Part 2 out of 2
'I wish I had not to think it right that you should be beaten. And now--
can you throw off political Nevil, and be sailor Nevil? I distinguish
between my old friend, and my . . .our . . .'
'Not so dreadful, except in the shock he gives us to find him in the
opposite ranks. I am grieved. But we will finish our sail in peace.
I detest controversy. I suppose, Nevil, you would have no such things
as yachts? they are the enjoyments of the rich!'
He reminded her that she wished to finish her sail in peace; and he
had to remind her of it more than once. Her scattered resources for
argumentation sprang up from various suggestions, such as the flight of
yachts, mention of the shooting season, sight of a royal palace; and
adopted a continually heightened satirical form, oddly intermixed with an
undisguised affectionate friendliness. Apparently she thought it
possible to worry him out of his adhesion to the wrong side in politics.
She certainly had no conception of the nature of his political views,
for one or two extreme propositions flung to him in jest, he swallowed
with every sign of a perfect facility, as if the Radical had come to
regard stupendous questions as morsels barely sufficient for his daily
sustenance. Cecilia reflected that he must be playing, and as it was
not a subject for play she tacitly reproved him by letting him be the
last to speak of it. He may not have been susceptible to the delicate
chastisement, probably was not, for when he ceased it was to look on the
beauty of her lowered eyelids, rather with an idea that the weight of his
argument lay on them. It breathed from him; both in the department of
logic and of feeling, in his plea for the poor man and his exposition of
the poor man's rightful claims, he evidently imagined that he had spoken
overwhelmingly; and to undeceive him in this respect, for his own good,
Cecilia calmly awaited the occasion when she might show the vanity of
arguments in their effort to overcome convictions. He stood up to take
his leave of her, on their return to the mouth of the Otley river,
unexpectedly, so that the occasion did not arrive; but on his mentioning
an engagement he had to give a dinner to a journalist and a tradesman of
the town of Bevisham, by way of excuse for not complying with her gentle
entreaty that he would go to Mount Laurels and wait to see the colonel
that evening, 'Oh! then your choice must be made irrevocably, I am sure,'
Miss Halkett said, relying upon intonation and manner to convey a great
deal more, and not without a minor touch of resentment for his having
dragged her into the discussion of politics, which she considered as a
slime wherein men hustled and tussled, no doubt worthily enough, and as
became them; not however to impose the strife upon the elect ladies of
earth. What gentleman ever did talk to a young lady upon the dreary
topic seriously? Least of all should Nevil Beauchamp have done it. That
object of her high imagination belonged to the exquisite sphere of the
feminine vision of the pure poetic, and she was vexed by the discord he
threw between her long-cherished dream and her unanticipated realization
of him:, if indeed it was he presenting himself to her in his own
character, and not trifling, or not passing through a phase of young
Possibly he might be the victim of the latter and more pardonable state,
and so thinking she gave him her hand.
'Good-bye, Nevil. I may tell papa to expect you tomorrow?'
'Do, and tell him to prepare for a field-day.'
She smiled. 'A sham fight that will not win you a vote! I hope you will
find your guests this evening agreeable companions.'
Beauchamp half-shrugged involuntarily. He obliterated the piece of
treason toward them by saying that he hoped so; as though the meeting
them, instead of slipping on to Mount Laurels with her, were an enjoyable
He was dropped by the Esperanza's boat near Otley ferry, to walk along
the beach to Bevisham, and he kept eye on the elegant vessel as she
glided swan-like to her moorings off Mount Laurels park through dusky
merchant craft, colliers, and trawlers, loosely shaking her towering
snow-white sails, unchallenged in her scornful supremacy; an image of a
refinement of beauty, and of a beautiful servicelessness.
As the yacht, so the mistress: things of wealth, owing their graces to
wealth, devoting them to wealth--splendid achievements of art both! and
dedicated to the gratification of the superior senses.
Say that they were precious examples of an accomplished civilization; and
perhaps they did offer a visible ideal of grace for the rough world to
aim at. They might in the abstract address a bit of a monition to the
uncultivated, and encourage the soul to strive toward perfection, in
beauty: and there is no contesting the value of beauty when the soul is
taken into account. But were they not in too great a profusion in
proportion to their utility? That was the question for Nevil Beauchamp.
The democratic spirit inhabiting him, temporarily or permanently, asked
whether they were not increasing to numbers which were oppressive? And
further, whether it was good, for the country, the race, ay, the species,
that they should be so distinctly removed from the thousands who fought
the grand, and the grisly, old battle with nature for bread of life.
Those grimy sails of the colliers and fishing-smacks, set them in a great
sea, would have beauty for eyes and soul beyond that of elegance and
refinement. And do but look on them thoughtfully, the poor are
everlastingly, unrelievedly, in the abysses of the great sea . . . .
One cannot pursue to conclusions a line of meditation that is half-built
on the sensations as well as on the mind. Did Beauchamp at all desire to
have those idly lovely adornments of riches, the Yacht and the Lady,
swept away? Oh, dear, no. He admired them, he was at home with them.
They were much to his taste. Standing on a point of the beach for a last
look at them before he set his face to the town, he prolonged the look in
a manner to indicate that the place where business called him was not in
comparison at all so pleasing: and just as little enjoyable were his
meditations opposed to predilections. Beauty plucked the heart from his
breast. But he had taken up arms; he had drunk of the questioning cup,
that which denieth peace to us, and which projects us upon the missionary
search of the How, the Wherefore, and the Why not, ever afterward. He
questioned his justification, and yours, for gratifying tastes in an ill-
regulated world of wrong-doing, suffering, sin, and bounties
unrighteously dispensed--not sufficiently dispersed. He said by-and-by
to pleasure, battle to-day. From his point of observation, and with the
store of ideas and images his fiery yet reflective youth had gathered, he
presented himself as it were saddled to that hard-riding force known as
the logical impetus, which spying its quarry over precipices, across
oceans and deserts, and through systems and webs, and into shops and
cabinets of costliest china, will come at it, will not be refused, let
the distances and the breakages be what they may. He went like the
meteoric man with the mechanical legs in the song, too quick for a cry of
protestation, and reached results amazing to his instincts, his tastes,
and his training, not less rapidly and naturally than tremendous Ergo is
shot forth from the clash of a syllogism.
A PARTIAL DISPLAY OF BEAUCHAMP IN HIS COLOURS
Beauchamp presented himself at Mount Laurels next day, and formally asked
Colonel Halkett for his vote, in the presence of Cecilia.
She took it for a playful glance at his new profession of politician: he
spoke half-playfully. Was it possible to speak in earnest?
'I 'm of the opposite party,' said the colonel; as conclusive a reply
as could be: but he at once fell upon the rotten navy of a Liberal
Government. How could a true sailor think of joining those Liberals!
The question referred to the country, not to a section of it, Beauchamp
protested with impending emphasis: Tories and Liberals were much the same
in regard to the care of the navy. 'Nevil!' exclaimed Cecilia. He cited
beneficial Liberal bills recently passed, which she accepted for a
concession of the navy to the Tories, and she smiled. In spite of her
dislike of politics, she had only to listen a few minutes to be drawn
into the contest: and thus it is that one hot politician makes many among
women and men of a people that have the genius of strife, or else in this
case the young lady did unconsciously feel a deep interest in refuting
and overcoming Nevil Beauchamp. Colonel Halkett denied the benefits of
those bills. 'Look,' said he, 'at the scarecrow plight of the army under
a Liberal Government!' This laid him open to the charge that he was for
backing Administrations instead of principles.
'I do,' said the colonel. 'I would rather have a good Administration
than all your talk of principles: one's a fact, but principles?
principles?' He languished for a phrase to describe the hazy things.
'I have mine, and you have yours. It's like a dispute between religions.
There's no settling it except by main force. That's what principles lead
Principles may be hazy, but heavy artillery is disposable in defence of
them, and Beauchamp fired some reverberating guns for the eternal against
the transitory; with less of the gentlemanly fine taste, the light and
easy social semi-irony, than Cecilia liked and would have expected from
him. However, as to principles, no doubt Nevil was right, and Cecilia
drew her father to another position. 'Are not we Tories to have
principles as well as the Liberals, Nevil?'
'They may have what they call principles,' he admitted, intent on
pursuing his advantage over the colonel, who said, to shorten the
controversy: 'It's a question of my vote, and my liking. I like a Tory
Government, and I don't like the Liberals. I like gentlemen; I don't
like a party that attacks everything, and beats up the mob for power, and
repays it with sops, and is dragging us down from all we were proud of.'
'But the country is growing, the country wants expansion,' said
Beauchamp; 'and if your gentlemen by birth are not up to the mark, you
must have leaders that are.'
'Leaders who cut down expenditure, to create a panic that doubles the
outlay! I know them.'
'A panic, Nevil.' Cecilia threw stress on the memorable word.
He would hear no reminder in it. The internal condition of the country
was now the point for seriously-minded Englishmen.
'My dear boy, what have you seen of the country?' Colonel Halkett
'Every time I have landed, colonel, I have gone to the mining and the
manufacturing districts, the centres of industry; wherever there was
dissatisfaction. I have attended meetings, to see and hear for myself.
I have read the papers . . . .'
'Well, they're the mirror of the country.'
'Does one see everything in a mirror, Nevil?' said Cecilia: 'even in the
He retorted softly: 'I should be glad to see what you see,' and felled
her with a blush.
For an example of the mirror offered by the Press, Colonel Halkett
touched on Mr. Timothy Turbot's article in eulogy of the great Commander
Beauchamp. 'Did you like it?' he asked. 'Ah, but if you meddle with
politics, you must submit to be held up on the prongs of a fork, my boy;
soaped by your backers and shaved by the foe; and there's a figure for a
gentleman! as your uncle Romfrey says.'
Cecilia did not join this discussion, though she had heard from her
father that something grotesque had been written of Nevil. Her
foolishness in blushing vexed body and mind. She was incensed by a silly
compliment that struck at her feminine nature when her intellect stood in
arms. Yet more hurt was she by the reflection that a too lively
sensibility might have conjured up the idea of the compliment. And
again, she wondered at herself for not resenting so rare a presumption
as it implied, and not disdaining so outworn a form of flattery. She
wondered at herself too for thinking of resentment and disdain in
relation to the familiar commonplaces of licenced impertinence. Over all
which hung a darkened image of her spirit of independence, like a moon in
Where lay his weakness? Evidently in the belief that he had thought
profoundly. But what minor item of insufficiency or feebleness was
discernible? She discovered that he could be easily fretted by similes
and metaphors they set him staggering and groping like an ancient knight
of faery in a forest bewitched.
'Your specific for the country is, then, Radicalism,' she said, after
listening to an attack on the Tories for their want of a policy and
indifference to the union of classes.
'I would prescribe a course of it, Cecilia; yes,' he turned to her.
'The Dr. Dulcamara of a single drug?'
'Now you have a name for me! Tory arguments always come to epithets.'
'It should not be objectionable. Is it not honest to pretend to have
only one cure for mortal maladies? There can hardly be two panaceas,
can there be?'
'So you call me quack?'
'No, Nevil, no,' she breathed a rich contralto note of denial: 'but if
the country is the patient, and you will have it swallow your
prescription . . .'
'There's nothing like a metaphor for an evasion,' said Nevil, blinking
She drew him another analogy, longer than was at all necessary; so
tedious that her father struck through it with the remark:
'Concerning that quack--that's one in the background, though!'
'I know of none,' said Beauchamp, well-advised enough to forbear mention
of the name of Shrapnel.
Cecilia petitioned that her stumbling ignorance, which sought the road of
wisdom, might be heard out. She had a reserve entanglement for her
argumentative friend. 'You were saying, Nevil, that you were for
principles rather than for individuals, and you instanced Mr. Cougham,
the senior Liberal candidate of Bevisham, as one whom you would prefer to
see in Parliament instead of Seymour Austin, though you confess to Mr.
Austin's far superior merits as a politician and servant of his country:
but Mr. Cougham supports Liberalism while Mr. Austin is a Tory. You are
for the principle.'
'I am,' said he, bowing.
She asked: 'Is not that equivalent to the doctrine of election by Grace?'
Beauchamp interjected: 'Grace! election?'
Cecilia was tender to his inability to follow her allusion.
'Thou art a Liberal--then rise to membership,' she said. 'Accept my
creed, and thou art of the chosen. Yes, Nevil, you cannot escape from
it. Papa, he preaches Calvinism in politics.'
'We stick to men, and good men,' the colonel flourished. 'Old English
'You might as well say, old timber vessels, when Iron's afloat, colonel.'
'I suspect you have the worst of it there, papa,' said Cecilia, taken by
the unexpectedness and smartness of the comparison coming from wits that
she had been undervaluing.
'I shall not own I'm worsted until I surrender my vote,' the colonel
'I won't despair of it,' said Beauchamp.
Colonel Halkett bade him come for it as often as he liked. You'll be
beaten in Bevisham, I warn you. Tory reckonings are safest: it's an
admitted fact: and we know you can't win. According to my judgement a
man owes a duty to his class.'
'A man owes a duty to his class as long as he sees his class doing its
duty to the country,' said Beauchamp; and he added, rather prettily in
contrast with the sententious commencement, Cecilia thought, that the
apathy of his class was proved when such as he deemed it an obligation on
them to come forward and do what little they could. The deduction of the
proof was not clearly consequent, but a meaning was expressed; and in
that form it brought him nearer to her abstract idea of Nevil Beauchamp
than when he raged and was precise.
After his departure she talked of him with her father, to be charitably
satirical over him, it seemed.
The critic in her ear had pounced on his repetition of certain words that
betrayed a dialectical stiffness and hinted a narrow vocabulary: his use
of emphasis, rather reminding her of his uncle Everard, was, in a young
man, a little distressing. 'The apathy of the country, papa; the apathy
of the rich; a state of universal apathy. Will you inform me, papa, what
the Tories are doing? Do we really give our consciences to the keeping
of the parsons once a week, and let them dogmatize for us to save us from
exertion? We must attach ourselves to principles; nothing is permanent
but principles. Poor Nevil! And still I am sure you have, as I have,
the feeling that one must respect him. I am quite convinced that he
supposes he is doing his best to serve his country by trying for
Parliament, fancying himself a Radical. I forgot to ask him whether he
had visited his great-aunt, Mrs. Beauchamp. They say the dear old lady
has influence with him.'
'I don't think he's been anywhere,' Colonel Halkett half laughed at the
quaint fellow. 'I wish the other great-nephew of hers were in England,
for us to run him against Nevil Beauchamp. He's touring the world. I'm
told he's orthodox, and a tough debater. We have to take what we can
'My best wishes for your success, and you and I will not talk of politics
any more, papa. I hope Nevil will come often, for his own good; he will
meet his own set of people here. And if he should dogmatize so much as
to rouse our apathy to denounce his principles, we will remember that we
are British, and can be sweet-blooded in opposition. Perhaps he may
change, even tra le tre ore a le quattro: electioneering should be a
lesson. From my recollection of Blackburn Tuckham, he was a boisterous
'He writes uncommonly clever letters home to his aunt Beauchamp. She has
handed them to me to read,' said the colonel. 'I do like to see
tolerably solid young fellows: they give one some hope of the stability
of the country.'
'They are not so interesting to study, and not half so amusing,' said
Colonel Halkett muttered his objections to the sort of amusement
furnished by firebrands.
'Firebrand is too strong a word for poor Nevil,' she remonstrated.
In that estimate of the character of Nevil Beauchamp, Cecilia soon had to
confess that she had been deceived, though not by him.
HIS FRIEND AND FOE
Looking from her window very early on a Sunday morning, Miss Halkett saw
Beauchamp strolling across the grass of the park. She dressed hurriedly
and went out to greet him, smiling and thanking him for his friendliness
He said he was delighted, and appeared so, but dashed the sweetness.
'You know I can't canvass on Sundays!
'I suppose not,' she replied. 'Have you walked up from Bevisham? You
must be tired.'
'Nothing tires me,' said he.
With that they stepped on together.
Mount Laurels, a fair broad house backed by a wood of beeches and firs,
lay open to view on the higher grassed knoll of a series of descending
turfy mounds dotted with gorseclumps, and faced South-westerly along the
run of the Otley river to the gleaming broad water and its opposite
border of forest, beyond which the downs of the island threw long
interlapping curves. Great ships passed on the line of the water to and
fro; and a little mist of masts of the fishing and coasting craft by
Otley village, near the river's mouth, was like a web in air. Cecilia
led him to her dusky wood of firs, where she had raised a bower for a
place of poetical contemplation and reading when the clear lapping salt
river beneath her was at high tide. She could hail the Esperanza from
that cover; she could step from her drawing-room window, over the flower-
beds, down the gravel walk to the hard, and be on board her yacht within
seven minutes, out on her salt-water lake within twenty, closing her
wings in a French harbour by nightfall of a summer's day, whenever she
had the whim to fly abroad. Of these enviable privileges she boasted
with some happy pride.
'It's the finest yachting-station in England,' said Beauchamp.
She expressed herself very glad that he should like it so much.
Unfortunately she added, 'I hope you will find it pleasanter to be here
'I have no pleasure in canvassing,' said he. 'I canvass poor men
accustomed to be paid for their votes, and who get nothing from me but
what the baron would call a parsonical exhortation. I'm in the thick of
the most spiritless crew in the kingdom. Our southern men will not
compare with the men of the north. But still, even among these fellows,
I see danger for the country if our commerce were to fail, if distress
came on them. There's always danger in disunion. That's what the rich
won't see. They see simply nothing out of their own circle; and they
won't take a thought of the overpowering contrast between their luxury
and the way of living, that's half-starving, of the poor. They
understand it when fever comes up from back alleys and cottages, and then
they join their efforts to sweep the poor out of the district. The poor
are to get to their work anyhow, after a long morning's walk over the
proscribed space; for we must have poor, you know. The wife of a parson
I canvassed yesterday, said to me, "Who is to work for us, if you do away
with the poor, Captain Beauchamp?"'
Cecilia quitted her bower and traversed the wood silently.
'So you would blow up my poor Mount Laurels for a peace-offering to the
'I should hope to put it on a stronger foundation, Cecilia.'
'By means of some convulsion?'
'By forestalling one.'
'That must be one of the new ironclads,' observed Cecilia, gazing at the
black smoke-pennon of a tower that slipped along the water-line. 'Yes?
You were saying? Put us on a stronger----?'
'It's, I think, the Hastings: she broke down the other day on her trial
trip,' said Beauchamp, watching the ship's progress animatedly. 'Peppel
commands her--a capital officer. I suppose we must have these costly big
floating barracks. I don't like to hear of everything being done for the
defensive. The defensive is perilous policy in war. It's true, the
English don't wake up to their work under half a year. But, no:
defending and looking to defences is bad for the fighting power; and
there's half a million gone on that ship. Half a million! Do you know
how many poor taxpayers it takes to make up that sum, Cecilia?'
'A great many,' she slurred over them; 'but we must have big ships, and
the best that are to be had.'
'Powerful fast rams, sea-worthy and fit for running over shallows,
carrying one big gun; swarms of harryers and worriers known to be kept
ready for immediate service; readiness for the offensive in case of war
--there's the best defence against a declaration of war by a foreign
'I like to hear you, Nevil,' said Cecilia, beaming: 'Papa thinks we have
a miserable army--in numbers. He says, the wealthier we become the more
difficult it is to recruit able-bodied men on the volunteering system.
Yet the wealthier we are the more an army is wanted, both to defend our
wealth and to preserve order. I fancy he half inclines to compulsory
enlistment. Do speak to him on that subject.'
Cecilia must have been innocent of a design to awaken the fire-flash in
Nevil's eyes. She had no design, but hostility was latent, and hence
perhaps the offending phrase.
He nodded and spoke coolly. 'An army to preserve order? So, then, an
army to threaten civil war!'
'To crush revolutionists.'
'Agitators, you mean. My dear good old colonel--I have always loved him
--must not have more troops at his command.'
'Do you object to the drilling of the whole of the people?'
'Does not the colonel, Cecilia? I am sure he does in his heart, and, for
different reasons, I do. He won't trust the working-classes, nor I the
'Does Dr. Shrapnel hate the middle-class?'
'Dr. Shrapnel cannot hate. He and I are of opinion, that as the middle-
class are the party in power, they would not, if they knew the use of
arms, move an inch farther in Reform, for they would no longer be in fear
of the class below them.'
'But what horrible notions of your country have you, Nevil! It is
dreadful to hear. Oh! do let us avoid politics for ever. Fear!'
'All concessions to the people have been won from fear.'
'I have not heard so.'
'I will read it to you in the History of England.'
'You paint us in a condition of Revolution.'
'Happily it's not a condition unnatural to us. The danger would be in
not letting it be progressive, and there's a little danger too at times
in our slowness. We change our blood or we perish.'
'Yes, I have heard Dr. Shrapnel say that. And, by-the-way, Cecilia--will
you? can you?--take me for the witness to his character. He is the most
guileless of men, and he's the most unguarded. My good Rosamund saw him.
She is easily prejudiced when she is a trifle jealous, and you may hear
from her that he rambles, talks wildly. It may seem so. I maintain
there is wisdom in him when conventional minds would think him at his
wildest. Believe me, he is the humanest, the best of men, tenderhearted
as a child: the most benevolent, simple-minded, admirable old man--the
man I am proudest to think of as an Englishman and a man living in my
time, of all men existing. I can't overpraise him.'
'He has a bad reputation.'
'Only with the class that will not meet him and answer him.'
'Must we invite him to our houses?'
'It would be difficult to get him to come, if you did. I mean, meet him
in debate and answer his arguments. Try the question by brains.'
'Not before mobs. I punish you by answering you seriously.'
'I am sensible of the flattery.'
'Before mobs!' Nevil ejaculated. 'It's the Tories that mob together and
cry down every man who appears to them to threaten their privileges. Can
you guess what Dr. Shrapnel compares them to?'
'Indeed, Nevil, I have not an idea. I only wish your patriotism were
large enough to embrace them.'
'He compares them to geese claiming possession of the whole common, and
hissing at every foot of ground they have to yield. They're always
having to retire and always hissing. "Retreat and menace," that's the
motto for them.'
'Very well, Nevil, I am a goose upon a common.'
So saying, Cecilia swam forward like a swan on water to give the morning
kiss to her papa, by the open window of the breakfast-room.
Never did bird of Michaelmas fling off water from her feathers more
thoroughly than this fair young lady the false title she pretended to
'I hear you're of the dinner party at Grancey Lespel's on Wednesday,'
the colonel said to Beauchamp. 'You'll have to stand fire.'
'They will, papa,' murmured Cecilia. 'Will Mr. Austin be there?'
'I particularly wish to meet Mr. Austin,' said Beauchamp.
'Listen to him, if you do meet him,' she replied.
His look was rather grave.
'Lespel 's a Whig,' he said.
The colonel answered. 'Lespel was a Whig. Once a Tory always a Tory,--
but court the people and you're on quicksands, and that's where the Whigs
are. What he is now I don't think he knows himself. You won't get a
Cecilia watched her friend Nevil recovering from his short fit of gloom.
He dismissed politics at breakfast and grew companionable, with the charm
of his earlier day. He was willing to accompany her to church too.
'You will hear a long sermon,' she warned him.
'Forty minutes.' Colonel Halkett smothered a yawn that was both retro
'It has been fifty, papa.'
'It has been an hour, my dear.'
It was good discipline nevertheless, the colonel affirmed, and Cecilia
praised the Rev. Mr. Brisk of Urplesdon vicarage as one of our few
remaining Protestant clergymen.
'Then he ought to be supported,' said Beauchamp. 'In the dissensions of
religious bodies it is wise to pat the weaker party on the back--I quote
'I 've heard him,' sighed the colonel. 'He calls the Protestant clergy
the social police of the English middle-class. Those are the things he
lets fly. I have heard that man say that the Church stands to show the
passion of the human race for the drama. He said it in my presence. And
there 's a man who calls himself a Tory
You have rather too much of that playing at grudges and dislikes at
Steynham, with squibs, nicknames, and jests at things that--well, that
our stability is bound up in. I hate squibs.'
'And I,' said Beauchamp. Some shadow of a frown crossed him; but Stukely
Culbrett's humour seemed to be a refuge. 'Protestant parson-not clergy,'
he corrected the colonel. 'Can't you hear Mr. Culbrett, Cecilia? The
Protestant parson is the policeman set to watch over the respectability
of the middle-class. He has sharp eyes for the sins of the poor. As for
the rich, they support his church; they listen to his sermon--to set an
example: discipline, colonel. You discipline the tradesman, who's afraid
of losing your custom, and the labourer, who might be deprived of his
bread. But the people? It's put down to the wickedness of human nature
that the parson has not got hold of the people. The parsons have lost
them by senseless Conservatism, because they look to the Tories for the
support of their Church, and let the religion run down the gutters. And
how many thousands have you at work in the pulpit every Sunday? I'm told
the Dissenting ministers have some vitality.'
Colonel Halkett shrugged with disgust at the mention of Dissenters.
'And those thirty or forty thousand, colonel, call the men that do the
work they ought to be doing demagogues. The parsonry are a power
absolutely to be counted for waste, as to progress.'
Cecilia perceived that her father was beginning to be fretted.
She said, with a tact that effected its object: 'I am one who hear Mr.
Culbrett without admiring his wit.'
'No, and I see no good in this kind of Steynham talk,' Colonel Halkett
said, rising. 'We're none of us perfect. Heaven save us from political
Beauchamp was heard to utter, 'Humanity.'
The colonel left the room with Cecilia, muttering the Steynham tail to
that word: 'tomtity,' for the solace of an aside repartee.
She was on her way to dress for church. He drew her into the library,
and there threw open a vast placard lying on the table. It was printed
in blue characters and red. 'This is what I got by the post this
morning. I suppose Nevil knows about it. He wants tickling, but I don't
like this kind of thing. It 's not fair war. It 's as bad as using
explosive bullets in my old game.'
'Can he expect his adversaries to be tender with him?' Cecilia simulated
vehemence in an underbreath. She glanced down the page:
'FRENCH MARQUEES' caught her eye.
It was a page of verse. And, oh! could it have issued from a Tory
'The Liberals are as bad, and worse,' her father said.
She became more and more distressed. 'It seems so very mean, papa; so
base. Ungenerous is no word for it. And how vulgar! Now I remember,
Nevil said he wished to see Mr. Austin.'
'Seymour Austin would not sanction it.'
'No, but Nevil might hold him responsible for it.'
'I suspect Mr. Stukely Culbrett, whom he quotes, and that smoking-room
lot at Lespel's. I distinctly discountenance it. So I shall tell them
on Wednesday night. Can you keep a secret?'
'And after all Nevil Beauchamp is very young, papa!--of course I can keep
The colonel exacted no word of honour, feeling quite sure of her.
He whispered the secret in six words, and her cheeks glowed vermilion.
'But they will meet on Wednesday after this,' she said, and her sight
went dancing down the column of verse, of which the following trotting
couplet is a specimen:--
'O did you ever, hot in love, a little British middy see,
Like Orpheus asking what the deuce to do without Eurydice?'
The middy is jilted by his FRENCH MARQUEES, whom he 'did adore,' and in
his wrath he recommends himself to the wealthy widow Bevisham, concerning
whose choice of her suitors there is a doubt: but the middy is encouraged
'Up, up, my pretty middy; take a draught of foaming Sillery;
Go in and win the uriddy with your Radical artillery.'
And if Sillery will not do, he is advised, he being for superlatives,
to try the sparkling Sillery of the Radical vintage, selected grapes.
This was but impudent nonsense. But the reiterated apostrophe to
'MY FRENCH MARQUEES' was considered by Cecilia to be a brutal offence.
She was shocked that her party should have been guilty of it. Nevil
certainly provoked, and he required, hard blows; and his uncle Everard
might be right in telling her father that they were the best means of
teaching him to come to his understanding. Still a foul and stupid squib
did appear to her a debasing weapon to use.
'I cannot congratulate you on your choice of a second candidate, papa,'
she said scornfully.
'I don't much congratulate myself,' said the colonel.
'Here's a letter from Mrs. Beauchamp informing me that her boy Blackburn
will be home in a month. There would have been plenty of time for him.
However, we must make up our minds to it. Those two 'll be meeting on
Wednesday, so keep your secret. It will be out tomorrow week.'
'But Nevil will be accusing Mr. Austin.'
'Austin won't be at Lespel's. And he must bear it, for the sake of
'Is Nevil ruined with his uncle, papa?'
'Not a bit, I should imagine. It's Romfrey's fun.'
'And this disgraceful squib is a part of the fun?'
'That I know nothing about, my dear. I'm sorry, but there's pitch and
tar in politics as well as on shipboard.'
'I do not see that there should be,' said Cecilia resolutely.
'We can't hope to have what should be.'
'Why not? I would have it: I would do my utmost to have it,' she flamed
'Your utmost?' Her father was glancing at her foregone mimicry of
Beauchamp's occasional strokes of emphasis. 'Do your utmost to have your
bonnet on in time for us to walk to church. I can't bear driving there.'
Cecilia went to her room with the curious reflection, awakened by what
her father had chanced to suggest to her mind, that she likewise could be
fervid, positive, uncompromising--who knows? Radicalish, perhaps, when
she looked eye to eye on an evil. For a moment or so she espied within
herself a gulf of possibilities, wherein black night-birds, known as
queries, roused by shot of light, do flap their wings.--Her utmost to
have be what should be! And why not?
But the intemperate feeling subsided while she was doing duty before her
mirror, and the visionary gulf closed immediately.
She had merely been very angry on Nevil Beauchamp's behalf, and had dimly
seen that a woman can feel insurgent, almost revolutionary, for a
personal cause, Tory though her instinct of safety and love of smoothness
No reflection upon this casual piece of self or sex revelation troubled
her head. She did, however, think of her position as the friend of Nevil
in utter antagonism to him. It beset her with contradictions that blew
rough on her cherished serenity; for she was of the order of ladies who,
by virtue of their pride and spirit, their port and their beauty, decree
unto themselves the rank of princesses among women, before our world has
tried their claim to it. She had lived hitherto in upper air, high above
the clouds of earth. Her ideal of a man was of one similarly disengaged
and lofty-loftier. Nevil, she could honestly say, was not her ideal;
he was only her old friend, and she was opposed to him in his present
adventure. The striking at him to cure him of his mental errors and
excesses was an obligation; she could descend upon him calmly with the
chastening rod, pointing to the better way; but the shielding of him was
a different thing; it dragged her down so low, that in her condemnation
of the Tory squib she found herself asking herself whether haply Nevil
had flung off the yoke of the French lady; with the foolish excuse for
the question, that if he had not, he must be bitterly sensitive to the
slightest public allusion to her. Had he? And if not, how desperately
faithful he was! or else how marvellously seductive she!
Perhaps it was a lover's despair that had precipitated him into the mire
of politics. She conceived the impression that it must be so, and
throughout the day she had an inexplicable unsweet pleasure in inciting
him to argumentation and combating him, though she was compelled to admit
that he had been colloquially charming antecedent to her naughty
provocation; and though she was indebted to him for his patient decorum
under the weary wave of the Reverend Mr. Brisk. Now what does it matter
what a woman thinks in politics? But he deemed it of great moment.
Politically, he deemed that women have souls, a certain fire of life for
exercise on earth. He appealed to reason in them; he would not hear of
convictions. He quoted the Bevisham doctor
'Convictions are generally first impressions that are sealed with later
prejudices,' and insisted there was wisdom in it. Nothing tired him, as
he had said, and addressing woman or man, no prospect of fatigue or of
hopeless effort daunted him in the endeavour to correct an error of
judgement in politics--his notion of an error. The value he put upon
speaking, urging his views, was really fanatical. It appeared that he
canvassed the borough from early morning till near midnight, and nothing
would persuade him that his chance was poor; nothing that an entrenched
Tory like her father, was not to be won even by an assault of all the
reserve forces of Radical pathos, prognostication, and statistics.
Only conceive Nevil Beauchamp knocking at doors late at night, the sturdy
beggar of a vote! or waylaying workmen, as he confessed without shame
that he had done, on their way trooping to their midday meal; penetrating
malodoriferous rooms of dismal ten-pound cottagers, to exhort bedraggled
mothers and babes, and besotted husbands; and exposed to rebuffs from
impertinent tradesmen; and lampooned and travestied, shouting speeches to
roaring men, pushed from shoulder to shoulder of the mob! . . .
Cecilia dropped a curtain on her mind's picture of him. But the blinding
curtain rekindled the thought that the line he had taken could not but be
the desperation of a lover abandoned. She feared it was, she feared it
was not. Nevil Beauchamp's foe persisted in fearing that it was not; his
friend feared that it was. Yet why? For if it was, then he could not be
quite in earnest, and might be cured. Nay, but earnestness works out its
own cure more surely than frenzy, and it should be preferable to think
him sound of heart, sincere though mistaken. Cecilia could not decide
upon what she dared wish for his health's good. Friend and foe were not
further separable within her bosom than one tick from another of a clock;
they changed places, and next his friend was fearing what his foe had
feared: they were inextricable.
Why had he not sprung up on a radiant aquiline ambition, whither one
might have followed him, with eyes and prayers for him, if it was not
possible to do so companionably? At present, in the shape of a
canvassing candidate, it was hardly honourable to let imagination dwell
on him, save compassionately.
When he rose to take his leave, Cecilia said, 'Must you go to Itchincope
on Wednesday, Nevil?'
Colonel Halkett added: 'I don't think I would go to Lespel's if I were
you. I rather suspect Seymour Austin will be coming on Wednesday, and
that 'll detain me here, and you might join us and lend him an ear for an
'I have particular reasons for going to Lespel's; I hear he wavers toward
a Tory conspiracy of some sort,' said Beauchamp.
The colonel held his tongue.
The untiring young candidate chose to walk down to Bevisham at eleven
o'clock at night, that he might be the readier to continue his canvass of
the borough on Monday morning early. He was offered a bed or a
conveyance, and he declined both; the dog-cart he declined out of
consideration for horse and groom, which an owner of stables could not
Colonel Halkett broke into exclamations of pity for so good a young
fellow so misguided.
The night was moonless, and Cecilia, looking through the window, said
whimsically, 'He has gone out into the darkness, and is no light in it!'
Certainly none shone. She however carried a lamp that revealed him
footing on with a wonderful air of confidence, and she was rather
surprised to hear her father regret that Nevil Beauchamp should be losing
his good looks already, owing to that miserable business of his in
Bevisham. She would have thought the contrary, that he was looking as
well as ever.
'He dresses just as he used to dress,' she observed.
The individual style of a naval officer of breeding, in which you see
neatness trifling with disorder, or disorder plucking at neatness, like
the breeze a trim vessel, had been caught to perfection by Nevil
Beauchamp, according to Cecilia. It presented him to her mind in a
cheerful and a very undemocratic aspect, but in realizing it, the
thought, like something flashing black, crossed her--how attractive such
a style must be to a Frenchwoman!
'He may look a little worn,' she acquiesced.
CONCERNING THE ACT OF CANVASSING
Tories dread the restlessness of Radicals, and Radicals are in awe of the
organization of Tories. Beauchamp thought anxiously of the high degree
of confidence existing in the Tory camp, whose chief could afford to keep
aloof, while he slaved all day and half the night to thump ideas into
heads, like a cooper on a cask:--an impassioned cooper on an empty cask!
if such an image is presentable. Even so enviously sometimes the writer
and the barrister, men dependent on their active wits, regard the man
with a business fixed in an office managed by clerks. That man seems by
comparison celestially seated. But he has his fits of trepidation; for
new tastes prevail and new habits are formed, and the structure of his
business will not allow him to adapt himself to them in a minute. The
secure and comfortable have to pay in occasional panics for the serenity
they enjoy. Mr. Seymour Austin candidly avowed to Colonel Halkett, on
his arrival at Mount Laurels, that he was advised to take up his quarters
in the neighbourhood of Bevisham by a recent report of his committee,
describing the young Radical's canvass as redoubtable. Cougham he did
not fear: he could make a sort of calculation of the votes for the
Liberal thumping on the old drum of Reform; but the number for him who
appealed to feelings and quickened the romantic sentiments of the common
people now huddled within our electoral penfold, was not calculable.
Tory and Radical have an eye for one another, which overlooks the Liberal
at all times except when he is, as they imagine, playing the game of
either of them.
'Now we shall see the passions worked,' Mr. Austin said, deploring the
extension of the franchise.
He asked whether Beauchamp spoke well.
Cecilia left it to her father to reply; but the colonel appealed to her,
saying, 'Inclined to dragoon one, isn't he?'
She did not think that. 'He speaks . . . he speaks well in
conversation. I fancy he would be liked by the poor. I should doubt his
being a good public speaker. He certainly has command of his temper:
that is one thing. I cannot say whether it favours oratory. He is
indefatigable. One may be sure he will not faint by the way. He quite
believes in himself. But, Mr. Austin, do you really regard him as a
Mr. Austin could not tell. No one could tell the effect of an extended
franchise. The untried venture of it depressed him. 'Men have come
suddenly on a borough before now and carried it,' he said.
'Not a borough like Bevisham?'
He shook his head. 'A fluid borough, I'm afraid.'
Colonel Halkettt interposed: 'But Ferbrass is quite sure of his
Cecilia wished to know who the man was, of the mediaevally sounding name.
'Ferbrass is an old lawyer, my dear. He comes of five generations of
lawyers, and he 's as old in the county as Grancey Lespel. Hitherto he
has always been to be counted on for marching his district to the poll
like a regiment. That's our strength--the professions, especially
'Are not a great many lawyers Liberals, papa?'
'A great many barristers are, my dear.'
Thereat the colonel and Mr. Austin smiled together.
It was a new idea to Cecilia that Nevil Beauchamp should be considered by
a man of the world anything but a well-meaning, moderately ridiculous
young candidate; and the fact that one so experienced as Seymour Austin
deemed him an adversary to be grappled with in earnest, created a small
revolution in her mind, entirely altering her view of the probable
pliability of his Radicalism under pressure of time and circumstances.
Many of his remarks, that she had previously half smiled at, came across
her memory hard as metal. She began to feel some terror of him, and
said, to reassure herself: 'Captain Beauchamp is not likely to be a
champion with a very large following. He is too much of a political
mystic, I think.'
'Many young men are, before they have written out a fair copy of their
meaning,' said Mr. Austin.
Cecilia laughed to herself at the vision of the fiery Nevil engaged in
writing out a fair copy of his meaning. How many erasures! what foot-
The arrangement was for Cecilia to proceed to Itchincope alone for a
couple of days, and bring a party to Mount Laurels through Bevisham by
the yacht on Thursday, to meet Mr. Seymour Austin and Mr. Everard
Romfrey. An early day of the next week had been agreed on for the
unmasking of the second Tory candidate. She promised that in case Nevil
Beauchamp should have the hardihood to enter the enemy's nest at
Itchincope on Wednesday, at the great dinner and ball there, she would do
her best to bring him back to Mount Laurels, that he might meet his uncle
Everard, who was expected there. At least he may consent to come for an
evening,' she said. 'Nothing will take him from that canvassing. It
seems to me it must be not merely distasteful . . . ?'
Mr. Austin replied: 'It 's disagreeable, but it's' the practice. I would
gladly be bound by a common undertaking to abstain.'
'Captain Beauchamp argues that it would be all to your advantage. He
says that a personal visit is the only chance for an unknown candidate to
make the people acquainted with him.'
'It's a very good opportunity for making him acquainted with them; and I
hope he may profit by it.'
'Ah! pah! "To beg the vote and wink the bribe,"' Colonel Halkett
"'It well becomes the Whiggish tribe
To beg the vote and wink the bribe."
Canvassing means intimidation or corruption.'
'Or the mixture of the two, called cajolery,' said Mr. Austin; 'and that
was the principal art of the Whigs.'
Thus did these gentlemen converse upon canvassing.
It is not possible to gather up in one volume of sound the rattle of the
knocks at Englishmen's castle-gates during election days; so, with the
thunder of it unheard, the majesty of the act of canvassing can be but
barely appreciable, and he, therefore, who would celebrate it must follow
the candidate obsequiously from door to door, where, like a cross between
a postman delivering a bill and a beggar craving an alms, patiently he
attempts the extraction of the vote, as little boys pick periwinkles with
'This is your duty, which I most abjectly entreat you to do,' is pretty
nearly the form of the supplication.
How if, instead of the solicitation of the thousands by the unit, the
meritorious unit were besought by rushing thousands?--as a mound of the
plains that is circumvented by floods, and to which the waters cry, Be
thou our island. Let it be answered the questioner, with no discourteous
adjectives, Thou fool! To come to such heights of popular discrimination
and political ardour the people would have to be vivified to a pitch
little short of eruptive: it would be Boreas blowing AEtna inside them;
and we should have impulse at work in the country, and immense importance
attaching to a man's whether he will or he won't--enough to womanize him.
We should be all but having Parliament for a sample of our choicest
rather than our likest: and see you not a peril in that?
Conceive, for the fleeting instants permitted to such insufferable
flights of fancy, our picked men ruling! So despotic an oligarchy as
would be there, is not a happy subject of contemplation. It is not too
much to say that a domination of the Intellect in England would at once
and entirely alter the face of the country. We should be governed by the
head with a vengeance: all the rest of the country being base members
indeed; Spartans--helots. Criticism, now so helpful to us, would wither
to the root: fun would die out of Parliament, and outside of it: we could
never laugh at our masters, or command them: and that good old-fashioned
shouldering of separate interests, which, if it stops progress, like a
block in the pit entrance to a theatre, proves us equal before the law,
puts an end to the pretence of higher merit in the one or the other, and
renders a stout build the safest assurance for coming through ultimately,
would be transformed to a painful orderliness, like a City procession
under the conduct of the police, and to classifications of things
according to their public value: decidedly no benefit to burly freedom.
None, if there were no shouldering and hustling, could tell whether
actually the fittest survived; as is now the case among survivors
delighting in a broad-chested fitness.
And consider the freezing isolation of a body of our quintessential
elect, seeing below them none to resemble them! Do you not hear in
imagination the land's regrets for that amiable nobility whose
pretensions were comically built on birth, acres, tailoring, style, and
an air? Ah, that these unchallengeable new lords could be exchanged for
those old ones! These, with the traditions of how great people should
look in our country, these would pass among us like bergs of ice--a pure
Polar aristocracy, inflicting the woes of wintriness upon us. Keep them
from concentrating! At present I believe it to be their honest opinion,
their wise opinion, and the sole opinion common to a majority of them,
that it is more salutary, besides more diverting, to have the fools of
the kingdom represented than not. As professors of the sarcastic art
they can easily take the dignity out of the fools' representative at
their pleasure, showing him at antics while he supposes he is exhibiting
an honourable and a decent series of movements. Generally, too, their
archery can check him when he is for any of his measures; and if it does
not check, there appears to be such a property in simple sneering, that
it consoles even when it fails to right the balance of power. Sarcasm,
we well know, confers a title of aristocracy straightway and sharp on the
sconce of the man who does but imagine that he is using it. What, then,
must be the elevation of these princes of the intellect in their own
minds! Hardly worth bartering for worldly commanderships, it is evident.
Briefly, then, we have a system, not planned but grown, the outcome and
image of our genius, and all are dissatisfied with parts of it; but, as
each would preserve his own, the surest guarantee is obtained for the
integrity of the whole by a happy adjustment of the energies of
opposition, which--you have only to look to see--goes far beyond concord
in the promotion of harmony. This is our English system; like our
English pudding, a fortuitous concourse of all the sweets in the grocer's
shop, but an excellent thing for all that, and let none threaten it.
Canvassing appears to be mixed up in the system; at least I hope I have
shown that it will not do to reverse the process, for fear of changes
leading to a sovereignty of the austere and antipathetic Intellect in our
England, that would be an inaccessible tyranny of a very small minority,
necessarily followed by tremendous convulsions.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A dash of conventionalism makes the whole civilized world kin
Aimlessness of a woman's curiosity
All concessions to the people have been won from fear
Appealed to reason in them; he would not hear of convictions
Automatic creature is subject to the laws of its construction
Canvassing means intimidation or corruption
Comfortable have to pay in occasional panics for the serenity
Consult the family means--waste your time
Convictions are generally first impressions
Country can go on very well without so much speech-making
Crazy zigzag of policy in almost every stroke (of history)
Effort to be reticent concerning Nevil, and communicative
Give our consciences to the keeping of the parsons
Hates a compromise
Man owes a duty to his class
Mark of a fool to take everybody for a bigger fool than himself
Martyrs of love or religion are madmen
Never pretend to know a girl by her face
No stopping the Press while the people have an appetite for it
Oratory will not work against the stream, or on languid tides
Parliament, is the best of occupations for idle men
Protestant clergy the social police of the English middle-class
The defensive is perilous policy in war
The family view is everlastingly the shopkeeper's
The infant candidate delights in his honesty
There is no first claim
There's nothing like a metaphor for an evasion
They're always having to retire and always hissing
Those happy men who enjoy perceptions without opinions
Those whose humour consists of a readiness to laugh
Threatened powerful drugs for weak stomachs
To beg the vote and wink the bribe
We can't hope to have what should be
We have a system, not planned but grown
World cannot pardon a breach of continuity