Part 3 out of 5
mentally and bodily. Augustus Theodore swings on a chair before the
fire, which he keeps at work for his own especial consolation. His
feet stretch along the fender--his amusement is the poker. He has
grown insufferably vain, is dressed many degrees above the highest
fashionable point, and looks a dissipated, hopeless blackguard.
Planner, very subdued, very pale, and therefore very unlike himself,
stands behind the chair of Allcraft; and ever and anon he casts a
rueful glance over the shoulder of his friend, upon the papers which
his friend is busy with. No one speaks. At intervals Mr Bellamy coughs
extensively and loudly, just to show his dignity and independence, and
to assure the company that _his_ conscience is very tranquil on the
occasion--that his firm "withers are unwrung;" and Mr Brammel
struggles like an ill-taught bullfinch, to produce a whistle, and
fails in the attempt. With these exceptions, we have a silent room. A
quarter of an hour passes. Michael finishes his work. He spends one
moment in reflection, and then he speaks:--
"Now, gentlemen," he begins with a deep sigh, that seems to carry from
his heart a load of care--"Now, if you please"--
The paper and the poker are abandoned, chairs are drawn towards the
baize-covered table. The partners sit and look at one another, face to
"Gentlemen," said Michael, at first slowly and seriously, and in a
tone which none might hear beyond their walls--"you do not, I am sure,
require me to advert to _all_ the causes which have rendered this
meeting necessary. I have no desire to use reproaches, and I shall
refer as little as I may to the past. I ask you all to do me justice.
Have I not laboured like a slave for the common good? Have I not
toiled in order to avoid the evil hour that has come upon us? Have I
not given every thing--have I not robbed another in order to prop up
our house and keep its name from infamy?"
"Be calm, be calm," interposed Mr Bellamy gently, remarking that
Allcraft slightly raised his voice at the concluding words.
"Calm! calm, Mr Bellamy!" exclaimed the unhappy speaker, renouncing
without hesitation all attempts at the _suaviter in modo_, and yet
fearful of showing his indignation and of being overheard--"Calm! It
is well for you to talk so. Had I been less calm, less easy; had I
done my duty--had I been determined seven years ago, this cruel day
would never have arrived. You are my witness that it never would."
Mr Bellamy rose with much formality from his seat.
"Gentlemen," he said, "I cannot submit to dark and plebeian
innuendoes. I have come here to-day, at great personal inconvenience,
and I am prepared to listen respectfully to any thing which Mr
Allcraft thinks it his duty to bring before us. But I must have you
remember that a gentleman and a man of honour cannot brook an insult."
"I ask your pardon, sir," added Allcraft, in a tone of bitterness--"I
meant no insult. Pray be seated. I have the honour to present you with
a statement of our affairs. We have claims upon us, amounting to
several thousand pounds, which must be met within a week. A third of
the sum required will not be at our command. How is it to be obtained?
and, if obtained, how is it to repair the inroads which, year after
year, have been made upon the house, and how secure it from further
spoliation? It is useless and absurd to hide from ourselves any longer
the glaring fact that we are on the actual verge of bankruptcy."
"Well! I have had nothing to do with that. You can't say it's me,"
ejaculated Mr Brammel. "You have had the management in your own hands,
and so you have nobody but yourself to thank for it. I thought from
the beginning how the concern would turn out!"
"_Your_ share, sir, in furthering the interests of the bank we will
speak of shortly," said Michael, turning to the speaker with contempt.
"We have little time for recrimination now."
"As for recrimination, Mr Allcraft," interposed Mr Bellamy, "I must be
allowed to say, that you betray a very improper spirit in this
business--very--very. You are far from being temperate."
"Yes; I said so."
"Mr Bellamy," said Allcraft, bursting with rage, "I have been your
partner for eight years. I have not for a moment deserted my post, or
slackened in my duty. I have given my strength, my health, my peace of
mind, to the house. I have drawn less than your clerk from its
resources; but I have added to them, wrongfully, cruelly, and
unpardonably, from means not my own, which, in common honesty, I ought
never to have touched--which"--
"Really, really, Mr Allcraft," said Bellamy, interrupting him, "you
have told us every word of this before."
"Wait, sir," continued the other. "I am _intemperate_, and you shall
have my excuse for being so. _You_, Mr Bellamy, have never devoted one
moment of your life to the interests of the house; no, not a moment.
You have, year after year, without the slightest hesitation or
remorse, sucked its life-blood from it. You have borrowed, as these
accounts will show, thousands of pounds, and paid them back with
promises and words. You engaged to produce your fair proportion of
capital; you have given nothing. You made grand professions of adding
strength and stability to the firm; you have been its stumblingblock
"Mr Allcraft," said Bellamy coolly, "you are still a very young man."
"Have I told the truth?"
"Pshaw, man! Speak to the point. Speak to the point, sir. We have
heavy payments due next week. Are we prepared to meet them?"
"No--nor shall we be."
"That's unfortunate," added Mr Bellamy, very quietly. "You are sure of
that? You cannot help us--with another loan, for instance?"
Michael answered, with determination--"No."
"Very well. No violence, Mr Allcraft, pray. Such being the case, I
shall decline, at present, giving any answer to the unjust, inhuman
observations which you have made upon my conduct. Painful as it is to
pass this barbarous treatment over for the present, still my own
private affairs shall be as nothing in comparison with the general
good. This provided for, I will protect myself from future insult,
depend upon it. You are wrong, Mr Allcraft--very wrong. You shall
acknowledge it. You will be sorry for the expressions which you have
cast upon a gentleman, your senior in years, and [here a very loud
cough] let me add--in social station. Now, sir, let me beg a word or
two in private."
It was very unfortunate that the whole establishment stood in
unaffected awe of the redoubted Mr Bellamy. Allcraft, notwithstanding
his knowledge of the man, and his previous attack upon his character,
was not, at this moment, free from the fascination; and at the
eleventh hour he found it difficult to withdraw entirely his
confidence in Mr Bellamy's ultimate desire and capability to deal
honorably and justly by him. Much of the Mogul's power was
unquestionably derived from his massive _physique_; but his
chief excellence lay in that peculiar off-hand, patronizing,
take-it-for-granted air, which he made it a point to assume towards
every individual with whom he came in contact. He had scarcely
requested a few minutes' private conversation with Allcraft, before
Planner and Brammel jumped involuntarily from their seats, as if in
obedience to a word of command, and edged towards the door.
"If you please," continued Mr Bellamy, nodding to them very
graciously; and they departed. In the course of ten minutes they were
recalled by the autocrat himself. The gentlemen resumed their seats,
and this time, Mr Bellamy addressed them.
"You see, my dear sirs," he began with, for him, peculiar gentleness,
"it is absolutely necessary to provide against the immediate exigency,
and to postpone all discussion on the past, until this is met, and
satisfactorily disposed of."
"Certainly!" said Augustus Brammel, who, for his part, never wished to
talk or think about the past again. "Certainly. Hear, hear! I agree to
"I knew you would, dear Mr Brammel--a gentleman of your discretion
would not fail to do so."
Augustus looked up at Mr Bellamy to find if he were jeering him; but
he saw no reason to believe it.
"Such being the case," continued the worthy speaker; "it behoves us
now to look about for some assistance. Our friend, Mr Allcraft, I am
sorry to say, does not feel disposed to help us once more through the
pressure. I am very sorry to say so. Perhaps he will think better of
it, (Allcraft shook his head.) Ah; just so. He desponds a little now.
He takes the dark side of things. For my own part, I prefer the
bright. He believes, as you have heard, that we are on the verge of
bankruptcy. Upon my honour as a gentleman, I really can believe in no
such thing. There is a general gloom over the mercantile world; it
will break off in time; and we, with the rest of mankind, shall pass
into the sunshine."
"Hear, hear!" exclaimed Augustus Brammel; "that's the way to look at
"Taking it for granted, then--which, positively, I an not inclined to
do; for really, Mr Allcraft, it is against your interest not to help
us in this emergency--but, however, taking it, I say, for granted,
that our friend here will not succour us--it appears to me, that only
one legitimate course is open to us. If we are refused at home, let us
apply for aid as near our home as possible. There are our London
"Ah, yes, to be sure--so there are," cried Theodore Augustus.
"We surely cannot hesitate to apply to them. Our name stands--and
deservedly so--very high. They will be glad to accommodate us with a
temporary loan. We will avail ourselves of it--say for three months.
That will give us time to turn about us, and to prepare ourselves
against similar unpleasant casualties. See what we want, Mr Allcraft:
let the sum be raised in London without delay, and let us look forward
with the hearts of men."
"Capital, capital," continued Brammel; "I second that motion."
"Thank you, sir," said Mr Bellamy, with a gracious smile. "There
remains then to consider only who shall be the favoured individual
deputed to this important business. One of us must certainly go to
London, and I do think it due to our youngest member, Brammel, to
concede to him the honour of representing us in the metropolis. No
offence will, I trust, be taken by our other friends, and I hope that
in my zeal for Mr Brammel, I shall not be suspected of betraying an
Mr Bellamy turned towards Augustus Theodore with an almost
affectionate expression of countenance, as he spoke these words; but
perceived, to his mortification, that the latter, instead of being
pleasantly affected by his address, wriggled in his chair most
impatiently, and assumed the complexion and aspect of a man with whom
something has suddenly and violently disagreed.
"No--no--no!" he bellowed out, as soon as he could; "none of that
soft-soap, Mr Bellamy; make up your mind at once--I sha'n't go. I
can't borrow money. I do not know how to do it. I don't want the
honour, thank you. It's very good of you, and I am much obliged to
you--that's a fact. But you'll look out for some body else, if you
please. I beg to say I decline--pos"--
Mr Bellamy cast upon Theodore one of his natural and annihilating
glances, and said deliberately,
"Mr Brammel, for the first time in your life you are honoured by being
made a useful individual. You are to go to London.--Go you shall"--
"Go, I sha'n't," answered Brammel, in his accustomed easy style and
"Very well. You are aware, Mr Brammel, that your respected parent has
yet to be made acquainted with sundry lively doings of your own, which
you would rather, I believe, keep from his ears at present; you
likewise are aware that if any thing happens to the serious injury of
the bank through your imprudence--your inheritance from that respected
parent would be dearly purchased for a shilling. I shall be sorry to
hurt your feelings, or your pocket. I have no wish to do it; but
depend upon me, sir, your father shall be a wiser man to-night, if you
are obstinate and disobedient."
"I can't borrow money--I can't--I don't know how to do it," said
"And who reproaches you for your inability, my dear sir," said Bellamy
coaxingly. "No one, I am sure. You shall be taught. Every thing shall
be made easy and agreeable. You will carry your credentials from the
house, and your simple task shall be beforehand well explained to
"I am not used to it."
"And you never will be, Mr Brammel, if you don't begin to practise.
Come, I am sure you don't wish me to see your father to-day. I am
certain you are not anxious to part with your patrimony. You are too
sensible a man. Pray let us have no delay, Mr Allcraft. See what we
want. Mr Brammel will go to London to-morrow. We must take time by the
forelock. Let us meet these heavy payments, and then we can think, and
breathe, and talk. Till then it is idle to wrangle, and to lose one's
temper. Very well: then there's little more, I imagine, to be done at
Augustus Theodore still opposed his nomination, like an irritable
child; but a fly kicking against a stone wall, was as likely to move
it, as Brammel to break down the resolution of such a personage as Mr
Bellamy. After an hour's insane remonstrance, he gave in to his own
alarm, rather than to the persuasion of his partner. He was fearfully
in debt; his only hope of getting out of it rested in the speedy
decease of his unfortunate parent, whom he had not seen for months,
and who, he had reason to believe, had vowed to make him pay with his
whole fortune for any calamity that might happen to the bank through
his misconduct or extravagance. It was not from the lips of Mr Bellamy
that he heard this threat for the first time. What he should do, if it
were carried out, heaven only knows. He consented to go to London on
this disgusting mission, and he could have bitten his tongue out for
speaking his acquiescence, so enraged was he with himself, and all the
world, at his defeat. He did not affect to conceal his anger; and yet,
strange to say, it was not visible to Mr Bellamy. On the contrary, he
thanked Mr Brammel for the cheerful and excellent spirit in which he
had met his partners' wishes, and expressed himself delighted at the
opportunity which now presented itself for introducing their young
friend to life. Then, turning to Michael Allcraft, he begged him to
prepare their deputation for his work immediately, and to place no
obstacle in the way of his departure. Then he moved the adjournment of
the meeting until the return of Mr Brammel; and then he finished by
inviting all his partners to dine with him at the hall that day, and
to join him in drinking success and happiness to their young
adventurer. The invitation was accepted; and Mr. Bellamy's grand
carriage drew up immediately with splash and clatter to the door.
A CHAPTER OF LOANS.
Augustus Brammel hated his partners with all his heart and soul. He
had never been very fond of them, but the result of this interview
gave an activity and a form to feelings which it required only
sufficient occasion to bring into play. Notwithstanding the polite
tone which Mr Bellamy had cunningly adopted in placing his mission
before him, even he, the ignorant and obtuse Brammel, could not fail
to see that he had been made the tool, the cat's-paw in a business
from which his partners shrank. Now, had the young man been as full of
courage as he was of vulgar conceit, he might, I verily believe, have
turned his hatred, and his knowledge of affairs, to very good account.
Lacking the spirit of the smallest animal that crawls, he was content
to eject his odious malice in oaths and execrations, and to submit to
his beating after all. No sooner was the meeting at an end, than he
left the Banking-house, and turned his steps towards home. He had
become--as it was very natural he should--a brute of a husband, and
the terror of his helpless household. He remembered, all at once, that
he had been deeply aggrieved in the morning by Mrs Brammel; that as
many as two of his shirt buttons had given way whilst he was in the
act of dressing, and unable to contain himself after the treatment of
Mr Bellamy, he resolved forthwith to have his vengeance out upon his
wife. But he had not walked a hundred yards, before his rancour and
fury increased to such a height, that he was compelled to pull up
short in the street, and to vow, with a horrible oath, that he would
see all his partners roasting in the warmest place that he could think
of, before he'd move one inch to save their souls from rotting. So,
instead of proceeding homeward, he turned back again, with a view to
make this statement; but before he could reach the Banking-house, a
wiser thought entered his head, and induced him to retrace his steps.
"He would go," he said, "to his father; and lay his complaint there.
He would impeach all his partners, acknowledge his errors, and promise
once more to reform. His father, easy old fool, would believe him,
forgive him, and do any thing else, in his joy." It was certainly a
bright idea--but, alas! his debts were so very extensive. Bellamy's
threatening look rose before him, and made them appear even larger and
more terrible than they were. What if his father insisted upon his
going to London, and doing any other dirty work which these fellows
chose to put upon him? Bellamy, he was sure, could make the old man do
any thing. No, it wouldn't do. He stamped his foot to the ground in
vexation, and recurred to his original determination. It was all he
could do. He must go to London, and take what indemnification he might
in the domestic circle previously to starting. And the miserable man
did have his revenge, and did go to London. He was empowered to borrow
twenty thousand pounds from the London house, and he was furnished by
Michael Allcraft with particulars explanatory of his commission. And
he walked into Lombard Street with the feelings of a culprit walking
up the scaffold to his execution. His pitiful heart deserted him at
the very instant when he most needed its support. He passed and
repassed the large door of the establishment, which he saw opened and
shut a hundred tines in a minute, by individuals, whose
self-collectedness and independence, he would have given half his
fortune to possess. He tried, time after time, to summon courage for
his entry, and, as he afterwards expressed it, a ball rose in his
throat--just as he got one foot upon the step--large enough to choke
him. Impudent and reckless us he had been all his life, he was now
more timid and nervous than an hysterical girl. Oh, what should he do!
First, he thought of going to a neighbouring hotel, and writing at
once to Allcraft; swearing that he was very ill, that he couldn't
move, and was utterly unable to perform his duties. If he went to bed,
and sent for a doctor, surely Allcraft would believe him; and in pity
would come up and do the business. He dwelt upon this contrivance,
until it seemed too complicated for success. Would it not be more
advisable to write to the London house itself, and explain the object
of his coming up? But if he could write, why couldn't he _call_? They
would certainly ask that question, and perhaps refuse the loan. Oh,
what was he to do! He could hit upon no plan, and he couldn't muster
confidence to turn in. The porter of the firm mercifully interposed to
rescue Mr Brammel from his dilemma. That functionary had watched the
stranger shuffling to and fro in great anxiety and doubt, and at
length he deemed it proper to enquire whether the gentleman was
looking for the doorway of the house of Messrs ---- and ----, or not.
Augustus, frightened, answered _yes_ at random, and in another instant
found himself in what he called "THE SWEATING ROOM of the awfullest
house of business he had ever seen in all his life." It was a large
square apartment, very lofty and very naked-looking. There was an iron
chest, and two shelves filled with giant books; and there was nothing
else in the room but a stillness, and a mouldiness of smell, that hung
upon his spirits like pounds of lead, dragging them down, and freezing
them. Yet, cold as were his spirits, the perspiration that oozed from
the pores of his skin was profuse and steady during the quarter of an
hour that elapsed whilst he waited for the arrival of the worthy
principal. During those memorable fifteen minutes--the most unpleasant
of his life--Augustus, for two seconds together, could neither sit,
stand nor walk with comfort. He knew nothing of the affairs of his
house; he was not in a condition to answer the most trivial business
question; he had heard that his firm was on the eve of bankruptcy,
(and, judging from the part he had taken in its affairs, he could
easily believe it;) he felt that his partners had thrown the odium of
the present application upon him, not having courage to take it upon
themselves; and he had an indistinct apprehension that this very act
of borrowing money would lead to transportation or the gallows, should
the business go to rack and ruin, as he could see it shortly would.
All these considerations went far to stultify the otherwise weak and
feeble Mr Brammel; when, in addition, he endeavoured to arrange in his
mind the terms on which he would request the favour of a temporary
loan of only (!) twenty thousand pounds, a sensation of nausea
completely overpowered him, and the table, the chairs, the iron chest,
swam round him like so many ships at sea. To recover from his
sickness, and to curse the banking-house, every member of the same,
and his own respectable parent for linking him to it, was one and the
same exertion. To the infinite astonishment of Augustus Theodore, the
acquisition of these twenty thousand pounds proved the most amusing
and easiest transaction of his life. Mr Cutbill, the managing partner
of the London house, received him with profound respect and pleasure.
He listened most attentively to the stammering request, and put the
deputation at his ease at once, by expressing his readiness to comply
with Mr Allcraft's wishes, provided a note of hand, signed by all the
partners, and payable in three months, was given as security for the
sum required. Augustus wrote word home to that effect; the note of
hand arrived--the twenty thousand pounds were paid--the dreaded
business was transacted with half the trouble that it generally cost
Augustus Theodore to effect the purchase of a pair of gloves.
Mr Bellamy remained at the hall just one week after the receipt of the
cash, and then was carried to the north by pressing business. Before
he started he complimented Allcraft upon their success, trusted that
they should now go smoothly on, promised to return at the very
earliest moment, and gave directions on his route by which all
letters of importance might safely reach him. And Allcraft, relieved
for a brief season, indefatigable as ever, strained every nerve and
muscle to sustain his credit and increase his gains. As heretofore, he
denied himself all diversion and amusement. The first at the bank, the
last to leave it, he had his eye for ever on its doings. Visible at
all times to the world, and most conspicuous there where the world was
pleased to find him, he maintained his reputation as a thorough man of
business, and held, with hooks of steel, a confidence as necessary to
existence as the vital air around him. To lose a breath of the public
approbation in his present state, were to give up fatally the only
stay on which he rested. Wonderful that, as the prospects of the man
grew darker, his courage strengthened, his spirit roused, his industry
increased! And a bitter reflection was it, that reward still came to
him--still a fair return for time and strength expended. He could not
complain of the neglect of mankind, or of the ingratitude of those he
served. In the legitimate transactions of the house, he was a
prosperous and a prospering man. Such, to the outer world, did he
appear in all respects, and such he would have been but for the hidden
and internal sores already past cure or reparation. Who had brought
them there? Michael did not ask the question--yet. Never did three
months pass away so rapidly as those which came between the day of
borrowing and the day of paying back those twenty thousand pounds. The
moment the money had arrived, Michael's previous anxieties fled from
his bosom, and left him as happy as a boy without a care. It came like
a respite from death. Sanguine to the last, he congratulated himself
upon the overthrow of his temporary difficulties, and relied upon the
upturning of some means of payment, on the arrival of the distant day.
But distant as it looked at first, it crept nearer and nearer, until
at the end of two months, when--as he saw no possibility of relieving
himself from the engagement--it appeared close upon him, haunting him
morning, noon, and night, wheresoever he might be, and sickening him
with its terrible and desperate aspect. When there wanted only a week
to the fatal day, Michael's hope of meeting the note of hand was
slighter than ever. He became irritable, distressed, and
anxious--struggled hard to get the needful sum together, struggled and
strove; but failed. Hours and minutes were now of vital consequence;
and, in a rash and unprotected moment, he permitted himself to write a
letter to the London house, begging them, as a particular favour, just
for one week to retire the bill they held against him. The London
house civilly complied with the request, and five days of that last
and dreary week swept by, leaving poor Allcraft as ill prepared for
payment as they had found him. What could he do? At length the gulf
had opened--was yawning--to receive him. How should he escape it?
Heaven, in its infinite mercy, has vouchsafed to men _angels_ to guide
and cheer them on their difficult and thorny paths. Could Michael
suffer, and Margaret not sympathize? Could he have a sorrow which she
might chase away, and, having the power, lack the heart to do it?
Impossible! Oh! hear her in her impassioned supplications; hear her at
midnight, in their disturbed and sleepless bedchamber, whilst the
doomed man sits at her side in agony, clasps his face, and buries it
within his hand for shame and disappointment.
"Michael, do not break my heart. Take, dearest, all that I possess;
but, I entreat you, let me see you cheerful. Do not take this thing to
heart. Whatever may be your trouble, confide it, love, to me. I will
try to kill it!"
"No, no, no," answered Allcraft wildly; "it must not be--it shall not
be, dear Margaret. You shall be imposed upon no longer. You shall not
be robbed. I am a villain!"
"Do not say so, Michael. You are kind and good; but this cruel
business has worn you out. Leave it, I implore you, if you can, and
let us live in peace."
"Margaret, it is impossible. Do not flatter yourself or me with the
vain hope of extrication. Release will never come. I am bound to it
for my life; it will take longer than a life to effect deliverance.
You know not my calamities."
"But I _will_ know them, Michael, and share them with you, if they
must be borne. I am your wife, and have a right to this. Trust me,
Michael, and do not kill me with suspense. What is this new
affliction? Whatsoever it may be, it is fitting that I should know
it--yes, will know it, dearest, or I am not worthy to lie beside you
there. Tell me, love, how is it that for these many days you have
looked so sad, and sighed, and frowned upon me. I am conscious of no
fault. Have I done amiss? Say so, and I will speedily repair the
Michael pressed his Margaret to his heart, and kissed her fondly.
"Why, oh why, my Margaret, did you link your fate with mine?"
"Why, having done so, Michael, do you not love and trust me?"
"Yes--_love_! Say what you will, you do not love me, if you hide your
griefs from me. We are one. Let us be truly so. One in our joys and in
"Dearest Margaret, why should I distress you? Why should I call upon
you for assistance? Why drag your substance from you?--why prey upon
you until you have parted with your all? I have taken too much
"Answer me one simple question, Michael. Can money buy away this
present sorrow? Can it bring to you contentment and repose? Can it
restore to me the smile which is my own? Oh, if it can, be merciful
and kind; take freely what is needful, and let me purchase back my
"Margaret, you deserve a better fate!"
"Name the sum, dear. Is it my fortune? Not more? Then never were peace
of mind and woman's happiness so cheaply bought. Take it, Michael, and
let us thank Heaven that it is enough. My fortune never gave me so
much joy as now. I do not remember, Michael, that you have ever
refused my smallest wish. It is not in your nature to be unkind. Come,
dearest, smile a little. We have made the bargain--be generous, and
pay me in advance."
He smiled and wept in gratitude.
Now Michael retired to rest, determined not to take advantage of the
generous impulses of his confiding wife; yet, although he did so, it
could not but be very satisfactory to his marital feelings to
discover, and to be assured of the existence of, such devotedness and
disregard of self and fortune as she displayed. Indeed, he was very
much tranquillized and comforted; so much so, in fact, that he was
enabled, towards morning, to wake up in a condition to review his
affairs with great serenity of mind, and (notwithstanding his
determination) to contrive some mode of turning the virtuous
magnanimity of his wife to good account, without inflicting any injury
upon herself. Surely if he could do this, he was bound to act. To save
himself by her help, and, at the same time, without injuring her at
all, was a very defensible step, to say the least of it. Who should
say it wasn't his absolute duty to adopt it? Whatever repugnance he
might have felt in asking a further loan from one who had already
helped him beyond his expectations, it was certainly very much
diminished since she had offered to yield to him, without reserve,
every farthing that she possessed. Not that he would ever suffer her
to do any thing so wild and inexcusable; still, after such an
expression of her wishes, he was at liberty to ask her aid, provided
always that he could secure her from any loss or risk. When Michael
got thus far in his proposition, it was not very difficult to work it
to the end. Once satisfied that it was just and honourable, and it was
comparatively child's work to arrange the _modus operandi_. A common
trick occurred to him. In former transactions with his wife, he had
pledged his word of honour to repay her. It had become a stale pledge,
and very worthless, as Michael felt. What if he put his _life_ in
pawn! Ah, capital idea! This would secure to her every farthing of her
debt. Dear me, how very easy! He had but to insure his life for the
amount he wanted, and let what would happen, she was safe. His spirit
rejoiced. Oh, it was joy to think that she could save him from
perdition, and yet not suffer a farthing's loss. Loss! So far from
this, his ready mind already calculated how she might be a gainer by
the arrangement. He was yet young. Let him insure his life at present
for twenty thousand pounds, and how much more would it be worth--say
that he lived for twenty years to come? He explained it to his
lady--to his own perfect satisfaction. The willing Margaret required
no more. He could not ask as freely as the woman's boundless love
could grant. He, with all his reasoning, could not persuade his
conscience to pronounce the dealing just. She, with her beating heart
for her sole argument and guide, looked for no motive save her strong
affection--no end but her beloved's happiness and peace. Woe is me,
the twenty thousand pounds were griped--the precious life of Mr
Allcraft was insured--the London house was satisfied. A very few weeks
flew over the head of the needy man, before he was reduced to the same
pitiable straits. Money was again required to carry the reeling firm
through unexpected difficulties. Brammel was again dispatched to
London. The commissioner, grown bolder by his first success, was ill
prepared for hesitation and reproof, and awkward references to "that
last affair." Ten thousand pounds were the most they could advance,
and all transactions of the kind must close with this, if there should
be any deviation from the strictest punctuality. Brammel attempted to
apologise, and failed in the attempt, of course. He came home
disgusted, shortening his journey by swearing over half the distance,
and promising his partners his cordial forgiveness, if ever they
persuaded him again to go to London on a begging expedition!
Oh, Margaret! Margaret! Oh, spirit of the mild and gentle Mildred!
Must I add, that your good money paid this second loan--and yet a
third--a fourth--a fifth? When shall fond woman cease to give--when
shall mean and sordid man be satisfied with something less than all
she has to grant?
A DISSOLUTION OF PARTNERSHIP.
The most remarkable circumstance in that meeting of the partners,
which ended in Brammel's first visit to London, was the behaviour of
our very dear friend and ally--the volatile Planner--volatile, alas!
no longer. His best friend would not have recognized him on that
deeply interesting occasion. He was a subdued, a shaken man. Every
drop of his brave spirit had been squeezed out of him, and he stood
the mere pulp and rind of his former self. He who, for years, had been
accustomed to look at men, not only in the face, but very
impertinently over their heads, could not drag his shambling vision
now higher than men's shoe-strings. His eye, his heart, his soul was
on the ground. He was disappointed, crushed. Not a syllable did he
utter; not a single word of remonstrance and advice did he presume to
offer in the presence of his associates. He had a sense of guilt, and
men so situated are sometimes tongue-tied. He had, in truth, a great
deal to answer for, and enough to make a livelier man than he
dissatisfied and wretched. Every farthing which had passed from the
bank to the _Pantamorphica_ Association was irrecoverably gone. The
Association itself was in the same condition--gone irrecoverably
likewise. Nothing remained of that once beautiful and promising
vision, but some hundred acres of valueless land, a half-finished and
straggling brick wall, falling rapidly to decay, the foundations of a
theatre, and the rudiments of a temple dedicated to Apollo. Planner
had gazed upon the scene once, when dismal rain was pouring down upon
the ruins, and he burst into bitter tears, and sobbed like a child at
the annihilation of his hopes. He had not courage to look a second
time upon that desolation, and yet he found courage to turn away from
it, and to do a thing more desperate. Ashamed to be beaten, afraid to
meet the just rebuke of Allcraft, he flung himself recklessly into the
hands of a small band of needy speculators, and secretly engaged in
schemes that promised restitution of the wealth he had expended, or
make his ruin perfect and complete. One adventure after another
failed, cutting the thread of his career shorter every instant, and
rendering him more hot-brained and impatient. He doubled and trebled
his risks, and did the like, as may be guessed, to his anxieties and
failures. He lived in a perpetual fear and danger of discovery; and
discovery now was but another name, for poison--prison--death. Here
was enough, and more than enough, to extinguish every spark of joy in
the bosom of Mr Planner, and to account for his despondency and
settled gloom. And yet Planner, in this, his darkest hour, was nearer
to deliverance and perfect peace, than at any previous period of his
history. Planner was essentially "a lucky dog." Had he fallen from a
house-top, he would have reached _terra firma_ on his feet. Had he
been conducted to the gallows, according to his desserts, the noose
would have slipped, and his life would certainly have been spared.
It happened, that whilst Michael was immersed in the management of his
loans, a hint was forwarded to him of the pranks of his partner; a
letter, written by an anonymous hand, revealed his losses in one
transaction, amounting to many hundred pounds. The news came like a
thunderbolt to Allcraft. It was a death-blow. Iniquitous, unpardonable
as were the acts of his colleague--serious as was the actual sum of
money gone; yet these were as nothing compared with the distressing
fact, that intelligence of the evil work had already gone abroad, was
in circulation, and might at any moment put a violent end to his own
unsteady course. He carried the note to Planner--he thrust it into his
face, and called him to account for his baseness and ingratitude. He
could have struck his friend and partner to the earth, and trod him
there to death, as he confronted and upbraided him.
"Now, sir," roared Allcraft in his fury--"What excuse--what lie have
you at your tongue's end to palliate this? What can justify this? Will
you never be satisfied until you have rendered me the same hopeless,
helpless creature that I found you, when I dragged you from your [Sec.]
beggaring. Answer me!"--
There is nothing like a plaintive retort when your case is utterly
indefensible. Planner looked at the letter, read it--then turned his
eyes mildly and reproachfully upon his accuser.
"Michael Allcraft," he said affectingly, "you treat me cruelly."
"I!" answered the other astounded. "I treat _you_! Planner, I
intrusted you years ago with a secret. I paid you well for keeping it.
Could I dream that nothing would satisfy your rapacity but my
destruction? Could I suppose it? I have fed your ravenous desires. I
have submitted to your encroachments. Do you ask my soul as well as
body? Let me know what it is you ask--what I have to pay--let me hear
the worst, and--prepare for all my punishment."
"I have listened to all you have said," continued Planner, "and I
consider myself an ill-used man."
"Yes--I mean it. I have worked like a negro for you Allcraft, and this
is the return you make me. I get your drift; do not attempt to
disguise it--it is cruel--most, most cruel!
"What do you mean?"
"Have I not always promised to share my gains with you?"
"Pshaw--_your_ gains--where are they?"
"That's nothing to the point. Did I not promise?"
"And now, after all my labour and struggling, because I have _failed_,
you wish to turn me off, and throw me to the world. Now, speak the
truth, man--is it not so?"
Oh! Planner was a cunning creature, and so was Michael Allcraft. Mark
them both! This idea, which Planner deemed too good to be seriously
entertained by his colleague, had never once occurred to Michael; but
it seemed so promising, and so likely, if followed up, to relieve him
effectually of his greatest plague, and of any floating ill report,
that he found no hesitation in adopting it at once. He did not answer,
but he tried to look as if his partner had exactly guessed his actual
intention. Such [Sec.]* gentlemen both!
*Transcriber's Note: Original cut off between [Sec.]s--Section
completed with best guess of correct wording.
"I thought so," continued the injured Planner. "Michael, you do not
know me. You do not understand my character. I am a child to persuade,
but a rock if you attempt to force me. I shall _not_ desert the bank,
whilst there is a chance of paying back all that we have drawn."
"Yes--we. You and I together for our schemes, and you alone for
private purposes. You recollect your father's debts"--
"Planner, do not think to threaten me into further compromise. You can
frighten me no longer--be sure of that. Your transactions are the
common talk of the city--the bank is stigmatized by its connexion with
"Curse the bank!" said Planner fretfully. "Would to Heaven I had never
heard of it!"
"Leave it then, and rid yourself of the annoyance. You are free to do
"What! and leave behind me every chance of realizing a competency for
my old age! Oh, Michael, Michael--shame, shame!"
"Competency! Are you serious? Are you sane? Competency! Why, the
labour of your life will not make good a tithe of what you have
"Come, come, Michael, you know better. You know well enough that one
lucky turn would set us up at last. Speak like a man. Say that you
want to grasp all--that you are tired of me--that you are sick of the
old face, and wish to see my back. Put the thing in its proper light,
and you shall not find me hard to deal with."
"Planner, you are deceived. Your mind is full of fancy and delusion,
and that has been your curse and mine."
"Very well. Have your way; but look you, Michael, you are anxious to
get rid of me--there's no denying that. There is no reason why we
should quarrel on that account. I would sacrifice my prospects, were
they double what they are, rather than beg you to retain me. I did not
ask for a share in your bank. You sought me, and I came at your
request. Blot out the past. Release me from the debt that stands
against my name, and I am gone. As I came at your bidding, so, at your
bidding, I am ready to depart."
"Agreed," said Allcraft, almost before the wily Planner finished. "It
is done. I consent to your proposal. A dissolution shall be drawn up
without delay, and shall be published in the next gazette."
"And publish with it," said Planner, like a martyr as he was, "the
fate of him who gave up all to his own high sense of honour, and his
So Planner spake, scarcely crediting his good fortune, and almost mad
with joy at his deliverance. He had no rest until the seals were fixed
to parchment, and the warrant of his release appeared in public print.
Within a week, the fettered man was free. Within another week, his
bounding spirits came like a spring-tide back to him, and in less than
eight-and-twenty days of freedom and repose, he recovered quite as
many years of sweet and precious life. He made quick use of his wings.
At first, like a wild and liberated bird, he sported and tumbled in
the air, and fixed upon no particular aim; a thousand captivating
objects soon caught his eagle eye, and then he mounted, dazzled by
them all, and soon eluded mortal sight and reach. But, glad as was the
schemer, his delight and sense of freedom were much inferior to those
of his misguided and unlucky partner. Michael breathed as a man
relieved from nightmare. The encumbrance which had for years prevented
him from rising, that had so lately threatened his existence, was
gone, could no longer hang upon him, haunt and oppress him. What a
deliverance!--Yet, what a price had he paid for it! True, but was not
the money already sacrificed? Would it have been restored, had the
luckless speculator himself remained? Never! Well, fearful then as was
the sum, let it go, taking the incubus along with it. Allcraft took
care to obtain the consent of Bellamy to his arrangement. He wrote to
him, explaining the reasons for parting with their partner; and an
answer came from the landed proprietor, acquiescing in the plan, but
slightly doubting the propriety of the movement. As for Brammel, he
consented, as he was ready to agree to any thing but a personal visit
to the great metropolis. And then, what was Michael's next step? A
proper one--to put out effectually the few sparks of scandal which
might, possibly, be still flying about after the discovery of
Planner's scheme. He worked fiercer than ever--harder than the
day-labourer--at his place of business. It was wise in him to do so,
and thus to draw men's thoughts from Planner's faults to his own
unquestioned merits. And here he might have stopped with safety; but
his roused, suspicious, sensitive nature, would not suffer him. He
began to read, then to doubt and fear men's looks; to draw conclusions
from their innocent words; to find grounds of uneasiness and torture
in their silence. A vulgar fellow treated him with rudeness, and for
days he treasured up the man's words, and repeated them to himself.
What could they mean? Did people smell a rat? Were they on the watch?
Did they suspect that he was poor? Ah, that was it! He saw it--he
believed he did--that was equivalent to sight, and enough for him. Men
did not understand him. He would not die so easily--they must be
undeceived. Miserable Allcraft! He speedily removed from his small
cottage--took a mansion, furnished it magnificently, and made it a
palace in costliness and hospitality. Ah! _was_ he poor? The trick
answered. The world was not surprised, but satisfied. There was but
one opinion. He deserved it all, and more. The only wonder was, that
he had hitherto lived so quietly, rich as he was, in virtue of his
wife's inheritance, and from his own hard-earned gains. His increasing
business still enlarged. Customers brought guests, and, in their turn,
the guests became good customers. It was a splendid mansion,
with its countless rooms and gorgeous appointments. What
pleasure-grounds--gardens--parks--preserves! Noble establishment, with
its butler, under-butler, upper-servant, and my lady's (so the working
people called poor Margaret) footman! In truth, a palace; but, alas!
although it took a prince's revenue to maintain it, and although the
lady's purse was draining fast to keep it and the bank upon its legs,
yet was there not a corner, a nook, a hole in the building, in which
master or mistress could find an hour's comfort, or a night's
unmingled sleep. As for the devoted woman, it made very little
difference to her whether she dwelt in a castle or a hovel, provided
she could see her husband cheerful, and know that he was happy. This
was all she looked for--cared for--lived for. _He_ was her life. What
was her money--the dross which mankind yearned after--but for its use
to him, but for the power it might exercise amongst men to elevate and
ennoble _him_? What was her palace but a dungeon if it rendered her
beloved more miserable than ever, if it added daily to the troubles he
had brought there--to the cares which had accumulated on his head from
the very hour she had become his mate? Michael Allcraft! you never
deserved this woman for your wife; you told her so many times, and
perhaps you meant what was wrung from your heart in its anguish. It
was the truth. Why, if not in rank cowardice and pitiful ambition,
entangle yourself in the perplexities of such a household with all
that heap of woe already on your soul? Why, when your London agents
refused, in consequence of your irregularity and neglect, to advance
your further loans--why take a base advantage of that heroic
generosity that placed its all, unquestioning, at your command? Why,
when you pretended with so much ceremony and regard, to effect an
insurance on your worthless life, did you fail to pay up the policy
even for a second year, and so resign all claim and right to such
assurance, making it null and void? Let it stand here recorded to your
disgrace, that, in the prosecution of your views, in the working out
of your insane ambition, no one single thought of her, who gave her
wealth as freely as ever fount poured forth its liberal stream,
deterred you in your progress for an instant; that no one glow or gush
of feeling towards the fond and faithful wife interposed to save her
from the consequences of your selfishness, and to humble you with
shame for inhumanity as vile as it was undeserved. It is not
surprising, that after the taking of the great house the demands upon
the property of Margaret were made without apology or explanation. He
asked, and he obtained. The refusal of aid, on the part of the London
house, terrified him when it came, and caused him to rush, with a
natural instinct, to the quarter whence he had no fear of denial and
complaint. He drew largely from her resources. The money was sucked
into the whirlpool; there was a speedy cry for more; and more was got
and sacrificed. It would have been a miracle had Allcraft, in the
midst of his crushing cares, retained his early vigour of mind and
body, and passed through ten years of such an existence without
suffering the penalties usually inflicted upon the man prodigal of the
blessings and good gifts of Providence. In his appearance, and in his
temperament, he had undergone a woful change. His hair--all that
remained of it, for the greater part had fallen away--was grey;
and, thin, weak, and straggling, dropped upon his wrinkled
forehead--wrinkled with a frown that had taken root there. His face
was sickly, and never free from the traces of acute anxiety that was
eating at his heart. His body was emaciated, and, at times, his hand
shook like a drunkard's. It was even worse with the spiritual man. He
had become irritable, peevish, and ill-natured; he had lost, by
degrees, every generous sentiment. As a young man he had been
remarkable for his liberality in pecuniary matters. He had been wont
to part freely with his money. Inconsistent as it may seem,
notwithstanding his heavy losses through his partners, and his fearful
expenditure, he was as greedy of gain as though he were stinting
himself of every farthing, and secretly hoarding up his chests of
gold. He would haggle in a bargain for a shilling, and economize in
things beneath a wise man's notice or consideration. For a few years,
as it has been seen, Allcraft had denied himself the customary
recreations of a man of business, and had devoted himself entirely to
his occupation. It was by no means a favourable indication of his
state of mind, that he derived no satisfaction at the grand mansion,
either alone or in the mere society of his wife. He quitted the bank
daily at a late hour, and reached his home just in time for dinner.
That over, he could not sit or rest--he must be moving. He could not
live in quiet. "Quietness"--it was his own expression--"stunned him."
He rushed to the theatre, to balls, concerts, wherever there was
noise, talk, excitement, crowds of people; wherever there was release
from his own pricking conscience and miserable thoughts. And then to
parties; of course there was no lack of them, for their society was in
great request, and every one was eager for an invitation in return to
_Eden_--such being the strange misnomer of their magnificent
prison-house. And, oh, rare entertainments were they which the
suffering pair provided for the cold-hearted crew that flocked to
partake of their substance! How the poor creature smiled upon her
guests as they arrived, whilst her wounded heart bled on! How she
sang--exquisitely always--for their amusement and nauseous
approbation, until her sweet voice almost failed to crush the rising
tears! How gracefully she led off the merry dance whilst clogs were on
her spirits, weighing upon every movement. Extravagant joyousness!
Dearly purchased pleasure! Yes, dearly purchased, if only with that
half hour of dreadful silence and remorse that intervened between the
banquet and the chamber--not of sweet slumber and benevolent repose
but of restlessness and horrid dreams!
Michael was half mad in the midst of his troubles; and, in truth, they
gathered so thickly and rapidly about him, that he is to be admired
for the little check which he contrived to keep over his reason,
saving him from absolute insanity and a lunatic asylum. Mr Bellamy,
although away, made free with the capital of the bank, and applied it
to his own private uses. Mr Brammel, senior, after having, for many
years, made good to Allcraft the losses the latter had sustained
through his son's extravagance, at length grew tired of the work, and
left the neighbourhood, in disgust, as Michael thought, but, in sad
truth, with a bruised and broken heart. At last he had dismissed the
long-cherished hope of the prodigal's reformation, and with his latest
hope departed every wish to look upon his hastening decay and fall. He
crawled from the scene--the country; no one knew his course; not a
soul was cognizant of his intentions, or could guess his
resting-place. Augustus Theodore did not, in consequence of his
father's absence, draw less furiously upon the bank! He had never
heard of that father's generosity--how should he know of it now? And,
if he knew it, was he very likely to profit by the information?
Michael honoured his drafts for many reasons; two may be mentioned,
founded on hope and fear--the hope of frightening the unfortunate
Brammel senior into payment when he met with him again, the fear of
making Brammel junior desperate by his refusal, and of his divulging
all he knew. Could a man, not crazy, carry more care upon his brain?
Yes, for demands on account of Planner poured in, the very instant
that fortunate speculator had taken his lucky leave of the
establishment--demands for which Michael had rendered himself liable
in law, by the undertaking which he had drawn up and signed in his
alarm and haste. Oh, why had he overwhelmed himself with partners--why
had he married--why had he taken upon himself the responsibility of
his parent's debts--why had he not explained every thing when he might
have done it with honour and advantage--why had he not relied upon his
own integrity--and why had he attempted, with cunning and duplicity,
to overreach his neighbours? Why, oh why, had he done all this? When
Michael was fairly hemmed in by his difficulties, and, as it is
vulgarly said, had not a leg to stand upon, or a hole to creep
through, then, and not till then, did he put these various questions
to himself; and since it is somewhat singular that so shrewd a man
should have waited until the last moment to put queries of such vast
importance to himself, I shall dwell here for one brief moment on the
fact, be it only to remind and to warn others, equally shrewd and
equally clever, of the mischief they are doing when they postpone the
consideration of their motives and acts until motives and acts both
have brought them into a distress, out of which all their
consideration will not move them an inch. "Why have I _done_?" was,
is, and ever will be, the whining interrogative of stricken
_inability_; "Why am I about _to do_?" the provident question of
thoughtful, far-seeing _success_. Remember that.
I am really afraid to say how much of poor Margaret's fortune was
dragged from her--how little of it still remained. It must have been a
trifle, indeed, when Michael, with a solemn oath, swore that he would
not touch one farthing more, let the consequences be what they might.
Could it be possible that the whole of her splendid inheritance had
shrunk to so paltry a sum, that the grasping man had ceased to think
it worth his while to touch it? or did the dread of beholding the
confiding woman, beggar'd at last, induce him to leave at her disposal
enough to purchase for her--necessary bread? Whatever was his motive,
he persisted in his resolution, and to the end was faithful to his
oath. Not another sixpence did he take from her. And how much the
better was he for all that he had taken already? Poor Michael had not
time to enquire and answer the question. He could not employ his
precious moments in retrospection. He lived from hand to mouth;
struggled every hour to meet the exigencies of the hour that followed.
He was absorbed in the agitated present, and dared not look an inch
away from it. Now, thanks to the efforts of her people, England is a
Christian country; and whenever fortune goes very hard with a man who
has received all the assistance that his immediate connexions can
afford him, there is a benevolent brotherhood at hand, eager to
relieve the sufferer's wants, and to put an end to his anxiety. This
charitable band is known by the name of _Money-lenders--Jewish_
money-lenders; so called, no doubt, in profound humility and
self-denial, displayed in the Christian's wish to give the _honour_
of the work elsewhere, reserving to himself the labour and--the
profit. When Michael needed fresh supplies, he was not long in
gathering a gang of harpies about him. They kept their victim for a
while well afloat. They permitted their principal to accumulate in his
hands, whilst they received full half of their advances back in the
form of interest. So he went on; and how long this game would have
lasted, it is impossible to say, because it was cut short in its
heighth by a circumstance that brought the toppling house down, as it
were, with a blow and a run.
When Allcraft, one morning at his usual hour, presented himself at the
bank, his confidential clerk approached him with a very serious face,
and placed a newspaper in his hand. Michael had grown very timid and
excitable; and when the clerk put his finger on the particular spot to
which he desired to call his superior's attention, the heart of the
nervous man leapt into his throat, and the blood rushed from his
cheek, as if it were its duty to go and look after it. He literally
wanted the courage to read the words. He attempted to smile
indifferently, and to thank his servant as courteously as if he had
given him a pleasant pinch of snuff; but at the same time, he pressed
his thumb upon the paragraph, and made his way straight to his snug
and private room. He was ready to drop when he reached it, and his
heart beat like a hammer against his ribs. He placed the paper on the
table, and, ere he read a syllable, he laboured to compose himself.
What could it be? Was the thing exploded? Was he already the common
talk and laugh of men? Was he ruined and disgraced? He read at
length--_The property and estates of Walter Bellamy, Esq., were
announced for sale by auction._ His first sensation on perusing the
advertisement was one of overpowering sickness. Here, then, was his
destruction sealed! Here was the declaration of poverty trumpeted to
the world. Here was the alarum sounded--here was his doom proclaimed.
Let there be a run upon the bank--and who could stop it now?--let it
last for four-and-twenty hours, and he is himself a bankrupt, an
outcast, and a beggar. The tale was told--the disastrous history was
closed. He had spun his web--had been his own destiny. God help and
pardon him for his transgressions! There he sat, unhappy creature,
weeping, and weeping like a heart-broken boy, sobbing aloud from the
very depths of his soul, frantic with distress. For a full half hour
he sat there, now clenching his fists in silent agony, now accusing
himself of crime, now permitting horrible visions to take possession
of his brain, and to madden it with their terrible and truth-like
glare. He saw himself--whilst his closed eyes were pressed upon his
paralysed hands--saw himself as palpably as though he stood _before_
himself, crawling through the public streets, an object for men's
pity, scorn, and curses. Now men laughed at him, pointed to him with
their fingers, and made their children mock and hoot the penniless
insolvent. Labouring men, with whose small savings he had played the
thief, prayed for maledictions on his head; and mothers taught their
little ones to hate the very name he bore, and frightened them by
making use of it. Miserable pictures, one upon the other, rose before
him--dark judgments, which he had never dreamed of or anticipated; and
he stood like a stricken coward, and he yearned for the silence and
concealment of the _grave_. Ay--the grave! Delightful haven to
pigeon-hearted malefactors--inconsistent criminals, who fear the puny
look of mortal man, and, unabashed, stalk beneath the eternal and the
killing frown of God. Michael fixed upon his remedy, and the delusive
opiate gave him temporary ease; but, in an another instant, he derived
even hope and consolation from another and altogether opposite view of
things. A thought suddenly occurred to him, as thoughts will occur to
the tossed and working mind--how, why, or whence we know not; and the
drowning man, catching sight of the straw, did not fail to clutch it.
What if, after all, Mr. Bellamy proposed to sell his property _in
favour of the bank_!! Very likely, certainly; and yet Allcraft,
sinking, could believe it possible--yes possible, and (by a course of
happy reasoning and self-persuasion) not only so--but _true_. And if
this were Mr. Bellamy's motive and design, how cruel had been his own
suspicions--how vain and wicked his previous disturbance and
complaints! And why should it not be? Had he not engaged to restore
the money which he had borrowed; and had he not given his word of
honour to pay in a large amount of capital? At the memorable meeting,
had he not promised to satisfy Allcraft of the justice of his own
proceedings, and the impropriety of Michael's attack upon his
character? And had not the time arrived for the redemption of his
word, and the payment of every farthing that was due from him? Yes; it
had arrived--it had come--it was here. Mr Bellamy was about to assert
his integrity, and the banking-house was saved. Michael rose from his
chair--wiped the heavy sweat-drops from his brow--dried his tears, and
gave one long and grateful sigh for his deliverance from that state of
horror, by which, for one sad, sickening moment, he had been
bewildered and betrayed. But, satisfied as he was, and rejoiced as he
pretended to be, it could hardly be expected that a gentleman
possessed of so lively a temperament as that enjoyed by Mr. Allcraft
would rest quietly upon his convictions, and take no steps to
strengthen and establish them. Michael for many days past had had no
direct communication with his absent partner, and, at the present
moment, he was ignorant of his movements. He resolved to make his way
at once to the Hall, and to get what intelligence he could of its lord
and master, from the servants left in charge of that most noble and
encumbered property. Accordingly he quitted his apartment, threw a
ghastly smile into his countenance, and then came quickly upon his
clerks, humming a few cheerful notes, with about as much spirit and
energy as a man might have if forced to sing a comic song just before
his execution. Thoroughly persuaded that the officials had not
obtained an inkling of what had transpired in his _sanctum_, and that
he left them without a suspicion of evil upon their minds, he started
upon his errand, and waited not for breath until he reached his
destination. He arrived at the lodge--he arrived at the Hall. He rang
the loud bell, and a minute afterwards he learned that Mr Bellamy was
within--had made his appearance at home late on the evening before,
and, at the present moment, was enjoying his breakfast. Michael, for
sudden joy and excitement, was wellnigh thrown from his equilibrium.
Here was confirmation stronger than ever! Would he have returned to
the estate upon the very eve of disposing of it, if he had not
intended to deal well and honestly in the transaction? Would he not
have been ashamed to do it? Would he have subjected himself to the
just reproaches and upbraidings of his partner, when, by his absence,
he might so easily have avoided them? Certainly not. Michael Allcraft,
for a few brief seconds, was a happier man than he had been for years.
His eyes were hardly free of the tears which he had shed in the
extremity of his distress, and he was now ready to weep again in the
very exuberance and wildness of his delight. He presented his card to
the corpulent and powdered footman; he was announced; he was ushered
in. Walter Bellamy, Esquire, sitting in state, received his friend and
partner with many smiles and much urbanity. He was still at breakfast,
and advancing slowly in the meal, like a gentleman whose breakfast was
his greatest care in life. Nothing could be more striking than the air
of stately repose visible in the proprietor himself, and in the
specious and solemn serving-man, who stood behind him--less a
_serving_-man than a sublime dumb waiter. Michael was affected by it,
and he approached his colleague with a rising sentiment of
awe--partly, perhaps, the effect of the scene--partly the result of
"Most glad to see you, my very good friend," began the master--"most
glad--most happy--pray, be seated. A lovely morning this! A plate for
"Thank you--I have breakfasted," said Michael, declining the kind
offer. "I had no thought of finding you at home."
"Ay--a mutual and unexpected pleasure. Just so. I had no thought of
coming home until I started, and I arrived here only late last night.
Business seldom suites itself to one's convenience."
"Seldom, indeed--very seldom," answered Michael, with a friendly
smile, and a look of meaning, which showed that he had taken hope from
Mr Bellamy's expression--"and," he continued, "having returned, I
presume you spend some time amongst us."
"Not a day, my friend. To-morrow I am on the wing again. I have left a
dozen men behind me, who'll hunt me over the country, if I don't
rejoin them without delay. No. I am off again to-morrow." (Michael
moved uneasily in his chair.) "But, how are you, Mr Allcraft? How are
all our friends? Nothing new, I'll venture to say. This world is a
stale affair at the best. Life is seen and known at twenty. Live to
sixty, and it is like reading a dull book three times over. You had
better take a cup of coffee, Mr Allcraft!"
"Thank you--no. You surprise me by your determination."
"Don't be surprised at any thing, Mr Allcraft. Take things as they
come, if you wish to be happy."
Michael, very uneasy indeed, wished to make a remark, but he looked at
the man in crimson plush, and held his tongue. Mr Bellamy observed
"You have something to say? Can I give you any advice, my friend?
Pray, command me, and speak without reserve. As much as you please,
and as quickly as you please, for I assure you time is precious. In
half an hour I have twenty men to see, and twice as many things to
Again Michael glanced at the stout footman, who was pretending to
throw his mind into the coming week, and to appear oblivious of every
thing about him.
"I have a question to ask," proceeded Michael hesitatingly; "but it
can be answered in a moment, and at another opportunity--in a little
while, when you are _quite_ at leisure."
"As you please; only remember I have no end of engagements, and if I
am called away I cannot return to you."
Poor Michael! His expectations were again at a fearful discount. The
language and demeanor of Mr Bellamy seemed decisive of his intentions.
What could he do? What--but fasten on his man, and not suffer him to
leave his sight without an explanation, which he dreaded to receive.
Mr Bellamy continued to be very polite and very talkative, and to
prosecute his repast with unyielding equanimity. At the close of the
meal the servant removed the cloth, and departed. At the same instant
the landed proprietor rose from his chair, and was about to depart
likewise. Michael, alarmed at the movement, touched Mr Bellamy gently
on the sleeve, and then, less gently, detained him by the wrist.
"What do you mean, sir?" asked Bellamy, turning sharply upon his
partner: "What do you mean? What is your object?"
"Mr Bellamy," said Allcraft, pale as death, and much excited; "you
must not go until you have satisfied me on a point of life and death
to both of us. Your conduct is a mystery. I cannot explain it. I know
not what are the motives which actuate you. These are known to
yourself. Let them be so. But I have a question to ask, and you must
and shall answer it."
"_Must_ and _shall_, Mr Allcraft! Take care--pray, take care of your
expressions. You will commit yourself. When will you cease to be a
very young man? I will answer voluntarily any questions put to me by
any gentleman. _Must_ and _shall_ never forced a syllable from my lips
yet. Now, sir--ask what you please."
"Mr Bellamy," continued Allcraft, "your property is announced for
"It is," said Bellamy.
"And the announcement has your sanction?"
"And with the sum realized by that sale, you propose to"--
Michael stopped, as though he wished his partner to fill up the
"Go on, sir," said the proprietor.
"With the sum thus realized, I say, you propose to make good the
losses which the bank has suffered by your improvidence?"
"Not exactly. Is there any thing else?"
"Oh, Mr Bellamy, you cannot mean what you say? I am sure you cannot.
You are aware of our condition. You know that there needs only a
breath to destroy us in one moment for ever. At this very time your
purpose is known to the world; and, before we can prevent it, the bank
may be run upon and annihilated. What will be said of your
proceedings? How can you reconcile the answer which you have just now
given to me, with your vaunted high sense of honour, or even with your
own most worldly interests?"
"Have you finished, sir?" said Bellamy, in a quiet voice.
"No!" exclaimed Michael, in as angry a tone of indignation: "no! I
have not finished. I call upon you, Mr Bellamy, to mark my words; to
mark and heed them--for, so Heaven help me, I bid you listen to the
truth. Quiet and easy as you profess to be, I will be cozened by you
no longer. If you carry out your work, your doings shall be told to
every human soul within a hundred miles of where you stand. You shall
be exhibited as you are. If every farthing got from the sale of this
estate be not given up to defray your past extravagance, you shall be
branded as you deserve. Mr Bellamy, you have deceived me for many
years. Do not deceive yourself now."
"Have you finished, sir?" repeated Mr Bellamy.
"Yes--with a sentence. If you are mad--I will be resolute. Persist in
your determination, and the bank shall stop this very night."
"And let it stop," said Bellamy; "by all means let it stop. If it be a
necessary, inevitable arrangement, I would not interfere with it for
the world. Act, Mr Allcraft, precisely as you think proper. It is all
I ask on my own account. I have unfortunately private debts to a very
large amount. What is still more unfortunate, they must be paid. I
have no means of paying them except by selling my estate, and
therefore it must go. I hope you are satisfied?"
Michael threw himself into a chair, and moved about in it, groaning.
Mr Bellamy closed the door, and approached him.
"This is a very unnecessary display of feeling, Mr Allcraft," said the
imperturbable Bellamy; "very--and can answer no good end. The thing,
as I have told you, is inevitable."
"No--no--no," cried Allcraft, imploringly; "Not so, Mr Bellamy. Think
again--ponder well our dreadful situation. Reflect that, before
another day is gone, we may be ruined, beggared, and that this very
property may be wrested from you by our angry creditors. What will
become of us? For Heaven's sake, my dear, good sir, do not rush
blindly upon destruction. Do not suffer us to be hooted, trampled
upon, despised, cursed by every man that meets us. You can save us if
you will--do it then--be generous--be just."
"As for being _just_, Mr Allcraft," replied Bellamy composedly, "the
less we speak about that matter the better. Had _justice_ been ever
taken into account, you and I would, in all probability, not have met
on the present business. I cannot help saying, that, when you are
ready to justify to me your conduct in respect of your late father's
liabilities, I shall be more disposed to listen to any thing you may
have to urge in reason touching the produce of this estate. Until that
time, I am an unmoved man. You conceive me?"
"Yes," said Michael, changing colour, "I see--I perceive your drift--I
am aware--Mr Bellamy," continued the unhappy speaker, stammering until
he almost burst with rage. "You are a villain! You have heard of my
misfortunes, and you take a mean advantage of your knowledge to crush
and kill me. You are a villain and I defy you!"
Mr Bellamy moved leisurely to the fire-place, and rang the bell. The
stout gentleman in plush walked in, and the landed proprietor pointed
to the door.
"For Mr Allcraft, William," said the squire.
"Very well!" said Michael, white with agitation; "Very well! As sure
as you are a living man, your ruin shall be coincident with mine. Not
a step shall I fall, down which you shall not follow and be dragged
yourself. You shall not be spared one pang. I warn you of your fate,
and it shall come sooner than you look for it."
"Pooh, pooh; you have been drinking, Mr. Allcraft."
"You lie, sir, as you have lied for months and years--lived upon lies,
"You need not say another word. You shall finish your sentence, sir,
elsewhere. Begone! William, show Mr. Allcraft to the door."
William pretended to look very absent again, and bowed. Michael stared
at him for a second or two, as if confounded, and then, like a madman,
rushed from the room and house.
The plans and objects of Mr Walter Bellamy were best known to himself.
Whatever they might be, he diverged from them for a few hours in order
to give his miserable partner the opportunity he had promised him, of
completing that very inauspicious sentence--the last which he had
uttered in Mr. Bellamy's house previously to his abrupt departure.
Michael had not been in the banking-house an hour after his return
from the Hall before he was visited by a business-like gentleman, who
introduced himself as the particular friend of Mr. Bellamy, on whose
particular business he professed to come. Allcraft, with his brain on
fire, received the visit of this man with secret glee. All the way
home he had prayed that Bellamy might prove as good as his word, and
not fail to demand immediate satisfaction. He longed for death with a
full and yearning desire, and he could kiss the hand that would be
merciful and give the fatal blow. A suicide at heart, it was something
to escape the guilt and punishment of self-murder. Bellamy was reputed
a first-rate shot. Michael was aware of the fact, and hugged the
consciousness to his soul. He would not detract from his reputation;
the duellist should add another laurel to his chaplet of _honour_, and
purchase it with his blood. He had resolved to fight and fall. It was
very evident that the friend of Mr Bellamy expected rather to frighten
Michael into a humble and contrite apology, than to find him ready and
eager for the battle; for he commenced his mission by a very long and
high-flown address, and assured Mr Allcraft, time after time, that
nothing but the most ample and the most public _amende_ could be
received by his friend after what had taken place. Michael listened
impatiently, and interrupted the speaker in the midst of his oration.
"You are quite right, sir," said he. "If an apology is to be made, it
should be an ample one. But I decline to make any whatever. I am
prepared to give Mr Bellamy all the satisfaction that he asks. I will
refer you at once to my friend, and the sooner the affair is settled
"Well, but surely, Mr Allcraft, you must regret the strong
"Which I uttered to your friend? By no means. I told him that he lied.
I repeat the word to you. I would say it in his teeth again if he
stood here. What more is necessary?"
"Nothing," said the gentleman, certainly unprepared for Michael's
resolution. "Nothing; name your friend, sir."
Michael had already fixed upon a second, and he told his name. His
visitor went to seek him, and the poor bewildered man rubbed his hands
gleefully, as though he had just saved his life, instead of having
placed it in such fearful jeopardy.
That day passed like a dream. The meeting was quickly arranged. Six
o'clock on the following morning was the hour fixed. The place was a
field, the first beyond the turnpike gate, and within a mile of the
city. As soon as Michael made sure of the duel, he saw his
confidential clerk. His name was Burrage. He had been a servant in the
banking-house for forty years, and had known Michael since his birth.
It was he who gave the newspaper into Allcraft's hands, on the first
arrival of the latter at the bank that morning. He was a quiet old man
of sixty, an affectionate creature, and as much a part of the
banking-house as the iron chest, the desk, the counter, or any other
solid fixture. He stepped softly into his master's room after he had
been summoned there, and he gazed at his unhappy principal as a father
might at his own child in misfortune--a beloved and favourite child.
"You are not well this morning, sir," said Burrage most respectfully.
"You look very pale and anxious."
"My looks belie me, Burrage. I am very well. I have not been so well
for years. I am composed and happy. I have been ill, but the time is
past. How old are you, Burrage?"
"Turned threescore, sir; old enough to die."
"Die--die! death is a sweet thing, old man, when it comes to the
care-worn. I have had my share of trouble."
"Too much, sir--too much!" said Burrage, his eyes filling with water.
"You have half killed yourself here. I am sure your poor father never
expected this. Nobody could have expected it in his time, when you
were a little, fat, rosy-cheeked boy, running about without a thought,
except a thought of kindness for other people."
Michael Allcraft burst into a flood of tears--they gushed faster and
faster into his eyes, and he sobbed as only men sob who have reached
the climax of earthly suffering and trial.
"Do not take on so, my dear sir," said Burrage, running to him. "Pray,
be calm. I am sure you are unwell. You have been ill for some time.
You should see a doctor--although I am very much afraid that your
disease is beyond their cure--in truth I am."
"Burrage," said Michael in a whisper, and still sighing
convulsively--"It is all over. It is finished. Prepare for the
crash--look to your own safety. Hide yourself from the gaze of men. It
will strike us all dead."
"You frighten me, Mr Allcraft.--You are really very ill. Your brain is
overworked--you want a little repose and recreation."
"Yes, you are right Burrage--the recreation of a jail--the repose of a
tomb. We will have one, at least--yes, one--and I have made the
"Have you heard any bad news to-day, sir?"
"None--excellent news to-day. No more hopes and fears--no alarms--no
lying and knavery--eternal peace now, and not eternal wretchedness."
"Had you not better leave the bank, Mr Allcraft, and go home? Your
hands are burning hot. You are in a high fever."
"Put up the shutters--put up the shutters," muttered Michael, more to
himself than to his clerk. "Write _bankrupt_ on the door--write it in
large letters--in staring capitals--that the children may read the
word, and know why they are taught to curse me. You hear me, Burrage?"
"I hear what you say, sir, but I do not understand you. You want
rest--you are excited."
"I tell you, Burrage, I am quiet--I never was so quiet--never sounder
in body and mind. Will you refuse to listen to the truth? Man," he
continued, raising his voice and looking the clerk steadily in the
face. "I am ruined--a beggar. The bank is at its last gasp. The doors
are closed to-night--never to be re-opened."
"God forbid, sir!"
"Why so?--Would you drive me mad? Am I to have no peace--no rest? Am I
to be devoured, eaten away by anxiety and trouble? Have you no human
blood--no pity for me? Are you as selfish as the rest?"
"Is it possible, sir?"
"It is the truth. But speak not of it. I will have your life if you
betray me until the event tells its own tale. We close the door
to-night, to open it no more. You hear the words. They are very simple
words. Why do you stare so, as if you couldn't guess their meaning?"
"Oh--I have dreaded this--I have suspected it!" said Burrage, wringing
his hands; "but it has always seemed impossible. Poor Mr Allcraft!"
"_Poor!_" exclaimed Michael. "Do you begin already? Do you throw it in
my teeth so soon? You are in the right, man--go with the stream--taunt
me--spit in my face--trample me in the dust!"
"Do not speak unkindly to me, master," said the old clerk. "You will
break my heart at once if you do. What you have told me is hard enough
to bear in one day."
Michael took the good fellow's hand, and answered, whilst his lips
quivered with grief, "It is--it is enough, old friend. Go your ways.
Leave me to myself. I have told you a secret--keep it whilst it
remains one. Oh, what a havoc! What devastation! Go, Burrage--go--seal
your lips--do not breathe a syllable--go to your work."
The clerk went as he was bid, but stupified and stunned by the
information he had received. He took his accustomed seat at the desk,
and placed a large ledger before him. He was occupied with one trifling
account for half the day, and did not finish it at last. A simple sum of
compound addition puzzled the man who, an hour before, could have gone
through the whole of the arithmetic in his sleep. Oh, boasted intellect
of man! How little is it thou canst do when the delicate and feeling
heart is out of tune! How impotent thou art! How like a rudderless ship
upon a stormy sea! Poor Burrage was helpless and adrift! And Michael sat
for hours together alone, in his little room. He was literally afraid to
creep out of it. He struggled to keep his mind steadily and composedly
fixed upon the fate that awaited him--a fate which he had marked out for
himself, and resolved not to escape. He forced himself to regard the
great Enemy of Man as _his_ best friend--his only comforter and refuge.
But just when he deemed himself well armed, least vulnerable,
and most secure, the awful _reality_ of death--its horrible
accompaniments--dissolution, corruption, rottenness, decay, and its
still more awful and obscure _uncertainties_, started suddenly before
him, and sent a sickening chill through every pore of his unnerved
flesh. Then he retreated from his position--fled, as it were, for life,
and dared not look behind, so terrible was the sight of his grim
adversary. He leaped from his chair, as if unable to sit there; and,
whilst he paced the room, he drew his breath, as though he needed air
for respiration--his heart throbbed, and his brain grew tight and hot
within his skull. The fit passing away, Michael hastened to review the
last few years of his existence, and to bribe himself to quietness and
resignation, by contrasting the hateful life which he had spent with the
desirable repose offered to him in the grave; and by degrees the
agitation ceased--the alarm subsided, and the deluded man was once more
cozened into hardened and unnatural tranquillity. In this way flew the
hours--one train of feeling succeeding to another, until the worn-out
spirit of the man gave in, and would be moved no longer. At last, the
unhappy banker grew sullen and silent. He ceased to sigh, and groan, and
weep. His brain refused to think. He drew his seat to the window of the
room, which permitted him, unperceived, to observe the movements in the
bank--and, folding his arms, he looked doggedly on, and clenched his
teeth, and frowned. He saw the fortunate few who came for money and
received it--and the unfortunate many, who brought their money--left,
and lost it. He was indifferent to all. He beheld--as the spirits fair
may be supposed to look upon the earth a moment before the sweeping
pestilence that comes to thin it--life, vigorous and active, in that
house of business, whose latest hour had come--whose knell was already
sounding; but it moved him not. He heard men speak his name in tones of
kindness, whose lips on the morrow would deal out curses. He saw others,
hat in hand, begging for an audience, who would avoid him with a sneer
and a scorning when he passed them in the street. He looked upon his own
servants, who could not flatter their master too highly to-day, and
would be the first to-morrow to cry him down, and rail against his
unpardonable extravagance and recklessness; but he heeded nothing. His
mind had suspended its operations, whilst his physical eye stared upon
It was very strange. He continued in this fashion for a long time, and
suddenly sensibility seemed restored to him; for an ashy paleness came
over him--his eyelid trembled, and his lips were drawn down
convulsively, as if through strong and heavy grief. He rose instantly,
rushed to the bell, and rang it violently.
Burrage came to answer it.
"Monster!" exclaimed his master, gazing at him spitefully, "have you
no heart--no feeling left within you? How could you do it?"
"Do what, sir?"
"Rob that poor old man. Plunder and kill that hoary unoffending
creature. Why did you take his miserable earnings? Why did you rob his
little ones? Why clutch the bread from his starving grandchildren? He
will die of a broken heart, and will plead against me at the
judgment-seat. Why was that old man's money taken?"
"We must take all, or nothing, sir. You forbade me to speak a
"Speak--speak! Yes, but could you not have given him a look, one
merciful look, to save his life, and my soul from everlasting ruin?
You might, you could have done it, but you conspire to overthrow me.
Go--but mark me--breathe not a word, if you hope to live."
The poor clerk held up his hands, shook them piteously, sighed, and
went his way again.
It was six o'clock in the evening, and every soul connected with the
bank, except Michael and Burrage, had left it. They were both in the
private room, which the former had not quitted during the day. Michael
was writing a letter; the clerk was standing mournfully at his side.
When the note was finished, directed, and sealed, Allcraft turned to
his old friend and spoke--
"I shall not sleep at home to-night, Burrage. I have business which
must be seen to."
"Indeed, sir, you had better go home. You are very unwell."
"Silence, once more. I tell you, Burrage, it cannot be. This business
must not be neglected. I have written to Mrs Allcraft, explaining the
reason of my absence. You will yourself deliver the letter to her,
with your own hands, Burrage. You hear me?"
"Yes, sir," faltered Burrage, wishing himself deaf.
"Very well. I have no more to say. Good-by--good-night."
"Good-night, sir," said the man, walking slowly off.
"Stay, Burrage. You are a true old friend--my oldest. Give me your
hand. I have spoken unkindly--very harshly and cruelly to-day. Do not
think ill of me. My temper has been soured by the troubles of life.
You forgive me for my anger--do you not?"
The old man did not answer. He could not. He held the hand of his
master tightly in his own. He drew it to his lips and kissed it; and
then, ashamed not of the act, but of his unmanly tears, he walked
slowly to the door, and quitted the room--his head bending to the
earth, whence it never again was raised.
Two hours later Michael was many miles away. He had followed to his
humble home the aged man who had that morning paid his substance into
the bank. Much as he had to answer for, Michael could not bear to
carry about with him the knowledge that he had ruined and destroyed
the grey-haired labourer. Why and how it was that he felt so acutely
for the stranger, and selected him from the hundreds who were beggared
by his failure, it is impossible to guess. It is certain that he
restored every sixpence that had been deposited in the morning, and
could not die until he had done so. Where Allcraft passed the night
was never known. He was punctual to his appointment on the following
morning; and so was Mr Bellamy. It is due to the latter to state,
that, at the latest moment, he was willing, as far as in him lay, to
settle the difference without proceeding to extreme measures. All that
a man could offer, who did not wish to be suspected of rank cowardice,
he offered without reservation. But Allcraft was inexorable. He
repeated his insult on the field; and there was nothing to be done but
to make him accountable for his words at the point of the pistol--to
receive and give THE SATISFACTION OF A GENTLEMAN. Whatever
satisfaction the mangled corpse of a man whom he had deeply injured,
could afford the high-born Mr Bellamy, that gentleman enjoyed in a
very few minutes after his arrival; for he shot his antagonist in the
mouth, saw him spinning in the air, and afterwards lying at his
feet--an object that he could not recognize--a spectacle for devils to
rejoice in. Happy the low-born man who may not have or feel such
exquisite and noble SATISFACTION!
Allcraft was not cold before Mr Bellamy was at sea, sailing for
France. The latter had not put his feet upon foreign soil, before his
property was seized by hungry creditors. The bank was closed. Burrage
himself pasted on the shutters the paper that notified its failure.
Augustus Theodore Brammel heard of the stoppage whilst he was at
breakfast, sipping chocolate; and greatly he rejoiced thereat. His
delight was sensibly diminished in the course of the morning, when he
received a letter informing him of his father's death, and an
intimation from a lawyer, that every farthing which he inherited would
be taken from him, as goods and chattels, for the discharge of claims
which the creditors of the bank might have against him. Later in the
day, he heard of Allcraft's death and Bellamy's escape, and then he
rushed into a chemist's shop and bought an ounce of arsenic; but after
he had purchased it, he had not heart enough to swallow it. Enraged
beyond expression--knowing not what to do, nor upon whom to vent his
rage--it suddenly occurred to him to visit Mrs Allcraft, and to worry
her with his complaints. He hurried to her house, and forced himself
into her presence. We will not follow him, for grief is sacred; and
who that had the heart of man, would desecrate the hearth hallowed by
affliction, deep and terrible as that of our poor Margaret?
Our history began at the Vicarage; there let it end. It is a cheerful
summer's morning, and Margaret sits in the study of her friend Mr.
Middleton, who has learned to look upon his charge as upon a daughter.
She is still attired in widow's weeds, but looks more composed and
happy than when we saw her many months ago there.
"You will not leave us, then," said the good vicar; "we have not tired
"No," answered Margaret, with a sweet contented smile, "here must I
live and die. My duties will not suffer me to depart, even were I so
inclined. What would my children do?"
"Ah, what indeed? The school would certainly go to rack and ruin."
"And my old friends, the Harpers and the Wakefields?"
"Why, the old ladies would very soon die of a broken heart, no doubt
of it; and then, there's our dispensary and little hospital. Why,
where should we look for a new apothecary?"
"These are but the worst days of my life, Mr. Middleton, which I
dedicate to usefulness. How am I to make good the deficiency of
"By relying, my dear madam, upon the grace and love of Heaven, who in
mercy regards not what we have been, but what we are."
"And is there pardon for so great a sinner?"
"Doubt it not, dear lady. Had you not been loved, you never would have
been chastised--you would never have become an obedient and willing
child. Be sure, dear Mrs Allcraft, that having repented, you are
pardoned and reconciled to your Father. Pray, hold fast to this
conviction. You have reason to believe it; for truly _you have not
despised the chastening of the Lord, nor fainted when you were rebuked
* * * * *
TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN OF IVAN KOZLOFF. BY T.B. SHAW.
O Kieff! where religion ever seemeth
To light existence in our native land;
Where o'er Petcherskoi's dome the bright cross gleameth,
Like some fair star, that still in heaven doth stand;
Where, like a golden sheet, around thee streameth
Thy plain, and meads that far away expand;
And by thy hoary wall, with ceaseless motion,
Old Dnieper's foaming swell sweeps on to ocean.
How oft to thee in spirit have I panted,
O holy city, country of my heart!
How oft, in vision, have I gazed enchanted
On thy fair towers--a sainted thing thou art!--
By Lavra's walls or Dnieper's wave, nor wanted
A spell to draw me from this life apart;
In thee my country I behold, victorious,
Holy and beautiful, and great and glorious.
The moon her soft ray on Petcherskoi poureth,
Its domes are shining in the river's wave;
The soul the spirit of the past adoreth,
Where sleeps beneath thee many a holy grave:
Vladimir's shade above thee calmly soareth,
Thy towers speak of the sainted and the brave;
Afar I gaze, and all in dreamy splendour
Breathes of the past--a spell sublime and tender.
There fought the warriors in the field of glory,
Strong in the faith, against their country's foe;
And many a royal flower yon palace hoary,
In virgin loveliness, hath seen to blow.
And Bayan sang to them the noble story,
And secret rapture in their breast did glow;
Hark! midnight sounds--that brazen voice is dying--
A day to meet the vanish'd days is flying.
Where are the valiant?--the resistless lances--
The brands that were as lightning when they waved?
Where are the beautiful--whose sunny glances
Our fathers, with such potency, enslaved?
Where is the bard, whose song no more entrances?
Ah! that deep bell hath answer'd what I craved:
And thou alone, by these grey walls, O river!
Murmurest, Dnieper, still, and flow'st for ever.
* * * * *
MARSTON; OR, THE MEMOIRS OF A STATESMAN.
"Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard the sea, puft up with wind,
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And heaven's artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in the pitched battle heard
Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?"
At daybreak, the bustle of the camp awoke me. I rose hastily, mounted
my horse, and spurred to the rendezvous of the general staff. Nothing
could be more animated than the scene before me, and which spread to
the utmost reach of view. The advance of the combined forces had moved
at early dawn, and the columns were seen far away, ascending the sides
of a hilly range by different routes, sometimes penetrating through
the forest, and catching the lights of a brilliant rising sun on their
plumes and arms. The sound of their trumpets and bands was heard from
time to time, enriched by the distance, and coming on the fresh
morning breeze, with something of its freshness, to the ear and the
mind. The troops now passing under the knoll on which the
commander-in-chief and his staff had taken their stand, were the main
body, and were Austrian, fine-looking battalions, superbly uniformed,
and covered with military decorations, the fruits of the late Turkish
campaigns, and the picked troops of an empire of thirty millions of
men. Nothing could be more brilliant, novel, or picturesque, than the
display of this admirable force, as it moved in front of the rising
ground on which our _cortege_ stood.
"You will now see," said Varnhorst, who sat curbing, with no slight
difficulty, his fiery Ukraine charger at my side, "the troops of
countries of which Europe, in general, knows no more than of the
tribes of the new world. The Austrian sceptre brings into the field
all the barbaric arms and costumes of the border land of Christendom
and the Turk."
Varnhorst, familiar with every service of the continent, was a capital
cicerone, and I listened with strong interest as he pronounced the
names, and gave little characteristic anecdotes, of the gallant
regiments that successively wheeled at the foot of the slope--the
Archducal grenadiers--the Eugene battalion, which had won their
horse-tails at the passage of the Danube--the Lichtensteins, who had
stormed Belgrade--the Imperial Guard, a magnificent corps, who had led
the last assault on the Grand Vizier's lines, and finished the war.
The light infantry of Maria Theresa, and the Hungarian grenadiers and
cuirassiers, a mass of steel and gold, closed the march of the main
body. Nothing could be more splendid. And all this was done under the
perpetual peal of trumpets, and the thunder of drums and gongs, that
seemed absolutely to shake the air. It was completely the Miltonic
march and harmony--
"Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds."
But I was now to witness a still more spirit-stirring scene.
The trampling of a multitude of horse, and the tossing of lances and
banners in the distance, suddenly turned all eyes in their direction.
"Now, prepare," said the Count, "for a sight, perhaps not altogether
so soldierlike, but fully as much to my taste, as the buff-belt and
grenadiers'-cap formality of the line. You shall see the Austrian
flankers--every corps equipped after its native fashion. And whatever
our martinets may say, there is nothing that gives such spirits to the
soldier, as dressing according to the style of his own country. My
early service was in Transylvania; and if I were to choose troops for
a desperate service, I say--give me either the man of the hill, or the
man of the forest, exactly in the coat of the chamois-shooter, or the
He had scarcely pointed my attention to the movement, when the whole
body of the rearguard was in full and rapid advance. The plain was
literally covered with those irregulars, who swept on like a surge, or
rather, from the diversity of their colours, and the vast half-circle
which they formed on the ground, a living rainbow. Part were infantry
and part cavalry, but they were so intermingled, and the motion of all
was so rapid, that it was difficult to mark the distinction. From my
recollection of the history of the Seven Years' War, I felt a double
interest in the sight of the different castes and classes of the
service, which I had hitherto known only by name. Thus passed before
me the famous Croatian companies--the Pandours, together forming the
finest outpost troops of the army--the free companies of the Tyrol,
the first marksmen of the empire, a fine athletic race, with the
eagle's feather in their broad hats, and the sinewy step of the
mountaineer--the lancers of the Bannat, first-rate videttes, an
Albanian division, which had taken service with Austria on the close
of the war; and, independently of all name and order, a cloud of wild
cavalry, Turk, Christian, and barbarian, who followed the campaign for
its chances, and galloped, sported, and charged each other like the
Arabs of the desert.
The late triumphs of the Imperial arms in Turkey had even enhanced the
customary display, and the standards of the cavalry and colours of the
battalions, were stiff with the embroidered titles of captured
fortresses and conquered fields. Turkish instruments of music figured
among the troops, and the captive horse-tails were conspicuous in more
than one corps, which had plucked down the pride of the Moslem. The
richness and variety of this extraordinary spectacle struck me as so
perfectly Oriental, that I might have imagined myself suddenly
transferred to Asia, and looked for the pasha and his spahis; or even
for the rajah, his elephants, and his turbaned spearmen. But all this
gay splendour has long since been changed. The Croats are now
regulars, and all the rest have followed their example.
My admiration was so loud, that it caught the ear of the duke. He
turned his quick countenance on me, and said--"Tell our friends at
home, M. Marston, what you have seen to-day. I presume you know that
Maria Theresa was a first-rate soldier; or, at least, she had the
happy art of finding them. You may see Laudohn's hand in her
battalions. As for the light troops, Europe can show nothing superior
in their kind. Trenk's Pandours, and Nadasti's hussars were worth an
army to Austria, from the first Silesian war down to the last shot
fired in Germany. But follow me, and you shall see the work of another
We spurred across the plain to the mouth of a deep, wooded defile,
through which the Prussian grand _corps d'armee_ were advancing. The
brigades which now met our view were evidently of a different
character from the Austrian; their uniforms of the utmost simplicity;
their march utterly silent; the heads of the columns observing their
distances with such accuracy, that, on a signal, they could have been
instantly formed in order of battle; every movement of the main body
simply directed by a flag carried from hill to hill, and even the
battalion movements marked by the mere waving of a sword. Even their
military music was of a peculiarly soft and subdued character. On my
observing this to Varnhorst, his reply was--"That this was one of the
favourite points of the Great Frederick. 'I hate drums in the march,'
said the king, 'they do nothing but confuse the step. Every one knows
that the beat at the head of the column takes time to reach the rear.
Besides, the drum deafens the ear. Keep it, therefore, for the battle,
when the more noise the better.' He also placed the band in the centre
of the column. 'If they are fond of music,' said he, 'why should not
every man have his share?'"
The steady advance, the solid force, and the sweet harmony, almost
realized the noble poetic conception--
"Anon they move
In perfect phalanx, to the Dorian mood
Of flutes and soft recorders, such as raised
To heights of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to battle; and instead of rage,
Deliberate valour breathed, firm and unmoved
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat."
It is true that they wanted the picturesque splendour of ancient
warfare. The ten thousand banners, with orient colours waving, the
"forest huge of spears," the "thronging helms," and "serried shields,
in thick array of depth immeasurable." But if the bayonet, the lance,
and even the cannon offered less to the eye, the true source of the
grandeur of war was there--the power, the tremendous impulse, the
_materiel_ of those shocks which convulse nations--the marshalled
strength, fierce science, and stern will, before which the works of
man perish like chaff before the wind, and the glory of nations
vanishes like a shade.
While the last of the troops were defiling before the duke and his
staff, a courier brought up despatches.
"Gentlemen," said the duke, after glancing at one of the papers, "the
army of the Prince de Conde is in march to join us. They have already
reached the neighbourhood. We must now lose no time. M. Marston, you
will report to your Government what you have seen to-day. We _are_ in
march for Paris."
Varnhorst and Guiscard were now summoned to the side of the duke; a
spot was found where we might shelter ourselves from the overpowering
blaze of the sun; the successive despatches were opened; a large map
of the routes from Champagne to the capital was laid on the ground;
and we dismounted, and, sitting together, like old comrades, we held
our little council of war.
"I can make nothing of my French correspondents in general," said the
duke, after perusing a long letter, "but M. le Comte writes like
Cagliostro. He has evidently some prodigious secret, which he is
determined to envelope in still deeper secrecy. He tells me that La
Fayette has fled; but when, where, or for what purpose, is all equally
an enigma. In one sentence of his letter he would persuade me that all
France is disorganized, and in the next, that it is more resolved to
resist than ever. Paris is prepared to rise at the first sight of the
white flag, and Paris is sending out six thousand men every three
hours to join the republican force in the field. Paris is in despair.
Paris is in furious exultation. How am I to understand all this? Even
in his postscript he tells me, in one breath, that the whole of the
strong places in our front are filled with national guards, and that
no less than seven corps of troops of the line are prepared to fight
us in the plains of Champagne; and that we have only to push on to
take the towns--charge the troops of the line to see them
disperse--and advance within ten leagues of Paris to extinguish the
rebellion, set the royal family free, and restore the monarchy."
The mysterious letter was handed round our circle in succession, and
seemed equally beyond comprehension to us all. We had yet to learn the
temperament of a capital, where every half-hour produced a total
change of the popular mind. The letter, fantastically expressed as it
was, conveyed the true condition of the hour. The picture was true,
but the countenance changed every moment. He might as well have given
the colours of cloud.
I had now entered on a course of adventure the most exciting of all
others, and at the most exciting time of life. But all the world round
me was in a state of excitement. Every nation of Europe was throwing
open its armoury, and preparing its weapons for the field. The troops
invading France were palpably no more than the advanced guards of
Prussia and Austria. Even with all my inexperience, I foresaw that the
war would differ from all the past; that it would be, not a war of
tactics, but a war of opinion; that not armies, but the people
marshalled into hosts, would be ultimately the deciders of the
victory; and that on whichever side the popular feeling was more
serious, persevering, and intense, there the triumph would be gained.
I must still confess, however, in disparagement to my military
sagacity, that I was totally unprepared for the gallant resistance of
the French recruits. What can they do without officers?--ten thousand
of whom had been noblesse, and were now emigrants? What can they do
without a commissariat, what can they do without pay, and who is to
pay them in a bankrupt nation? Those were the constant topics at
headquarters. We were marching to an assured victory. France was at an
end. We should remodel the Government, and teach the _sans culottes_
the hazard of trying the trade of politicians.
There was but one man in the camp who did not coincide in those
glittering visions. Let me once more do justice to a prince whose
character has been affected by the caprices of fortune. The Duke of
Brunswick's language to me, as we saw the Tricolor waving on the walls
of Longwy, the first fortress which lay in our road, was--"Sir, your
court must not be deceived. We shall probably take the town, and
defeat its wavering army; but up to this moment, we have not been
joined by a single peasant. The population are against us. This is not
a German war; it is more like yours in America. I have but one hundred
and twenty thousand men against twenty-five millions." To my remark,
"that there might be large body of concealed loyalty in France, which
only waited the advance of the Allies to declare itself," his calm and
grave reply was: "That I must not suffer my Government to suppose him
capable of abandoning the royal cause, while there was hope in
military means. That it was his determination to hazard all things
rather than chill the coalition. But this let me impress upon your
Ministry," said he, with his powerful eye turned full on me; "that if
intrigue in the German cabinets, or tardiness on the part of yours,
shall be suffered to impede my progress, all is at an end. I know the
French; if we pause, they will pour on. If we do not reach Paris, we
must prepare to defend Berlin and Vienna. If the war is not ended
within a month, it may last for those twenty years."
The commander-in-chief was true to his word. He lost no time. Before
night our batteries were in full play upon the bastions of Longwy, and
as our tents had not yet overtaken us, I lay down under a vineyard
shed in a circle of the staff, with our cloaks for our pillows,
listening to the roar of our artillery; until it mingled with my
We were on horse an hour before daybreak, and the cannonade still
continued heavy. It was actively returned, and the ramparts were a
circuit of fire. As a spectacle, nothing could be more vivid,
striking, and full of interest. To wait for the slow approaches of a
formal siege was out of the question. Intelligence had reached us that
the scattered French armies, having now ascertained the point at which
the burst over the frontier was to be made, had been suddenly
combined, and had taken a strong position directly in our way to the
capital. A protracted siege would raise the country in our rear, and,
thus placed between two fires, the grand army might find itself
paralysed at the first step of the campaign. The place must be
battered until a breach was made, and stormed _a la Turque_. Our
anxiety during the day was indescribable. With our telescopes
constantly in our hands, we watched the effect of every new discharge;
we galloped from hill to hill with the impatience of men in actual
combat, and every eye and tongue was busy in calculating the
distances, the power of guns, and the time which the crumbling works
would take to fill up the ditch. The reports of the engineers, towards
evening, announced that a practicable breach was made, and three
battalions of Austrian grenadiers, and as many of Prussians, were
ordered under arms for the assault. To make this gallant enterprize
more conspicuous, the whole army was formed in columns, and marched to
the heights, which commanded a view of the fortress. The fire from the
batteries now became a continued roar, and the guns of Longwy, whose