Part 1 out of 2
This etext was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]
By George Meredith
XIX. LORD PALMET, AND CERTAIN ELECTORS
XX. A DAY AT ITCHINCOPE
XXI. THE QUESTION AS TO THE EXAMINATION OF THE WHIGS,
AND THE FINE BLOW STRUCK BY MR. EVERARD ROMFREY
XXII. THE DRIVE INTO BEVISHAM
XXIV. HIS HOLIDAY
XXV. THE ADVENTURE OF THE BOAT
LORD PALMET, AND CERTAIN ELECTORS OF BEVISHAM
Meantime the candidates raised knockers, rang bells, bowed, expounded
their views, praised their virtues, begged for votes, and greatly and
strangely did the youngest of them enlarge his knowledge of his
countrymen. But he had an insatiable appetite, and except in relation to
Mr. Cougham, considerable tolerance. With Cougham, he was like a young
hound in the leash. They had to run as twins; but Beauchamp's conjunct
would not run, he would walk. He imposed his experience on Beauchamp,
with an assumption that it must necessarily be taken for the law of
Beauchamp's reason in electoral and in political affairs, and this was
hard on Beauchamp, who had faith in his reason. Beauchamp's early
canvassing brought Cougham down to Bevisham earlier than usual in the
days when he and Seymour Austin divided the borough, and he inclined to
administer correction to the Radically-disposed youngster. 'Yes, I have
gone all over that,' he said, in speech sometimes, in manner perpetually,
upon the intrusion of an idea by his junior. Cougham also, Cougham had
passed through his Radical phase, as one does on the road to wisdom.
So the frog telleth tadpoles: he too has wriggled most preposterous of
tails; and he has shoved a circular flat head into corners unadapted to
its shape; and that the undeveloped one should dutifully listen to
experience and accept guidance, is devoutly to be hoped. Alas!
Beauchamp would not be taught that though they were yoked they stood at
the opposite ends of the process of evolution.
The oddly coupled pair deplored, among their respective friends, the
disastrous Siamese twinship created by a haphazard improvident Liberal
camp. Look at us! they said:--Beauchamp is a young demagogue; Cougham
is chrysalis Tory. Such Liberals are the ruin of Liberalism; but of such
must it be composed when there is no new cry to loosen floods. It was
too late to think of an operation to divide them. They held the heart of
the cause between them, were bound fast together, and had to go on.
Beauchamp, with a furious tug of Radicalism, spoken or performed, pulled
Cougham on his beam-ends. Cougham, to right himself, defined his
Liberalism sharply from the politics of the pit, pointed to France and
her Revolutions, washed his hands of excesses, and entirely overset
Beauchamp. Seeing that he stood in the Liberal interest, the junior
could not abandon the Liberal flag; so he seized it and bore it ahead of
the time, there where Radicals trip their phantom dances like shadows on
a fog, and waved it as the very flag of our perfectible race. So great
was the impetus that Cougham had no choice but to step out with him
briskly--voluntarily as a man propelled by a hand on his coat-collar.
A word saved him: the word practical. 'Are we practical?' he inquired,
and shivered Beauchamp's galloping frame with a violent application of
the stop abrupt; for that question, 'Are we practical?' penetrates the
bosom of an English audience, and will surely elicit a response if not.
plaudits. Practical or not, the good people affectingly wish to be
thought practical. It has been asked by them
If we're not practical, what are we?--Beauchamp, talking to Cougham
apart, would argue that the daring and the far-sighted course was often
the most practical. Cougham extended a deprecating hand: 'Yes, I have
gone over all that.' Occasionally he was maddening.
The melancholy position of the senior and junior Liberals was known
abroad and matter of derision.
It happened that the gay and good-humoured young Lord Palmet, heir to the
earldom of Elsea, walking up the High Street of Bevisham, met Beauchamp
on Tuesday morning as he sallied out of his hotel to canvass. Lord
Palmet was one of the numerous half-friends of Cecil Baskelett, and it
may be a revelation of his character to you, that he owned to liking
Beauchamp because of his having always been a favourite with the women.
He began chattering, with Beauchamp's hand in his: 'I've hit on you, have
I? My dear fellow, Miss Halkett was talking of you last night.
I slept at Mount Laurels; went on purpose to have a peep. I'm bound
for Itchincope. They've some grand procession in view there; Lespel
wrote for my team; I suspect he's for starting some new October races.
He talks of half-a-dozen drags. He must have lots of women there.
I say, what a splendid creature Cissy Halkett has shot up! She topped
the season this year, and will next. You're for the darkies, Beauchamp.
So am I, when I don't see a blonde; just as a fellow admires a girl when
there's no married woman or widow in sight. And, I say, it can't be true
you've gone in for that crazy Radicalism? There's nothing to be gained
by it, you know; the women hate it! A married blonde of five-and-
twenty's the Venus of them all. Mind you, I don't forget that Mrs.
Wardour-Devereux is a thorough-paced brunette; but, upon my honour, I'd
bet on Cissy Halkett at forty. "A dark eye in woman," if you like, but
blue and auburn drive it into a corner.'
Lord Palmet concluded by asking Beauchamp what he was doing and whither
Beauchamp proposed to him maliciously, as one of our hereditary
legislators, to come and see something of canvassing. Lord Palmet had no
objection. 'Capital opportunity for a review of their women,' he
'I map the places for pretty women in England; some parts of Norfolk, and
a spot or two in Cumberland and Wales, and the island over there, I know
thoroughly. Those Jutes have turned out some splendid fair women.
Devonshire's worth a tour. My man Davis is in charge of my team, and he
drives to Itchincope from Washwater station. I am independent; I 'll
have an hour with you. Do you think much of the women here?'
Beauchamp had not noticed them.
Palmet observed that he should not have noticed anything else.
'But you are qualifying for the Upper House,' Beauchamp said in the tone
of an encomium.
Palmet accepted the statement. 'Though I shall never care to figure
before peeresses,' he said. 'I can't tell you why. There's a heavy
sprinkling of the old bird among them. It isn't that. There's too much
plumage; I think it must be that. A cloud of millinery shoots me off a
mile from a woman. In my opinion, witches are the only ones for wearing
jewels without chilling the feminine atmosphere about them. Fellows
think differently.' Lord Palmet waved a hand expressive of purely
amiable tolerance, for this question upon the most important topic of
human affairs was deep, and no judgement should be hasty in settling it.
'I'm peculiar,' he resumed. 'A rose and a string of pearls: a woman who
goes beyond that's in danger of petrifying herself and her fellow man.
Two women in Paris, last winter, set us on fire with pale thin gold
ornaments--neck, wrists, ears, ruche, skirts, all in a flutter, and so
were you. But you felt witchcraft. "The magical Orient," Vivian Ducie
called the blonde, and the dark beauty, "Young Endor."'
'Her name?' said Beauchamp.
'A marquise; I forget her name. The other was Countess Rastaglione; you
must have heard of her; a towering witch, an empress, Helen of Troy;
though Ducie would have it the brunette was Queen of Paris. For French
taste, if you like.'
Countess Rastaglione was a lady enamelled on the scroll of Fame. 'Did
you see them together?' said Beauchamp. 'They weren't together?'
Palmet looked at him and laughed. 'You're yourself again, are you? Go
to Paris in January, and cut out the Frenchmen.'
'Answer me, Palmet: they weren't in couples?'
'I fancy not. It was luck to meet them, so they couldn't have been.'
'Did you dance with either of them?'
Unable to state accurately that he had, Palmet cried, 'Oh! for dancing,
the Frenchwoman beat the Italian.'
'Did you see her often--more than once?'
'My dear fellow, I went everywhere to see her: balls, theatres,
promenades, rides, churches.'
'And you say she dressed up to the Italian, to challenge her, rival her?'
'Only one night; simple accident. Everybody noticed it, for they stood
for Night and Day,--both hung with gold; the brunette Etruscan, and the
blonde Asiatic; and every Frenchman present was epigramizing up and down
the rooms like mad.'
'Her husband 's Legitimist; he wouldn't be at the Tuileries?' Beauchamp
spoke half to himself.
'What, then, what?' Palmet stared and chuckled. 'Her husband must have
taken the Tuileries' bait, if we mean the same woman. My dear old
Beauchamp, have I seen her, then? She's a darling! The Rastaglione was
nothing to her. When you do light on a grand smoky pearl, the milky ones
may go and decorate plaster. That's what I say of the loveliest
brunettes. It must be the same: there can't be a couple of dark beauties
in Paris without a noise about them. Marquise--? I shall recollect her
'Here's one of the houses I stop at,' said Beauchamp, 'and drop that
A scared servant-girl brought out her wizened mistress to confront the
candidate, and to this representative of the sex he addressed his arts of
persuasion, requesting her to repeat his words to her husband. The
contrast between Beauchamp palpably canvassing and the Beauchamp who was
the lover of the Marquise of the forgotten name, struck too powerfully on
Palmet for his gravity he retreated.
Beauchamp found him sauntering on the pavement, and would have dismissed
him but for an agreeable diversion that occurred at that moment. A
suavely smiling unctuous old gentleman advanced to them, bowing, and
presuming thus far, he said, under the supposition that he was accosting
the junior Liberal candidate for the borough. He announced his name and
his principles Tomlinson, progressive Liberal.
'A true distinction from some Liberals I know,' said Beauchamp.
Mr. Tomlinson hoped so. Never, he said, did he leave it to the man of
his choice at an election to knock at his door for the vote.
Beauchamp looked as if he had swallowed a cordial. Votes falling into
his lap are heavenly gifts to the candidate sick of the knocker and the
bell. Mr. Tomlinson eulogized the manly candour of the junior Liberal
candidate's address, in which he professed to see ideas that
distinguished it from the address of the sound but otherwise conventional
Liberal, Mr. Cougham. He muttered of plumping for Beauchamp. 'Don't
plump,' Beauchamp said; and a candidate, if he would be an honourable
twin, must say it. Cougham had cautioned him against the heresy of
They discoursed of the poor and their beverages, of pothouses, of the
anti-liquorites, and of the duties of parsons, and the value of a robust
and right-minded body of the poor to the country. Palmet found himself
following them into a tolerably spacious house that he took to be the old
gentleman's until some of the apparatus of an Institute for literary and
scientific instruction revealed itself to him, and he heard Mr. Tomlinson
exalt the memory of one Wingham for the blessing bequeathed by him to the
town of Bevisham. 'For,' said Mr. Tomlinson, 'it is open to both sexes,
to all respectable classes, from ten in the morning up to ten at night.
Such a place affords us, I would venture to say, the advantages without
the seductions of a Club. I rank it next--at a far remove, but next-the
Lord Palmet brought his eyes down from the busts of certain worthies
ranged along the top of the book-shelves to the cushioned chairs, and
murmured, 'Capital place for an appointment with a woman.'
Mr. Tomlinson gazed up at him mildly, with a fallen countenance. He
turned sadly agape in silence to the busts, the books, and the range of
scientific instruments, and directed a gaze under his eyebrows at
Beauchamp. 'Does your friend canvass with you?' he inquired.
'I want him to taste it,' Beauchamp replied, and immediately introduced
the affable young lord--a proceeding marked by some of the dexterity he
had once been famous for, as was shown by a subsequent observation of Mr.
'Yes,' he said, on the question of classes, 'yes, I fear we have classes
in this country whose habitual levity sharp experience will have to
correct. I very much fear it.'
'But if you have classes that are not to face realities classes that look
on them from the box-seats of a theatre,' said Beauchamp, 'how can you
expect perfect seriousness, or any good service whatever?'
'Gently, sir, gently. No; we can, I feel confident, expand within the
limits of our most excellent and approved Constitution. I could wish
that socially . . . that is all.'
'Socially and politically mean one thing in the end,' said Beauchamp.
'If you have a nation politically corrupt, you won't have a good state of
morals in it, and the laws that keep society together bear upon the
politics of a country.'
'True; yes,' Mr. Tomlinson hesitated assent. He dissociated Beauchamp
from Lord Palmet, but felt keenly that the latter's presence desecrated
Wingham's Institute, and he informed the candidate that he thought he
would no longer detain him from his labours.
'Just the sort of place wanted in every provincial town,' Palmet remarked
by way of a parting compliment.
Mr. Tomlinson bowed a civil acknowledgement of his having again spoken.
No further mention was made of the miraculous vote which had risen
responsive to the candidate's address of its own inspired motion; so
Beauchamp said, 'I beg you to bear in mind that I request you not to
'You may be right, Captain Beauchamp. Good day, sir.'
Palmet strode after Beauchamp into the street.
'Why did you set me bowing to that old boy?' he asked.
'Why did you talk about women?' was the rejoinder.
'Oh, aha!' Palmet sang to himself. 'You're a Romfrey, Beauchamp. A
blow for a blow! But I only said what would strike every fellow first
off. It is the place; the very place. Pastry-cooks' shops won't stand
comparison with it. Don't tell me you 're the man not to see how much a
woman prefers to be under the wing of science and literature, in a good-
sized, well-warmed room, with a book, instead of making believe, with a
red face, over a tart.'
He received a smart lecture from Beauchamp, and began to think he had
enough of canvassing. But he was not suffered to escape. For his
instruction, for his positive and extreme good, Beauchamp determined that
the heir to an earldom should have a day's lesson. We will hope there
was no intention to punish him for having frozen the genial current of
Mr. Tomlinson's vote and interest; and it may be that he clung to one who
had, as he imagined, seen Renee. Accompanied by a Mr. Oggler, a
tradesman of the town, on the Liberal committee, dressed in a pea-jacket
and proudly nautical, they applied for the vote, and found it oftener
than beauty. Palmet contrasted his repeated disappointments with the
scoring of two, three, four and more in the candidate's list, and
informed him that he would certainly get the Election. 'I think you're
sure of it,' he said. 'There's not a pretty woman to be seen; not one.'
One came up to them, the sight of whom counselled Lord Palmet to
reconsider his verdict. She was addressed by Beauchamp as Miss Denham,
and soon passed on.
Palmet was guilty of staring at her, and of lingering behind the others
for a last look at her.
They were on the steps of a voter's house, calmly enduring a rebuff from
him in person, when Palmet returned to them, exclaiming effusively, 'What
luck you have, Beauchamp!' He stopped till the applicants descended the
steps, with the voice of the voter ringing contempt as well as refusal in
their ears; then continued: 'You introduced me neck and heels to that
undertakerly old Tomlinson, of Wingham's Institute; you might have given
me a chance with that Miss--Miss Denham, was it? She has a bit of a
'She has a head,' said Beauchamp.
'A girl like that may have what she likes. I don't care what she has--
there's woman in her. You might take her for a younger sister of Mrs.
Wardour-Devereux. Who 's the uncle she speaks of? She ought not to be
allowed to walk out by herself.'
'She can take care of herself,' said Beauchamp.
Palmet denied it. 'No woman can. Upon my honour, it's a shame that she
should be out alone. What are her people? I'll run--from you, you know
--and see her safe home. There's such an infernal lot of fellows about;
and a girl simply bewitching and unprotected! I ought to be after her.'
Beauchamp held him firmly to the task of canvassing.
'Then will you tell me where she lives?' Palmet stipulated. He
reproached Beauchamp for a notorious Grand Turk exclusiveness and
greediness in regard to women, as well as a disposition to run hard
races for them out of a spirit of pure rivalry.
'It's no use contradicting, it's universally known of you,' reiterated
Palmet. 'I could name a dozen women, and dozens of fellows you
deliberately set yourself to cut out, for the honour of it. What's that
story they tell of you in one of the American cities or watering-places,
North or South? You would dance at a ball a dozen times with a girl
engaged to a man--who drenched you with a tumbler at the hotel bar, and
off you all marched to the sands and exchanged shots from revolvers; and
both of you, they say, saw the body of a drowned sailor in the water, in
the moonlight, heaving nearer and nearer, and you stretched your man just
as the body was flung up by a wave between you. Picturesque, if you
'Dramatic, certainly. And I ran away with the bride next morning?'
'No!' roared Palmet; 'you didn't. There's the cruelty of the whole
Beauchamp laughed. 'An old messmate of mine, Lieutenant Jack Wilmore,
can give you a different version of the story. I never have fought a
duel, and never will. Here we are at the shop of a tough voter, Mr.
Oggler. So it says in my note-book. Shall we put Lord Palmet to speak
to him first?'
'If his lordship will put his heart into what he says,' Mr. Oggler bowed.
'Are you for giving the people recreation on a Sunday, my lord?'
'Trap-bat and ball, cricket, dancing, military bands, puppet-shows,
theatres, merry-go-rounds, bosky dells--anything to make them happy,'
'Oh, dear! then I 'm afraid we cannot ask you to speak to this Mr.
Carpendike.' Oggler shook his head.
'Does the fellow want the people to be miserable?'
'I'm afraid, my lord, he would rather see them miserable.'
They introduced themselves to Mr. Carpendike in his shop. He was a flat-
chested, sallow young shoemaker, with a shelving forehead, who seeing
three gentlemen enter to him recognized at once with a practised
resignation that they had not come to order shoe-leather, though he would
fain have shod them, being needy; but it was not the design of Providence
that they should so come as he in his blindness would have had them.
Admitting this he wished for nothing.
The battle with Carpendike lasted three-quarters of an hour, during which
he was chiefly and most effectively silent. Carpendike would not vote
for a man that proposed to open museums on the Sabbath day. The striking
simile of the thin end of the wedge was recurred to by him for a damning
illustration. Captain Beauchamp might be honest in putting his mind on
most questions in his address, when there was no demand upon him to do
it; but honesty was no antidote to impiety. Thus Carpendike.
As to Sunday museuming being an antidote to the pothouse--no. For the
people knew the frequenting of the pothouse to be a vice; it was a
temptation of Satan that often in overcoming them was the cause of their
flying back to grace: whereas museums and picture galleries were
insidious attractions cloaked by the name of virtue, whereby they were
allured to abandon worship.
Beauchamp flew at this young monster of unreason: 'But the people are not
worshipping; they are idling and sotting, and if you carry your despotism
farther still, and shut them out of every shop on Sundays, do you suppose
you promote the spirit of worship? If you don't revolt them you unman
them, and I warn you we can't afford to destroy what manhood remains to
us in England. Look at the facts.'
He flung the facts at Carpendike with the natural exaggeration of them
which eloquence produces, rather, as a rule, to assure itself in passing
of the overwhelming justice of the cause it pleads than to deceive the
adversary. Brewers' beer and publicans' beer, wife-beatings, the homes
and the blood of the people, were matters reviewed to the confusion of
Carpendike listened with a bent head, upraised eyes, and brows wrinkling
far on to his poll: a picture of a mind entrenched beyond the
potentialities of mortal assault. He signified that he had spoken.
Indeed Beauchamp's reply was vain to one whose argument was that he
considered the people nearer to holiness in the: indulging of an evil
propensity than in satisfying a harmless curiosity and getting a
recreation. The Sabbath claimed them; if they were disobedient, Sin
ultimately might scourge them back to the fold, but never if they were
permitted to regard themselves as innocent in their backsliding and
Such language was quite new to Beauchamp. The parsons he had spoken
to were of one voice in objecting to the pothouse. He appealed to
Carpendike's humanity. Carpendike smote him with a text from Scripture.
'Devilish cold in this shop,' muttered Palmet.
Two not flourishing little children of the emaciated Puritan burst into
the shop, followed by their mother, carrying a child in her arms. She
had a sad look, upon traces of a past fairness, vaguely like a snow
landscape in the thaw. Palmet stooped to toss shillings with her young
ones, that he might avoid the woman's face. It cramped his heart.
'Don't you see, Mr. Carpendike,' said fat Mr. Oggler, 'it's the happiness
of the people we want; that's what Captain Beauchamp works for--their
happiness; that's the aim of life for all of us. Look at me! I'm as
happy as the day. I pray every night, and I go to church every Sunday,
and I never know what it is to be unhappy. The Lord has blessed me with
a good digestion, healthy pious children, and a prosperous shop that's a
competency--a modest one, but I make it satisfy me, because I know it's
the Lord's gift. Well, now, and I hate Sabbath-breakers; I would punish
them; and I'm against the public-houses on a Sunday; but aboard my little
yacht, say on a Sunday morning in the Channel, I don't forget I owe it to
the Lord that he has been good enough to put me in the way of keeping a
yacht; no; I read prayers to my crew, and a chapter in the Bible-Genesis,
Deuteronomy, Kings, Acts, Paul, just as it comes. All's good that's
there. Then we're free for the day! man, boy, and me; we cook our
victuals, and we must look to the yacht, do you see. But we've made our
peace with the Almighty. We know that. He don't mind the working of the
vessel so long as we've remembered him. He put us in that situation,
exactly there, latitude and longitude, do you see, and work the vessel we
must. And a glass of grog and a pipe after dinner, can't be any offence.
And I tell you, honestly and sincerely, I'm sure my conscience is good,
and I really and truly don't know what it is not to know happiness.'
'Then you don't know God,' said Carpendike, like a voice from a cave.
'Or nature: or the state of the world,' said Beauchamp, singularly
impressed to find himself between two men, of whom--each perforce of his
tenuity and the evident leaning of his appetites--one was for the barren
black view of existence, the other for the fantastically bright. As to
the men personally, he chose Carpendike, for all his obstinacy and
sourness. Oggler's genial piety made him shrink with nausea.
But Lord Palmet paid Mr. Oggler a memorable compliment, by assuring him
that he was altogether of his way of thinking about happiness.
The frank young nobleman did not withhold a reference to the two or three
things essential to his happiness; otherwise Mr. Oggler might have been
pleased and flattered.
Before quitting the shop, Beauchamp warned Carpendike that he should come
again. 'Vote or no vote, you're worth the trial. Texts as many as you
like. I'll make your faith active, if it's alive at all. You speak of
the Lord loving his own; you make out the Lord to be your own, and use
your religion like a drug. So it appears to me. That Sunday tyranny of
yours has to be defended.
Remember that; for I for one shall combat it and expose it. Good day.'
Beauchamp continued, in the street: 'Tyrannies like this fellow's have
made the English the dullest and wretchedest people in Europe.'
Palmet animadverted on Carpendike: 'The dog looks like a deadly fungus
that has poisoned the woman.'
'I'd trust him with a post of danger, though,' said Beauchamp.
Before the candidate had opened his mouth to the next elector he was
beamed on. M'Gilliper, baker, a floured brick face, leaned on folded
arms across his counter and said, in Scotch: 'My vote? and he that asks
me for my vote is the man who, when he was midshipman, saved the life of
a relation of mine from death by drowning! my wife's first cousin, Johnny
Brownson--and held him up four to five minutes in the water, and never
left him till he was out of danger! There 's my hand on it, I will, and
a score of householders in Bevisham the same.' He dictated precious
names and addresses to Beauchamp, and was curtly thanked for his pains.
Such treatment of a favourable voter seemed odd to Palmet.
'Oh, a vote given for reasons of sentiment!' Beauchamp interjected.
Palmet reflected and said: 'Well, perhaps that's how it is women don't
care uncommonly for the men who love them, though they like precious well
to be loved. Opposition does it.'
'You have discovered my likeness to women,' said Beauchamp, eyeing him
critically, and then thinking, with a sudden warmth, that he had seen
Renee: 'Look here, Palmet, you're too late for Itchincope, to-day; come
and eat fish and meat with me at my hotel, and come to a meeting after
it. You can run by rail to Itchincope to breakfast in the morning, and
I may come with you. You'll hear one or two men speak well to-night.'
'I suppose I shall have to be at this business myself some day,' sighed
Palmet. 'Any women on the platform? Oh, but political women! And the
Tories get the pick of the women. No, I don't think I 'll stay. Yes, I
will; I'll go through with it. I like to be learning something. You
wouldn't think it of me, Beauchamp, but I envy fellows at work.'
'You might make a speech for me, Palmet.'
'No man better, my dear fellow, if it were proposing a toast to the poor
devils and asking them to drink it. But a dry speech, like leading them
over the desert without a well to cheer them--no oasis, as we used to
call a five-pound note and a holiday--I haven't the heart for that. Is
your Miss Denham a Radical?'
Beauchamp asserted that he had not yet met a woman at all inclining in
the direction of Radicalism. 'I don't call furies Radicals. There may
be women who think as well as feel; I don't know them.'
'Lots of them, Beauchamp. Take my word for it. I do know women. They
haven't a shift, nor a trick, I don't know. They're as clear to me as
glass. I'll wager your Miss Denham goes to the meetings. Now, doesn't
she? Of course she does. And there couldn't be a gallanter way of
spending an evening, so I'll try it. Nothing to repent of next morning!
That's to be said for politics, Beauchamp, and I confess I'm rather
jealous of you. A thoroughly good-looking girl who takes to a fellow for
what he's doing in the world, must have ideas of him precious different
from the adoration of six feet three and a fine seat in the saddle. I
see that. There's Baskelett in the Blues; and if I were he I should
detest my cuirass and helmet, for if he's half as successful as he
boasts--it's the uniform.'
Two notorious Radicals, Peter Molyneux and Samuel Killick, were called
on. The first saw Beauchamp and refused him; the second declined to see
him. He was amazed and staggered, but said little.
Among the remainder of the electors of Bevisham, roused that day to a
sense of their independence by the summons of the candidates, only one
man made himself conspicuous, by premising that he had two important
questions to ask, and he trusted Commander Beauchamp to answer them
unreservedly. They were: first, What is a FRENCH MARQUEES? arid second:
Who was EURYDICEY?
Beauchamp referred him to the Tory camp, whence the placard alluding to
those ladies had issued.
'Both of them 's ladies! I guessed it,' said the elector.
'Did you guess that one of them is a mythological lady?'
'I'm not far wrong in guessing t'other's not much better, I reckon. Now,
sir, may I ask you, is there any tale concerning your morals?'
'No: you may not ask; you take a liberty.'
'Then I'll take the liberty to postpone talking about my vote. Look
here, Mr. Commander; if the upper classes want anything of me and come to
me for it, I'll know what sort of an example they're setting; now that's
'You pay attention to a stupid Tory squib?'
'Where there's smoke there's fire, sir.'
Beauchamp glanced at his note-book for the name of this man, who was a
ragman and dustman.
'My private character has nothing whatever to do with my politics,' he
said, and had barely said it when he remembered having spoken somewhat
differently, upon the abstract consideration of the case, to Mr.
'You're quite welcome to examine my character for yourself, only I don't
consent to be catechized. Understand that.'
'You quite understand that, Mr. Tripehallow,' said Oggler, bolder in
taking up the strange name than Beauchamp had been.
'I understand that. But you understand, there's never been a word
against the morals of Mr. Cougham. Here's the point: Do we mean to be a
moral country? Very well, then so let our representatives be, I say.
And if I hear nothing against your morals, Mr. Commander, I don't say you
shan't have my vote. I mean to deliberate. You young nobs capering over
our heads--I nail you down to morals. Politics secondary. Adew, as the
dying spirit remarked to weeping friends.'
'Au revoir--would have been kinder,' said Palmet.
Mr. Tripehallow smiled roguishly, to betoken comprehension.
Beauchamp asked Mr. Oggler whether that fellow was to be taken for a
humourist or a five-pound-note man.
'It may be both, sir. I know he's called Morality Joseph.'
An all but acknowledged five-pound-note man was the last they visited.
He cut short the preliminaries of the interview by saying that he was a
four-o'clock man; i.e. the man who waited for the final bids to him upon
the closing hour of the election day.
'Not one farthing!' said Beauchamp, having been warned beforehand of the
signification of the phrase by his canvassing lieutenant.
'Then you're nowhere,' the honest fellow replied in the mystic tongue of
Palmet and Beauchamp went to their fish and meat; smoked a cigarette or
two afterward, conjured away the smell of tobacco from their persons as
well as they could, and betook themselves to the assembly-room of the
Liberal party, where the young lord had an opportunity of beholding Mr.
Cougham, and of listening to him for an hour and forty minutes. He heard
Mr. Timothy Turbot likewise. And Miss Denham was present. Lord Palmet
applauded when she smiled. When she looked attentive he was deeply
studious. Her expression of fatigue under the sonorous ring of
statistics poured out from Cougham was translated by Palmet into yawns
and sighs of a profoundly fraternal sympathy. Her face quickened on the
rising of Beauchamp to speak. She kept eye on him all the while, as
Palmet, with the skill of an adept in disguising his petty larceny of the
optics, did on her. Twice or thrice she looked pained: Beauchamp was
hesitating for the word. Once she looked startled and shut her eyes: a
hiss had sounded; Beauchamp sprang on it as if enlivened by hostility,
and dominated the factious note. Thereat she turned to a gentleman
sitting beside her; apparently they agreed that some incident had
occurred characteristic of Nevil Beauchamp; for whom, however, it was not
a brilliant evening. He was very well able to account for it, and did
so, after he had walked a few steps with Miss Denham on her homeward way.
'You heard Cougham, Palmet! He's my senior, and I'm obliged to come
second to him, and how am I to have a chance when he has drenched the
audience for close upon a couple of hours!'
Palmet mimicked the manner of Cougham.
'They cry for Turbot naturally; they want a relief,' Beauchamp groaned.
Palmet gave an imitation of Timothy Turbot.
He was an admirable mimic, perfectly spontaneous, without stressing any
points, and Beauchamp was provoked to laugh his discontentment with the
evening out of recollection.
But a grave matter troubled Palmet's head.
'Who was that fellow who walked off with Miss Denham?'
'A married man,' said Beauchamp: 'badly married; more 's the pity; he has
a wife in the madhouse. His name is Lydiard.'
'Not her brother! Where's her uncle?'
'She won't let him come to these meetings. It's her idea; well-
intended, but wrong, I think. She's afraid that Dr. Shrapnel will alarm
the moderate Liberals and damage Radical me.'
Palmet muttered between his teeth, 'What queer things they let their
women do!' He felt compelled to say, 'Odd for her to be walking home at
night with a fellow like that.'
It chimed too consonantly with a feeling of Beauchamp's, to repress which
he replied: 'Your ideas about women are simply barbarous, Palmet. Why
shouldn't she? Her uncle places his confidence in the man, and in her.
Isn't that better--ten times more likely to call out the sense of honour
and loyalty, than the distrust and the scandal going on in your class?'
'Please to say yours too.'
'I've no class. I say that the education for women is to teach them to
rely on themselves.'
'Ah! well, I don't object, if I'm the man.'
'Because you and your set are absolutely uncivilized in your views of
'Common sense, Beauchamp!'
'Prey. You eye them as prey. And it comes of an idle aristocracy. You
have no faith in them, and they repay you for your suspicion.'
'All the same, Beauchamp, she ought not to be allowed to go about at
night with that fellow. "Rich and rare were the gems she wore": but that
was in Erin's isle, and if we knew the whole history, she'd better have
stopped at home. She's marvellously pretty, to my mind. She looks a
high-bred wench. Odd it is, Beauchamp, to see a lady's-maid now and then
catch the style of my lady. No, by Jove! I've known one or two--you
couldn't tell the difference! Not till you were intimate. I know one
would walk a minuet with a duchess. Of course--all the worse for her.
If you see that uncle of Miss Denham's--upon my honour, I should advise
him: I mean, counsel him not to trust her with any fellow but you.'
Beauchamp asked Lord Palmet how old he was.
Palmet gave his age; correcting the figures from six-and-twenty to one
year more. 'And never did a stroke of work in my life,' he said,
speaking genially out of an acute guess at the sentiments of the man he
It seemed a farcical state of things.
There was a kind of contrition in Palmet's voice, and to put him at his
ease, as well as to stamp something in his own mind, Beauchamp said:
'It's common enough.'
A DAY AT ITCHINCOPE
An election in Bevisham was always an exciting period at Itchincope, the
large and influential old estate of the Lespels, which at one time, with
but a ceremonious drive through the town, sent you two good Whig men to
Parliament to sit at Reform banquets; two unswerving party men, blest
subscribers to the right Review, and personally proud of its trenchancy.
Mr. Grancey Lespel was the survivor of them, and well could he remember
the happier day of his grandfather, his father, and his own hot youth.
He could be carried so far by affectionate regrets as to think of the
Tories of that day benignly:--when his champion Review of the orange and
blue livery waved a wondrous sharp knife, and stuck and bled them,
proving to his party, by trenchancy alone, that the Whig was the cause of
Providence. Then politics presented you a table whereat two parties
feasted, with no fear of the intrusion of a third, and your backs were
turned on the noisy lower world, your ears were deaf to it.
Apply we now the knocker to the door of venerable Quotation, and call the
aged creature forth, that he, half choked by his eheu!--
'A sound between a sigh and bray,'
may pronounce the familiar but respectable words, the burial-service of a
time so happy!
Mr. Grancey Lespel would still have been sitting for Bevisham (or
politely at this elective moment bowing to resume the seat) had not those
Manchester jugglers caught up his cry, appropriated his colours,
displaced and impersonated him, acting beneficent Whig on a scale
approaching treason to the Constitution; leaning on the people in
earnest, instead of taking the popular shoulder for a temporary lift, all
in high party policy, for the clever manoeuvre, to oust the Tory and sway
the realm. See the consequences. For power, for no other consideration,
those manufacturing rascals have raised Radicalism from its primaeval
mire--from its petty backslum bookseller's shop and public-house back-
parlour effluvia of oratory--to issue dictates in England, and we,
England, formerly the oak, are topsy-turvy, like onions, our heels in the
The language of party is eloquent, and famous for being grand at
illustration; but it is equally well known that much of it gives us
humble ideas of the speaker, probably because of the naughty temper party
is prone to; which, while endowing it with vehemence, lessens the stout
circumferential view that should be taken, at least historically.
Indeed, though we admit party to be the soundest method for conducting
us, party talk soon expends its attractiveness, as would a summer's
afternoon given up to the contemplation of an encounter of rams' heads.
Let us be quit of Mr. Grancey Lespel's lamentations. The Whig gentleman
had some reason to complain. He had been trained to expect no other
attack than that of his hereditary adversary-ram in front, and a sham
ram--no honest animal, but a ramming engine rather--had attacked him in
the rear. Like Mr. Everard Romfrey and other Whigs, he was profoundly
chagrined by popular ingratitude: 'not the same man,' his wife said of
him. It nipped him early. He took to proverbs; sure sign of the sere
leaf in a man's mind.
His wife reproached the people for their behaviour to him bitterly. The
lady regarded politics as a business that helped hunting-men a stage
above sportsmen, for numbers of the politicians she was acquainted with
were hunting-men, yet something more by virtue of the variety they could
introduce into a conversation ordinarily treating of sport and the
qualities of wines. Her husband seemed to have lost in that
Parliamentary seat the talisman which gave him notions distinguishing him
from country squires; he had sunk, and he no longer cared for the months
in London, nor for the speeches she read to him to re-awaken his mind and
make him look out of himself, as he had done when he was a younger man
and not a suspended Whig. Her own favourite reading was of love-
adventures written in the French tongue. She had once been in love, and
could be so sympathetic with that passion as to avow to Cecilia Halkett a
tenderness for Nevil Beauchamp, on account of his relations with the
Marquise de Rouaillout, and notwithstanding the demoniacal flame-halo of
the Radical encircling him.
The allusion to Beauchamp occurred a few hours after Cecilia's arrival at
Cecilia begged for the French lady's name to be repeated; she had not
heard it before, and she tasted the strange bitter relish of realization
when it struck her ear to confirm a story that she believed indeed, but
had not quite sensibly felt.
'And it is not over yet, they say,' Mrs. Grancey Lespel added, while
softly flipping some spots of the colour proper to radicals in morals on
the fame of the French lady. She possessed fully the grave judicial
spirit of her countrywomen, and could sit in judgement on the personages
of tales which had entranced her, to condemn the heroines: it was
impolitic in her sex to pity females. As for the men--poor weak things!
As for Nevil Beauchamp, in particular, his case, this penetrating lady
said, was clear: he ought to be married. 'Could you make a sacrifice?'
she asked Cecilia playfully.
'Nevil Beauchamp and I are old friends, but we have agreed that we are
deadly political enemies,' Miss Halkett replied.
'It is not so bad for a beginning,' said Mrs. Lespel.
'If one were disposed to martyrdom.'
The older woman nodded. 'Without that.'
'My dear Mrs. Lespel, wait till you have heard him. He is at war with
everything we venerate and build on. The wife you would give him should
be a creature rooted in nothing--in sea-water. Simply two or three
conversations with him have made me uncomfortable ever since; I can see
nothing durable; I dream of surprises, outbreaks, dreadful events. At
least it is perfectly true that I do not look with the same eyes on my
country. He seems to delight in destroying one's peaceful contemplation
of life. The truth is that he blows a perpetual gale, and is all
agitation,' Cecilia concluded, affecting with a smile a slight shiver.
'Yes, one tires of that,' said Mrs. Lespel. 'I was determined I would
have him here if we could get him to come. Grancey objected. We shall
have to manage Captain Beauchamp and the rest as well. He is sure to
come late to-morrow, and will leave early on Thursday morning for his
canvass; our driving into Bevisham is for Friday or Saturday. I do not
see that he need have any suspicions. Those verses you are so angry
about cannot be traced to Itchincope. My dear, they are a childish
trifle. When my husband stood first for Bevisham, the whole of his
University life appeared in print. What we have to do is to forewarn the
gentlemen to be guarded, and especially in what they say to my nephew
Lord Palmet, for that boy cannot keep a secret; he is as open as a
'The smoking-room at night?' Cecilia suggested, remembering her father's
words about Itchincope's tobacco-hall.
'They have Captain Beauchamp's address hung up there, I have heard,' said
Mrs. Lespel. 'There may be other things--another address, though it is
not yet, placarded. Come with me. For fifteen years I have never once
put my head into that room, and now I 've a superstitious fear about it.'
Mrs. Lespel led the way to the deserted smoking-room, where the stale
reek of tobacco assailed the ladies, as does that dire place of Customs
the stranger visiting savage (or too natural) potentates.
In silence they tore down from the wall Beauchamp's electoral Address--
flanked all its length with satirical pen and pencil comments and
sketches; and they consigned to flames the vast sheet of animated verses
relating to the FRENCH MARQUEES. A quarter-size chalk-drawing of a
slippered pantaloon having a duck on his shoulder, labelled to say
'Quack-quack,' and offering our nauseated Dame Britannia (or else it was
the widow Bevisham) a globe of a pill to swallow, crossed with the
consolatory and reassuring name of Shrapnel, they disposed of likewise.
And then they fled, chased forth either by the brilliancy of the
politically allusive epigrams profusely inscribed around them on the
walls, or by the atmosphere. Mrs. Lespel gave her orders for the walls
to be scraped, and said to Cecilia: 'A strange air to breathe, was it
not? The less men and women know of one another, the happier for them.
I knew my superstition was correct as a guide to me. I do so much wish
to respect men, and all my experience tells me the Turks know best how to
preserve it for us. Two men in this house would give their wives for
pipes, if it came to the choice. We might all go for a cellar of old
wine. After forty, men have married their habits, and wives are only an
item in the list, and not the most important.'
With the assistance of Mr. Stukely Culbrett, Mrs. Lespel prepared the
house and those of the company who were in the secret of affairs for the
arrival of Beauchamp. The ladies were curious to see him. The
gentlemen, not anticipating extreme amusement, were calm: for it is an
axiom in the world of buckskins and billiard-cues, that one man is very
like another; and so true is it with them, that they can in time teach it
to the fair sex. Friends of Cecil Baskelett predominated, and the
absence of so sprightly a fellow was regretted seriously; but he was
shooting with his uncle at Holdesbury, and they did not expect him before
On Wednesday morning Lord Palmet presented himself at a remarkably well-
attended breakfast-table at Itchincope. He passed from Mrs. Lespel to
Mrs. Wardour-Devsreux and Miss Halkett, bowed to other ladies, shook
hands with two or three men, and nodded over the heads of half-a-dozen,
accounting rather mysteriously for his delay in coming, it was thought,
until he sat down before a plate of Yorkshire pie, and said:
'The fact is I've been canvassing hard. With Beauchamp!'
Astonishment and laughter surrounded him, and Palmet looked from face to
face, equally astonished, and desirous to laugh too.
'Ernest! how could you do that?' said Mrs. Lespel; and her husband
cried in stupefaction, 'With Beauchamp?'
'Oh! it's because of the Radicalism,' Palmet murmured to himself. 'I
didn't mind that.'
'What sort of a day did you have?' Mr. Culbrett asked him; and several
gentlemen fell upon him for an account of the day.
Palmet grimaced over a mouthful of his pie.
'Bad!' quoth Mr. Lespel; 'I knew it. I know Bevisham. The only chance
there is for five thousand pounds in a sack with a hole in it.'
'Bad for Beauchamp? Dear me, no'; Palmet corrected the error. 'He is
carrying all before him. And he tells them,' Palmet mimicked Beauchamp,
'they shall not have one penny: not a farthing. I gave a couple of young
ones a shilling apiece, and he rowed me for bribery; somehow I did
Lord Palmet described the various unearthly characters he had inspected
in their dens: Carpendike, Tripehallow, and the radicals Peter Molyneux
and Samuel Killick, and the ex-member for the borough, Cougham, posing to
suit sign-boards of Liberal inns, with a hand thrust in his waistcoat,
and his head well up, the eyes running over the under-lids, after the
traditional style of our aristocracy; but perhaps more closely resembling
an urchin on tiptoe peering above park-palings. Cougham's remark to
Beauchamp, heard and repeated by Palmet with the object of giving an
example of the senior Liberal's phraseology: 'I was necessitated to
vacate my town mansion, to my material discomfort and that of my wife,
whose equipage I have been compelled to take, by your premature canvass
of the borough, Captain Beauchamp: and now, I hear, on undeniable
authority, that no second opponent to us will be forthcoming'---this
produced the greatest effect on the company.
'But do you tell me,' said Mr. Lespel, when the shouts of the gentlemen
were subsiding, 'do you tell me that young Beauchamp is going ahead?'
'That he is. They flock to him in the street.'
'He stands there, then, and jingles a money-bag.'
Palmet resumed his mimicry of Beauchamp: 'Not a stiver; purity of
election is the first condition of instruction to the people!
Principles! Then they've got a capital orator: Turbot, an Irishman. I
went to a meeting last night, and heard him; never heard anything finer
in my life. You may laugh he whipped me off my legs; fellow spun me like
a top; and while he was orationing, a donkey calls, "Turbot! ain't you a
flat fish?" and he swings round, "Not for a fool's hook!" and out they
hustled the villain for a Tory. I never saw anything like it.'
'That repartee wouldn't have done with a Dutchman or a Torbay trawler,'
said Stukely Culbrett. 'But let us hear more.'
'Is it fair?' Miss Halkett murmured anxiously to Mrs. Lespel, who
returned a flitting shrug.
'Charming women follow Beauchamp, you know,' Palmet proceeded, as he
conceived, to confirm and heighten the tale of success. 'There's a Miss
Denham, niece of a doctor, a Dr . . . . Shot--Shrapnel! a
wonderfully good-looking, clever-looking girl, comes across him in half-
a-dozen streets to ask how he's getting on, and goes every night to his
meetings, with a man who 's a writer and has a mad wife; a man named
Lydia-no, that's a woman--Lydiard. It's rather a jumble; but you should
see her when Beauchamp's on his legs and speaking.'
'Mr. Lydiard is in Bevisham?' Mrs. Wardour-Devereux remarked.
'I know the girl,' growled Mr. Lespel. 'She comes with that rascally
doctor and a bobtail of tea-drinking men and women and their brats to
Northeden Heath--my ground. There they stand and sing.'
'Hymns?'inquired Mr. Culbrett.
'I don't know what they sing. And when it rains they take the liberty to
step over my bank into my plantation. Some day I shall have them
stepping into my house.'
'Yes, it's Mr. Lydiard; I'm sure of the man's name,' Palmet replied to
'We met him in Spain the year before last,' she observed to Cecilia.
The 'we' reminded Palmet that her husband was present.
'Ah, Devereux, I didn't see you,' he nodded obliquely down the table.
'By the way, what's the grand procession? I hear my man Davis has come
all right, and I caught sight of the top of your coach-box in the
stableyard as I came in. What are we up to?'
'Baskelett writes, it's to be for to-morrow morning at ten-the start.'
Mr. Wardour-Devereux addressed the table generally. He was a fair, huge,
bush-bearded man, with a voice of unvarying bass: a squire in his county,
and energetic in his pursuit of the pleasures of hunting, driving,
travelling, and tobacco.
'Old Bask's the captain of us? Very well, but where do we drive the
teams? How many are we? What's in hand?'
Cecilia threw a hurried glance at her hostess.
Luckily some witling said, 'Fours-in-hand!' and so dryly that it passed
for humour, and gave Mrs. Lespel time to interpose. 'You are not to know
till to-morrow, Ernest.'
Palmet had traced the authorship of the sally to Mr. Algy Borolick, and
crowned him with praise for it. He asked, 'Why not know till to-morrow?'
A word in a murmur from Mr. Culbrett, 'Don't frighten the women,'
satisfied him, though why it should he could not have imagined.
Mrs. Lespel quitted the breakfast-table before the setting in of the
dangerous five minutes of conversation over its ruins, and spoke to her
husband, who contested the necessity for secresy, but yielded to her
judgement when it was backed by Stukely Culbrett. Soon after Lord Palmet
found himself encountered by evasions and witticisms, in spite of the
absence of the ladies, upon every attempt he made to get some light
regarding the destination of the four-in-hands next day.
'What are you going to do?' he said to Mr. Devereux, thinking him the
likeliest one to grow confidential in private.
'Smoke,' resounded from the depths of that gentleman.
Palmet recollected the ground of division between the beautiful brunette
and her lord--his addiction to the pipe in perpetuity, and deemed it
sweeter to be with the lady.
She and Miss Halkett were walking in the garden.
Miss Halkett said to him: 'How wrong of you to betray the secrets of your
friend! Is he really making way?'
'Beauchamp will head the poll to a certainty,' Palmet replied.
'Still,' said Miss Halkett, 'you should not forget that you are not in
the house of a Liberal. Did you canvass in the town or the suburbs?'
'Everywhere. I assure you, Miss Halkett, there's a feeling for
Beauchamp--they're in love with him!'
'He promises them everything, I suppose?'
'Not he. And the odd thing is, it isn't the Radicals he catches. He
won't go against the game laws for them, and he won't cut down army and
navy. So the Radicals yell at him. One confessed he had sold his vote
for five pounds last election: "you shall have it for the same," says he,
"for you're all humbugs." Beauchamp took him by the throat and shook
him--metaphorically, you know. But as for the tradesmen, he's their
hero; bakers especially.'
'Mr. Austin may be right, then!' Cecilia reflected aloud.
She went to Mrs. Lespel to repeat what she had extracted from Palmet,
after warning the latter not, in common loyalty, to converse about his
canvass with Beauchamp.
'Did you speak of Mr. Lydiard as Captain Beauchamp's friend?' Mrs.
Devereux inquired of him.
'Lydiard? why, he was the man who made off with that pretty Miss
Denham,' said Palmet. 'I have the greatest trouble to remember them all;
but it was not a day wasted. Now I know politics. Shall we ride or
walk? You will let me have the happiness? I'm so unlucky; I rarely meet
'You will bring Captain Beauchamp to me the moment he comes?'
'I'll bring him. Bring him? Nevil Beauchamp won't want bringing.'
Mrs. Devereux smiled with some pleasure.
Grancey Lespel, followed at some distance by Mr. Ferbrass, the Tory
lawyer, stepped quickly up to Palmet, and asked whether Beauchamp had
seen Dollikins, the brewer.
Palmet could recollect the name of one Tomlinson, and also the calling at
a brewery. Moreover, Beauchamp had uttered contempt of the brewer's
business, and of the social rule to accept rich brewers for gentlemen.
The man's name might be Dollikins and not Tomlinson, and if so, it was
Dollikins who would not see Beauchamp. To preserve his political
importance, Palmet said, 'Dollikins! to be sure, that was the man.'
'Treats him as he does you,' Mr. Lespel turned to Ferbrass. 'I've sent
to Dollikins to come to me this morning, if he's not driving into the
town. I'll have him before Beauchamp sees him. I've asked half-a-dozen
of these country gentlemen-tradesmen to lunch at my table to-day.'
'Then, sir,' observed Ferbrass, 'if they are men to be persuaded, they
had better not see me.'
'True; they're my old supporters, and mightn't like your Tory face,' Mr.
Mr. Ferbrass congratulated him on the heartiness of his espousal of the
Mr. Lespel winced a little, and told him not to put his trust in that.
'Turned Tory?' said Palmet.
Mr. Lespel declined to answer.
Palmet said to Mrs. Devereux, 'He thinks I'm not worth speaking to upon
politics. Now I'll give him some Beauchamp; I learned lots yesterday.'
'Then let it be in Captain Beauchamp's manner,' said
Palmet obeyed her commands with the liveliest exhibition of his peculiar
faculty: Cecilia, rejoining them, seemed to hear Nevil himself in his
emphatic political mood. 'Because the Whigs are defunct! They had no
root in the people! Whig is the name of a tribe that was! You have
Tory, Liberal, and Radical. There is no place for Whig. He is played
'Who has been putting that nonsense into your head?' Mr. Lespel
retorted. 'Go shooting, go shooting!'
Shots were heard in the woods. Palmet pricked up his ears; but he was
taken out riding to act cavalier to Mrs. Devereux and Miss Halkett.
Cecilia corrected his enthusiasm with the situation. 'No flatteries
to-day. There are hours when women feel their insignificance and
helplessness. I begin to fear for Mr. Austin; and I find I can do
nothing to aid him. My hands are tied. And yet I know I could win
voters if only it were permissible for me to go and speak to them.'
'Win them!' cried Palmet, imagining the alacrity of men's votes to be
won by her. He recommended a gallop for the chasing away of melancholy,
and as they were on the Bevisham high road, which was bordered by strips
of turf and heath, a few good stretches brought them on the fir-heights,
commanding views of the town and broad water.
'No, I cannot enjoy it,' Cecilia said to Mrs. Devereux; 'I don't mind the
grey light; cloud and water, and halftones of colour, are homely English
and pleasant, and that opal where the sun should be has a suggestiveness
richer than sunlight. I'm quite northern enough to understand it; but
with me it must be either peace or strife, and that Election down there
destroys my chance of peace. I never could mix reverie with excitement;
the battle must be over first, and the dead buried. Can you?'
Mrs. Devereux answered: 'Excitement? I am not sure that I know what it
is. An Election does not excite me.'
'There's Nevil Beauchamp himself!' Palmet sang out, and the ladies
discerned Beauchamp under a fir-tree, down by the road, not alone. A
man, increasing in length like a telescope gradually reaching its end for
observation, and coming to the height of a landmark, as if raised by
ropes, was rising from the ground beside him. 'Shall we trot on, Miss
Cecilia said, 'No.'
'Now I see a third fellow,' said Palmet. 'It's the other fellow, the
Denham-Shrapnel-Radical meeting . . . Lydiard's his name: writes
'We may as well ride on,' Mrs. Devereux remarked, and her horse fretted
Beauchamp perceived them, and lifted his hat. Palmet made demonstrations
for the ladies. Still neither party moved nearer.
After some waiting, Cecilia proposed to turn back.
Mrs. Devereux looked into her eyes. 'I'll take the lead,' she said, and
started forward, pursued by Palmet. Cecilia followed at a sullen canter.
Before they came up to Beauchamp, the long-shanked man had stalked away
townward. Lydiard held Beauchamp by the hand. Some last words, after
the manner of instructions, passed between them, and then Lydiard also
'I say, Beauchamp, Mrs. Devereux wants to hear who that man is,' Palmet
said, drawing up.
'That man is Dr. Shrapnel,' said Beauchamp, convinced that Cecilia had
checked her horse at the sight of the doctor.
'Dr. Shrapnel,' Palmet informed Mrs. Devereux.
She looked at him to seek his wits, and returning Beauchamp's admiring
salutation with a little bow and smile, said, 'I fancied it was a
gentleman we met in Spain.'
'He writes books,' observed Palmet, to jog a slow intelligence.
'Pamphlets, you mean.'
'I think he is not a pamphleteer', Mrs. Devereux said.
'Mr. Lydiard, then, of course; how silly I am! How can you pardon me!'
Beauchamp was contrite; he could not explain that a long guess he had
made at Miss Halkett's reluctance to come up to him when Dr. Shrapnel was
with him had preoccupied his mind. He sent off Palmet the bearer of a
pretext for bringing Lydiard back, and then said to Cecilia, 'You
recognized Dr. Shrapnel?'
'I thought it might be Dr. Shrapnel', she was candid enough to reply.
'I could not well recognize him, not knowing him.'
'Here comes Mr. Lydiard; and let me assure you, if I may take the liberty
of introducing him, he is no true Radical. He is a philosopher--one of
the flirts, the butterflies of politics, as Dr. Shrapnel calls them.'
Beauchamp hummed over some improvized trifles to Lydiard, then introduced
him cursorily, and all walked in the direction of Itchincope. It was
really the Mr. Lydiard Mrs. Devereux had met in Spain, so they were left
in the rear to discuss their travels. Much conversation did not go on in
front. Cecilia was very reserved. By-and-by she said, 'I am glad you
have come into the country early to-day.'
He spoke rapturously of the fresh air, and not too mildly of his pleasure
in meeting her. Quite off her guard, she began to hope he was getting to
be one of them again, until she heard him tell Lord Palmet that he had
come early out of Bevisham for the walk with Dr. Shrapnel, and to call on
certain rich tradesmen living near Itchincope. He mentioned the name of
'Dollikins?' Palmet consulted a perturbed recollection. Among the
entangled list of new names he had gathered recently from the study of
politics, Dollikins rang in his head. He shouted, 'Yes, Dollikins! to
be sure. Lespel has him to lunch to-day;--calls him a gentleman-
tradesman; odd fish! and told a fellow called--where is it now?--a name
like brass or copper . . . Copperstone? Brasspot? . . . told him
he'd do well to keep his Tory cheek out of sight. It 's the names of
those fellows bother one so! All the rest's easy.'
'You are evidently in a state of confusion, Lord Palmet,' said Cecilia.
The tone of rebuke and admonishment was unperceived. 'Not about the
facts,' he rejoined. 'I 'm for fair play all round; no trickery. I tell
Beauchamp all I know, just as I told you this morning, Miss Halkett.
What I don't like is Lespel turning Tory.'
Cecilia put a stop to his indiscretions by halting for Mrs. Devereux, and
saying to Beauchamp, 'If your friend would return to Bevisham by rail,
this is the nearest point to the station.'
Palmet, best-natured of men, though generally prompted by some of his
peculiar motives, dismounted from his horse, leaving him to Beauchamp,
that he might conduct Mr. Lydiard to the station, and perhaps hear a word
of Miss Denham: at any rate be able to form a guess as to the secret of
that art of his, which had in the space of an hour restored a happy and
luminous vivacity to the languid Mrs. Wardour-Devereux.
THE QUESTION AS TO THE EXAMINATION OF THE WHIGS, AND THE FINE BLOW STRUCK
BY MR. EVERARD ROMFREY
Itchincope was famous for its hospitality. Yet Beauchamp, when in the
presence of his hostess, could see that he was both unexpected and
unwelcome. Mrs. Lespel was unable to conceal it; she looked meaningly at
Cecilia, talked of the house being very full, and her husband engaged
till late in the afternoon. And Captain Baskelett had arrived on a
sudden, she said. And the luncheon-table in the dining-room could not
possibly hold more.
'We three will sit in the library, anywhere,' said Cecilia.
So they sat and lunched in the library, where Mrs. Devereux served
unconsciously for an excellent ally to Cecilia in chatting to Beauchamp,
principally of the writings of Mr. Lydiard.
Had the blinds of the windows been drawn down and candles lighted,
Beauchamp would have been well contented to remain with these two ladies,
and forget the outer world; sweeter society could not have been offered
him: but glancing carelessly on to the lawn, he exclaimed in some
wonderment that the man he particularly wished to see was there. 'It
must be Dollikins, the brewer. I've had him pointed out to me in
Bevisham, and I never can light on him at his brewery.'
No excuse for detaining the impetuous candidate struck Cecilia. She
betook herself to Mrs. Lespel, to give and receive counsel in the
emergency, while Beauchamp struck across the lawn to Mr. Dollikins,
who had the squire of Itchincope on the other side of him.
Late in the afternoon a report reached the ladies of a furious contest
going on over Dollikins. Mr. Algy Borolick was the first to give them
intelligence of it, and he declared that Beauchamp had wrested Dollikins
from Grancey Lespel. This was contradicted subsequently by Mr. Stukely
Culbrett. 'But there's heavy pulling between them,' he said.
'It will do all the good in the world to Grancey,' said Mrs. Lespel.
She sat in her little blue-room, with gentlemen congregating at the open
Presently Grancey Lespel rounded a projection of the house where the
drawing-room stood out: 'The maddest folly ever talked!' he delivered
himself in wrath. 'The Whigs dead? You may as well say I'm dead.'
It was Beauchamp answering: 'Politically, you're dead, if you call
yourself a Whig. You couldn't be a live one, for the party's in pieces,
blown to the winds. The country was once a chess-board for Whig and
Tory: but that game's at an end. There's no doubt on earth that the
Whigs are dead.'
'But if there's no doubt about it, how is it I have a doubt about it?'
'You know you're a Tory. You tried to get that man Dollikins from me in
the Tory interest.'
'I mean to keep him out of Radical clutches. Now that 's the truth.'
They came up to the group by the open window, still conversing hotly,
indifferent to listeners.
'You won't keep him from me; I have him,' said Beauchamp.
'You delude yourself; I have his promise, his pledged word,' said Grancey
'The man himself told you his opinion of renegade Whigs.'
'Renegade Whig is an actionable phrase,' Mr. Culbrett observed.
He was unnoticed.
'If you don't like "renegade," take "dead,"' said Beauchamp. 'Dead Whig
resurgent in the Tory. You are dead.'
'It's the stupid conceit of your party thinks that.'
'Dead, my dear Mr. Lespel. I'll say for the Whigs, they would not be
seen touting for Tories if they were not ghosts of Whigs. You are dead.
There is no doubt of it.'
'But,' Grancey Lespel repeated, 'if there's no doubt about it, how is it
I have a doubt about it?'
'The Whigs preached finality in Reform. It was their own funeral
'I don't dispute your liberty of action to go over to the Tories, but you
have no right to attempt to take an honest Liberal with you. And that
'Aha! Beauchamp; the man's mine. Come, you'll own he swore he wouldn't
vote for a Shrapnelite.'
'Don't you remember?--that's how the Tories used to fight you; they stuck
an epithet to you, and hooted to set the mob an example; you hit them off
to the life,' said Beauchamp, brightening with the fine ire of strife,
and affecting a sadder indignation. 'You traded on the ignorance of a
man prejudiced by lying reports of one of the noblest of human
'Shrapnel? There! I've had enough.' Grancey Lespel bounced away with
both hands outspread on the level of his ears.
'Dead!' Beauchamp sent the ghastly accusation after him.
Grancey faced round and said, 'Bo!' which was applauded for a smart
retort. And let none of us be so exalted above the wit of daily life as
to sneer at it. Mrs. Lespel remarked to Mr. Culbrett, 'Do you not see
how much he is refreshed by the interest he takes in this election? He
is ten years younger.'
Beauchamp bent to her, saying mock-dolefully, 'I'm sorry to tell you that
if ever he was a sincere Whig, he has years of remorse before him.'
'Promise me, Captain Beauchamp,' she answered, 'promise you will give us
no more politics to-day.'
'If none provoke me.'
'And as to Bevisham,' said Mr. Culbrett, 'it's the identical borough for
a Radical candidate, for every voter there demands a division of his
property, and he should be the last to complain of an adoption of his
'Clever,' rejoined Beauchamp; 'but I am under government'; and he swept a
bow to Mrs. Lespel.
As they were breaking up the group, Captain Baskelett appeared.
'Ah! Nevil,' said he, passed him, saluted Miss Halkett through the
window, then cordially squeezed his cousin's hand. 'Having a holiday out
of Bevisham? The baron expects to meet you at Mount Laurels to-morrow.
He particularly wishes me to ask you whether you think all is fair in
'I don't,' said Nevil.
'Not? The canvass goes on swimmingly.'
'Palmet gives you two-thirds of the borough. The poor old Tory tortoise
is nowhere. They've been writing about you, Nevil.'
'They have. And if there 's a man of honour in the party I shall hold
him responsible for it.'
'I allude to an article in the Bevisham Liberal paper; a magnificent
eulogy, upon my honour. I give you my word, I have rarely read an
article so eloquent. And what is the Conservative misdemeanour which the
man of honour in the party is to pay for?'
'I'll talk to you about it by-and-by,' said Nevil.
He seemed to Cecilia too trusting, too simple, considering his cousin's
undisguised tone of banter. Yet she could not put him on his guard.
She would have had Mr. Culbrett do so. She walked on the terrace with
him near upon sunset, and said, 'The position Captain Beauchamp is in
here is most unfair to him.'
'There's nothing unfair in the lion's den,' said Stukely Culbrett;
adding, 'Now, observe, Miss Halkett; he talks for effect. He discovers
that Lespel is a Torified Whig; but that does not make him a bit more
alert. It's to say smart things. He speaks, but won't act, as if he
were among enemies. He's getting too fond of his bow-wow. Here he is,
and he knows the den, and he chooses to act the innocent. You see how
ridiculous? That trick of the ingenu, or peculiarly heavenly messenger,
who pretends that he ought never to have any harm done to him, though he
carries the lighted match, is the way of young Radicals. Otherwise
Beauchamp would be a dear boy. We shall see how he takes his thrashing.'
'You feel sure he will be beaten?'
'He has too strong a dose of fool's honesty to succeed--stands for the
game laws with Radicals, for example. He's loaded with scruples and
crotchets, and thinks more of them than of his winds and his tides. No
public man is to be made out of that. His idea of the Whigs being dead
shows a head that can't read the country. He means himself for mankind,
and is preparing to be the benefactor of a country parish.'
'But as a naval officer?'
Cecilia was convinced that Mr. Culbrett underestimated Beauchamp.
Nevertheless the confidence expressed in Beauchamp's defeat reassured and
pleased her. At midnight she was dancing with him in the midst of great
matronly country vessels that raised a wind when they launched on the
waltz, and exacted an anxious pilotage on the part of gentlemen careful
of their partners; and why I cannot say, but contrasts produce quaint
ideas in excited spirits, and a dancing politician appeared to her so
absurd that at one moment she had to bite her lips not to laugh. It will
hardly be credited that the waltz with Nevil was delightful to Cecilia
all the while, and dancing with others a penance. He danced with none
other. He led her to a three o'clock morning supper: one of those
triumphant subversions of the laws and customs of earth which have the
charm of a form of present deification for all young people; and she,
while noting how the poor man's advocate dealt with costly pasties and
sparkling wines, was overjoyed at his hearty comrade's manner with the
gentlemen, and a leadership in fun that he seemed to have established.
Cecil Baskelett acknowledged it, and complimented him on it. 'I give you
my word, Nevil, I never heard you in finer trim. Here's to our drive
into Bevisham to-morrow! Do you drink it? I beg; I entreat.'
'Oh, certainly,' said Nevil.
'Will you take a whip down there?'
'If you're all insured.'
'On my honour, old Nevil, driving a four-in-hand is easier than governing
'I'll accept your authority for what you know best,' said Nevil.
The toast of the Drive into Bevisham was drunk.
Cecilia left the supper-table, mortified, and feeling disgraced by her
participation in a secret that was being wantonly abused to humiliate
Nevil, as she was made to think by her sensitiveness. All the gentlemen
were against him, excepting perhaps that chattering pie Lord Palmet, who
did him more mischief than his enemies. She could not sleep. She walked
out on the terrace with Mrs. Wardour-Devereux, in a dream, hearing that
lady breathe remarks hardly less than sentimental, and an unwearied
succession of shouts from the smoking-room.
'They are not going to bed to-night,' said Mrs. Devereux.
'They are mystifying Captain Beauchamp,' said Cecilia.
'My husband tells me they are going to drive him into the town to-
Cecilia flushed: she could scarcely get her breath.
'Is that their plot?' she murmured.
Sleep was rejected by her, bed itself. The drive into Bevisham had been
fixed for nine A.M. She wrote two lines on note-paper in her room: but
found them overfervid and mysterious. Besides, how were they to be
conveyed to Nevil's chamber
She walked in the passage for half an hour, thinking it possible she
might meet him; not the most lady-like of proceedings, but her head was
bewildered. An arm-chair in her room invited her to rest and think--the
mask of a natural desire for sleep. At eight in the morning she was
awakened by her maid, and at a touch exclaimed, 'Have they gone?' and
her heart still throbbed after hearing that most of the gentlemen were in
and about the stables. Cecilia was down-stairs at a quarter to nine.
The breakfast-room was empty of all but Lord Palmet and Mr. Wardour-
Devereux; one selecting a cigar to light out of doors, the other debating
between two pipes. She beckoned to Palmet, and commissioned him to
inform Beauchamp that she wished him to drive her down to Bevisham in her
pony-carriage. Palmet brought back word from Beauchamp that he had an
appointment at ten o'clock in the town. 'I want to see him,' she said;
so Palmet ran out with the order. Cecilia met Beauchamp in the entrance-
'You must not go,' she said bluntly.
'I can't break an appointment,' said he--'for the sake of my own
pleasure,' was implied.
'Will you not listen to me, Nevil, when I say you cannot go?'
A coachman's trumpet blew.
'I shall be late. That's Colonel Millington's team. He starts first,
then Wardour-Devereux, then Cecil, and I mount beside him; Palmet's at
'But can't you even imagine a purpose for their driving into Bevisham so
'Well, men with drags haven't commonly much purpose,' he said.
'But on this occasion! At an Election time! Surely, Nevil, you can
guess at a reason.'
A second trumpet blew very martially. Footmen came in search of Captain
Beauchamp. The alternative of breaking her pledged word to her father,
or of letting Nevil be burlesqued in the sight of the town, could no
longer be dallied with.
Cecilia said, 'Well, Nevil, then you shall hear it.'
Hereupon Captain Baskelett's groom informed Captain Beauchamp that he was
'Yes,' Nevil said to Cecilia, 'tell me on board the yacht.'
'Nevil, you will be driving into the town with the second Tory candidate
of the borough.'
'Which? who?' Nevil 'asked.
'Your cousin Cecil.'
'Tell Captain Baskelett that I don't drive down till an hour later,'
Nevil said to the groom. 'Cecilia, you're my friend; I wish you were
more. I wish we didn't differ. I shall hope to change you--make you
come half-way out of that citadel of yours. This is my uncle Everard!
I might have made sure there'd be a blow from him! And Cecil! of all
men for a politician! Cecilia, think of it! Cecil Baskelett! I beg
Seymour Austin's pardon for having suspected him . . .'
Now sounded Captain Baskelett's trumpet.
Angry though he was, Beauchamp laughed. 'Isn't it exactly like the baron
to spring a mine of this kind?'
There was decidedly humour in the plot, and it was a lusty quarterstaff
blow into the bargain. Beauchamp's head rang with it. He could not
conceal the stunning effect it had on him. Gratitude and tenderness
toward Cecilia for saving him, at the cost of a partial breach of faith
that he quite understood, from the scandal of the public entry into
Bevisham on the Tory coach-box, alternated with his interjections
regarding his uncle Everard.
At eleven, Cecilia sat in her pony-carriage giving final directions to
Mrs. Devereux where to look out for the Esperanza and the schooner's
boat. 'Then I drive down alone,' Mrs. Devereux said.
The gentlemen were all off, and every available maid with them on the
coach-boxes, a brilliant sight that had been missed by Nevil and Cecilia.
'Why, here's Lydiard!' said Nevil, supposing that Lydiard must be
approaching him with tidings of the second Tory candidate. But Lydiard
knew nothing of it. He was the bearer of a letter on foreign paper--
marked urgent, in Rosamund's hand--and similarly worded in the well-known
hand which had inscribed the original address of the letter to Steynham.
Beauchamp opened it and read:
'Come. I give you three days--no more.
The brevity was horrible. Did it spring from childish imperiousness or
Beauchamp could imagine it to be this or that. In moments of excited
speculation we do not dwell on the possibility that there may be a
mixture of motives.
'I fear I must cross over to France this evening,' he said to Cecilia.
She replied, 'It is likely to be stormy to-night. The steamboat may not
'If there's a doubt of it, I shall find a French lugger. You are tired,
from not sleeping last night.'
'No,' she answered, and nodded to Mrs. Devereux, beside whom Mr. Lydiard
stood: 'You will not drive down alone, you see.'
For a young lady threatened with a tempest in her heart, as disturbing to
her as the one gathering in the West for ships at sea, Miss Halkett bore
THE DRIVE INTO BEVISHAM
Beauchamp was requested by Cecilia to hold the reins. His fair companion
in the pony-carriage preferred to lean back musing, and he had leisure to
think over the blow dealt him by his uncle Everard with so sure an aim so
ringingly on the head. And in the first place he made no attempt to
disdain it because it was nothing but artful and heavy-handed, after the
mediaeval pattern. Of old he himself had delighted in artfulness as well
as boldness and the unmistakeable hit. Highly to prize generalship was
in his blood, though latterly the very forces propelling him to his
political warfare had forbidden the use of it to him. He saw the patient
veteran laying his gun for a long shot--to give as good as he had
received; and in realizing Everard Romfrey's perfectly placid bearing
under provocation, such as he certainly would have maintained while
preparing his reply to it, the raw fighting humour of the plot touched
the sense of justice in Beauchamp enough to make him own that he had been
the first to offend.
He could reflect also on the likelihood that other offended men of his
uncle's age and position would have sulked or stormed, threatening the
Parthian shot of the vindictive testator. If there was godlessness in
turning to politics for a weapon to strike a domestic blow, manfulness in
some degree signalized it. Beauchamp could fancy his uncle crying out,
Who set the example? and he was not at that instant inclined to dwell on
the occult virtues of the example he had set. To be honest, this
elevation of a political puppet like Cecil Baskelett, and the starting
him, out of the same family which Turbot, the journalist, had magnified,
into Bevisham with such pomp and flourish in opposition to the serious
young champion of popular rights and the Puritan style, was ludicrously
effective. Conscienceless of course. But that was the way of the Old
Beauchamp broke the silence by thanking Cecilia once more for saving him
from the absurd exhibition of the Radical candidate on the Tory coach-
box, and laughing at the grimmish slyness of his uncle Everard's
conspiracy a something in it that was half-smile half-sneer; not exactly
malignant, and by no means innocent; something made up of the simplicity
of a lighted match, and its proximity to powder, yet neither deadly, in
spite of a wicked twinkle, nor at all pretending to be harmless: in
short, a specimen of old English practical humour.
He laboured to express these or corresponding views of it, with tolerably
natural laughter, and Cecilia rallied her spirits at his pleasant manner
of taking his blow.
'I shall compliment the baron when I meet him tonight,' he said. 'What
can we compare him to?'
She suggested the Commander of the Faithful, the Lord Haroun, who
likewise had a turn for buffooneries to serve a purpose, and could direct
them loftily and sovereignty.
'No: Everard Romfrey's a Northerner from the feet up,' said Beauchamp.
Cecilia compliantly offered him a sketch of the Scandinavian Troll: much
nearer the mark, he thought, and exclaimed: 'Baron Troll! I'm afraid,
Cecilia, you have robbed him of the best part of his fun. And you will
owe it entirely to him if you should be represented in Parliament by my
'Promise me, Nevit, that you will, when you meet Captain Baskelett, not
forget I did you some service, and that I wish, I shall be so glad if you
do not resent certain things . . . .Very objectionable, we all think.'
He released her from the embarrassing petition: 'Oh! now I know my man,
you may be sure I won't waste a word on him. The fact is, he would not
understand a word, and would require more--and that I don't do. When I
fancied Mr. Austin was the responsible person, I meant to speak to him.'
Cecilia smiled gratefully.
The sweetness of a love-speech would not have been sweeter to her than
this proof of civilized chivalry in Nevil.
They came to the fir-heights overlooking Bevisham. Here the breezy
beginning of a South-western autumnal gale tossed the ponies' manes and
made threads of Cecilia's shorter locks of beautiful auburn by the
temples and the neck, blustering the curls that streamed in a thick
involution from the silken band gathering them off her uncovered clear-
Beauchamp took an impression of her side face. It seemed to offer him
everything the world could offer of cultivated purity, intelligent beauty
and attractiveness; and 'Wilt thou?' said the winged minute. Peace, a
good repute in the mouths of men, home, and a trustworthy woman for mate,
an ideal English lady, the rarest growth of our country, and friends and
fair esteem, were offered. Last night he had waltzed with her, and the
manner of this tall graceful girl in submitting to the union of the
measure and reserving her individual distinction, had exquisitely
flattered his taste, giving him an auspicious image of her in
partnership, through the uses of life.
He looked ahead at the low dead-blue cloud swinging from across channel.
What could be the riddle of Renee's letter! It chained him completely.
'At all events, I shall not be away longer than three days,' he said;
paused, eyed Cecilia's profile, and added, 'Do we differ so much?'
'It may not be so much as we think,' said she.
'But if we do!'
'Then, Nevil, there is a difference between us.'
'But if we keep our lips closed?'
'We should have to shut our eyes as well!'
A lovely melting image of her stole over him; all the warmer for her
unwittingness in producing it: and it awakened a tenderness toward the
Cecilia's delicate breeding saved her from running on figuratively. She
continued: 'Intellectual differences do not cause wounds, except when
very unintellectual sentiments are behind them:--my conceit, or your
impatience, Nevil? "Noi veggiam come quei, che ha mala luce." . . .
I can confess my sight to be imperfect: but will you ever do so?'
Her musical voice in Italian charmed his hearing.
'What poet was that you quoted?'
'The wisest: Dante.'
'Dr. Shrapnel's favourite! I must try to read him.'
'He reads Dante?' Cecilia threw a stress on the august name; and it was
manifest that she cared not for the answer.
Contemptuous exclusiveness could not go farther.
'He is a man of cultivation,' Beauchamp said cursorily, trying to avoid
dissension, but in vain. 'I wish I were half as well instructed, and the
world half as charitable as he!--You ask me if I shall admit my sight to
be imperfect. Yes; when you prove to me that priests and landlords are
willing to do their duty by the people in preference to their churches
and their property: but will you ever shake off prejudice?'
Here was opposition sounding again. Cecilia mentally reproached Dr.
Shrapnel for it.
'Indeed, Nevil, really, must not--may I not ask you this?--must not every
one feel the evil spell of some associations? And Dante and Dr.
'You don't know him, Cecilia.'
'I saw him yesterday.'
'You thought him too tall?'
'I thought of his character.'
'How angry I should be with you if you were not so beautiful!'
'I am immensely indebted to my unconscious advocate.'
'You are clad in steel; you flash back; you won't answer me out of the
heart. I 'm convinced it is pure wilfulness that makes you oppose me.'
'I fancy you must be convinced because you cannot imagine women to have
any share of public spirit, Nevil.'
A grain of truth in that remark set Nevil reflecting.
'I want them to have it,' he remarked, and glanced at a Tory placard,
probably the puppet's fresh-printed address to the electors, on one of
the wayside fir-trees. 'Bevisham looks well from here. We might make a
North-western Venice of it, if we liked.'
'Papa told you it would be money sunk in mud.'
'Did I mention it to him?--Thoroughly Conservative!--So he would leave
the mud as it is. They insist on our not venturing anything--those
Tories! exactly as though we had gained the best of human conditions,
instead of counting crops of rogues, malefactors, egoists, noxious and
lumbersome creatures that deaden the country. Your town down there is
one of the ugliest and dirtiest in the kingdom: it might be the fairest.'
'I have often thought that of Bevisham, Nevil.'
He drew a visionary sketch of quays, embankments, bridged islands, public
buildings, magical emanations of patriotic architecture, with a practical
air, an absence of that enthusiasm which struck her with suspicion when
it was not applied to landscape or the Arts; and she accepted it, and
warmed, and even allowed herself to appear hesitating when he returned to
the similarity of the state of mud-begirt Bevisham and our great sluggish
Was he not perhaps to be pitied in his bondage to the Frenchwoman, who
could have no ideas in common with him?
The rare circumstance that she and Nevil Beauchamp had found a subject of
agreement, partially overcame the sentiment Cecilia entertained for the
foreign lady; and having now one idea in common with him, she conceived
the possibility that there might be more. There must be many, for he
loved England, and she no less. She clung, however, to the topic of
Bevisham, preferring to dream of the many more, rather than run risks.
Undoubtedly the town was of an ignoble aspect; and it was declining in
prosperity; and it was consequently over-populated. And undoubtedly (so
she was induced to coincide for the moment) a Government, acting to any
extent like a supervising head, should aid and direct the energies of
towns and ports and trades, and not leave everything everywhere to
chance: schools for the people, public morality, should be the charge of
Government. Cecilia had surrendered the lead to him, and was forced to
subscribe to an equivalent of 'undoubtedly' the Tories just as little as
the Liberals had done these good offices. Party against party, neither
of them had a forethoughtful head for the land at large. They waited for
the Press to spur a great imperial country to be but defensively armed,
and they accepted the so-called volunteers, with a nominal one-month's
drill per annum, as a guarantee of defence!
Beauchamp startled her, actually kindled her mind to an activity of
wonder and regret, with the statement of how much Government, acting with
some degree of farsightedness, might have won to pay the public debt and
remit taxation, by originally retaining the lines of railway, and
fastening on the valuable land adjoining stations. Hundreds of millions
She dropped a sigh at the prodigious amount, but inquired, 'Who has
For though perfectly aware that this kind of conversation was a special
compliment paid to her by her friend Nevil, and dimly perceiving that it
implied something beyond a compliment-in fact, that it was his manner of
probing her for sympathy, as other men would have conducted the process
preliminary to deadly flattery or to wooing, her wits fenced her heart
about; the exercise of shrewdness was an instinct of self-preservation.
She had nothing but her poor wits, daily growing fainter, to resist him
with. And he seemed to know it, and therefore assailed them, never
trying at the heart.
That vast army of figures might be but a phantom army conjured out of the
Radical mists, might it not? she hinted. And besides, we cannot surely
require a Government to speculate in the future, can we?
Possibly not, as Governments go, Beauchamp said.
But what think you of a Government of landowners decreeing the enclosure
of millions of acres of common land amongst themselves; taking the
property of the people to add to their own! Say, is not that plunder?
Public property, observe; decreed to them by their own law-making, under
the pretence that it was being reclaimed for cultivation, when in reality
it has been but an addition to their pleasure-grounds: a flat robbery of
pasture from the poor man's cow and goose, and his right of cutting furze
for firing. Consider that! Beauchamp's eyes flashed democratic in
reciting this injury to the objects of his warm solicitude--the man, the
cow, and the goose. But so must he have looked when fronting England's
enemies, and his aspect of fervour subdued Cecilia. She confessed her
inability to form an estimate of such conduct.
'Are they doing it still?' she asked.
'We owe it to Dr. Shrapnel foremost that there is now a watch over them
to stop them. But for him, Grancey Lespel would have enclosed half of
Northeden Heath. As it is, he has filched bits here and there, and he
will have to put back his palings.'
However, now let Cecilia understand that we English, calling ourselves
free, are under morally lawless rule. Government is what we require, and
our means of getting it must be through universal suffrage. At present
we have no Government; only shifting Party Ministries, which are the
tools of divers interests, wealthy factions, to the sacrifice of the
She listened, like Rosamund Culling overborne by Dr. Shrapnel, inwardly
praying that she might discover a man to reply to him.
'A Despotism, Nevil?'
He hoped not, declined the despot, was English enough to stand against
the best of men in that character; but he cast it on Tory, Whig, and
Liberal, otherwise the Constitutionalists, if we were to come upon the
'They see we are close on universal suffrage; they've been bidding each
in turn for "the people," and that has brought them to it, and now
they're alarmed, and accuse one another of treason to the Constitution,
and they don't accept the situation: and there's a fear, that to carry on
their present system, they will be thwarting the people or corrupting
them: and in that case we shall have our despot in some shape or other,
and we shall suffer.'
'Nevil,' said Cecilia, 'I am out of my depth.'
'I'll support you; I can swim for two,' said he.
'You are very self-confident, but I find I am not fit for battle; at
least not in the front ranks.'
'Nerve me, then: will you? Try to comprehend once for all what the
'I am afraid I am too indifferent; I am too luxurious. That reminds me:
you want to meet your uncle Everard and if you will sleep at Mount
Laurels to-night, the Esperanza shall take you to France to-morrow
morning, and can wait to bring you back.'
As she spoke she perceived a flush mounting over Nevil's face. Soon it
was communicated to hers.
The strange secret of the blood electrified them both, and revealed the
burning undercurrent running between them from the hearts of each. The
light that showed how near they were to one another was kindled at the
barrier dividing them. It remained as good as a secret, unchallenged
until they had separated, and after midnight Cecilia looked through her.
chamber windows at the driving moon of a hurricane scud, and read clearly
his honourable reluctance to be wafted over to his French love by her
assistance; and Beauchamp on board the tossing steamboat perceived in her
sympathetic reddening that she had divined him.
This auroral light eclipsed the other events of the day. He drove into a
town royally decorated, and still humming with the ravishment of the Tory
entrance. He sailed in the schooner to Mount Laurels, in the society of
Captain Baskelett and his friends, who, finding him tamer than they
expected, bantered him in the cheerfullest fashion. He waited for his
uncle Everard several hours at Mount Laurels, perused the junior Tory's
address to the Electors, throughout which there was not an idea--safest
of addresses to canvass upon! perused likewise, at Captain Baskelett's
request, a broad sheet of an article introducing the new candidate to
Bevisham with the battle-axe Romfreys to back him, in high burlesque of
Timothy Turbot upon Beauchamp: and Cecil hoped his cousin would not
object to his borrowing a Romfrey or two for so pressing an occasion.
All very funny, and no doubt the presence of Mr. Everard Romfrey would
have heightened the fun from the fountain-head; but he happened to be
delayed, and Beauchamp had to leave directions behind him in the town,
besides the discussion of a whole plan of conduct with Dr. Shrapnel, so
he was under the necessity of departing without seeing his uncle, really
to his regret. He left word to that effect.
Taking leave of Cecilia, he talked of his return 'home' within three or
four days as a certainty.
She said: 'Canvassing should not be neglected now.'
Her hostility was confused by what she had done to save him from
annoyance, while his behaviour to his cousin Cecil increased her respect
for him. She detected a pathetic meaning in his mention of the word
home; she mused on his having called her beautiful: whither was she
hurrying? Forgetful of her horror of his revolutionary ideas, forgetful
of the elevation of her own, she thrilled secretly on hearing it stated
by the jubilant young Tories at Mount Laurels, as a characteristic of
Beauchamp, that he was clever in parrying political thrusts, and slipping
from the theme; he who with her gave out unguardedly the thoughts deepest
in him. And the thoughts!--were they not of generous origin? Where so
true a helpmate for him as the one to whom his mind appealed? It could
not be so with the Frenchwoman. Cecilia divined a generous nature by
generosity, and set herself to believe that in honour he had not yet
dared to speak to her from the heart, not being at heart quite free. She