Part 5 out of 12
'Is not that quite enough? But of course I change them sometimes;' and
she smiled on him very good-naturedly. 'It would be very dull if I
were always to keep the same.'
'Very dull indeed,' said Frank, who did not quite know what to say.
'Do you think the countess would mind my having or two of them here if
I were to ask her?'
'I am quite sure she would,' said Frank, very briskly. 'She would not
approve of it; nor should I.'
'You--why, what have you to do with it?'
'A great deal--so much so that I positively forbid it; but, Miss
'Well, Mr Gresham?'
'We will contrive to make up for the deficiency as well as possible, if
you will permit us to do so. Now for myself--'
'Well, for yourself?'
At this moment the countess gleamed her accomplished eye round the
table, and Miss Dunstable rose from her chair as Frank was preparing
his attack, and accompanied the other ladies into the drawing-room.
His aunt, as she passed him, touched his arm lightly with her fan, so
lightly that the action was perceived by no one else. But Frank well
understood the meaning of the touch, and appreciated the approbation
which it conveyed. He merely blushed however at his own dissimulation;
for he felt more certain that ever that he would never marry Miss
Dunstable, and he felt nearly equally sure that Miss Dunstable would
never marry him.
Lord de Courcy was now at home; but his presence did not add much
hilarity to the claret-cup. The young men, however, were very keen
about the election, and Mr Nearthewinde, who was one of the party, was
full of the most sanguine hopes.
'I have done a good one at any rate,' said Frank; 'I have secured the
'What! Bagley?' said Nearthewinde. 'The fellow kept out of my way, and
I couldn't see him.'
'I haven't exactly seen him,' said Frank; 'but I've got his vote all
'What! by a letter?' said Mr Moffat.
'No, not by letter,' said Frank, speaking rather low as he looked at
the bishop and the earl; 'I got a promise from his wife: I think he's a
little in the henpecked line.'
'Ha--ha--ha!' laughed the good bishop, who, in spite of Frank's
modulation of voice, had overheard what had passed. 'Is that the way
you manage electioneering matters in our cathedral city?' The idea of
one of his choristers being in the henpecked line was very amusing to
'Oh, I got a distinct promise,' said Frank, in his pride; and then
added incautiously, 'but I had to order bonnets for the whole family.'
'Hush-h-h-h!' said Mr Nearthewinde, absolutely flabbergasted by such
imprudence on the part of one of his client's friends. 'I am quite
sure that you order had no effect, and was intended to have no effect
on Mr Bagley's vote.'
'Is that wrong?' said Frank; 'upon my word I thought it was quite
'One should never admit anything in electioneering matters, should
one?' said George, turning to Mr Nearthewinde.
'Very little, Mr de Courcy; very little indeed--the less the better.
It's hard to say in these days what is wrong and what is not. Now,
there's Reddypalm, the publican, the man who has the Brown Bear. Well,
I was there, of course: he's a voter, and if any man in Barchester
ought to feel himself bound to vote for a friend of the duke's he
ought. Now, I was so thirsty when I was in that man's house, that I
was dying for a glass of beer; but for the life of me I didn't dare
'Why not?' said Frank, whose mind was only just beginning to be
enlightened by the great doctrine of purity of election as practised in
English provincial towns.
'Oh, Closerstil had some fellow looking at me; why, I can't walk down
that town without having my very steps counted. I like sharp fighting
myself, but I never go so sharp as that.'
'Nevertheless I got Bagley's vote,' said Frank, persisting in praise of
his own electioneering prowess; 'and you may be sure of this, Mr
Nearthewinde, none of Closerstil's men were looking at me when I got
'Who'll pay for the bonnets, Frank?' said George.
'Oh, I'll pay for them if Moffat won't. I think I shall keep an
account there; they seem to have good gloves and those sort of things.'
'Very good, I have no doubt,' said George.
'I suppose your lordship will be in town soon after the meeting of
Parliament?' said the bishop, questioning the earl.
'Oh! yes; I suppose I must be there. I am never allowed to remain very
long in the quiet. It is a great nuisance; but it is too late to think
of that now.'
'Men in high places, my lord, never were, and never will be, allowed to
consider themselves. They burn their torches not in their own behalf,'
said the bishop, thinking, perhaps, as much of himself as he did of his
noble friend. 'Rest and quiet are the comforts of those who have been
content to remain in obscurity.'
'Perhaps so,' said the earl, finishing his glass of claret with an air
of virtuous resignation. 'Perhaps so.' His own martyrdom, however,
had not been severe, for the rest and quiet of home had never been
peculiarly satisfactory to his tastes. Soon after this they went to the
It was some little time before Frank could find an opportunity of
recommencing his allotted task with Miss Dunstable. She got into
conversation with the bishop and with some other people, and, except
that he took her teacup and nearly managed to squeeze one of her
fingers as she did so, he made very little further progress till
towards the close of the evening.
At last he found her so nearly alone as to admit of his speaking to her
in a low confidential voice.
'Have you managed that matter with my aunt?'
'What matter?' said Miss Dunstable; and her voice was not low, nor
'About those three or four gentlemen whom you wish to invite here?'
'Oh! my attendant knights! no, indeed; you gave me such very slight
hope of success; besides, you said something about my not wanting
'Yes I did; I really think they'd be quite unnecessary. If you should
want any one to defend you--'
'At these coming elections, for instance.'
'Then, or at any other time, there are plenty here who will be ready to
stand up for you.'
'Plenty! I don't want plenty: one good lance in the olden days was
always worth more than a score of ordinary men-at-arms.'
'But you talked about three or four.'
'Yes; but then you see, Mr Gresham, I have never yet found the one good
lance--at least, not good enough to suit my ideas of true prowess.'
What could Frank do but declare that he was ready to lay his own
in rest, now and always in her behalf?
His aunt had been quite angry with him, and had thought that he turned
her into ridicule, when he spoke of making an offer to her guest that
very evening; and yet here he was so placed that he had hardly an
alternative. Let his inward resolution to abjure the heiress be ever
so strong, he was now in a position which allowed him no choice in the
matter. Even Mary Thorne could hardly have blamed him for saying, that
so far as his own prowess went, it was quite at Miss Dunstable's
service. Had Mary been looking on, she perhaps, might have thought
that he could have done so with less of that look of devotion which he
threw into his eyes.
'Well, Mr Gresham, that's very civil--very civil indeed,' said Miss
Dunstable. 'Upon my word, if a lady wanted a true knight she might do
worse than trust to you. Only I fear that your courage is of so
exalted a nature that you would be ever ready to do battle for any
beauty that might be in distress--or, indeed, who might not. You could
never confine your valour to the protection of one maiden.'
'Oh, yes! but I would though if I liked her,' said Frank. 'There isn't
a more constant fellow in the world than I am in that way--you try me,
'When young ladies make such trials as that, they sometimes find it too
late to go back if the trial doesn't succeed, Mr Gresham.'
'Oh, of course, there's always some risk. It's like hunting; there
would be no fun if there was no danger.'
'But if you get a tumble one day you can retrieve your honour the next;
but a poor girl if she once trusts a man who says that he loves her,
has no such chance. For myself, I would never listen to a man unless
I'd known him for seven years at least.'
'Seven years!' said Frank, who could not help thinking that in seven
years' time Miss Dunstable would be almost an old woman. 'Seven days is
enough to know any person.'
'Or perhaps seven hours; eh, Mr Gresham?'
'Seven hours--well, perhaps seven hours, if they happen to be a good
deal together during that time.'
'There's nothing after all like love at first sight, is there, Mr
Frank knew well enough that she was quizzing him, and could not resist
the temptation he felt to be revenged on her. 'I am sure it's very
pleasant,' said he; 'but as for myself, I have never experienced it.'
'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed Miss Dunstable. 'Upon my word, Mr Gresham, I
like you amazingly. I didn't expect to meet anybody down here that I
could like half so much. You must come and see me in London, and I'll
introduce you to my three knights,' and so saying, she moved away and
fell into conversation with some of the higher powers.
Frank felt himself to be rather snubbed, in spite of the strong
expression which Miss Dunstable had made in his favour. It was not
quite clear to him that she did not take him for a boy. He was, to be
sure, avenged on her for that by taking her for a middle-aged woman;
but, nevertheless, he was hardly satisfied with himself; 'and she might
find afterwards that she was left in the lurch with all her money.' And
so he retired, solitary, into a far part of the room, and began to
think of Mary Thorne. As he did so, and as his eyes fell upon Miss
Dunstable's stiff curls, he almost shuddered.
And then the ladies retired. His aunt, with a good-natured smile on
her face, come to him as she was leaving the room, the last of the
bevy, and putting her hand on his arm, led him out into a small
unoccupied chamber which opened from the grand saloon.
'Upon my word, Master Frank,' said she, 'you seem to be losing no time
with the heiress. You have quite made an impression already.'
'I don't know much about that, aunt,' said he, looking rather sheepish.
'Oh, I declare you have; but, Frank, my dear boy, you should not
precipitate these sort of things too much. It is well to take a little
more time: it is more valued; and perhaps, you know, on the whole--'
Perhaps Frank might know; but it was clear that Lady de Courcy did not:
at any rate, she did not know how to express herself. Had she said out
her mind plainly, she would probably have spoken thus: 'I want you to
make love to Miss Dunstable, certainly; or at any rate to make an offer
to her; but you need not make a show of yourself and of her, by doing
it so openly as all that.' The countess, however, did not want to
reprimand her obedient nephew, and therefore did not speak out her
'Well?' said Frank, looking up into her face.
'Take a leetle more time--that is all, my dear boy; slow and sure, you
know,' so the countess again patted his arm and went away to bed.
'Old fool!' muttered Frank to himself, as he returned to the room where
the men were still standing. He was right in this: she was an old
fool, or she would have seen that there was no chance whatever that her
nephew and Miss Dunstable should become man and wife.
'Well Frank,' said the Honourable John; 'so you're after the heiress
'He won't give any of us a chance,' said the Honourable George. 'If he
goes on in that way she'll be Mrs Gresham before a month is over. But,
Frank, what will she say of your manner of looking for Barchester
'Mr Gresham is certainly an excellent hand at canvassing,' said Mr
Nearthewinde; 'only a little too open in his manner of proceeding.'
'I got that chorister for you at any rate,' said Frank. 'And you would
never have had him without me.'
'I don't think half so much of the chorister's vote as that of Miss
Dunstable,' said the Honourable George: 'that's the interest that is
really worth looking after.'
'But, surely,' said Mr Moffat, 'Miss Dunstable has not property in
Barchester?' Poor man! his heart was so intent on his election that he
had no a moment to devote to the claims of love.
And now the important day of the election had arrived, and some men's
hearts beat quickly enough. To be or not to a member of the British
Parliament is a question of very considerable moment in a man's mind.
Much is often said of the great penalties which the ambitious pay for
enjoying this honour; of the tremendous expenses of election; of the
long, tedious hours of unpaid labour: of the weary days passed in the
House; but, nevertheless, the prize is one very well worth the price
paid for it--well worth any price that can be paid for it short of
wading through dirt and dishonour.
No other great European nation has anything like it to offer to the
ambition of its citizens; for in no other great country of Europe, not
even in those which are free, has the popular constitution obtained, as
with us, true sovereignty and power of rule. Here it is so; and when a
man lays himself out to be a member of Parliament, he plays the highest
game and for the highest stakes which the country affords.
To some men, born silver-spooned, a seat in Parliament comes as a
matter of course. From the time of their early manhood they hardly
know what it is not to sit there; and the honour is hardly appreciated,
being too much a matter of course. As a rule, they never know how
great a thing it is to be in Parliament; though, when reverse comes, as
reverses occasionally will come, they fully feel how dreadful it is to
be left out.
But to men aspiring to be members, or to those who having been once
fortunate have again to fight the battle without assurance of success,
the coming election must be matter of dread concern. Of, how
delightful to hear that the long-talked of rival has declined the
contest, and that the course is clear! or to find by a short canvass
that one's majority is safe, and the pleasures of crowing over an
unlucky, friendless foe quite secured!
No such gratification as this filled the bosom of Mr Moffat on the
morning of the Barchester election. To him had been brought no
positive assurance of success by his indefatigable agent, Mr
Nearthewinde. It was admitted on all sides that the contest would be a
very close one; and Mr Nearthewinde would not do more than assert that
they ought to win unless things went wrong with them.
Mr Nearthewinde had other elections to attend to, and had not been
remaining at Courcy Castle ever since the coming of Miss Dunstable: but
he had been there, and at Barchester, as often as possible, and Mr
Moffat was made greatly uneasy by reflecting how very high the bill
The two parties had outdone each other in the loudness of their
assertions, that each would on his side conduct the election in strict
conformity to law. There was to be no bribery. Bribery! who indeed in
these days would dare to bribe; to give absolute money for an absolute
vote, and pay for such an article in downright palpable sovereigns?
No. Purity was much too rampant for that, and the means of detection
too well understood. But purity was to be carried much further than
this. There should be no treating; no hiring of two hundred votes to
act as messengers at twenty shillings a day in looking up some four
hundred other voters; no bands were to be paid for; no carriages
furnished; no ribbons supplied. British voters were to vote, if vote
they would, for the love and respect they bore to their chosen
candidate. If so actuated, they would not vote, they might stay away;
no other inducement would be offered.
So much was said loudly--very loudly--by each party; but, nevertheless,
Mr Moffat, early in these election days, began to have some misgivings
about the bill. The proclaimed arrangement had been one exactly
suitable to his taste; for Mr Moffat loved his money. He was a man in
whose breast the ambition of being great in the world, and of joining
himself to aristocratic people was continually at war with the great
cost which such tastes occasioned. His last election had not been a
cheap triumph. In one way or another money had been dragged from him
for purposes which had been to his mind unintelligible; and when, about
the middle of his first session, he had, with much grumbling, settled
all demands, he had questioned with himself whether his whistle was
worth its cost.
He was therefore a great stickler for purity of election; although, had
he considered the matter, he should have known that with him money was
his only passport into that Elysium in which he had now lived for two
years. He probably did not consider it; for when, in those canvassing
days immediately preceding the election, he had seen that all the
beer-houses were open, and half the population was drunk, he had asked
Mr Nearthewinde whether this violation of the treaty was taking place
only on the part of the opponent, and whether, in such case, it would
not by duly noticed with a view to a possible petition.
Mr Nearthewinde assured him triumphantly that half at least of the
wallowing swine were his own especial friends; and that somewhat more
than half of the publicans of the town were eagerly engaged in fighting
his, Mr Moffat's battle. Mr Moffat groaned, and would have
expostulated had Mr Nearthewinde been willing to hear him. But that
gentleman's services had been put into requisition by Lord De Courcy
rather than by the candidate. For the candidate he cared but little.
To pay the bill would be enough for him. He, Mr Nearthewinde, was
doing his business as he well knew how to do it; and it was not likely
that he should submit to be lectured by such as Mr Moffat on a trumpery
score of expense.
It certainly did appear on the morning of the election as though some
great change had been made in that resolution of the candidates to be
very pure. From and early hour rough bands of music were to be heard
in every part of the usually quiet town; carts and gigs, omnibuses and
flys, all the old carriages from all the inn-yards, and every vehicle
of any description which could be pressed into the service were in
motion; if the horses and post-boys were not to be paid for by the
candidates, the voters themselves were certainly very liberal in their
mode of bringing themselves to the poll. The election district of the
city of Barchester extended for some miles on each side of the city, so
that the omnibuses and flys had enough to do. Beer was to be had at
the public-houses, almost without question, by all who chose to ask
for it; and rum and brandy were dispensed to select circles within the
bars with equal profusion. As for ribbons, the mercers' shops must
have been emptied of that article, as far as scarlet and yellow were
concerned. Scarlet was Sir Roger's colour, while the friends of Mr
Moffat were decked with yellow. Seeing what he did see, Mr Moffat
might well ask whether there had not been a violation of the treaty of
At the time of this election there was some question whether England
should go to war with all her energy; or whether it would not be better
for her to save her breath to cool her porridge, and not meddle more
than could be helped with foreign quarrels. The last view of the
matter was advocated by Sir Roger, and his motto of course proclaimed
the merits of domestic peace and quiet. 'Peace abroad and a big loaf at
home', was consequently displayed on four or five huge scarlet banners,
and carried waving over the heads of the people. But Mr Moffat was a
staunch supporter of the Government, who were already inclined to be
belligerent, and 'England's honour' was therefore the legend under
which he selected to do battle. It may, however, be doubted whether
there was in all Barchester one inhabitant--let alone one elector--so
fatuous to suppose that England's honour was in any special manner dear
to Mr Moffat; or that he would be whit more sure of a big loaf than he
was now, should Sir Roger happily become a member of the legislature.
And then the fine arts were resorted to, seeing that language fell
short in telling all that was found necessary to be told. Poor Sir
Roger's failing as regards the bottle were too well known; and it was
also known that, in acquiring this title, he had not quite laid aside
the rough mode of speech which he had used in his early years. There
was, consequently, a great daub painted up on sundry walls, on which a
navvy, with a pimply, bloated face, was to be seen standing on a
railway bank, leaning on a spade holding a bottle in one hand, while he
invited a comrade to drink. 'Come, Jack, shall us have a drop of
some'at short?' were the words coming out of the navvy's mouth; and
under this was painted in huge letters,
THE LAST NEW BARONET
But Mr Moffat hardly escaped on easier terms. The trade by which his
father had made his money was as well known as that of the railway
contractor; and every possible symbol of tailordom was displayed in
graphic portraiture on the walls and hoardings of the city. He was
drawn with his goose, his scissors, with his needle, with his tapes; he
might be seen measuring, cutting, pressing, carrying home his bundle
and presenting his little bill; and under each of these representations
was repeated his own motto: 'England's honour'.
Such were the pleasant little amenities with which the people of
Barchester greeted the two candidates who were desirous of the honour
of serving them in Parliament.
The polling went briskly and merrily. There were somewhat above nine
hundred registered voters, of whom the greater portion recorded their
votes early in the day. At two o'clock, according to Sir Roger's
committee, the numbers were as follows:--
Whereas, by the light afforded by Mr Moffat's people, they stood in a
slightly different ratio to each other, being written thus:--
This naturally heightened the excitement, and gave additional delight
to the proceedings. At half-past two it was agreed by both sides that
Mr Moffat was ahead; the Moffatites claiming a majority of twelve, and
the Scatcherdites allowing a majority of one. But by three o'clock
sundry good men and true, belonging to the railway interest, had made
their way to the booth in spite of the efforts of a band of roughs from
Courcy, and Sir Roger was again leading, by ten or a dozen, according
to his own showing.
One little transaction which took place in the earlier part of the day
deserves to be recorded. There was in Barchester an honest
publican--honest as the world of publicans goes--who not only was
possessed of a vote, but possessed of a son who was a voter. He was
one Reddypalm in earlier days, before he had learned to appreciate the
full value of an Englishman's franchise, he had been a declared Liberal
and a friend of Roger Scatcherd's. In latter days he had governed his
political feelings with more decorum, and had not allowed himself to be
carried away by such foolish fervour as he had evinced in his youth. On
this special occasion, however, his line of conduct was so mysterious
as for a while to baffle even those who knew him best.
His house was apparently open in Sir Roger's interest. Beer, at any
rate, was flowing there as elsewhere; and scarlet ribbons going in--not
perhaps, in a state of perfect steadiness--came out more unsteady than
before. Still had Mr Reddypalm been deaf to the voice of that charmer,
Closerstil, though he had charmed with all his wisdom. Mr Reddypalm
had stated, first his unwillingness to vote at all:--he had, he said,
given over politics, and was not inclined to trouble his mind again
with the subject; then he had spoken of his great devotion to the Duke
of Omnium, under whose grandfathers his grandfather had been bred: Mr
Nearthewinde had, as he said, been with him, and proved to him beyond a
shadow of a doubt that it would show the deepest ingratitude on his
part to vote against the duke's candidate.
Mr Closerstil thought he understood all this, and sent more, and still
more men to drink beer. He even caused--taking infinite trouble to
secure secrecy in the matter--three gallons of British brandy to be
ordered and paid for as the best French. But, nevertheless, Mr
Reddypalm made no sign to show that he considered that the right thing
had been done. On the evening before the election, he told one of Mr
Closerstil's confidential men, that he had thought a good deal about
it, and that he believed he should be constrained by his conscience to
vote for Mr Moffat.
We have said that Mr Closerstil was accompanied by a learned friend of
his, one Mr Romer, a barrister, who was greatly interested in Sir
Roger, and who, being a strong Liberal, was assisting in the canvass
with much energy. He, hearing how matters were likely to go with this
conscientious publican, and feeling himself peculiarly capable of
dealing with such delicate scruples, undertook to look into the case in
hand. Early, therefore, on the morning of the election, he sauntered
down the cross street in which hung out the sign of the Brown Bear,
and, as he expected, found Mr Reddypalm near his own door.
Now it was quite an understood thing that there was to be no bribery.
This was understood by no one better than Mr Romer, who had, in truth,
drawn up many of the published assurances to that effect. And, to give
him his due, he was fully minded to act in accordance with these
assurances. The object of all the parties was to make it worth the
voters' while to give their votes; but to do so without bribery. Mr
Romer had repeatedly declared that he would have nothing to do with any
illegal practising; but he had also declared that, as long as all was
done according to law, he was ready to lend his best efforts to assist
Sir Roger. How he assisted Sir Roger, and adhered to the law, will now
Oh, Mr Romer! Mr Romer! is it not the case with thee that thou
'wouldst not play false, and yet wouldst wrongly win?' Not in
electioneering, Mr Romer, any more than in any other pursuits, can a
man touch pitch and not be defiled; as thou, innocent as thou art, wilt
soon learn to thy terrible cost.
'Well, Reddypalm,' said Mr Romer, shaking hands with him. Mr Romer had
not been equally cautious as Nearthewinde, and had already drunk sundry
glasses of ale at the Brown Bear, in the hope of softening the stern
Bear-warden. 'How is it to-day? Which is to be the man?'
'If any one knows that, Mr Romer, you must be the man. A poor
numbskull like me knows nothing of them matters. How should I? All I
looks to, Mr Romer, is selling a trifle of drink now and then--selling
it, and getting paid for it, you know, Mr Romer.'
'Yes, that's important, no doubt. But come, Reddypalm, such an old
friend as Sir Roger as you are, a man he speaks of as one of his
intimate friends, I wonder how you can hesitate about it? Now with
another man, I should think that he wanted to be paid for voting--'
'Oh, Mr Romer! fie--fie--fie!'
'I know it's not the case with you. It would be an insult to offer you
money, even if money were going. I should not mention this, only as
money is not going, neither, on our side nor on the other, no harm can
'Mr Romer, if you speak of such a thing, you'll hurt me. I know the
value of an Englishman's franchise too well to wish to sell it. I
would not demean myself so low; no, not though five-and-twenty pound a
vote was going, as there was in the good old times--and that's not so
'I am sure you wouldn't, Reddypalm; I'm sure you wouldn't. But an
honest man like you should stick to old friends. Now, tell me,' and
putting his arm through Reddypalm's, he walked with him into the
passage of his own house; 'Now, tell me--is there anything wrong? It's
between friends, you know. Is there anything wrong?'
'I wouldn't sell my vote for untold gold,' said Reddypalm, who was
perhaps aware that untold gold would hardly be offered to him for it.
'I am sure you would not,' said Mr Romer.
'But,' said Reddypalm, 'a man likes to be paid his little bill.'
'Surely, surely,' said the barrister.
'And I did say two years since, when your friend Mr Closerstil brought
a friend of his down to stand here--it wasn't Sir Roger then--but when
he brought a friend of his down, and when I drew two or three hogsheads
of ale on their side, and when my bill was questioned, and only
half-settled, I did say that I wouldn't interfere with no election no
more. And no more I will, Mr Romer--unless it be to give a quiet vote
for the nobleman under whom I and mine always lived respectable.'
'Oh!' said Mr Romer.
'A man do like to have his bill paid, you know, Mr Romer.'
Mr Romer could not but acknowledge that this was a natural feeling on
the part of an ordinary mortal publican.
'It goes agin the grain with a man not to have his little bill paid,
and specially at election time,' again urged Mr Reddypalm.
Mr Romer had not much time to think about it; but he knew well that
matters were so nearly balanced, that the votes of Mr Reddypalm and his
son were of inestimable value.
'If it's only about your bill,' said Mr Romer, 'I'll see to have it
settled. I'll speak to Closerstil about that.'
'All right!' said Reddypalm, seizing the young barrister's hand, and
shaking it warmly; 'all right!' And late in the afternoon when a vote
or two became matter of intense interest, Mr Reddypalm and his son came
up to the hustings and boldly tendered theirs for their old friend Sir
There was a great deal of eloquence heard in Barchester on that day.
Sir Roger had by this time so far recovered as to be able to go through
the dreadfully hard work of canvassing and addressing the electors from
eight in the morning till near sunset. A very perfect recovery, most
men will say. Yes; a perfect recovery as regarded the temporary use of
his faculties, both physical and mental; though it may be doubted
whether there can be any permanent recovery from such a disease as
his. What amount of brandy he consumed to enable him to perform this
election work, and what lurking evil effect the excitement have on
him--of these matters no record was kept in the history of those
Sir Roger's eloquence was of a rough kind; but not perhaps the less
operative on those for whom it was intended. The aristocracy of
Barchester consisted chiefly of clerical dignitaries, bishops, deans,
prebendaries, and such like: on them and theirs it was not probable
that anything said by Sir Roger would have much effect. Those men
would either abstain from voting, or vote for the railway hero, with
the view of keeping out the De Courcy candidate. Then came the
shopkeepers, who might also be regarded as a stiff-necked generation,
impervious to electioneering eloquence. They would, generally, support
Mr Moffat. But there was an inferior class of voters, ten-pound
freeholders, and such like, who, at this period, were somewhat given to
have an opinion of their own, and over them it was supposed that Sir
Roger did obtain some power by his gift of talking.
'Now, gentlemen, will you tell me this,' said he, bawling at the top of
his voice from the portico which graced the door of the Dragon of
Wantley, at which celebrated inn Sir Roger's committee sat:--'Who is Mr
Moffat, and what has he done for us? There have been some
picture-makers about the town this week past. The Lord knows who they
are; I don't. These clever fellows do tell you who I am, and what I've
done. I ain't very proud of the way they've painted me, though there's
something about it I ain't ashamed of either. See here,' and he held
up on one side of him one of the great daubs oh himself--'just hold it
there till I can explain it,' and, he handed the paper to one of his
friends. 'That's me,' said Sir Roger, putting up his stick, and
pointing to the pimply-nosed representation of himself.
'Hurrah! Hur-r-rah! more power to you--we all know who you are,
Roger. You're the boy! When did you get drunk last?' Such-like
greetings, together with a dead cat which was flung at him from the
crowd, and which he dexterously parried with his stick, were the
answers which he received to this exordium.
'Yes,' said he, quite undismayed by this little missile which had so
nearly reached him: 'that's me. And look here; this brown,
dirty-looking broad streak here is intended for a railway; and that
thing in my hand--not the right hand; I'll come to that presently--'
'How about the brandy, Roger?'
'I'll come to that presently. I'll tell you about the brandy in good
time. But that thing in my left hand is a spade. Now, I never handled
a spade, and never could; but, boys, I handled a chisel and mallet; and
many a hundred block of stone has come out smooth from under that
hand;' and Sir Roger lifted up his great broad palm wide open.
'So you did, Roger, and well we minds it.'
'The meaning, however, of that spade is to show that I made the
railway. Now I'm very much obliged to those gentlemen over at the
White Horse for putting up this picture of me. It's a true picture,
and it tells you who I am. I did make that railway. I have made
thousands of miles of railway; I am making thousands of miles
railways--some in Europe, some in Asia, some in America. It's a true
picture,' and he poked his stick right through it and held it up to the
crowd. 'A true picture: but for that spade and that railway, I
shouldn't be now here asking your votes; and, when next February comes,
I shouldn't be sitting in Westminster to represent you, as by God's
grace, I certainly will do. That tells you who I am. But now, will
you tell me who Mr Moffat is?'
'How about the brandy, Roger?'
'Oh, yes, the brandy! I was forgetting that and the little speech that
is coming out of my mouth--a deal shorter speech, and a better one than
what I am making now. Here, in the right hand you see a brandy bottle.
Well, boys, I am not ashamed of that; as long as a man does his
work--and the spade shows that--it's only fair he should have something
to comfort him. I'm always able to work, and few men work much harder.
I'm always able to work, and no man has a right to expect more of me. I
never expect more than that from those who work for me.'
'No more you don't, Roger: a little drop's very good, ain't it, Roger?
Keeps the cold from the stomach, eh, Roger?'
'Then as to this speech, "Come, Jack, let's have a drop of some'at
short". Why, that's a good speech too. When I do drink I like to
share with a friend; and I don't care how humble that friend is.'
'Hurrah! more power. That's true too, Roger; may you never be without
a drop to wet your whistle.'
'They say I'm the last new baronet. Well, I ain't ashamed of that; not
a bit. When will Mr Moffat get himself made a baronet? No man can
truly say I'm too proud of it. I have never stuck myself up; no, nor
stuck my wife up either: but I don't see much to be ashamed of because
the bigwigs chose to make a baronet of me.'
'Nor, no more thee h'ant, Roger. We'd all be barrownites if so be we
knew the way.'
'But now, having polished off this bit of picture, let me ask you who
Mr Moffat is? There are pictures enough about him, too; though Heaven
knows where they all come from. I think Sir Edwin Landseer must have
done this one of the goose; it is so deadly natural. Look at it; there
he is. Upon my word, whoever did that ought to make his fortune at
some of these exhibitions. Here he is again, with a big pair of
scissors. He calls himself "England's honour"; what the deuce
England's honour has to do with tailoring, I can't tell you: perhaps Mr
Moffat can. But mind you, my friends, I don't say anything against
tailoring: some of you are tailors, I dare say.'
'Yes, we be,' said a little squeaking voice from out of the crowd.
'And a good trade it is. When I first know Barchester there were
tailors here could lick any stone-mason in the trade; I say nothing
against tailors. But it isn't enough for a man to be a tailor unless
he's something else along with it. You're not so fond of tailors that
you'll send one up to Parliament merely because he is a tailor.'
'We won't have no tailors. No; nor yet no cabbaging. Take a go of
brandy, Roger; you're blown.'
'No, I'm not blown yet. I've a deal more to say about Mr Moffat before
I shall be blown. What has he done to entitle him to come here before
you and ask you to send him to Parliament? Why; he isn't even a
tailor. I wish he were. There's always some good in a fellow who
knows how to earn his own bread. But he isn't a tailor; he can't even
put a stitch in towards mending England's honour. His father was a
tailor; not a Barchester tailor, mind you, so as to give him any claim
on your affections; but a London tailor. Now the question is, do you
want to send the son of a London tailor up to Parliament to represent
'No, we don't; nor yet we won't either.'
'I rather think not. You've had him once, and what has he done for
you? has he said much for you in the House of Commons? Why, he's so
dumb a dog that he can't bark even for a bone. I'm told it's quite
painful to hear him fumbling and mumbling and trying to get up a speech
there over at the White Horse. He doesn't belong to the city; he
hasn't done anything for the city; and he hasn't the power to do
anything for the city. Then, why on earth does he come here? I'll
tell you. The Earl de Courcy brings him. He's going to marry the Earl
de Courcy's niece; for they say he's very rich--this tailor's son--only
they do say also that he doesn't much like to spend his money. He's
going to marry Lord de Courcy's niece, and Lord de Courcy wishes that
his nephew should be in Parliament. There, that's the claim which Mr
Moffat has here on the people of Barchester. He's Lord de Courcy's
nominee, and those who feel themselves bound hand and foot, heart and
soul, to Lord de Courcy, had better vote for him. Such men have my
leave. If there are enough of such at Barchester to send him to
Parliament, the city in which I was born must be very much altered
since I was a young man.'
And so finishing his speech, Sir Roger retired within, and recruited
himself in the usual manner.
Such was the flood of eloquence at the Dragon of Wantly. At the White
Horse, meanwhile, the friends of the De Courcy interest were treated
perhaps to sounder political views; though not expressed in periods so
intelligibly fluent as those of Sir Roger.
Mr Moffat was a young man, and there was no knowing to what proficiency
in the Parliamentary gift of public talking he might yet attain; but
hitherto his proficiency was not great. He had, however, endeavoured to
make up by study for any want of readiness of speech, and had come to
Barchester daily, for the last four days, fortified with a very pretty
harangue, which he had prepared for himself in the solitude of his
chamber. On the three previous days matters had been allowed to
progress with tolerable smoothness, and he had been permitted to
deliver himself of his elaborate eloquence with few other interruptions
than those occasioned by his own want of practice. But on this, the
day of days, the Barchesterian roughs were not so complaisant. It
appeared to Mr Moffat, when he essayed to speak, that he was surrounded
by enemies rather than friends; and in his heart he gave great blame to
Mr Nearthewinde for not managing matters better for him.
'Men of Barchester,' he began, in a voice which was every now and then
preternaturally loud, but which, at each fourth or fifth word, gave way
from want of power, and descended to its natural weak tone. 'Men of
Barchester--electors and non-electors--'
'We is hall electors; hall on us, my young kiddy.'
'Electors and non-electors, I now ask your suffrages, not for the first
'Oh! we've tried you. We know what you're made on. Go on, Snip; don't
you let 'em put you down.'
'I've had the honour of representing you in Parliament for the last two
'And a deuced deal you did for us, didn't you?'
'What could you expect from the ninth part of a man? Never mind,
Snip--go on; don't you be out by any of them. Stick to your wax and
thread like a man--like the ninth part of a man--go on a little faster,
'For the last two years--and--and--' Here Mr Moffat looked round to his
friends for some little support, and the Honourable George, who stood
close behind him, suggested that he had gone through it like a brick.
'And--and I went through it like a brick,' said Mr Moffat, with the
gravest possible face, taking up in his utter confusion the words that
were put into his mouth.
'Hurray!--so you did--you're the real brick. Well done, Snip; go it
again with the wax and thread!'
'I am a thorough-paced reformer,' continued Mr Moffat, somewhat
reassured by the effect of the opportune words which his friend had
whispered into his ear. 'A thorough-paced reformer--a thorough-paced
'Go on, Snip. We all know what that means.'
'A thorough-paced reformer--'
'Never mind your paces, man; but get on. Tell us something new. We're
all reformers, we are.'
Poor Mr Moffat was a little thrown back. It wasn't so easy to tell
these gentlemen anything new, harnessed as he was at this moment; so he
looked back at his honourable supporter for some further hint. 'Say
something about their daughters,' whispered George, whose own flights
of oratory were always on that subject. Had he counselled Mr Moffat to
way a word or two about the tides, his advice would not have been less
to the purpose.
'Gentlemen,' he began again--'you all know that I am a thorough-paced
'Oh, drat your reform. He's a dumb dog. Go back to your goose,
Snippy; you never were made for this work. Go to Courcy Castle and
Mr Moffat, grieved in his soul, was becoming inextricably bewildered by
such facetiae as these, when an egg--and it may be feared not a fresh
egg--flung with unerring precision, struck him on the open part of his
well-plaited shirt, and reduced him to speechless despair.
An egg is a means of delightful support when properly administered; but
it is not calculated to add much spirit to a man's eloquence, or to
ensure his powers of endurance, when supplied in the manner above
described. Men there are, doubtless, whose tongues would not be
stopped even by such an argument as this; but Mr Moffat was not one of
them. As the insidious fluid trickled down beneath his waistcoat, he
felt that all further powers of coaxing the electors out of their
votes, by words flowing from his tongue sweeter than honey, was for
that occasion denied him. He could not be self-confident, energetic,
witty, and good-humoured with a rotten egg, drying through his
clothes. He was forced, therefore, to give way, and with sadly
disconcerted air retired from the open window at which he had been
It was in vain that the Honourable George, Mr Nearthewinde, and Frank
endeavoured again to bring him to the charge. He was like a beaten
prize-fighter, whose pluck has been cowed out of him, and who, if he
stands up, only stands up to fall. Mr Moffat got sulky also, and when
he was pressed, said that Barchester and the people in it might be d----.
'With all my heart,' said Mr Nearthewinde. 'That wouldn't have any
effect on their votes.'
But, in truth, it mattered very little whether Mr Moffat spoke, or
whether he didn't speak. Four o'clock was the hour for closing the poll,
and that was now fast coming. Tremendous exertions had been made about
half-past three, by a safe emissary sent from Nearthewinde, to prove to
Mr Reddypalm that all manner of contingent advantages would accrue to
the Brown Bear if it should turn out that Mr Moffat should take his seat
for Barchester. No bribe was, of course offered or even hinted at. The
purity of Barchester was not contaminated during the day by one such
curse as this. But a man, and a publican, would be required to do some
great deed in the public line; to open some colossal tap; to draw beer
for the million; and no one would be so fit as Mr Reddypalm--if only it
might turn out that Mr Moffat should, in the coming February, take his
seat as member for Barchester.
But Mr Reddypalm was a man of humble desires, whose ambitions scored no
higher than this--that his little bills should be duly settled. It was
wonderful what love an innkeeper has for his bill in its entirety. An
account, with a respectable total of five or six pounds, is brought to
you, and you complain but of one article; that fire in the bedroom was
never lighted; or that second glass of brandy and water was never
called for. You desire to have the shilling expunged, and all your
host's pleasure in the whole transaction is destroyed. Oh! my
friends, pay for the brandy and water, though you never drank it;
suffer the fire to pass, though it never warmed you. Why make a good
man miserable for such a trifle?
It became notified to Reddypalm with sufficient clearness that his bill
for the past election should be paid without further question; and
therefore, at five o'clock the Mayor of Barchester proclaimed the
results of the contests in the following figures:--
Mr Reddypalm's two votes had decided the question. Mr Nearthewinde
immediately went up to town; and the dinner party at Courcy Castle that
evening was not a particularly pleasant meal.
This much, however, had been absolutely decided before the yellow
committee concluded their labour at the White Horse: there should be a
petition. Mr Nearthewinde had not been asleep, and already knew
something of the manner in which Mr Reddypalm's mind had been quieted.
The intimacy between Frank and Miss Dunstable grew and prospered. That
is to say, it prospered as an intimacy, though perhaps hardly as a love
affair. There was a continued succession of jokes between them, which
no one else in the castle understood; but the very fact of there being
such a good understanding between them rather stood in the way of, than
assisted, that consummation which the countess desired. People, when
they are in love with each other, or even when they pretend to be, do
not generally show it by loud laughter. Nor is it frequently the case
that a wife with two hundred thousand pounds can be won without some
little preliminary despair.
Lady de Courcy, who thoroughly understood that portion of the world in
which she herself lived, saw that things were not going quite as they
should do, and gave much and repeated advice to Frank on the subject.
She was the more eager in doing this, because she imagined Frank had
done what he could to obey her first precepts. He had not turned up
his nose at Miss Dunstable's curls, nor found fault with her loud
voice: he had not objected to her as ugly, nor even shown any dislike
to her age. A young man who had been so amenable to reason was worthy
of further assistance; and so Lady de Courcy did what she could to
'Frank, my dear boy,' she would say, 'you are a little too noisy, I
think. I don't mean for myself, you know; I don't mind it. But Miss
Dunstable would like it better if you were a little more quiet with
'Would she, aunt?' said Frank, looking demurely up into the countess's
face. 'I rather think she likes fun and noise, and that sort of
thing. You know she's not very quiet herself.'
'Ah!--but, Frank, there are times, you know, when that sort of thing
should be laid aside. Fun, as you call it, is all very well in its
place. Indeed, no one likes it better than I do. But that's not the
way to show admiration. Young ladies like to be admired; and if you'll
be a little more soft-mannered with Miss Dunstable, I'm sure you'll
find it will answer better.'
And so the old bird taught the young bird how to fly--very
needlessly--for in this matter of flying, Nature gives her own lessons
thoroughly; and the ducklings will take the water, even though the
maternal hen warn them against the perfidious element never so loudly.
Soon after this, Lady de Courcy began to be not very well pleased in
the matter. She took it into her head that Miss Dunstable was
sometimes almost inclined to laugh at her; and on one or two occasions
it almost seemed as though Frank was joining Miss Dunstable in doing
so. The fact indeed was, that Miss Dunstable was fond of fun; and,
endowed as she was with all the privileges which two hundred thousand
pounds may be supposed to give to a young lady, did not very much care
at whom she laughed. She was able to make a tolerably correct guess at
Lady De Courcy's plan towards herself; but she did not for a moment
think that Frank had any intention of furthering his aunt's views. She
was, therefore, not at all ill-inclined to have her revenge on the
'How very fond your aunt is of you!' she said to him one wet morning,
as he was sauntering through the house; now laughing, and almost
romping with her--then teasing his sister about Mr Moffat--and then
bothering his lady-cousins out of all their propriety.
'Oh, very!' said Frank: 'she is a dear, good woman, is my Aunt De
'I declare she takes more notice of you and your doings than of any of
your cousins. I wonder they aren't jealous.'
'Oh! they're such good people. Bless me, they'd never be jealous.'
'You are so much younger than they are, that I suppose she thinks you
want more of her care.'
'Yes; that's it. You see she is fond of having a baby to nurse.'
'Tell me, Mr Gresham, what was it she was saying to you last night? I
know we have been misbehaving ourselves dreadfully. It was all your
fault; you would make me laugh so.'
'That's just what I said to her.'
'She was talking about it, then?'
'How on earth should she talk of any one else as long as you are here?
Don't you know that all the world is talking about you?'
'Is it?--dear me, how kind! But I don't care a straw about any world at
present but Lady de Courcy's world. What did she say?'
'She said you were very beautiful--'
'Did she?--how good of her!'
'No; I forgot. It--it was I that said that; and she said--what was it
she said? She said, that after all, beauty was but skin deep--and that
she valued you for your virtues and prudence rather than your good
'Virtues and prudence! She said I was prudent and virtuous?'
'And you talked of my beauty? That was so kind of you. You didn't
either of you say anything about other matters?'
'What other matters?'
'Oh! I don't know. Only some people are sometimes valued rather for
what they've got than for any good qualities belonging to themselves
'That can never be the case with Miss Dunstable; especially not at
Courcy Castle,' said Frank, bowing easily from the corner of the sofa
over which he was leaning.
'Of course not,' said Miss Dunstable; and Frank at once perceived that
she spoke in a tone of voice differing much from that half-bantering,
half-good-humoured manner that was customary with her. 'Of course not:
any such idea would be quite out of the question with Lady de Courcy.'
She paused for a moment, and then added in a tone different again, and
unlike any that he had yet heard from her:--'It is, at any rate, out of
the question with Mr Frank Gresham--of that I am quite sure.'
Frank ought to have understood her, and have appreciated the good
opinion which she intended to convey; but he did not entirely do so. He
was hardly honest himself towards her; and he could not at first
perceive that she intended to say that she thought him so. He knew
very well that she was alluding to her own huge fortune, and was
alluding also to the fact that people of fashion sought her because of
it; but he did not know that she intended to express a true acquittal
as regarded him of any such baseness.
And did he deserve to be acquitted? Yes, upon the whole he did;--to be
acquitted of that special sin. His desire to make Miss Dunstable
temporarily subject to his sway arose, not from a hankering after her
fortune, but from an ambition to get the better of a contest in which
other men around him seemed to be failing.
For it must not be imagined that, with such a prize to be struggled
for, all others stood aloof and allowed him to have his own way with
the heiress, undisputed. The chance of a wife with two hundred
thousand pounds is a godsend, which comes in a man's life too seldom to
be neglected, let that chance be never so remote.
Frank was the heir to a large embarrassed property; and, therefore, the
heads of families, putting their wisdoms together, had thought it most
meet that this daughter of Plutus should, if possible, fall to his
lot. But not so thought the Honourable George; and not so thought
another gentleman who was at that time an inmate of Courcy Castle.
These suitors perhaps somewhat despised their young rival's efforts. It
may be that they had sufficient worldly wisdom to know that so
important a crisis of life is not settled among quips and jokes, and
that Frank was too much in jest to be in earnest. But be that as it
may, his love-making did not stand in the way of their love-making; nor
his hopes, if he had any, in the way of their hopes.
The Honourable George had discussed the matter with the Honourable John
in a properly fraternal manner. It may be that John had also an eye to
the heiress; but, if so, he had ceded his views to his brother's
superior claims; for it came about that they understood each other very
well, and John favoured George with salutary advice on the occasion.
'If it is to be done at all, it should be done very sharp,' said John.
'As sharp as you like,' said George. 'I'm not the fellow to be
studying three months in what attitude I'll fall at a girl's feet.'
'No: and when you are there you mustn't take three months more to study
how you'll get up again. If you do it at all, you must do it sharp,'
repeated John, putting great stress on his advice.
'I have said a few soft words to her already, and she didn't seem to
take them badly,' said George.
'She's no chicken, you know,' remarked John; 'and with a woman like
that, beating about the bush never does any good. The chances are she
won't have you--that's of course; plums like that don't fall into a
man's mouth merely for shaking the tree. But it's possible she may; and
if she will, she's as likely to take you to-day as this day six
months. If I were you I'd write her a letter.'
'Write her a letter--eh?' said George, who did not altogether dislike
the advice, for it seemed to take from his shoulders the burden of
preparing a spoken address. Though he was so glib in speaking about
the farmers' daughters, he felt that he should have some little
difficulty in making known his passion to Miss Dunstable, by word of
'Yes; write a letter. If she'll take you at all, she'll take you that
way; half the matches going are made up by writing letters. Write her
a letter and get it put on her dressing-table.' George said that he
would, and so he did.
George spoke quite truly when he hinted that he had said a few soft
things to Miss Dunstable. Miss Dunstable, however, was accustomed to
hear soft things. She had been carried much about in society among
fashionable people since, on the settlement of her father's will, she
had been pronounced heiress to all the ointment of Lebanon; and many
men had made calculations respecting her similar to those which were
now animating the brain of the Honourable George de Courcy. She was
already quite accustomed to being a target at which spendthrifts and
the needy rich might shoot their arrows: accustomed to being shot at,
and tolerably accustomed to protect herself without making scenes in
the world, or rejecting the advantageous establishments offered to her
with any loud expressions of disdain. The Honourable George,
therefore, had been permitted to say soft things very much as a matter
And very little more outward fracas arose from the correspondence which
followed than had arisen from the soft things so said. George wrote
the letter, and had it duly conveyed to Miss Dunstable's bed-chamber.
Miss Dunstable duly received it, and had her answer conveyed back
discreetly to George's hands. The correspondence ran as follows:--
'Courcy Castle, Aug. --, 185-.
'MY DEAREST MISS DUNSTABLE,
'I cannot but flatter myself that you must have perceived from
my manner that you are not indifferent to me. Indeed, indeed,
you are not. I may truly say, and swear' (these last strong
words had been put in by the special counsel of the Honourable
John), 'that if ever a man loved a woman truly, I truly love
you. You may think it very odd that I should say this in a
letter instead of speaking it out before your face; but your
powers of raillery are so great' ('touch her up about her wit'
had been the advice of the Honourable John) 'that I am all but
afraid to encounter them. Dearest, dearest Martha--oh do not
blame me for so addressing you!--if you will trust your
happiness to me you shall never find that you have been
deceived. My ambition shall be to make you shine in that
circle which you are so well qualified to adorn and to see you
firmly fixed in that sphere of fashion for which your tastes
'I may safely assert--and I do assert it with my hand on my
heart--that I am actuated by no mercenary motives. Far be it
from me to marry any woman--no, not a princess--on account of
her money. No marriage can be happy without mutual affection;
and I do fully trust--no, not trust, but hope--that there may be
such between you and me, dearest Miss Dunstable. Whatever
settlements you might propose I would accede to. It is you,
your sweet person, that I love, not your money.
'For myself, I need not remind you that I am the second son of
my father; and that, as such, I hold no inconsiderable station
in the world. My intention is to get into Parliament, and to
make a name for myself, if I can, among those who shine in the
House of Commons. My elder brother, Lord Porlock, is, you are
aware, unmarried; and we all fear that the family honours are
not likely to be perpetuated by him, as he has all manner of
troublesome liaisons which will probably prevent his settling
in life. There is nothing at all of that kind in my way. It
will indeed be a delight to place a coronet on the head of my
lovely Martha: a coronet which can give no fresh grace to her,
but which will be so much adorned by her wearing it.
'Dearest, Miss Dunstable, I shall wait with the utmost impatience
for your answer; and now, burning with hope that it may not be
altogether unfavourable to my love, I beg permission to sign
'Your own most devoted,
'GEORGE DE COURCY'
The ardent lover had not to wait long for an answer from his mistress.
She found this letter on her toilet-table one night as she went to
bed. The next morning she came down to breakfast and met her swain
with the most unconcerned air in the world; so much so that he began to
think, as he munched his toast with rather a shamefaced look, that the
letter on which so much was to depend had not yet come safely to hand.
But his suspense was not of a prolonged duration. After breakfast, as
was his wont, he went out to the stables with his brother and Frank
Gresham; and while there, Miss Dunstable's man, coming up to him,
touched his hat, and put a letter into his hand.
Frank, who knew the man, glanced at the letter and looked at his
cousin; but he said nothing. He was, however, a little jealous, and
felt that an injury was done to him by any correspondence between Miss
Dunstable and his cousin George.
Miss Dunstable's reply was as follows; and it may be remarked that it
was written in a very clear and well-penned hand, and one which
certainly did not betray much emotion of the heart:--
'MY DEAR MR DE COURCY,
'I am sorry to say that I had not perceived from your manner
that you entertained any peculiar feelings towards me; as, had
I done so, I should at once have endeavoured to put an end to
them. I am much flattered by the way in which you speak of me;
but I am in too humble a position to return your affection;
and can, therefore, only express a hope that you may be soon
able to eradicate it from your bosom. A letter is a very good
way of making an offer, and as such I do not think it at all
odd; but I certainly did not expect such an honour last night.
As to my raillery, I trust it has never yet hurt you. I can
assure you that it never shall. I hope you will soon have a
worthier ambition than that to which you allude; for I am well
aware that no attempt will ever make me shine anywhere.
'I am quite sure you have had no mercenary motives: such
motives in marriage are very base, and quite below your name
and lineage. Any little fortune that I may have must be a
matter of indifference to one who looks forward, as you do, to
put a coronet on his wife's brow. Nevertheless, for the sake
of the family, I trust that Lord Porlock, in spite of his
obstacles, may live to do the same for a wife of his own some
of these days. I am glad to hear that there is nothing to
interfere with your own prospects of domestic felicity.
'Sincerely hoping that you may be perfectly successful in
your proud ambition to shine in Parliament, and regretting
extremely that I cannot share that ambition with you, I beg to
subscribe myself, with very great respect,
'Your sincere well-wisher,
The Honourable George, with that modesty which so well became him,
accepted Miss Dunstable's reply as a final answer to his little
proposition, and troubled her with no further courtship. As he said to
his brother John, no harm had been done, and he might have better luck
next time. But there was an intimate of Courcy Castle who was somewhat
more pertinacious in his search after love and wealth. This was no
other than Mr Moffat: a gentleman whose ambition was not satisfied by
the cares of his Barchester contest, or the possession of one affianced
Mr Moffat was, as we have said, a man of wealth; but we all know, from
the lessons of early youth, how the love of money increases and gains
strength by its own success. Nor was he a man of so mean a spirit as
to be satisfied with mere wealth. He desired also place and station,
and gracious countenance among the great ones of the earth. Hence had
come his adherence to the De Courcys; hence his seat in Parliament; and
hence, also, his perhaps ill-considered match with Miss Gresham.
There is no doubt but that the privilege of matrimony offers
opportunities to money-loving young men which ought not to be lightly
abused. Too many young men marry without giving any consideration to
the matter whatever. It is not that they are indifferent to money, but
that they recklessly miscalculate their own value, and omit to look
around and see how much is done by those who are more careful. A man
can be young but once, and, except in cases of a special interposition
of Providence, can marry but once. The chance once thrown away may be
said to be irrevocable! How, in after-life, do men toil and turmoil
through long years to attain some prospect of doubtful advancement!
Half that trouble, half that care, a tithe of that circumspection
would, in early youth, have probably secured to them the enduring
comfort of a wife's wealth.
You will see men labouring night and day to become bank directors; and
even a bank direction may only be the road to ruin. Others will spend
years in degrading subserviency to obtain a niche in a will; and the
niche, when at last obtained and enjoyed, is but a sorry payment for
all that has been endured. Others again, struggle harder still, and go
through even deeper waters: they make wills for themselves, forge
stock-shares, and fight with unremitting, painful labour to appear to
be the thing they are not. Now, in many of these cases, all this might
have been spared had the men made adequate use of those opportunities
which youth and youthful charms afford once--and once only. There is no
road to wealth so easy and respectable as that of matrimony; that, is
of course, provided that the aspirant declines the slow course to
honest work. But then, we can so seldom put old heads on young
In the case of Mr Moffat, we may perhaps say that a specimen was
produced of this bird, so rare in the land. His shoulders were certainly
young, seeing that he was not yet six-and-twenty; but his head had ever
been old. From the moment when he was first put forth to go alone--at
the age of twenty-one--his life had been one calculation how he could
make the most of himself. He had allowed himself to be betrayed into
folly by an unguarded heart; no youthful indiscretion had marred his
prospects. He had made the most of himself. Without wit or depth, or any
mental gift--without honesty of purpose or industry for good work--he
had been for two years sitting member for Barchester; was the guest of
Lord de Courcy; was engaged to the eldest daughter of one of the best
commoners' families in England; and was, when he first began to think of
Miss Dunstable, sanguine that his re-election to Parliament was secure.
When, however, at this period he began to calculate what his position
in the world really was, it occurred to him that he was doing an
ill-judged thing in marrying Miss Gresham. Why marry a penniless
girl--for Augusta's trifle of a fortune was not a penny in his
estimation--while there was Miss Dunstable in the world to be won? His
own six or seven thousand a year, quite unembarrassed as it was, was
certainly a great thing; but what might he not do if to that he could
add the almost fabulous wealth of the great heiress? Was she not here,
put absolutely in his path? Would it not be a wilful throwing away of
a chance not to avail himself of it? He must, to be sure, lose the De
Courcy friendship; but if he should then have secured his Barchester
seat for the usual term of parliamentary session, he might be able to
spare that. He would also, perhaps, encounter some Gresham enmity:
this was a point on which he did think more than once: but what will a
man not encounter for the sake of two hundred thousand pounds?
It was thus that Mr Moffat argued with himself, with much prudence, and
brought himself to resolve that he would at any rate become the
candidate for the great prize. He also, therefore, began to say soft
things; and it must be admitted that he said them with more considerate
propriety than had the Honourable George. Mr Moffat had an idea that
Miss Dunstable was not a fool, and that in order to catch her he must
do more than endeavour to lay salt on her tail, in the guise of
flattery. It was evident to him that she was a bird of some cunning,
not to be caught by an ordinary gin, such as those commonly in use with
the Honourable Georges of Society.
It seemed to Mr Moffat, that though Miss Dunstable was so sprightly, so
full of fun, and so ready to chatter on all subjects, she well knew the
value of her own money, and of her position as dependent on it: he
perceived that she never flattered the countess, and seemed to be no
whit absorbed by the titled grandeur of her host's family. He gave her
credit, therefore, for an independent spirit: and an independent spirit
in his estimation was one that placed its sole dependence on a
respectable balance at its banker's.
Working on these ideas, Mr Moffat commenced operations in such manner
that his overtures to the heiress should not, if unsuccessful,
interfere with the Greshamsbury engagement. He began by making common
cause with Miss Dunstable: their positions in the world, he said to
her, were closely similar. They had both risen from the lower classes
by the strength of honest industry: they were both now wealthy, and had
both hitherto made such use of their wealth as to induce the highest
aristocracy in England to admit them into their circles.
'Yes, Mr Moffat,' had Miss Dunstable remarked; 'and if all that I hear
be true, to admit you into their very families.'
At this Mr Moffat slightly demurred. He would not affect, he said, to
misunderstand what Miss Dunstable meant. There had been something said
on the probability of such an event; but he begged Miss Dunstable not
to believe all that she heard on such subjects.
'I do not believe much,' said she; 'but I certainly did think that that
might be credited.'
Mr Moffat went on to show how it behoved them both, in holding out
their hands half-way to meet the aristocratic overtures that were made
to them, not to allow themselves to be made use of. The aristocracy,
according to Mr Moffat, were people of a very nice sort; the best
acquaintance in the world; a portion of mankind to be noticed by whom
should be one of the first objects in the life of the Dunstables and
the Moffats. But the Dunstables and Moffats should be very careful to
give little or nothing in return. Much, very much in return, would be
looked for. The aristocracy, said Mr Moffat, were not a people to
allow in the light of their countenance to shine forth without looking
for a quid pro quo, for some compensating value. In all their
intercourse with the Dunstables and Moffats, they would expect a
payment. It was for the Dunstables and Moffats to see that, at any
rate, they did not pay more for the article they got than its market
They way in which she, Miss Dunstable, and he, Mr Moffat, would be
required to pay would be by taking each of them some poor scion of the
aristocracy in marriage; and thus expending their hard-earned wealth in
procuring high-priced pleasures for some well-born pauper. Against
this, peculiar caution was to be used. Of course, the further
induction to be shown was this: that people so circumstanced should
marry among themselves; the Dunstables and the Moffats each with the
other and not tumble into the pitfalls prepared for them.
Whether these great lessons had any lasting effect on Miss Dunstable's
mind may be doubted. Perhaps she had already made up her mind on the
subject which Mr Moffat so well discussed. She was older than Mr
Moffat, and, in spite of his two years of parliamentary experience, had
perhaps more knowledge of the world with which she had to deal. But
she listened to what he said with complacency; understood his object as
well as she had that of his aristocratic rival; was no whit offended;
but groaned in her spirit as she thought of the wrongs of Augusta
But all this good advice, however, would not win the money for Mr
Moffat without some more decided step; and that step he soon decided on
taking, feeling assured that what he had said would have its due weight
with the heiress.
The party at Courcy Castle was now soon about to be broken up. The male
De Courcys were going down to a Scotch mountain. The female De Courcys
were to be shipped off to an Irish castle. Mr Moffat was to go up to
town to prepare his petition. Miss Dunstable was again about to start
on a foreign tour in behalf of her physician and attendants; and Frank
Gresham was at last to be allowed to go to Cambridge; that is to say,
unless his success with Miss Dunstable should render such a step on his
part quite preposterous.
'I think you may speak now, Frank,' said the countess. 'I really think
you may: you have known her now for a considerable time; and, as far as
I can judge, she is very fond of you.'
'Nonsense, aunt,' said Frank; 'she doesn't care a button for me.'
'I think differently; and lookers-on, you know, always understand the
game best. I suppose you are not afraid to ask her.'
'Afraid!' said Frank, in a tone of considerable scorn. He almost made
up his mind that he would ask her to show that he was not afraid. His
only obstacle to doing so was, that he had not the slightest intention
of marrying her.
There was to be but one other great event before the party broke up,
and that was a dinner at the Duke of Omnium's. The duke had already
declined to come to Courcy; but he had in a measure atoned for this by
asking some of the guests to join a great dinner which he was about to
give to his neighbours.
Mr Moffat was to leave Courcy Castle the day after the dinner-party,
and he therefore determined to make his great attempt on the morning of
that day. It was with some difficulty that he brought about an
opportunity; but at last he did so, and found himself alone with Miss
Dunstable in the walks of Courcy Park.
'It is a strange thing, is it not,' said he, recurring to his old view
of the same subject, 'that I should be going to dine with the Duke of
Omnium--the richest man, they say, among the whole English aristocracy?'
'Men of that kind entertain everybody, I believe, now and then,' said
Miss Dunstable, not very civilly.
'I believe they do; but I am not going as one of the everybodies. I am
going from Lord de Courcy's house with some of his own family. I have
no pride in that--not the least; I have more pride in my father's honest
industry. But it shows what money does in this country of ours.'
'Yes, indeed; money does a great deal many queer things.' In saying
this Miss Dunstable could not but think that money had done a very
queer thing in inducing Miss Gresham to fall in love with Mr Moffat.
'Yes; wealth is very powerful: here we are, Miss Dunstable, the most
honoured guests in the house.'
'Oh! I don't know about that; you may be, for you are a member of
Parliament, and all that--'
'No; not a member now, Miss Dunstable.'
'Well, you will be, and that's all the same; but I have no such title
to honour, thank God.'
They walked on in silence for a little while, for Mr Moffat hardly knew
how to manage the business he had in hand. 'It is quite delightful to
watch these people,' he said at last; 'now they accuse us of being
'Do they?' said Miss Dunstable. 'Upon my word I didn't know that
anybody ever so accused me.'
'I didn't mean you and me personally.'
'Oh! I'm glad of that.'
'But that is what the world says of persons of our class. Now it seems
to me that toadying is all on the other side. The countess here does
toady you, and so do the young ladies.'
'Do they? if so, upon my word I didn't know it. But, to tell the
truth, I don't think much of such things. I live mostly to myself, Mr
'I see that you do, and I admire you for it; but, Miss Dunstable, you
cannot always live so,' and Mr Moffat looked at her in a manner which
gave her the first intimation of his coming burst of tenderness.
'That's as may be, Mr Moffat,' said she.
He went on beating about the bush for some time--giving her to
understand now necessary it was that persons situated as they were
should live either for themselves or for each other, and that, above
all things, they should beware of falling into the mouths of voracious
aristocratic lions who go about looking for prey--till they came to a
turn in the grounds; at which Miss Dunstable declared her intention of
going in. She had walked enough, she said. As by this time Mr
Moffat's immediate intentions were becoming visible she thought it
prudent to retire. 'Don't let me take you in, Mr Moffat; but my boots
are a little damp, and Dr Easyman will never forgive me if I do not
hurry in as fast as I can.'
'Your feet damp?--I hope not: I do hope not,' said he, with a look of
the greatest solicitude.
'Oh! it's nothing to signify; but it's well to be prudent, you know.
Good morning, Mr Moffat.'
'Eh--yes!' and Miss Dunstable stopped in the grand path. 'I won't let
you return with me, Mr Moffat, because I know you were coming in so
'Miss Dunstable; I shall be leaving here to-morrow.'
'Yes; and I go myself the day after.'
'I know it. I am going to town and you are going abroad. It may be
long--very long--before we meet again.'
'About Easter,' said Miss Dunstable; 'that is, if the doctor doesn't
known up on the road.'
'And I had, had wish to say something before we part for so long a
time. Miss Dunstable--'
'Stop!--Mr Moffat. Let me ask you one question. I'll hear anything
that you have got to say, but on one condition: that is, that Miss
Augusta Gresham shall be by while you say it. Will you consent to
'Miss Augusta Gresham,' said he, 'has no right to listen to my private
'Has she not, Mr Moffat? then I think she should have. I, at any rate,
will not so far interfere with what I look on as her undoubted
privileges as to be a party to any secret in which she may not
'But, Miss Dunstable--'
And to tell you fairly, Mr Moffat, any secret that you do tell me, I
shall most undoubtedly repeat to her before dinner. Good morning, Mr
Moffat; my feet are certainly a little damp, and if I stay a moment
longer, Dr Easyman will put off my foreign trip for at least a week.'
And so she left him standing alone in the middle of the gravel-walk.
For a moment or two, Mr Moffat consoled himself in his misfortune by
thinking how he might avenge himself on Miss Dunstable. Soon, however,
such futile ideas left his brain. Why should he give over the chase
because the rich galleon had escaped him on this, his first cruise in
pursuit of her? Such prizes were not to be won so easily. His present
objection clearly consisted in his engagement to Miss Gresham, and in
that only. Let that engagement be at an end, notoriously and publicly
broken off, and this objection would fall to the ground. Yes; ships so
richly freighted were not to be run down in one summer morning's plain
sailing. Instead of looking for his revenge on Miss Dunstable, it
would be more prudent in him--more in keeping with his character--to
pursue his object, and overcome such difficulties as he might find his
THE DUKE OF OMNIUM
The Duke of Omnium was, as we have said, a bachelor. Not the less on
that account did he on certain rare gala days entertain the beauty of
the county in his magnificent rural seat, or the female fashion of
London in Belgrave Square; but on this occasion the dinner at Gatherum
Castle--for such was the name of his mansion--was to be confined to the
lords of the creation. It was to be one of those days on which he
collected round his board all the notables of the county, in order that
his popularity might not wane, or the established glory of his
hospitable house become dim.
On such an occasion it was not probable that Lord de Courcy would be
one of the guests. The party, indeed, who went from Courcy Castle was
not large, and consisted of the Honourable George, Mr Moffat, and Frank
Gresham. They went in a tax-cart, with a tandem horse, driven very
knowingly by George de Courcy; and the fourth seat on the back of the
vehicle was occupied by a servant, who was to look after the horses at
The Honourable George drove either well or luckily, for he reached the
duke's house in safety; but he drove very fast. Poor Miss Dunstable!
what would have been her lot had anything but good happened to that
vehicle, so richly freighted with her three lovers! They did not
quarrel as to the prize, and all reached Gatherum Castle in good-humour
with each other.
The castle was new building of white stone, lately erected at an
enormous cost by one of the first architects of the day. It was an
immense pile, and seemed to cover ground enough for a moderate-sized
town. But, nevertheless, report said that when it was completed, the
noble owner found that he had no rooms to live in; and that, on this
account, when disposed to study his own comfort, he resided in a house
of perhaps one-tenth of the size, built by his grandfather in another
Gatherum Castle would probably be called Italian in its style of
architecture; though it may, I think, be doubted whether any such
edifice, or anything like it, was ever seen in any part of Italy. It
was a vast edifice; irregular in height--or it appeared to be--having
long wings on each side too high to be passed over by the eye as mere
adjuncts to the mansion, and a portico so large as to make the house
behind it look like another building of a greater altitude. This
portico was supported by Ionic columns, and was in itself doubtless a
beautiful structure. It was approached by a flight of steps, very
broad and very grand; but, as an approach, by a flight of steps hardly
suits an Englishman's house, to the immediate entrance of which it is
necessary that his carriage should drive, there was another front door
in one of the wings which was commonly used. A carriage, however,
could on very stupendously grand occasions--the visits, for instance, of
queens and kings, and royal dukes--be brought up under the portico; as
the steps had been so constructed as to admit of a road, with a rather
stiff ascent, being made close in front of the wing up into the very
Opening from the porch was the grand hall, which extended up to the top
of the house. It was magnificent, indeed; being decorated with
many-coloured marbles, and hung round with various trophies of the
house of Omnium; banners were there, and armour; the sculptured busts
of many noble progenitors; full-length figures of marble of those who
had been especially prominent; and every monument of glory and wealth,
long years, and great achievements could bring together. If only a man
could but live in his hall and be for ever happy there! But the Duke
of Omnium could not live happily in his hall; and the fact was, that
the architect, in contriving this magnificent entrance for his own
honour and fame, had destroyed the duke's house as regards most of the
ordinary purposes of residence.
Nevertheless, Gatherum Castle is a very noble pile; and, standing as it
does an eminence, has a very fine effect when seen from many a distant
knoll and verdant-wooded hill.
At seven o'clock, Mr de Courcy and his friends got down from their drag
at the smaller door--for this was no day on which to mount up under the
portico; nor was that any suitable vehicle to have been entitled to
such honour. Frank felt some excitement a little stronger than that
usual to him at such moments, for he had never yet been in company with
the Duke of Omnium; and he rather puzzled himself to think on what
points he would talk to the man who was the largest landowner in that
county in which he himself had so great an interest. He, however, made
up his mind that he would allow the duke to choose his own subjects;
merely reserving to himself the right of pointing out how deficient in
gorse covers was West Barsetshire--that being the duke's division.
They were soon divested of their coats and hats, and, without entering
on the magnificence of the great hall, were conducted through rather a
narrow passage into rather a small drawing-room--small, that is, in
proportion to the number of gentlemen there assembled. There might be
about thirty, and Frank was inclined to think that they were almost
crowded. A man came forward to greet them when their names were
announced; but our hero at once knew that he was not the duke; for this
man was fat and short, whereas the duke was thin and tall.
There was a great hubbub going on; for everybody seemed to be talking
to his neighbour; or, in default of a neighbour, to himself. It was
clear that the exalted rank of their host had put very little
constraint on his guests' tongues, for they chatted away with as much
freedom as farmers at an ordinary.
'Which is the duke?' at last Frank contrived to whisper to his cousin.
'Oh;--he's not here,' said George; 'I suppose he'll be in presently. I
believe he never shows till just before dinner.'
Frank, of course, had nothing further to say; but he already began to
feel himself a little snubbed: he thought that the duke, duke though he
was, when he asked people to dinner should be there to tell them that
he was glad to see them.
More people flashed into the room, and Frank found himself rather
closely wedged in with a stout clergyman of his acquaintance. He was
not badly off, for Mr Athill was a friend of his own, who had held a
living near Greshamsbury. Lately, however, at the lamented decease of
Dr Stanhope--who had died of apoplexy at his villa in Italy--Mr Athill
had been presented with the better preferment of Eiderdown, and had,
therefore, removed to another part of the county. He was somewhat of a
bon-vivant, and a man who thoroughly understood dinner-parties; and
with much good nature he took Frank under his special protection.
'You stick to me, Mr Gresham,' he said, 'when we go into the
dining-room. I'm an old hand at the duke's dinners, and know how to
make a friend comfortable as well as myself.'
'But why doesn't the duke come in?' demanded Frank.
'He'll be here as soon as dinner is ready,' said Mr Athill. 'Or,
rather, the dinner will be ready as soon as he is here. I don't care,
therefore, how soon he comes.'
He was beginning to be impatient, for the room was now nearly full, and
it seemed evident that no other guests were coming; when suddenly a
bell rang, and a gong was sounded, and at the same instant a door that
had not yet been used flew open, and a very plainly dressed, plain,
tall man entered the room. Frank at once knew that he was at last in
the presence of the Duke of Omnium.
But his grace, late as he was in commencing the duties as host, seemed
in no hurry to make up for lost time. He quietly stood on the rug,
with his back to the empty grate, and spoke one or two words in a very
low voice to one or two gentlemen who stood nearest to him. The crowd,
in the meanwhile, became suddenly silent. Frank, when he found that
the duke did not come and speak to him, felt that he ought to go and
speak to the duke; but no one else did so, and when he whispered his
surprise to Mr Athill, that gentleman told him that this was the duke's
practice on all such occasions.
'Fothergill,' said the duke--and it was the only word he had yet spoken
out loud--'I believe we are ready for dinner.' Now Mr Fothergill was
the duke's land-agent, and he it was who had greeted Frank and his
friends at their entrance.
Immediately the gong was again sounded, and another door leading out of
the drawing-room into the dining-room was opened. The duke led the
way, and then the guests followed. 'Stick close to me, Mr Gresham,'
said Athill, 'we'll get about the middle of the table, where we shall
be cosy--and on the other side of the room, out of this dreadful
draught--I know the place well, Mr Gresham; stick to me.'
Mr Athill, who was a pleasant, chatty companion, had hardly seated
himself, and was talking to Frank as quickly as he could, when Mr
Fothergill, who sat at the bottom of the table, asked him to say
grace. It seemed to be quite out of the question that the duke should
take any trouble over his guests whatever. Mr Athill consequently
dropped the word he was speaking, and uttered a prayer--if it was a
prayer--that they might all have grateful hearts for which God was about
to give them.
If it was a prayer! As far as my own experience goes, such utterances
are seldom prayers, seldom can be prayers. And if not prayers, what
then? To me it is unintelligible that the full tide of glibbest chatter
can be stopped at a moment in the midst of profuse good living, and the
Given thanked becomingly in words of heartfelt praise. Setting aside
for the moment what one daily hears and sees, may not one declare that
a change so sudden is not within the compass of the human mind? But
then, to such reasoning one cannot but add what one does hear and see;
one cannot but judge of the ceremony by the manner in which one sees it
performed--uttered, that is--and listened to. Clergymen there are--one
meets them now and then--who endeavour to give to the dinner-table
grace some of the solemnity of a church ritual, and what is the
effect? Much the same as though one were to be interrupted for a
minute in the midst of one of our church liturgies to hear a
And it will be argued, that a man need be less thankful because, at the
moment of receiving, he utters not thanksgiving? or will it be
thought that a man is made thankful because what is called a grace is
uttered after dinner? It can hardly be imagined that any one will so
argue, or so think.
Dinner-graces are, probably, the last remaining relic of certain daily
services which the Church in olden days enjoined: nones, complines, and
vespers were others. Of the nones and complines we have happily got
quit; and it might be well if we could get rid of the dinner-grace
also. Let any man ask himself whether, on his own part, they are acts
of prayer and thanksgiving--and if not that, what then? It is, I know,
alleged that graces are said before dinner, because our Saviour uttered
a blessing before his last supper. I cannot say that the idea of such
analogy is pleasing to me.
When the large party entered the dining-room one or two gentlemen might
be seen to come in from some other door and set themselves at the table
near to the duke's chair. These were guests of his own, who were
staying in the house, his particular friends, the men with whom he
lived: the others were strangers whom he fed, perhaps once a year, in
order that his name might be known in the land as that of one who
distributed food and wine hospitably through the county. The food and
wine, the attendance also, and the view of the vast repository of plate
he vouchsafed willingly to his county neighbours;--but it was beyond his
good nature to talk to them. To judge by the present appearance of
most of them, they were quite as well satisfied to be left alone.
Frank was altogether a stranger there, but Mr Athill knew every one at
'That's Apjohn,' said he: 'don't you know, Mr Apjohn, the attorney from
Barchester? he's always here; he does some of Fothergill's law
business, and makes himself useful. If any fellow knows the value of a
good dinner, he does. You'll see that the duke's hospitality will not
be thrown away on him.'
'It's very much thrown away on me, I know,' said Frank, who could not
at all put up with the idea of sitting down to dinner without having
been spoken to by his host.
'Oh, nonsense!' said his clerical friend; 'you'll enjoy yourself
amazingly by and by. There is not much champagne in any other house in
Barsetshire; and then the claret--' And Mr Athill pressed his lips
together, and gently shook his head, meaning to signify by the motion
that the claret of Gatherum Castle was sufficient atonement for any
penance which a man might have to go through in his mode of obtaining
'Who is that funny little man sitting there, next but one to Mr de
Courcy? I never saw such a queer fellow in my life.'
'Don't you know old Bolus? Well, I thought every one in Barsetshire
knew Bolus; you especially should do so, as he is such a dear friend of
'A dear friend of Dr Thorne?'
'Yes; he was apothecary at Scarington in the old days, before Dr
Fillgrave came into vogue. I remember when Bolus was thought to be a
very good sort of doctor.'
'Is he--is he--' whispered Frank, 'is he by way of a gentleman?'
'Ha! ha! ha! Well, I suppose we must be charitable, and say that he is
quite as good, at any rate, as many others there are here--' and Mr
Athill, as he spoke, whispered into Frank's ear, 'You see there's
Finnie here, another Barchester attorney. Now, I really think where
Finnie goes, Bolus may go too.'
'The more the merrier, I suppose,' said Frank.
'Well, something a little like that. I wonder why Thorne is not here?
I'm sure he was asked.'
'Perhaps he did not particularly wish to meet Finnie and Bolus. Do you
know, Mr Athill, I think he was quite right not to come. As for myself,
I wish I was anywhere else.'
'Ha! ha! ha! You don't know the duke's ways yet; and what's more,
you're young, you happy fellow! But Thorne should have more sense; he
ought to show himself here.'
The gormandizing was now going on at a tremendous rate. Though the
volubility of their tongues had been for a while stopped by the first
shock of the duke's presence, the guests seemed to feel no such
constraint upon their teeth. They fed, one may almost say, rabidly,
and gave their orders to the servants in an eager manner; much more
impressive than that usual at smaller parties. Mr Apjohn, who sat
immediately opposite to Frank, had, by some well-planned manoeuvre,
contrived to get before him the jowl of a salmon; but, unfortunately,
he was not for a while equally successful in the article of sauce. A
very limited portion--so at least thought Mr Apjohn--had been put on his
plate; and a servant, with a huge sauce tureen, absolutely passed
behind his back inattentive to his audible requests. Poor Mr Apjohn in
his despair turned round to arrest the man by his coat-tails; but he
was a moment too late, and all but fell backwards on the floor. As he
righted himself he muttered an anathema, and looked with a face of
anguish at his plate.
'Anything the matter, Apjohn?' said Mr Fothergill, kindly, seeing the
utter despair written on the poor man's countenance; 'can I get
anything for you?'
'The sauce!' said Mr Apjohn, in a voice that would have melted a
hermit; and as he looked at Mr Fothergill, he point at the now distant
sinner, who was dispensing his melted ambrosia at least ten heads
upwards, away from the unfortunate supplicant.
Mr Fothergill, however, knew where to look for balm for such wounds,
and in a minute or two, Mr Apjohn was employed quite to his heart's
'Well,' said Frank to his neighbour, 'it may be very well once in a
way; but I think that on the whole Dr Thorne is right.'
'My dear Mr Gresham, see the world on all sides,' said Mr Athill, who
had also been somewhat intent on the gratification of his own appetite,
though with an energy less evident than that of the gentleman
opposite. 'See the world on all sides if you have an opportunity; and,
believe me, a good dinner now and then is a very good thing.'
'Yes; but I don't like eating with hogs.'
'Whish-h! softly, softly, Mr Gresham, or you'll disturb Mr Apjohn's
digestion. Upon my word, he'll want it all before he has done. Now, I
like this kind of thing once in a way.'
'Do you?' said Frank, in a tone that was almost savage.
'Yes; indeed I do. One sees so much character. And after all, what
harm does it do?'
'My idea is that people should live with those whose society is
pleasant to them.'
'Live--yes, Mr Gresham--I agree with you there. It wouldn't do for me
to live with the Duke of Omnium; I shouldn't understand, or probably
approve, his ways. Nor should I, perhaps, much like the constant
presence of Mr Apjohn. But now and then--once in a year or so--I do own
I like to see them both. Here's the cup; now, whatever you do, Mr
Gresham, don't pass the cup without tasting it.'
And so the dinner passed on, slowly enough as Frank thought, but all
too quickly for Mr Apjohn. It passed away, and the wine came
circulating freely. The tongues again were loosed, the teeth being
released from their labours, and under the influence of the claret the
duke's presence was forgotten.
But very speedily the coffee was brought. 'This will soon be over
now,' said Frank, to himself, thankfully; for, though he be no means
despised good claret, he had lost his temper too completely to enjoy it
at the present moment. But he was much mistaken; the farce as yet was
only at its commencement. The duke took his cup of coffee, and so did
the few friends who sat close to him; but the beverage did not seem to
be in great request with the majority of the guests. When the duke had
taken his modicum, he rose up and silently retired, saying no word and
making no sign. And then the farce commenced.
'Now, gentlemen,' said Mr Fothergill, cheerily, 'we are all right.
Apjohn, is there claret there? Mr Bolus, I know you stick to the
Madeira; you are quite right, for there isn't too much of it left, and
my belief is there'll never be more like it.'
And so the duke's hospitality went on, and the duke's guests drank
merrily for the next two hours.
'Shan't we see any more of him?' asked Frank.
'Any more of whom?' said Mr Athill.
'Of the duke?'
'Oh, no; you'll see no more of him. He always goes when the coffee
comes. It's brought in as an excuse. We've had enough of the light of
his countenance to last till next year. The duke and I are excellent
friends; and have been so these fifteen years; but I never see more of
him than that.'
'I shall go away,' said Frank.
'Nonsense. Mr de Courcy and your other friend won't stir for this hour
'I don't care. I shall walk on, and they may catch me. I may be
wrong; but it seems to me that a man insults me when he asks me to dine
with him and never speaks to me. I don't care if he be ten times Duke
of Omnium; he can't be more than a gentleman, and as such I am his
equal.' And then, having thus given vent to his feelings in somewhat
high-flown language, he walked forth and trudged away along the road
Frank Gresham had been born and bred a Conservative, whereas the Duke
of Omnium was well known as a consistent Whig. There is no one so
devoutly resolved to admit of no superior as your Conservative, born
and bred, no one so inclined to high domestic despotism as your
thoroughgoing consistent old Whig.
When he had proceeded about six miles, Frank was picked up by his
friends; but even then his anger had hardly cooled.
'Was the duke as civil as ever when you took your leave of him?' said
he to his cousin George, as he took his seat on the drag.
'The juke was jeuced jude wine--lem me tell you that, old fella,'
hiccupped out the Honourable George, as he touched up the leader under
And now the departure from Courcy Castle came rapidly one after the
other, and there remained but one more evening before Miss Dunstable's
carriage was to be packed. The countess, in the early moments of
Frank's courtship, had controlled his ardour and checked the rapidity
of his amorous professions; but as days, and at last weeks, wore away,
she found that it was necessary to stir the fire which she had before
endeavoured to slacken.
'There will be nobody here to-night but our own circle,' said she to
him, 'and I really think you should tell Miss Dunstable what your
intentions are. She will have fair ground to complain of you if you
Frank began to feel that he was in a dilemma. He had commenced making
love to Miss Dunstable partly because he liked the amusement, and
partly from a satirical propensity to quiz his aunt by appearing to
fall into her scheme. But he had overshot the mark, and did not know
what answer to give when he was thus called upon to make a downright
proposal. And then, although he did not care two rushes about Miss
Dunstable in the way of love, he nevertheless experienced a sort of
jealousy when he found that she appeared to be indifferent to him, and
that she corresponded the meanwhile with his cousin George. Though all
their flirtations had been carried on on both sides palpably by way of
fun, though Frank had told himself ten times a day that his heart was
true to Mary Thorne, yet he had an undefined feeling that it behoved
Miss Dunstable to be a little in love with him. He was not quite at
ease in that she was not a little melancholy now that his departure was
so nigh; and, above all, he was anxious to know what were the real
facts about that letter. He had in his own breast threatened Miss
Dunstable with a heartache; and now, when the time for their separation
came, he found that his own heart was the more likely to ache of the
'I suppose I must say something to her, or my aunt will never be
satisfied,' said he to himself as he sauntered into the little
drawing-room on that last evening. But at the very time he was ashamed
of himself, for he knew he was going to ask badly.