hunting moss-men?’ asked the Spirit. Now when Hans
found it was only a moss-man, he took heart again, and said in a shaking
voice, that ‘It is rare good sport in good company;’ and then the Spirit
jumped off his horse, and said, ‘Now, Hans, you must watch me well, for
I am little used to bag game.’ He said this with a proudish air, as much
as to hint, that had he not expected Hans he would not have rode out
this evening without his groom. So the Wild One jumped on his horse
again, and put the bag before him. It was nearly morning when Hans found
himself at the door of his own cottage; and, bowing very respectfully to
the Spirit Hunter, he thanked him for the sport, and begged his share of
the night’s spoil. This was all in joke, but Hans had heard that ‘talk
to the devil, and fear the last word;’ and so he was determined, now
that they were about to part, not to appear to tremble, but to carry it
off with a jest. ‘Truly, Hans,’ said the Huntsman, ‘thou art a bold lad,
and to encourage thee to speak to wild huntsmen again, I have a mind to
give thee for thy pains the whole spoil. Take the bag, knave, a moss-man
is good eating; had I time I would give thee a receipt for sauce;’ and,
so saying, the Spirit rode off, laughing very heartily. Well, sir, Hans
was so anxious to examine the contents of the bag, and see what kind of
thing a moss-man really was, for he had only caught a glimpse of him in
the chase, that instead of going to bed immediately, and saying his
prayers, as he should have done, he lighted a lamp and undid the string;
and what think you he took out of the bag? As sure as I am a born
sinner, his own child!”

“‘Tis a wonderful tale,” said Vivian; “and did the unfortunate man tell
you this himself?”

“Often and often. I knew Left-handed Hans well. He was ranger, as I
said, to a great lord; and was quite a favourite, you see. For some
reason or other he got out of favour. Some said that the Baron had found
him out a-poaching; and that he used to ride his master’s horses
a-night. Whether this be true or not, who can say? But, howsoever, Hans
went to ruin; and instead of being a flourishing active lad, he was
turned out, and went a-begging all through Saxony; and he always told
this story as the real history of his misfortunes. Some say he is not as
strong in his head as he used to be. However, why should we say it is
not a true tale? What is that?” almost shrieked Essper.

Vivian listened, and heard distinctly the distant baying of hounds.

“‘Tis he!” said Essper; “now don’t speak, sir, don’t speak! and if the
devil make me join him, as may be the case, for I am but a cock-brained
thing, particularly at midnight, don’t be running after me from any
foolish feeling, but take care of yourself, and don’t be chattering. To
think you should come to this, my precious young master!”

“Cease your blubbering! Do you think that I am to be frightened by the
idiot tales of a parcel of old women, and the lies of a gang of detected
poachers? Come, sir, ride on. We are, most probably, near some
huntsman’s cottage. That distant baying is the sweetest music I have
heard a long while.”

“Don’t be rash, sir; don’t be rash. If you were to give me fifty crowns
now, I could not remember a single line of a single prayer. Ave Maria!
it always is so when I most want it. Paternoster! and whenever I have
need to remember a song, sure enough I am always thinking of a prayer.
‘Unser vater, der du bist im himmel, sanctificado se el tu nombra; il
tuo regno venga.’” Here Essper George was proceeding with a scrap of
modern Greek, when the horsemen suddenly came upon one of those broad
green vistas which we often see in forests, and which are generally cut,
either for the convenience of hunting, or carting wood. It opened on the
left side of the road; and at the bottom of it, though apparently at a
great distance, a light was visible.

“So much for your Wild Huntsman, friend Essper! I shall be much
disappointed if here are not quarters for the night. And see! the moon
comes out, a good omen!”

After ten minutes’ canter over the noiseless turf, the travellers found
themselves before a large and many-windowed mansion. The building formed
the farthest side of a quadrangle, which you entered through an ancient
and massy gate; on each side of which was a small building, of course
the lodges. Essper soon found that the gate was closely fastened; and
though he knocked often and loudly, it was with no effect. That the
inhabitants of the mansion had not yet retired was certain, for lights
were moving in the great house; and one of the lodges was not only very
brilliantly illuminated, but full, as Vivian was soon convinced, of
clamorous if not jovial guests.

“Now, by the soul of my unknown father!” said the enraged Essper, “I
will make these saucy porters learn their duty--What ho! there; what ho!
within; within!” But the only answer he received was the loud
reiteration of a rude and roaring chorus, which, as it was now more
distinctly and audibly enunciated, evidently for the purpose of enraging
the travellers, they detected to be something to the following effect:--

     Then a prayer to St. Peter, a prayer to St. Paul!
     A prayer to St. Jerome, a prayer to them all!
     A prayer to each one of the saintly stock,
     But devotion alone, devotion to Hock!

“A right good burden’” said Essper. The very words had made him recover
his temper, and ten thousand times more desirous of gaining admittance.
He was off his horse in a moment, and scrambling up the wall with the
aid of the iron stanchions, he clambered up to the window. The sudden
appearance of his figure startled the inmates of the lodge, and one of
them soon staggered to the gate.

“What want you, ye noisy and disturbing varlets? what want you, ye most
unhallowed rogues, at such a place, and at such an hour? If you be
thieves, look at our bars (here a hiccup). If you be poachers, our
master is engaged, and ye may slay all the game in the forest (another
hiccup); but if ye be good men and true--”

“We are!” halloed Essper, eagerly.

“You are!” said the porter, in a tone of great surprise; “then you ought
to be ashamed of yourselves for disturbing holy men at their devotions!”

“Is this the way,” said Essper, “to behave, ye shameless rascals, to a
noble and mighty Prince, who happens to have lost his way in your
abominable forest, but who, though he has parted with his suite, has
still in his pocket a purse full of ducats? Would ye have him robbed by
any others but yourselves? Is this the way you behave to a Prince of the
Holy Roman Empire, a Knight of the Golden Fleece, and a most particular
friend of your own master? Is this the way to behave to his secretary,
who is one of the merriest fellows living, can sing a jolly song with
any of you, and so bedevil a bottle of Geisenheim with lemons and
brandy that for the soul of ye you wouldn’t know it from the greenest
Tokay? Out, out on ye! you know not what you have lost!”

Ere Essper had finished more than one stout bolt had been drawn, and the
great key had already entered the stouter lock.

“Most honourable sirs!” hiccuped the porter, “in our Lady’s name enter.
I had forgot myself, for in these autumn nights it is necessary to
anticipate the cold with a glass of cheering liquor; and, God forgive
me! if I did not mistake your most mighty Highnesses for a couple of
forest rovers, or small poachers at least. Thin entertainment here, kind
sir (here the last bolt was withdrawn); a glass of indifferent liquor
and a prayer-book. I pass the time chiefly these cold nights with a few
holy-minded friends at our devotions. You heard us at our prayers,
honourable lords!

     “A prayer to St. Peter, a prayer to St. Paul!
     A prayer to St. Jerome, a prayer to them all!”

Here the devout porter most reverently crossed himself.

     “A prayer to each one of the saintly stock,
     But devotion alone, devotion to Hock!”

added Essper George; “you forget the best part of the burden, my honest
friend.”

“Oh!” said the porter, with an arch smile, as he opened the lodge door;
“I am glad to find that your honourable Excellencies have a taste
for hymns!”

The porter led them into a room, at a round table in which about
half-a-dozen individuals were busily engaged in discussing the merits of
various agreeable liquors. There was an attempt to get up a show of
polite hospitality to Vivian as he entered, but the man who offered him
his chair fell to the ground in an unsuccessful struggle to be
courteous; and another one, who had filled a large glass for the guest
on his entrance, offered him, after a preliminary speech of incoherent
compliments, the empty bottle by mistake. The porter and his friends,
although they were all drunk, had sense enough to feel that the presence
of a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, a Chevalier of the Golden Fleece,
and the particular friend of their master, was not exactly a fit
companion for themselves, and was rather a check on the gay freedom of
equal companionship; and so, although the exertion was not a little
troublesome, the guardian of the gate reeled out of the room to inform
his honoured lord of the sudden arrival of a stranger of distinction,
Essper George immediately took his place, and ere the master of the
lodge had returned the noble secretary had not only given a choice
toast, sung a choice song, and been hailed by the grateful plaudits of
all present, but had proceeded in his attempt to fulfil the pledge which
he had given at the gate to the very letter by calling out lustily for a
bottle of Geisenheim, lemons, brandy, and a bowl.

“Fairly and softly, my little son of Bacchus,” said the porter as he
re-entered, “fairly and softly, and then thou shalt want nothing; but
remember I have to perform my duties unto the noble Lord my master, and
also to the noble Prince your master. If thou wilt follow me,” continued
the porter, reeling as he bowed with the greatest consideration to
Vivian; “if thou wilt follow me, most high and mighty sir, my master
will be right glad to have the honour of drinking your health. And as
for you, my friends, fairly and softly say I again. We will talk of the
Geisenheim anon. Am I to be absent from the first brewing? No, no!
fairly and softly; you can drink my health when I am absent in cold
liquor, and say those things which you could not well say before my
face. But mind, my most righteous and well-beloved, I will have no
flattery. Flattery is the destruction of all good fellowship; it is like
a qualmish liqueur in the midst of a bottle of wine. Speak your minds,
say any little thing that comes first, as thus, ‘Well, for Hunsdrich,
the porter, I must declare that I never heard evil word against him;’ or
thus, ‘A very good leg has Hunsdrich the porter, and a tight-made lad
altogether; no enemy with the girls, I warrant me;’ or thus, ‘Well, for
a good-hearted, good-looking, stout-drinking, virtuous, honourable,
handsome, generous, sharp-witted knave, commend me to Hunsdrich the
porter;’ but not a word more, my friends, not a word more, no
flattery--Now, sir, I beg your pardon.”

The porter led the way through a cloistered walk, until they arrived at
the door of the great mansion, to which they ascended by a lofty flight
of steps; it opened into a large octagonal hail, the sides of which were
covered with fowling-pieces, stags’ heads, couteaux de chasse,
boar-spears, and huge fishing-nets. Passing through this hall, they
ascended a noble stair-case, on the first landing-place of which was a
door, which Vivian’s conductor opened, and ushering him into a large and
well-lighted chamber, withdrew. From the centre of this room descended a
magnificently cut chandelier, which threw a graceful light upon a
sumptuous banquet table, at which were seated eight very
singular-looking personages. All of them wore hunting-dresses of various
shades of straw-coloured cloth, with the exception of one, who sat on
the left hand of the master of the feast, and the colour of whose
costume was a rich crimson purple. From the top to the bottom of the
table extended a double file of wine-glasses and goblets, of all sizes
and all colours. There you might see brilliant relics of that ancient
ruby-glass the vivid tints of which seem lost to us for ever. Next to
these were marshalled goblets of Venetian manufacture, of a cloudy,
creamy white; then came the huge hock glass of some ancient Primate of
Mentz, nearly a yard high, towering above its companions, as the church,
its former master, predominated over the simple laymen of the middle
ages. Why should we forget a set of most curious and antique
drinking-cups of painted glass, on whose rare surfaces were emblazoned
the Kaiser and ten electors of the old Empire?

Vivian bowed to the party and stood in silence, while they stared a
scrutinising examination. At length the master of the feast spoke. He
was a very stout man, with a prodigious paunch, which his tightened
dress set off to great advantage. His face, and particularly his
forehead, were of great breadth. His eyes were set far apart. His long
ears hung down almost to his shoulders; yet singular as he was, not only
in these, but in many other respects, everything was forgotten when your
eyes lighted on his nose. It was the most prodigious nose that Vivian
ever remembered not only seeing, but hearing or even reading of. It
fact, it was too monstrous for a dream. This mighty nose seemed to hang
almost to its owner’s chest.

“Be seated,” said this personage, in no unpleasing voice, and he pointed
to the chair opposite to him. Vivian took the vacated seat of the
Vice-President, who moved himself to the right. “Be seated, and whoever
you may be, welcome! If our words be few, think not that our welcome is
scant. We are not much given to speech, holding it for a principle that
if a man’s mouth be open, it should be for the purpose of receiving that
which cheers a man’s spirit; not of giving vent to idle words, which, so
far as we have observed, produce no other effect save filling the world
with crude and unprofitable fantasies, and distracting our attention
when we are on the point of catching those flavours which alone make the
world endurable. Therefore, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome, Sir
Stranger, from us, and from all: and first from us, the Grand Duke of
Johannisberger.” Here his Highness rose, and pulled out a large ruby
tumbler from the file. Each of those present did the same, without,
however, rising, and the late Vice-President, who sat next to Vivian,
invited him to follow their example.

The Grand Duke of Johannisberger brought forward, from beneath the
table, an ancient and exquisite bottle of that choice liquor from which
he took his exhilarating title. The cork was drawn, and the bottle
circulated with rapidity; and in three minutes the ruby glasses were
filled and emptied, and the Grand Duke’s health quaffed by all present.

“Again, Sir Stranger,” continued the Grand Duke, “briefly, but heartily,
welcome! welcome from us and welcome from all; and first from us, and
now from the Archduke of Hockheimer!”

The Archduke of Hockheimer was a thin, sinewy man, with long, carroty
hair, eyelashes of the same colour, but of a remarkable length; and
mustachios, which, though very thin, were so long that they met under
his chin. Vivian could not refrain from noticing the extreme length,
whiteness, and apparent sharpness of his teeth. The Archduke did not
speak, but, leaning under the table, soon produced a bottle of
Hockheimer. He then took from the file one of the Venetian glasses of
clouded white. All followed his example; the bottle was sent round, his
health was pledged, and the Grand Duke of Johannisberger again spoke:

“Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Elector of
Steinberg!”

The Elector of Steinberg was a short, but very broad-backed,
strong-built man. Though his head was large, his features were small,
and appeared smaller from the immense quantity of coarse, shaggy, brown
hair which grew over almost every part of his face and fell down upon
his shoulders. The Elector was as silent as his predecessor, and quickly
produced a bottle of Steinberg. The curious drinking cups of painted
glass were immediately withdrawn from the file, the bottle was sent
round, the Elector’s health was pledged, and the Grand Duke of
Johannisberger again spoke:

“Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Margrave of
Rudesheimer!”

The Margrave of Rudesheimer was a slender man of elegant appearance. As
Vivian watched the glance of his speaking eye, and the half-satirical
and half-jovial smile which played upon his features, he hardly expected
that he would be as silent as his predecessors. But the Margrave spoke
no word. He gave a kind of shout of savage exultation as he smacked his
lips after dashing off his glass of Rudesheimer; and scarcely noticing
the salutations of those who drank his health, he threw himself back in
his chair, and listened seemingly with a smile of derision, while the
Grand Duke of Johannisberger again spoke:

“Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Landgrave of
Grafenberg.”

The Landgrave of Grafenberg was a rude, awkward-looking person, who,
when he rose from his seat, stared like an idiot, and seemed utterly
ignorant of what he ought to do. But his quick companion, the Margrave
of Rudesheimer, soon thrust a bottle of Grafenberg into the Landgrave’s
hand, and with some trouble and bustle the Landgrave extracted the cork;
and then helping himself sat down, forgetting either to salute, or to
return the salutations of those present.

“Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Palsgrave of
Geisenheim!”

The Palsgrave of Geisenheim was a dwarf in spectacles. He drew the cork
from his bottle like lightning, and mouthed at his companions even while
he bowed to them.

“Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Count of
Markbrunnen!”

The Count of Markbrunnen was a sullen-looking personage, with lips
protruding nearly three inches beyond his nose. From each side of his
upper jaw projected a large tooth.

“Thanks to Heaven!” said Vivian, as the Grand Duke again spoke; “thanks
to Heaven, here is our last man!”

“Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Baron of
Asmanshausen!”

The Baron of Asmanshausen sat on the left hand of the Grand Duke of
Johannisberger, and was dressed, as we have before said, in an unique
costume of crimson purple. The Baron stood, without his boots, about six
feet eight. He was a sleek man, with a head not bigger than a child’s,
and a pair of small, black, beady eyes, of singular brilliancy. The
Baron introduced a bottle of the only red wine that the Rhine boasts;
but which, for its fragrant and fruity flavour and its brilliant tint,
is perhaps not inferior to the sunset glow of Burgundy.

“And now,” continued the Grand Duke, “having introduced you to all
present, sir, we will begin drinking.”

Vivian had submitted to the introductory ceremonies with the good grace
which becomes a man of the world; but the coolness of this last
observation recalled our hero’s wandering senses; and, at the same time,
alarmed at discovering that eight bottles of wine had been discussed by
the party merely as preliminary, and emboldened by the contents of one
bottle which had fallen to his own share, he had the courage to confront
the Grand Duke of Johannisberger in his own castle.

“Your wine, most noble Lord, stands in no need of my commendation; but
as I must mention it, let it not be said that I ever mentioned it
without praise. After a ten hours’ ride, its flavour is as grateful to
the palate as its strength is refreshing to the heart; but though old
Hock, in homely phrase, is styled meat and drink, I confess to you that,
at this moment, I stand in need of even more solid sustenance than the
juice of the sunny hill.”

“A traitor!” shrieked all present, each with his right arm stretched
out, glass in hand; “a traitor!”

“No traitor,” answered Vivian, “noble and right thirsty lords, but one
of the most hungry mortals that ever yet famished.”

The only answer that he received for some time was a loud and ill-boding
murmur. The long whisker of the Archduke of Hockheimer curled with
renewed rage; audible, though suppressed, was the growl of the hairy
Elector of Steinberg; fearful the corporeal involutions of the tall
Baron of Asmanshausen; and savagely sounded the wild laugh of the
bright-eyed Margrave of Rudesheimer.

“Silence, my Lords!” said the Grand Duke. “Forget we that ignorance is
the stranger’s portion, and that no treason can exist among those who
are not our sworn subjects? Pity we rather the degeneracy of this
bold-spoken youth, and in the plenitude of our mercy let us pardon his
demand! Know ye, unknown knight, that you are in the presence of an
august society who are here met at one of their accustomed convocations,
whereof the purport is the frequent quaffing of those most glorious
liquors of which the sacred Rhine is the great father. We profess to
find a perfect commentary on the Pindaric laud of the strongest element
in the circumstance of the banks of a river being the locality where the
juice of the grape is most delicious, and holding, therefore, that water
is strongest because, in a manner, it giveth birth to wine, we also hold
it as a sacred element, and consequently most religiously refrain from
refreshing our bodies with that sanctified and most undrinkable fluid.
Know ye that we are the children of the Rhine, the conservators of his
flavours, profound in the learning of his exquisite aroma, and deep
students in the mysteries of his inexplicable näre. Professing not to be
immortal, we find in the exercise of the chase a noble means to preserve
that health which is necessary for the performance of the ceremonies to
which we are pledged. At to-morrow’s dawn our bugle sounds, and thou,
stranger, may engage the wild boar at our side; at to-morrow’s noon the
castle bell will toll, and thou, stranger, may eat of the beast which
thou hast conquered; but to feed after midnight, to destroy the power of
catching the delicate flavour, to annihilate the faculty of detecting
the undefinable näre, is heresy, most rank and damnable heresy!
Therefore at this hour soundeth no plate or platter, jingleth no knife
or culinary instrument, in the PALACE or THE WINES. Yet, in
consideration of thy youth, and that on the whole thou hast tasted thy
liquor like a proper man, from which we augur the best expectations of
the manner in which thou wilt drink it, we feel confident that our
brothers of the goblet will permit us to grant thee the substantial
solace of a single shoeing horn.”

“Let it be a Dutch herring, then,” said Vivian, “and as you have souls
to be saved grant me one slice of bread.”

“It cannot be,” said the Grand Duke; “but as we are willing to be
indulgent to bold hearts, verily, we will wink at the profanation of a
single toast; but you must order an anchovy one, and give secret
instructions to the waiting-man to forget the fish. It must be counted
as a second shoeing horn, and you will forfeit for the last a bottle of
Markbrunnen.”

“And now, illustrious brothers,” continued the Grand Duke, “let us drink
1726.”

All present gave a single cheer, in which Vivian was obliged to join,
and they honoured with a glass of the very year the memory of a
celebrated vintage.

“1748!” said the Grand Duke.

Two cheers and the same ceremony.

1766 and 1779 were honoured in the same manner, but when the next toast
was drank, Vivian almost observed in the countenances of the Grand Duke
and his friends the signs of incipient insanity.

“1783!” hallooed the Grand Duke in a tone of the most triumphant
exultation, and his mighty proboscis, as it snuffed the air, almost
caused a whirlwind round the room. Hockheimer gave a roar, Steinberg a
growl, Rudesheimer a wild laugh, Markbrunnen, a loud grunt, Grafenberg a
bray, Asmanshausen’s long body moved to and fro with wonderful
agitation, and little Geisenheim’s bright eyes glistened through their
glasses as if they were on fire. How ludicrous is the incipient
inebriety of a man who wears spectacles!

Thanks to an excellent constitution, which recent misery, however, had
somewhat shattered, Vivian bore up against all these attacks; and when
they had got down to 1802, from the excellency of his digestion and the
inimitable skill with which he emptied many of the latter glasses under
the table, he was, perhaps, in better condition than any one in
the room.

And now rose the idiot Grafenberg; Rudesheimer all the time, with a
malicious smile, faintly pulling him down by the skirt of his coat, as
if he were desirous of preventing an exposure which his own advice had
brought about. He had been persuading Grafenberg the whole evening to
make a speech.

“My Lord Duke,” brayed the jackass; and then he stopped dead, and looked
round the room with an unmeaning stare.

“Hear, hear, hear!” was the general cry; but Grafenberg seemed astounded
at any one being desirous of hearing his voice, or for a moment
seriously entertaining the idea that he could have anything to say; and
so he stared again, and again, and again, till at last Rudesheimer, by
dint of kicking his shins under the table, the Margrave the whole time
seeming perfectly motionless, at length extracted a sentence from the
asinine Landgrave.

“My Lord Duke!” again commenced Grafenberg, and again he stopped.

“Go on!” shouted all.

“My Lord Duke! Rudesheimer is treading on my toes!”

Here little Geisenheim gave a loud laugh of derision, in which all
joined except surly Markbrunnen, whose lips protruded an extra inch
beyond their usual length when he found that all were laughing at his
friend. The Grand Duke at last procured silence.

“Shame! shame! mighty Princes! Shame! shame! noble Lords! Is it with
this irreverent glee, these scurvy flouts, and indecorous mockery, that
you would have this stranger believe that we celebrate the ceremonies of
our Father Rhine? Shame, I say; and silence! It is time that we should
prove to him that we are not merely a boisterous and unruly party of
swilling varlets, who leave their brains in their cups. It is time that
we should do something to prove that we are capable of better and
worthier things. What ho! my Lord of Geisenheim! shall I speak twice to
the guardian of the horn of the Fairy King?”

The little dwarf instantly jumped from his seat and proceeded to the end
of the room, where, after having bowed three times with great reverence
before a small black cabinet made of vine wood, he opened it with a
golden key, and then with great pomp and ceremony bore its contents to
the Grand Duke. That chieftain took from the little dwarf the horn of a
gigantic and antediluvian elk. The cunning hand of an ancient German
artificer had formed this curious relic into a drinking-cup. It was
exquisitely polished, and cased in the interior with silver. On the
outside the only ornaments were three richly-chased silver rings, which
were placed nearly at equal distances. When the Grand Duke had carefully
examined this most precious horn, he held it up with great reverence to
all present, and a party of devout Catholics could not have paid greater
homage to the elevated Host than did the various guests to the horn of
the Fairy King. Even the satanic smile on Rudesheimer’s countenance was
for a moment subdued, and all bowed. The Grand Duke then delivered the
mighty cup to his neighbour, the Archduke of Hockheimer, who held it
with both hands until his Royal Highness had emptied into it, with great
care, three bottles of Johannisberger. All rose: the Grand Duke took
the goblet in one hand, and with the other he dexterously put aside his
most inconvenient and enormous nose. Dead silence prevailed, save the
roar of the liquor as it rushed down the Grand Duke’s throat, and
resounded through the chamber like the distant dash of a waterfall. In
three minutes the Chairman had completed his task, the horn had quitted
his mouth, his nose had again resumed its usual situation, and as he
handed the cup to the Archduke, Vivian thought that a material change
had taken place in his countenance since he had quaffed his last
draught. His eyes seemed more apart; his ears seemed broader and longer;
and his nose visibly lengthened. The Archduke, before he commenced his
draught, ascertained with great scrupulosity that his predecessor had
taken his fair share by draining the horn as far as the first ring; and
then he poured off with great rapidity his own portion. But though, in
performing the same task, he was quicker than the master of the party,
the draught not only apparently, but audibly, produced upon him a much
more decided effect than it had on the Grand Duke; for when the second
ring was drained the Archduke gave a loud roar of exultation, and stood
up for some time from his seat, with his hands resting on the table,
over which he leant, as if he were about to spring upon his opposite
neighbour. The cup was now handed across the table to the Baron of
Asmanshausen. His Lordship performed his task with ease; but as he
withdrew the horn from his mouth, all present, except Vivian, gave a
loud cry of “Supernaculum!” The Baron smiled with great contempt, as he
tossed, with a careless hand, the great horn upside downwards, and was
unable to shed upon his nail even the one excusable pearl. He handed the
refilled horn to the Elector of Steinberg, who drank his portion with a
growl; but afterwards seemed so pleased with the facility of his
execution that, instead of delivering it to the next bibber, the
Palsgrave of Markbrunnen, he commenced some clumsy attempts at a dance
of triumph, in which he certainly would have proceeded, had not the loud
grunts of the surly and thick-lipped Markbrunnen occasioned the
interference of the President. Supernaculum now fell to the Margrave of
Rudesheimer, who gave a loud and long-continued laugh as the dwarf of
Geisenheim filled the horn for the third time.

While this ceremony was going on, a thousand plans had occurred to
Vivian for his escape; but all, on second thoughts, proved
impracticable. With agony he had observed that supernaculum was his
miserable lot. Could he but have foisted it on the idiot Grafenberg, he
might, by his own impudence and the other’s stupidity, have escaped. But
he could not flatter himself that he should be successful in bringing
about this end, for he observed with dismay that the malicious
Rudesheimer had not for a moment ceased watching him with a keen and
exulting glance. Geisenheim performed his task; and ere Vivian could ask
for the goblet, Rudesheimer, with a fell laugh, had handed it to
Grafenberg. The greedy ass drank his portion with ease, and indeed drank
far beyond his limit. The cup was in Vivian’s hand, Rudesheimer was
roaring supernaculum louder than all; Vivian saw that the covetous
Grafenberg had providentially rendered his task comparatively light; but
even as it was, he trembled at the idea of drinking at a single draught
more than a pint of most vigorous and powerful wine.

“My Lord Duke,” said Vivian, “you and your companions forget that I am
little used to these ceremonies; that I am yet uninitiated in the
mysteries of the näre. I have endeavoured to prove myself no
chicken-hearted water-drinking craven, and I have more wine within me at
this moment than any man yet bore without dinner. I think, therefore,
that I have some grounds for requesting indulgence, and I have no doubt
that the good sense of yourself and your friends--”

Ere Vivian could finish, he almost fancied that a well-stocked menagerie
had been suddenly emptied in the room. Such roaring, and such growling,
and such hissing, could only have been exceeded on some grand feast day
in the recesses of a Brazilian forest. Asmanshausen looked as fierce as
a boa constrictor before dinner. The proboscis of the Grand Duke heaved
to and fro like the trunk of an enraged elephant. Hockheimer glared like
a Bengal tiger about to spring upon its prey. Steinberg growled like a
Baltic bear. In Markbrunnen Vivian recognised the wild boar he had
himself often hunted. Grafenberg brayed like a jackass, and Geisenheim
chattered like an ape. But all was forgotten and unnoticed when Vivian
heard the fell and frantic shouts of the laughing hyaena, the Margrave
of Rudesheimer! Vivian, in despair, dashed the horn of Oberon to his
mouth. One pull, a gasp, another desperate draught; it was done! and
followed by a supernaculum almost superior to the exulting
Asmanshausen’s.

A loud shout hailed the exploit, and when the shout had subsided into
silence the voice of the Grand Duke of Johannisberger was again heard:

“Noble Lords and Princes! I congratulate you on the acquisition of a
congenial co-mate, and the accession to our society of one who, I now
venture to say, will never disgrace the glorious foundation; but who, on
the contrary, with heaven’s blessing and the aid of his own good palate,
will, it is hoped, add to our present knowledge of flavours by the
detection of new ones, and by illustrations drawn from frequent study
and constant observation of the mysterious näre. In consideration of his
long journey and his noble achievement, I do propose that we drink but
very lightly to-night, and meet by two hours after to-morrow’s dawn,
under the moss-man’s oak. Nevertheless, before we part, for the
refreshment of our own good bodies, and by way of reward and act of
courtesy unto this noble and accomplished stranger, let us pledge him in
some foreign grape of fame, to which he may perhaps be more accustomed
than unto the ever-preferable juices of our Father Rhine.” Here the
Grand Duke nodded to little Geisenheim, who in a moment was at
his elbow.

It was in vain that Vivian remonstrated, excused himself from joining,
or assured them that their conduct had already been so peculiarly
courteous, that any further attention was at present unnecessary. A
curiously cut glass, which on a moderate calculation Vivian reckoned
would hold at least three pints, was placed before each guest; and a
basket, containing nine bottles of sparkling champagne, première
qualité, was set before his Highness.

“We are no bigots, noble stranger,” said the Grand Duke, as he took one
of the bottles, and scrutinised the cork with a very keen eye; “we are
no bigots, and there are moments when we drink Champagne, nor is
Burgundy forgotten, nor the soft Bourdeaux, nor the glowing grape of the
sunny Rhone!” His Highness held the bottle at an oblique angle with the
chandelier. The wire is loosened, whirr! The exploded cork whizzed
through the air, extinguished one of the burners of the chandelier, and
brought the cut drop which was suspended under it rattling down among
the glasses on the table. The President poured the foaming fluid into
his great goblet, and bowing to all around, fastened on its contents
with as much eagerness as Arabs hasten to a fountain.

The same operation was performed as regularly and as skilfully by all
except Vivian. Eight burners were extinguished; eight diamond drops had
fallen clattering on the table; eight human beings had finished a
miraculous carouse, by each drinking off a bottle of sparkling
champagne. It was Vivian’s turn. All eyes were fixed on him with the
most perfect attention. He was now, indeed, quite desperate; for had he
been able to execute a trick which long practice alone could have
enabled any man to perform, he felt conscious that it was quite out of
his power to taste a single drop of the contents of his bottle. However,
he loosened his wire and held the bottle at an angle with the
chandelier; but the cork flew quite wild, and struck with great force
the mighty nose of Johannisberger.

“A forfeit!” cried all.

“Treason, and a forfeit!” cried the Margrave of Rudesheimer.

“A forfeit is sufficient punishment,” said the President; who, however,
still felt the smarting effect of the assault on his proboscis. “You
must drink Oberon’s horn full of champagne,” he continued.

“Never!” said Vivian. “Enough of this. I have already conformed in a
degree which may injuriously affect my health with your barbarous
humours; but there is moderation even in excess. And so, if you please,
my Lord, your servant may show me to my apartment, or I shall again
mount my horse.”

“You shall not leave this room,” said the President, with great
firmness.

“Who shall prevent me?” asked Vivian.

“I will, all will!”

“Now, by heavens! a more insolent and inhospitable old ruffian did I
never meet. By the wine you worship, if one of you dare touch me, you
shall rue it all your born days; and as for you, sir, if you advance one
step towards me, I will take that sausage of a nose of yours and hurl
you half round your own castle!”

“Treason!” shouted all, and looked to the chair.

“Treason!” said enraged majesty. The allusion to the nose had done away
with all the constitutional doubts which had been sported so moderately
at the commencement of the evening.

“Treason!” howled the President: “instant punishment!”

“What punishment?” asked Asmanshausen.

“Drown him in the new butt of Moselle,” recommended Rudesheimer. The
suggestion was immediately adopted. Every one rose: the little
Geisenheim already had hold of Vivian’s shoulder; and Grafenberg,
instigated by the cowardly but malicious Rudesheimer, was about to
seize him by the neck. Vivian took the dwarf and hurled him at the
chandelier, in whose brazen chains the little being got entangled, and
there remained. An unexpected cross-buttocker floored the incautious and
unscientific Grafenberg; and following up these advantages, Vivian laid
open the skull of his prime enemy, the retreating Margrave of
Rudesheimer, with the assistance of the horn of Oberon; which flew from
his hand to the other end of the room, from the force with which it
rebounded from the cranium of the enemy. All the rest were now on the
advance; but giving a vigorous and unexpected push to the table, the
Johannisberger and Asmanshausen were thrown over, and the nose of the
former got entangled with the awkward windings of the Fairy King’s horn.
Taking advantage of this move, Vivian rushed to the door. He escaped,
but had not time to secure the lock against the enemy, for the stout
Elector of Steinberg was too quick for him. He dashed down the stairs
with extraordinary agility; but just as he had gained the large
octagonal hall, the whole of his late boon companions, with the
exception of the dwarf of Geisenheim, who was left in the chandelier,
were visible in full chase. Escape was impossible, and so Vivian,
followed by the seven nobles, headed by their President, described with
all possible rapidity a circle round the hall. He gave himself up for
lost; but, luckily, for him, it never occurred to one of his pursuers to
do anything but follow their leader; and as, therefore, they never
dodged Vivian, and as, also, he was a much fleeter runner than the fat
President, whose pace, of course, regulated the progress of his
followers, the party might have gone on at this rate until all of them
had dropped from fatigue, had not the occurrence of a ludicrous incident
prevented this consummation.

The hall door was suddenly dashed open, and Essper George rushed in,
followed in full chase by Hunsdrich and the guests of the lodge, who
were the servants of Vivian’s pursuers. Essper darted in between
Rudesheimer and Markbrunnen, and Hunsdrich and his friends following the
same tactics as their lords and masters, without making any attempt to
surround and hem in the object of their pursuit, merely followed him in
order, describing, but in a contrary direction, a lesser circle within
the eternal round of the first party. It was only proper for the
servants to give their masters the wall. In spite of their very
disagreeable and dangerous situation, it was with difficulty that Vivian
refrained from laughter, as he met Essper regularly every half minute
at the foot of the great staircase. Suddenly, as Essper passed, he took
Vivian by the waist, and with a single jerk placed him on the stairs;
and then, with a dexterous dodge, he brought Hunsdrich the porter and
the Grand Duke in full contact.

“I have got you at last,” said Hunsdrich, seizing hold of his Grace of
Johannisberger by the ears, and mistaking him for Essper.

“I have got you at last,” said his master, grappling, as he supposed,
with Vivian. Both struggled; their followers pushed on with impetuous
force, the battle was general, the overthrow universal. In a moment all
were on the ground; and if any less inebriated or more active individual
attempted to rise, Essper immediately brought him down with a
boar-spear.

“Give me that large fishing-net,” said Essper to Vivian; “quick, quick.”

Vivian pulled down a large coarse net, which covered nearly five sides
of the room. It was immediately unfolded, and spread over the fallen
crew. To fasten it down with half a dozen boar-spears, which they drove
into the floor, was the work of a moment. Essper had one pull at the
proboscis of the Grand Duke of Johannisberger before he hurried Vivian
away; and in ten minutes they were again on their horses’ backs and
galloping through the star-lit wood.



CHAPTER II


It is the hour before the labouring bee has left his golden hive; not
yet the blooming day buds in the blushing East; not yet has the
victorious Lucifer chased from the early sky the fainting splendour of
the stars of night. All is silent, save the light breath of morn waking
the slumbering leaves. Even now a golden streak breaks over the grey
mountains. Hark to shrill chanticleer! As the cock crows the owl ceases.
Hark to shrill chanticleer’s feathered rival! The mountain lark springs
from the sullen earth, and welcomes with his hymn the coming day. The
golden streak has expanded into a crimson crescent, and rays of living
fire flame over the rose-enamelled East. Man rises sooner than the sun,
and already sound the whistle of the ploughman, the song of the mower,
and the forge of the smith; and hark to the bugle of the hunter, and the
baying of his deep-mouthed hound. The sun is up, the generating sun! and
temple, and tower, and tree, the massy wood, and the broad field, and
the distant hill, burst into sudden light; quickly upcurled is the dusky
mist from the shining river; quickly is the cold dew drunk from the
raised heads of the drooping flowers!

A canter by a somewhat clearer light than the one which had so
unfortunately guided himself and his companion to the Palace of the
Wines soon carried them again to the skirts of the forest, and at this
minute they are emerging on the plain from yonder dark wood.

“By heavens! Essper, I cannot reach the town this morning. Was ever
anything more unfortunate. A curse on those drunken fools. What with no
rest and no solid refreshment, and the rivers of hock that are flowing
within me, and the infernal exertion of running round that vile hall, I
feel fairly exhausted, and could at this moment fall from my saddle. See
you no habitation, my good fellow, where there might be a chance of a
breakfast and a few hours’ rest? We are now well out of the forest. Oh!
surely there is smoke from behind those pines; some good wife, I trust,
is by her chimney corner.”

“If my sense be not destroyed by the fumes of that mulled Geisenheim,
which still haunts me, I could swear that the smoke is the soul of a
burning weed.”

“A truce to your jokes, good Essper; I really am very ill. A year ago I
could have laughed at our misfortunes, but now it is very different;
and, by heavens, I must have breakfast! so stir, exert yourself, and,
although I die for it, let us canter up to the smoke.”

“No, dear master, I will ride on before. Do you follow gently, and if
there be a pigeon in the pot in all Germany. I swear by the patron saint
of every village for fifty miles round, provided they be not heretics,
that you shall taste of its breast-bone this morning.”

The smoke did issue from a chimney, but the door of the cottage was
shut.

“Hilloa, within!” shouted Essper; “who shuts the sun out on a September
morning?”

The door was at length slowly opened, and a most ill-favoured and
inhospitable-looking dame demanded, in a sullen voice, “What’s
your will?”

“You pretty creature!” said Essper, who was still a little tipsy.

The door would have been shut in his face had not he darted into the
house before the woman was aware.

“Truly, a neat and pleasant dwelling! and you would have no objection, I
guess, to give a handsome young gentleman some little sop of something
just to remind him, you know, that it isn’t dinner-time.”

“We give no sops here: what do you take us for? and so, my handsome
young gentleman, be off, or I shall call the good man.”

“Why, I am not the handsome young gentleman; that is my master! who, if
he were not half-starved to death, would fall in love with you at
first sight.”

“Your master; is he in the carriage?”

“Carriage! no; on horseback.”

“Travellers?”

“To be sure, dear dame; travellers true.”

“Travellers true, without luggage, and at this time of morn! Methinks,
by your looks, queer fellows, that you are travellers whom it may be
wise for an honest woman not to meet.”

“What! some people have an objection, then, to a forty kreüzer piece on
a sunny morning?”

So saying, Essper, in a careless manner, tossed a broad piece in the
air, and made it ring on a fellow coin, as he caught it in the palm of
his hand when it descended.

“Is that your master?” asked the woman.

“Ay, is it! and the prettiest piece of flesh I have seen this month,
except yourself.”

“Well! if the gentleman likes bread he can sit down here,” said the
woman, pointing to a bench, and throwing a sour black loaf upon
the table.

“Now, sir!” said Essper, wiping the bench with great care, “lie you here
and rest yourself. I have known a marshal sleep upon a harder sofa.
Breakfast will be ready immediately.”

“If you cannot eat what you have, you may ride where you can find better
cheer.”

“What is bread for a traveller’s breakfast? But I daresay my lord will
be contented; young men are so easily pleased when there is a pretty
girl in the case; you know that, you wench I you do, you little hussy;
you are taking advantage of it.”

Something like a smile lit up the face of the sullen woman when she
said. “There may be an egg in the house, but I don’t know.”

“But you will soon, you dear creature! What a pretty foot!” bawled
Essper after her, as she left the room. “Now confound this hag; if there
be not meat about this house may I keep my mouth shut at our next
dinner. What’s that in the corner? a boar’s tusk! Ay, ay! a huntsman’s
cottage; and when lived a huntsman on black bread before! Oh! bless your
bright eyes for these eggs, and this basin of new milk.”

So saying, Essper took them out of her hand and placed them before
Vivian.

“I was saying to myself, my pretty girl, when you were out of the room,
‘Essper George, good cheer, say thy prayers, and never despair; come
what may, you will fall among friends at last, and how do you know that
your dream mayn’t come true after all? Didn’t you dream that you
breakfasted in the month of September with a genteel young woman with
gold ear-rings? and is not she standing before you now? and did not she
do everything in the world to make you comfortable? Did not she give you
milk and eggs, and when you complained that you and meat had been but
slack friends of late, did not she open her own closet, and give you as
fine a piece of hunting beef as was ever set before a Jagd Junker?’”

“I think you will turn me into an innkeeper’s wife at last,” said the
dame, her stern features relaxing into a smile; and while she spoke she
advanced to the great closet, Essper George following her, walking on
his toes, lolling out his enormous tongue, and stroking his mock paunch.
As she opened it he jumped upon a chair and had examined every shelf in
less time than a pistol could flush. “White bread! fit for a countess;
salt! worthy of Poland; boar’s head!! no better at Troyes; and hunting
beef!!! my dream is true!” and he bore in triumph to Vivian, who was
nearly asleep, the ample round of salt and pickled beef well stuffed
with all kinds of savoury herbs.

It was nearly an hour before noon ere the travellers had remounted.
Their road again entered the forest which they had been skirting for the
last two days. The huntsmen were abroad; and the fine weather, his good
meal and seasonable rest, and the inspiriting sounds of the bugle made
Vivian feel recovered from his late fatigues.

“That must be a true-hearted huntsman, Essper, by the sound of his
bugle. I never heard one played with more spirit. Hark! how fine it dies
away hi the wood; fainter and fainter, yet how clear! It must be now
half a mile distant.”

“I hear nothing so wonderful,” said Essper, putting the two middle
fingers of his right hand before his mouth and sounding a note so clear
and beautiful, so exactly imitative of the fall which Vivian had noticed
and admired, that for a moment he imagined that the huntsman was at
his elbow.

“Thou art a cunning knave! do it again.” This time Essper made the very
wood echo. In a few minutes a horseman galloped up; he was as spruce a
cavalier as ever pricked gay steed on the pliant grass. He was dressed
in a green military uniform, and a gilt bugle hung by his side; his
spear told them that he was hunting the wild boar. When he saw Vivian
and Essper he suddenly pulled up his horse and seemed astonished.

“I thought that his Highness had been here,” said the huntsman.

“No one has passed us, sir,” said Vivian.

“I could have sworn that his bugle sounded from this very spot,” said
the huntsman. “My ear seldom deceives me.”

“We heard a bugle to the right, sir,” said Essper.

“Thanks, my friend,” and the huntsman was about to gallop off.

“May I ask the name of his Highness?” said Vivian. “We are strangers in
this country.”

“That may certainly account for your ignorance,” said the huntsman; “but
no one who lives in this land can be unacquainted with his Serene
Highness the Prince of Little Lilliput, my illustrious master. I have
the honour,” continued the huntsman, “of being Jagd Junker, or
Gentilhomme de la Chasse to his Serene Highness.”

“‘Tis an office of great dignity,” said Vivian, “and one that I have no
doubt you admirably perform; I will not stop you, sir, to admire
your horse.”

The huntsman bowed courteously and galloped off.

“You see, sir,” said Essper George, “that my bugle has deceived even the
Jagd Junker, or Gentilhomme de la Chasse of his Serene Highness the
Prince of Little Lilliput himself;” so saying, Essper again sounded his
instrument.

“A joke may be carried too far, my good fellow,” said Vivian. “A true
huntsman like myself must not spoil a brother’s sport, so silence
your bugle.”

Now again galloped up the Jagd Junker, or Gentilhomme de la Chasse of
his Serene Highness the Prince of Little Lilliput. He pulled up his
horse again apparently as much astounded as ever.

“I thought that his Highness had been here.” said the huntsman.

“No one has passed us,” said Vivian.

“We heard a bugle to the right,” said Essper George.

“I am afraid his Serene Highness must be in distress. The whole suite
are off the scent. It must have been his bugle, for the regulations of
this forest are so strict that no one dare sound a blast but his Serene
Highness.” Away galloped the huntsman.

“Next time I must give you up, Essper,” said Vivian.

“One more blast, good master!” begged Essper, in a supplicating voice.
“This time to the left; the confusion will be then complete.”

“I command you not,” and so they rode on in silence. But it was one of
those days when Essper could neither be silent nor subdued. Greatly
annoyed at not being permitted to play his bugle, he amused himself
imitating the peculiar sound of every animal that he met; a young fawn
and various birds already followed him, and even a squirrel had perched
on his horse’s neck. And now they came to a small farmhouse, which was
situated in the forest: the yard here offered great amusement to Essper.
He neighed, and half a dozen horses’ heads immediately appeared over the
hedge; another neigh, and they were following him in the road. A dog
rushed out to seize the dangerous stranger and recover his charge, but
Essper gave an amicable bark, and in a second the dog was jumping by his
side and engaged in earnest and friendly conversation. A loud and
continued grunt soon brought out the pigs, and meeting three or four
cows returning home, a few lowing sounds soon seduced them from keeping
their appointment with the dairymaid. A stupid jackass, who stared with
astonishment at the procession, was saluted with a lusty bray, which
immediately induced him to swell the ranks; and, as Essper passed the
poultry-yard, he so deceitfully informed its inhabitants that they were
about to be fed, that broods of ducks and chickens were immediately
after him. The careful hens were terribly alarmed at the danger which
their offspring incurred from the heels and hoofs of the quadrupeds; but
while they were in doubt and despair a whole flock of stately geese
issued in solemn pomp from another gate of the farmyard, and commenced a
cackling conversation with the delighted Essper. So contagious is the
force of example, and so great was the confidence which the hens placed
in these pompous geese, who were not the first fools whose solemn air
has deceived a few old females, that as soon as they perceived them in
the train of the horseman they also trotted up to pay their respects at
his levée.

But it was not a moment for mirth; for rushing down the road with awful
strides appeared two sturdy and enraged husbandmen, one armed with a
pike and the other with a pitchfork, and accompanied by a frantic
female, who never for a moment ceased hallooing “Murder, rape, and
fire!” everything but “theft.”

“Now, Essper, here’s a pretty scrape!”

“Stop, you rascals!” hallooed Adolph, the herdsman.

“Stop, you gang of thieves!” hallooed Wilhelm, the ploughman.

“Stop, you bloody murderers!” shrieked Phillippa, the indignant mistress
of the dairy and the poultry-yard.

“Stop, you villains!” hallooed all three. The villains certainly made no
attempt to escape, and in half a second the enraged household of the
forest farmer would have seized on Essper George; but just at this
crisis he uttered loud sounds in the respective language of every bird
and beast about him, and suddenly they all turned round and
counter-marched. Away rushed the terrified Adolph, the herdsman, while
one of his own cows was on his back. Still quicker scampered off the
scared Wilhelm, the ploughman, while one of his own steeds kicked him in
his rear. Quicker than all these, shouting, screaming, shrieking, dashed
back the unhappy mistress of the hen-roost, with all her subjects
crowding about her; some on her elbow, some on her head, her lace cap
destroyed, her whole dress disordered. The movements of the crowd were
so quick that they were soon out of sight.

“A trophy!” called out Essper, as he jumped off his horse and picked up
the pike of Adolph, the herdsman.

“A boar-spear, or I am no huntsman,” said Vivian: “give it me a moment!”
 He threw it up into the air, caught it with ease, poised it with the
practiced skill of one well used to handle the weapon, and with the same
delight imprinted on his countenance as greets the sight of an
old friend.

“This forest, Essper, and this spear, make me remember days when I was
vain enough to think that I had been sufficiently visited with sorrow.
Ah! little did I then know of human misery, although I imagined I had
suffered so much!”

As he spoke, the sounds of a man in distress were heard from the right
side of the road.

“Who calls?” cried Essper. A shout was the only answer. There was no
path, but the underwood was low, and Vivian took his horse, an old
forester, across it with ease. Essper’s jibbed; Vivian found himself in
a small green glade of about thirty feet square. It was thickly
surrounded with lofty trees, save at the point where he had entered; and
at the farthest corner of it, near some grey rocks, a huntsman was
engaged in a desperate contest with a wild boar.

The huntsman was on his right knee, and held his spear with both hands
at the furious beast. It was an animal of extraordinary size and power.
Its eyes glittered like fire. On the turf to its right a small grey
mastiff, of powerful make, lay on its back, bleeding profusely, with its
body ripped open. Another dog, a fawn-coloured bitch, had seized on the
left ear of the beast; but the under tusk of the boar, which was nearly
a foot long, had penetrated the courageous dog, and the poor creature
writhed in agony, even while it attempted to wreak its revenge upon its
enemy. The huntsman was nearly exhausted. Had it not been for the
courage of the fawn-coloured dog, which, clinging to the boar, prevented
it making a full dash at the man, he must have been gored. Vivian was
off his horse in a minute, which, frightened at the sight of the wild
boar, dashed again over the hedge.

“Keep firm, sir!” said he; “do not move. I will amuse him behind, and
make him turn.”

A graze of Vivian’s spear on its back, though it did not materially
injure the beast, for there the boar is nearly in vulnerable, annoyed
it; and dashing off the fawn-coloured dog with great force, it turned on
its new assailant. Now there are only two places in which the wild boar
can be assailed with any effect; and these are just between the eyes and
between the shoulders. Great caution, however, is necessary in aiming
these blows, for the boar is very adroit in transfixing the weapon on
his snout or his tusks; and if once you miss, particularly if you are
not assisted by dogs, which Vivian was not, ‘tis all over with you; for
the enraged animal rushes in like lightning, and gored you must be.

But Vivian was fresh and cool. The animal suddenly stood still and eyed
its new enemy. Vivian was quiet, for he had no objection to give the
beast an opportunity of retreating to its den. But retreat was not its
object; it suddenly darted at the huntsman, who, however, was not off
his guard, though unable, from a slight wound in his knee, to rise.
Vivian again annoyed the boar at the rear, and the animal soon returned
to him. He made a feint, as if he were about to strike his pike between
its eyes. The boar, not feeling a wound which had not been inflicted,
and very irritated, rushed at him, and he buried his spear a foot deep
between its shoulders. The beast made one fearful struggle, and then
fell down quite dead. The fawn-coloured bitch, though terribly wounded,
gave a loud bark; and even the other dog, which Vivian thought had been
long dead, testified its triumphant joy by an almost inarticulate groan.
As soon as he was convinced that the boar was really dead, Vivian
hastened to the huntsman, and expressed his hope that he was not
seriously hurt.

“A trifle, which our surgeon, who is used to these affairs, will quickly
cure. Sir! we owe you our life!” said the huntsman, with great dignity,
as Vivian assisted him in rising from the ground. He was a tall man, of
distinguished appearance; but his dress, which was the usual hunting
costume of a German nobleman, did not indicate his quality.

“Sir, we owe you our life!” repeated the stranger; “five minutes more,
and our son must have reigned in Little Lilliput.”

“I have the honour, then, of addressing your Serene Highness. Far from
being indebted to me, I feel that I ought to apologise for having so
unceremoniously joined your sport.”

“Nonsense, man! We have killed in our time too many of these gentry to
be ashamed of owning that, had it not been for you, one of them would at
last have revenged the species. But many as are the boars that we have
killed or eaten, we never saw a more furious or powerful animal than the
present. Why, sir, you must be one of the best hands at the spear in all
Christendom!”

“Indifferently good, your Highness: your Highness forgets that the
animal was already exhausted by your assault.”

“Why, there is something in that; but it was neatly done, man; it was
neatly done. You are fond of the sport, we think?”

“I have had some practice, but illness has so weakened me that I have
given up the forest.”

“Pity! and on a second examination we observe that you are no hunter.
This coat is not for the free forest; but how came you by the pike?”

“I am travelling to the next post town, to which I have sent on my
luggage. I am getting fast to the south; and as for this pike, my
servant got it this morning from some peasant in a brawl, and was
showing it to me when I heard your Highness call. I really think now
that Providence must have sent it. I certainly could not have done you
much service with my riding whip. Hilloa! Essper, where are you?”

“Here, noble sir! here, here. Why, what have you got there? The horses
have jibbed, and will not stir. I can stay no longer: they may go to the
devil!” So saying, Vivian’s valet dashed over the underwood, and leaped
al the foot of the Prince.

“In God’s name, is this thy servant?” asked his Highness.

“In good faith am I,” said Essper; “his valet, his cook, and his
secretary, all in one; and also his Jagd Junker, or Gentilhomme de la
Chasse, as a puppy with a bugle horn told me this morning.”

“A merry knave!” said the Prince; “and talking of a puppy with a bugle
horn reminds us how unaccountably we have been deserted to-day by a
suite that never yet were wanting. We are indeed astonished. Our bugle,
we fear, has turned traitor.” So saying, the Prince executed a blast
with great skill, which Vivian immediately recognised as the one which
Essper George had imitated.

“And now, my good friend,” said the Prince, “we cannot hear of your
passing through our land without visiting our good castle. We would that
we could better testify the obligation that we feel under to you in any
other way than by the offer of an hospitality which all gentlemen, by
right, can command. But your presence would, indeed, give us sincere
pleasure. You must not refuse us. Your looks, as well as your prowess,
prove your blood; and we are quite sure no cloth-merchant’s order will
suffer by your not hurrying to your proposed point of destination. We
are not wrong, we think, though your accent is good, in supposing that
we are conversing with an English gentleman. But here they come.”

As he spoke, three or four horsemen, at the head of whom was the young
huntsman whom the travellers had met in the morning, sprang into
the glade.

“Why, Arnelm!” said the Prince, “when before was the Jagd Junker’s ear
so bad that he could not discover his master’s bugle, even though the
wind were against him?”

“In truth, your Highness, we have heard bugles enough this morning. Who
is violating the forests laws we know not; but that another bugle is
sounding, and played; St. Hubert forgive me for saying so; with as great
skill as your Highness’, is certain. Myself, Von Neuwied, and Lintz have
been galloping over the whole forest. The rest, I doubt not, will be up
directly.” The Jagd Junker blew his own bugle.

In the course of five minutes, about twenty other horsemen, all dressed
in the same uniform, had arrived; all complaining of their wild chases
after the Prince in every other part of the forest.

“It must be the Wild Huntsman himself!” swore an old hand. This solution
of the mystery satisfied all.

“Well, well!” said the Prince; “whoever it may be, had it not been for
the timely presence of this gentleman, you must have changed your green
jackets for mourning coats, and our bugle would have sounded no more in
the forest of our fathers. Here, Arnelm! cut up the beast, and remember
that the left shoulder is the quarter of honour, and belongs to this
stranger, not less honoured because unknown.”

All present took off their caps and bowed to Vivian, who took this
opportunity of informing the Prince who he was.

“And now,” continued his Highness, “Mr. Grey will accompany us to our
castle; nay, sir, we can take no refusal. We will send on to the town
for your luggage. Arnelm, do you look to this! And, honest friend,” said
the Prince, turning to Essper George, “we commend you to the special
care of our friend Von Neuwied; and so, gentlemen, with stout hearts and
spurs to your steeds, to the castle.”



CHAPTER III


The cavalcade proceeded for some time at a brisk but irregular pace,
until they arrived at a less wild and wooded part of the forest. The
Prince of Little Lilliput reined in his steed as he entered a broad
avenue of purple beeches, at the end of which, though at a considerable
distance, Vivian perceived the towers and turrets of a Gothic edifice
glittering in the sunshine.

“Welcome to Turriparva!” said his Highness.

“I assure your Highness,” said Vivian, “that I view with no unpleasant
feeling the prospect of a reception in any civilised mansion; for to say
the truth, for the last eight-and-forty hours Fortune has not favoured
me either in my researches after a bed, or that which some think still
more important than repose.”

“Is it so?” said the Prince. “Why, we should have thought by your home
thrust this morning that you were as fresh as the early lark. In good
faith, it was a pretty stroke! And whence come you, then, good sir?”

“Know you a most insane and drunken idiot who styles himself the Grand
Duke of Johannisberger?”

“No, no!” said the Prince, staring in Vivian’s face earnestly, and then
laughing. “And you have actually fallen among that mad crew. A most
excellent adventure! Arnelm! why, man, where art thou? Ride up! Behold
in the person of this gentleman a new victim to the overwhelming
hospitality of our Uncle of the Wines. And did they confer a title on
you on the spot? Say, art thou Elector, or Palsgrave, or Baron; or,
failing in thy devoirs, as once did our good cousin Arnelm, confess that
thou wert ordained with becoming reverence the Archprimate of
Puddledrink. Eh! Arnelm, is not that the style thou bearest at the
Palace of the Wines?”

“So it would seem, your Highness. I think the title was conferred on me
the same night that your Highness mistook the Grand Duke’s proboscis for
Oberon’s horn, and committed treason not yet pardoned.”

“Good! good! thou hast us there. Truly a good memory is often as ready a
friend as a sharp wit. Wit is not thy strong point, friend Arnelm; and
yet it is strange that in the sharp encounter of ready tongues and idle
logomachies thou hast sometimes the advantage. But, nevertheless, rest
assured, good cousin Arnelm, that wit is not thy strong point.”

“It is well for me that all are not of the same opinion as your Serene
Highness,” said the young Jagd Junker, somewhat nettled; for he prided
himself on his repartees.

The Prince was much diverted with Vivian’s account of his last night’s
adventure; and our hero learnt from his Highness that his late host was
no less a personage than the cousin of the Prince of Little Lilliput,
an old German Baron, who passed his time, with some neighbours of
congenial temperament, in hunting the wild boar in the morning, and
speculating on the flavours of the fine Rhenish wines during the rest of
the day. “He and his companions,” continued the Prince, “will enable you
to form some idea of the German nobility half a century ago. The debauch
of last night was the usual carouse which crowned the exploits of each
day when we were a boy. The revolution has rendered all these customs
obsolete. Would that it had not sent some other things equally out
of fashion!”

At this moment the Prince sounded his bugle, and the gates of the
castle, which were not more than twenty yards distant, were immediately
thrown open. The whole cavalcade set spurs to their steeds, and dashed
at full gallop over the hollow-sounding drawbridge into the courtyard of
the castle. A crowd of serving-men, in green liveries, instantly
appeared, and Arnelm and Von Neuwied, jumping from their saddles,
respectively held the stirrup and the bridle of the Prince as he
dismounted.

“Where is Master Rodolph?” asked his Highness, with a loud voice.

“So please your Serene Highness, I am here!” answered a very thin
treble; and, bustling through the surrounding crowd, came forward the
owner of the voice. Master Rodolph was not much above five feet high,
but he was nearly as broad as he was long. Though more than middle-aged,
an almost infantile smile played upon his broad fair face, to which his
small turn-up nose, large green goggle-eyes, and unmeaning mouth gave no
expression. His long hair hung over his shoulders, the flaxen locks in
some places maturing into grey. In compliance with the taste of his
master, this most unsportsman-like-looking steward was clad in a green
jerkin, on the right arm of which was embroidered a giant’s head, the
crest of the Little Lilliputs.

“Truly, Rodolph, we have received some scratch in the chase to-day, and
need your assistance. The best of surgeons, we assure you, Mr. Grey, if
you require one: and look you that the blue chamber be prepared for this
gentleman; and we shall have need of our cabinet this evening. See that
all this be done, and inform Prince Maximilian that we would speak with
him. And look you, Master Rodolph, there is one in this company; what
call you your servant’s name, sir? Essper George! ‘tis well: look you,
Rodolph, see that our friend Essper George be well provided for. We know
that we can trust him to your good care. And now, gentlemen, at sunset
we meet in the Giants’ Hall.” So saying, his Highness bowed to the
party; and taking Vivian by the arm, and followed by Arnelm and Von
Neuwied, he ascended a stair case which opened into the court, and then
mounted into a covered gallery which ran round the whole building. The
interior wall of the gallery was alternately ornamented with stags’
heads or other trophies of the chase, and coats of arms blazoned in
stucco. The Prince did the honours of the castle to Vivian with great
courtesy. The armoury and the hall, the knights chamber, and even the
donjon-keep, were all examined; and when Vivian had sufficiently admired
the antiquity of the structure and the beauty of the situation, the
Prince, having proceeded down a long corridor, opened the door into a
small chamber, which he introduced to Vivian as his cabinet. The
furniture of this room was rather quaint, and not unpleasing. The
wainscot and ceiling were painted alike, of a light green colour, and
were richly carved and gilt. The walls were hung with green velvet, of
which material were also the chairs, and a sofa, which was placed under
a large and curiously-cut looking glass. The lower panes of the windows
of this room were of stained glass, of vivid tints; but the upper panes
were untinged, in order that the light should not be disturbed which
fell through them upon two magnificent pictures; one a hunting-piece, by
Schneiders, and the other a portrait of an armed chieftain on horseback,
by Lucas Cranach.

And now the door opened, and Master Rodolph entered, carrying in his
hand a white wand, and bowing very reverently as he ushered in servants
bearing a cold collation. As he entered, it was with difficulty that he
could settle his countenance into the due and requisite degree of
gravity; and so often was the fat steward on the point of bursting into
laughter, as he arranged the setting out of the refreshments on the
table, that the Prince, with whom he was at the same time both a
favourite and a butt, at last noticed his unusual and unmanageable
risibility.

“Why, Rodolph, what ails thee? Hast thou just discovered the point of
some good saying of yesterday?”

The steward could now contain his laughter no longer, and he gave vent
to his emotion in a most treble “He! he! he!”

“Speak, man, in the name of St. Hubert, and on the word of as stout a
huntsman as ever yet crossed horse. Speak, we say; what ails thee?”

“He! he! he! in truth, a most comical knave! I beg your Serene Highness
ten thousand most humble pardons, but, in truth, a more comical knave
did I never see. How call you him? Essper George, I think; he! he! he!
In truth, your Highness was right when you styled him a merry knave; in
truth, a most comical knave; he! he! a very funny knave! He says, your
Highness, that I am like a snake in a consumption! he! he! he! In truth,
a most comical knave!”

“Well, Rodolph, so long as you do not quarrel with his jokes, they shall
pass as true wit. But why comes not our son? Have you bidden the Prince
Maximilian to our presence?”

“In truth have I, your Highness; but he was engaged at the moment with
Mr. Sievers, and therefore he could not immediately attend my bidding.
Nevertheless, he bade me deliver to your Serene Highness his dutiful
affection, saying that he would soon have the honour of bending his knee
unto your Serene Highness.”

“He never said any such nonsense. At least, if he did, he must be
changed since last we hunted.”

“In truth, your Highness, I cannot aver, upon my conscience as a
faithful steward, that such were the precise words and exact phraseology
of his Highness the Prince Maximilian. But in the time of the good
Prince, your father, whose memory be ever blessed, such were the words
and style of message which I was schooled and instructed by Mr. von
Lexicon, your Serene Highness’ most honoured tutor, to bear unto the
good Prince your father, whose memory be ever blessed, when I had the
great fortune of being your Serene Highness’ most particular page, and
it fell to my lot to have the pleasant duty of informing the good Prince
your father, whose memory be ever blessed--”

“Enough! but Sievers is not Von Lexicon, and Maximilian, we trust,
is--”

“Papa! papa! dearest papa!” shouted a young lad, as he dashed open the
door, and, rushing into the room, threw his arms round the
Prince’s neck.

“My darling!” said the father, forgetting at this moment of genuine
feeling the pompous plural in which he had hitherto spoken of himself.
The Prince fondly kissed his child. The boy was about ten years of age,
exquisitely handsome. Courage, not audacity, was imprinted on his
noble features.

“Papa! may I hunt with you to-morrow?”

“What says Mr. Sievers?”

“Oh! Mr. Sievers says I am excellent; I assure you, upon my honour, he
does, I heard you come home; but though I was dying to see you, I would
not run out till I had finished my Roman History. I say, papa! what a
grand fellow Brutus was; what a grand thing it is to be a patriot! I
intend to be a patriot myself, and to kill the Grand Duke of Reisenburg.
Who is that?”

“My friend, Max, Mr. Grey. Speak to him.”

“I am happy to see you at Turriparva, sir,” said the boy, bowing to
Vivian with dignity. “Have you been hunting with his Highness
this morning?”

“I can hardly say I have.”

“Max, I have received a slight wound to-day. Do not look alarmed; it is
slight. I only mention it because, had it not been for this gentleman,
it is very probable you would never have seen your father again. He has
saved my life!”

“Saved your life! saved my papa’s life!” said the young Prince, seizing
Vivian’s hand. “Oh! sir, what can I do for you? Mr. Sievers!” said the
boy, with eagerness, to a gentleman who entered the room; “Mr. Sievers!
here is a young lord who has saved papa’s life!”

Mr. Sievers was a tall, thin man, about forty, with a clear sallow
complexion, a high forehead, on which a few wrinkles were visible,
bright keen eyes, and a quantity of grey curling hair, which was combed
back off his forehead, and fell down over his shoulders. He was
introduced to Vivian as the Prince’s particular friend; and then he
listened, apparently with interest, to his Highness’ narrative of the
morning’s adventure, his danger, and his rescue. Young Maximilian never
took his large, dark-blue eyes off his father while he was speaking, and
when he had finished the boy rushed to Vivian and threw his arms round
his neck. Vivian was delighted with the affection of the child, who
whispered to him in a low voice, “I know what you are!”

“What, my young friend?”

“Ah! I know.”

“But tell me!”

“You thought I should not find out: you are a patriot!”

“I hope I am,” said Vivian; “but travelling in a foreign country is
hardly a proof of it. Perhaps you do not know that I am an Englishman.”

“An Englishman!” said the child, with an air of great disappointment. “I
thought you were a patriot! I am one. Do you know I will tell you a
secret. You must promise not to tell, though. Promise, upon your word!
Well, then,” said the urchin, whispering with great energy in Vivian’s
ear through his hollow fist, “I hate the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, and I
mean to stab him to the heart.” So saying, the little Prince grated his
teeth with an expression of bitter detestation.

“What the deuce is the matter with the child!” thought Vivian; but at
this moment his conversation with him was interrupted.

“Am I to believe this young gentleman, my dear Sievers,” asked the
Prince, “when he tells me that his conduct has met your approbation?”

“Your son, Prince,” answered Mr. Sievers, “can only speak truth. His
excellence is proved by my praising him to his face.”

The young Maximilian, when Mr. Sievers had ceased speaking, stood
blushing, with his eyes fixed on the ground; and the delighted parent,
catching his child up in his arms, embraced him with unaffected
fondness.

“And now, all this time Master Rodolph is waiting for his patient. By
St. Hubert, you can none of you think me very ill! Your pardon, Mr.
Grey, for leaving you. My friend Sievers will, I am sure, be delighted
to make you feel at ease at Turriparva. Max, come with me!”

Vivian found in Mr. Sievers an interesting companion; nothing of the
pedant and much of the philosopher. Their conversation was of course
chiefly on topics of local interest, anecdotes of the castle and the
country, of Vivian’s friends, the drunken Johannisberger and his crew,
and such matters; but there was a keenness of satire in some of Mr.
Sievers’ observations which was highly amusing, and enough passed to
make Vivian desire opportunities of conversing with him at greater
length, and on subjects of greater interest. They were at present
disturbed by Essper George entering the room to inform Vivian that his
luggage had arrived from the village, and that the blue chamber was now
prepared for his presence.

“We shall meet, I suppose, in the hall, Mr. Sievers?”

“No; I shall not dine there. If you remain at Turriparva, which I
trust you will. I shall be happy to see you in my room. If it have no
other inducement to gain it the honour of your visit, it has here, at
least, the recommendation of singularity; there is, at any rate, no
other chamber like it in this good castle.”

The business of the toilet is sooner performed for a hunting party in a
German forest than for a state dinner at Château Desir, and Vivian was
ready before he was summoned.

“His Serene Highness has commenced his progress towards the hall.”
 announced Essper George to Vivian in a treble voice, and bowing with
ceremony as he offered to lead the way with a white wand waving in his
right hand.

“I shall attend his Highness,” said his master; “but before I do, if
that white wand be not immediately laid aside it will be broken about
your back.”

“Broken about my back! what, the wand of office, sir, of your steward!
Master Rodolph says that, in truth, a steward is but half himself who
hath not his wand: methinks when his rod of office is wanting, his
Highness of Lilliput’s steward is but unequally divided. In truth, he is
stout enough to be Aaron’s wand that swallowed up all the rest. But has
your nobleness any serious objection to my carrying a wand? It gives
such an air!”

The Giants’ Hall was a Gothic chamber of imposing appearance; the oaken
rafters of the curiously-carved roof rested on the grim heads of
gigantic figures of the same material. These statues extended the length
of the hall on each side; they were elaborately sculptured and highly
polished, and each one held in its outstretched arm a blazing and
aromatic torch. Above them, small windows of painted glass admitted a
light which was no longer necessary at the banquet to which we are now
about to introduce the reader. Over the great entrance doors was a
gallery, from which a band of trumpeters, arrayed in ample robes of
flowing scarlet, sent forth many a festive and martial strain. More than
fifty individuals, all wearing hunting dresses of green cloth on which
the giant’s head was carefully emblazoned, were already seated in the
hall when Vivian entered: he was conducted to the upper part of the
chamber, and a seat was allotted him on the left hand of the Prince. His
Highness had not arrived, but a chair of state, placed under a crimson
canopy, denoted the style of its absent owner; and a stool, covered with
velvet of the same regal colour, and glistening with gold lace,
announced that the presence of Prince Maximilian was expected. While
Vivian was musing in astonishment at the evident affectation of royal
pomp which pervaded the whole establishment of the Prince of Little
Lilliput, the trumpeters in the gallery suddenly commenced a triumphant
flourish. All rose as the princely procession entered the hall: first
came Master Rodolph twirling his white wand with the practised pride of
a drum-major, and looking as pompous as a turkey-cock in a storm; six
footmen in splendid liveries, two by two, immediately followed him. A
page heralded the Prince Maximilian, and then came the Serene father;
the Jagd Junker, and four or five other gentlemen of the court, formed
the suite.

His Highness ascended the throne, Prince Maximilian was on his right,
and Vivian had the high honour of the left hand; the Jagd Junker seated
himself next to our hero. The table was profusely covered, chiefly with
the sports of the forest, and the celebrated wild boar was not
forgotten. Few minutes had elapsed ere Vivian perceived that his
Highness was always served on bended knee; surprised at this custom,
which even the mightiest and most despotic monarchs seldom exact, and
still more surprised at the contrast which all this state afforded to
the natural ease and affable amiability of the Prince, Vivian ventured
to ask his neighbour Arnelm whether the banquet of to-day was in
celebration of any particular event of general or individual interest.

“By no means,” said the Jagd Junker, “this is the usual style of the
Prince’s daily meal, except that to-day there is, perhaps, rather less
state and fewer guests than usual, in consequence of many of our
fellow-subjects having left us with the purpose of attending a great
hunting party, which is now holding in the dominions of his Highness’
cousin, the Duke of Micromegas.”

When the more necessary but, as most hold, the less delightful part of
banqueting was over, and the numerous serving-men had removed the more
numerous dishes of wild boar, red deer, roebuck, and winged game, a
stiff Calvinistic-looking personage rose and delivered a long and most
grateful grace, to which the sturdy huntsmen listened with a due mixture
of piety and impatience. When his starch reverence, who in his black
coat looked among the huntsmen very like (as Essper George observed) a
blackbird among a set of moulting canaries, had finished, an old man,
with long snow-white hair--and a beard of the same colour--rose from his
seat, and, with a glass in his hand, bowing first to his Highness with
great respect and then to his companions, with an air of condescension,
gave in a stout voice, “The Prince!” A loud shout was immediately
raised, and all quaffed with rapture the health of a ruler whom
evidently they adored. Master Rodolph now brought forward an immense
silver goblet full of some crafty compound, from its odour doubtless
delicious. The Prince held the goblet by its two massy handles, and then
said in a loud voice:

“My friends, the Giant’s head! and he who sneers at its frown may he rue
its bristles!”

The toast was welcomed with a cry of triumph. When the noise had
subsided the Jagd Junker rose, and prefacing the intended pledge by a
few observations as remarkable for the delicacy of their sentiments as
the elegance of their expression, he gave, pointing to Vivian, “The
Guest! and may the Prince never want a stout arm at a strong push!” The
sentiment was again echoed by the lusty voices of all present, and
particularly by his Highness. As Vivian shortly returned thanks and
modestly apologised for the German of a foreigner, he could not refrain
from remembering the last time when he was placed in the same situation;
it was when the treacherous Lord Courtown had drank success to Mr.
Vivian Grey’s maiden speech in a bumper of claret at the political
orgies of Château Desir. Could he really be the same individual as the
daring youth who then organised the crazy councils of those ambitious,
imbecile grey-beards? What was he then? What had happened since? What
was he now? He turned from the comparison with feelings of sickening
disgust, and it was with difficulty that his countenance could assume
the due degree of hilarity which befitted the present occasion.

“Truly, Mr. Grey,” said the Prince, “your German would pass current at
Weimar. Arnelm, good cousin Arnelm, we must trouble thy affectionate
duty to marshal and regulate the drinking devoirs of our kind subjects
to-night; for by the advice of our trusty surgeon, Master Rodolph, of
much fame, we shall refrain this night from our accustomed potations,
and betake ourselves to the solitude of our cabinet; a solitude in good
sooth, unless we can persuade you to accompany us, kind sir,” said the
Prince, turning to Mr. Grey. “Methinks eight-and-forty hours without
rest, and a good part spent in the mad walls of our cousin of
Johannisberger, are hardly the best preparatives for a drinking bout;
unless, after Oberon’s horn, ye may fairly be considered to be in
practice. Nevertheless, I advise the cabinet and a cup of Rodolph’s
coffee. What sayest thou?” Vivian acceded to the Prince’s proposition
with eagerness; and accompanied by Prince Maximilian, and preceded by
the little steward, who, surrounded by his serving-men, very much
resembled a planet eclipsed by his satellites, they left the hall.

“‘Tis almost a pity to shut out the moon on such a night,” said the
Prince, as he drew a large green velvet curtain from the windows of
the cabinet.

“‘Tis a magnificent night!” said Vivian; “how fine the effect of the
light is upon the picture of the warrior. The horse seems quite living,
and its fierce rider actually frowns upon us.”

“He may well frown,” said the Prince of Little Lilliput, in a voice of
deep melancholy; and he hastily redrew the curtain. In a moment he
started from the chair on which he had just seated himself, and again
admitted the moonlight. “Am I really afraid of an old picture? No, no;
it has not yet come to that.”

This was uttered in a distinct voice, and of course excited the
astonishment of Vivian, who, however, had too much discretion to evince
his surprise, or to take any measure by which his curiosity might be
satisfied.

His companion seemed instantly conscious of the seeming singularity of
his expression.

“You are surprised at my words, good sir,” said his Highness, as he
paced very rapidly up and down the small chamber; “you are surprised at
my words; but, sir, my ancestor’s brow was guarded by a diadem!”

“Which was then well won, Prince, and is now worthily worn.”

“By whom? where? how?” asked the Prince, in a rapid voice. “Maximilian,”
 continued his Highness, in a more subdued tone; “Maximilian, my own
love, leave us; go to Mr. Sievers. God bless you, my only boy.
Good night!”

“Good night, dearest papa, and down with the Grand Duke of Reisenburg!”

“He echoes the foolish zeal of my fond followers,” said the Prince, as
his son left the room. “The idle parade to which their illegal loyalty
still clings; my own manners, the relics of former days; habits will not
change like stations; all these have deceived you, sir. You have
mistaken me for a monarch; I should be one. A curse light on me the
hour I can mention it without a burning blush. Oh, shame! shame on the
blood of my father’s son! Can my mouth own that I once was one? Yes,
sir! you see before you the most injured, the least enviable of human
beings. I am a mediatised Prince!”

Vivian had resided too long in Germany to be ignorant of the meaning of
this title, with which, perhaps, few of our readers may be acquainted. A
mediatised Prince is an unhappy victim of those Congresses which, among
other good and evil, purged with great effect the ancient German
political system. By the regulations then determined on, that country
was freed at one fell swoop from the vexatious and harassing dominion of
the various petty Princes who exercised absolute sovereignties over
little nations of fifty thousand souls. These independent sovereigns
became subjects; and either swelled, by their mediatisation, the
territories of some already powerful potentate, or transmuted into a
state of importance some more fortunate petty ruler than themselves,
whose independence, through the exertions of political intrigue or
family influence, had been preserved inviolate. In most instances, the
concurrence of these little rulers in their worldly degradation was
obtained by a lavish grant of official emoluments or increase of
territorial possessions; and the mediatised Prince, instead of being an
impoverished and uninfluential sovereign, became a wealthy and powerful
subject. But so dominant in the heart of man is the love of independent
dominion, that even with these temptations few of the petty princes
could have been induced to have parted with their cherished sceptres,
had they not been conscious that, in case of contumacy, the resolutions
of a Diet would have been enforced by the armies of an emperor. As it
is, few of them have yet given up the outward and visible signs of regal
sway. The throne is still preserved and the tiara still revered. They
seldom frequent the courts of their sovereigns, and scarcely condescend
to notice the attentions of their fellow nobility. Most of them expend
their increased revenues in maintaining the splendour of their little
courts at their ancient capitals, or in swelling the ranks of their
retainers at their solitary forest castles.

The Prince of Little Lilliput was the first mediatised sovereign that
Vivian had ever met. At another time, and under other circumstances, he
might have smiled at the idle parade and useless pomp which he had this
day witnessed, or moralised on that weakness of human nature which
seemed to consider the inconvenient appendages of a throne as the great
end for which power was to be coveted; but at the present moment he only
saw a kind and, as he believed, estimable individual disquieted and
distressed. It was painful to witness the agitation of the Prince, and
Vivian felt it necessary to make some observations, which, from his
manner, expressed more than they meant.

“Sir,” said his Highness, “your sympathy consoles me. Do not imagine
that I can misunderstand it; it does you honour. You add by this to the
many favours you have already conferred on me by saving my life and
accepting my hospitality. I sincerely hope that your departure hence
will be postponed to the last possible moment. Your conversation and
your company have made me pass a more cheerful day than I am accustomed
to. All here love me; but, with the exception of Sievers, I have no
companion; and although I esteem his principles and his talents, there
is no congeniality in our tastes, or in our tempers. As for the rest, a
more devoted band cannot be conceived; but they think only of one thing,
the lost dignity of their ruler; and although this concentration of
their thoughts on one subject may gratify my pride, it does not elevate
my spirit. But this is a subject on which in future we will not
converse. One of the curses of my unhappy lot is, that a thousand
circumstances daily occur which prevent me forgetting it.”

The Prince rose from the table, and pressing with his right hand on part
of the wall, the door of a small closet sprung open; the interior was
lined with crimson velvet. He took out of it a cushion of the same regal
material, on which reposed, in solitary magnificence, a golden coronet
of antique workmanship.

“The crown of my fathers,” said his Highness, as he placed the treasure
with great reverence on the table, “won by fifty battles and lost
without a blow! Yet in my youth I was deemed no dastard; and I have shed
more blood for my country in one day than he who claims to be my
suzerain in the whole of his long career of undeserved prosperity. Ay,
this is the curse; the ancestor of my present sovereign was that
warrior’s serf!” The Prince pointed to the grim chieftain, whose stout
helmet Vivian now perceived was encircled by a crown similar to the one
which was now lying before him. “Had I been the subject, had I been
obliged to acknowledge the sway of a Caesar, I might have endured it
with resignation. Had I been forced to yield to the legions of an
Emperor, a noble resistance might have consoled me for the clanking of
my chains. But to sink without a struggle, the victim of political
intrigue; to become the bondsman of one who was my father’s slave; for
such was Reisenburg, even in my own remembrance, our unsuccessful rival;
this was too had. It rankles in my heart, and unless I can be revenged I
shall sink under it. To have lost my dominions would have been nothing.
But revenge I will have! It is yet in my power to gain for an enslaved
people the liberty I have myself lost. Yes! the enlightened spirit of
the age shall yet shake the quavering councils of the Reisenburg cabal.
I will, in truth I have already seconded the just, the unanswerable
demands of an oppressed and insulted people, and, ere six months are
over, I trust to see the convocation of a free and representative
council in the capital of the petty monarch to whom I have been
betrayed. The chief of Reisenburg has, in his eagerness to gain his
grand ducal crown, somewhat overstepped the mark.

“Besides myself, there are no less than three other powerful princes
whose dominions have been devoted to the formation of his servile duchy.
We are all animated by the same spirit, all intent upon the same end. We
have all used, and are using, our influence as powerful nobles to gain
for our fellow-subjects their withheld rights; rights which belong to
them as men, not merely as Germans. Within this week I have forwarded to
the Residence a memorial subscribed by myself, my relatives, the other
princes, and a powerful body of discontented nobles, requesting the
immediate grant of a constitution similar to those of Wirtemburg and
Bavaria. My companions in misfortune are inspirited by my joining them.
Had I been wise I should have joined them sooner; but until this moment
I have been the dupe of the artful conduct of an unprincipled Minister.
My eyes, however, are now open. The Grand Duke and his crafty
counsellor, whose name shall not profane my lips, already tremble. Part
of the people, emboldened by our representations, have already refused
to answer an unconstitutional taxation. I have no doubt that he must
yield. Whatever may be the inclination of the Courts of Vienna or St.
Petersburg, rest assured that the liberty of Germany will meet with no
opponent except political intrigue; and that Metternich is too well
acquainted with the spirit which is now only slumbering in the bosom of
the German nation to run the slightest risk of exciting it by the
presence of foreign legions. No, no! that mode of treatment may do very
well for Naples, or Poland, or Spain; but the moment that a Croat or a
Cossack shall encamp upon the Rhine or the Elbe, for the purpose of
supporting the unadulterated tyranny of their new-fangled Grand Dukes,
that moment Germany becomes a great and united nation. The greatest
enemy of the prosperity of Germany is the natural disposition of her
sons; but that disposition, while it does now, and may for ever, hinder
us from being a great people, will at the same time infallibly prevent
us from ever becoming a degraded one.”

At this moment, this moment of pleasing anticipation of public virtue
and private revenge, Master Rodolph entered, and prevented Vivian from
gaining any details of the history of his host. The little round steward
informed his master that a horseman had just arrived, bearing for his
Highness a despatch of importance, which he insisted upon delivering
into the Prince’s own hands.

“Whence comes he?” asked his Highness.

“In truth, your Serene Highness, that were hard to say, inasmuch as the
messenger refuses to inform us.”

“Admit him.”

A man whose jaded looks proved that he had travelled far that day was
soon ushered into the room, and, bowing to the Prince, delivered to him
in silence a letter.

“From whom comes this?” asked the Prince.

“It will itself inform your Highness,” was the only answer.

“My friend, you are a trusty messenger, and have been well trained.
Rodolph, look that this gentleman be well lodged and attended.”

“I thank your Highness,” said the messenger, “but I do not tarry here. I
wait no answer, and my only purpose in seeing you was to perform my
commission to the letter, by delivering this paper into your own hands.”

“As you please, sir; you must be the best judge of your own time; but we
like not strangers to leave our gates while our drawbridge is yet
echoing with their entrance steps.”

The Prince and Vivian were again alone. Astonishment and agitation were
visible on his Highness’ countenance as he threw his eye over the
letter. At length he folded it up, put it into his breast-pocket and
tried to resume conversation; but the effort was both evident and
unsuccessful. In another moment the letter was again taken out, and
again read with not less emotion than accompanied its first perusal.

“I fear I have wearied you, Mr. Grey,” said his Highness; “it was
inconsiderate in me not to remember that you require repose.”

Vivian was not sorry to have an opportunity of retiring, so he quickly
took the hint, and wished his Highness agreeable dreams.



CHAPTER IV


No one but an adventurous traveller can know the luxury of sleep. There
is not a greater fallacy in the world than the common creed that sweet
sleep is labour’s guerdon. Mere regular, corporeal labour may certainly
procure us a good, sound, refreshing slumber, disturbed often by the
consciousness of the monotonous duties of the morrow; but how sleep the
other great labourers of this laborious world? Where is the sweet sleep
of the politician? After hours of fatigue in his office and hours of
exhaustion in the House, he gains his pillow; and a brief, feverish
night, disturbed by the triumph of a cheer and the horrors of a reply.
Where is the sweet sleep of the poet? We all know how harassing are the
common dreams which are made up of incoherent images of our daily life,
in which the actors are individuals that we know, and whose conduct
generally appears to be regulated by principles which we can comprehend.
How much more enervating and destroying must be the slumber of that man
who dreams of an imaginary world! waking, with a heated and excited
spirit, to mourn over some impressive incident of the night, which is
nevertheless forgotten, or to collect some inexplicable plot which has
been revealed in sleep, and has fled from the memory as the eyelids have
opened. Where is the sweet sleep of the artist? of the lawyer? Where,
indeed, of any human being to whom to-morrow brings its necessary
duties? Sleep is the enemy of Care, and Care is the constant companion
of regular labour, mental or bodily.

But your traveller, your adventurous traveller, careless of the future,
reckless of the past, with a mind interested by the world, from the
immense and various character which that world presents to him, and not
by his own stake in any petty or particular contingency; wearied by
delightful fatigue, daily occasioned by varying means and from varying
causes; with the consciousness that no prudence can regulate the
fortunes of the morrow, and with no curiosity to discover what those
fortunes may be, from a conviction that it is utterly impossible to
ascertain them; perfectly easy whether he lie in a mountain-hut, or a
royal palace; and reckless alike of the terrors and chances of storm and
bandits, seeing that he has a fair chance of meeting both with security
and enjoyment; this is the fellow who, throwing himself upon a down
couch or his mule’s pack-saddle, with equal eagerness and equal
sangfroid, sinks into a repose, in which he is never reminded by the
remembrance of an appointment or an engagement for the next day, a duel,
a marriage, or a dinner, the three perils of man, that he has the
misfortune of being mortal; and wakes not to combat care, but only to
feel that he is fresher and more vigorous than he was the night before;
and that, come what come may, he is, at any rate, sure this day of
seeing different faces, and of improvising his unpremeditated part upon
a different scene.

We have now both philosophically accounted and politely apologised for
the loud and unfashionable snore which sounded in the blue chamber about
five minutes after Vivian Grey had entered that most comfortable
apartment. In about twelve hours’ time he was scolding Essper George for
having presumed to wake him so early, quite unconscious that he had
enjoyed anything more than a twenty minutes’ doze.

“I should not have come in, sir, only they are all out. They were off by
six o’clock this morning, sir; most part at least. The Prince has gone;
I do not know whether he went with them, but Master Rodolph has given
me--I breakfasted with Master Rodolph. Holy Virgin! what quarters we
have got into!”

“To the point; what of the Prince?”

“His Highness has left the castle, and desired Master Rodolph; if your
Grace had only seen Master Rodolph tipsy last night; he rolled about
like a turbot in a tornado.”

“What of the Prince?”

“The Prince desired this letter to be given to you, sir.”

Vivian read the note, which supposed that, of course, he would not wish
to join the chase this morning, and regretted that the writer was
obliged to ride out for a few hours to visit a neighbouring nobleman,
but requested the pleasure of his guest’s company at a private dinner in
the cabinet on his return.

After breakfast Vivian called on Mr. Sievers. He found that gentleman
busied in his library.

“You never hunt, I suppose, Mr. Sievers?”

“Never. His Highness, I apprehend, is out this morning; the beautiful
weather continues; surely we never had such a season. As for myself, I
almost have given up my indoor pursuits. The sun is not the light of
study. Let us take our caps and have a stroll.”

The gentlemen accordingly left the library, and proceeding through a
different gate to that by which Vivian had entered the castle, they came
upon a part of the forest in which the timber and brushwood had been in
a great measure cleared away; large clumps of trees being left standing
on an artificial lawn, and newly-made roads winding about in pleasing
irregularity until they were all finally lost in the encircling woods.

“I think you told me,” said Mr. Sievers, “that you had been long in
Germany. What course do you think of taking from here?”

“Straight to Vienna.”

“Ah! a delightful place. If, as I suppose to be the case, you are fond
of dissipation and luxury, Vienna is to be preferred to any city with
which I am acquainted. And intellectual companions are not wanting
there, as some have said. There are one or two houses in which the
literary soirées will yield to few in Europe; and I prefer them to most,
because there is less pretension and more ease. The Archduke John is a
man of considerable talents, and of more considerable acquirements. An
excellent geologist! Are you fond of geology?”

“I am not in the least acquainted with the science.”

“Naturally so; at your age, if, in fact, we study at all, we are fond of
fancying ourselves moral philosophers, and our study is mankind. Trust
me, my dear sir, it is a branch of research soon exhausted; and in a few
years you will be very glad, for want of something else to do, to
meditate upon stones. See now,” said Mr. Sievers, picking up a stone,
“to what associations does this little piece of quartz give rise! I am
already an antediluvian, and instead of a stag bounding by that wood I
witness the moving mass of a mammoth. I live in other worlds, which, at
the same time, I have the advantage of comparing with the present.
Geology is indeed a magnificent study! What excites more the
imagination? What exercises more the reason? Can you conceive anything
sublimer than the gigantic shadows and the grim wreck of an antediluvian
world? Can you devise any plan which will more brace our powers, and
develop our mental energies, than the formation of a perfect chain of
inductive reasoning to account for these phenomena? What is the boasted
communion which the vain poet holds with nature compared with
conversation which the geologist perpetually carries on with the
elemental world? Gazing on the strata of the earth, he reads the fate of
his species. In the undulations of the mountains is revealed to him the
history of the past; and in the strength of rivers and the powers of the
air he discovers the fortunes of the future. To him, indeed, that
future, as well as the past and the present, are alike matter for
meditation: for the geologist is the most satisfactory of antiquarians,
the most interesting of philosophers, and the most inspired of prophets;
demonstrating that which has past by discovery, that which is occurring
by observation, and that which is to come by induction. When you go to
Vienna I will give you a letter to Frederic Schlegel; we were
fellow-students, and are friends, though for various reasons we do not
at present meet; nevertheless a letter from me will command respect. I
will recommend you, however, before you go on to Vienna, to visit
Reisenburg.”

“Indeed! from the Prince’s account, I should have thought that there was
little to interest me there.”

“His Highness is not an impartial judge. You are probably acquainted
with the disagreeable manner in which he is connected with that Court.
Far from his opinion being correct, I should say there are few places in
Germany more worthy of a visit than the little Court near us; and above
all things my advice is that you should not pass it over.”

“I am inclined to follow it. You are right in supposing that I am not
ignorant that His Highness has the misfortune of being a mediatised
Prince; but what is the exact story about him? I have heard some odd
rumours, some--”

It is a curious story, but I am afraid you will find it rather long.
Nevertheless, if you really visit Reisenburg, it may be of use to you to
know something of the singular characters you will meet there. In the
first place, you say you know that Little Lilliput is a mediatised
Prince, and, of course, are precisely aware what that title means.
About fifty years ago, the rival of the illustrious family in whose
chief castle we are both of us now residing was the Margrave of
Reisenburg, another petty Prince with territories not so extensive as
those of our friend, and with a population more limited: perhaps fifty
thousand souls, half of whom were drunken cousins. The old Margrave of
Reisenburg, who then reigned, was a perfect specimen of the
old-fashioned German Prince: he did nothing but hunt and drink and think
of the quarterings of his immaculate shield, all duly acquired from some
Vandal ancestor as barbarous as himself. His little Margraviate was
misgoverned enough for a great empire. Half of his nation, who were his
real people, were always starving, and were unable to find crown pieces
to maintain the extravagant expenditure of the other moiety, the
cousins; who, out of gratitude to their fellow-subjects for their
generous support, harassed them with every species of excess. Complaints
were of course made to the Margrave, and loud cries for justice
resounded at the palace gates. This Prince was an impartial chief
magistrate; he prided himself upon his “invariable” principles of
justice, and he allowed nothing to influence his decisions. His plan for
arranging all differences had the merit of being brief; and if brevity
be the soul of wit, it certainly was most unreasonable in his subjects
to consider his judgments no joke. He always counted the quarterings in
the shields of the respective parties, and decided accordingly. Imagine
the speedy redress gained by a muddy-veined peasant against one of the
cousins; who, of course, had as many quarterings as the Margrave
himself. The defendant was regularly acquitted. At length, a man’s house
having been burnt down out of mere joke in the night, the owner had the
temerity in the morning to accuse one of the privileged, and to produce,
at the same tune, a shield, with exactly one more quartering than the
reigning shield itself contained. The Margrave was astounded, the people
in raptures, and the cousins in despair. The complainant’s shield was
examined and counted, and not a flaw discovered. What a dilemma! The
chief magistrate consulted with the numerous branches of his family, and
the next morning the complainant’s head was struck off for high treason,
for daring to have one more quartering than his monarch!

“In this way they passed their time about fifty years since in
Reisenburg; occasionally, for the sake of variety, declaring war against
the inhabitants of Little Lilliput, who, to say the truth, in their
habits and pursuits did not materially differ from their neighbours. The
Margrave had one son, the present Grand Duke. A due reverence of the
great family shield, and a full acquaintance with the invariable
principles of justice, were early instilled into him; and the royal
stripling made such rapid progress, under the tuition of his amiable
parent, that he soon became highly popular with all his relations. At
length his popularity became troublesome to his father; and so the old
Margrave sent for his son one morning and informed him that he had
dreamed the preceding night that the air of Reisenburg was peculiarly
unwholesome for young persons, and therefore he begged him to get out of
his dominions as soon as possible. The young Prince had no objection to
see something of the world. He flew to a relative whom he had never
before visited. This nobleman was one of those individuals who
anticipate their age, which, by-the-bye, Mr. Grey, none but noblemen
should do; for he who anticipates his century is generally persecuted
when living, and is always pilfered when dead. Howbeit, this relation
was a philosopher; all about him thought him mad; he, in return, thought
all about him fools. He sent the Prince to an University, and gave him
for a tutor a young man about ten years older than his pupil. This
person’s name was Beckendorff. You will hear more of him.

“About three years after the sudden departure of the young Prince, the
old Margrave his father and the then reigning Prince of Little Lilliput
shot each other through the head in a drunken brawl, after a dinner
given in honour of a proclamation of peace between the two countries.
The cousins were not much grieved, as they anticipated a fit successor
in their former favourite. Splendid preparations were made for the
reception of the inheritor of the family shield, and all Reisenburg was
poured out to witness the triumphant entrance of their future monarch.
At last two horsemen in plain dresses, and on indifferent steeds, rode
up to the palace gates, dismounted, and without making any enquiry
ordered the attendance of some of the chief nobility in the presence
chamber. One of them, a young man, without any preparatory explanation,
introduced the Reisenburg chieftains to his companion as his Prime
Minister, and commanded them immediately to deliver up their
portefeuilles and golden keys to Mr. Beckendorff. The nobles were in
dismay, and so astounded that they made no resistance, though the next
morning they started in their beds when they remembered that they had
delivered their insignia of office to a man without a von before his
name. They were soon, however, roused from their sorrow and their
stupor, by receiving a peremptory order to quit the palace: and as they
retired from the walls which they had long considered as their own,
they had the mortification of meeting crowds of the common people, their
slaves and their victims, hurrying with joyful countenances and
triumphant looks to the palace of their Prince, in consequence of an
energetic proclamation for the redress of grievances, and an earnest
promise to decide cases in future without examining the quarterings of
the parties, in a week’s time the cousins were all adrift. At length
they conspired, but the conspiracy was tardy, they found their former
servants armed, and they joined in an unequal struggle; for their
opponents were alike animated with hopes of the future and with revenge
for the past. The cousins got well beat, and this was not the worst; for
Beckendorff took advantage of this unsuccessful treason, which he had
himself fomented, and forfeited all their estates; destroying in one
hour the system which had palsied, for so many years, the energies of
his master’s subjects. In time many of the chief nobility were restored
to their honours and estates; but the power with which they were again
invested was greatly modified, and the privileges of the Commons greatly
increased. At this moment the French Revolution broke out. The French
crossed the Rhine and carried all before them; and the Prince of Little
Lilliput, among other true Germans, made a bold but fruitless
resistance. The Margrave of Reisenburg, on the contrary, received the
enemy with open arms; he raised a larger body of troops than his due
contingent, and exerted himself in every manner to second the views of
the Great Nation. In return for his services he was presented with the
conquered principality of Little Lilliput and some other adjoining
lands; and the Margraviate of Reisenburg, with an increased territory
and population, and governed with consummate wisdom, began to be
considered the most flourishing of the petty states in the quarter of
the empire to which it belonged. On the contrary, our princely and
patriotic friend, mortified by the degenerate condition of his country
and the prosperity of his rival house, quitted Little Lilliput, and
became one of those emigrant princes who abounded during the first years
of the Revolution in the northern courts of Europe. Napoleon soon
appeared upon the stage; and vanquished Austria, with the French
dictating at the gates of her capital, was no longer in a condition to
support the dignity of the Empire. The policy of the Margrave of
Reisenburg was as little patriotic and quite as consistent as before.
Beckendorff became the constant and favoured counsellor of the French
Emperor. It was chiefly by his exertions that the celebrated
Confederation of the Rhine was carried into effect. The institution of
this body excited among many Germans, at the time, loud expressions of
indignation; but I believe few impartial and judicious men now look upon
that league as any other than one in the formation of which consummate
statesmanship was exhibited. In fact, it prevented the subjugation of
Germany to France, and by flattering the pride of Napoleon saved the
decomposition of our Empire. But how this might be it is not at present
necessary for us to enquire. Certain it was, that the pupil of
Beckendorff was amply repaid for the advice and exertions of his master
and his Minister; and when Napoleon fell the brows of the former
Margrave were encircled with a grand ducal crown, and his duchy, while
it contained upwards of a million and a half of inhabitants, numbered in
its limits some of the most celebrated cities in Germany and many of
Germany’s most flourishing provinces. But Napoleon fell. The Prince of
Little Lilliput and his companions in patriotism and misfortune returned
from their exile panting with hope and vengeance. A Congress was held to
settle the affairs of agitated Germany. Where was the Grand Duke of
Reisenburg? His hard-earned crown tottered on his head. Where was his
crafty Minister, the supporter of revolutionary France, the friend of
its Imperial enslaver, the constant enemy of the House of Austria? At
the very Congress which, according to the expectations of the exiled
Princes, was to restore them to their own dominions, and to reward their
patriotic loyalty with the territories of their revolutionary brethren;
yes! at this very Congress was Beckendorff; not as a suppliant, not as a
victim, but seated at the right hand of Metternich, and watching, with
parental affection, the first interesting and infantile movements of
that most prosperous of political bantlings, the Holy Alliance. You may
well imagine that the Military Grand Duke had a much better chance in
political negotiation than the emigrant Prince. In addition to this, the
Grand Duke of Reisenburg had married, during the war, a Princess of a
powerful House; and the allied Sovereigns were eager to gain the future
aid and constant co-operation of a mind like Beckendorff’s. The Prince
of Little Lilliput, the patriot, was rewarded for his conduct by being
restored to his forfeited possessions: and the next day he became the
subject of his former enemy, the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, the traitor.
What think you of Monsieur Beckendorff?”

“One of the most interesting characters I have long heard of. But his
pupil appears to be a man of mind.”

“You shall hear. I should, however, first mention that while Beckendorff
has not scrupled to resort to any measures or adopt any opinions in
order to further the interests of his monarch and his country, he has in
every manner shown that personal aggrandisement has never been his
object. He lives in retirement, scarcely with an attendant, and his
moderate official stipend amply supports his more moderate expenditure.
The subjects of the Grand Duke may well be grateful that they have a
Minister without relations and without favourites. The Grand Duke is,
unquestionably, a man of talents; but at the same time, perhaps, one of
the most weak-minded men that ever breathed. He was fortunate in meeting
with Beckendorff early in life; and as the influence of the Minister has
not for a moment ceased over the mind of the monarch, to the world the
Grand Duke of Reisenburg has always appeared to be an individual of a
strong mind and consistent conduct. But when you have lived as much and
as intimately in his Court as I have done, you will find how easily the
world may be deceived. Since the close connection which now exists
between Reisenburg and Austria took place, Beckendorff has, in a great
degree, revived the ancient privileges of blood and birth. A Minister
who has sprung from the people will always conciliate the aristocracy.
Having no family influence of his own, he endeavours to gain the
influence of others: and it often happens that merit is never less
considered than when merit has made the Minister. A curious instance of
this occurs in a neighbouring state. There the Premier, decidedly a man
of great talents, is of as humble an origin as Beckendorff. With no
family to uphold him, he supports himself by a lavish division of all
the places and patronage of the State among the nobles. If the younger
son or brother of a peer dare to sully his oratorical virginity by a
chance observation in the Lower Chamber, the Minister, himself a real
orator, immediately rises to congratulate, in pompous phrase, the House
and the country on the splendid display which has made this night
memorable, and on the decided advantages which must accrue both to their
own resolutions and the national interests from the future participation
of his noble friend in their deliberations. All about him are young
nobles, quite unfit for the discharge of their respective duties. His
private secretary is unable to coin a sentence, almost to direct a
letter; but he is noble! The secondary officials cannot be trusted even
in the least critical conjunctures; but they are noble! And the Prime
Minister of a powerful empire is forced to rise early and be up late;
not to meditate on the present fortunes or future destinies of his
country, but by his personal exertions to compensate for the
inefficiency and expiate the blunders of his underlings, whom his
unfortunate want of blood has forced him to overwhelm with praises which
they do not deserve, and duties which they cannot discharge. I do not
wish you to infer that the policy of Beckendorff has been actuated by
the feelings which influence the Minister whom I have noticed, from
whose conduct in this very respect his own materially differs. On the
contrary, his connection with Austria is, in all probability, the
primary great cause. However this may be, certain it is that all offices
about the Court and connected with the army (and I need not remind you
that at a small German Court these situations are often the most
important in the State) can only be filled by the nobility; nor can any
person who has the misfortune of not inheriting the magical monosyllable
_von_ before his name, the shibboleth of nobility and the symbol of
territorial pride, violate by their unhallowed presence the sanctity of
Court dinners, or the as sacred ceremonies of a noble fête. But while a
monopoly of those offices which for their due performance require only a
showy exterior or a schooled address is granted to the nobles, all those
State charges which require the exercise of intellect are now chiefly
filled by the bourgeoisie. At the same time, however, that both our
Secretaries of State, many of our Privy Councillors, war Councillors,
forest Councillors, and finance Councillors, are to be reckoned among
the second class, still not one of these exalted individuals, who from
their situations are necessarily in constant personal communication with
the Sovereign, ever see that Sovereign except in his Cabinet and his
Council-Chamber. Beckendorff himself, the Premier, is the son of a
peasant; and of course not noble. Nobility, which has been proffered
him, not only by his own monarch, but by most of the sovereigns of
Europe, he has invariably refused; and consequently never appears at
Court. The truth is, that, from disposition, he is little inclined to
mix with men; and he has taken advantage of his want of an escutcheon
completely to exempt himself from all those duties of etiquette which
his exalted situation would otherwise have imposed upon him. None can
complain of the haughtiness of the nobles when, ostensibly, the Minister
himself is not exempted from their exclusive regulations. If you go to
Reisenburg, you will not therefore see Beckendorff, who lives, as I have
mentioned, in solitude, about thirty miles from the capital;
communicating only with his Royal master, the foreign Ministers, and one
or two official characters of his own country. I was myself an inmate of
the Court for upwards of two years. During that time I never saw the
Minister; and, with the exception of some members of the royal family
and the characters I have mentioned, I never knew one person who had
even caught a glimpse of the individual who may indeed be said to be
regulating their destinies.

“It is at the Court, then,” continued Mr. Sievers, “when he is no longer
under the control of Beckendorff, and in those minor points which are
not subjected to the management or influenced by the mind of the
Minister, that the true character of the Grand Duke is to be detected.
Indeed it may really be said, that the weakness of his mind has been the
origin of his fortune. In his early youth his pliant temper adapted
itself without a struggle to the barbarous customs and the brutal
conduct of his father’s Court; that same pliancy of temper prevented him
opposing with bigoted obstinacy the exertions of his relation to educate
and civilise him; that same pliancy of temper allowed him to become the
ready and the enthusiastic disciple of Beckendorff. Had the pupil, when
he ascended the throne, left his master behind him, it is very probable
that his natural feelings would have led him to oppose the French; and
at this moment, instead of being the first of the second rate powers of
Germany, the Grand Duke of Reisenburg might himself have been an
mediatised Prince. As it was, the same pliancy of temper which I have
noticed enabled him to receive Napoleon, when an Emperor, with
outstretched arms; and at this moment does not prevent him from
receiving, with equal rapture, the Imperial Archduchess, who will soon
be on her road from Vienna to espouse his son; for, to crown his
career, Beckendorff has successfully negotiated a marriage between a
daughter of the House of Austria and the Crown Prince of Reisenburg. It
is generally believed that the next step of the Diet will be to
transmute the father’s Grand Ducal coronet into a Regal crown; and
perhaps, my good sir, before you reach Vienna, you may have the supreme
honour of being presented to his Majesty the King of Reisenburg.”

“But when you talk only of the pupil’s pliancy of temper, am I to
suppose that in mentioning his talents you were speaking ironically?”

“By no means! The Grand Duke is a scholar; a man of refined taste, a
patron of the fine arts, a lover of literature, a promoter of science,
and what the world would call a philosopher. His judgment is sound, and
generally correct, his powers of discrimination acute, and his knowledge
of mankind greater than that of most sovereigns; but with all these
advantages he is cursed with such a wavering and indecisive temper, that
when, which is usually the case, he has come to a right conclusion, he
can never prevail upon himself to carry his theory into practice; and
with all his acuteness, his discernment, and his knowledge of the world,
his mind is always ready to receive any impression from the person who
last addresses him, though he himself be fully aware of the inferiority
of his adviser’s intellect to his own, or the imperfection of that
adviser’s knowledge. Never for a moment out of the sight of Beckendorff,
the royal pupil has made an admirable political puppet, since his
talents have always enabled him to understand the part which the
Minister had forced him to perform. Thus the world has given the Grand
Duke credit, not only for the possession of great talents, but almost
for as much firmness of mind and decision of character as his Minister.
But since his long-agitated career has become calm and tranquil, and
Beckendorff, like a guardian spirit, has ceased to be ever at his elbow,
the character of the Grand Duke of Reisenburg begins to be understood.
His Court has been, and still is, frequented by all the men of genius
in Germany, who are admitted without scruple, even if they be not noble.
But the astonishing thing is, that the Grand Duke is always surrounded
by every species of political and philosophical quack that you can
imagine. Discussions on a free press, on the reformation of the criminal
code, on the abolition of commercial duties, and such like interminable
topics, are perpetually resounding within the palace of this arbitrary
Prince; and the people, fired by the representations of the literary and
political journals with which Reisenburg abounds, and whose bold
speculations on all subjects elude the vigilance of the censor, by being
skilfully amalgamated with a lavish praise of the royal character, are
perpetually flattered with the speedy hope of becoming freemen.
Suddenly, when all are expecting the grant of a charter or the
institution of Chambers, Mr. Beckendorff rides up from his retreat to
the Residence, and the next day the whole crowd of philosophers are
swept from the royal presence, and the censorship of the press becomes
so severe, that for a moment you would fancy that Reisenburg, instead of
being, as it boasts itself, the modern Athens, had more right to the
title of the modern Boeotia. The people, who enjoy an impartial
administration of equal laws, who have flourished, and are flourishing,
under the wise and moderate rule of their new monarch, have in fact no
inclination to exert themselves for the attainment of constitutional
liberty in any other way than by their voices. Their barbarous apathy
astounds the philosophers; who, in despair, when the people tell them
that they are happy and contented, artfully remind them that their
happiness depends on the will of a single man; and that, though the
present character of the monarch may guarantee present felicity, still
they should think of their children, and not less exert themselves for
the insurance of the future. These representations, as constantly
reiterated as the present system will allow, have at length produced an
effect; and political causes of a peculiar nature, combining their
influence with these philosophical exertions, have of late frequently
frightened the Grand Duke, who, in despair, would perhaps grant a
constitution if Beckendorff would allow him. But the Minister is
conscious that the people would not be happier, and do not in fact
require one: he looks with a jealous and an evil eye on the charlatanism
of all kinds which is now so prevalent at Court: he knows, from the
characters of many of these philosophers and patriots, that their
private interest is generally the secret spring of their public virtue;
that if the Grand Duke, moved by their entreaties, or seduced by their
flattery, were to yield a little, he would soon be obliged to grant all
to their demands and their threats; and finally, Beckendorff has, of
late years, so completely interwoven the policy of Reisenburg with that
of Austria, that he feels that the rock on which he has determined to
found the greatness of his country must be quitted for ever if he yield
one jot to the caprice or the weakness of his monarch.”

“But Beckendorff,” said Vivian; “why can he not crush in the bud the
noxious plant which he so much dreads? Why does the press speak in the
least to the people? Why is the Grand Duke surrounded by any others
except pompous Grand Marshals and empty-headed Lord Chamberlains? I am
surprised at this indifference, this want of energy!”

“My dear sir, there are reasons for all things. Rest assured that
Beckendorff is not a man to act incautiously or weakly. The Grand
Duchess, the mother of the Crown Prince, has been long dead.
Beckendorff, who, as a man, has the greatest contempt for women; as a
statesman, looks to them as the most precious of political instruments;
it was his wish to have married the Grand Duke to the young Princess who
is now destined for his son, but for once in his life he failed in
influencing his pupil. The truth was, and it is to this cause that we
must trace the present disorganised state of the Court, and indeed of
the Duchy, that the Grand Duke had secretly married a lady to whom he
had long been attached. This lady was a Countess, and his subject; and,
as it was impossible by the laws of the kingdom that any one but a
member of the reigning family could be allowed to share the throne, his
Royal Highness had recourse to a plan which is not uncommon in this
country, and espoused the lady with his left hand. The ceremony, which
we call here a morganatic marriage, you have, probably, heard of before.
The favoured female is, to all intents and purposes, the wife of the
monarch, and shares everything except his throne. She presides at Court,
but neither she nor her children assume the style of majesty, although
in some instances the latter have been created princes, and acknowledged
as heirs apparent when there has been a default in the lineal royal
issue. The lady of whom we are speaking, according to the usual custom,
has assumed a name derivative from that of her royal husband; and as the
Grand Duke’s name is Charles, she is styled Madame Carolina.”

“And what kind of lady is Madame Carolina?” asked Vivian.

Philosophical! piquant! Parisian! a genius, according to her friends;
who, as in fact she is a Queen, are of course the whole world. Though a
German by family, she is a Frenchwoman by birth. Educated in the
spiritual saloons of the French metropolis, she has early imbibed superb
ideas of the perfectibility of man, and of the “science” of
conversation, on both which subjects you will not be long at Court ere
you hear her descant; demonstrating by the brilliancy of her ideas the
possibility of the one, and by the fluency of her language her
acquaintance with the other. She is much younger than her husband, and,
though not exactly a model for Phidias, a fascinating woman. Variety is
the talisman by which she commands all hearts and gained her monarch’s.
She is only consistent in being delightful; but, though changeable, she
is not capricious. Each day displays a new accomplishment as regularly
as it does a new costume; but as the acquirement seems only valued by
its possessor as it may delight others, so the dress seems worn, not so
much to gratify her own vanity as to please her friends’ tastes. Genius
is her idol; and with her genius is found in everything. She speaks in
equal ruptures of an opera dancer and an epic poet. Her ambition is to
converse on all subjects; and by a judicious management of a great mass
of miscellaneous reading, and by indefatigable exertions to render
herself mistress of the prominent points of the topics of the day, she
appears to converse on all subjects with ability. She takes the
liveliest interest in the progress of mind, in all quarters of the
globe; and imagines that she should, at the same time, immortalise
herself and benefit her species, could she only establish a Quarterly
Review in Ashantee and a scientific Gazette at Timbuctoo.
Notwithstanding her sudden elevation, no one has ever accused her of
arrogance, or pride, or ostentation. Her liberal principles and her
enlightened views are acknowledged by all. She advocates equality in her
circle of privileged nobles, and is enthusiastic on the rights of man in
a country where justice is a favour. Her boast is to be surrounded by
men of genius, and her delight to correspond with the most celebrated
persons of all countries. She is herself a literary character of no mean
celebrity. Few months have elapsed since enraptured Reisenburg hailed
from her glowing pen two neat octavos, bearing the title of ‘Memoirs of
the Court of Charlemagne,’ which give an interesting and accurate
picture of the age, and delight the modern public with vivid descriptions
of the cookery, costume, and conversation of the eighth century. You
smile, my friend, at Madame Carolina’s production. Do not you agree with
me that it requires no mean talent to convey a picture of the bustle of
a levée during the middle ages? Conceive Sir Oliver looking in at his
club! and fancy the small talk of Roland during a morning visit! Yet
even the fame of this work is to be eclipsed by Madame’s forthcoming
quarto of ‘Haroun al Raschid and his Times.’ This, it is whispered, is
to be a chef-d’oeuvre, enriched by a chronological arrangement, by a
celebrated oriental scholar, of all the anecdotes in the Arabian Nights
relating to the Caliph. It is, of course, the sun of Madame’s patronage
that has hatched into noxious life the swarm of sciolists who now infest
the Court, and who are sapping the husband’s political power while they
are establishing the wife’s literary reputation. So much for Madame
Carolina! I need hardly add that during your short stay at Court you
will be delighted with her. If ever you know her as well as I do, you
will find her vain, superficial, heartless; her sentiment a system, her
enthusiasm exaggeration, and her genius merely a clever adoption of the
profundity of others.

“And Beckendorff and the lady are not friendly?” asked Vivian, who was
delighted with his communicative companion.

“Beckendorff’s is a mind that such a woman cannot comprehend. He treats
her with contempt, and, if possible, views her with hatred, for he
considers that she has degraded the character of his pupil; while she,
on the contrary, wonders by what magic spell he exercises such influence
over the conduct of her husband. At first Beckendorff treated her and
her circle of illuminati with contemptuous silence; but in politics
nothing is contemptible. The Minister, knowing that the people were
prosperous and happy, cared little for projected constitutions, and less
for metaphysical abstractions; but some circumstances have lately
occurred which, I imagine, have convinced him that for once he has
miscalculated. After the arrangement of the German States, when the
Princes were first mediatised, an attempt was made, by means of a
threatening league, to obtain for these political victims a very ample
share of the power and patronage of the new State of Reisenburg. This
plan failed from the lukewarmness and indecision of our good friend of
Little Lilliput, who, between ourselves, was prevented from joining the
alliance by the intrigues of Beckendorff. Beckendorff secretly took
measures that the Prince should be promised that, in case of his keeping
backward, he should obtain more than would fall to his lot by leading
the van. The Prince of Little Lilliput and his peculiar friends
accordingly were quiet, and the attempt of the other chieftains failed.
It was then that his Highness found that he had been duped. Beckendorff
would not acknowledge the authority, and, of course, did not redeem the
pledge, of his agent. The effect that this affair produced upon the
Prince’s mind you can conceive. Since then he has never frequented
Reisenburg, but constantly resided either at his former capital, now a
provincial town of the Grand Duchy, or at this castle; viewed, you may
suppose, with no very cordial feeling by his companions in misfortune.
But the thirst of revenge will inscribe the bitterest enemies in the
same muster-roll; and the Princes, incited by the bold carriage of
Madame Carolina’s philosophical protégés, and induced to believe that
Beckendorff’s power is on the wane, have again made overtures to our
friend, without whose powerful assistance they feel that they have but
little chance of success. Observe how much more men’s conduct is
influenced by circumstances than principles! When these persons leagued
together before it was with the avowed intention of obtaining a share of
the power and patronage of the State: the great body of the people, of
course, did not sympathise in that which, after all, to them was a party
quarrel, and by the joint exertions of open force and secret intrigue
the Court triumphed. But now these same individuals come forward, not as
indignant Princes demanding a share of the envied tyranny, but as ardent
patriots advocating a people’s rights. The public, though I believe that
in fact they will make no bodily exertion to acquire a constitutional
freedom the absence of which they can only abstractedly feel, have no
objection to attain that which they are assured will not injure their
situation, provided it be by the risk and exertions of others. So far,
therefore, as clamour can support the Princes, they have the people on
their side; and as upwards of three hundred thousand of the Grand Ducal
subjects are still living on their estates, and still consider
themselves as their serfs, they trust that some excesses from this great
body may incite the rest of the people to similar outrages. The natural
disposition of mankind to imitation, particularly when the act to be
imitated is popular, deserves attention. The Court is divided; for the
exertions of Madame and the bewitching influence of Fashion have turned
the heads even of greybeards: and to give you only one instance, his
Excellency the Grand Marshal, protégé of the House of Austria, and a
favourite of Metternich, the very person to whose interests, and as a
reward for whose services, our princely friend was sacrificed by the
Minister, has now himself become a pupil in the school of modern
philosophy, and drivels out, with equal ignorance and fervour,
enlightened notions on the most obscure subjects. In the midst of all
this confusion, the Grand Duke is timorous, dubious, and uncertain.
Beckendorff has a difficult game to play; he may fall at last. Such, my
dear sir, are the tremendous consequences of a weak Prince marrying a
blue-stocking!”

“And the Crown Prince, Mr. Sievers, how does he conduct himself at this
interesting moment? or is his mind so completely engrossed by the
anticipation of his Imperial alliance that he has no thought for
anything but his approaching bride.”

“The Crown Prince, my dear sir, is neither thinking of his bride nor of
anything else: he is a hunch-backed idiot. Of his deformity I have
myself been a witness; and though it is difficult to give an opinion of
the intellect of a being with whom you have never interchanged a
syllable, nevertheless his countenance does not contradict the common
creed. I say the common creed, Mr. Grey, for there are moments when the
Crown Prince of Reisenburg is spoken of by his future subjects in a very
different manner. Whenever any unpopular act is committed, or any
unpopular plan suggested by the Court or the Grand Duke, then whispers
are immediately afloat that a future Brutus must be looked for in their
Prince; then it is generally understood that his idiocy is only assumed;
and what woman does not detect, in the glimmerings of his lack-lustre
eye, the vivid sparks of suppressed genius! In a short time the cloud
blows over the Court, dissatisfaction disappears, and the moment that
the monarch is again popular the unfortunate Crown Prince again becomes
the uninfluential object of pity or derision. All immediately forget
that his idiocy is only assumed; and what woman ever ceases from
deploring the unhappy lot of the future wife of their impuissant Prince!
Such, my dear sir, is the way of mankind! At the first glance it would
appear, that in this world, monarchs, on the whole, have it pretty well
their own way; but reflection will soon enable us not to envy their
situations; and speaking as a father, which unfortunately I am not,
should I not view with disgust that lot in life which necessarily makes
my son my enemy? The Crown Prince of all countries is only a puppet in
the hands of the people, to be played against his own father.”



CHAPTER V


The Prince returned home at a late hour, and immediately enquired for
Vivian. During dinner, which he hastily despatched, it did not escape
our hero’s attention that his Highness was unusually silent, and,
indeed, agitated.

“When we have finished our meal, my good friend,” at length said the
Prince, “I very much wish to consult with you on a most important
business.” Since the explanation of last night, the Prince, in private
conversation, had dropped his regal plural.

“I am ready at once,” said Vivian.

“You will think it strange, Mr. Grey, when you become acquainted with
the nature of my communication; you will justly consider it most
strange, most singular, that I should choose for a confidant and a
counsellor in an important business a gentleman with whom I have been
acquainted so short a time as yourself. But, sir, I have well weighed,
at least I have endeavoured well to weigh, all the circumstances and
contingencies which such a confidence would involve; and the result of
my reflection is, that I will look to you as a friend and adviser,
feeling assured that, both from your situation and your disposition, no
temptation exists which can induce you to betray or to deceive me.”
 Though the Prince said this with an appearance of perfect sincerity, he
stopped and looked earnest in his guest’s face, as if he would read his
secret thoughts, or were desirous of now giving him an opportunity of
answering.

“So far as the certainty of your confidence being respected,” answered
Vivian, “I trust your Highness may communicate to me with the most
assured spirit. But while my ignorance of men and affairs in this
country will ensure you from any treachery on my part, I very much fear
that it will also preclude me from affording you any advantageous advice
or assistance.”

“On that head,” replied the Prince, “I am, of course, the best judge.
The friend whom I need is a man not ignorant of the world, with a cool
head and an impartial mind. Though young, you have said and told me
enough to prove that you are not unacquainted with mankind. Of your
courage I have already had a convincing proof. In the business in which
I require your assistance freedom from national prejudices will
materially increase the value of your advice; and, therefore, I am far
from being unwilling to consult a person ignorant, according to your own
phrase, of men and affairs in this country. Moreover, your education as
an Englishman has early led you to exercise your mind on political
subjects; and it is in a political business that I require your aid.”

“Am I fated always to be the dry nurse of an embryo faction!” thought
Vivian; and he watched earnestly the countenance of the Prince. In a
moment he expected to be invited to become a counsellor of the leagued
Princes. Either the lamp was burning dim, or the blazing wood fire had
suddenly died away, or a mist was over Vivian’s eyes; but for a moment
he almost imagined that he was sitting opposite his old friend the
Marquis of Carabas. The Prince’s phrase had given rise to a thousand
agonising associations: in an instant Vivian had worked up his mind to a
pitch of nervous excitement.

“Political business?” said Vivian, in an agitated voice. “You could not
address a more unfortunate person. I have seen, Prince, too much of
politics ever to wish to meddle with them again.”

“You are too quick, my good friend,” continued his Highness. “I may wish
to consult you on political business, and yet have no intention of
engaging you in politics, which, indeed, is quite a ridiculous idea. But
I see that I was right in supposing that these subjects have engaged
your attention.”

“I have seen, in a short time, something of the political world,”
 answered Vivian, who was almost ashamed of his previous emotion; “and I
thank Heaven daily that I have no chance of again having any
connection with it.”

“Well, well! that as it may be. Nevertheless, your experience is only
another inducement to me to request your assistance. Do not fear that I
wish to embroil you in politics; but I hope you will not refuse,
although almost a stranger, to add to the great obligations which I am
already under to you, and give me the benefit of your opinion.”

“Your Highness may speak with perfect unreserve, and reckon upon my
delivering my genuine sentiments.”

“You have not forgotten, I venture to believe,” said the Prince, “our
short conversation of last night!”

“It was of too interesting a nature easily to escape my memory.”

“Before I can consult you on the subject which at present interests me,
it is necessary that I should make you a little acquainted with the
present state of public affairs here, and the characters of the
principal individuals who control them.”

“So far as an account of the present state of political parties, the
history of the Grand Duke’s career, and that of his Minister, Mr.
Beckendorff, and their reputed characters, will form part of your
Highness’s narrative, by so much may its length be curtailed and your
trouble lessened; for I have at different times picked up, in casual
conversation, a great deal of information on these topics. Indeed, you
may address me, in this respect, as you would any German gentleman who,
not being himself personally interested in public life, is, of course,
not acquainted with its most secret details.”

“I did not reckon on this,” said the Prince, in a cheerful voice. “This
is a great advantage, and another reason that I should no longer
hesitate to develop to you a certain affair which now occupies my mind.
To be short,” continued the Prince, “it is of the letter which I so
mysteriously received last night, and which, as you must have remarked,
very much agitated me; it is on this letter that I wish to consult you.
Bearing in mind the exact position, the avowed and public position, in
which I stand, as connected with the Court, and having a due
acquaintance, which you state you have, with the character of Mr.
Beckendorff, what think you of this letter?”

So saying, the Prince leant over the table, and handed to Vivian the
following epistle:

“TO HIS HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF LITTLE LILLIPUT.

“I am commanded by his Royal Highness to inform your Highness that his
Royal Highness has considered the request which was signed by your
Highness and other noblemen, and presented by you to his Royal Highness
in a private interview. His Royal Highness commands me to state that
that request will receive his most attentive consideration. At the same
time, his Royal Highness also commands me to observe that, in bringing
about the completion of a result desired by all parties, it is difficult
to carry on the necessary communications merely by written documents;
and his Royal Highness has therefore commanded me to submit to your
Highness the advisability of taking some steps in order to further the
possibility of the occurrence of an oral interchange of the sentiments
of the respective parties. Being aware, from the position which your
Highness has thought proper at present to maintain, and from other
causes which are of too delicate a nature to be noticed in any other way
except by allusion, that your Highness may feel difficulty in personally
communicating with his Royal Highness without consulting the wishes and
opinions of the other Princes; a process to which, it must be evident to
your Highness, his Royal Highness feels it impossible to submit; and, at
the same time, desirous of forwarding the progress of those views which
his Royal Highness and your Highness may conjunctively consider
calculated to advance the well-being of the State, I have to submit to
your Highness the propriety of considering the propositions contained in
the enclosed paper; which, if your Highness keep unconnected with this
communication, the purport of this letter will be confined to
your Highness.

PROPOSITIONS.

‘1st. That an interview shall take place between your Highness and
myself, the object of which shall be the consideration of measures by
which, when adopted, the various interests now in agitation shall
respectively be regarded.

‘2nd. That this interview shall be secret; your Highness be incognito.’

“If your Highness be disposed to accede to the first proposition, I beg
to submit to you that, from the nature of my residence, its situation,
and other causes, there will be no fear that any suspicion of the fact
of Mr. von Philipson acceding to the two propositions will gain
notoriety. This letter will be delivered into your own hands. If Mr. von
Philipson determine on acceding to these propositions, he is most
probably aware of the general locality in which my residence is
situated; and proper measures will be taken that, if Mr. von Philipson
honour me with a visit, he shall not be under the necessity of
attracting attention by inquiring the way to my house. It is wished that
the fact of the second proposition being acceded to should only be known
to Mr. von Philipson and myself, but if to be perfectly unattended be
considered as an insuperable objection, I consent to his being
accompanied by a single friend. I shall be alone.

“BECKENDORFF.”

“Well!” said the Prince, as Vivian finished the letter.

“The best person,” said Vivian, “to decide upon your Highness consenting
to this interview is yourself.”

“That is not the point on which I wish to have the benefit of your
opinion; for I have already consented. I rode over this morning to my
cousin, the Duke of Micromegas, and despatched from his residence a
trusty messenger to Beckendorff. I have agreed to meet him, and
to-morrow; but on the express terms that I should not be unattended. Now
then,” continued the Prince, with great energy; “now then, will you be
my companion?”

“I!” said Vivian.

“Yes; you, my good friend! you. I should consider myself as safe if I
were sleeping in a burning house as I should be were I with Beckendorff
alone. Although this is not the first time that we have communicated, I
have never yet seen him; and I am fully aware that, if the approaching
interview were known to my friends, they would consider it high time
that my son reigned in my stead. But I am resolved to be firm, to be
inflexible. My course is plain. I am not to be again duped by him,
which,” continued the Prince, much confused, “I will not conceal that I
have been once.”

“But I!” said Vivian; “I; what good can I possibly do? It appears to me
that, if Beckendorff is to be dreaded as you describe, the presence or
the attendance of no friend can possibly save you from his crafty plans.
But surely, if any one attend you, why not be accompanied by a person
whom you have known long, and who knows you well; on whom you can
confidently rely, and who may be aware, from a thousand signs and
circumstances which will never attract my attention, at what particular
and pressing moments you may require prompt and energetic assistance.
Such is the companion you want; and surely such an one you may find in
Arnelm, Von Neuwied--”

“Arnelm! Von Neuwied!” said the Prince; “the best hands at sounding a
bugle or spearing a boar in all Reisenburg! Excellent men, forsooth! to
guard their master from the diplomatic deceits of the wily Beckendorff!
Moreover, were they to have even the slightest suspicion of my intended
movement, they would commit rank treason out of pure loyalty, and lock
me up in my own cabinet! No, no! they will never do: I want a companion
of experience and knowledge of the world, with whom I may converse with
some prospect of finding my wavering firmness strengthened, or my misled
judgment rightly guided, or my puzzled brain cleared; modes of
assistance to which the worthy Jagd Junker is but little accustomed,
however quickly he might hasten to my side in a combat or the chase.”

“If these, then, will not do, surely there is one man in this castle
who, although he may not be a match for Beckendorff, can be foiled by
few others. Mr. Sievers?” said Vivian, with an inquiring eye.

“Sievers!” exclaimed the Prince, with great eagerness; “the very man!
firm, experienced, and sharp-witted; well schooled in political
learning, in case I required his assistance in arranging the terms of
the intended Charter or the plan of the intended Chambers; for these, of
course, are the points on which Beckendorff wishes to consult. But one
thing I am determined on: I positively pledge myself to nothing while
under Beckendorff’s roof. He doubtless anticipates, by my visit, to
grant the liberties of the people on his own terms: perhaps Mr.
Beckendorff, for once in his life, may be mistaken. I am not to be
deceived twice; and I am determined not to yield the point of the
Treasury being under the control of the Senate. That is the part of the
harness which galls; and to preserve themselves from this rather
inconvenient regulation, without question, my good friend Beckendorff
has hit upon this plan.”

“Then Mr. Sievers will accompany you?” asked Vivian, calling the
Prince’s attention to the point of consultation.

“The very man for it, my dear friend! but although Beckendorff, most
probably respecting my presence, and taking into consideration the
circumstances under which we meet, would refrain from consigning Sievers
to a dungeon; still, although the Minister invites this interview, and
although I have no single inducement to conciliate him, yet it would
scarcely be correct, scarcely dignified on my part, to prove, by the
presence of my companion, that I had for a length of time harboured an
individual who, by Beckendorff’s own exertions, was banished from the
Grand Duchy. It would look too much like a bravado.”

“Oh!” said Vivian; “is it so? And pray of what was Mr. Sievers guilty?”

“Of high treason against one who was not his sovereign.”

“How is that?”

“Sievers, who is a man of considerable talents, was for a long time a
professor in one of our great Universities. The publication of many able
works procured him a reputation which induced Madame Carolina to use
every exertion to gain his attendance at Court; and a courtier in time
the professor became. At Reisenburg Mr. Sievers was the great authority
on all subjects: philosophical, literary, and political. In fact, he was
the fashion; and, at the head of the great literary journal which is
there published, he terrified admiring Germany with his profound and
piquant critiques. Unfortunately, like some men as good, he was unaware
that Reisenburg was not an independent state; and so, on the occasion of
Austria attacking Naples, Mr. Sievers took the opportunity of attacking
Austria. His article, eloquent, luminous, profound, revealed the dark
colours of the Austrian policy, as an artist’s lamp brings out the murky
tints of a Spagnoletto. Every one admired Sievers’ bitter sarcasms,
enlightened views, and indignant eloquence. Madame Carolina crowned him
with laurel in the midst of her coterie, and it is said that the Grand
Duke sent him a snuff-box. In a short time the article reached Vienna,
and in a still shorter time Mr. Beckendorff reached the Residence, and
insisted on the author being immediately given up to the Austrian
Government. Madame Carolina was in despair, the Grand Duke in doubt, and
Beckendorff threatened to resign if the order were not signed. A kind
friend, perhaps his Royal Highness himself, gave Sievers timely notice,
and by rapid flight he reached my castle, and demanded my hospitality.
He has lived here ever since, and has done me a thousand services, not
the least of which is the education which he has given my son, my
glorious Maximilian.”

“And Beckendorff,” asked Vivian; “has he always been aware that Sievers
was concealed here?”

“That I cannot answer: had he been, it is not improbable that he would
have winked at it; since it never has been his policy unnecessarily to
annoy a mediatised Prince, or without great occasion to let us feel that
our independence is gone; I will not, with such a son as I have, say,
for ever.”

“Mr. Sievers of course, then, cannot visit Beckendorff,” said Vivian.

“That is clear,” said the Prince; “and I therefore trust that now you
will no longer refuse my first request.”

It was impossible for Vivian to deny the Prince any longer; and indeed
he had no objection (as his Highness could not be better attended) to
seize the singular and unexpected opportunity which now offered itself
of becoming acquainted with an individual respecting whom his curiosity
was much excited. It was a late hour ere the Prince and his friend
retired, having arranged everything for the morrow’s journey, and
conversed on the probable subjects of the approaching interview at
great length.



CHAPTER VI


On the following morning, before sunrise, the Prince’s valet roused
Vivian from his slumbers. According to the appointment of the preceding
evening, Vivian repaired in due time to a certain spot in the park. The
Prince reached it at the same moment. A mounted groom, leading two
English horses of showy appearance, and each having a travelling case
strapped on the back of its saddle, awaited them. His Highness mounted
one of the steeds with skilful celerity, although Arnelm and Von Neuwied
were not there to do honour to his bridle and his stirrup.

“You must give me an impartial opinion of your courser, my dear friend,”
 said the Prince to Vivian; “for if you deem it worthy of being
bestridden by you, my son requests that you will do him the honour of
accepting it. If so, call it Max; and provided it be as thoroughbred as
the donor, you need not change it for Bucephalus.”

“Not unworthy of the son of Ammon!” said Vivian, as he touched the
spirited animal with the spur, and proved its fiery action on the
springing turf.

A man never feels so proud or so sanguine as when he is bounding on the
back of a fine horse. Cares fly with the first curvet, and the very
sight of a spur is enough to prevent one committing suicide.

When Vivian and his companion had proceeded about five miles, the Prince
pulled up, and giving a sealed letter to the groom, he desired him to
leave them. The Prince and Vivian amused themselves by endeavouring to
form some conception of the person, manners, and habits of the
remarkable man to whom they were on the point of paying so interesting
a visit.

“I expect,” said Vivian, “to be received with folded arms, and a brow
lowering with the overwhelming weight of a brain meditating for the
control of millions. His letter has prepared us for the mysterious, but
not very amusing, style of his conversation. He will be perpetually on
his guard not to commit himself; and although public business, and the
receipt of papers, by calling him away, will occasionally give us an
opportunity of being alone, still I regret that I did not put up in my
case some interesting volume, which would have allowed me to feel less
tedious those hours during which you will necessarily be employed with
him in private consultation.”

After a ride of five hours, the horsemen arrived at a small village.

“Thus far I think I have well piloted you,” said the Prince: “but I
confess my knowledge here ceases; and though I shall disobey the
diplomatic instructions of the great man, I must even ask some old woman
the way to Mr. Beckendorff’s.”

While they were hesitating as to whom they should address, an
equestrian, who had already passed them on the road, though at some
distance, came up, and inquired, in a voice which Vivian recognised as
that of the messenger who had brought Beckendorff’s letter to
Turriparva, whether he had the honour of addressing Mr. von Philipson.
Neither of the gentlemen answered, for Vivian of course expected the
Prince to reply; and his Highness was, as yet, so unused to his
incognito, that he had actually forgotten his own name. But it was
evident that the demandant had questioned rather from system than by way
of security, and he waited patiently until the Prince had collected his
senses and assumed sufficient gravity of countenance to inform the
horseman that he was the person in question. “What, sir, is your
pleasure?”

“I am instructed to ride on before you, sir, that you may not mistake
your way;” and without waiting for an answer the laconic messenger
turned his steed’s head and trotted off.

The travellers soon left the high road and turned up a wild turf path,
not only inaccessible to carriages, but even requiring great attention
from horsemen. After much winding and some floundering, they arrived at
a light gate, which apparently opened into a shrubbery.

“I will take your horses here, gentlemen,” said the guide; and getting
off his horse, he opened the gate. “Follow this path, and you can meet
with no difficulty.” The Prince and Vivian accordingly dismounted, and
the guide immediately gave a loud shrill whistle.

The path ran, for a short way, through the shrubbery, which evidently
was a belt encircling the grounds. From this the Prince and Vivian
emerged upon a lawn, which formed on the farthest side a terrace, by
gradually sloping down to the margin of the river. It was enclosed on
the other side, and white pheasants were feeding in its centre.
Following the path which skirted the lawn, they arrived at a second
gate, which opened into a garden, in which no signs of the taste at
present existing in Germany for the English system of picturesque
pleasure-grounds were at all visible. The walk was bounded on both sides
by tall borders, or rather hedges, of box, cut into the shape of
battlements; the sameness of these turrets being occasionally varied by
the immovable form of some trusty warder, carved out of yew or laurel.
Raised terraces and arched walks, aloes and orange trees mounted on
sculptured pedestals, columns of cypress and pyramids of bay, whose dark
foliage strikingly contrasted with the marble statues, and the white
vases shining in the sun, rose in all directions in methodical
confusion. The sound of a fountain was not wanting, and large beds of
beautiful flowers abounded. Proceeding through a lofty berçeau,
occasional openings in whose curving walks allowed effective glimpses of
a bust or a statue, the companions at length came in sight of the house.
It was a long, uneven, low building, evidently of ancient architecture.
Numerous stacks of tall and fantastically-shaped chimneys rose over
three thick and heavy gables, which reached down farther than the middle
of the elevation, forming three compartments, one of them including a
large and modern bow window, over which clustered in profusion the sweet
and glowing blossoms of the clematis and the pomegranate. Indeed, the
whole front of the house was so completely covered with a rich
scarlet-creeper, that it was difficult to ascertain of what materials it
was built. As Vivian was admiring a white peacock, which, attracted by
their approach, had taken the opportunity of unfurling its wheeling
train, a man came forward from the bow window.

In height he was about five feet eight, and of a spare but
well-proportioned figure. He had little hair, which was powdered, and
dressed in a manner to render more remarkable the elevation of his
conical and polished forehead. His long piercing black eyes were almost
closed, from the fullness of their upper lids. His cheek was sallow, his
nose aquiline, his mouth compressed. His ears, which were uncovered,
were so small that it would be wrong to pass them over unnoticed; as,
indeed, were his hands and feet, in form quite feminine. He was dressed
in a coat and waistcoat of black velvet, the latter part of his costume
reaching to his thighs; and in a button-hole of his coat was a large
bunch of tube-rose. The broad collar of his exquisitely plaited shirt,
though tied round with a wide black ribbon, did not conceal a neck which
agreed well with his beardless chin, and would not have misbecome a
woman. In England we should have called his breeches buckskin. They were
of a pale yellow leather, and suited his large and spur-armed cavalry
boots, which fitted closely to the legs they covered, reaching over the
knees of the wearer. A ribbon round his neck, tucked into his waistcoat
pocket, was attached to a small French watch. He swung in his right hand
the bow of a violin; and in the other, the little finger of which was
nearly hid by a large antique ring, he held a white handkerchief
strongly perfumed with violets. Notwithstanding the many feminine
characteristics which I have noticed, either from the expression of the
eyes or the formation of the mouth, the countenance of this individual
generally conveyed an impression of firmness and energy. This
description will not be considered ridiculously minute by those who have
never had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the person of so
celebrated a gentleman as MR. BECKENDORFF.

He advanced to the Prince with an air which seemed to proclaim that, as
his person could not be mistaken, the ceremony of introduction was
unnecessary. Bowing in a ceremonious and courtly manner to his Highness,
Mr. Beckendorff, in a weak but not unpleasing voice, said that he was
“honoured by the presence of Mr. von Philipson.” The Prince answered his
salutation in a manner equally ceremonious and equally courtly; for
having no mean opinion of his own diplomatic abilities, his Highness
determined that neither by an excess of coldness nor cordiality on his
part should the Minister gather the slightest indication of the temper
in which he had attended the interview. You see that even the bow of a
diplomatist is a serious business!

“Mr. Beckendorff,” said his Highness, “my letter doubtless informed you
that I should avail myself of your permission to be accompanied. Let me
have the honour of presenting to you my friend Mr. Grey, an English
gentleman.”

As the Prince spoke, Beckendorff stood with his arms crossed behind
him, and his chin resting upon his chest, but his eyes at the same time
so raised as to look his Highness full in the face. Vivian was so struck
by his posture and the expression of his countenance, that he nearly
omitted to bow when he was presented. As his name was mentioned, the
Minister gave him a sharp, sidelong glance, and moving his head
slightly, invited his guests to enter the house. The gentlemen
accordingly complied with his request. Passing through the bow window,
they found themselves in a well-sized room, the sides of which were
covered with shelves filled with richly-bound books. There was nothing
in the room which gave the slightest indication that the master of the
library was any other than a private gentleman. Not a book, not a chair
was out of its place. A purple inkstand of Sèvre, and a highly-tooled
morocco portfolio of the same colour, reposed on a marqueterie table,
and that was all. No papers, no despatches, no red tape, and no red
boxes. Over an ancient chimney, lined with china tiles, on which were
represented grotesque figures, cows playing the harp, monkeys acting
monarchs, and tall figures all legs, flying with rapidity from pursuers
who were all head; over this chimney were suspended some curious pieces
of antique armour, among which an Italian dagger, with a chased and
jewelled hilt, was the most remarkable and the most precious.

“This,” said Mr. Beckendorff, “is my library.”

“What a splendid poignard!” said the Prince, who had no taste for books;
and he immediately walked up to the chimney-piece. Beckendorff followed
him, and taking down the admired weapon from its resting-place,
proceeded to lecture on its virtues, its antiquity, and its beauty.
Vivian seized this opportunity of taking a rapid glance at the contents
of the library. He anticipated interleaved copies of Machiavel, Vattel,
and Montesquieu; and the lightest works that he expected to meet with
were the lying memoirs of some intriguing cardinal or the deluding
apology of an exiled minister. To his surprise, he found that, without
an exception, the collection consisted of poetry and romance. Somewhat
surprised, Vivian looked with a curious eye on the unlettered backs of a
row of mighty folios on a corner shelf. “These,” he thought, “at least
must be royal ordinances, and collected state papers.” The sense of
propriety struggled for a moment with the passion of curiosity; but
nothing is more difficult for the man who loves books than to refrain
from examining a volume which he fancies may be unknown to him. From
the jewelled dagger Beckendorff had now got to an enamelled
breast-plate. Two to one he should not be observed; and so, with a
desperate pull, Vivian extracted a volume; it was a herbal! He tried
another; it was a collection of dried insects!

“And now,” said Mr. Beckendorff, “I will show you my drawing-room.”

He opened a door at the farther end of the library, and introduced them
to a room of a different character. The sun, which was shining brightly,
lent additional brilliancy to the rainbow-tinted birds of paradise, the
crimson maccaws, and the green parroquets that glistened on the Indian
paper, which covered not only the walls, but also the ceiling of the
room. Over the fireplace a black frame, projecting from the wall, and
mournfully contrasting with the general brilliant appearance of the
apartment, inclosed a picture of a beautiful female; and bending over
its frame, and indeed partly shadowing the countenance, was the withered
branch of a tree. A harpsichord and several cases of musical instruments
were placed in different parts of the room; and suspended by broad black
ribbons from the wall, on each side of the picture, were a guitar and a
tambourine. On a sofa of unusual size lay a Cremona; and as Mr.
Beckendorff passed the instrument he threw by its side the bow, which he
had hitherto carried in his hand.

“We may as well now take something,” said Mr. Beckendorff, when his
guests had sufficiently admired the room; “my pictures are in my
dining-room; let us go there.”

So saying, and armed this time not only with his bow but also with his
violin, he retraced his steps through the library, and crossing a small
passage which divided the house into two compartments, he opened the
door into his dining-room. The moment they entered the room their ears
were saluted, and indeed their senses ravished, by what appeared to be a
concert of a thousand birds; yet none of the winged choristers were to
be seen, and not even a single cage was visible. The room, which was
simply furnished, appeared at first rather gloomy; for, though lighted
by three windows, the silk blinds were all drawn.

“And now,” said Mr. Beckendorff, raising the first blind, “you shall see
my pictures. At what do you estimate this Breughel?”

The window, which was of stained green glass, gave to the landscape an
effect similar to that generally produced by the artist mentioned. The
Prince, who was already puzzled by finding one who at the same time was
both his host and his enemy so different a character from what he had
conceived, and who, being by temper superstitious, considered that this
preliminary false opinion of his was rather a bad omen, did not express
any great admiration of the gallery of Mr. Beckendorff; but Vivian, who
had no ambitious hopes or fears to affect his temper, and who was amused
by the character with whom he had become so unexpectedly acquainted,
good-naturedly humoured the fantasies of the Minister, and said that he
preferred his picture to any Breughel he had ever seen.

“I see you have a fine taste,” said Mr. Beckendorff, with a serious air,
but in a courteous tone; “you shall see my Claude!”

The rich yellow tint of the second window gave to the fanciful garden
all that was requisite to make it look Italian.

“Have you ever been in Italy, sir?” asked Beckendorff.

“I have not.”

“You have, Mr. von Philipson?”

“Never south of Germany,” answered the Prince, who was hungry, and eyed
with a rapacious glance the capital luncheon which he saw prepared
for him.

“Well, then, when either of you go, you will, of course, not miss the
Lago Maggiore. Gaze on Isola Bella at sunset, and you will not view so
fair a scene as this! And now, Mr. von Philipson,” said Beckendorff, “do
me the favour of giving me your opinion of this Honthorst?”

His Highness would rather have given his opinion of the dish of game
which still smoked upon the table, but which he was mournfully convinced
would not smoke long. “But,” thought he, “this is the last!” and so he
admired the effect produced by the flaming panes, to which Beckendorff
swore that no piece ever painted by Gerard Honthorst, for brilliancy of
colouring and boldness of outline, could be compared. “Besides,”
 continued Beckendorff, “mine are all animated pictures. See that
cypress, waving from the breeze which is now stirring, and look! look at
this crimson peacock! look! Mr. von Philipson.”

“I am looking, Mr. von--I beg pardon, Mr. Beckendorff,” said the Prince,
with great dignity, making this slight mistake in the name, either from
being unused to converse with such low people as had not the nominal
mark of nobility, or to vent his spleen at being so unnecessarily kept
from the refreshment which he so much required.

“Mr. von Philipson,” said Beckendorff, suddenly turning round, “all my
fruits and all my vegetables are from my own garden. Let us sit down and
help ourselves.”

The only substantial food at table was a great dish of game. The
vegetables and the fruits were numerous and superb; and there really
appeared to be a fair prospect of the Prince of Little Lilliput making
as good a luncheon as if the whole had been conducted under the auspices
of Master Rodolph himself, had it not been for the melody of the unseen
vocalists, which, probably excited by the sounds of the knives and
plates, too evidently increased every moment. But this inconvenience was
soon removed by Mr. Beckendorff rising and giving three loud knocks on
the door opposite to the one by which they had entered. Immediate
silence ensued.

“Clara will change your plate, Mr. von Philipson,” said Beckendorff.

Vivian eagerly looked up, not with the slightest idea that the entrance
of Clara would prove that the mysterious picture in the drawing-room was
a portrait, but, it must be confessed, with a little curiosity to view
the first specimen of the sex who lived under the roof of Mr.
Beckendorff. Clara was a hale old woman, with rather an acid expression
of countenance, prim in her appearance, and evidently precise in her
manners. She placed a bottle and two wine-glasses with long, thin stems
on the table; and having removed the game and changed the plates, she
disappeared.

“Pray what wine is this, Mr. Beckendorff?” eagerly asked the Prince.

“I really don’t know. I never drink wine.”

“Not know! I never tasted such Tokay in my life!”

“Probably,” said Mr. Beckendorff; “I think it was a present from the
Emperor. I have never tasted it.”

“My dear sir, take a glass!” said the Prince, his naturally jovial
temper having made him completely forget whom he was addressing, and the
business he had come upon.

“I never drink wine; I am glad you like it; I have no doubt Clara has
more.”

“No, no, no! we must be moderate,” said the Prince, who, though a great
admirer of a good luncheon, had also a due respect for a good dinner,
and consequently had no idea, at this awkward hour in the day, of
preventing himself from properly appreciating the future banquet.
Moreover, his Highness, taking into consideration the manner in which
the game had been dressed, and the marks of refinement and good taste
which seemed to pervade every part of the establishment of Mr.
Beckendorff, did not imagine that he was much presuming when he
conjectured that there was a fair chance of his dinner being
something superior.

The sudden arrival and appearance of some new and unexpected guests
through the mysterious portal on which Mr. Beckendorff by his three
knocks had previously produced such a tranquillising effect, and which
he had now himself opened, explained the character of the apartment,
which, from its unceasing melody, had so much excited the curiosity of
his guests. These new visitors were a crowd of piping bullfinches,
Virginia nightingales, trained canaries, Java sparrows, and Indian
lorys; which, freed from their cages of golden wire by their fond
master, had fled, as was their custom, from his superb aviary to pay
their respects and compliments at his daily levée.

“I am glad to see that you like birds, sir,” said Beckendorff to Vivian;
for our hero, good-naturedly humouring the tastes of his host, was
impartially dividing the luxuries of a peach among a crowd of gaudy and
greedy little sparrows. “You shall see my favourites,” continued
Beckendorff; and tapping rather loudly on the table, he held out the
forefinger of each hand. Two bullfinches recognised the signal, and
immediately hastened to their perch.

“My dear!” trilled out one little songster, and it raised its speaking
eyes to its delighted master.

“My love!” warbled the other, marking its affection by looks equally
personal.

As these monosyllables were repeated, Beckendorff, with sparkling eyes,
triumphantly looked round at Vivian, as if the frequent reiteration were
a proof of the sincerity of the affection of these singular friends.

At length, to the Prince’s relief, Mr. Beckendorff’s feathered friends,
having finished their dessert, were sent back to their cages, with a
strict injunction not to trouble their master at present with their
voices, an injunction which was obeyed to the letter; and when the door
was closed few persons could have been persuaded that the next room was
an aviary.

“I am proud of my peaches, Mr. von Philipson,” said Beckendorff,
recommending the fruit to his guest’s attention, then rising from the
table, he threw himself on the sofa, and began humming a tune in a low
voice. Presently he took up his Cremona, and, using the violin as a
guitar, accompanied himself in a beautiful air, but not in a more
audible tone. While Mr. Beckendorff was singing he seemed unconscious
that any person was in the room; and the Prince, who was not very fond
of music, certainly gave him no hint, either by his approbation or his
attention, that he was listened to. Vivian, however, like most unhappy
men, loved music; and actuated by this feeling, and the interest which
he began to take in the character of Mr. Beckendorff, he could not, when
that gentleman had finished his air, refrain from very sincerely
saying “encore!”

Beckendorff started and looked round, as if he were for the first moment
aware that any being had heard him.

“Encore!” said he, with a kind sneer: “who ever could sing or play the
same thing twice! Are you fond of music, sir?”

“Very much so, indeed. I fancied I recognised that air. You are an
admirer I imagine, of Mozart?”

“I never heard of him; I know nothing of those gentry. But if you really
like music, I will play you something worth listening to.”

Mr. Beckendorff began a beautiful air very adagio, gradually increasing
the time in a kind of variation, till at last his execution became so
rapid that Vivian, surprised at the mere mechanical action, rose from
his chair in order better to examine the player’s management and motion
of his bow. Exquisite as were the tones, enchanting as were the
originality of his variations and the perfect harmony of his
composition, it was nevertheless extremely difficult to resist smiling
at the contortions of his face and figure. Now, his body bending to the
strain, he was at one moment with his violin raised in the air, and the
next instant with the lower nut almost resting upon his foot. At length,
by well-proportioned degrees, the air died away into the original soft
cadence; and the player, becoming completely entranced in his own
performance, finished by sinking back on the sofa, with his bow and
violin raised over his head. Vivian would not disturb him by his
applause. An instant after, Mr. Beckendorff, throwing down the
instrument, rushed through an open window into the garden.

As soon as Beckendorff was out of sight, Vivian looked at the Prince;
and his Highness, elevating his eyebrows, screwing up his mouth, and
shrugging his shoulders, altogether presented a comical picture of a
puzzled man.

“Well, my dear friend,” said he, “this is rather different from what we
expected.”

“Very different; but much more amusing.”

“Humph!” said the Prince, slowly; “I do not think it exactly requires a
ghost to tell us that Mr. Beckendorff is not in the habit of going to
court. I do not know how he is accustomed to conduct himself when he is
honoured by a visit from the Grand Duke; but I am quite sure that, as
regards his treatment of myself, to say the least, the incognito is well
observed.”

“Mr. von Philipson,” said the gentleman of whom they were speaking,
putting his head in at the window, “you shall see my blue
passion-flower. We will take a walk round the garden.”

The Prince gave Vivian a look which seemed to suppose they must go, and
accordingly they stepped into the garden.

“You do not see my garden in its glory,” said Mr. Beckendorff, stopping
before the bow window of the library. “This spot is my strong point; had
you been here earlier in the year, you might have admired with me my
invaluable crescents of tulips; such colours! such brilliancy! so
defined! And last year I had three king-tulips; their elegantly-formed,
creamy cups I have never seen equalled. And then my double variegated
ranunculuses; my hyacinths of fifty bells, in every tint, single and
double; and my favourite stands of auriculas, so large and powdered that
the colour of the velvet leaves was scarcely discoverable! The blue
passion-flower is, however, now beautiful. You see that summer-house,
sir,” continued he, turning to Vivian; “the top is my observatory. You
will sleep in that pavilion to-night, so you had better take notice how
the walk winds.”

The passion-flower was trained against the summer-house in question.

“There,” said Mr. Beckendorff; and he stood admiring with outstretched
arms; “the latter days of its beauty, for the autumn frosts will soon
stop its flower. Pray, Mr. von Philipson, are you a botanist?”

“Why,” said the Prince, “I am a great admirer of flowers, but I cannot
exactly say that--”

“Ah! no botanist. The flower of this beautiful plant continues only one
day, but there is a constant succession from July to the end of the
autumn; and if this fine weather continue--Pray, sir, how is the wind?”

“I really cannot say,” said the Prince; “but I think the wind is
either--”

“Do you know, sir?” continued Beckendorff to Vivian.

“I think, sir, that it is--”

“Westerly. Well! If this weather continue, the succession may still last
another month. You will be interested to know, Mr. von Philipson, that
the flower comes out at the same joint with the leaf, on a peduncle
nearly three inches long; round the centre of it are two radiating
crowns; look, look, sir! the inner inclining towards the centre column;
now examine this well, and I will be with you in a moment.” So saying,
Mr. Beckendorff, running down the walk, jumped over the railing, and in
a moment was coursing across the lawn, towards the river, in a chase
after a dragon-fly.

Mr. Beckendorff was soon out of sight, and after lingering half-an-hour
in the vicinity of the blue passion-flower, the Prince proposed to
Vivian that they should quit the spot. “So far as I can observe,”
 continued his Highness, “we might as well quit the house. No wonder that
Beckendorff’s power is on the wane, for he appears to me to be growing
childish. Surely he could not always have been this frivolous creature!”

“I am really so astonished,” said Vivian, “that it is quite out of my
power to assist your Highness in any supposition. But I should recommend
you not to be too hasty in your movements. Take care that staying here
does not affect the position which you have taken up, or retard the
progress of any measures on which you have determined, and you are safe.
What will it injure you if, with the chance of achieving the great and
patriotic purpose to which you have devoted your powers and energies,
you are subjected for a few hours to the caprices, or even rudeness, of
any man whatever? If Beckendorff be the character which the world gives
him credit to be, I do not think he can imagine that you are to be
deceived twice; and if he do imagine so, we are convinced that he will
be disappointed. If, as you have supposed, not only his power is on the
wane, but his intellect also, four-and-twenty hours will convince us of
the fact; for in less than that time your Highness will necessarily have
conversation of a more important nature with him. I recommend,
therefore, that we continue here to-day, although,” added Vivian,
smiling, “I have to sleep in his observatory.”

After walking in the gardens about an hour, the Prince and Vivian again
went into the house, imagining that Beckendorff might have returned by
another entrance; but he was not there. The Prince was much annoyed; and
Vivian, to amuse himself, had recourse to the library. After
re-examining the armour, looking at the garden through the painted
windows, conjecturing who might be the original of the mysterious
picture and what could be the meaning of the withered branch, the Prince
was fairly worn out. The precise dinner hour he did not know; and
notwithstanding repeated exertions, he had hitherto been unable to find
the blooming Clara. He could not flatter himself, however, that there
were less than two hours to kill before the great event took place; and
so, heartily wishing himself back again at Turriparva, he prevailed upon
Vivian to throw aside his book and take another walk.

This time they extended their distance, stretched out as far as the
river, and explored the adjoining woods; but of Mr. Beckendorff they saw
and heard nothing. At length they again returned: it was getting dusk.
They found the bow window of the library closed. They again entered the
dining-room, and, to their surprise, found no preparations for dinner.
This time the Prince was more fortunate in his exertions to procure an
interview with Madam Clara, for that lady almost immediately entered
the room.

“Pray, my good madam,” inquired the Prince, “has your master returned?”

“Mr. Beckendorff is in the library, sir,” said the old lady, pompously.

“Indeed! we do not dine in this room, then?”

“Dine, sir!” said the good dame, forgetting her pomposity in her
astonishment.

“Yes, dine,” said the Prince.

“Mr. Beckendorff never takes anything after his noon meal.”

“Am I to understand, then, that we are to have no dinner?” asked his
Highness, angry and agitated.

“Mr. Beckendorff never takes anything after his noon meal, sir; but I am
sure that if you and your friend are hungry, sir, I hope there is never
a want in this house.”

“My good lady, I am hungry, very hungry, indeed; and if your master, I
mean Mr. von, that is Mr. Beckendorff, has such a bad appetite that he
can satisfy himself with picking, once a day, the breast of a pheasant;
why, if he expect his friends to be willing or even able to live on such
fare, the least that I can say is, that he is much mistaken; and so,
therefore, my good friend Grey, I think we had better order our horses
and be off.”

“No occasion for that, I hope,” said Mrs. Clara, rather alarmed at the
Prince’s passion; “no want, I trust, ever here, sir; and I make no doubt
you will have dinner as soon as possible; and so, sir, I hope you will
not be hasty.”

“Hasty! I have no wish to be hasty; but as for disarranging the whole
economy of the house, and getting up an extemporaneous meal for me, I
cannot think of it. Mr. Beckendorff may live as he likes, and if I stay
here I am contented to live as he does. I do not wish him to change his
habits for me, and I shall take care that, after today, there will be no
necessity for his doing so. However, absolute hunger can make no
compliments; and therefore I will thank you, my good madam, to let me
and my friend have the remains of that cold game, if they be still in
existence, on which we lunched, or, as you term it, took our noon meal,
this morning; and which, if it were your own cooking, Mrs. Clara, I
assure you, as I observed to my friend at the time, did you
infinite credit.”

The Prince, although his gentlemanlike feelings had, in spite of his
hunger, dictated a deprecation of Mrs. Clara’s making a dinner merely
for himself, still thought that a seasonable and deserved compliment to
the lady might assist in bringing about a result which, notwithstanding
his politeness, he much desired; and that was the production of another
specimen of her culinary accomplishments. Having behaved, as he
considered, with moderation and dignified civility, he was, it must be
confessed, rather astounded when Mrs. Clara, duly acknowledging his
compliment by her curtsey, was sorry to inform him that she dared give
no refreshment in this house without Mr. Beckendorff’s special order.

“Special order! Why! surely your master will not grudge me the cold leg
of a pheasant?”

“Mr. Beckendorff is not in the habit of grudging anything,” answered the
housekeeper, with offended majesty.

“Then why should he object?” asked the Prince.

“Mr. Beckendorff is the best judge, sir, of the propriety of his own
regulations.”

“Well, well!” said Vivian, more interested for his friend than himself,
“there is no difficulty in asking Mr. Beckendorff?”

“None in the least, sir,” answered the housekeeper, “when he is awake.”

“Awake!” said the Prince, “why! is he asleep now?”

“Yes, sir, in the library.”

“And how long will he be asleep?” asked the Prince, with eagerness.

“It is uncertain; he may be asleep for hours, he may wake in five
minutes; all I can do is to watch.”

“But, surely in a case like the present, you can wake your master?”

“I could not wake Mr. Beckendorff, sir, if the house were on fire. No
one can enter the room when he is asleep.”

“Then how can you possibly know when he is awake?”

“I shall hear his violin immediately, sir.”

“Well, well! I suppose it must be so. I wish we were in Turriparva; that
is all I know. Men of my station have no business to be paying visits to
the sons of the Lord knows who! peasants, shopkeepers, and pedagogues!”

As a fire was blazing in the dining-room, which Mrs. Clara informed them
Mr. Beckendorff never omitted having every night in the year, the Prince
and his friend imagined that they were to remain there, and they
consequently did not attempt to disturb the slumbers of their host.
Resting his feet on the hobs, his Highness, for the fiftieth time,
declared that he wished he had never left Turriparva; and just when
Vivian was on the point of giving up in despair the hope of consoling
him, Mrs. Clara entered and proceeded to lay the cloth.

“Your master is awake, then?” asked the Prince, very quickly.

“Mr. Beckendorff has been long awake, sir! and dinner will be ready
immediately.”

His Highness’ countenance brightened; and in a short time the supper
appearing, the Prince, again fascinated by Mrs. Clara’s cookery and Mr.
Beckendorff’s wine, forgot his chagrin, and regained his temper.

In about a couple of hours Mr. Beckendorff entered.

“I hope that Clara has given you wine you like, Mr. von Philipson?”

“The same bin, I will answer for that.”

Mr. Beckendorff had his violin in his hand, but his dress was much
changed. His great boots being pulled off, exhibited the white silk
stockings which he invariably wore. His coat had given place to the
easier covering of a brocade dressing-gown. He drew a chair round the
fire, between the Prince and Vivian. It was a late hour, and the room
was only lighted by the glimmering coals, for the flames had long died
away. Mr. Beckendorff sat for some time without speaking, gazing
earnestly on the decaying embers. Indeed, before many minutes had
elapsed, complete silence prevailed; for both the endeavours of the
Prince and of Vivian to promote conversation had been unsuccessful. At
length the master of the house turned round to the Prince, and pointing
to a particular mass of coal, said, “I think, Mr. von Philipson, that is
the completest elephant I ever saw. We will ring the bell for some
coals, and then have a game of whist.”

The Prince was so surprised by Mr. Beckendorff’s remark that he was not
sufficiently struck by the strangeness of his proposition, and it was
only when he heard Vivian professing his ignorance of the game that it
occurred to him that to play at whist was hardly the object for which he
had travelled from Turriparva.

“An Englishman not know whist!” said Mr. Beckendorff:

“Ridiculous! You do know it. Let us play! Mr. von Philipson, I know, has
no objection.”

“But, my good sir,” said the Prince, “although previous to conversation
I may have no objection to join in a little amusement, still it appears
to me that it has escaped your memory that whist is a game which
requires the co-operation of four persons.”

“Not at all! I take dummy! I am not sure it is not the finest way of
playing the game.”

The table was arranged, the lights brought, the cards produced, and the
Prince of Little Lilliput, greatly to his surprise, found himself
playing whist with Mr. Beckendorff. Nothing could be more dull. The
Minister would neither bet nor stake, and the immense interest which he
took in every card that was played ludicrously contrasted with the
rather sullen looks of the Prince and the very sleepy ones of Vivian.
Whenever Mr. Beckendorff played for dummy he always looked with the most
searching eye into the next adversary’s face, as if he would read his
cards in his features. The first rubber lasted an hour and a half, three
long games, which Mr. Beckendorff, to his triumph, hardly won. In the
first game of the second rubber Vivian blundered; in the second he
revoked; and in the third, having neglected to play, and being loudly
called upon, and rated both by his partner and Mr. Beckendorff, he was
found to be asleep. Beckendorff threw down his hand with a loud dash,
which roused Vivian from his slumber. He apologised for his drowsiness;
but said that he was so sleepy that he must retire. The Prince, who
longed to be with Beckendorff alone, winked approbation of his
intention.

“Well!” said Beckendorff, “you spoiled the rubber. I shall ring for
Clara. Why you all are so fond of going to bed I cannot understand. I
have not been to bed these thirty years.”

Vivian made his escape; and Beckendorff, pitying his degeneracy,
proposed to the Prince, in a tone which seemed to anticipate that the
offer would meet with instantaneous acceptation, double dummy. This,
however, was too much.

“No more cards, sir, I thank you,” said the Prince; “if, however, you
have a mind for an hour’s conversation, I am quite at your service.”

“I am obliged to you; I never talk. Good night, Mr. von Philipson.”

Mr. Beckendorff left the room. His Highness could contain himself no
longer. He rang the bell.

“Pray, Mrs. Clara,” said he, “where are my horses?”

“Mr. Beckendorff will have no quadrupeds within a mile of the house,
except Owlface.”

“How do you mean? Let me see the man-servant.”

“The household consists only of myself, sir.”

“Why! where is my luggage, then?”

“That has been brought up, sir; it is in your room.”

“I tell you I must have my horses.”

“It is quite impossible to-night, sir. I think, sir, you had better
retire. Mr. Beckendorff may not be home again these six hours.”

“What! is your master gone out?”

“Yes, sir, he is just gone out to take his ride.”

“Why! where is his horse kept, then?”

“It is Owlface, sir.”

“Owlface, indeed! What! is your master in the habit of riding out at
night?”

“Mr. Beckendorff rides out, sir, just when it happens to suit him.”

“It is very odd I cannot ride out when it happens to suit me! However,
I will be off to-morrow; and so, if you please, show me my bed-room
at once.”

“Your room is the library, sir.”

“The library! Why, there is no bed in the library.”

“We have no beds, sir; but the sofa is made up.”

“No beds! Well! it is only for one night. You are all mad, and I am as
mad as you for coming here.”



CHAPTER VII


The morning sun peeping through the window of the little summer-house
roused its inmate at an early hour; and finding no signs of Mr.
Beckendorff and his guest having yet risen from their slumbers, Vivian
took the opportunity of strolling about the gardens and the grounds.
Directing his way along the margin of the river, he soon left the lawn
and entered some beautiful meadows, whose dewy verdure glistened in the
brightening beams of the early sun. Crossing these, and passing through
a gate, he found himself in a rural road, whose lofty hedge-rows, rich
with all the varieties of wild fruit and flower, and animated with the
cheering presence of the busy birds chirping from every bough and spray,
altogether presented a scene which reminded him of the soft beauties of
his own country. With some men, to remember is to be sad; and
unfortunately for Vivian Grey, there were few objects which with him did
not give rise to associations of a painful nature. The strange
occurrences of the last few days had recalled, if not revived, the
feelings of his boyhood. His early career flitted across his mind. He
would have stifled the remembrance with a sigh, but man Is the slave of
Memory. For a moment he mused over Power; but then he, shuddering,
shrank from the wearing anxiety, the consuming care, the eternal
vigilance, the constant contrivance, the agonising suspense, the
distracting vicissitudes of his past career. Alas! it is our nature to
sicken, from our birth, after some object of unattainable felicity, to
struggle through the freshest years of our life in an insane pursuit
after some indefinite good, which does not even exist! But sure and
quick is the dark hour which cools our doting frenzy in the frigid waves
of the ocean of oblivion! We dream of immortality until we die.
Ambition! at thy proud and fatal altar we whisper the secrets of our
mighty thoughts, and breathe the aspirations of our inexpressible
desires. A clouded flame licks up the offering of our ruined souls, and
the sacrifice vanishes in the sable smoke of Death.

But where are his thoughts wandering? Had he forgotten that day of
darkest despair? There had that happened to him which had happened to no
other man. He was roused from his reverie by the sound of a trotting
horse. He looked up, but the winding road prevented him at first from
seeing the steed which evidently was approaching. The sound came nearer
and nearer; and at length, turning a corner, Mr. Beckendorff came in
sight. He was mounted on a strong-built, rough, and ugly pony, with an
obstinate mane, which, defying the exertion’s of the groom, fell in
equal divisions on both sides of its bottle neck, and a large white
face, which, combined with its blinking vision, had earned for it the
euphonious title of Owlface. Both master and steed must have travelled
hard and far, for both were covered with dust and mud from top to toe,
from mane to hoof. Mr. Beckendorff seemed surprised at meeting Vivian,
and pulled up his pony as he reached him.

“An early riser, I see, sir. Where is Mr. von Philipson?”

“I have not yet seen him, and imagined that both he and yourself had not
yet risen.”

“Hum! how many hours is it to noon?” asked Mr. Beckendorff, who always
spoke astronomically.

“More than four, I imagine.”

“Pray do you prefer the country about here to Turriparva?”

“Both, I think, are beautiful.”

“You live at Turriparva?” asked Mr. Beckendorff.

“As a guest,” answered Vivian.

“Has it been a fine summer at Turriparva?”

“I believe everywhere.”

“I am afraid Mr. von Philipson finds it rather dull here?”

“I am not aware of it.”

“He seems a ve-ry--?” said Beckendorff, looking keenly in his
companion’s face. But Vivian did not supply the desired phrase; and so
the Minister was forced to finish the sentence himself, “a very
gentlemanlike sort of man?” A low bow was the only response.

“I trust, sir, I may indulge the hope,” continued Mr. Beckendorff, “that
you will honour me with your company another day.”

“You are exceedingly obliging!”

“Mr. von Philipson is fond, I think, of a country life?” said
Beckendorff.

“Most men are.”

“I suppose he has no innate objection to live occasionally in a city?”

“Few have.”

“You probably have known him long?”

“Not long enough to wish our acquaintance at an end.”

“Hum!”

They proceeded in silence for some moments, and then Beckendorff again
turned round, and this time with a direct question.

“I wonder if Mr. Von Philipson can make it convenient to honour me with
his company another day. Can you tell me?”

“I think the best person to inform you of that would be his Highness
himself,” said Vivian, using his friend’s title purposely to show Mr.
Beckendorff how ridiculous he considered his present use of the
incognito.

“You think so, sir, do you?” answered Beckendorff, sarcastically.

They had now arrived at the gate by which Vivian had reached the road.

“Your course, sir,” said Mr. Beckendorff, “lies that way. I see, like
myself, you are no great talker. We shall meet at breakfast.” So saying,
the Minister set spurs to his pony, and was soon out of sight.

When Vivian reached the house, he found the bow window of the library
thrown open, and as he approached he saw Mr. Beckendorff enter the room
and bow to the prince. His Highness had passed a good night in spite of
not sleeping in a bed, and he was at this moment commencing a delicious
breakfast. His ill-humour had consequently vanished. He had made up his
mind that Beckendorff was mad; and although he had given up all the
secret and flattering hopes which he had dared to entertain when the
interview was first arranged, he nevertheless did not regret his visit,
which on the whole had been amusing, and had made him acquainted with
the person and habits, and, as he believed, the intellectual powers of a
man with whom, most probably, he should soon be engaged in open
hostility. Vivian took his seat at the breakfast, table, and Beckendorff
stood conversing with them with his back to the fireplace, and
occasionally, during the pauses of conversation, pulling the strings of
his violin with his fingers. It did not escape Vivian’s observation that
the Minister was particularly courteous and even attentive to the
Prince; and that he endeavoured by his quick and more communicative
answers, and occasionally by a stray observation, to encourage the good
humour visible on the cheerful countenance of his guest.

“Have you been long up, Mr. Beckendorff?” asked the Prince; for his host
had resumed his dressing-gown and slippers.

“I generally see the sun rise.”

“And yet you retire late! out riding last night, I understand?”

“I never go to bed.”

“Indeed!” said the Prince. “Well, for my part, without my regular rest I
am nothing. Have you breakfasted, Mr. Beckendorff?”

“Clara will bring my breakfast immediately.”

The dame accordingly soon appeared, bearing a tray with a basin of
boiling water and one large thick biscuit. This Mr. Beckendorff, having
well soaked in the hot fluid, eagerly devoured; and then taking up his
violin, amused himself until his guests had finished their breakfast.

When Vivian had ended his meal he left the Prince and Beckendorff alone,
determined that his presence should not be the occasion of the Minister
any longer retarding the commencement of business. The Prince, who by a
private glance had been prepared for his departure, immediately took the
opportunity of asking Mr. Beckendorff, in a decisive tone, whether he
might flatter himself that he could command his present attention to a
subject of importance. Mr. Beckendorff said that he was always at Mr.
von Philipson’s service; and drawing a chair opposite him, the Prince
and Mr. Beckendorff now sat on each side of the fireplace.

“Hem!” said the Prince, clearing his throat; and he looked at Mr.
Beckendorff, who sat with his heels close together, his toes out square,
his hands resting on his knees, which, as well as his elbows, were
turned out, his shoulders bent, his head reclined, and his
eyes glancing.

“Hem!” said the Prince of Little Lilliput. “In compliance, Mr.
Beckendorff, with your wish, developed in the communication received by
me on the--inst., I assented in my answer to the arrangement then
proposed; the object of which was, to use your own words, to facilitate
the occurrence of an oral interchange of the sentiments of various
parties interested in certain proceedings, by which interchange it was
anticipated that the mutual interests might be respectively considered
and finally arranged. Prior, Mr. Beckendorff, to either of us going into
any detail upon those points of probable discussion, which will, in all
likelihood, form the fundamental features of this interview, I wish to
recall your attention to the paper which I had the honour of presenting
to his Royal Highness, and which is alluded to in your communication of
the--last. The principal heads of that document I have brought with me,
abridged in this paper.”

Here the Prince handed to Mr. Beckendorff a MS. pamphlet, consisting of
several sheets closely written. The Minister bowed very graciously as he
took it from his Highness’ hand, and then, without even looking at it,
laid it on the table.

“You, sir, I perceive,” continued the Prince, “are acquainted with its
contents; and it will therefore be unnecessary for me at present to
expatiate upon their individual expediency, or to argue for their
particular adoption. And, sir, when we observe the progress of the human
mind, when we take into consideration the quick march of intellect, and
the wide expansion of enlightened views and liberal principles; when we
take a bird’s-eye view of the history of man from the earliest ages to
the present moment, I feel that it would be folly in me to conceive for
an instant that the measures developed and recommended in that paper
will not finally receive the approbation of his Royal Highness. As to
the exact origin of slavery, Mr. Beckendorff, I confess that I am not,
at this moment, prepared distinctly to speak. That the Divine Author of
our religion was its decided enemy, I am informed, is clear. That the
slavery of ancient times was the origin of the feudal service of a more
modern period, is a point on which men of learning have not precisely
made up their minds. With regard to the exact state of the ancient
German people, Tacitus affords us a great deal of most interesting
information. Whether or not, certain passages which I have brought with
me marked in the Germania are incontestable evidences that our ancestors
enjoyed or understood the practice of a wise and well-regulated
representative system, is a point on which I shall be happy to receive
the opinion of so distinguished a statesman as Mr. Beckendorff. In
stepping forward, as I have felt it my duty to do, as the advocate of
popular rights and national privileges, I am desirous to prove that I
have not become the votary of innovation and the professor of
revolutionary doctrines. The passages of the Roman author in question,
and an ancient charter of the Emperor Charlemagne, are, I consider,
decisive and sufficient precedents for the measures which I have thought
proper to sanction by my approval, and to support by my influence. A
minister, Mr. Beckendorff, must take care that in the great race of
politics the minds of his countrymen do not leave his own behind them.
We must never forget the powers and capabilities of man. On this very
spot, perhaps, some centuries ago, savages clothed in skins were
committing cannibalism in a forest. We must not forget, I repeat, that
it is the business to those to whom Providence has allotted the
responsible possession of power and influence (that it is their duty,
our duty, Mr. Beckendorff), to become guardians of our weaker
fellow-creatures; that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for
its exercise; that from the people, and for the people, all springs, and
all must exist; and that, unless we conduct ourselves with the requisite
wisdom, prudence, and propriety, the whole system of society will be
disorganised; and this country, in particular, will fall a victim to
that system of corruption and misgovernment which has already occasioned
the destruction of the great kingdoms mentioned in the Bible, and many
other states besides, Greece, Rome, Carthage, &c.”

Thus ended the peroration of an harangue consisting of an incoherent
arrangement of imperfectly-remembered facts and misunderstood
principles; all gleaned by his Highness from the enlightening articles
of the Reisenburg journals. Like Brutus, the Prince of Little Lilliput
paused for a reply.

“Mr. von Philipson,” said his companion, when his Highness had finished,
“you speak like a man of sense.” Having given this answer, Mr.
Beckendorff rose from his seat and walked straight out of the room.

The Prince at first took the answer for a compliment; but Mr.
Beckendorff not returning, he began to have a faint idea that he was
neglected. In this uncertainty he rang the bell for his friend Clara.

“Mrs. Clara! where is your master?”

“Just gone out, sir.”

“How do you mean?”

“He has gone out with his gun, sir.”

“You are quite sure he has--gone out?”

“Quite sure, sir. I took him his coat and boots myself.”

“I am to understand, then, that your master has gone out?”

“Yes, sir; Mr. Beckendorff has gone out. He will be home for his noon
meal.”

“That is enough! Grey!’ called out the indignant Prince, darting into
the garden.

“Well, my dear Prince,” said Vivian, “what can possibly be the matter?”

“The matter! Insanity can be the only excuse; insanity can alone account
for his preposterous conduct. We have seen enough of him. The repetition
of absurdity is only wearisome. Pray assist me in getting our horses
immediately.”

“Certainly, if you wish it; but remember you brought me here as your
friend and counsellor. As I have accepted the trust, I cannot help being
sensible of the responsibility. Before, therefore, you finally resolve
upon departure, pray let me be fully acquainted with the circumstances
which have impelled you to this sudden resolution.”

“Willingly, my good friend, could I only command my temper; and yet to
fall into a passion with a madman is almost a mark of madness. But his
manner and his conduct are so provoking and so puzzling, that I cannot
altogether repress my irritability. And that ridiculous incognito! Why I
sometimes begin to think that I really am Mr. von Philipson! An
incognito forsooth! for what? to deceive whom? His household apparently
only consists of two persons, one of whom has visited me in my own
castle; and the other is a cross old hag, who would not be able to
comprehend my rank if she were aware of it. But to the point! When you
left the room I was determined to be trifled with no longer, and I asked
him, in a firm voice and very marked manner, whether I might command his
immediate attention to important business. He professed to be at my
service. I opened the affair by taking a cursory, yet definite, review
of the principles in which my political conduct had originated, and on
which it was founded. I flattered myself that I had produced an
impression. Sometimes we are in a better cue for these expositions than
at others, and to-day I was really unusually felicitous. My memory never
deserted. I was at the same time luminous and profound; and while I was
guided by the philosophical spirit of the present day, I showed, by my
various reading, that I respected the experience of antiquity. In
short, I was satisfied with myself; and with the exception of one single
point about the origin of slavery, which unfortunately got entangled
with the feudal system, I could not have got on better had Sievers
himself been at my side. Nor did I spare Mr. Beckendorff; but, on the
contrary, I said a few things which, had he been in his senses, must, I
imagine, have gone home. Do you know I finished by drawing his own
character, and showing the inevitable effects of his ruinous policy: and
what do you think he did?”

“Left you in a passion?”

“Not at all. He seemed much struck by what I had said, and apparently
understood it. I have heard that in some species of insanity the patient
is perfectly able to comprehend everything addressed to him, though at
that point his sanity ceases, and he is unable to answer or to act. This
must be Beckendorff’s case; for no sooner had I finished than he rose up
immediately, and, saying that I spoke like a man of sense, abruptly
quitted the room. The housekeeper says he will not be at home again till
that infernal ceremony takes place called the noon meal. Now, do you not
advise me to be off as soon as possible?”

“It will require some deliberation. Pray did you not speak to him last
night?”

“Ah! I forgot that I had not been able to speak to you since then. Well!
last night, what do you think he did? When you were gone, he had the
insolence to congratulate me on the opportunity then afforded of playing
double dummy; and when I declined his proposition, but said that if he
wished to have an hour’s conversation I was at his service, he coolly
told me that he never talked, and bade me good night! Did you ever know
such a madman? He never goes to bed. I only had a sofa. How the deuce
did you sleep?”

“Well and safely, considering that I was in a summer-house without lock
or bolt.”

“Well! I need not ask you now as to your opinion of our immediately
getting off. We shall have, however, some trouble about our horses, for
he will not allow a quadruped near the house, except some monster of an
animal that he rides himself; and, by St. Hubert! I cannot find out
where our steeds are. What shall we do?” But Vivian did not answer.
“What are you thinking of?” continued his Highness. “Why don’t
you answer?”

“Your Highness must not go,” said Vivian, shaking his head.

“Not go! Why so?”

“Depend upon it you are wrong about Beckendorff. That he is a humorist
there is no doubt; but it appears to me to be equally clear that his
queer habits and singular mode of life are not of late adoption. What
he is now he must have been these ten, perhaps these twenty years,
perhaps more; of this there are a thousand proofs about us. As to the
overpowering cause which has made him the character he appears at
present, it is needless for us to inquire; probably some incident in his
private life in all likelihood connected with the mysterious picture.
Let us be satisfied with the effect. If the case be as I state it in his
private life and habits, Beckendorff must have been equally
incomprehensible and equally singular at the very time that, in his
public capacity, he was producing such brilliant results as at the
present moment. Now then, can we believe him to be insane? I anticipate
your objections. I know you will enlarge upon the evident absurdity of
his inviting his political opponent to his house for a grave
consultation on the most important affairs, and then treating him as he
has done you, when it must be clear to him that you cannot be again
duped, and when he must feel that, were he to amuse you for as many
weeks as he has days, your plans and your position would not be
injuriously affected. Be it so; probably a humorist like Beckendorff
cannot, even in the most critical moment, altogether restrain the bent
of his capricious inclinations. However, my dear Prince, I will lay no
stress upon this point. My opinion, indeed my conviction, is that
Beckendorff acts from design. I have considered his conduct well, and I
have observed all that you have seen, and more than you have seen, and
keenly; depend upon it that since you assented to the interview
Beckendorff has been obliged to shift his intended position for
negotiation; some of the machinery has gone wrong. Fearful, if he had
postponed your visit, you should imagine that he was only again amusing
you, and consequently would listen to no future overtures, he has
allowed you to attend a conference for which he is not prepared. That he
is making desperate exertions to bring the business to a point is my
firm opinion; and you would perhaps agree with me were you as convinced
as I am that, since we parted last night, our host has been to
Reisenburg and back again.”

“To Reisenburg and back again!”

“Ay! I rose this morning at an early hour, and imagining that both you
and Beckendorff had not yet made your appearance, I escaped from the
grounds, intending to explore part of the surrounding country. In my
stroll I came to a narrow winding road, which I am convinced lies in the
direction towards Reisenburg; there, for some reason or other, I
loitered more than an hour, and very probably should have been too late
for breakfast had not I been recalled to myself by the approach of a
horseman. It was Beckendorff, covered with dust and mud; his horse had
been evidently hard ridden. I did not think much of it at the time,
because I supposed he might have been out for three or four hours and
hard worked, but I nevertheless was struck by his appearance; and when
you mentioned that he went out riding at a late hour last night, it
immediately occurred to me that had he come home at one or two o’clock
it was not very probable that he would have gone out again at four or
five. I have no doubt that my conjecture is correct; Beckendorff has
been to Reisenburg.”

“You have placed this business in a new and important light,” said the
Prince, his expiring hopes reviving; “what then do you advise me to do?”

“To be quiet. If your own view of the case be right, you can act as well
to-morrow or the next day as this moment; on the contrary, if mine be
the correct one, a moment may enable Beckendorff himself to bring
affairs to a crisis. In either case I should recommend you to be silent,
and in no manner to allude any more to the object of your visit. If you
speak you only give opportunities to Beckendorff of ascertaining your
opinions and your inclinations; and your silence, after such frequent
attempts on your side to promote discussion upon business, will soon be
discovered by him to be systematic. This will not decrease his opinion
of your sagacity and firmness. The first principle of negotiation is to
make your adversary respect you.”

After long consultation the Prince determined to follow Vivian’s advice;
and so firmly did he adhere to his purpose that when he met Mr.
Beckendorff at the noon meal, he asked him, with a very unembarrassed
voice and manner, “what sport he had had in the morning.”

The noon meal again consisted of a single dish, as exquisitely dressed,
however, as the preceding one. It was a haunch of venison.

“This is my dinner, gentlemen,” said Beckendorff; “let it be your
luncheon. I have ordered your dinner at sunset.”

After having eaten a slice of the haunch, Mr. Beckendorff rose from the
table and said, “We will have our wine in the drawing-room, Mr. von
Philipson, and then you will not be disturbed by my birds.”

He left the room.

To the drawing-room, therefore, his two guests soon adjourned; they
found him busily employed with his pencil. The Prince thought it must be
a chart, or a fortification at least, and was rather surprised when Mr.
Beckendorff asked him the magnitude of Mirac in Boötes; and the Prince
confessing his utter ignorance of the subject, the Minister threw aside
his unfinished planisphere and drew his chair to them at the table. It
was with satisfaction that his Highness perceived a bottle of his
favourite Tokay; and with no little astonishment he observed that to-day
there were three wine glasses placed before them. They were of peculiar
beauty, and almost worthy, for their elegant shapes and great antiquity,
of being included in the collection of the Grand Duke of Johannisberger.

After exhausting their bottle, in which they were assisted to the extent
of one glass by their host, who drank Mr. von Philipson’s health with
cordiality, they assented to Mr. Beckendorff’s proposition of visiting
his fruitery.

To the Prince’s great relief, dinner-time soon arrived; and having
employed a couple of hours on that meal very satisfactorily, he and
Vivian adjourned to the drawing-room, having previously pledged their
honour to each other that nothing should again induce them to play dummy
whist. Their resolutions and their promises were needless. Mr.
Beckendorff, who was sitting opposite the fire when they came into the
room, neither by word nor motion acknowledged that he was aware of their
entrance. Vivian found refuge in a book; and the Prince, after having
examined and re-examined the brilliant birds that figured on the
drawing-room paper, fell asleep upon the sofa. Mr. Beckendorff took down
the guitar, and accompanied himself in a low voice for some time; then
he suddenly ceased, and stretching out his legs, and supporting his
thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, he leant back in his chair and
remained motionless, with his eyes fixed upon the picture. Vivian, in
turn, gazed upon this singular being and the fair pictured form which
he seemed to idolise. Was he, too, unhappy? Had he, too, been bereft in
the hour of his proud and perfect joy? Had he, too, lost a virgin bride?
His agony overcame him, the book fell from his hand, and he sighed
aloud! Mr. Beckendorff started, and the Prince awoke. Vivian,
confounded, and unable to overpower his emotions, uttered some hasty
words, explanatory, apologetical, and contradictory, and retired. In his
walk to the summer-house a man passed him. In spite of a great cloak,
Vivian recognised him as their messenger and guide; and his ample mantle
did not conceal his riding boots and the spurs which glistened in the
moonlight.

It was an hour past midnight when the door of the summer-house softly
opened and Mr. Beckendorff entered. He started when he found Vivian
still undressed, and pacing up and down the little chamber. The young
man made an effort, when he witnessed an intruder, to compose a
countenance whose agitation could not be concealed.

“What, are you up again?” said Mr. Beckendorff. “Are you ill?”

“Would I were as well in mind as in body! I have not yet been to rest.
We cannot command our feelings at all moments, sir; and at this,
especially, I felt that I had a right to count upon being alone.”

“I exceedingly regret that I have disturbed you,” said Mr. Beckendorff,
in a kind voice, and in a manner which responded to the sympathy of his
tone. “I thought that you had been long asleep. There is a star which I
cannot exactly make out. I fancy it must be a comet, and so I ran to the
observatory; but let me not disturb you;” and Mr. Beckendorff
was retiring.

“You do not disturb me, sir. I cannot sleep: pray ascend.”

“Never mind the star. But if you really have no inclination to sleep,
let us sit down and have a little conversation; or perhaps we had better
take a stroll. It is a warm night.” As he spoke, Mr. Beckendorff gently
put his arm within Vivian’s, and led him down the steps.

“Are you an astronomer, sir?” asked Beckendorff.

“I can tell the Great Bear from the Little Dog; but I confess that I
look upon the stars rather in a poetical than a scientific spirit.”

“Hum! I confess I do not.”

“There are moments,” continued Vivian, “when I cannot refrain from
believing that these mysterious luminaries have more influence over our
fortunes than modern times are disposed to believe. I feel that I am
getting less sceptical, perhaps I should say more credulous, every day;
but sorrow makes us superstitious.”

“I discard all such fantasies,” said Mr. Beckendorff; “they only tend to
enervate our mental energies and paralyse all human exertion. It is the
belief in these, and a thousand other deceits I could mention, which
teach man that he is not the master of his own mind, but the ordained
victim or the chance sport of circumstances, that makes millions pass
through life unimpressive as shadows, and has gained for this existence
the stigma of a vanity which it does not deserve.”

“I wish that I could think as you do,” said Vivian; “but the experience
of my life forbids me. Within only these last two years my career has,
in so many instances, indicated that I am not the master of my own
conduct; that no longer able to resist the conviction which is hourly
impressed on me, I recognise in every contingency the preordination
of my fate.”

“A delusion of the brain!” said Beckendorff, quickly. “Fate, Destiny,
Chance, particular and special Providence; idle words! Dismiss them all,
sir! A man’s fate is his own temper; and according to that will be his
opinion as to the particular manner in which the course of events is
regulated. A consistent man believes in Destiny, a capricious man
in Chance.”

“But, sir, what is a man’s temper? It may be changed every hour. I
started in life with very different feelings from those which I profess
at this moment. With great deference to you, I imagine that you mistake
the effect for the cause; for surely temper is not the origin, but the
result of those circumstances of which we are all the creatures.”

“Sir, I deny it. Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances
are the creatures of men. We are free agents, and man is more powerful
than matter. I recognise no intervening influence between that of the
established course of nature and my own mind. Truth may be distorted,
may be stifled, be suppressed. The invention of cunning deceits may, and
in most instances does, prevent man from exercising his own powers. They
have made him responsible to a realm of shadows, and a suitor in a court
of shades. He is ever dreading authority which does not exist, and
fearing the occurrence of penalties which there are none to enforce.
But the mind that dares to extricate itself from these vulgar
prejudices, that proves its loyalty to its Creator by devoting all its
adoration to His glory; such a spirit as this becomes a master-mind, and
that master-mind will invariably find that circumstances are
its slaves.”

“Mr. Beckendorff, yours is a bold philosophy, of which I myself was once
a votary. How successful in my service you may judge by finding me a
wanderer.”

“Sir! your present age is the age of error: your whole system is founded
on a fallacy: you believe that a man’s temper can change. I deny it. If
you have ever seriously entertained the views which I profess; if, as
you lead me to suppose, you have dared to act upon them, and failed;
sooner or later, whatever may be your present conviction and your
present feelings, you will recur to your original wishes and your
original pursuits. With a mind experienced and matured, you may in all
probability be successful; and then I suppose, stretching your legs in
your easy-chair, you will at the same moment be convinced of your own
genius, and recognise your own Destiny!”

“With regard to myself, Mr. Beckendorff, I am convinced of the
erroneousness of your views. It is my opinion that no one who has dared
to think can look upon this world in any other than a mournful spirit.
Young as I am, nearly two years have elapsed since, disgusted with the
world of politics, I retired to a foreign solitude. At length, with
passions subdued, and, as I flatter myself, with a mind matured,
convinced of the vanity of all human affairs, I felt emboldened once
more partially to mingle with my species. Bitter as my lot had been, I
had discovered the origin of my misery in my own unbridled passions;
and, tranquil and subdued, I now trusted to pass through life as certain
of no fresh sorrows as I was of no fresh joys. And yet, sir, I am at
this moment sinking under the infliction of unparalleled misery; misery
which I feel I have a right to believe was undeserved. But why expatiate
to a stranger on sorrow which must be secret? I deliver myself up to my
remorseless Fate.”

“What is grief?” said Mr. Beckendorff; “if it be excited by the fear of
some contingency, instead of grieving, a man should exert his energies
and prevent its occurrence. If, on the contrary, it be caused by an
event, that which has been occasioned by anything human, by the
co-operation of human circumstances, can be, and invariably is, removed
by the same means. Grief is the agony of an instant; the indulgence of
Grief the blunder of a life. Mix in the world, and in a month’s time you
will speak to me very differently. A young man, you meet with
disappointment; in spite of all your exalted notions of your own powers,
you immediately sink under it. If your belief of your powers were
sincere, you should have proved it by the manner in which you have
struggled against adversity, not merely by the mode in which you
laboured for advancement. The latter is but a very inferior merit. If,
in fact, you wish to succeed, success, I repeat, is at your command. You
talk to me of your experience; and do you think that my sentiments are
the crude opinions of an unpractised man? Sir! I am not fond of
conversing with any person, and therefore far from being inclined to
maintain an argument in a spirit of insincerity merely for the sake of a
victory of words. Mark what I say: it is truth. No Minister ever yet
fell but from his own inefficiency. If his downfall be occasioned, as it
generally is, by the intrigues of one of his own creatures, his downfall
is merited for having been the dupe of a tool which in all probability
he should never have employed. If he fall through the open attacks of
his political opponents, his downfall is equally deserved for having
occasioned by his impolicy the formation of a party, for having allowed
it to be formed, or for not having crushed it when formed. No conjecture
can possibly occur, however fearful, however tremendous it may appear,
from which a man, by his own energy, may not extricate himself, as a
mariner by the rattling of his cannon can dissipate the impending
water-spout!”



CHAPTER VIII


It was on the third day of the visit to Mr. Beckendorff, just as that
gentleman was composing his mind after his noon meal with his favourite
Cremona, and in a moment of rapture raising his instrument high in the
air, that the door was suddenly dashed open, and Essper George rushed
into the room. The intruder, the moment that his eye caught Vivian, flew
to his master, and, seizing him by the arm, commenced and continued a
loud shout of exultation, accompanying his scream the whole time by a
kind of quick dance, which, though not quite as clamorous as the
Pyrrhic, nevertheless completely drowned the scientific harmony of Mr.
Beckendorff.

So astounded were the three gentlemen by this unexpected entrance, that
some moments elapsed ere either of them found words at his command. At
length the master of the house spoke.

“Mr. von Philipson, I beg the favour of being informed who this person
is?”

The Prince did not answer, but looked at Vivian in great distress; and
just as our hero was about to give Mr. Beckendorff the requisite
information, Essper George, taking up the parable himself, seized the
opportunity of explaining the mystery.

“Who am I? who are you? I am an honest man, and no traitor; and if all
were the same, why, then, there would be no rogues in Reisenburg. Who am
I? A man. There’s an arm! there’s a leg! Can you see through a wood by
twilight? If so, yours is a better eye than mine. Can you eat an
unskinned hare, or dine on the haunch of a bounding stag? If so, your
teeth are sharper than mine. Can you hear a robber’s footstep when he’s
kneeling before murder? or can you listen to the snow falling on
Midsummer’s day? If so, your ears are finer than mine. Can you run with
a chamois? can you wrestle with a bear? can you swim with an otter? If
so, I’m your match. How many cities have you seen? how many knaves have
you gulled? Which is dearest, bread or justice? Why do men pay more for
the protection of life than life itself? Is cheatery a staple at
Constantinople, as it is at Vienna? and what’s the difference between a
Baltic merchant and a Greek pirate? Tell me all this, and I will tell
you who went in mourning in the moon at the death of the last comet. Who
am I, indeed!”

The embarrassment of the Prince and Vivian while Essper George addressed
to Mr. Beckendorff these choice queries was indescribable. Once Vivian
tried to check him, but in vain. He did not repeat his attempt, for he
was sufficiently employed in restraining his own agitation and keeping
his own countenance; for in spite of the mortification and anger that
Essper’s appearance had excited in him, still an unfortunate but innate
taste for the ludicrous did not allow him to be perfectly insensible to
the humour of the scene. Mr. Beckendorff listened quietly till Essper
had finished; he then rose.

“Mr. von Philipson,” said he, “as a personal favour to yourself, and to
my own great inconvenience, I consented that in this interview you
should be attended by a friend. I did not reckon upon your servant, and
it is impossible that I can tolerate his presence for a moment. You know
how I live, and that my sole attendant is a female. I allow no male
servants within this house. Even when his Royal Highness honours me with
his presence he is unattended. I desire that I am immediately released
from the presence of this buffoon.”

So saying, Mr. Beckendorff left the room.

“Who are you?” said Essper, following him, with his back bent, his head
on his chest, and his eyes glancing. The imitation was perfect.

“Essper,” said Vivian, “your conduct is inexcusable, the mischief that
you have done irreparable, and your punishment shall be severe.”

“Severe! Why, what day did my master sell his gratitude for a silver
groschen! Is this the return for finding you out, and saving you from a
thousand times more desperate gang than that Baron at Ems! Severe indeed
will be your lot when you are in a dungeon in Reisenburg Castle, with
black bread for roast venison and sour water for Rhenish!”

“Why, what are you talking about?”

“Talking about! About treason, and arch traitors, and an old scoundrel
who lives in a lone lane, and dares not look you straight in the face.
Why, his very blink is enough to hang him without trial!”

“Essper, cease immediately this rhodomontade, and then in distinct terms
inform his Highness and myself of the causes of this unparalleled
intrusion.”

The impressiveness of Vivian’s manner produced a proper effect; and
except that he spoke somewhat affectedly slow and ridiculously precise,
Essper George delivered himself with great clearness.

“You see, sir, you never let me know that you were going to leave, and
so when I found that you did not come back, I made bold to speak to Mr.
Arnelm when he came home from hunting; but I could not get enough breath
out of him to stop a ladybird on a rose-leaf. I did not much like it,
your honour, for I was among strangers, and so were you, you know. Well,
then, I went to Master Rodolph: he was very kind to me, and seeing me in
low spirits, and thinking me, I suppose, in love, or in debt, or that I
had done some piece of mischief, or had something or other preying on
my mind, he comes to me, and says, ‘Essper,’ said he; you remember
Master Rodolph’s voice, sir?”

“To the point. Never let me hear Master Rodolph’s name again.”

“Yes, sir! Well, well! he said to me, ‘Come and dine with me in my
room;’ says I, ‘I will.’ A good offer should never be refused, unless we
have a better one at the same time. Whereupon, after dinner, Master
Rodolph said to me, ‘We will have a bottle of Burgundy for a treat.’ You
see, sir, we were rather sick of the Rhenish. Well, sir, we were free
with the wine; and Master Rodolph, who is never easy except when he
knows everything, must be trying, you see, to get out of me what it was
that made me so down in the mouth. I, seeing this, thought I would put
off the secret to another bottle; which being produced, I did not
conceal from him any longer what was making me so low. ‘Rodolph,’ said
I, ‘I do not like my young master going out in this odd way: he is of a
temper to get into scrapes, and I should like very much to know what he
and the Prince (saving your Highness’ presence) are after. They have
been shut up in that cabinet these two nights, and though I walked by
the door pretty often, devil a bit of a word ever came through the
key-hole; and so you see, Rodolph,’ said I, ‘it requires a bottle or two
of Burgundy to keep my spirits up.’ Well, your Highness, strange to say,
no sooner had I spoken than Master Rodolph put his head across the
little table; we dined at the little table on the right hand of the room
as you enter--”

“Go on.”

“I am going on. Well! he put his head across the little table, and said
to me in a low whisper, cocking his odd-looking eye at the same time, ‘I
tell you what, Essper, you are a deuced sharp fellow!’ and so, giving a
shake of his head and another wink of his eye, he was quiet. I smelt a
rat, but I did not begin to pump directly; but after the third bottle,
‘Rodolph,’ said I, ‘with regard to your last observation (for we had not
spoken lately, Burgundy being too fat a wine for talking), we are both
of us sharp fellows. I dare say, now, you and I are thinking of the same
thing.’ ‘No doubt of it,’ said Rodolph. And so, sir, he agreed to tell
me what he was thinking of, on condition that I should be equally frank
afterwards. Well, then, he told me that there were sad goings on at
Turriparva.”

“The deuce!” said the Prince.

“Let him tell his story,” said Vivian.

“Sad goings on at Turriparva! He wished that his Highness would hunt
more and attend less to politics; and then he told me, quite
confidentially, that his Highness the Prince, and Heaven knows how many
other Princes besides, had leagued together, and were going to dethrone
the Grand Duke, and that his master was to be made King, and he, Master
Rodolph, Prime Minister. Hearing all this, and duly allowing for a tale
over a bottle, I made no doubt, as I find to be the case, that you, good
master, were about to be led into some mischief; and as I know that
conspiracies are always unsuccessful, I have done my best to save my
master; and I beseech you, upon my knees, to get out of the scrape as
soon as you possibly can.” Here Essper George threw himself at Vivian’s
feet, and entreated him to quit the house immediately.

“Was ever anything so absurd and so mischievous!” ejaculated the Prince;
and then he conversed with Vivian for some time in a whisper. “Essper,”
 at length Vivian said, “you have committed one of the most perfect and
most injurious blunders that you could possibly perpetrate. The mischief
which may result from your imprudent conduct is incalculable. How long
is it since you have thought proper to regulate your conduct on the
absurd falsehoods of a drunken steward? His Highness and myself wish to
consult in private; but on no account leave the house. Now mind me; if
you leave this house without my permission, you forfeit the little
chance which remains of being retained in my service.”

“Where am I to go, sir?”

“Stay in the passage.”

“Suppose” (here he imitated Beckendorff) “comes to me.”

“Then open the door and come into this room.”

“Well,” said the Prince, when the door was at length shut, “one thing is
quite clear. He does not know who Beckendorff is.”

“So far satisfactory; but I feel the force of your Highness’
observations. It is a most puzzling case. To send him back to Turriparva
would be madness: the whole affair would be immediately revealed over
another bottle of Burgundy with Master Rodolph; in fact, your Highness’
visit would be a secret to no one in the country, your host would be
soon discovered, and the evil consequences are incalculable. I know no
one to send him to at Reisenburg; and if I did, it appears to me that
the same objections equally apply to his proceeding to that city as to
his returning to Turriparva. What is to be done? Surely some demon must
have inspired him. We cannot now request Beckendorff to allow him to
stay here; and if we did, I am convinced, from his tone and manner, that
nothing could induce him to comply with our wish. The only course to be
pursued is certainly an annoying one; but, so far as I can judge, it is
the only mode by which very serious mischief can be prevented. Let me
proceed forthwith to Reisenburg with Essper. Placed immediately under my
eye, and solemnly adjured by me to silence, I think I can answer,
particularly when I give him a gentle hint of the station of
Beckendorff, for his preserving the confidence with which it will now be
our policy partially to entrust him. It is, to say the least, awkward
and distressing to leave you alone; but what is to be done? It does not
appear that I can now be of any material service to you. I have assisted
you as much as, and more than, we could reasonably have supposed it
would have been in my power to have done, by throwing some light upon
the character and situation of Beckendorff. With the clue to his conduct
which my chance meeting with him yesterday morning has afforded us, the
only point for your Highness to determine is as to the length of time
you will resolve to wait for his communication. As to your final
agreement together, with your Highness’ settled views and decided
purpose, all the difficulty of negotiation will be on his side.
Whatever, my dear Prince,” continued Vivian, with a significant voice
and marked emphasis, “whatever, my dear Prince, may be your secret
wishes, be assured that to attain them in your present negotiation you
have only to be firm. Let nothing divert you from your purpose, and the
termination of this interview must be gratifying to you.”

The Prince of Little Lilliput was very disinclined to part with his
shrewd counsellor, who had already done him considerable service, and he
strongly opposed Vivian’s proposition. His opposition, however, like
that of most other persons, was unaccompanied by any suggestion of his
own. And as both agreed that something must be done, it of course ended
in the Prince being of opinion that Vivian’s advice must be followed.
The Prince was really much affected by this sudden and unexpected
parting with one for whom, though he had known him so short a time, he
began to entertain a sincere regard. “I owe you my life,” said the
Prince, “and perhaps more than my life; and here we are about suddenly
to part, never to meet again. I wish I could get you to make Turriparva
your home. You should have your own suite of rooms, your own horses,
your own servants, and never feel for an instant that you were not
master of all around you. In truth,” continued the Prince, with great
earnestness, “I wish, my dear friend, you would really think seriously
of this. You know you could visit Vienna, and even Italy, and yet return
to me. Max would be delighted to see you: he loves you already; and
Sievers and his library would be at your command. Agree to my
proposition, dear friend.”

“I cannot express to your Highness how sensible I am of your kindness.
Your friendship I sincerely value and shall never forget; but I am too
unhappy and unlucky a being to burden any one with my constant presence.
Adieu! or will you go with me to Beckendorff?”

“Oh, go with you by all means! But,” said the Prince, taking a ruby ring
of great antiquity off his finger, “I should feel happy if you would
wear this for my sake.”

The Prince was so much affected at the thoughts of parting with Vivian
that he could scarcely speak. Vivian accepted the ring with a cordiality
which the kind-hearted donor deserved; and yet our hero unfortunately
had had rather too much experience of the world not to be aware that,
most probably, in less than another week, his affectionate friend would
not be able to recall his name under an hour’s recollection. Such are
friends! The moment that we are not at their side we are neglected, and
the moment that we die we are forgotten!

They found Mr. Beckendorff in his library. In apprising Mr. Beckendorff
of his intention of immediately quitting his roof, Vivian did not omit
to state the cause of his sudden departure. These not only accounted for
the abruptness of his movement, but also gave Beckendorff an opportunity
of preventing its necessity, by allowing Essper to remain. But the
opportunity was not seized by Mr. Beckendorff. The truth was, that
gentleman had a particular wish to see Vivian out of his house. In
allowing the Prince of Little Lilliput to be attended during the
interview by a friend, Beckendorff had prepared himself for the
reception of some brawny Jagd Junker, or some thick-headed chamberlain,
who he reckoned would act rather as an incumbrance than an aid to his
opponent. It was with great mortification therefore, that he found him
accompanied by a shrewd, experienced, wary, and educated Englishman. A
man like Beckendorff soon discovered that Vivian Grey’s was no common
mind. His conversation with him of the last night had given him some
notion of his powers, and the moment that Beckendorff saw Essper George
enter the house he determined that he should be the cause of Vivian
leaving it. There was also another and weighty reason for Mr.
Beckendorff desiring that the Prince of Little Lilliput should at this
moment be left to himself.

“Mr. Grey will ride on to Reisenburg immediately,” said the Prince,
“and, my dear friend, you may depend upon having your luggage by the day
after to-morrow. I shall be at Turriparva early to-morrow, and it will
be my first care.”

This was said in a loud voice, and both gentlemen watched Mr.
Beckendorff’s countenance as the information was given; but no emotion
was visible.

“Well, sir, good morning to you,” said Mr. Beckendorff; “I am sorry you
are going. Had I known it sooner I would have given you a letter. Mr.
von Philipson,” said Beckendorff, “do me the favour of looking over that
paper.” So saying, Mr. Beckendorff put some official report into the
Prince’s hand; and while his Highness’ attention was attracted by this
sudden request, Mr. Beckendorff laid his finger on Vivian’s arm, and
said in a lower tone, “I shall take care that you find a powerful friend
at Reisenburg!”



BOOK VII


CHAPTER I


As Vivian left the room Mr. Beckendorff was seized with an unusual
desire to converse with the Prince of Little Lilliput, and his Highness
was consequently debarred the consolation of walking with his friend as
far as the horses. At the little gate Vivian and Essper encountered the
only male attendant who was allowed to approach the house of Mr.
Beckendorff. As Vivian quietly walked his horse up the rough turf road,
he could not refrain from recurring to his conversation of the previous
night; and when he called to mind the adventures of the last six days,
he had new cause to wonder at, and perhaps to lament over, his singular
fate. In that short time he had saved the life of a powerful Prince, and
being immediately signalled out, without any exertion on his part, as
the object of that Prince’s friendship, the moment he arrives at his
castle, by a wonderful contingency, he becomes the depositary of state
secrets, and assists in a consultation of importance with one of the
most powerful Ministers in Europe. And now the object of so much
friendship, confidence, and honour, he is suddenly on the road to the
capital of the State of which his late host is the Prime Minister and
his friend the chief subject, without even the convenience of a common
letter of introduction; and with little prospect of viewing, with even
the usual advantages of a common traveller, one of the most interesting
of European Courts.

When he had proceeded about halfway up the turf lane he found a private
road to his right, which, with that spirit of adventure for which
Englishmen are celebrated, he immediately resolved must not only lead to
Reisenburg, but also carry him to that city much sooner than the regular
high road. He had not advanced far up this road before he came to the
gate at which he had parted with Beckendorff on the morning that
gentleman had roused him so unexpectedly from, his reverie in a green
lane. He was surprised to find a horseman dismounting at the gate.
Struck by this singular circumstance, the appearance of the stranger was
not unnoticed. He was a tall and well proportioned man, and as the
traveller passed he stared Vivian so fully in the face that our hero did
not fail to remark his handsome countenance, the expression of which,
however, was rather vacant and unpleasing. He was dressed in a
riding-coat exactly similar to the one always worn by Beckendorff’s
messenger, and had Vivian not seen him so distinctly he would have
mistaken him for that person. The stranger was rather indifferently
mounted, and carried his cloak and a small portmanteau at the back of
his saddle.

“I suppose it is the butler,” said Essper George, who now spoke for the
first time since his dismissal from the room. Vivian did not answer him;
not because he entertained any angry feeling on account of his
exceedingly unpleasant visit. By no means: it was impossible for a man
like Vivian Grey to cherish an irritated feeling for a second. But he
did not exchange a syllable with Essper George, merely because he was
not in the humour to speak. He could not refrain from musing on the
singular events of the last few days; and, above all, the character of
Beckendorff particularly engrossed his meditation. Their conversation of
the preceding night excited in his mind new feelings of wonder, and
revived emotions which he thought were dead or everlastingly dormant.
Apparently, the philosophy on which Beckendorff had regulated his
career, and by which he had arrived at his pitch of greatness, was
exactly the same with which he himself, Vivian Grey, had started in
life; which he had found so fatal in its consequences; which he believed
to be so vain in its principles. How was this? What radical error had he
committed? It required little consideration. Thirty, and more than
thirty, years had passed over the head of Beckendorff ere the world felt
his power, or indeed was conscious of his existence. A deep student, not
only of man in detail, but of man in groups; not only of individuals,
but of nations; Beckendorff had hived up his ample knowledge of all
subjects which could interest his fellow-creatures, and when that
opportunity which in this world occurs to all men occurred to
Beckendorff he was prepared. With acquirements equal to his genius,
Beckendorff depended only upon himself, and succeeded. Vivian Grey, with
a mind inferior to no man’s, dashed on the stage, in years a boy, though
in feelings a man. Brilliant as might have been his genius, his
acquirements necessarily were insufficient. He could not depend only
upon himself; a consequent necessity arose to have recourse to the
assistance of others; to inspire them with feelings which they could not
share; and humour and manage the petty weaknesses which he himself could
not experience. His colleagues were, at the same time, to work for the
gratification of their own private interests, the most palpable of all
abstract things; and to carry into execution a great purpose, which
their feeble minds, interested only by the first point, cared not to
comprehend. The unnatural combination failed, and its originator fell.
To believe that he could recur again to the hopes, the feelings, the
pursuits of his boyhood, he felt to be the vainest of delusions. It was
the expectation of a man like Beckendorff, whose career, though
difficult, though hazardous, had been uniformly successful; of a man who
mistook cares for grief, and anxiety for sorrow.

The travellers entered the city at sunset. Proceeding through an ancient
and unseemly town, full of long, narrow, and ill-paved streets, and
black unevenly built houses, they ascended the hill, on the top of which
was situated the new and Residence town of Reisenburg. The proud
palace, the white squares, the architectural streets, the new churches,
the elegant opera house, the splendid hotels, and the gay public
gardens, full of busts, vases, and statues, and surrounded by an iron
railing cast out of the cannon taken from both sides during the war by
the Reisenburg troops, and now formed into pikes and fasces, glittering
with gilded heads: all these, shining in the setting sun, produced an
effect which, at any time and in any place, would have been beautiful
and striking; but on the present occasion were still more so, from the
remarkable contrast they afforded to the ancient, gloomy, and filthy
town through which Vivian had just passed, and where, from the lowness
of its situation, the sun had already set. There was as much difference
between the old and new town of Reisenburg as between the old barbarous
Margrave and the new and noble Grand Duke.

On the second day after his arrival at Reisenburg, Vivian received the
following letter from the Prince of Little Lilliput. His luggage did not
accompany the epistle.

“My Dear Friend,

“By the time you have received this I shall have returned to Turriparva.
My visit to a certain gentleman was prolonged for one day. I never can
convey to you by words the sense I entertain of the value of your
friendship and of your services; I trust that time will afford me
opportunities of testifying it by my actions. I return home by the same
road by which we came; you remember how excellent the road was, as
indeed are all the roads in Reisenburg; that must be confessed by all. I
fear that the most partial admirers of the old régime cannot say as much
for the convenience of travelling in the time of our fathers. Good roads
are most excellent things, and one of the first marks of civilisation
and prosperity. The Emperor Napoleon, who, it must be confessed, had,
after all, no common mind, was celebrated for his roads. You have
doubtless admired the Route Napoleon on the Rhine, and if you travel
into Italy I am informed that you will be equally, and even more, struck
by the passage over the Simplon and the other Italian roads. Reisenburg
has certainly kept pace with the spirit of the time; nobody can deny
that; and I confess to you that the more I consider the subject it
appears to me that the happiness, prosperity, and content of a state are
the best evidences of the wisdom and beneficent rule of a government.
Many things are very excellent in theory, which are quite the reverse
in practice, and even ludicrous. And while we should do our most to
promote the cause and uphold the interests of rational liberty, still,
at the same time, we should ever be on our guard against the crude ideas
and revolutionary systems of those who are quite inexperienced in that
sort of particular knowledge which is necessary for all statesmen.
Nothing is so easy as to make things look fine on paper; we should never
forget that there is a great difference between high-sounding
generalities and laborious details. Is it reasonable to expect that men
who have passed their lives dreaming in colleges and old musty studies
should be at all calculated to take the head of affairs, or know what
measures those at the head of affairs ought to adopt? I think not. A
certain personage, who by-the-bye is one of the most clear-headed and
most perfect men of business that I ever had the pleasure of being
acquainted with; a real practical man, in short; he tells me that
Professor Skyrocket, whom you will most likely see at Reisenburg, wrote
an article in the Military Quarterly Review, which is published there,
on the probable expenses of a war between Austria and Prussia, and
forgot the commissariat altogether. Did you ever know anything so
ridiculous? What business have such fellows to meddle with affairs of
state? They should certainly be put down: that, I think, none can deny.
A liberal spirit in government is certainly a most excellent thing; but
we must always remember that liberty may degenerate into licentiousness.
Liberty is certainly an excellent thing, that all admit; but, as a
certain person very well observed, so is physic, and yet it is not to be
given at all times, but only when the frame is in a state to require it.
People may be as unprepared for a wise and discreet use of liberty, as a
vulgar person may be for the management of a great estate unexpectedly
inherited: there is a great deal in this, and, in my opinion, there are
cases in which to force liberty down a people’s throat is presenting
them, not with a blessing, but a curse. I shall send your luggage on
immediately; it is very probable that I may be in town at the end of the
week, for a short time. I wish much to see and to consult you, and
therefore hope that you will not leave Reisenburg before you see

“Your faithful and obliged friend,

“LITTLE LILLIPUT.”

Two days after the receipt of this letter Essper George ran into the
room with a much less solemn physiognomy than he had thought proper to
assume since his master’s arrival at Reisenburg.

“Lord, sir; whom do you think I have just met?”

“Whom?” asked Vivian, with eagerness, for, as is always the case when
such questions are asked us, he was thinking of every person in the
world except the right one. “It might be--”

“To think that I should see him!” continued Essper.

“It is a man, then,” thought Vivian; “who is it at once, Essper?”

“I thought you would not guess, sir! It will quite cure you to hear it;
Master Rodolph!”

“Master Rodolph!”

“Ay! and there’s great news in the wind.”

“Which of course you have confidentially extracted from him. Pray let us
have it.”

“The Prince of Little Lilliput is coming to Reisenburg,” said Essper.

“Well! I had some idea of that before,” said Vivian.

“Oh! then, you know it all, sir, I suppose,” said Essper, with a look of
great disappointment.

“I know nothing more than I have mentioned,” said his master.

“What! do you not know, sir, that the Prince has come over; that he is
going to live at Court; and be, Heaven knows what! That he is to carry a
staff every day before the Grand Duke at dinner; does not my master
know that?”

“I know nothing of all this; and so tell me in plain German what the
case is.”

“Well, then,” continued Essper, “I suppose you do not know that his
Highness the Prince is to be his Excellency the Grand Marshal, that
unfortunate but principal officer of state having received his dismissal
yesterday. They are coming up immediately. Not a moment is to be lost,
which seems to me very odd. Master Rodolph is arranging everything; and
he has this morning purchased from his master’s predecessor his palace,
furniture, wines, and pictures; in short, his whole establishment: the
late Grand Marshal consoling himself for his loss of office, and
revenging himself on his successor, by selling him his property at a
hundred per cent. profit. However, Master Rodolph seems quite contented
with his bargain; and your luggage is come, sir. His Highness, the
Prince, will be in town at the end of the week; and all the men are to
be put in new livery. Mr. Arnelm is to be his Highness’ chamberlain, and
Von Neuwied master of the horse. So you see, sir, you were right; and
that old puss in boots was no traitor, after all. Upon my soul, I did
not much believe you, sir, until I heard all this good news.”



CHAPTER II


About a week after his arrival at Reisenburg, as Vivian was at
breakfast, the door opened, and Mr. Sievers entered.

“I did not think that our next meeting would be in this city,” said Mr.
Sievers, smiling.

“His Highness, of course, informed me of your arrival,” said Vivian, as
he greeted him cordially.

“You, I understand, are the diplomatist whom I am to thank for finding
myself again at Reisenburg. Let me, at the same time, express my
gratitude for your kind offices to me, and congratulate you on the
brilliancy of your talents for negotiation. Little did I think, when I
was giving you, the other day, an account of Mr. Beckendorff, that the
information would have been of such service to you.

“I am afraid you have nothing to thank me for; though, certainly, had
the office of arranging the terms between the parties devolved on me, my
first thoughts would have been for a gentleman for whom I have so much
regard and respect as Mr. Sievers.”

“Sir! I feel honoured: you already speak like a finished courtier. Pray,
what is to be your office?”

“I fear Mr. Beckendorff will not resign in my favour; and my ambition is
so exalted that I cannot condescend to take anything under the
Premiership.”

“You are not to be tempted by a Grand Marshalship!” said Mr. Sievers.
“You hardly expected, when you were at Turriparva, to witness such a
rapid termination of the patriotism of our good friend. I think you said
you have seen him since your arrival: the interview must have
been piquant!”

“Not at all. I immediately congratulated him on the judicious
arrangements which had been concluded; and, to relieve his awkwardness,
took some credit to myself for having partially assisted in bringing
about the result. The subject was not again mentioned, and I dare say
never will be.”

“It is a curious business,” said Sievers. “The Prince is a man who,
rather than have given me up to the Grand Duke; me, with whom he was not
connected, and who, of my own accord, sought his hospitality; sooner, I
repeat, than have delivered me up, he would have had his castle razed to
the ground and fifty swords through his heart; and yet, without the
slightest compunction, has this same man deserted, with the greatest
coolness, the party of which, ten days ago, he was the zealous leader.
How can you account for this, except it be, as I have long suspected,
that in politics there positively is no feeling of honour? Every one is
conscious that not only himself, but his colleagues and his rivals, are
working for their own private purpose; and that however a party may
apparently be assisting in bringing about a result of common benefit,
that nevertheless, and in fact, each is conscious that he is the tool of
another. With such an understanding, treason is an expected affair; and
the only point to consider is, who shall be so unfortunate as to be the
deserted, instead of the deserter. It is only fair to his Highness to
state that Beckendorff gave him incontestable evidence that he had had a
private interview with every one of the mediatised Princes. They were
the dupes of the wily Minister. In these negotiations he became
acquainted with their plans and characters, and could estimate the
probability of their success. The golden bribe, which was in turn
dandled before the eyes of all, had been always reserved for the most
powerful, our friend. His secession and the consequent desertion of his
relatives destroy the party for ever; while, at the same time, that
party have not even the consolation of a good conscience to uphold them
in their adversity; but feel that in case of their clamour, or of any
attempt to stir up the people by their hollow patriotism, it is in the
power of the Minister to expose and crush them for ever.”

“All this,” said Vivian, “makes me the more rejoice that our friend has
got out of their clutches; he will make an excellent Grand Marshal; and
you must not forget, my dear sir, that he did not forget you. To tell
you the truth, although I did not flatter myself that I should benefit
during my stay at Reisenburg by his influence, I am not the least
surprised at the termination of our visit to Mr. Beckendorff. I have
seen too many of these affairs not to have been quite aware, the whole
time, that it would require very little trouble, and very few sacrifices
on the part of Mr. Beckendorff, to quash the whole cabal. By-the-bye,
our visit to him was highly amusing; he is a singular man.”

“He has had, nevertheless,” said Sievers, “a difficult part to play. Had
it not been for you, the Prince would have perhaps imagined that he was
only trifling with him again, and terminated the interview abruptly and
in disgust. Having brought the Grand Duke to terms, and having arranged
the interview, Beckendorff of course imagined that all was finished. The
very day that you arrived at his house he had received despatches from
his Royal Highness, recalling his promise, and revoking Beckendorff’s
authority to use his unlimited discretion in this business. The
difficulty then was to avoid discussion with the Prince, with whom he
was not prepared to negotiate; and, at the same time, without letting
his Highness out of his sight, to induce the Grand Duke to resume his
old view of the case. The first night that you were there Beckendorff
rode up to Reisenburg, saw the Grand Duke, was refused, through the
intrigues of Madame Carolina, the requested authority, and resigned his
power. When he was a mile on his return, he was summoned back to the
palace; and his Royal Highness asked, as a favour from his tutor,
four-and-twenty hours’ consideration. This Beckendorff granted, on the
condition that, in case the Grand Duke assented to the terms proposed,
his Royal Highness should himself be the bearer of the proposition; and
that there should be no more written promises to recall, and no more
written authorities to revoke. The terms were hard, but Beckendorff was
inflexible. On the second night of your visit a messenger arrived with a
despatch, advising Beckendorff of the intended arrival of his Royal
Highness on the next morning. The ludicrous intrusion of your amusing
servant prevented you from being present at the great interview, in
which I understand Beckendorff for the moment laid aside all his
caprices. Our friend acted with great firmness and energy. He would not
be satisfied even with the personal pledge and written promise of the
Grand Duke, but demanded that he should receive the seals of office
within a week; so that, had the Court not been sincere, his situation
with his former party would not have been injured. It is astonishing how
very acute even a dull man is when his own interests are at stake. Had
his Highness been the agent of another person, he would probably have
committed many blunders, have made disadvantageous terms, or perhaps
have been thoroughly duped. Self-interest is the finest eye-water.”

“And what says Madame Carolina to all this?”

“Oh! according to custom, she has changed already, and thinks the whole
business admirably arranged. His Highness is her grand favourite, and my
little pupil Max her pet. I think, however, on the whole, the boy is
fondest of the Grand Duke, whom, if you remember, he was always
informing you in confidence that he intended to assassinate. And as for
your obedient servant,” said Sievers, bowing, “here am I once more the
Aristarchus of her coterie. Her friends, by-the-bye, view the accession
of the Prince with no pleased eyes; and, anticipating that his juncture
with the Minister is only a prelude to their final dispersion, they are
compensating for the approaching termination of their career by unusual
violence and fresh fervour, stinging like mosquitoes before a storm,
conscious of their impending destruction from the clearance of the
atmosphere. As for myself, I have nothing more to do with them. Liberty
and philosophy are fine words; but until I find men are prepared to
cultivate them both in a wiser spirit I shall remain quiet. I have no
idea of being banished and imprisoned because a parcel of knaves are
making a vile use of the truths which I disseminate. In my opinion,
philosophers have said enough; now let men act. But all this time I have
forgotten to ask you how you like Reisenburg.”

“I can hardly say; with the exception of yesterday, when I rode Max
round the ramparts, I have not been once out of the hotel. But to-day I
feel so well that, if you are disposed for a lounge, I should like it
above all things.”

“I am quite at your service; but I must not forget that I am the bearer
of a missive to you from his Excellency the Grand Marshal. You are
invited to join the court dinner to-day, and be presented--”

“Really, my dear sir, an invalid--”

“Well! if you do not like it, you must make your excuses to him; but it
really is the pleasantest way of commencing your acquaintance at Court,
and only allowed to distingués; among which, as you are the friend of
the new Grand Marshal, you are of course considered. No one is petted so
much as a political apostate, except, perhaps, a religious one; so at
present we are all in high feather. You had better dine at the palace
to-day. Everything quite easy; and, by an agreeable relaxation of state,
neither swords, bags, nor trains are necessary. Have you seen the
palace? I suppose not. We will look at it, and then call on the Prince.”

The gentlemen accordingly left the hotel; and proceeding down the
principal street of the New Town, they came into a large square, or
Place d’Armes. A couple of regiments of infantry were exercising in it.

“A specimen of our standing army,” said Sievers. “In the war time, this
little State brought thirty thousand highly-disciplined and
well-appointed troops into the field. This efficient contingent was, at
the same time, the origin of our national prosperity and our national
debt. For we have a national debt, sir! I assure you we are proud of it,
and consider it the most decided sign of being a great people. Our force
in times of peace is, of course, much reduced. We have, however, still
eight thousand men, who are perfectly unnecessary. The most curious
thing is, that, to keep up the patronage of the Court and please the
nobility, though we have cut down our army two-thirds, we have never
reduced the number of our generals; and so, at this moment, among our
eight thousand men, we count about forty general officers, being one to
every two hundred privates. We have, however, which perhaps you would
not suspect, one military genius among our multitude of heroes. The
Count von Sohnspeer is worthy of being one of Napoleon’s marshals. Who
he is no one exactly knows; some say an illegitimate son of Beckendorff.
Certain it is that he owes his nobility to his sword; and as certain it
is that he is to be counted among the very few who share the Minister’s
confidence. Von Sohnspeer has certainly performed a thousand brilliant
exploits; yet, in my opinion, the not least splendid day of his life was
that of the battle of Leipsic. He was on the side of the French, and
fought against the Allies with desperate fury. When he saw that all was
over, and the Allies triumphant, calling out ‘Germany for ever!’ he
dashed against his former friends, and captured from the flying Gauls a
hundred pieces of cannon. He hastened to the tent of the Emperors with
his blood-red sword in his hand, and at the same time congratulated them
on the triumph of their cause, and presented them with his hard-earned
trophies. The manoeuvre was perfectly successful; and the troops of
Reisenburg, complimented as true Germans, were pitied for their former
unhappy fate in being forced to fight against their fatherland, and were
immediately enrolled in the allied army; as such, they received a due
share of all the plunder. He is a grand genius, young Master von
Sohnspeer?”

“Decidedly! Worthy of being a companion of the fighting bastards of the
middle ages. This is a fine square.”

“Very grand indeed! Precedents for some of the architectural
combinations could hardly be found at Athens or Rome; nevertheless the
general effect is magnificent. Do you admire this plan of making every
elevation of an order consonant with the purpose of the building? See,
for instance, on the opposite side of the square is the palace. The
Corinthian order, which is evident in all its details, suits well the
character of the structure. It accords with royal pomp and elegance,
with fêtes and banquets, and interior magnificence. On the other hand,
what a happy contrast is afforded to this gorgeous structure by the
severe simplicity of this Tuscan Palace of Justice. The School of Arts,
in the farthest corner of the square, is properly entered through an
Ionic portico. Let us go into the palace. Here not only does our monarch
reside, but (an arrangement which I much admire) here are deposited, in
a gallery worthy of the treasures it contains, our superb collection of
pictures. They are the private property of his Royal Highness; but, as
is usually the case under despotic Princes, the people, equally his
property, are flattered by the collection being styled the ‘Public
Gallery.’”

The hour of the court dinner at Reisenburg was two o’clock, about which
time, in England, a man first remembers the fatal necessity of shaving;
though, by-the-bye, this allusion is not a very happy one, for in this
country shaving is a ceremony at present somewhat obsolete. At two
o’clock, however, our hero, accompanying the Grand Marshal and Mr.
Sievers, reached the palace. In the saloon were assembled various
guests, chiefly attached to the Court. Immediately after the arrival of
our party, the Grand Duke and Madame Carolina, followed by their
chamberlains and ladies in waiting, entered. The little Prince
Maximilian strutted in between his Royal Highness and his fair Consort,
having hold of a hand of each. The urchin was much changed in appearance
since Vivian first saw him; he was dressed in the complete uniform of a
captain of the Royal Guards, having been presented with a commission on
the day of his arrival at Court. A brilliant star glittered on his
scarlet coat, and paled the splendour of his golden epaulettes. The
duties, however, of the princely captain were at present confined to the
pleasing exertion of carrying the bon-bon box of Madame Carolina, the
contents of which were chiefly reserved for his own gratification. In
the Grand Duke Vivian was not surprised to recognise the horseman whom
he had met in the private road on the morning of his departure from Mr.
Beckendorff’s; his conversation with Sievers had prepared him for this.
Madame Carolina was in appearance Parisian of the highest order: that is
to say, an exquisite figure and an indescribable tournure, an invisible
foot, a countenance full of esprit and intelligence, without a single
regular feature, and large and very bright black eyes. Madame’s hair was
of the same colour, and arranged in the most effective manner. Her
cashmere would have graced the Feast of Roses, and so engrossed your
attention that it was long before you observed the rest of her costume,
in which, however, traces of a creative genius were immediately visible;
in short, Madame Carolina was not fashionable, but fashion herself. In a
subsequent chapter, at a ball which we have in preparation, we will make
up for this brief notice of her costume by publishing her court dress.
For the sake of our fair readers, however, we will not pass over the
ornament in her hair. The comb which supported her elaborate curls was
invisible, except at each end, whence it threw out a large Psyche’s wing
of golden web, the eyes of which were formed of rubies encircled with
turquoises.

The Royal party made a progress round the circle. Madame Carolina first
presented her delicate and faintly-rouged cheek to the hump-backed Crown
Prince, who scarcely raised his eyes from the ground as he performed the
accustomed courtesy. One or two Royal relatives, who were on a visit at
the palace, were honoured by the same compliment. The Grand Duke bowed
graciously and gracefully to every individual; and his lady accompanied
the bow by a speech, which was at the same time personal and piquant.
The first great duty of a monarch is to know how to bow skilfully!
nothing is more difficult, and nothing more important. A Royal bow may
often quell a rebellion, and sometimes crush a conspiracy. It should at
the same time be both general and individual; equally addressed to the
company assembled, and to every single person in the assembly. Our own
sovereign bows to perfection. His bow is eloquent, and will always
render an oration on his part unnecessary; which is a great point, for
harangues are not regal. Nothing is more undignified than to make a
speech. It is from the first an acknowledgment that you are under the
necessity of explaining, or conciliating, or convincing, or confuting;
in short, that you are not omnipotent, but opposed.

The bow of the Grand Duke of Reisenburg was a first-rate bow, and always
produced a great sensation with the people, particularly if it were
followed up by a proclamation for a public fête or fireworks; then his
Royal Highness’ popularity was at its height. But Madame Carolina, after
having by a few magic sentences persuaded the whole room that she took a
peculiar interest in the happiness of every individual present, has
reached Vivian, who stood next to his friend the Grand Marshal. He was
presented by that great officer, and received most graciously. For a
moment the room thought that his Royal Highness was about to speak; but
he only smiled. Madame Carolina, however, said a great deal; and stood
not less than sixty seconds complimenting the English nation, and
particularly the specimen of that celebrated people who now had the
honour of being presented to her. No one spoke more in a given time than
Madame Carolina; and as, while the eloquent words fell from her deep red
lips, her bright eyes were invariably fixed on those of the person she
addressed, what she did say, as invariably, was very effective. Vivian
had only time to give a nod of recognition to his friend Max, for the
company, arm-in-arm, now formed into a procession to the dining saloon.
Vivian was parted from the Grand Marshal, who, as the highest officer of
state present, followed immediately after the Grand Duke. Our hero’s
companion was Mr. Sievers. Although it was not a state dinner, the
party, from being swelled by the suites of the royal visitors, was
numerous; and as the Court occupied the centre of the table, Vivian was
too distant to listen to the conversation of Madame, who, however, he
well perceived, from the animation of her countenance, was delighted and
delighting. The Grand Duke spoke little, but listened, like a lover of
three days, to the accents of his accomplished consort. The arrangement
of a German dinner promotes conversation. The numerous dishes are at
once placed upon the table; and when the curious eye has well examined
their contents, the whole dinner, untouched, disappears. Although this
circumstance is rather alarming to a novice, his terror soon gives
place to self-congratulation when he finds the banquet re-appear, each
dish completely carved and cut up.

“Not being Sunday,” said Mr. Sievers, “there is no opera to-night. We
are to meet again, I believe, at the palace, in a few hours, at Madame
Carolina’s soirée. In the meantime, you had better accompany his
Excellency to the public gardens; that is the fashionable drive. I shall
go home and smoke a pipe.”

The circle of the public gardens of Reisenburg exhibited exactly,
although upon a smaller scale, the same fashions and the same
frivolities, the same characters and the same affectations, as the Hyde
Park of London, or the Champs Elysées of Paris, the Prater of Vienna,
the Corso of Rome or Milan, or the Cascine of Florence. There was the
female leader of ton, hated by her own sex and adored by the other, and
ruling both; ruling both by the same principle of action, and by the
influence of the same quality which creates the arbitress of fashion in
all countries, by courage to break through the conventional customs of
an artificial class, and by talents to ridicule all those who dare
follow her innovating example; attracting universal notice by her own
singularity, and at the same time conciliating the support of those from
whom she dares to differ, by employing her influence in preventing
others from violating their laws. The arbitress of fashion is one who is
allowed to be singular, in order that she may suppress singularity; she
is exempted from all laws; but, by receiving the dictatorship, she
ensures the despotism. Then there was that mysterious being whose
influence is perhaps even more surprising than the dominion of the
female despot of manners, for she wields a power which can be analysed
and comprehended; I mean the male authority in coats, cravats, and
chargers; who, without fortune and without rank, and sometimes merely
through the bold obtrusion of a fantastic taste, becomes the glass of
fashion in which even royal dukes and the most aristocratic nobles
hasten to adjust themselves, and the mould by which the ingenious youth
of a whole nation is enthusiastically formed. There is a Brummell in
every country.

Vivian, who, after a round or two with the Grand Marshal, had mounted
Max, was presented by the young Count von Bernstorff, the son of the
Grand Chamberlain, to whose care he had been specially commended by the
Prince, to the lovely Countess von S----. The examination of this high
authority was rigid and her report satisfactory. When Vivian quitted
the side of her britzska half a dozen dandies immediately rode up to
learn the result, and, on being informed, they simultaneously cantered
up to young von Bernstorff, and requested to have the honour of being
introduced to his highly-interesting friend. All these exquisites wore
white hats lined with crimson, in consequence of the head of the
all-influential Emilius von Aslingen having, on the preceding day, been
kept sacred from the profaning air by that most tasteful covering. The
young lords were loud in their commendations of this latest evidence of
von Aslingen’s happy genius, and rallied with unmerciful spirit the
unfortunate von Bernstorff for not having yet mounted the all-perfect
chapeau. Like all von Aslingen’s introductions, it was as remarkable for
good taste as for striking singularity; they had no doubt it would have
a great run, exactly the style of thing for a hot autumn, and it suited
so admirably with the claret-coloured riding coat which Madame
considered von Aslingen’s chef-d’oeuvre. Inimitable von Aslingen! As
they were in these raptures, to Vivian’s delight and to their dismay,
the object of their admiration appeared. Our hero was, of course,
anxious to see so interesting a character; but he could scarcely believe
that he, in fact, beheld the ingenious introducer of white and crimson
hats, and the still happier inventor of those chef-d’oeuvres,
claret-coloured riding coats, when his attention was directed to a
horseman who wore a peculiarly high heavy black hat and a frogged and
furred frock, buttoned up, although it was a most sultry day, to his
very nose. How singular is the slavery of fashion! Notwithstanding their
mortification, the unexpected costume of von Aslingen appeared only to
increase the young lords’ admiration of his character and
accomplishments; and instead of feeling that he was an insolent
pretender, whose fame originated in his insulting their tastes, and
existed only by their sufferance, all cantered away with the
determination of wearing on the next day, even if it were to cost them
each a calenture, furs enough to keep a man warm during a winter party
at St. Petersburg, not that winter parties ever take place there; on the
contrary, before the winter sets in, the Court moves on to Moscow,
which, from its situation and its climate, will always, in fact,
continue the real capital of Russia.

The royal carriage, drawn by six horses and backed by three men
servants, who would not have disgraced the fairy equipage of Cinderella,
has now left the gardens.



CHAPTER III


Madame Carolina held her soirée in her own private apartments, the Grand
Duke himself appearing in the capacity of a visitor. The company was
numerous and brilliant. His Royal Highness, surrounded by a select
circle, dignified one corner of the saloon; Madame Carolina at the other
end of the room, in the midst of poets, philosophers, and politicians,
in turn decided upon the most interesting and important topics of
poetry, philosophy, and politics. Boston, and Zwicken, and whist
interested some, and puzzles and other ingenious games others. A few
were above conversing, or gambling, or guessing; superior intelligences,
who would neither be interested nor amused, among these Emilius von
Aslingen was most prominent. He leant against a door in full uniform,
with his vacant eyes fixed on no object. The others were only awkward
copies of an easy original; and among these, stiff or stretching,
lounging on a chaise-lounge, or posted against the wall, Vivian’s quick
eye recognised more than one of the unhappy votaries of white hats lined
with crimson.

When Vivian made his bow to the Grand Duke he was surprised by his Royal
Highness coming forward a few steps from the surrounding circle and
extending to him his hand. His Royal Highness continued conversing with
him for upwards of a quarter of an hour; expressed the great pleasure he
felt at seeing at his Court a gentleman of whose abilities he had the
highest opinion; and, after a variety of agreeable compliments
(compliments are doubly agreeable from crowned heads), the Grand Duke
retired to a game of Boston with his royal visitors. Vivian’s reception
made a sensation through the room. Various rumours were
immediately afloat.

“Who can he be?”

“Don’t you know? Oh! most curious story. Killed a boar as big as a
bonasus, which was ravaging half Reisenburg, and saved the lives of his
Excellency the Grand Marshal and his whole suite.”

“What is that about the Grand Marshal and a boar as big as a bonasus?
Quite wrong; natural son of Beckendorff; know it for a fact. Don’t you
see he is being introduced to von Sohnspeer! brothers, you know, managed
the whole business about the leagued Princes; not a son of Beckendorff,
only a particular friend; the son of the late General--, I forget his
name exactly. Killed at Leipsic, you know; that famous general; what was
his name? that very famous general; don’t you remember? Never mind;
well! he is his son; father particular friend of Beckendorff; college
friend; brought up the orphan; very handsome of him! They say he does
handsome things sometimes.”

“Ah! well, I’ve heard so too; and so this young man is to be the new
under-secretary! very much approved by the Countess von S----.”

“No, it can’t be! your story is quite wrong. He is an Englishman.”

“An Englishman! no!”

“Yes he is. I had it from Madame; high rank incog.; going to Vienna;
secret mission.”

“Something to do with Greece, of course; independence recognised?”

“Oh! certainly; pay a tribute to the Porte, and governed by a hospodar.
Admirable arrangement! have to support their own government and a
foreign one besides!”

It was with pleasure that Vivian at length observed Mr. Sievers enter
the room, and extricating himself from the enlightened and enthusiastic
crowd who were disserting round the tribunal of Madame, he hastened to
his amusing friend.

“Ah! my dear sir, how glad I am to see you! I have, since we met last,
been introduced to your fashionable ruler, and some of her most
fashionable slaves. I have been honoured by a long conversation with his
Royal Highness, and have listened to some of the most eloquent of the
Carolina coterie. What a Babel! there all are, at the same time, talkers
and listeners. To what a pitch of perfection may the ‘science’ of
conversation be carried! My mind teems with original ideas, to which I
can annex no definite meaning. What a variety of contradictory theories,
which are all apparently sound! I begin to suspect that there is a great
difference between reasoning and reason!”

“Your suspicion is well founded, my dear sir,” said Mr. Sievers; “and I
know no circumstance which would sooner prove it than listening for a
few minutes to this little man in a snuff-coloured coat near me. But I
will save you from so terrible a demonstration. He has been endeavouring
to catch my eye these last ten minutes, and I have as studiously avoided
seeing him. Let us move.”

“Willingly; who may this fear-inspiring monster be?”

“A philosopher,” said Mr. Sievers, “as most of us call ourselves here;
that is to say, his profession is to observe the course of Nature; and
if by chance he can discover any slight deviation of the good dame from
the path which our ignorance has marked out as her only track, he claps
his hands, cries [Greek: euraeka]! and is dubbed ‘illustrious’ on the
spot. Such is the world’s reward for a great discovery, which generally,
in a twelvemonth’s time, is found out to be a blunder of the
philosopher, and not an eccentricity of Nature. I am not underrating
those great men who, by deep study, or rather by some mysterious
inspiration, have produced combinations and effected results which have
materially assisted the progress of civilisation and the security of our
happiness. No, no! to them be due adoration. Would that the reverence of
posterity could be some consolation to these great spirits for neglect
and persecution when they lived! I have invariably observed of great
natural philosophers, that if they lived in former ages they were
persecuted as magicians, and in periods which profess to be more
enlightened they have always been ridiculed as quacks. The succeeding
century the real quack arises. He adopts and develops the suppressed,
and despised, and forgotten discovery of his unfortunate predecessor!
and Fame trumpets this resurrection-man of science with as loud a blast
of rapture as if, instead of being merely the accidental animator of the
corpse, he were the cunning artist himself who had devised and executed
the miraculous machinery which the other had only wound up.”

“But in this country,” said Vivian, “surely you have no reason to
complain of the want of moral philosophers, or of the respect paid to
them. The country of Kant--, of ----”

“Yes, yes! we have plenty of metaphysicians, if you mean them. Watch
that lively-looking gentleman, who is stuffing kalte schale so
voraciously in the corner. The leader of the Idealists, a pupil of the
celebrated Fichte! To gain an idea of his character, know that he
out-Herods his master; and Fichte is to Kant what Kant is to the
unenlightened vulgar. You can now form a slight conception of the
spiritual nature of our friend who is stuffing kalte schale. The first
principle of his school is to reject all expressions which incline in
the slightest degree to substantiality. Existence is, in his opinion, a
word too absolute. Being, principle, essence, are terms scarcely
sufficiently ethereal even to indicate the subtile shadowings of his
opinions. Some say that he dreads the contact of all real things, and
that he makes it the study of his life to avoid them. Matter is his
great enemy. When you converse with him you lose all consciousness of
this world. My dear sir,” continued Mr. Sievers, “observe how
exquisitely Nature revenges herself upon these capricious and fantastic
children. Believe me, Nature is the most brilliant of wits; and that no
repartees that were ever inspired by hate, or wine, or beauty, ever
equalled the calm effects of her indomitable power upon those who are
rejecting her authority. You understand me? Methinks that the best
answer to the idealism of M. Fichte is to see his pupil devouring
kalte schale!”

“And this is really one of your great lights?”

“Verily! His works are the most famous and the most unreadable in all
Germany. Surely you have heard of his ‘Treatise on Man?’ A treatise on a
subject in which everyone is interested, written in a style which no one
can understand.”

“You think, then,” said Vivian, “that posterity may rank the German
metaphysicians with the later Platonists?”

“I hardly know; they are a body of men not less acute, but I doubt
whether they will be as celebrated. In this age of print, notoriety is
more attainable than in the age of manuscript; but lasting fame
certainly is not. That tall thin man in black that just bowed to me is
the editor of one of our great Reisenburg reviews. The journal he edits
is one of the most successful periodical publications ever set afloat.
Among its contributors, may assuredly be classed many men of eminent
talents; yet to their abilities the surprising success and influence of
this work is scarcely to be ascribed. It is the result rather of the
consistent spirit which has always inspired its masterly critiques. One
principle has ever regulated its management; it is a simple rule, but an
effective one: every author is reviewed by his personal enemy. You may
imagine the point of the critique; but you would hardly credit, if I
were to inform you, the circulation of the review. You will tell me that
you are not surprised, and talk of the natural appetite of our species
for malice and slander. Be not too quick. The rival of this review, both
in influence and in sale, is conducted on as simple a principle, but not
a similar one. In this journal every author is reviewed by his personal
friend; of course, perfect panegyric. Each number is flattering as a
lover’s tale; every article an eloge. What say you to this? These are
the influential literary and political journals of Reisenburg. There
was yet another; it was edited by an eloquent scholar; all its
contributors were, at the same time, brilliant and profound. It numbered
among its writers some of the most celebrated names in Germany; its
critiques and articles were as impartial as they were able, as sincere
as they were sound; it never paid the expense of the first number. As
philanthropists and admirers of our species, my dear sir, these are
gratifying results; they satisfactorily demonstrate that mankind have no
innate desire for scandal, calumny, and backbiting; it only proves that
they have an innate desire to be gulled and deceived.”

“And who is that?” said Vivian.

“That is von Chronicle, our great historical novelist. When I first came
to Reisenburg, now eight years ago, the popular writer of fiction was a
man, the most probable of whose numerous romances was one in which the
hero sold his shadow to a demon over the dice-box; then married an
unknown woman in a churchyard; afterwards wedded a river nymph; and,
having committed bigamy, finally stabbed himself, to enable his first
wife to marry his own father. He and his works are quite obsolete; and
the star of his genius, with those of many others, has paled before the
superior brilliancy of that literary comet, Mr. von Chronicle. According
to von Chronicle, we have all, for a long time, been under a mistake. We
have ever considered that the first point to be studied in novel writing
is character: miserable error! It is costume. Variety of incident,
novelty, and nice discrimination of character; interest of story, and
all those points which we have hitherto looked upon as necessary
qualities of a fine novel, vanish before the superior attractions of
variety of dresses, exquisite descriptions of the cloak of a signer, or
the trunk-hose of a serving man.

“Amuse yourself while you are at Reisenburg by turning over some volumes
which every one is reading; von Chronicle’s last great historical novel.
The subject is a magnificent one, Rienzi; yet it is strange that the
hero only appears in the first and the last scenes. You look astonished.
Ah! I see you are not a great historical novelist. You forget the effect
which is produced by the contrast of the costume of Master Nicholas, the
notary in the quarter of the Jews, and that of Rienzi, the tribune, in
his robe of purple, at his coronation in the Capitol. Conceive the
effect, the contrast. With that coronation von Chronicle’s novel
terminates; for, as he well observes, after that, what is there in the
career of Rienzi which would afford matter for the novelist? Nothing!
All that afterwards occurs is a mere contest of passions and a
development of character; but where is a procession, a triumph, or
a marriage?

“One of von Chronicle’s great characters in this novel is a Cardinal. It
was only last night that I was fortunate enough to have the beauties of
the work pointed out to me by the author himself. He entreated, and
gained my permission to read to me what he himself considered ‘the great
scene.’ I settled myself in my chair, took out my handkerchief, and
prepared my mind for the worst. While I was anticipating the terrors of
a heroine he introduced me to his Cardinal. Thirty pages were devoted to
the description of the prelate’s costume. Although clothed in purple,
still, by a skilful adjustment of the drapery, von Chronicle managed to
bring in six other petticoats. I thought this beginning would never
finish, but to my surprise, when he had got to the seventh petticoat, he
shut his book, and leaning over the table, asked me what I thought of
his ‘great scene.’ ‘My friend,’ said I, ‘you are not only the greatest
historical novelist that ever lived, but that ever will live.’”

“I shall certainly get Rienzi,” said Vivian; “it seems to me to be an
original work.”

“Von Chronicle tells me that he looks upon it as his masterpiece, and
that it may be considered as the highest point of perfection to which
his system of novel-writing can be carried. Not a single name is given
in the work, down even to the rabble, for which he has not contemporary
authority; but what he is particularly proud of are his oaths. Nothing,
he tells me, has cost him more trouble than the management of the
swearing: and the Romans, you know, are a most profane nation. The great
difficulty to be avoided was using the ejaculations of two different
ages. The ‘sblood’ of the sixteenth century must not be confounded with
the ‘zounds’ of the seventeenth. Enough of von Chronicle! The most
amusing thing,” continued Mr. Sievers, “is to contrast this mode of
writing works of fiction with the prevalent and fashionable method of
writing works of history. Contrast the ‘Rienzi’ of von Chronicle with
the ‘Haroun Al Raschid’ of Madame Carolina. Here we write novels like
history, and history like novels: all our facts are fancy, and all our
imagination reality.” So saying, Mr. Sievers rose, and, wishing Vivian
good night, quitted the room. He was one of those prudent geniuses who
always leave off with a point.

Mr. Sievers had not left Vivian more than a minute when the little
Prince Maximilian came up and bowed to him in a condescending manner.
Our hero, who had not yet had an opportunity of speaking with him,
thanked him cordially for his handsome present, and asked him how he
liked the Court.

“Oh, delightful! I pass all my time with the Grand Duke and Madame:” and
here the young apostate settled his military stock and arranged the
girdle of his sword. “Madame Carolina,” continued he, “has commanded me
to inform you that she desires the pleasure of your attendance.”

The summons was immediately obeyed, and Vivian had the honour of a long
conversation with the interesting Consort of the Grand Duke. He was, for
a considerable time, complimented by her enthusiastic panegyric of
England, her original ideas of the character and genius of Lord Byron,
her veneration for Sir Humphry Davy, and her admiration of Sir Walter
Scott. Not remiss was Vivian in paying, in his happiest manner, due
compliments to the fair and royal authoress of the Court of Charlemagne.
While she spoke his native tongue, he admired her accurate English; and
while she professed to have derived her imperfect knowledge of his
perfect language from a study of its best authors, she avowed her belief
of the impossibility of ever speaking it correctly without the
assistance of a native. Conversation became more interesting.

When Vivian left the palace he was not unmindful of an engagement to
return there the next day, to give a first lesson in English
pronunciation to Madame Carolina.



CHAPTER IV


Vivian duly kept his appointment with Madame Carolina. The chamberlain
ushered him into a library, where Madame Carolina was seated at a large
table covered with books and manuscripts. Her costume and her
countenance were equally engaging. Fascination was alike in her smile,
and her sash, her bow, and her buckle. What a delightful pupil to
perfect in English pronunciation! Madame pointed, with a pride pleasing
to Vivian’s feelings as an Englishman, to her shelves, graced with the
most eminent of English writers. Madame Carolina was not like one of
those admirers of English literature whom you often meet on the
Continent: people who think that Beattie’s Minstrel is our most modern
and fashionable poem; that the Night Thoughts is the masterpiece of our
literature; and that Richardson is our only novelist. Oh, no! Madame
Carolina would not have disgraced May Fair. She knew Childe Harold by
rote, and had even peeped into Don Juan. Her admiration of the Edinburgh
and Quarterly Reviews was great and similar. To a Continental liberal,
indeed, even the Toryism of the Quarterly is philosophy; and not an
Under-Secretary ever yet massacred a radical innovator without giving
loose to some sentiments and sentences which are considered rank treason
in the meridian of Vienna.

After some conversation, in which Madame evinced eagerness to gain
details about the persons and manners of our most eminent literary
characters, she naturally began to speak of the literary productions of
other countries; and in short, ere an hour was passed, Vivian Grey,
instead of giving a lesson in English pronunciation to the Consort of
the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, found himself listening, in an easy-chair,
and with folded arms, to a long treatise by that lady de l’Esprit de
Conversation. It was a most brilliant dissertation. Her kindness in
reading it to him was most particular; nevertheless, for unexpected
blessings we are not always sufficiently grateful.

Another hour was consumed by the treatise. How she refined! what
unexpected distinctions! what exquisite discrimination of national
character! what skilful eulogium of her own! Nothing could be more
splendid than her elaborate character of a repartee; it would have
sufficed for an epic poem. At length Madame Carolina ceased de l’Esprit
de Conversation, and Vivian was successful in concealing his weariness
and in testifying his admiration. “The evil is over,” thought he; “I may
as well gain credit for my good taste.” The lesson in English
pronunciation, however, was not yet terminated. Madame was charmed with
our hero’s uncommon discrimination and extraordinary talents. He was the
most skilful and the most agreeable critic with whom she had ever been
acquainted. How invaluable must the opinion of such a person be to her
on her great work! No one had yet seen a line of it; but there are
moments when we are irresistibly impelled to seek a confidant; that
confidant was before her. The morocco case was unlocked, and the
manuscript of Haroun Al Raschid revealed to the enraptured eye of
Vivian Grey.

“I flatter myself,” said Madame Carolina, “that this work will create a
great sensation; not only in Germany. It abounds, I think, with
interesting story, engaging incidents, and animated and effective
descriptions. I have not, of course, been able to obtain any new matter
respecting his Sublimity the Caliph. Between ourselves, I do not think
this very important. So far as I have observed, we have matter enough in
this world on every possible subject already. It is manner in which the
literature of all nations is deficient. It appears to me that the great
point for persons of genius now to direct their attention to is the
expansion of matter. This I conceive to be the great secret; and this
must be effected by the art of picturesque writing. For instance, my
dear Mr. Grey, I will open the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, merely
for an exemplification, at the one hundred and eighty-fifth night; good!
Let us attend to the following passage:--

“‘In the reign of the Caliph Haroun Al Raschid, there was at Bagdad a
druggist, called Alboussan Ebn Thaher, a very rich, handsome man. He had
more wit and politeness than people of his profession ordinarily have.
His integrity, sincerity, and jovial humour made him beloved and sought
after by all sorts of people. The Caliph, who knew his merit, had entire
confidence in him. He had so great an esteem for him that he entrusted
him with the care to provide his favourite ladies with all the things
they stood in need of. He chose for them their clothes, furniture, and
jewels, with admirable taste. His good qualities and the favour of the
Caliph made the sons of Emirs and other officers of the first rank be
always about him. His house was the rendezvous of all the nobility of
the Court.’

“What capabilities lurk in this dry passage!” exclaimed Madame Carolina;
“I touch it with my pen, and transform it into a chapter. It shall be
one of those that I will read to you. The description of Alboussan alone
demands ten pages. There is no doubt that his countenance was oriental.
The tale says that he was handsome: I paint him with his eastern eye,
his thin arched brow, his fragrant beard, his graceful mustachio. The
tale says he was rich: I have authorities for the costume of men of his
dignity in contemporary writers. In my history he appears in an upper
garment of green velvet, and loose trousers of pink satin; a jewelled
dagger lies in his golden girdle; his slippers are of the richest
embroidery; and he never omits the bath of roses daily. On this system,
which in my opinion elicits truth, for by it you are enabled to form a
conception of the manners of the age; on this system I proceed
throughout the paragraph. Conceive my account of his house being the
‘rendezvous of all the nobility of the Court.’ What a brilliant scene!
what variety of dress and character! what splendour! what luxury! what
magnificence! Imagine the detail of the banquet; which, by the bye,
gives me an opportunity of inserting, after the manner of your own
Gibbon, ‘a dissertation on sherbet.’ What think you of the art of
picturesque writing?”

“Admirable!” said Vivian; “von Chronicle himself--”

“How can you mention the name of that odious man!” almost shrieked
Madame Carolina, forgetting the dignity of her semi-regal character in
the jealous feelings of the author. “How can you mention him! A
scribbler without a spark, not only of genius, but even of common
invention. A miserable fellow, who seems to do nothing but clothe and
amplify, in his own fantastic style, the details of a parcel of old
chronicles!”

Madame’s indignation reminded Vivian of a true but rather vulgar proverb
of his own country; and he extricated himself from his very awkward
situation with a dexterity worthy of his former years.

“Von Chronicle himself,” said Vivian; “von Chronicle himself, as I was
going to observe, will be the most mortified of all on the appearance of
your work. He cannot be so blinded by self-conceit as to fail to observe
that your history is a thousand times more interesting than his fiction.
Ah! Madame, if you can thus spread enchantment over the hitherto weary
page of history, what must be your work of imagination!”



CHAPTER V


Vivian met Emilius von Aslingen in his ride through the gardens. As that
distinguished personage at present patronised the English nation, and
astounded the Reisenburg natives by driving an English mail, riding
English horses, and ruling English grooms, he deigned to be exceedingly
courteous to our hero, whom he had publicly declared at the soirée of
the preceding night to be “very good style.” Such a character from such
a man raised Vivian even more in the estimation of the Reisenburg world
than his flattering reception by the Grand Duke and his cordial greeting
by Madame Carolina.

“Shall you be at the Grand Marshal’s to-night?” asked Vivian.

“Ah! that is the new man, the man who was mediatised, is not it?”

“The Prince of Little Lilliput.”

“Yes!” drawled out Mr. von Aslingen. “I shall go if I have courage
enough; but they say his servants wear skins, and he has got a tail.”

The ball-room was splendidly illuminated. The whole of the Royal Family
was present, and did honour to their new officer of state; his Royal
Highness all smiles, and his Consort all diamonds. Stars and uniforms,
ribbons and orders, abounded. The diplomatic body wore the dresses of
their respective Courts. Emilius von Aslingen, having given out in the
morning that he should appear as a captain in the Royal Guards, the
young lords and fops of fashion were consequently ultra military. They
were not a little annoyed when, late in the evening, their model lounged
in, wearing the rich scarlet uniform of a Knight of Malta, of which
newly-revived order von Aslingen, who had served half a campaign against
the Turks, was a member.

The Royal Family had arrived only a few minutes: dancing had not yet
commenced. Vivian was at the top of the room, honoured by the notice of
Madame Carolina, who complained of his yesterday’s absence from the
palace. Suddenly the universal hum and buzz which are always sounding in
a crowded room were stilled; and all present, arrested in their
conversation and pursuits, stood with their heads turned towards the
great door. Thither also Vivian looked, and, wonderstruck, beheld--Mr.
Beckendorff. His singular appearance, for, with the exception of his
cavalry boots, he presented the same figure as when he first came
forward to receive the Prince of Little Lilliput and Vivian on the lawn,
immediately attracted universal attention; but in this crowded room
there were few who, either from actual experience or accurate
information, were not ignorant that this personage was the Prime
Minister. The report spread like wildfire. Even the etiquette of a
German ball-room, honoured as it was by the presence of the Court, was
no restraint to the curiosity and wonder of all present. Yes! even
Emilius von Aslingen raised his glass to his eye. But great as was
Vivian’s astonishment, it was not only occasioned by this unexpected
appearance of his former host. Mr. Beckendorff was not alone: a woman
was leaning on his left arm. A quick glance in a moment convinced Vivian
that she was not the original of the mysterious picture. The companion
of Beckendorff was very young. Her full voluptuous growth gave you, for
a moment, the impression that she was somewhat low in stature; but it
was only for a moment, for the lady was by no means short. Her beauty it
is impossible to describe. It was of a kind that baffles all phrases,
nor have I a single simile at command to make it more clearer more
confused. Her luxurious form, her blonde complexion, her silken hair,
would have all become the languishing Sultana; but then her eyes, they
banished all idea of the Seraglio, and were the most decidedly European,
though the most brilliant that ever glanced; eagles might have proved
their young at them. To a countenance which otherwise would have been
calm, and perhaps pensive, they gave an expression of extreme vivacity
and unusual animation, and perhaps of restlessness and arrogance: it
might have been courage. The lady was dressed in the costume of a
Chanoinesse??? of a Couvent des dames nobles; an institution to which
Protestant and Catholic ladles are alike admitted. The orange-coloured
cordon of her canonry was slung gracefully over her plain black silk
dress, and a diamond cross hung below her waist.

Mr. Beckendorff and his fair companion were instantly welcomed by the
Grand Marshal; and Arnelm and half-a-dozen Chamberlains, all in new
uniforms, and extremely agitated, did their utmost, by their exertions
in clearing the way, to prevent the Prime Minister of Reisenburg from
paying his respects to his Sovereign. At length, however, Mr.
Beckendorff reached the top of the room, and presented the young lady to
his Royal Highness, and also to Madame Carolina. Vivian had retired on
their approach, and now found himself among a set of young officers,
idolators of von Aslingen, and of white hats lined with crimson. “Who
can she be?” was the universal question. Though all by the query
acknowledged their ignorance, yet it is singular that, at the same time,
every one was prepared with a response to it. Such are the sources of
accurate information!

“And that is Beckendorff, is it?” exclaimed the young Count of
Eberstein; “and his daughter, of course! Well; there is nothing like
being a plebeian and a Prime Minister! I suppose Beckendorff will bring
an anonymous friend to Court next.”

“She cannot be his daughter,” said Bernstorff. “To be a Chanoinesse of
that order, remember, she must be noble.”

“Then she must be his niece,” answered the young Count of Eberstein. “I
think I do remember some confused story about a sister of Beckendorff
who ran away with some Wirtemberg Baron. What was that story,
Gernsbach?”

“No, it was not his sister,” said the Baron of Gernsbach; “it was his
aunt, I think.”

“Beckendorff’s aunt; what an idea! As if he ever had an aunt! Men of his
calibre make themselves out of mud. They have no relations. Well, never
mind; there was some story, I am sure, about some woman or other. Depend
upon it that this girl is the child of that woman, whether she be aunt,
niece, or daughter. I shall go and tell every one that I know the whole
business; this girl is the daughter of some woman or other.” So saying,
away walked the young Count of Eberstein, to disseminate in all
directions the important conclusion to which his logical head had
allowed him to arrive.

“Von Weinbren,” said the Baron of Gernsbach, “how can you account for
this mysterious appearance of the Premier?”

“Oh! when men are on the decline they do desperate things. I suppose it
is to please the renegado.”

“Hush! there’s the Englishman behind you.”

“On dit, another child of Beckendorff.”

“Oh no! secret mission.”

“Ah! indeed.”

“Here comes von Aslingen! Well, great Emilius! how solve you this
mystery?”

“What mystery? Is there one?”

“I allude to this wonderful appearance of Beckendorff.”

“Beckendorff! what a name! Who is he?”

“Nonsense! the Premier.”

“Well!”

“You have seen him, of course; he is here. Have you just come in?”

“Beckendorff here!” said von Aslingen, in a tone of affected horror; “I
did not know that the fellow was to be visited. It is all over with
Reisenburg. I shall go to Vienna to-morrow.”

But hark! the sprightly music calls to the dance; and first the stately
Polonaise, in easy gradation between walking and dancing. To the
surprise of the whole room and the indignation of main of the high
nobles, the Crown Prince of Reisenburg led off the Polonaise with the
unknown fair one. Such an attention to Beckendorff was a distressing
proof of present power and favour. The Polonaise is a dignified
promenade, with which German balls invariably commence. The cavaliers,
with an air of studied grace, offer their right hands to their fair
partners; and the whole party, in a long file, accurately follow the
leading couple through all their scientific evolutions, as they wind
through every part of the room. Waltzes in sets speedily followed the
Polonaise; and the unknown, who was now an object of universal
attention, danced with Count von Sohnspeer, another of Beckendorff’s
numerous progeny, if the reader remember. How scurvily are poor single
gentlemen who live alone treated by the candid tongues of their
fellow-creatures! The commander-in-chief of the Reisenburg troops was
certainly a partner of a different complexion from the young lady’s
previous one. The crown Prince had undertaken his duty with reluctance,
and had performed it without grace; not a single word had he exchanged
with his partner during the promenade, and his genuine listlessness was
even more offensive than affected apathy. Von Sohnspeer, on the
contrary, danced in the true Vienna style, and whirled like a Dervish.
All our good English prejudices against the soft, the swimming, the
sentimental, melting, undulating, dangerous waltz would quickly
disappear, if we only executed the dreaded manoeuvres in the true
Austrian style. One might as soon expect our daughters to get
sentimental in a swing.

Vivian did not choose to presume upon his late acquaintance with Mr.
Beckendorff, as it had not been sought by that gentleman, and he
consequently did not pay his respects to the Minister. Mr. Beckendorff
continued at the top of the room, standing between the State chairs of
his Royal Highness and Madame Carolina, and occasionally addressing an
observation to his Sovereign and answering one of the lady’s. Had Mr.
Beckendorff been in the habit of attending balls nightly he could not
have exhibited more perfect nonchalance. There he stood, with his arms
crossed behind him, his chin resting on his breast, and his raised
eyes glancing!

“My dear Prince,” said Vivian to the Grand Marshal, “you are just the
person I wanted to speak to. How came you to invite Beckendorff, and how
came he to accept the invitation?”

“My dear friend,” said his Highness, shrugging his shoulders, “wonders
will never cease. I never invited him; I should just as soon have
thought of inviting old Johannisberger.”

“Were you not aware, then, of his intention?”

“Not in the least! you should rather say attention; for, I assure you, I
consider it a most particular one. It is quite astonishing, my dear
friend, how I mistook that man’s character. He really is one of the most
gentlemanlike, polite, and excellent persons I know; no more mad than
you are! And as for his power being on the decline, we know the
nonsense of that!”

“Better than most persons, I suspect. Sievers, of course, is not here?”

“No! you have heard about him, I suppose?”

“Heard! heard what?”

“Not heard! well, he told me yesterday, and said he was going to call
upon you directly to let you know.”

“Know what?”

“He is a very sensible man, Sievers; and I am very glad at last that he
is likely to succeed in the world. All men have their little
imprudences, and he was a little too hot once. What of that? He has come
to his senses, so have I; and I hope you will never lose yours.”

“But, pray, my dear Prince, tell me what has happened to Sievers.”

“He is going to Vienna immediately, and will be very useful there, I
have no doubt. He has got a good place, and I am sure he will do his
duty. They cannot have an abler man.”

“Vienna! that is the last city in the world in which I should expect to
find Mr. Sievers. What place can he have? and what services can he
perform there?”

“Many! he is to be Editor of the Austrian Observer, and Censor of the
Austrian Press. I thought he would do well at last. All men have their
imprudent day. I had. I cannot stop now. I must go and speak to the
Countess von S----.”

As Vivian was doubting whether he should most grieve or laugh at this
singular termination of Mr. Sievers’ career, his arm was suddenly
touched, and on turning round he found it was by Mr. Beckendorff.

“There is another strong argument, sir,” said the Minister, without any
of the usual phrases of recognition; “there is another strong argument
against your doctrine of Destiny.” And then Mr. Beckendorff, taking
Vivian by the arm, began walking up and down part of the saloon with
him; and in a few minutes, quite forgetting the scene of the discussion,
he was involved in metaphysics. This incident created another great
sensation, and whispers of “secret mission, Secretary of State,
decidedly a son,” &c. &c. &c. were in an instant afloat in all parts
of the room.

The approach of his Royal Highness extricated Vivian from an argument
which was as profound as it was interminable; and as Mr. Beckendorff
retired with the Grand Duke into a recess in the ball-room, Vivian was
requested by von Neuwied to attend his Excellency the Grand Marshal.

“My dear friend,” said the Prince, “I saw you talking with a certain
person, I did not say anything to you when I passed you before; but, to
tell you the truth now, I was a little annoyed that he had not spoken to
you. I knew you were as proud as Lucifer, and would not salute him
yourself; and between ourselves I had no great wish you should, for, not
to conceal it, he did not even mention your name. But the reason of this
is now quite evident, and you must confess he is remarkably courteous.
You know, if you remember, we thought that incognito was a little
affected; rather annoying, if you recollect. I remember in the green
lane you gave him a gentle cut about it. It was spirited, and I dare say
did good. Well! what I was going to say about that is this; I dare say
now, after all,” continued his Excellency, with a knowing look, “a
certain person had very good reasons for that; not that he ever told
them to me, nor that I have the slightest idea of them; but when a
person is really so exceedingly polite and attentive I always think he
would never do anything disagreeable without a cause; and it was
exceedingly disagreeable, if you remember, my dear friend. I never knew
to whom he was speaking. Von Philipson indeed! Well! we did not think,
the day we were floundering down that turf road, that it would end in
this. Rather a more brilliant scene than the Giants’ Hall at Turriparva,
I think, eh? But all men have their imprudent days; the best way is to
forget them. There was poor Sievers; who ever did more imprudent things
than he? and now it is likely he will do very well in the world, eh?
What I want of you, my dear friend, is this. There is that girl who
came with Beckendorff; who the deuce she is, I don’t know: let us hope
the best! We must pay her every attention. I dare say she is his
daughter. You have not forgotten the portrait. Well! we all were gay
once. All men have their imprudent day; why should not Beckendorff?
Speaks rather in his favour, I think. Well, this girl; his Royal
Highness very kindly made the Crown Prince walk the Polonaise with her;
very kind of him, and very proper. What attention can be too great for
the daughter or friend of such a man! a man who, in two words, may be
said to have made Reisenburg. For what was Reisenburg before
Beckendorff? Ah! what? Perhaps we were happier then, after all; and then
there was no Royal Highness to bow to; no person to be condescending,
except ourselves. But never mind! we will forget. After all, this life
has its charms. What a brilliant scene! but this girl, every attention
should be paid her. The Crown Prince was so kind as to walk the
Polonaise with her. And von Sohnspeer; he is a brute, to be sure; but
then he is a Field Marshal. Now, I think, considering what has taken
place between Beckendorff and yourself, and the very distinguished
manner in which he recognised you; I think, that after all this, and
considering everything, the etiquette is for you, particularly as you
are a foreigner, and my personal friend; indeed, my most particular
friend, for in fact I owe everything to you, my life, and more than my
life; I think, I repeat, considering all this, that the least you can do
is to ask her to dance with you; and I, as the host, will introduce you.
I am sorry, my dear friend,” continued his Excellency, with a look of
great regret, “to introduce you to--; but we will not speak about it. We
have no right to complain of Mr. Beckendorff. No person could possibly
behave to us in a manner more gentlemanlike.”

After an introductory speech in his Excellency’s happiest manner, and in
which an eulogium of Vivian and a compliment to the fair unknown got
almost as completely entangled as the origin of slavery and the history
of the feudal system in his more celebrated harangue, Vivian found
himself waltzing with the anonymous beauty. The Grand Marshal, during
the process of introduction, had given the young lady every opportunity
of declaring her name; but every opportunity was thrown away. “She must
be incog.,” whispered his Excellency; “Miss von Philipson, I suppose?”

Vivian was not a little desirous of discovering the nature of the
relationship or connection between Beckendorff and his partner. The
rapid waltz allowed no pause for conversation; but after the dance
Vivian seated himself at her side, with the determination of not quickly
deserting it The lady did not even allow him the satisfaction of
commencing the conversation; for no sooner was she seated than she
begged to know who the person was with whom she had previously waltzed.
The history of Count von Sohnspeer amused her; and no sooner had Vivian
finished his anecdote than the lady said, “Ah!  so: you are an amusing
person. Now tell me the history of everybody in the room.”

“Really,” said Vivian, “I fear I shall forfeit my reputation of being
amusing very speedily, for I am almost as great a stranger at this Court
as you appear to be yourself. Count von Sohnspeer is too celebrated a
personage at Reisenburg to have allowed even me to be long ignorant of
his history; and as for the rest, as far as I can judge, they are most
of them as obscure as myself, and not nearly as interesting as you are!”

“Are you an Englishman?” asked the lady.

“I am.”

“I supposed so, both from your travelling and your appearance: I think
the English countenance very peculiar.”

“Indeed! we do not flatter ourselves so at home.”

“Yes! it is peculiar.” said the lady, in a tone which seemed to imply
that contradiction was unusual; “and I think that you are all handsome!
I admire the English, which in this part of the world is singular: the
South, you know, is generally francisé.”

“I am aware of that,” said Vivian. “There, for instance,” pointing to a
pompous-looking personage who at that moment strutted by; “there, for
instance, is the most francisé person in all Reisenburg! that is our
Grand Chamberlain. He considers himself a felicitous copy of Louis the
Fourteenth! He allows nothing in his opinions and phrases but what is
orthodox. As it generally happens in such cases, his orthodoxy is rather
obsolete.”

“Who is that Knight of Malta?” asked the lady.

“The most powerful individual in the room,” answered Vivian.

“Who can he be?” asked the lady, with eagerness.

“Behold him, and tremble!” rejoined Vivian: “for with him it rests to
decide whether you are civilised or a savage; whether you are to be
abhorred or admired: idolised or despised. Nay, do not be alarmed! there
are a few heretics, even in Reisenburg, who, like myself, value from
conviction, and not from fashion, and who will be ever ready, in spite
of a von Aslingen anathema, to evince our admiration where it is due.”

The lady pleaded fatigue as an excuse for not again dancing; and Vivian
did not quit her side. Her lively remarks, piquant observations, and
singular questions highly amused him; and he was flattered by the
evident gratification which his conversation afforded her. It was
chiefly of the principal members of the Court that she spoke: she was
delighted with Vivian’s glowing character of Madame Carolina, whom she
said she had this evening seen for the first time. Who this unknown
could be was a question which often occurred to him; and the singularity
of a man like Beckendorff suddenly breaking through his habits and
outraging the whole system of his existence, to please a daughter, or
niece, or female cousin, did not fail to strike him.

“I have the honour of being acquainted with Mr. Beckendorff,” said
Vivian. This was the first time that the Minister’s name had been
mentioned.

“I perceived you talking with him,” was the answer.

“You are staying, I suppose, at Mr. Beckendorff’s?”

“Not at present.”

“You have, of course, been at his retreat; delightful place!”

“Yes!”

“Are you an ornithologist?” asked Vivian, smiling.

“Not at all scientific; but I, of course, can now tell a lory from a
Java sparrow, and a bullfinch from a canary. The first day I was there,
I never shall forget the surprise I experienced, when, after the noon
meal being finished, the aviary door was opened. After that I always let
the creatures out myself; and one day I opened all the cages at once. If
you could but have witnessed the scene! I am sure you would have been
quite delighted with it. As for poor Mr. Beckendorff, I thought even he
would have gone out of his mind; and when I brought in the white peacock
he actually left the room in despair. Pray how do you like Madame Clara
and Owlface too? Which do you think the most beautiful? I am no great
favourite with the old lady. Indeed, it was very kind of Mr. Beckendorff
to bear with everything as he did: I am sure he is not much used to lady
visitors.”

“I trust that your visit to him will not be very short?”

“My stay at Reisenburg will not be very long,” said the young lady,
with rather a grave countenance, “Have you been here any time?”

“About a fortnight; it was a mere chance my coming at all. I was going
on straight to Vienna.”

“To Vienna, indeed! Well, I am glad you did not miss Reisenburg; you
must not quit it now. You know that this is not the Vienna season?”

“I am aware of it; but I am such a restless person that I never regulate
my movements by those of other people.”

“But surely you find Reisenburg agreeable?”

“Very much so; but I am a confirmed wanderer.’

“Why are you?” asked the lady, with great naïveté.

Vivian looked grave; and the lady, as if she were sensible of having
unintentionally occasioned him a painful recollection, again expressed
her wish that he should not immediately quit the Court, and trusted that
circumstances would not prevent him from acceding to her desire.

“It does not even depend upon circumstances,” said Vivian; “the whim of
the moment is my only principle of action, and therefore I may be off
to-night, or be here a month hence.”

“Oh! pray stay then,” said his companion eagerly; “I expect you to stay
now. If you could only have an idea what a relief conversing with you
is, after having been dragged by the Crown Prince and whirled by that
von Sohnspeer! Heigho! I could almost sigh at the very remembrance of
that doleful Polonaise.”

The lady ended with a faint laugh a sentence which apparently had been
commenced in no light vein. She did not cease speaking, but continued to
request Vivian to remain at Reisenburg at least as long as herself. Her
frequent requests were perfectly unnecessary, for the promise had been
pledged at the first hint of her wish; but this was not the only time
during the evening that Vivian had remarked that his interesting
companion occasionally talked without apparently being sensible that she
was conversing.

The young Count of Eberstein, who, to use his own phrase, was “sadly
involved,” and consequently desirous of being appointed a forest
Councillor, thought that he should secure his appointment by
condescending to notice the person whom he delicately styled “the
Minister’s female relative.” To his great mortification and surprise,
the honour was declined; and “the female relative,” being unwilling to
dance again, but perhaps feeling it necessary to break off her
conversation with her late partner, it having already lasted an unusual
time, highly gratified his Excellency the Grand Marshal by declaring
that she would dance with Prince Maximilian. “This, to say the least,
was very attentive of Miss von Philipson.”

Little Max, who had just tact enough to discover that to be the partner
of the fair incognita was the place of honour of the evening, now
considered himself by much the most important personage in the room. In
fact, he was only second to Emilius von Aslingen. The evident contest
which was ever taking place between his natural feelings as a boy and
his acquired habits as a courtier made him an amusing companion. He
talked of the Gardens and the Opera in a style not unworthy of the young
Count of Eberstein. He thought that Madame Carolina was as charming as
usual to-night; but, on the contrary, that the Countess von S---- was
looking rather ill, and this put him in mind of her ladyship’s new
equipage; and then, apropos to equipages, what did his companion think
of the new fashion of the Hungarian harness? His lively and kind
companion encouraged the boy’s tattle; and, emboldened by her good
nature, he soon forgot his artificial speeches, and was quickly rattling
on about Turriparva, and his horses, and his dogs, and his park, and his
guns, and his grooms. Soon after the waltz, the lady, taking the arm of
the young Prince, walked up to Mr. Beckendorff. He received her with
great attention, and led her to Madame Carolina, who rose, seated Mr.
Beckendorff’s “female relative” by her side, and evidently said
something extremely agreeable.



CHAPTER VI


Vivian had promised Madame Carolina a second English lesson on the day
after the Grand Marshal’s fete. The progress which the lady had made,
and the talent which the gentleman had evinced during the first, had
rendered Madame the most enthusiastic of pupils, and Vivian, in her
estimation, the ablest of instructors. Madame Carolina’s passion was
patronage: to discover concealed merit, to encourage neglected genius,
to reveal the mysteries of the world to a novice in mankind, or, in
short, to make herself very agreeable to any one whom she fancied to be
very interesting, was the great business and the great delight of her
existence. No sooner had her eyes lighted on Vivian Grey than she
determined to patronise. His country, his appearance, the romantic
manner in which he had become connected with the Court, all pleased her
lively imagination. She was intuitively acquainted with his whole
history, and in an instant he was the hero of a romance, of which the
presence of the principal character compensated, we may suppose, for the
somewhat indefinite details. His taste and literary acquirements
completed the spell by which Madame Carolina was willingly enchanted. A
low Dutch professor, whose luminous genius rendered unnecessary the
ceremony of shaving; and a dumb dwarf, in whose interesting appearance
was forgotten its perfect idiocy, prosy improvisatore, and a South
American savage, were all superseded by the appearance of Vivian Grey.

As Madame Carolina was, in fact, a charming woman, our hero had no
objection to humour her harmless foibles; and not contented with making
notes in an interleaved copy of her Charlemagne, he even promised to
read Haroun Al Raschid in manuscript. The consequence of his courtesy
and the reward of his taste was unbounded favour. Apartments in the
palace were offered him, and declined; and when Madame Carolina had
become acquainted with sufficient of his real history to know that, on
his part, neither wish nor necessity existed to return immediately to
his own country, she tempted him to remain at Reisenburg by an offer of
a place at Court; and doubtless, had he been willing, Vivian might in
time have become a Lord Chamberlain, or perhaps even a Field Marshal.

On entering the room the morning in question he found Madame Carolina
writing. At the end of the apartment a lady ceased, on his appearance,
humming an air to which she was dancing, and at the same time imitating
castanets. Madame received Vivian with expressions of delight, saying
also, in a peculiar and confidential manner, that she was just sealing
up a packet for him, the preface of Haroun; and then she presented him
to “the Baroness!” The lady who was lately dancing came forward. It was
his unknown partner of the preceding night. “The Baroness” extended her
hand to Vivian, and unaffectedly expressed her great pleasure at seeing
him again. Vivian trusted that she was not fatigued by the fête, and
asked after Mr. Beckendorff. Madame Carolina was busily engaged at the
moment in duly securing the precious preface. The Baroness said that Mr.
Beckendorff had returned home, but that Madame Carolina had kindly
insisted upon her staying at the palace. She was not the least wearied.
Last night had been one of the most agreeable she had ever spent; at
least she supposed she ought to say so: for if she had experienced a
tedious or mournful feeling for a moment, it was hardly for what was
then passing so much as for--”

“Pray, Mr. Grey,” said Madame Carolina, interrupting them, “have you
heard about our new ballet?”

“No.”

“I do not think you have ever been to our Opera. To-morrow is Opera
night, and you must not be again away. We pride ourselves here very much
upon our Opera.”

“We estimate it even in England,” said Vivian, “as possessing perhaps
the most perfect orchestra now organised.”

“The orchestra is perfect. His Royal Highness is such an excellent
musician, and he has spared no trouble or expense in forming it: he has
always superintended it himself. But I confess I admire our ballet
department still more. I expect you to be delighted with it. You will
perhaps be gratified to know that the subject of our new splendid
ballet, which is to be produced to-morrow, is from a great work of your
illustrious poet, my Lord Byron.”

“From which?”

“The Corsair. Ah! what a sublime work! what passion! what energy! what
knowledge of feminine feeling! what contrast of character! what
sentiments! what situations! I wish this were Opera night; Gulnare! my
favourite character; beautiful! How do you think they will dress her?”

“Are you an admirer of our Byron?” asked Vivian, of the Baroness.

“I think he is a very handsome man. I once saw him at the carnival at
Venice.”

“But his works; his grand works! ma chère petite,” said Madame Carolina,
in her sweetest tone: “you have read his works?”

“Not a line,” answered the Baroness, with great naïveté; “I never saw
them.”

“Pauvre enfant!” said Madame Carolina; “I will employ you, then, while
you are here.”

“I never read,” said the Baroness; “I cannot bear it. I like poetry and
romances, but I like somebody to read to me.”

“Very just,” said Madame Carolina; “we can judge with greater accuracy
of the merit of a composition when it reaches our mind merely through
the medium of the human voice. The soul is an essence, invisible and
indivisible. In this respect the voice of man resembles the principle of
his existence; since few will deny, though there are some materialists
who will deny everything, that the human voice is both impalpable and
audible only in one place at the same time. Hence, I ask, is it
illogical to infer its indivisibility? The soul and the voice, then, are
similar in two great attributes: there is a secret harmony in their
spiritual construction. In the early ages of mankind a beautiful
tradition was afloat that the soul and the voice were one and the same.
We may perhaps recognise in this fanciful belief the effect of the
fascinating and imaginative philosophy of the East; that mysterious
portion of the globe,” continued Madame Carolina, “from which we should
frankly confess that we derive everything; for the South is but the
pupil of the East, through the mediation of Egypt. Of this opinion,”
 said Madame with fervour, “I have no doubt: of this opinion,” continued
the lady with enthusiasm, “I have boldly avowed myself a votary in a
dissertation appended to the second volume of Haroun: for this opinion I
would die at the stake! Oh, lovely East! why was I not oriental! Land
where the voice of the nightingale is never mute! Land of the cedar and
the citron, the turtle and the myrtle, of ever-blooming flowers and
ever-shining skies! Illustrious East! Cradle of Philosophy! My dearest
Baroness, why do not you feel as I do? From the East we obtain
everything!”

“Indeed!” said the Baroness, with simplicity; “I thought we only got
shawls.”

This puzzling answer was only noticed by Vivian; for the truth is,
Madame Carolina was one of those individuals who never attend to any
person’s answers. Always thinking of herself, she only asked questions
that she herself might supply the responses. And now having made, as she
flattered herself, a splendid display to her favourite critic, she began
to consider what had given rise to her oration. Lord Byron and the
ballet again occurred to her; and as the Baroness, at least, was not
unwilling to listen, and as she herself had no manuscript of her own
which she particularly wished to be perused, she proposed that Vivian
should read to them part of the Corsair, and in the original tongue.
Madame Carolina opened the volume at the first prison scene between
Gulnare and Conrad. It was her favourite. Vivian read with care and
feeling. Madame was in raptures, and the Baroness, although she did not
understand a single syllable, seemed almost equally delighted. At length
Vivian came to this passage:

     My love stern Seyd’s! Oh, no, no, not my love!
     Yet much this heart, that strives no more, once strove
     To meet his passion; but it would not be.
     I felt, I feel, love dwells with, with the free.
     I am a slave, a favour’d slave at best,
     To share his splendour, and seem very blest!
     Oft must my soul the question undergo,
     Of, “Dost thou love?” and burn to answer, “No!”
      Oh! hard it is that fondness to sustain,
     And struggle not to feel averse in vain;
     But harder still the heart’s recoil to bear,
     And hide from one, perhaps another there;
     He takes the hand I give not nor withhold,
     Its pulse nor checked nor quickened, calmly cold:
     And when resign’d, it drops a lifeless weight
     From one I never loved enough to hate.
     No warmth these lips return by his imprest,
     And chill’d remembrance shudders o’er the rest.
     Yes, had I ever prov’d that passion’s zeal,
     The change to hatred were at least to feel:
     But still, he goes unmourn’d, returns unsought,
     And oft when present, absent from my thought.
     Or when reflection comes, and come it must,
     I fear that henceforth ‘twill but bring disgust:
     I am his slave; but, in despite of pride,
     ‘Twere worse than bondage to become his bride.

“Superb!” said Madame, in a voice of enthusiasm; “how true! what
passion! what energy! what sentiments! what knowledge of feminine
feeling! Read it again, I pray: it is my favourite passage.”

“What is this passage about?” asked the Baroness, with some anxiety;
“tell me.”

“I have a French translation, ma mignonne,” said Madame; “you shall have
it afterwards.”

“No! I detest reading,” said the young lady, with an imperious air;
“translate it to me at once.”

“You are rather a self-willed beauty!” thought Vivian; “but your eyes
are so brilliant that nothing must be refused you!” and so he
translated it.

On its conclusion Madame was again in raptures. The Baroness was not
less affected, but she said nothing. She appeared agitated; she changed
colour, raised her beautiful eyes with an expression of sorrow, looked
at Vivian earnestly, and then walked to the other end of the room. In a
few moments she returned to her seat.

“I wish you would tell me the story,” she said, with earnestness.

“I have a French translation, ma belle!” said Madame Carolina; “at
present I wish to trouble Mr. Grey with a few questions.” Madame
Carolina led Vivian into a recess.

“I am sorry we are troubled with this sweet little savage; but I think
she has talent, though evidently quite uneducated. We must do what we
can for her. Her ignorance of all breeding is amusing, but then I think
she has a natural elegance. We shall soon polish her. His Royal Highness
is so anxious that every attention should be paid to her. Beckendorff,
you know, is a man of the greatest genius.” (Madame Carolina had lowered
her tone about the Minister since the Prince of Little Lilliput’s
apostasy.) “The country is greatly indebted to him. This, between
ourselves, is his daughter. At least I have no doubt of it. Beckendorff
was once married, to a lady of great rank, died early, beautiful woman,
very interesting! His Royal Highness had a great regard for her. The
Premier, in his bereavement, turned humorist, and has brought up this
lovely girl in the oddest possible manner; nobody knows where. Now that
he finds it necessary to bring her forward, he, of course, is quite at a
loss. His Royal Highness has applied to me. There was a little coldness
before between the Minister and myself. It is now quite removed. I must
do what I can for her I think she must marry von Sohnspeer, who is no
more Beckendorff’s son than you are: or young Eberstein, or young
Bernstorff, or young Gernsbach. We must do something for her. I offered
her last night to Emilius von Aslingen; but he said that, unfortunately,
he was just importing a savage or two of his own from the Brazils, and
consequently was not in want of her.”

A chamberlain now entered, to announce the speedy arrival of his Royal
Highness. The Baroness, without ceremony, expressed her great regret
that he was coming, as now she should not hear the wished-for story.
Madame Carolina reproved her, and the reproof was endured rather than
submitted to.

His Royal Highness entered, and was accompanied by the Crown Prince. He
greeted the young lady with great kindness; and even the Crown Prince,
inspired by his father’s unusual warmth, made a shuffling kind of bow
and a stuttering kind of speech. Vivian was about to retire on the
entrance of the Grand Duke, but Madame Carolina prevented him from
going, and his Royal Highness, turning round, very graciously seconded
her desire, and added that Mr. Grey was the very gentleman with whom he
was desirous of meeting.

“I am anxious,” said he to Vivian, in rather a low tone, “to make
Reisenburg agreeable to Mr. Beckendorff’s fair friend. As you are one of
the few who are honoured by his intimacy, and are familiar with some of
our state secrets,” added the Grand Duke with a smile, “I am sure it
will give you pleasure to assist me in the execution of my wishes.”

His Royal Highness proposed that the ladies should ride; and he himself,
with the Crown Prince and Mr. Grey, would attend them. Madame Carolina
expressed her willingness; but the Baroness, like all forward girls
unused to the world, suddenly grew at the same time both timid and
disobliging. She looked sullen and discontented, and coolly said that
she did not feel in the humour to ride for at least these two hours. To
Vivian’s surprise, even the Grand Duke humoured her fancy, and declared
that he should then be happy to attend them after the Court dinner.
Until that time Vivian was amused by Madame, and the Grand Duke
exclusively devoted himself to the Baroness. His Royal Highness was in
his happiest mood, and his winning manners and elegant conversation soon
chased away the cloud which, for a moment, had settled on the young
lady’s fair brow.



CHAPTER VII


The Grand Duke of Reisenburg was an enthusiastic lover of music, and his
people were consequently music mad. The whole city were fiddling day and
night, or blowing trumpets, oboes, and bassoons. Sunday, however, was
the most harmonious day in the week. The Opera amused the Court and the
wealthiest citizens, and few private houses could not boast their family
concert or small party of performers. In the tea-gardens, of which there
were many in the suburbs of the city, bearing the euphonious, romantic,
and fashionable titles of Tivoli, Arcadia, and Vauxhall, a strong and
amateur orchestra was never wanting. Strolling through the city on a
Sunday afternoon, many a pleasing picture of innocent domestic enjoyment
might be observed. In the arbour of a garden a very stout man, with a
fair, broad, good-natured, solid German face, may be seen perspiring
under the scientific exertion of the French horn; himself wisely
disembarrassed of the needless incumbrance of his pea-green coat and
showy waistcoat, which lay neatly folded by his side; while his large
and sleepy blue eyes actually gleam with enthusiasm. His daughter, a
soft and delicate girl, touches the light guitar: catching the notes of
the music from the opened opera, which is placed before the father on a
massy music-stand. Her voice joins in melody with her mother, who, like
all German mothers, seems only her daughter’s self, subdued by an
additional twenty years. The bow of one violin is handled with the air
of a master by an elder brother; while a younger one, an university
student, grows sentimental over the flute. The same instrument is also
played by a tall and tender-looking young man in black, who stands
behind the parents, next to the daughter, and occasionally looks off his
music-book to gaze on his young mistress’s eyes. He is a clerk in a
public office; and on next Michaelmas day, if he succeed, as he hopes,
in gaining a small addition to his salary, he will be still more
entitled to join in the Sunday family concert. Such is one of the
numerous groups, the sight of which must, assuredly, give pleasure to
every man who delights in seeing his fellow-creatures refreshed after
their weekly labours by such calm and rational enjoyment. We would
gladly linger among such scenes; and, moreover, the humours of a
guinguette are not unworthy of our attention: but we must introduce the
reader to a more important party.

The Court chapel and the Court dinner are over. We are in the
Opera-house of Reisenburg; and, of course, rise as the Royal party
enters. The house, which is of moderate size, was fitted up with
splendour: we hardly know whether we should say with great taste; for,
although not merely the scenery, but indeed every part of the house, was
painted by eminent artists, the style of the ornaments was rather
patriotic than tasteful. The house had been built immediately after the
war, at a period when Reisenburg, flushed with the success of its thirty
thousand men, imagined itself to be a great military nation. Trophies,
standards, cannon, eagles, consequently appeared in every corner of the
Opera-house; and quite superseded lyres, and timbrels, and tragic
daggers, and comic masks. The royal box was constructed in the form of a
tent, and held nearly fifty persons. It was exactly in the centre of the
house, its floor over the back of the pit, and its roof reaching to the
top of the second circle; its crimson hangings were restrained by ropes
of gold, and the whole was surmounted by a large and radiant crown. The
house was merely lighted by a chandelier from the centre.

The Opera for the evening was Rossini’s Otello. As soon as the Grand
Duke entered the overture commenced, his Royal Highness coming forward
to the front of the box and himself directing the musicians, keeping
time earnestly with his right hand, in which was a long black
opera-glass. This he occasionally used, but merely to look at the
orchestra, not, assuredly, to detect a negligent or inefficient
performer; for in the schooled orchestra of Reisenburg it would have
been impossible even for the eagle eye of his Royal Highness, assisted
as it was by his long black opera-glass, or for his fine ear, matured as
it was by the most complete study, to discover there either inattention
or feebleness. The house was perfectly silent; for when the Monarch
directs the orchestra the world goes to the Opera to listen. Perfect
silence at Reisenburg, then, was etiquette and the fashion. Between the
acts of the Opera, however, the Ballet was performed; and then everybody
might talk, and laugh, and remark as much as they chose.

The Grand Duke prided himself as much upon the accuracy of his scenery
and dresses and decorations as upon the exquisite skill of his
performers. In truth, an Opera at Reisenburg was a spectacle which could
not fail to be interesting to a man of taste. When the curtain drew up
the first scene presented a view of old Brabantio’s house. It was
accurately copied from one of the sumptuous structures of Scamozzi, or
Sansovino, or Palladio, which adorn the Grand Canal of Venice. In the
distance rose the domes of St. Mark and the lofty Campanile. Vivian
could not fail to be delighted with this beautiful work of art, for such
indeed it should be styled. He was more surprised, however, but not less
pleased, on the entrance of Othello himself. In England we are
accustomed to deck this adventurous Moor in the costume of his native
country; but is this correct? The Grand Duke of Reisenburg thought not.
Othello was an adventurer; at an early age he entered, as many
foreigners did, into the service of Venice. In that service be rose to
the highest dignities, became General of her armies and of her fleets,
and finally the Viceroy of her favourite kingdom. Is it natural to
suppose that such a man should have retained, during his successful
career, the manners and dress of his original country? Ought we not
rather to admit that, had he done so his career would, in fact, not have
been successful? In all probability, he imitated to affectation the
manners of the country which he had adopted. It is not probable that in
such or in any age the turbaned Moor would have been treated with great
deference by the common Christian soldier of Venice; or, indeed, that
the scandal of a heathen leading the armies of one of the most powerful
of European States would have been tolerated for an instant by indignant
Christendom. If Shylock even, the Jew merchant, confined to his quarter,
and herding with his own sect, were bearded on the Rialto, in what
spirit would the Venetians have witnessed their doge and nobles, whom
they ranked above kings, holding equal converse, and loading with the
most splendid honours of the Republic a follower of Mahound? Such were
the sentiments of the Grand Duke of Reisenburg on this subject, a
subject interesting to Englishmen; and I confess I think that they are
worthy of attention. In accordance with his opinions, the actor who
performed Othello appeared in the full dress of a Venetian magnifico of
the middle ages; a fit companion for Cornaro, or Grimani, or Barberigo,
or Foscari.

The first act of the Opera was finished. The Baroness expressed to
Vivian her great delight at its being over, as she was extremely
desirous of learning the story of the ballet, which she had not yet been
able to acquire. His translation of yesterday had greatly interested
her. Vivian shortly gave her the outline of the story of Conrad. She
listened with much attention, but made no remark.

The ballet at Reisenburg was not merely a vehicle for the display of
dancing. It professed by gesture and action, aided by music, to
influence the minds of the spectators not less than the regular drama.
Of this exhibition dancing was a casual ornament, as it is of life. It
took place therefore only on fitting occasions, and grew out, in a
natural manner, from some event in the history represented. For
instance, suppose the story of Othello the subject of the ballet. The
dancing, in all probability, would be introduced at a grand
entertainment given in celebration of the Moor’s arrival at Cyprus. All
this would be in character. Our feelings would not be outraged by a
husband chassezing forward to murder his wife, or by seeing the pillow
pressed over the innocent Desdemona by the impulse of a pirouette. In
most cases, therefore, the chief performers in this species of spectacle
are not even dancers. This, however, may not always be the case. If
Diana be the heroine, poetical probability will not be offended by the
goddess joining in the chaste dance with her huntress nymphs; and were
the Baiadere of Goethe made the subject of a ballet, the Indian dancing
girl would naturally be the heroine both of the drama and the poem.
There are few performances more affecting than the serious pantomime of
a master. In some of the most interesting situations it is in fact even
more natural than the oral drama, logically it is more perfect; for the
soliloquy is actually thought before us, and the magic of the
representation not destroyed by the sound of the human voice at a moment
when we all know man never speaks.

The curtain again rises. Sounds of revelry and triumph are heard from
the Pirate Isle. They celebrate recent success. Various groups,
accurately attired in the costume of the Greek islands, are seated on
the rocky foreground. On the left rises Medora’s tower, on a craggy
steep; and on the right gleams the blue Aegean. A procession of women
enters. It heralds the presence of Conrad and Medora; they honour the
festivity of their rude subjects. The pirates and the women join in the
national dance; and afterwards eight warriors, completely armed, move in
a warlike measure, keeping time to the music with their bucklers and
clattering sabres. Suddenly the dance ceases; a sail is in sight. The
nearest pirates rush to the strand, and assist the disembarkation of
their welcome comrades. The commander of the vessel comes forward with
an agitated step and gloomy countenance. He kneels to Conrad and
delivers him a scroll, which the chieftain reads with suppressed
agitation. In a moment the faithful Juan is at his side, the contents of
the scroll revealed, the dance broken up, and preparations made to sail
in an hour’s time to the city of the Pacha. The stage is cleared, and
Conrad and Medora are alone. The mysterious leader is wrapt in the
deepest abstraction. He stands with folded arms, and eyes fixed on the
yellow sand. A gentle pressure on his arm calls him back to
recollection; he starts, and turns to the intruder with a gloomy brow.
He sees Medora, and his frown sinks into a sad smile. “And must we part
again! this hour, this very hour; it cannot be!” She clings to him with
agony, and kneels to him with adoration. No hope, no hope! a quick
return promised with an air of foreboding fate. His stern arm encircles
her waist. He chases the heavy tear from her fair cheek, and while he
bids her be glad in his absence with her handmaids peals the sad thunder
of the signal gun. She throws herself upon him. The frantic quickness of
her motion strikingly contrasts with the former stupor of her
appearance. She will not part. Her face is buried in his breast; her
long fair hair floats over his shoulders. He is almost unnerved; but at
this moment the ship sails on; the crew and their afflicted wives enter;
the page brings to Lord Conrad his cloak, his carbine, and his bugle. He
tears himself from her embrace, and without daring to look behind him
bounds over the rocks, and is in the ship. The vessel moves, the wives
of the pirates continue on the beach, waving their scarfs to their
desolate husbands. In the foreground Medora, motionless, stands rooted
to the strand, and might have inspired Phidias with a personification
of Despair.

In a hall of unparalleled splendour stern Seyd reclines on innumerable
pillows, placed on a carpet of golden cloth. His bearded chiefs are
ranged around. The chambers are brilliantly illuminated, and an opening
at the farther end of the apartments exhibits a portion of the shining
city and the glittering galleys. Gulnare, covered with a silver veil,
which reaches even to her feet, is ushered into the presence of the
Pacha. Even the haughty Seyd rises to honour his beautiful favourite. He
draws the precious veil from her blushing features and places her on his
right hand. The dancing girls now appear, and then are introduced the
principal artists. Now takes place the scientific part of the ballet;
and here might Bias, or Noblet, or Ronzi Vestris, or her graceful
husband, or the classical Albert, or the bounding Paul, vault without
stint, and attitudinise without restraint, and not in the least impair
the effect of the tragic tale. The Dervise, of course, appears; the
galleys, of course, are fired; and Seyd, of course, retreats. A change
in the scenery gives us the blazing Harem, the rescue of its inmates,
the deliverance of Gulnare, the capture of Conrad.

It is the prison scene. On a mat, covered with irons, lies the forlorn
Conrad. The flitting flame of a solitary lamp hardly reveals the heavy
bars of the huge grate that forms the entrance to its cell. For some
minutes nothing stirs. The mind of the spectator is allowed to become
fully aware of the hopeless misery of the hero. His career is ended,
secure is his dungeon, trusty his guards, overpowering his chains.
To-morrow he wakes to be impaled. A gentle noise, so gentle that the
spectator almost deems it unintentional, is now heard. A white figure
appears behind the dusky gate; is it a guard or a torturer? The gate
softly opens, and a female conies forward. Gulnare was represented by a
girl with the body of a Peri and the soul of a poetess. The Harem Queen
advances with an agitated step; she holds in her left hand a lamp, and
in the girdle of her light dress is a dagger. She reaches with a
soundless step the captive. He is asleep! Ay! he sleeps, while thousands
are weeping over his ravage or his ruin; and she, in restlessness, is
wandering here! A thousand thoughts are seen coursing over her flushed
brow; she looks to the audience, and her dark eye asks why this Corsair
is so dear to her. She turns again, and raises the lamp with her long
white arm, that the light may fall on the captive’s countenance. She
gazes, without moving, on the sleeper, touches the dagger with a slow
and tremulous hand, and starts from the contact with terror. She again
touches it; it is drawn from her vest; it falls to the ground. He wakes;
he stares with wonder; he sees a female not less fair than Medora.
Confused, she tells him her station; she tells him that her pity is as
certain as his doom. He avows his readiness to die; he appears
undaunted, he thinks of Medora, he buries his face in his hands. She
grows pale as he avows he loves--another. She cannot conceal her own
passion. He, wondering, confesses that he supposed her love was his
enemy’s, was Seyd’s. Gulnare shudders at the name; she draws herself up
to her full stature, she smiles in bitterness:

     My love stern Seyd’s! Oh, no, no, not my love!

The acting was perfect. The house burst into unusual shouts of
admiration. Madame Carolina applauded with her little finger on her fan.
The Grand Duke himself gave the signal for applause. Vivian never felt
before that words were useless. His hand was suddenly pressed. He turned
round; it was the Baroness. She was leaning back in her chair; and
though she did her utmost to conceal her agitated countenance, a tear
coursed down her cheek big as the miserable Medora’s!



CHAPTER VIII


On the evening of the Opera arrived at Court part of the suite of the
young Archduchess, the betrothed of the Crown Prince of Reisenburg.
These consisted of an old grey-headed General, who had taught her
Imperial Highness the manual exercise; and her tutor and confessor, an
ancient and toothless Bishop. Their youthful mistress was to follow them
in a few days; and this arrival of such a distinguished portion of her
suite was the signal for the commencement of a long series of sumptuous
festivities. After interchanging a number of compliments and a few
snuff-boxes, the new guests were invited by his Royal Highness to attend
a Review, which was to take place the next morning, of five thousand
troops and fifty Generals.

The Reisenburg army was the best appointed in Europe. Never were men
seen with breasts more plumply padded, mustachios better trained, or
such spotless gaiters. The Grand Duke himself was a military genius, and
had invented a new cut for the collars of the Cavalry. His Royal
Highness was particularly desirous of astonishing the old grey-headed
governor of his future daughter by the skilful evolutions and imposing
appearance of his legions. The affair was to be of the most refined
nature, and the whole was to be concluded by a mock battle, in which the
spectators were to be treated by a display of the most exquisite
evolutions and complicated movements which human beings ever yet
invented to destroy others or to escape destruction. Field Marshal Count
von Sohnspeer, the Commander-in-Chief of all the Forces of his Royal
Highness the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, condescended, at the particular
request of his Sovereign, to conduct the whole affair himself.

At first it was rather difficult to distinguish between the army and the
staff; for Darius, in the Straits of Issus, was not more sumptuously and
numerously attended than Count von Sohnspeer. Wherever he moved he was
followed by a train of waving plumes and radiant epaulettes, and foaming
chargers and shining steel. In fact, he looked like a large military
comet. Had the fate of Reisenburg depended on the result of the day, the
Field Marshal, and his Generals, and Aides-de-camp, and Orderlies,
could not have looked more agitated and more in earnest. Von Sohnspeer
had not less than four horses in the field, on every one of which he
seemed to appear in the space of five minutes. Now he was dashing along
the line of the Lancers on a black charger, and now round the column of
the Cuirassiers on a white one. He exhorted the Tirailleurs on a
chestnut, and added fresh courage to the ardour of the Artillery on
a bay.

It was a splendid day. The bands of the respective regiments played
triumphant tunes as each marched on the field. The gradual arrival of
the troops was picturesque. Distant music was heard, and a corps of
Infantry soon made its appearance. A light bugle sounded, and a body of
Tirailleurs issued from the shade of a neighbouring wood. The
kettle-drums and clarions heralded the presence of a troop of Cavalry;
and an advanced guard of Light Horse told that the Artillery were about
to follow. The arms and standards of the troops shone in the sun;
military music sounded in all parts of the field; unceasing was the
bellow of the martial drum and the blast of the blood-stirring trumpet.
Clouds of dust ever and anon excited in the distance denoted the arrival
of a regiment of Cavalry. Even now one approaches; it is the Red
Lancers. How gracefully their Colonel, the young Count of Eberstein,
bounds on his barb! Has Theseus turned Centaur? His spur and bridle seem
rather the emblems of sovereignty than the instruments of government: he
neither chastises nor directs. The rider moves without motion, and the
horse judges without guidance. It would seem that the man had borrowed
the beast’s body, and the beast the man’s mind. His regiment has formed
upon the field, their stout lances erected like a young and leafless
grove; but although now in line, it is with difficulty that they can
subject the spirit of their warlike steeds. The trumpet has caught the
ear of the horses; they stand with open nostrils, already breathing war
ere they can see an enemy; and now dashing up one leg, and now the
other, they seem to complain of Nature that she has made them of
anything earthly.

The troops have all arrived; there is an unusual bustle in the field.
Von Sohnspeer is again changing his horse, giving directions while he is
mounting to at least a dozen Aides-de-camp. Orderlies are scampering
over every part of the field. Another flag, quite new, and of large
size, is unfurled by the Field-Marshal’s pavilion. A signal gun! the
music in the whole field is hushed: a short silence of agitating
suspense, another gun, and another! All the bands of all the regiments
burst forth at the same moment into the national air: the Court dash
into the field!

Madame Carolina, the Baroness, the Countess von S----, and some other
ladies, wore habits of the uniform of the Royal Guards. Both Madame and
the Baroness were perfect horsewomen; and the excited spirits of Mr.
Beckendorff’s female relative, both during her ride and her dashing run
over the field, amidst the firing of cannon and the crash of drums and
trumpets, strikingly contrasted with her agitation and depression of the
preceding night.

“Your Excellency loves the tented field, I think!” said Vivian, who was
at her side.

“I love war! it is a diversion for kings!” was the answer. “How fine the
breast-plates and helmets of those Cuirassiers glisten in the sun!”
 continued the lady. “Do you see von Sohnspeer? I wonder if the Crown
Prince be with him!”

“I think he is.”

“Indeed! Ah! can he interest himself in anything? He seemed Apathy
itself at the Opera last night. I never saw him smile, or move, and have
scarcely heard his voice! but if he love war, if he be a soldier, if he
be thinking of other things than a pantomime and a ball, ‘tis well! very
well for his country! Perhaps he is a hero?”

At this moment the Crown Prince, who was of von Sohnspeer’s staff,
slowly rode up to the Royal party.

“Rudolph!” said the Grand Duke, “do you head your regiment to-day?”

“No,” was the muttered answer.

The Grand Duke moved his horse to his son, and spoke to him in a low
tone, evidently with earnestness. Apparently he was expostulating with
him; but the effect of the royal exhortation was only to render the
Prince’s brow more gloomy, and the expression of his withered features
more sullen and more sad. The Baroness watched the father and son as
they were conversing with keen attention. When the Crown Prince, in
violation of his father’s wishes, fell into the party, and allowed his
regiment to be headed by the Lieutenant-colonel, the young lady raised
her lustrous eyes to heaven with that same expression of sorrow or
resignation which had so much interested Vivian on the morning that he
had translated to her the moving passage in the Corsair.

But the field is nearly cleared, and the mimic war has commenced. On
the right appears a large body of Cavalry, consisting of Cuirassiers and
Dragoons. A vanguard of Light Cavalry and Lancers, under the command of
the Count of Eberstein, is ordered out, from this body, to harass the
enemy, a strong body of Infantry supposed to be advancing. Several
squadrons of Light Horse immediately spring forward; they form
themselves into line, they wheel into column, and endeavour, by
well-directed manoeuvres, to outflank the strong wing of the advancing
enemy. After succeeding in executing all that was committed to them, and
after having skirmished in the van of their own army, so as to give time
for all necessary dispositions of the line of battle, the vanguard
suddenly retreats between the brigades of the Cavalry of the line; the
prepared battery of cannon is unmasked; and a tremendous concentric fire
opened on the line of the advancing foe. Taking advantage of the
confusion created by this unexpected salute of his artillery, von
Sohnspeer, who commands the Cavalry, gives the word to “Charge!”

The whole body of Cavalry immediately charge in masses; the extended
line of the enemy is as immediately broken. But the Infantry, who are
commanded by one of the royal relatives and visitors, the Prince of Pike
and Powdren, dexterously form into squares, and commence a masterly
retreat in square battalions. At length they take up a more favourable
position than the former one. They are again galled by the Artillery,
who have proportionately advanced, and again charged by the Cavalry in
their huge masses. And now the squares of Infantry partially give way.
They admit the Cavalry, but the exulting Horse find, to their dismay,
that the enemy are not routed, but that there are yet inner squares
formed at salient angles. The Cavalry for a moment retire, but it is
only to give opportunity to their Artillery to rake the obstinate foes.
The execution of the battery is fearful. Headed by their Commander, the
whole body of Cuirassiers and Dragoons again charge with renewed energy
and concentrated force. The Infantry are thrown into the greatest
confusion, and commence a rout, increased and rendered irremediable by
the Lancers and Hussars, the former vanguard, who now, seizing on the
favourable moment, again rush forward, increasing the effect of the
charge of the whole army, overtaking the fugitives with their lances,
and securing the prisoners.

The victorious von Sohnspeer, followed by his staff, now galloped up to
receive the congratulations of his Sovereign.

“Where are your prisoners, Field Marshal?” asked his Royal Highness,
with a flattering smile.

“What is the ransom of our unfortunate guest?” asked Madame Carolina.

“I hope we shall have another affair,” said the Baroness, with a flushed
face and glowing eyes.

But the Commander-in-Chief must not tarry to bandy compliments. He is
again wanted in the field. The whole troops have formed in line. Some
most scientific evolutions are now executed. With them we will not weary
the reader, nor dilate on the comparative advantages of forming en
cremaillière and en echiquier; nor upon the duties of tirailleurs, nor
upon concentric fires and eccentric movements, nor upon deploying, nor
upon enfilading, nor upon oblique fronts, nor upon échellons. The day
finished by the whole of the troops again forming in line and passing in
order before the Commander-in-Chief, to give him an opportunity of
observing their discipline and inspecting their equipments.

The review being finished, Count von Sohnspeer and his staff joined the
royal party; and after walking their horses round the field, they
proceeded to his pavilion, where refreshments were prepared for them.
The Field Marshal, flattered by the interest which the young Baroness
had taken in the business of the day, and the acquaintance which she
evidently possessed of the more obvious details of military tactics, was
inclined to be particularly courteous to her; but the object of his
admiration did not encourage attentions by which half the ladies of the
Court would have thought themselves as highly honoured as by those of
the Grand Duke himself; so powerful a person was the Field Marshal, and
so little inclined by temper to cultivate the graces of the fair sex!

“In the tent keep by my side,” said the Baroness to Vivian. “Although I
am fond of heroes, von Sohnspeer is not to my taste. I know not why I
flatter you so by my notice, for I suppose, like all Englishmen, you are
not a soldier? I thought so. Never mind! you ride well enough for a
field marshal. I really think I could give you a commission without much
stickling of my conscience. No, no! I should like you nearer me. I have
a good mind to make you my master of the horse; that is to say, when I
am entitled to have one.”

As Vivian acknowledged the young Baroness’ compliment by becoming
emotion, and vowed that an office near her person would be the
consummation of all his wishes, his eye caught the lady’s: she blushed
deeply, looked down upon her horse’s neck, and then turned away
her head.

Von Sohnspeer’s pavilion excellently became the successful leader of the
army of Reisenburg. Trophies taken from all sides decked its interior.
The black eagle of Austria formed part of its roof, and the brazen
eagle of Gaul supported part of the side. The grey-headed General looked
rather grim when he saw a flag belonging to a troop which perhaps he had
himself once commanded. He vented his indignation to the toothless
Bishop, who crossed his breast with his fingers, covered with diamonds,
and preached temperance and moderation in inarticulate sounds.

During the collation the conversation was principally military. Madame
Carolina, who was entirely ignorant of the subject of discourse,
enchanted all the officers present by appearing to be the most
interested person in the tent. Nothing could exceed the elegance of her
eulogium of “petit guerre.” The old grey General talked much about the
“good old times,” by which he meant the thirty years of plunder,
bloodshed, and destruction, which were occasioned by the French
Revolution. He gloated on the recollections of horror, which he feared
would never occur again. The Archduke Charles and Prince Schwartzenburg
were the gods of his idolatry, and Nadasti’s hussars and Wurmser’s
dragoons the inferior divinities of his bloody heaven. One evolution of
the morning, a discovery made by von Sohnspeer himself, in the deploying
of cavalry, created a great sensation; and it was settled that it would
have been of great use to Desaix and Clairfait in the Netherlands affair
of some eight-and-twenty years ago, and was not equalled even by
Seidlitz’ cavalry in the affair with the Russians at Zorndorff. In
short, every “affair” of any character during the late war was fought
over again in the tent of Field Marshal von Sohnspeer. At length from
the Archduke Charles and Prince Schwartzenburg, the old grey-headed
General got to Polybius and Monsieur Folard; and the Grand Duke now
thinking that the “affair” was taking too serious a turn, broke up the
party. Madame Carolina and most of the ladies used their carriages on
their return. They were nearly fifteen miles from the city; but the
Baroness, in spite of the most earnest solicitations, would remount
her charger.

They cantered home, the Baroness in unusual spirits, Vivian thinking
very much of his fair companion. Her character puzzled him. That she was
not the lovely simpleton that Madame Carolina believed her to be, he had
little doubt. Some people have great knowledge of society and little of
mankind. Madame Carolina was one of these. She viewed her species
through only one medium. That the Baroness was a woman of acute feeling,
Vivian could not doubt. Her conduct at the Opera, which had escaped
every one’s attention, made this evident. That she had seen more of the
world than her previous conversation had given him to believe, was
equally clear by her conduct and conversation this morning. He
determined to become more acquainted with her character. Her evident
partiality to his company would not render the execution of his purpose
very difficult. At any rate, if he discovered nothing, it was something
to do: it would at least amuse him.

In the evening he joined a large party at the palace. He looked
immediately for the Baroness. She was surrounded by the dandies. Their
attentions she treated with contempt, and ridiculed their compliments
without mercy. Without obtruding himself on her notice, Vivian joined
her circle, and witnessed her demolition of the young Count of Eberstein
with great amusement. Emilius von Aslingen was not there; for having
made the interesting savage the fashion, she was no longer worthy of his
attention, and consequently deserted. The young lady soon observed
Vivian; and saying, without the least embarrassment, that she was
delighted to see him, she begged him to share her chaise-longue. Her
envious levée witnessed the preference with dismay; and as the object of
their attention did not now notice their remarks, even by her expressed
contempt, one by one fell away. Vivian and the Baroness were left alone,
and conversed much together. The lady displayed, on every subject,
engaging ignorance, and requested information on obvious topics with
artless naïveté. Vivian was convinced that her ignorance was not
affected, and equally sure that it could not arise from imbecility of
intellect; for while she surprised him by her crude questions, and her
want of acquaintance with all those topics which generally form the
staple of conversation, she equally amused him with her poignant wit,
and the imperious and energetic manner in which she instantly expected
satisfactory information on every possible subject.



CHAPTER IX


On the day after the review a fancy-dress ball was to be given at Court.
It was to be an entertainment of a peculiar nature. The lively genius of
Madame Carolina, wearied of the commonplace effect generally produced by
this species of amusement, in which usually a stray Turk and a wandering
Pole looked sedate and singular among crowds of Spanish girls, Swiss
peasants, and gentlemen in uniforms, had invented something novel. Her
idea was ingenious. To use her own sublime phrase, she determined that
the party should represent “an age!” Great difficulty was experienced in
fixing upon the century which was to be honoured. At first a poetical
idea was started of having something primeval, perhaps antediluvian; but
Noah, or even Father Abraham, were thought characters hardly
sufficiently romantic for a fancy-dress ball, and consequently the
earliest postdiluvian ages were soon under consideration. Nimrod, or
Sardanapalus, were distinguished personages, and might be well
represented by the Master of the Staghounds, or the Master of the
Revels; but then the want of an interesting lady-character was a great
objection. Semiramis, though not without style in her own way, was not
sufficiently Parisian for Madame Carolina. New ages were proposed and
new objections started; and so the “Committee of Selection,” which
consisted of Madame herself, the Countess von S----, and a few other
dames of fashion, gradually slided through the four great empires.
Athens was not aristocratic enough, and then the women were nothing. In
spite of her admiration of the character of Aspasia, Madame Carolina
somewhat doubted the possibility of persuading the ladies of the Court
of Reisenburg to appear in the characters of [Greek: hetairai]. Rome
presented great capabilities, and greater difficulties. Finding
themselves, after many days’ sitting and study, still very far from
coming to a decision, Madame called in the aid of the Grand Duke, who
proposed “something national.” The proposition was plausible; but,
according to Madame Carolina, Germany, until her own time, had been
only a land of barbarism and barbarians; and therefore in such a
country, in a national point of view, what could there be interesting?
The middle ages, as they are usually styled, in spite of the Emperor
Charlemagne, “that oasis in the desert of barbarism,” to use her own
eloquent and original image, were her particular aversion. “The age of
chivalry is past!” was as constant an exclamation of Madame Carolina as
it was of Mr. Burke. “The age of chivalry is past; and very fortunate
that it is. What resources could they have had in the age of chivalry?
an age without either moral or experimental philosophy; an age in which
they were equally ignorant of the doctrine of association of ideas, and
of the doctrine of electricity; and when they were as devoid of a
knowledge of the Incalculable powers of the human mind as of the
incalculable powers of steam!” Had Madame Carolina been the consort of
an Italian grand duke, selection would not be difficult; and, to inquire
no farther, the court of the Medici alone would afford them everything
they wanted. But Germany never had any character, and never produced nor
had been the resort of illustrious men and interesting persons. What was
to be done? The age of Frederick the Great was the only thing; and then
that was so recent, and would offend the Austrians: it could not be
thought of.

At last, when the “Committee of Selection” was almost in despair, some
one proposed a period which not only would be German, not only would
compliment the House of Austria, but, what was of still greater
importance, would allow of every contemporary character of interest of
every nation, the age of Charles the Fifth! The suggestion was received
with enthusiasm, and adopted on the spot. “The Committee of Selection”
 was immediately dissolved, and its members as immediately formed
themselves into a “Committee of Arrangement.” Lists of all the persons
of any fame, distinction, or notoriety, who had lived either in the
empire of Germany, the kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, France, or England,
the Italian States, the Netherlands, the American, and, in short, in
every country in the known world, were immediately formed. Von
Chronicle, rewarded for his last historical novel by a ribbon and the
title of Baron, was appointed secretary to the “Committee of Costume.”
 All guests who received a card invitation were desired, on or before a
certain day, to send in the title of their adopted character and a
sketch of their intended dress, that their plans might receive the
sanction of the ladies of the “Committee of Arrangement,” and their
dresses the approbation of the secretary of costume. By this method the
chance and inconvenience of two persons selecting and appearing in the
same character were destroyed and prevented. After exciting the usual
jealousies, intrigues, dissatisfaction, and ill-blood, by the influence
and imperturbable temper of Madame Carolina, everything was arranged;
Emilius von Aslingen being the only person who set both the Committees
of Arrangement and Costume at defiance, and treated the repeated
applications of their respected secretary with contemptuous silence. The
indignant Baron von Chronicle entreated the strong interference of the
“Committee of Arrangement,” but Emilius von Aslingen was too powerful an
individual to be treated by others as he treated them. Had the
fancy-dress ball of the Sovereign been attended by all his subjects,
with the exception of this Captain in his Guards, the whole affair might
have been a failure; would have been dark in spite of the glare of ten
thousand lamps and the glories of all the jewels of his state; would
have been dull, although each guest were wittier than Pasquin himself;
and very vulgar, although attended by lords of as many quarterings as
the ancient shield of his own antediluvian house! All, therefore, that
the ladies of the “Committee of Arrangement” could do, was to enclose to
the rebellious von Aslingen a list of the expected characters, and a
resolution passed in consequence of his contumacy, that no person or
persons was, or were, to appear as either or any of these characters,
unless he, or they, could produce a ticket, or tickets, granted by a
member of the “Committee of Arrangement,” and countersigned by the
secretary of the “Committee of Costume.” At the same time that these
vigorous measures were resolved on, no persons spoke of Emilius von
Aslingen’s rebellious conduct in terms of greater admiration than the
ladies of the Committee themselves. If possible, he in consequence
became even a more influential and popular personage than before, and
his conduct procured him almost the adoration of persons who, had they
dared to imitate him, would have been instantly crushed, and would have
been banished society principally by the exertions of the very
individual whom they had the presumption to mimic.

In the gardens of the palace was a spacious amphitheatre, cut out in
green seats, for the spectators of the plays which, during the summer
months, were sometimes performed there by the Court. There was a stage
in the same taste, with rows of trees for side-scenes, and a great
number of arbours and summer-rooms, surrounded by lofty hedges of
laurel, for the actors to retire and dress in. Connected with this
“rural Theatre,” for such was its title, were many labyrinths, and
groves, and arched walks, in the same style. More than twelve large
fountains were in the immediate vicinity of this theatre. At the end of
one walk a sea-horse spouted its element through its nostrils; and in
another, Neptune turned an Ocean out of a vase. Seated on a rock,
Arcadia’s half-goat god, the deity of silly sheep and silly poets, sent
forth trickling streams through his rustic pipes; and in the centre of a
green grove, an enamoured Salmacis, bathing in a pellucid basin, seemed
watching for her Hermaphrodite.

It was in this rural theatre and its fanciful confines that Madame
Carolina and her councillors resolved that their magic should, for a
night, not only stop the course of time, but recall past centuries. It
was certainly rather late in the year for choosing such a spot for the
scene of their enchantment; but the season, as we have often had
occasion to remark in the course of these volumes, was singularly fine;
and indeed at this moment the nights were as warm, and as clear from
mist and dew, as they are during an Italian midsummer.

But it is eight o’clock; we are already rather late. Is that a figure by
Holbein, just started out of the canvas, that I am about to meet? Stand
aside! It is a page of the Emperor Charles the Fifth! The Court is on
its way to the theatre. The theatre and the gardens are brilliantly
illuminated. The effect of the thousands of coloured lamps, in all parts
of the foliage, is very beautiful. The moon is up, and a million stars!
If it be not quite as light as day, it is just light enough for
pleasure. You could not perhaps endorse a bill of exchange, or engross a
parchment, by this light; but then it is just the light to read a
love-letter by, and do a thousand other things besides.

All hail to the Emperor! we would give his costume, were it not rather
too much in the style of the von Chronicles. Reader! you have seen a
portrait of Charles by Holbein: very well; what need is there of a
description? No lack was there in this gay scene of massy chains and
curious collars, nor of cloth of gold, nor of cloth of silver! No lack
was there of trembling plumes and costly hose! No lack was there of
crimson velvet, and russet velvet, and tawny velvet, and purple velvet,
and plunket velvet, and of scarlet cloth, and green taffeta, and cloth
of silk embroidered! No lack was there of garments of estate, and of
quaint chemews, nor of short crimson cloaks, covered with pearls and
precious stones! No lack was there of party-coloured splendour, of
purple velvet embroidered with white, and white satin dresses
embroidered with black! No lack was there of splendid koyfes of damask,
or kerchiefs of fine Cyprus; nor of points of Venice silver of ducat
fineness, nor of garlands of friars’ knots, nor of coloured satins, nor
of bleeding hearts embroidered on the bravery of dolorous lovers, nor of
quaint sentences of wailing gallantry! But for the details, are they not
to be found in those much-neglected and much-plundered persons, the old
chroniclers? and will they not sufficiently appear in the most inventive
portion of the next great historical novel?

The Grand Duke looked the Emperor. Our friend the Grand Marshal was
Francis the First; and Arnelm and von Neuwied figured as the Marshal of
Montmorency and the Marshal Lautrec. The old toothless Bishop did
justice to Clement the Seventh; and his companion, the ancient General,
looked grim as Pompeo Colonna. A prince of the House of Nassau, one of
the royal visitors, represented his adventurous ancestor the Prince of
Orange. Von Sohnspeer was that haughty and accomplished rebel, the
Constable of Bourbon. The young Baron Gernsbach was worthy of the
seraglio, as he stalked along as Solyman the Magnificent, with all the
family jewels belonging to his dowager mother shining in his superb
turban. Our friend the Count of Eberstein personified chivalry, in the
person of Bayard. The younger Bernstorff, the intimate friend of
Gernsbach, attended his sumptuous sovereign as that Turkish Paul Jones,
Barbarossa. An Italian Prince was Andrew Doria. The Grand Chamberlain,
our francisé acquaintance, and who affected a love of literature, was
the Protestant Elector of Saxony. His train consisted of the principal
litterateurs of Reisenburg. The Editor of the “Attack-all Review,” who
originally had been a Catholic, but who had been skilfully converted
some years ago, when he thought Catholicism was on the decline, was
Martin Luther, an individual whom, both in his apostasy and fierceness,
he much and only resembled. On the contrary, the editor of the
“Praise-all Review” appeared as the mild and meek Melanchthon. Mr.
Sievers, not yet at Vienna, was Erasmus. Ariosto, Guicciardini, Ronsard,
Rabelais, Machiavel, Pietro Aretino, Garcilasso de la Vega. Sannazaro,
and Paracelsus, afforded names to many nameless critics. Two Generals,
brothers, appeared as Cortes and Pizarro. The noble Director of the
Gallery was Albert Durer, and his deputy Hans Holbein. The Court
painter, a wretched mimic of the modern French School, did justice to
the character of Correggio; and an indifferent sculptor looked sublime
as Michel Angelo.

Von Chronicle had persuaded the Prince of Pike and Powdren, one of his
warmest admirers, to appear as Henry the Eighth of England. His Highness
was one of those true North German patriots who think their own country
a very garden of Eden, and verily believe that original sin is to be
finally put an end to in a large sandy plain between Berlin and Hanover.
The Prince of Pike and Powdren passed his whole life in patriotically
sighing for the concentration of all Germany into one great nation, and
in secretly trusting that, if ever the consummation took place, the
North would be rewarded for their condescending union by a monopoly of
all the privileges of the Empire. Such a character was of course
extremely desirous of figuring to-night in a style peculiarly national.
The persuasions of von Chronicle, however, prevailed, and induced his
Highness of Pike and Powdren to dismiss his idea of appearing as the
ancient Arminius, although it was with great regret that the Prince gave
up his plan of personating his favourite hero, with hair down to his
middle and skins up to his chin. Nothing would content von Chronicle but
that his kind patron should represent a crowned head: anything else was
beneath him. The patriotism of the Prince disappeared before the
flattery of the novelist, like the bloom of a plum before the breath of
a boy, when he polishes the powdered fruit ere he devours it. No sooner
had his Highness agreed to be changed into bluff Harry than the secret
purpose of his adviser was immediately detected. No Court confessor,
seduced by the vision of a red hat, ever betrayed the secrets of his
sovereign with greater fervour than did von Chronicle labour for the
Cardinal’s costume, which was the consequence of the Prince of Pike and
Powdren undertaking the English monarch. To-night, proud as was the part
of the Prince as regal Harry, his strut was a shamble compared with the
imperious stalk of von Chronicle as the arrogant and ambitious Wolsey.
The Cardinal in Rienzi was nothing to him; for to-night Wolsey had as
many pages as the other had petticoats!

But, most ungallant of scribblers! Place aux dames! Surely Madame
Carolina, as the beautiful and accomplished Margaret of Navarre, might
well command, even without a mandate, your homage and your admiration!
The lovely Queen seemed the very goddess of smiles and repartee; young
Max, as her page, carried at her side a painted volume of her own
poetry. The arm of the favourite sister of Francis, who it will be
remembered once fascinated even the Emperor, was linked in that of
Caesar’s natural daughter, her beautiful namesake, the bright-eyed
Margaret of Austria. Conversing with these royal dames, and indeed
apparently in attendance upon them, was a young gallant of courtly
bearing, and attired in a fantastic dress. It is Clement Marot, “the
Poet of Princes and the Prince of Poets,” as he was styled by his own
admiring age; he offers to the critical inspection of the nimble-witted
Navarre a few lines in celebration of her beauty and the night’s
festivity; one of those short Marotique poems once so celebrated;
perhaps a page culled from those gay and airy psalms which, with
characteristic gallantry, he dedicated “to the Dames of France!” Observe
well the fashionable bard! Marot was a true poet, and in his day not
merely read by queens and honoured by courtiers: observe him well; for
the character is supported by our Vivian Grey. It was with great
difficulty that Madame Carolina had found a character for her favourite,
for the lists were all filled before his arrival at Reisenburg. She at
first wished him to appear as some celebrated Englishman of the time,
but no character of sufficient importance could be discovered. All our
countrymen in contact or connection with the Emperor Charles were
churchmen and civilians; and Sir Nicholas Carew and the other fops of
the reign of Henry the Eighth, who, after the visit to Paris, were even
more ridiculously francisé than the Grand Chamberlain of Reisenburg
himself, were not, after mature deliberation, considered entitled to the
honour of being ranked in Madame Carolina’s age of Charles the Fifth.

But who is this, surrounded by her ladies and her chamberlains and her
secretaries? Four pages in dresses of cloth of gold, and each the son of
a prince of the French blood, support her train; a crown encircles locks
grey as much from thought as from time, but which require no show of
loyalty to prove that they belong to a mother of princes; that ample
forehead, aquiline nose, and the keen glance of her piercing eye denote
the Queen as much as the regality of her gait and her numerous and
splendid train. The young Queen of Navarre hastens to proffer her duty
to the mother of Francis, the celebrated Louise of Savoy; and
exquisitely did the young and lovely Countess of S---- personate the
most celebrated of female diplomatists.

We have forgotten one character; the repeated commands of his father and
the constant entreaties of Madame Carolina had at length prevailed upon
the Crown Prince to shuffle himself into a fancy dress. No sooner had he
gratified them by his hard-wrung consent than Baron von Chronicle called
upon him with drawings of the costume of the Prince of Asturias,
afterwards Philip the Second of Spain. If we for a moment forgot so
important a personage as the future Grand Duke, it must have been
because he supported his character so ably that no one for an instant
believed that it was an assumed one; standing near the side scenes of
the amphitheatre, with his gloomy brow, sad eye, protruding under-lip,
and arms hanging straight by his sides, he looked a bigot without hope,
and a tyrant without purpose.

The first hour is over, and the guests are all assembled. As yet they
content themselves with promenading round the amphitheatre; for before
they can think of dance or stroll, each of them must be duly acquainted
with the other’s dress. It was a most splendid scene. The Queen of
Navarre has now been presented to the Emperor, and, leaning on his arm,
they head the promenade. The Emperor had given the hand of Margaret of
Austria to his legitimate son; but the Crown Prince, though he continued
in silence by the side of the young Baroness, soon resigned a hand which
did not struggle to retain his. Clement Marot was about to fall back
into a less conspicuous part of the procession; but the Grand Duke,
witnessing the regret of his loved Consort, condescendingly said, “We
cannot afford to lose our poet;” and so Vivian found himself walking
behind Madame Carolina, and on the left side of the young Baroness.
Louise of Savoy followed with her son, the King of France; most of the
ladies of the Court, and a crowd of officers, among them Montmorency and
De Lautrec, after their Majesties. The King of England moves by; his
state unnoticed in the superior magnificence of Wolsey. Pompeo Colonna
apologises to Pope Clement for having besieged his holiness in the
Castle of St. Angelo. The Elector of Saxony and the Prince of Orange
follow. Solyman the Magnificent is attended by his Admiral; and
Bayard’s pure spirit almost quivers at the whispered treason of the
Constable of Bourbon. Luther and Melanchthon, Erasmus and Rabelais,
Cortez and Pizarro, Correggio and Michael Angelo, and a long train of
dames and dons of all nations, succeed; so long that the amphitheatre
cannot hold them, and the procession, that they may walk over the stage,
makes a short progress through an adjoining summer-room.

Just as the Emperor and the fair Queen are in the middle of the stage, a
wounded warrior with a face pale as an eclipsed moon, a helmet on which
is painted the sign of his sacred order, a black mantle thrown over his
left shoulder, but not concealing his armour, a sword in his right hand
and an outstretched crucifix in his left, rushes on the scene. The
procession suddenly halts; all recognise Emilius von Aslingen! and
Madame Carolina blushes through her rouge when she perceives that so
celebrated, “so interesting a character” as Ignatius Loyola, the Founder
of the Jesuits, has not been included in the all-comprehensive lists of
her committee.



CHAPTER X


Henry of England led the Polonaise with Louise of Savoy; Margaret of
Austria would not join in it: waltzing quickly followed. The Emperor
seldom left the side of the Queen of Navarre, and often conversed with
her Majesty’s poet. The Prince of Asturias hovered for a moment round
his father’s daughter, as if he were summoning resolution to ask her to
waltz. Once, indeed, he opened his mouth; could it have been to speak?
But the young Margaret gave no encouragement to this unusual exertion;
and Philip of Asturias, looking, if possible, more sad and sombre than
before, skulked away. The Crown Prince left the gardens, and now a smile
lit up every face, except that of the young Baroness. The gracious Grand
Duke, unwilling to see a gloomy countenance anywhere to-night, turned to
Vivian, who was speaking to Madame Carolina, and said, “Gentle poet,
would that thou hadst some chanson or courtly compliment to chase the
cloud which hovers on the brow of our much-loved daughter of Austria!
Your popularity, sir,” continued the Grand Duke, dropping his mock
heroic vein and speaking in a much lower tone, “your popularity, sir,
among the ladies of the Court, cannot be increased by any panegyric of
mine; nor am I insensible, believe me, to the assiduity and skill with
which you have complied with my wishes in making our Court agreeable to
the relative of a man to whom we owe so much as Mr. Beckendorff. I am
informed, Mr. Grey,” continued his Royal Highness, “that you have no
intention of very speedily returning to your country; I wish that I
could count you among my peculiar attendants. If you have an objection
to live in the palace without performing your quota of duty to the
State, we shall have no difficulty in finding you an office, and
clothing you in our official costume. Think of this!” So saying, with a
gracious smile, his Royal Highness, leading Madame Carolina, commenced a
walk round the gardens.

The young Baroness did not follow them. Solyman the Magnificent, and
Bayard the irreproachable, and Barbarossa the pirate, and Bourbon the
rebel, immediately surrounded her. Few persons were higher ton than the
Turkish Emperor and his Admiral; few persons talked more agreeable
nonsense than the Knight sans peur et sans reproche; no person was more
important than the warlike Constable; but their attention, their
amusement, and their homage were to-night thrown away on the object of
their observance. The Baroness listened to them without interest, and
answered them wi