Part 1 out of 10
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TALES AND NOVELS
"Are you to be at Lady Clonbrony's gala next week?" said Lady Langdale
to Mrs. Dareville, whilst they were waiting for their carriages in the
crush-room of the opera-house.
"Oh, yes! every body's to be there, I hear," replied Mrs. Dareville.
"Your ladyship, of course?"
"Why, I don't know; if I possibly can. Lady Clonbrony makes it such
a point with me, that I believe I must look in upon her for a few
minutes. They are going to a prodigious expense on this occasion. Soho
tells me the reception rooms are all to be new furnished, and in the
most magnificent style."
"At what a famous rate those Clonbronies are dashing on," said colonel
Heathcock. "Up to any thing."
"Who are they?--these Clonbronies, that one hears of so much of
late?" said her grace of Torcaster. "Irish absentees, I know. But
how do they support all this enormous expense?" "The son _will_ have
a prodigiously fine estate when some Mr. Quin dies," said Mrs.
"Yes, every body who comes from Ireland _will_ have a fine estate when
somebody dies," said her grace. "But what have they at present?"
"Twenty thousand a year, they say," replied Mrs. Dareville.
"Ten thousand, I believe," cried Lady Langdale.
"Ten thousand, have they?--possibly," said her grace. "I know nothing
about them--have no acquaintance among the Irish. Torcaster knows
something of Lady Clonbrony; she has fastened herself by some means
upon him; but I charge him not to _commit_ me. Positively, I could not
for any body, and much less for that sort of person, extend the circle
of my acquaintance."
"Now that is so cruel of your grace," said Mrs. Dareville, laughing,
"when poor Lady Clonbrony works so hard, and pays so high to get into
"If you knew all she endures, to look, speak, move, breathe, like an
Englishwoman, you would pity her," said Lady Langdale.
"Yes, and you _cawnt_ conceive the _peens_ she _teekes_ to talk of the
_teebles_ and _cheers_, and to thank Q, and with so much _teeste_ to
speak pure English," said Mrs. Dareville.
"Pure cockney, you mean," said Lady Langdale.
"But does Lady Clonbrony expect to pass for English?" said the
"Oh, yes! because she is not quite Irish _bred and born_--only bred,
not born," said Mrs. Dareville. "And she could not be five minutes
in your grace's company, before she would tell you that she was
_Henglish_, born in _Hoxfordshire_."
"She must be a vastly amusing personage--I should like to meet her
if one could see and hear her incog.," said the duchess. "And Lord
Clonbrony, what is he?"
"Nothing, nobody," said Mrs. Dareville: "one never even hears of him."
"A tribe of daughters, too, I suppose?"
"No, no," said Lady Langdale; "daughters would be past all endurance."
"There's a cousin, though, a Miss Nugent," said Mrs. Dareville, "that
Lady Clonbrony has with her."
"Best part of her, too," said Colonel Heathcock--"d----d fine
girl!--never saw her look better than at the opera to-night!"
"Fine _complexion_! as Lady Clonbrony says, when she means a high
colour," said Lady Langdale.
"Miss Nugent is not a lady's beauty," said Mrs. Dareville. "Has she
any fortune, colonel?"
"'Pon honour, don't know," said the colonel.
"There's a son, somewhere, is not there?" said Lady Langdale.
"Don't know, 'pon honour," replied the colonel.
"Yes--at Cambridge--not of age yet," said Mrs. Dareville. "Bless me!
here is Lady Clonbrony come back. I thought she was gone half an hour
"Mamma," whispered one of Lady Langdale's daughters, leaning between
her mother and Mrs. Dareville, "who is that gentleman that passed us
"Towards the door.--There now, mamma, you can see him. He is speaking
to Lady Clonbrony--to Miss Nugent--now Lady Clonbrony is introducing
him to Miss Broadhurst."
"I see him now," said Lady Langdale, examining him through her glass;
"a very gentlemanlike looking young man indeed."
"Not an Irishman, I am sure, by his manner," said her grace.
"Heathcock!" said Lady Langdale, "who is Miss Broadhurst talking to?"
"Eh! now really--'pon honour--don't know," replied Heathcock.
"And yet he certainly looks like somebody one should know," pursued
Lady Langdale, "though I don't recollect seeing him any where before."
"Really now!" was all the satisfaction she could gain from the
insensible, immovable colonel. However, her ladyship, after sending
a whisper along the line, gained the desired information, that the
young gentleman was Lord Colambre, son, only son, of Lord and Lady
Clonbrony--that he was just come from Cambridge--that he was not yet
of age--that he would be of age within a year; that he would then,
after the death of somebody, come into possession of a fine estate
by the mother's side; "and therefore, Cat'rine, my dear," said she,
turning round to the daughter who had first pointed him out, "you
understand we should never talk about other people's affairs."
"No, mamma, never. I hope to goodness, mamma, Lord Colambre did not
hear what you and Mrs. Dareville were saying!"
"How could he, child?--He was quite at the other end of the world."
"I beg your pardon, ma'am--he was at my elbow, close behind us; but I
never thought about him till I heard somebody say 'my lord--'"
"Good heavens!--I hope he didn't hear."
"But, for my part, I said nothing," cried Lady Langdale.
"And for my part, I said nothing but what every body knows," cried
"And for my part, I am guilty only of hearing," said the duchess. "Do,
pray, Colonel Heathcock, have the goodness to see what my people are
about, and what chance we have of getting away to-night."
"The Duchess of Torcaster's carriage stops the way!"--a joyful sound
to Colonel Heathcock and to her grace, and not less agreeable, at this
instant, to Lady Langdale, who, the moment she was disembarrassed
of the duchess, pressed through the crowd to Lady Clonbrony, and
addressing her with smiles and complacency, was charmed to have a
little moment to speak to her--could _not_ sooner get through the
crowd--would certainly do herself the honour to be at her ladyship's
gala. While Lady Langdale spoke, she never seemed to see or think of
any body but Lady Clonbrony, though, all the time, she was intent upon
every motion of Lord Colambre; and whilst she was obliged to listen
with a face of sympathy to a long complaint of Lady Clonbrony's,
about Mr. Soho's want of taste in ottomans, she was vexed to perceive
that his lordship showed no desire to be introduced to her or to
her daughters; but, on the contrary, was standing talking to Miss
Nugent. His mother, at the end of her speech, looked round for
"Colambre"--called him twice before he heard--introduced him to Lady
Langdale, and to Lady Cat'rine, and Lady Anne ----, and to Mrs.
Dareville; to all of whom he bowed with an air of proud coldness,
which gave them reason to regret that their remarks upon his mother
and his family had not been made _sotto voce_.
"Lady Langdale's carriage stops the way!" Lord Colambre made no offer
of his services, notwithstanding a look from his mother. Incapable of
the meanness of voluntarily listening to a conversation not intended
for him to hear, he had, however, been compelled, by the pressure
of the crowd, to remain a few minutes stationary, where he could not
avoid hearing the remarks of the fashionable friends: disdaining
dissimulation, he made no attempt to conceal his displeasure. Perhaps
his vexation was increased by his consciousness that there was some
mixture of truth in their sarcasms. He was sensible that his mother,
in some points--her manners, for instance--was obvious to ridicule and
satire. In Lady Clonbrony's address there was a mixture of constraint,
affectation, and indecision, unusual in a person of her birth, rank,
and knowledge of the world. A natural and unnatural manner seemed
struggling in all her gestures, and in every syllable that she
articulated--a naturally free, familiar, good-natured, precipitate,
Irish manner, had been schooled, and schooled late in life, into a
sober, cold, still, stiff deportment, which she mistook for English.
A strong Hibernian accent she had, with infinite difficulty, changed
into an English tone. Mistaking reverse of wrong for right, she
caricatured the English pronunciation; and the extraordinary precision
of her London phraseology betrayed her not to be a Londoner, as the
man who strove to pass for an Athenian was detected by his Attic
dialect. Not aware of her real danger, Lady Clonbrony was, on the
opposite side, in continual apprehension every time she opened her
lips, lest some treacherous _a_ or _e_, some strong _r_, some puzzling
aspirate or non-aspirate, some unguarded note, interrogative, or
expostulatory, should betray her to be an Irishwoman. Mrs. Dareville
had, in her mimicry, perhaps, a little exaggerated, as to the
_teebles_ and _cheers_, but still the general likeness of the
representation of Lady Clonbrony was strong enough to strike and vex
her son. He had now, for the first time, an opportunity of judging of
the estimation in which his mother and his family were held by certain
leaders of the ton, of whom, in her letters, she had spoken so much,
and into whose society, or rather into whose parties, she had been
admitted. He saw that the renegado cowardice with which she denied,
abjured, and reviled her own country, gained nothing but ridicule and
contempt. He loved his mother; and, whilst he endeavoured to conceal
her faults and foibles as much as possible from his own heart, he
could not endure those who dragged them to light and ridicule. The
next morning, the first thing that occurred to Lord Colambre's
remembrance, when he awoke, was the sound of the contemptuous emphasis
which had been laid on the words IRISH ABSENTEES!--This led to
recollections of his native country, to comparisons of past and
present scenes, to future plans of life. Young and careless as he
seemed, Lord Colambre was capable of serious reflection. Of naturally
quick and strong capacity, ardent affections, impetuous temper, the
early years of his childhood passed at his father's castle in Ireland,
where, from the lowest servant to the well-dressed dependent of the
family, every body had conspired to wait upon, to fondle, to flatter,
to worship, this darling of their lord. Yet he was not spoiled--not
rendered selfish; for in the midst of this flattery and servility,
some strokes of genuine generous affection had gone home to his little
heart: and though unqualified submission had increased the natural
impetuosity of his temper, and though visions of his future grandeur
had touched his infant thought, yet, fortunately, before he acquired
any fixed habits of insolence or tyranny, he was carried far away
from all that were bound or willing to submit to his commands, far
away from all signs of hereditary grandeur--plunged into one of our
great public schools--into a new world. Forced to struggle, mind and
body, with his equals, his rivals, the little lord became a spirited
school-boy, and in time, a man. Fortunately for him, science and
literature happened to be the fashion among a set of clever young
men with whom he was at Cambridge. His ambition for intellectual
superiority was raised, his views were enlarged, his tastes and
his manners formed. The sobriety of English good sense mixed most
advantageously with Irish vivacity: English prudence governed, but did
not extinguish, his Irish enthusiasm. But, in fact, English and Irish
had not been invidiously contrasted in his mind: he had been so long
resident in England, and so intimately connected with Englishmen, that
he was not obvious to any of the commonplace ridicule thrown upon
Hibernians; and he had lived with men who were too well informed and
liberal to misjudge or depreciate a sister country. He had found, from
experience, that, however reserved the English may be in manner, they
are warm at heart; that, however averse they may be from forming new
acquaintance, their esteem and confidence once gained, they make the
most solid friends. He had formed friendships in England; he was fully
sensible of the superior comforts, refinement, and information, of
English society; but his own country was endeared to him by early
association, and a sense of duty and patriotism attached him to
Ireland.--"And shall I too be an absentee?" was a question which
resulted from these reflections--a question which he was not yet
prepared to answer decidedly.
In the mean time, the first business of the morning was to execute
a commission for a Cambridge friend. Mr. Berryl had bought from Mr.
Mordicai, a famous London coachmaker, a curricle, _warranted sound_,
for which he had paid a sound price, upon express condition that Mr.
Mordicai should be answerable for all repairs of the curricle for six
months. In three, both the carriage and body were found to be good for
nothing--the curricle had been returned to Mordicai--nothing had since
been heard of it, or from him; and Lord Colambre had undertaken to pay
him and it a visit, and to make all proper inquiries. Accordingly,
he went to the coachmaker's; and, obtaining no satisfaction from the
underlings, desired to see the head of the house. He was answered
that Mr. Mordicai was not at home. His lordship had never seen Mr.
Mordicai; but just then he saw, walking across the yard, a man who
looked something like a Bond-street coxcomb, but not the least like a
gentleman, who called, in the tone of a master, for "Mr. Mordicai's
barouche!"--It appeared; and he was stepping into it, when Lord
Colambre took the liberty of stopping him; and, pointing to the wreck
of Mr. Berryl's curricle, now standing in the yard, began a statement
of his friend's grievances, and an appeal to common justice and
conscience, which he, unknowing the nature of the man with whom he had
to deal, imagined must be irresistible. Mr. Mordicai stood without
moving a muscle of his dark wooden face--indeed, in his face there
appeared to be no muscles, or none which could move; so that, though
he had what are generally called handsome features, there was,
altogether, something unnatural and shocking in his countenance. When,
at last, his eyes turned and his lips opened, this seemed to be done
by machinery, and not by the will of a living creature, or from the
impulse of a rational soul. Lord Colambre was so much struck with
this strange physiognomy, that he actually forgot much he had to say
of springs and wheels--But it was no matter--Whatever he had said, it
would have come to the same thing; and Mordicai would have answered
as he now did; "Sir, it was my partner made that bargain, not myself;
and I don't hold myself bound by it, for he is the sleeping partner
only, and not empowered to act in the way of business. Had Mr. Berryl
bargained with me, I should have told him that he should have looked
to these things before his carriage went out of our yard."
The indignation of Lord Colambre kindled at these words--but in vain:
to all that indignation could by word or look urge against Mordicai,
he replied, "May be so, sir: the law is open to your friend--the law
is open to all men, who can pay for it."
Lord Colambre turned in despair from the callous coachmaker, and
listened to one of his more compassionate-looking workmen, who was
reviewing the disabled curricle; and, whilst he was waiting to know
the sum of his friend's misfortune, a fat, jolly, Falstaff-looking
personage came into the yard, and accosted Mordicai with a degree of
familiarity which, from a gentleman, appeared to Lord Colambre to be
"How are you, Mordicai, my good fellow?" cried he, speaking with a
strong Irish accent.
"Who is this?" whispered Lord Colambre to the foreman, who was
examining the curricle.
"Sir Terence O'Fay, sir--There must be entire new wheels."
"Now tell me, my tight fellow," continued Sir Terence, holding
Mordicai fast, "when, in the name of all the saints, good or bad, in
the calendar, do you reckon to let us sport the _suicide_?"
"Will you be so good, sir, to finish making out this estimate for me?"
interrupted Lord Colambre.
Mordicai forcibly drew his mouth into what he meant for a smile, and
answered, "As soon as possible, Sir Terence." Sir Terence, in a tone
of jocose, wheedling expostulation, entreated him to have the carriage
finished _out of hand_: "Ah, now! Mordy, my precious! let us have it
by the birthday, and come and dine with us o' Monday at the Hibernian
Hotel--there's a rare one--will you?"
Mordicai accepted the invitation, and promised faithfully that the
_suicide_ should be finished by the birthday. Sir Terence shook hands
upon this promise, and, after telling a good story, which made one of
the workmen in the yard--an Irishman--grin with delight, walked off.
Mordicai, first waiting till the knight was out of hearing, called
aloud, "You grinning rascal! mind, at your peril, and don't let that
there carriage be touched, d'ye see, till farther orders."
One of Mr. Mordicai's clerks, with a huge long feathered pen behind
his ear, observed that Mr. Mordicai was right in that caution, for
that, to the best of his comprehension, Sir Terence O'Fay, and his
principal too, were over head and ears in debt.
Mordicai coolly answered, that he was well aware of that, but that the
estate could afford to dip farther; that, for his part, he was under
no apprehension; he knew how to look sharp, and to bite before he was
bit: that he knew Sir Terence and his principal were leagued together
to give the creditors _the go by_; but that, clever as they were both
at that work, he trusted he was their match.
"Immediately, sir--Sixty-nine pound four, and the perch--Let us
see--Mr. Mordicai, ask him, ask Paddy, about Sir Terence," said the
foreman, pointing back over his shoulder to the Irish workman, who
was at this moment pretending to be wondrous hard at work. However,
when Mr. Mordicai defied him to tell him any thing he did not know,
Paddy, parting with an untasted bit of tobacco, began and recounted
some of Sir Terence O'Fay's exploits in evading duns, replevying
cattle, fighting sheriffs, bribing _subs_, managing cants, tricking
_custodees_, in language so strange, and with a countenance and
gestures so full of enjoyment of the jest, that, whilst Mordicai
stood for a moment aghast with astonishment, Lord Colambre could
not help laughing, partly at, and partly with, his countryman. All
the yard were in a roar of laughter, though they did not understand
half of what they heard; but their risible muscles were acted upon
mechanically, or maliciously, merely by the sound of the Irish brogue.
Mordicai, waiting till the laugh was over, dryly observed, that "the
law is executed in another guess sort of way in England from what it
is in Ireland;" therefore, for his part, he desired nothing better
than to set his wits fairly against such _sharks_--that there was a
pleasure in doing up a debtor, which none but a creditor could know.
"In a moment, sir; if you'll have a moment's patience, sir, if you
please," said the slow foreman to Lord Colambre; "I must go down the
pounds once more, and then I'll let you have it."
"I'll tell you what, Smithfield," continued Mr. Mordicai, coming close
beside his foreman, and speaking very low, but with a voice trembling
with anger, for he was piqued by his foreman's doubts of his capacity
to cope with Sir Terence O'Fay; "I'll tell you what, Smithfield, I'll
be cursed if I don't get every inch of them into my power--you know
"You are the best judge, sir," replied the foreman; "but I would not
undertake Sir Terence; and the question is, whether the estate will
answer the _tote_ of the debts, and whether you know them all for
"I do, sir, I tell you: there's Green--there's Blancham--there's
Gray--there's Soho"--naming several more--"and, to my knowledge, Lord
"Stop, sir," cried Lord Colambre, in a voice which made Mordicai and
every body present start;--"I am his son--"
"The devil!" said Mordicai.
"God bless every bone in his body, then, he's an Irishman!" cried
Paddy; "and there was the _ra_son my heart warmed to him from the
first minute he come into the yard, though I did not know it till
"What, sir! are you my Lord Colambre?" said Mr. Mordicai, recovering,
but not clearly recovering, his intellects: "I beg pardon, but I did
not know you _was_ Lord Colambre--I thought you told me you was the
friend of Mr. Berryl."
"I do not see the incompatibility of the assertion, sir," replied Lord
Colambre, taking from the bewildered foreman's unresisting hand the
account which he had been so long _furnishing_.
"Give me leave, my lord," said Mordicai--"I beg your pardon, my lord;
perhaps we can compromise that business for your friend Mr. Berryl;
since he is your lordship's friend, perhaps we can contrive to
_compromise_ and _split the difference_."
_To compromise_, and _split the difference_, Mordicai thought were
favourite phrases, and approved Hibernian modes of doing business,
which would conciliate this young Irish nobleman, and dissipate the
proud tempest, which had gathered, and now swelled in his breast.
"No, sir, no!" cried Lord Colambre, holding firm the paper: "I want no
favour from you. I will accept of none for my friend or for myself."
"Favour! No, my lord, I should not presume to offer--But I should
wish, if you'll allow me, to do your friend justice."
Lord Colambre, recollecting that he had no right, in his pride, to
fling away his friend's money, let Mr. Mordicai look at the account;
and his impetuous temper in a few moments recovered by good sense, he
considered, that, as his person was utterly unknown to Mr. Mordicai,
no offence could have been intended to him, and that, perhaps, in what
had been said of his father's debts and distress, there might be more
truth than he was aware of. Prudently, therefore, controlling his
feelings, and commanding himself, he suffered Mr. Mordicai to show him
into a parlour to _settle_ his friend's business. In a few minutes the
account was reduced to a reasonable form, and, in consideration of the
partner's having made the bargain, by which Mr. Mordicai felt himself
influenced in honour, though not bound in law, he undertook to have
the curricle made better than new again, for Mr. Berryl, for twenty
guineas. Then came awkward apologies to Lord Colambre, which he ill
endured. "Between ourselves, my lord," continued Mordicai--
But the familiarity of the phrase. "Between ourselves"--this
implication of equality--Lord Colambre could not admit: he moved
hastily towards the door, and departed.
Full of what he had heard, and impatient to obtain farther information
respecting the state of his father's affairs, Lord Colambre hastened
home; but his father was out, and his mother was engaged with Mr.
Soho, directing, or rather being directed, how her apartments should
be fitted up for her gala. As Lord Colambre entered the room, he saw
his mother, Miss Nugent, and Mr. Soho, standing at a large table,
which was covered with rolls of paper, patterns, and drawings of
furniture: Mr. Soho was speaking in a conceited, dictatorial tone,
asserting that there was no "colour in nature for that room equal to
_the belly-o'-the fawn_;" which _belly-o'-the fawn_ he so pronounced,
that Lady Clonbrony understood it to be _la belle uniforme_, and,
under this mistake, repeated and assented to the assertion, till it
was set to rights, with condescending superiority, by the upholsterer.
This first architectural upholsterer of the age, as he styled himself,
and was universally admitted to be by all the world of fashion, then,
with full powers given to him, spoke _en maître_. The whole face of
things must be changed. There must be new hangings, new draperies, new
cornices, new candelabras, new every thing!--
"The upholsterer's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Glances from ceiling to floor, from floor to ceiling;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The form of things unknown, the upholsterer's pencil
Turns them to shape, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a NAME."
Of the value of a NAME no one could be more sensible than Mr. Soho.
"Your la'ship sees--this is merely a scratch of my pencil. Your
la'ship's sensible--just to give you an idea of the shape, the form
of the thing. You fill up your angles here with _encoinières_--round
your walls with the _Turkish tent drapery_--a fancy of my own--in
apricot cloth, or crimson velvet, suppose, or, _en flute_, in
crimson satin draperies, fanned and riched with gold fringes, _en
suite_--intermediate spaces, Apollo's head with gold rays--and here,
ma'am, you place four _chancelières_, with chimeras at the corners,
covered with blue silk and silver fringe, elegantly fanciful--with
my STATIRA CANOPY here--light blue silk draperies--aërial tint, with
silver balls--and for seats here, the SERAGLIO OTTOMANS, superfine
scarlet--your paws--griffin--golden--and golden tripods, here, with
antique cranes--and oriental alabaster tables here and there--quite
appropriate, your la'ship feels.
"And let me reflect. For the next apartment, it strikes me--as your
la'ship don't value expense--the _Alhambra hangings_--my own thought
entirely--Now, before I unrol them, Lady Clonbrony, I must beg you'll
not mention I've shown them. I give you my sacred honour, not a
soul has set eye upon the Alhambra hangings except Mrs. Dareville,
who stole a peep; I refused, absolutely refused, the Duchess of
Torcaster--but I can't refuse your la'ship--So see, ma'am--
(unrolling them)--scagliola porphyry columns supporting the grand
dome--entablature, silvered and decorated with imitative bronze
ornaments: under the entablature, a _valence in pelmets_, of puffed
scarlet silk, would have an unparalleled grand effect, seen through
the arches--with the TREBISOND TRELLICE PAPER, Would make a _tout
ensemble_, novel beyond example. On that trebisond trellice paper, I
confess, ladies, I do pique myself.
"Then, for the little room, I recommend turning it temporarily into a
Chinese pagoda, with this _Chinese pagoda paper_, with the _porcelain
border_, and josses, and jars, and beakers, to match; and I can
venture to promise one vase of pre-eminent size and beauty.--Oh,
indubitably! if your la'ship prefers it, you can have the _Egyptian
hieroglyphic paper_, with the _ibis border_ to match!--The only
objection is, one sees it every where--quite antediluvian--gone to
the hotels even; but, to be sure, if your la'ship has a fancy--at
all events, I humbly recommend, what her grace of Torcaster longs to
patronise, my MOON CURTAINS, with candlelight draperies. A demi-saison
elegance this--I hit off yesterday--and--True, your la'ship's quite
correct--out of the common completely. And, of course, you'd have
the _sphynx candelabras_, and the phoenix argands--Oh! nothing else
lights now, ma'am!--Expense!--Expense of the whole!--Impossible to
calculate here on the spot!--but nothing at all worth your ladyship's
At another moment, Lord Colambre might have been amused with all this
rhodomontade, and with the airs and voluble conceit of the orator;
but, after what he had heard at Mr. Mordicai's, this whole scene
struck him more with melancholy than with mirth. He was alarmed by the
prospect of new and unbounded expense; provoked, almost past enduring,
by the jargon and impertinence of this upholsterer; mortified and
vexed to the heart, to see his mother the dupe, the sport of such a
"Prince of puppies!--Insufferable!--My own mother!" Lord Colambre
repeated to himself, as he walked hastily up and down the room.
"Colambre, won't you let us have your judgment--your _teeste_?" said
"Excuse me, ma'am--I have no taste, no judgment in these things."
He sometimes paused, and looked at Mr. Soho, with a strong inclination
to--. But knowing that he should say too much if he said any thing, he
was silent; never dared to approach the council table--but continued
walking up and down the room, till he heard a voice which at once
arrested his attention and soothed his ire. He approached the table
instantly, and listened, whilst Miss Nugent said every thing he wished
to have said, and with all the propriety and delicacy with which he
thought he could not have spoken. He leaned on the table, and fixed
his eyes upon her--years ago he had seen his cousin--last night he had
thought her handsome, pleasing, graceful--but now he saw a new person,
or he saw her in a new light. He marked the superior intelligence,
the animation, the eloquence of her countenance, its variety, whilst
alternately, with arch raillery, or grave humour, she played off Mr.
Soho, and made him magnify the ridicule, till it was apparent even
to Lady Clonbrony. He observed the anxiety lest his mother should
expose her own foibles; he was touched by the respectful, earnest
kindness--the soft tones of persuasion with which she addressed
her--the care not to presume upon her own influence--the good sense,
the taste, she showed, yet not displaying her superiority--the
address, temper, and patience, with which she at last accomplished
her purpose, and prevented Lady Clonbrony from doing any thing
preposterously absurd, or exorbitantly extravagant.
Lord Colambre was actually sorry when the business was ended--when Mr.
Soho departed--for Miss Nugent was then silent; and it was necessary
to remove his eyes from that countenance on which he had gazed
unobserved. Beautiful and graceful, yet so unconscious was she of her
charms, that the eye of admiration could rest upon her without her
perceiving it--she seemed so intent upon others as totally to forget
herself. The whole train of Lord Colambre's thoughts was so completely
deranged, that, although he was sensible there was something of
importance he had to say to his mother, yet when Mr. Soho's departure
left him opportunity to speak, he stood silent, unable to recollect
any thing but--Grace Nugent.
When Miss Nugent left the room, after some minutes' silence, and some
effort, Lord Colambre said to his mother, "Pray, madam, do you know
any thing of Sir Terence O'Fay?"
"I!" said Lady Clonbrony, drawing up her head proudly; "I know he is a
person I cannot endure. He is no friend of mine, I can assure you--nor
any such sort of person."
"I thought it was impossible!" cried Lord Colambre, with exultation.
"I only wish your father, Colambre, could say as much," added Lady
Lord Colambre's countenance fell again; and again he was silent for
"Does my father dine at home, ma'am?"
"I suppose not; he seldom dines at home."
"Perhaps, ma'am, my father may have some cause to be uneasy about--"
"About?" said Lady Clonbrony, in a tone, and with a look of curiosity,
which convinced her son that she knew nothing of his debts or
distresses, if he had any. "About what?" repeated her ladyship.
Here was no receding, and Lord Colambre never had recourse to
"About his affairs, I was going to say, madam. But, since you know
nothing of any difficulties or embarrassments, I am persuaded that
"Nay, I _cawnt_ tell you that, Colambre. There are difficulties for
ready money, I confess, when I ask for it, which surprise me often. I
know nothing of affairs--ladies of a certain rank seldom do, you know.
But, considering your father's estate, and the fortune I brought him,"
added her ladyship, proudly, "I _cawnt_ conceive it at all. Grace
Nugent, indeed, often talks to me of embarrassments and economy; but
that, poor thing! is very natural for her, because her fortune is not
particularly large, and she has left it all, or almost all, in her
uncle and guardian's hands. I know she's often distressed for odd
money to lend me, and that makes her anxious."
"Is not Miss Nugent very much admired, ma'am, in London?"
"Of course--in the company she is in, you know, she has every
advantage. And she has a natural family air of fashion--Not but what
she would have _got on_ much better, if, when she first appeared
in Lon'on, she had taken my advice, and wrote herself on her cards
Miss de Nogent, which would have taken off the prejudice against the
_Iricism_ of Nugent, you know; and there is a Count de Nogent."
"I did not know there was any such prejudice, ma'am. There may be
among a certain set; but, I should think, not among well-informed,
"I _big_ your _pawdon_, Colambre; surely I, that was born in England,
an Henglishwoman _bawn_, must be well _infawmed_ on this _pint_, any
Lord Colambre was respectfully silent.
"Mother," resumed he, "I wonder that Miss Nugent is not married."
"That is her own fau't entirely; she has refused very good
offers--establishments that I own I think, as Lady Langdale says,
I was to blame to allow her to let pass: but young _ledies_, till
they are twenty, always think they can do better. Mr. Martingale,
of Martingale, proposed for her, but she objected to him on account
of _he'es_ being on the turf; and Mr. St. Albans' 7000_l._ a-year,
because--I _reelly_ forget what--I believe only because she did
not like him--and something about principles. Now there is Colonel
Heathcock, one of the most fashionable young men you see, always with
the Duchess of Torcaster and that set--Heathcock takes a vast deal of
notice of her, for him; and yet, I'm persuaded, she would not have him
to-morrow if he came to the _pint_, and for no reason, _reelly_ now,
that she can give me, but because she says he's a coxcomb. Grace has
a tincture of Irish pride. But, for my part, I rejoice that she is so
difficult; for I don't know what I should do without her."
"Miss Nugent is indeed--very much attached to you, mother, I am
convinced," said Lord Colambre, beginning his sentence with great
enthusiasm, and ending it with great sobriety.
"Indeed, then, she's a sweet girl, and I am very partial to her,
there's the truth," cried Lady Clonbrony, in an undisguised Irish
accent, and with her natural warm manner. But, a moment afterwards,
her features and whole form resumed their constrained stillness and
stiffness, and in her English accent she continued, "Before you put my
_idears_ out of my head, Colambre, I had something to say to you--Oh!
I know what it was--we were talking of embarrassments--and I wish
to do your father the justice to mention to you, that he has been
_uncommon liberal_ to me about this gala, and has _reelly_ given me
carte blanche; and I've a notion--indeed I know,--that it is you,
Colambre, I am to thank for this."
"Yes: did not your father give you any hint?"
"No, ma'am; I have seen my father but for half an hour since I came to
town, and in that time he said nothing to me--of his affairs."
"But what I allude to is more your affair."
"He did not speak to me of any affairs, ma'am--he spoke only of my
"Then I suppose my lord leaves it to me to open the matter to you. I
have the pleasure to tell you, that we have in view for you--and, I
think I may say, with more than the approbation of all her family--an
"Oh, my dear mother! you cannot be serious," cried Lord Colambre;
"you know I am not of years of discretion yet--I shall not think of
marrying these ten years, at least."
"Why not? Nay, my dear Colambre, don't go, I beg--I am serious, I
assure you--and, to convince you of it, I shall tell you candidly, at
once, all your father told me: that now you've done with Cambridge,
and are come to Lon'on, he agrees with me in wishing that you should
make the figure you ought to make, Colambre, as sole heir apparent to
the Clonbrony estate, and all that sort of thing; but, on the other
hand, living in Lon'on, and making you the handsome allowance you
ought to have, are, both together, more than your father can afford,
without inconvenience, he tells me."
"I assure you, mother, I shall be content--"
"No, no; you must not be content, child, and you must hear me: you
must live in a becoming style, and make a proper appearance. I
could not present you to my friends here, nor be happy, if you did
not, Colambre. Now the way is clear before you: you have birth and
title, here is fortune ready made--you will have a noble estate of
your own when old Quin dies, and you will not be any encumbrance
or inconvenience to your father or any body. Marrying an heiress
accomplishes all this at once--and the young lady is every thing we
could wish besides--you will meet again at the gala. Indeed, between
ourselves, she is the grand object of the gala--all her friends will
come _en masse_, and one should wish that they should see things in
proper style. You have seen the young lady in question, Colambre--Miss
Broadhurst--Don't you recollect the young lady I introduced you to
last night after the opera?"
"The little plain girl, covered with diamonds, who was standing beside
"In di'monds, yes--But you won't think her plain when you see more of
her--that wears off--I thought her plain, at first--I hope--"
"I hope," said Lord Colambre, "that you will not take it unkindly of
me, my dear mother, if I tell you, at once, that I have no thoughts of
marrying at present--and that I never will marry for money: marrying
an heiress is not even a new way of paying old debts--at all events,
it is one to which no distress could persuade me to have recourse; and
as I must, if I outlive old Mr. Quin, have an independent fortune,
_there is no_ occasion to purchase one by marriage."
"There is no distress that I know of in the case," cried Lady
Clonbrony. "Where is your imagination running, Colambre? But merely
for your establishment, your independence."
"Establishment, I want none--independence I do desire, and will
preserve. Assure my father, my _dear mother_, that I will not be
an expense to him--I will live within the allowance he made me at
Cambridge--I will give up half of it--I will do any thing for his
convenience--but marry for money, that I cannot do."
"Then, Colambre, you are very disobliging," said Lady Clonbrony, with
an expression of disappointment and displeasure; "for your father says
if you don't marry Miss Broadhurst, we can't live in Lon'on another
This said--which had she been at the moment mistress of herself, she
would not have betrayed--Lady Clonbrony abruptly quitted the room.
Her son stood motionless, saying to himself, "Is this my mother?--How
The next morning he seized an opportunity of speaking to his father,
whom he caught with difficulty just when he was going out, as usual,
for the day. Lord Colambre, with all the respect due to his father,
and with that affectionate manner by which he always knew how
to soften the strength of his expressions, made nearly the same
declarations of his resolution, by which his mother had been so much
surprised and offended. Lord Clonbrony seemed more embarrassed, but
not so much displeased. When Lord Colambre adverted, as delicately
as he could, to the selfishness of desiring from him the sacrifice
of liberty for life, to say nothing of his affections, merely to
enable his family to make a splendid figure in London, Lord Clonbrony
exclaimed, "That's all nonsense!--cursed nonsense! That's the way we
are obliged to state the thing to your mother, my dear boy, because I
might talk her deaf before she would understand or listen to any thing
else; but, for my own share, I don't care a rush if London was sunk in
the salt sea. Little Dublin for my money, as Sir Terence O'Fay says."
"Who is Sir Terence O'Fay, may I ask, sir?"
"Why, don't you know Terry?--Ay, you've been so long at Cambridge--I
forgot. And did you never see Terry?"
"I have seen him, sir.--I met him yesterday at Mr. Mordicai's, the
"Mordicai's!" exclaimed Lord Clonbrony, with a sudden blush, which he
endeavoured to hide, by taking snuff. "He is a damned rascal, that
Mordicai! I hope you didn't believe a word he said--nobody does that
"I am glad, sir, that you seem to know him so well, and to be upon
your guard against him," replied Lord Colambre; "for, from what I
heard of his conversation, when he was not aware who I was, I am
convinced he would do you any injury in his power."
"He shall never have me in his power, I promise him. We shall take
care of that--But what did he say?"
Lord Colambre repeated the substance of what Mordicai had said, and
Lord Clonbrony reiterated, "Damned rascal!--damned rascal!--I'll get
out of his hands--I'll have no more to do with him." But, as he spoke,
he exhibited evident symptoms of uneasiness, moving continually, and
shifting from leg to leg, like a foundered horse.
He could not bring himself positively to deny that he had debts and
difficulties; but he would by no means open the state of his affairs
to his son: "No father is called upon to do that," said he to himself;
"none but a fool would do it."
Lord Colambre, perceiving his father's embarrassment, withdrew his
eyes, respectfully refrained from all further inquiries, and simply
repeated the assurance he had made to his mother, that he would put
his family to no additional expense; and that, if it was necessary, he
would willingly give up half his allowance.
"Not at all, not at all, my dear boy," said his father: "I would
rather cramp myself than that you should be cramped, a thousand times
over. But it is all my Lady Clonbrony's nonsense. If people would but,
as they ought, stay in their own country, live on their own estates,
and kill their own mutton, money need never be wanting."
For killing their own mutton, Lord Colambre did not see the
indispensable necessity; but he rejoiced to hear his father assert
that people should reside in their own country.
"Ay," cried Lord Clonbrony, to strengthen his assertion, as he
always thought it necessary to do, by quoting some other person's
opinion--"so Sir Terence O'Fay always says, and that's the reason your
mother can't endure poor Terry--You don't know Terry? No, you have
only seen him; but, indeed, to see him is to know him; for he is the
most off-hand, good fellow in Europe."
"I don't pretend to know him yet," said Lord Colambre. "I am not so
presumptuous as to form my opinion at first sight."
"Oh, curse your modesty!" interrupted Lord Clonbrony; "you mean, you
don't pretend to like him yet; but Terry will make you like him. I
defy you not--I'll introduce you to him--him to you, I mean--most
warm-hearted, generous dog upon earth--convivial--jovial--with wit and
humour enough, in his own way, to split you--split me if he has not.
You need not cast down your eyes, Colambre. What's your objection?"
"I have made none, sir--but, if you urge me, I can only say, that, if
he has all these good qualities, it is to be regretted that he does
not look and speak a little more like a gentleman."
"A gentleman!--he is as much a gentleman as any of your formal
prigs--not the exact Cambridge cut, may be--Curse your English
education! 'twas none of my advice--I suppose you mean to take after
your mother in the notion, that nothing can be good or genteel but
"Far from it, sir; I assure you I am as warm a friend to Ireland as
your heart could wish. You will have no reason, in that respect, at
least, nor, I hope, in any other, to curse my English education--and,
if my gratitude and affection can avail, you shall never regret the
kindness and liberality with which you have, I fear, distressed
yourself to afford me the means of becoming all that a British
nobleman ought to be."
"Gad! you distress me now," said Lord Clonbrony, "and I didn't expect
it, or I wouldn't make a fool of myself this way," added he, ashamed
of his emotion, and whiffling it off. "You have an Irish heart, that I
see, which no education can spoil. But you must like Terry--I'll
give you time, as he said to me, when first he taught me to like
usquebaugh--Good morning to you."
Whilst Lady Clonbrony, in consequence of her residence in London, had
become more of a fine lady, Lord Clonbrony, since he left Ireland,
had become less of a gentleman. Lady Clonbrony, born an Englishwoman,
disclaiming and disencumbering herself of all the Irish in town, had,
by giving splendid entertainments, at an enormous expense, made her
way into a certain set of fashionable company. But Lord Clonbrony,
who was somebody in Ireland, who was a great person in Dublin, found
himself nobody in England, a mere cipher in London. Looked down upon
by the fine people with whom his lady associated, and heartily weary
of them, he retreated from them altogether, and sought entertainment
and self-complacency in society beneath him, indeed, both in rank and
education, but in which he had the satisfaction of feeling himself
the first person in company. Of these associates, the first in
talents, and in jovial profligacy, was Sir Terence O'Fay--a man of
low extraction, who had been knighted by an Irish lord-lieutenant
in some convivial frolic. No one could tell a good story, or sing a
good song, better than Sir Terence; he exaggerated his native brogue,
and his natural propensity to blunder, caring little whether the
company laughed at him or with him, provided they laughed--"Live
and laugh--laugh and live," was his motto; and certainly he lived
on laughing, as well as many better men can contrive to live on a
Lord Clonbrony brought Sir Terence home with him next day, to
introduce him to Lord Colambre; and it happened that, on this
occasion, Terence appeared to peculiar disadvantage, because, like
many other people, "Il gâtoit l'esprit qu'il avoit, en voulant avoir
celui qu'il n'avoit pas."
Having been apprised that Lord Colambre was a fine scholar, fresh from
Cambridge, and being conscious of his own deficiencies of literature,
instead of trusting to his natural talents, he summoned to his aid,
with no small effort, all the scraps of learning he had acquired in
early days, and even brought before the company all the gods and
goddesses with whom he had formed an acquaintance at school. Though
embarrassed by this unusual encumbrance of learning, he endeavoured
to make all subservient to his immediate design, of paying his court
to Lady Clonbrony, by forwarding the object she had most anxiously in
view--the match between her son and Miss Broadhurst.
"And so, Miss Nugent," said he, not daring, with all his assurance, to
address himself directly to Lady Clonbrony, "and so, Miss Nugent, you
are going to have great doings, I'm told, and a wonderful grand gala.
There's nothing in the wide world equal to being in a good handsome
crowd. No later now than the last ball at the Castle, that was before
I left Dublin, Miss Nugent, the apartments, owing to the popularity
of my lady lieutenant, was so throng--so throng--that I remember
very well, in the doorway, a lady--and a very genteel woman she was,
too--though a stranger to me, saying to me, 'Sir, your finger's in my
ear.'--'I know it, madam," says I; 'but I can't take it out till the
crowd give me elbow-room.'
"But it's the gala I'm thinking of now--I hear you are to have the
golden Venus, my Lady Clonbrony, won't you?"
This freezing monosyllable notwithstanding, Sir Terence pursued his
course fluently. "The golden Venus!--sure, Miss Nugent, you that are
so quick, can't but know I would apostrophize Miss Broadhurst that
is--but that won't be long so, I hope. My Lord Colambre, have you seen
much yet of that young lady?"
"Then I hope you won't be long so. I hear great talk now of the Venus
of Medici, and the Venus of this and that, with the Florence Venus,
and the sable Venus, and that other Venus, that's washing of her hair,
and a hundred other Venuses, some good, some bad. But, be that as it
will, my lord, trust a fool--ye may, when he tells you truth--the
golden Venus is the only one on earth that can stand, or that will
stand, through all ages and temperatures; for gold rules the court,
gold rules the camp, and men below, and heaven above."
"Heaven above!--Take care, Terry! Do you know what you are saying?"
interrupted Lord Clonbrony.
"Do I?--Don't I?" replied Terry. "Deny, if you please, my lord, that
it was for a golden pippin that the three goddesses _fit_--and that
the _Hippomenes_ was about golden apples--and did not Hercules rob a
garden for golden apples?--and did not the pious Æneas himself take a
golden branch with him to make himself welcome to his father in hell?"
said Sir Terence, winking at Lord Colambre.
"Why, Terry, you know more about books than I should have suspected,"
said Lord Clonbrony.
"Nor you would not have suspected me to have such a great acquaintance
among the goddesses neither, would you, my lord? But, apropos, before
we quit, of what material, think ye, was that same Venus's famous
girdle, now, that made roses and lilies so quickly appear? Why, what
was it but a girdle of sterling gold, I'll engage?--for gold is the
only true thing for a young man to look after in a wife."
Sir Terence paused, but no applause ensued.
"Let them talk of Cupids and darts, and the mother of the Loves and
Graces--Minerva may sing odes and _dythambrics_, or whatsoever her
wisdomship pleases. Let her sing, or let her say, she'll never get a
husband, in this world or the other, without she had a good thumping
_fortin_, and then she'd go off like wildfire."
"No, no, Terry, there you're out: Minerva has too bad a character for
learning to be a favourite with gentlemen," said Lord Clonbrony.
"Tut--Don't tell me!--I'd get her off before you could say Jack
Robinson, and thank you too, if she had 50,000_l._ down, or 1,000_l._
a-year in land. Would you have a man so d----d nice as to balk,
when house and land is agoing--a going--a going!--because of the
incumbrance of a little learning? But, after all, I never heard that
Miss Broadhurst was any thing of a learned lady."
"Miss Broadhurst!" said Miss Nugent: "how did you get round to Miss
"Oh! by the way of Tipperary," said Lord Colambre.
"I beg your pardon, my lord, it was apropos to good fortune, which,
I hope, will not be out of your way, even if you went by Tipperary.
She has, besides 100,000_l._ in the funds, a clear landed property of
10,000_l._ per annum. _Well! some people talk of morality, and some of
religion, bat give me a little snug_ PROPERTY.--But, my lord, I've a
little business to transact this morning, and must not be idling and
indulging myself here." So, bowing to the ladies, he departed.
"Really, I am glad that man is gone," said Lady Clonbrony. "What a
relief to one's ears! I am sure I wonder, my lord, how you can bear
to carry that strange creature always about with you--so vulgar as he
"He diverts me," said Lord Clonbrony; "while many of your
correct-mannered fine ladies or gentlemen put me to sleep. What
signifies what accent people speak in, that have nothing to say, hey,
Lord Colambre, from respect to his father, did not express his
opinion; but his aversion to Sir Terence O'Fay was stronger even than
his mother's, though Lady Clonbrony's detestation of him was much
increased by perceiving that his coarse hints about Miss Broadhurst
had operated against her favourite scheme.
The next morning, at breakfast, Lord Clonbrony talked of bringing Sir
Terence with him that night to her gala--she absolutely grew pale with
"Good Heavens!--Lady Langdale, Mrs. Dareville, Lady Pococke, Lady
Chatterton, Lady D----, Lady G----, His Grace of V----; what would
they think of him! And Miss Broadhurst, to see him going about with
my Lord Clonbrony!"--It could not be. No--her ladyship made the most
solemn and desperate protestation, that she would sooner give up her
gala altogether--tie up the knocker--say she was sick--rather be sick,
or be dead, than be obliged to have such a creature as Sir Terence
O'Fay at her gala.
"Have it your own way, my dear, as you have every thing else," cried
Lord Clonbrony, taking up his hat, and preparing to decamp; "but, take
notice, if you won't receive him, you need not expect me. So a good
morning to you, my Lady Clonbrony. You may find a worse friend in need
yet, than that same Sir Terence O'Fay."
"I trust I shall never be in need, my lord," replied her ladyship. "It
would be strange indeed if I were, with the fortune I brought."
"Oh, that fortune of hers!" cried Lord Clonbrony, stopping both his
ears as he ran out of his room: "shall I never hear the end of that
fortune, when I've seen the end of it long ago?"
During this matrimonial dialogue, Miss Nugent and Lord Colambre never
once looked at each other. She was very diligently trying the changes
that could be made in the positions of a china-mouse, a cat, a dog, a
cup, and a brahmin, on the mantel-piece; Lord Colambre as diligently
reading the newspaper.
"Now, my dear Colambre," said Lady Clonbrony, "put down the paper,
and listen to me. Let me entreat you not to neglect Miss Broadhurst
to-night, as I know that the family come here chiefly on your
"My dear mother, I never can neglect any one of your guests; but
I shall be careful not to show any particular attention to Miss
Broadhurst, for I never will pretend what I do not feel."
"But, my dear Colambre, Miss Broadhurst is every thing you could wish,
except being a beauty."
"Perhaps, madam," said Lord Colambre, fixing his eyes on Miss Nugent,
"you think that I can see no farther than a handsome face?"
The unconscious Grace Nugent now made a warm eulogium of Miss
Broadhurst's sense, and wit, and independence of character.
"I did not know that Miss Broadhurst was a friend of yours, Miss
"She is, I assure you, a friend of mine; and, as a proof, I will not
praise her at this moment. I will go farther still--I will promise
that I never will praise her to you till you begin to praise her to
Lord Colambre smiled, and now listened as if he wished that she should
go on speaking, even of Miss Broadhurst.
"That's my sweet Grace!" cried Lady Clonbrony. "Oh! she knows how to
manage these men--not one of them can resist her!"
Lord Colambre, for his part, did not deny the truth of this assertion.
"Grace," added Lady Clonbrony, "make him promise to do as we would
"No--promises are dangerous things to ask or to give," said Grace.
"Men and naughty children never make promises, especially promises to
be good, without longing to break them the next minute."
"Well, at least, child, persuade him, I charge you, to make my gala go
off well. That's the first thing we ought to think of now. Ring the
bell!--And all heads and hands I put in requisition for the gala."
The opening of her gala, the display of her splendid reception rooms,
the Turkish tent, the Alhambra, the pagoda, formed a proud moment
to Lady Clonbrony. Much did she enjoy, and much too naturally,
notwithstanding all her efforts to be stiff and stately, much too
naturally did she show her enjoyment of the surprise excited in some
and affected by others on their first entrance.
One young, very young lady expressed her astonishment so audibly as to
attract the notice of all the bystanders. Lady Clonbrony, delighted,
seized both her hands, shook them, and laughed heartily; then, as the
young lady with her party passed on, her ladyship recovered herself,
drew up her head, and said to the company near her, "Poor thing! I
hope I covered her little _naïveté_ properly. How NEW she must be!"
Then with well practised dignity, and half subdued self-complacency
of aspect, her ladyship went gliding about--most importantly busy,
introducing my lady _this_ to the sphynx candelabra, and my lady
_that_ to the Trebisond trellice; placing some delightfully for
the perspective of the Alhambra; establishing others quite to her
satisfaction on seraglio ottomans; and honouring others with a seat
under the Statira canopy. Receiving and answering compliments from
successive crowds of select friends, imagining herself the mirror
of fashion, and the admiration of the whole world, Lady Clonbrony
was, for her hour, as happy certainly as ever woman was in similar
Her son looked at her, and wished that this happiness could last.
Naturally inclined to sympathy, Lord Colambre reproached himself for
not feeling as gay at this instant as the occasion required. But the
festive scene, the blazing lights, the "universal hubbub," failed to
raise his spirits. As a dead weight upon them hung the remembrance
of Mordicai's denunciations; and, through the midst of this eastern
magnificence, this unbounded profusion, he thought he saw future
domestic misery and ruin to those he loved best in the world.
The only object present on which his eye rested with pleasure was
Grace Nugent. Beautiful--in elegant and dignified simplicity--
thoughtless of herself--yet with a look of thought, and with an air
of melancholy, which accorded exactly with his own feelings, and
which he believed to arise from the same reflections that had
passed in his own mind.
"Miss Broadhurst, Colambre! all the Broadhursts!" said his mother,
wakening him as she passed by to receive them as they entered.
Miss Broadhurst appeared, plainly dressed--plainly even to
singularity--without any diamonds or ornament.
"Brought Philippa to you, my dear Lady Clonbrony, this figure, rather
than not bring her at all," said puffing Mrs. Broadhurst, "and had
all the difficulty in the world to get her out at all, and now I've
promised she shall stay but half an hour. Sore throat--terrible cold
she took in the morning. I'll swear for her, she'd not have come for
any one but you."
The young lady did not seem inclined to swear, or even to say this
for herself; she stood wonderfully unconcerned and passive, with an
expression of humour lurking in her eyes, and about the corners of
her mouth; whilst Lady Clonbrony was "shocked," and "gratified,"
and "concerned," and "flattered;" and whilst every body was hoping,
and fearing, and busying themselves about her, "Miss Broadhurst,
you'd better sit here!"--"Oh, for heaven's sake! Miss Broadhurst,
not there!" "Miss Broadhurst, if you'll take my opinion," and "Miss
Broadhurst, if I may advise--."
"Grace Nugent!" cried Lady Clonbrony. "Miss Broadhurst always listens
to you. Do, my dear, persuade Miss Broadhurst to take care of herself,
and let us take her to the inner little pagoda, where she can be so
warm and so retired--the very thing for an invalid--Colambre! pioneer
the way for us, for the crowd's immense."
Lady Anne and Lady Catherine H----, Lady Langdale's daughters, were
at this time leaning on Miss Nugent's arm, and moved along with this
party to the inner pagoda. There were to be cards in one room, music
in another, dancing in a third, and in this little room there were
prints and chess-boards, &c.
"Here you will be quite to yourselves," said Lady Clonbrony; "let
me establish you comfortably in this, which I call my sanctuary--my
_snuggery_--Colambre, that little table!--Miss Broadhurst, you play
chess?--Colambre, you'll play with Miss Broadhurst--"
"I thank your ladyship," said Miss Broadhurst, "but I know nothing of
chess but the moves: Lady Catherine, you will play, and I will look
Miss Broadhurst drew her seat to the fire; Lady Catherine sat down to
play with Lord Colambre: Lady Clonbrony withdrew, again recommending
Miss Broadhurst to Grace Nugent's care. After some commonplace
conversation, Lady Anne H----, looking at the company in the adjoining
apartment, asked her sister how old Miss Somebody was who passed
by. This led to reflections upon the comparative age and youthful
appearance of several of their acquaintance, and upon the care with
which mothers concealed the age of their daughters. Glances passed
between Lady Catherine and Lady Anne.
"For my part," said Miss Broadhurst, "my mother would labour that
point of secrecy in vain for me; for I am willing to tell my age, even
if my face did not tell it for me, to all whom it may concern--I am
passed three-and-twenty--shall be four-and-twenty the fifth of next
"Three-and-twenty!--Bless me!--I thought you were not twenty!" cried
"Four-and-twenty next July!--impossible!" cried Lady Catherine.
"Very possible," said Miss Broadhurst, quite unconcerned.
"Now, Lord Colambre, would you believe it? Can you believe it?" asked
"Yes, he can," said Miss Broadhurst. "Don't you see that he believes
it as firmly as you and I do? Why should you force his lordship to pay
a compliment contrary to his better judgment, or extort a smile from
him under false pretences? I am sure he sees that you, and I trust he
perceives that I, do not think the worse of him for this."
Lord Colambre smiled now without any false pretence; and, relieved at
once from all apprehension of her joining in his mother's views, or of
her expecting particular attention from him, he became at ease with
Miss Broadhurst, showed a desire to converse with her, and listened
eagerly to what she said. He recollected that Miss Nugent had told
him, that this young lady had no common character; and, neglecting his
move at chess, he looked up at Miss Nugent, as much as to say, "_Draw
her out_, pray."
But Grace was too good a friend to comply with that request; she left
Miss Broadhurst to unfold her own character.
"It is your move, my lord," said Lady Catherine.
"I beg your ladyship's pardon--"
"Are not these rooms beautiful, Miss Broadhurst?" said Lady Catherine,
determined, if possible, to turn the conversation into a commonplace,
safe channel; for she had just felt, what most of Miss Broadhurst's
acquaintance had in their turn felt, that she had an odd way of
startling people, by setting their own secret little motives suddenly
"Are not these rooms beautiful?"
The beauty of the rooms would have answered Lady Catherine's purpose
for some time, had not Lady Anne imprudently brought the conversation
back again to Miss Broadhurst.
"Do you know, Miss Broadhurst," said she, "that if I had fifty sore
throats, I could not have refrained from my diamonds on this GALA
night; and such diamonds as you have! Now, really, I could not believe
you to be the same person we saw blazing at the opera the other
"Really! could not you, Lady Anne? That is the very thing that
entertains me. I only wish that I could lay aside my fortune
sometimes, as well as my diamonds, and see how few people would know
me then. Might not I, Grace, by the golden rule, which, next to
practice, is the best rule in the world, calculate and answer that
"I am persuaded," said Lord Colambre, "that Miss Broadhurst has
friends on whom the experiment would make no difference."
"I am convinced of it," said Miss Broadhurst; "and that is what makes
me tolerably happy, though I have the misfortune to be an heiress."
"That is the oddest speech," said Lady Anne. "Now I should so like
to be a great heiress, and to have, like you, such thousands and
thousands at command."
"And what can the thousands upon thousands do for me? Hearts, you
know, Lady Anne, are to be won only by radiant eyes. Bought hearts
your ladyship certainly would not recommend. They're such poor
things--no wear at all. Turn them which way you will, you can make
nothing of them."
"You've tried, then, have you?" said Lady Catherine.
"To my cost.--Very nearly taken in by them half a dozen times; for
they are brought to me by dozens; and they are so made up for sale,
and the people do so swear to you that it's real, real love, and it
looks so like it: and, if you stoop to examine it, you hear it pressed
upon you by such elegant oaths.--By all that's lovely!--By all my
hopes of happiness!--By your own charming self! Why, what can one do
but look like a fool, and believe? for these men, at the time, all
look so like gentlemen, that one cannot bring oneself flatly to tell
them that they are cheats and swindlers, that they are perjuring their
precious souls. Besides, to call a lover a perjured creature is to
encourage him. He would have a right to complain if you went back
"O dear! what a move was there!" cried Lady Catherine. "Miss
Broadhurst is so entertaining to-night, notwithstanding her sore
throat, that one can positively attend to nothing else. And she talks
of love and lovers too with such _connoissance de fait_--counts her
lovers by dozens, tied up in true lovers' knots!"
"Lovers!--no, no! Did I say lovers?--suitors I should have said.
There's nothing less like a lover, a true lover, than a suitor, as all
the world knows, ever since the days of Penelope. Dozens!--never had a
lover in my life!--And fear, with much reason, I never shall have one
to my mind."
"My lord, you've given up the game," cried Lady Catherine; "but you
make no battle."
"It would be so vain to combat against your ladyship," said Lord
Colambre, rising, and bowing politely to Lady Catherine, but turning
the next instant to converse with Miss Broadhurst.
"But when I talked of liking to be an heiress," said Lady Anne, "I was
not thinking of lovers."
"Certainly.--One is not always thinking of lovers, you know," added
"Not always," replied Miss Broadhurst. "Well, lovers out of the
question on all sides, what would your ladyship buy with the thousands
"Oh, every thing, if I were you," said Lady Anne.
"Rank, to begin with," said Lady Catherine.
"Still my old objection--bought rank is but a shabby thing."
"But there is so little difference made between bought and hereditary
rank in these days," said Lady Catherine.
"I see a great deal still," said Miss Broadhurst; "so much, that I
would never buy a title."
"A title, without birth, to be sure," said Lady Anne, "would not be so
well worth buying; and as birth certainly is not to be bought--"
"And even birth, were it to be bought, I would not buy," said
Miss Broadhurst, "unless I could be sure to have it with all the
politeness, all the noble sentiments, all the magnanimity, in short,
all that should grace and dignify high birth."
"Admirable!" said Lord Colambre. Grace Nugent smiled.
"Lord Colambre, will you have the goodness to put my mother in mind, I
must go away?"
"I am bound to obey, but I am very sorry for it," said his lordship.
"Are we to have any dancing to-night, I wonder?" said Lady Anne. "Miss
Nugent, I am afraid we have made Miss Broadhurst talk so much, in
spite of her hoarseness, that Lady Clonbrony will be quite angry with
us. And here she comes, Lady Catherine."
My Lady Clonbrony came to hope, to beg, that Miss Broadhurst would not
think of running away; but Miss Broadhurst could not be prevailed upon
to stay. Lady Clonbrony was delighted to see that her son assisted
Grace Nugent most carefully in _shawling_ the young heiress--his
lordship conducted her to her carriage, and his mother drew many happy
auguries from the gallantry of his manner, and from the young lady's
having stayed three quarters, instead of half an hour--a circumstance
which Lady Catherine did not fail to remark.
The dancing, which, under various pretences, Lady Clonbrony had
delayed till Lord Colambre was at liberty, began immediately after
Miss Broadhurst's departure; and the chalked mosaic pavement of the
Alhambra was, in a few minutes, effaced by the dancers' feet. How
transient are all human joys, especially those of vanity! Even on this
long meditated, this long desired, this gala night, Lady Clonbrony
found her triumph incomplete--inadequate to her expectations. For the
first hour all had been compliment, success, and smiles; presently
came the _buts_, and the hesitated objections, and the "damning
with faint praise"--all _that_ could be borne--every body has his
taste--and one person's taste is as good as another's; and while
she had Mr. Soho to cite, Lady Clonbrony thought she might be well
satisfied. But she could not be satisfied with Colonel Heathcock, who,
dressed in black, had stretched his "fashionable length of limb" under
the Statira canopy, upon the snow-white swandown couch. When, after
having monopolized attention, and been the subject of much bad wit,
about black swans and rare birds, and swans being geese and geese
being swans, the colonel condescended to rise, and, as Mrs. Dareville
said, to vacate his couch--that couch was no longer white--the black
impression of the colonel remained on the sullied snow.
"Eh, now! really didn't recollect I was in black," was all the apology
he made. Lady Clonbrony was particularly vexed that the appearance of
the Statira canopy should be spoiled before the effect had been seen
by Lady Pococke, and Lady Chatterton, and Lady G----, Lady P----, and
the Duke of V----, and a party of superlative fashionables, who had
promised _to look in upon her_, but who, late as it was, had not yet
arrived. They came in at last. But Lady Clonbrony had no reason to
regret for their sake the Statira couch. It would have been lost upon
them, as was every thing else which she had prepared with so much
pains and cost to excite their admiration. They came resolute not to
admire. Skilled in the art of making others unhappy, they just looked
round with an air of apathy.--"Ah! you've had Soho!--Soho has done
wonders for you here!--Vastly well!--Vastly well!--Soho's very clever
in his way!"
Others of great importance came in, full of some slight accident that
had happened to themselves, or their horses, or their carriages; and,
with privileged selfishness, engrossed the attention of all within
their sphere of conversation. Well, Lady Clonbrony got over all this;
and got over the history of a letter about a chimney that was on fire,
a week ago, at the Duke of V----'s old house, in Brecknockshire. In
gratitude for the smiling patience with which she listened to him,
his Grace of V---- fixed his glass to look at the Alhambra, and had
just pronounced it to be "Well!--very well!" when the Dowager Lady
Chatterton made a terrible discovery--a discovery that filled Lady
Clonbrony with astonishment and indignation--Mr. Soho had played her
false! What was her mortification, when the dowager assured her that
these identical Alhambra hangings had not only been shown by Mr. Soho
to the Duchess of Torcaster, but that her grace had had the refusal of
them, and had actually criticised them, in consequence of Sir Horace
Grant, the great traveller's objecting to some of the proportions of
the pillars--Soho had engaged to make a new set, vastly improved, by
Sir Horace's suggestions, for her Grace of Torcaster.
Now Lady Chatterton was the greatest talker extant; and she went
about the rooms telling every body of her acquaintance--and she was
acquainted with every body--how shamefully Soho had imposed upon poor
Lady Clonbrony, protesting she could not forgive the man. "For," said
she, "though the Duchess of Torcaster had been his constant customer
for ages, and his patroness, and all that, yet this does not excuse
him--and Lady Clonbrony's being a stranger, and from Ireland, makes
the thing worse." From Ireland!--that was the unkindest cut of
all--but there was no remedy.
In vain poor Lady Clonbrony followed the dowager about the rooms to
correct this mistake, and to represent, in justice to Mr. Soho, though
he had used her so ill, that he knew she was an Englishwoman. The
dowager was deaf, and no whisper could reach her ear. And when Lady
Clonbrony was obliged to bawl an explanation in her ear, the dowager
only repeated, "In justice to Mr. Soho!--No, no; he has not done
you justice, my dear Lady Clonbrony! and I'll expose him to every
body. Englishwoman!--no, no, no!--Soho could not take you for an
All who secretly envied or ridiculed Lady Clonbrony enjoyed this
scene. The Alhambra hangings, which had been in one short hour before
the admiration of the world, were now regarded by every eye with
contempt, as _cast_ hangings, and every tongue was busy declaiming
against Mr. Soho; every body declared, that from the first, the want
of proportion "struck them, but that they would not mention it till
others found it out."
People usually revenge themselves for having admired too much, by
afterwards despising and depreciating without mercy--in all great
assemblies the perception of ridicule is quickly caught, and quickly
too revealed. Lady Clonbrony, even in her own house, on her gala
night, became an object of ridicule,--decently masked, indeed, under
the appearance of condolence with her ladyship, and of indignation
against "that abominable Mr. Soho!"
Lady Langdale, who was now, for reasons of her own, upon her good
behaviour, did penance, as she said, for her former imprudence,
by abstaining even from whispered sarcasms. She looked on with
penitential gravity, said nothing herself, and endeavoured to keep
Mrs. Dareville in order; but that was no easy task. Mrs. Dareville
had no daughters, had nothing to gain from the acquaintance of my Lady
Clonbrony; and conscious that her ladyship would bear a vast deal
from her presence, rather than forego the honour of her sanction,
Mrs. Dareville, without any motives of interest, or good-nature of
sufficient power to restrain her talent and habit of ridicule, free
from hope or fear, gave full scope to all the malice of mockery, and
all the insolence of fashion. Her slings and arrows, numerous as they
were and outrageous, were directed against such petty objects, and the
mischief was so quick in its aim and its operation, that, felt but not
seen, it is scarcely possible to register the hits, or to describe the
nature of the wounds.
Some hits, sufficiently palpable, however, are recorded for the
advantage of posterity. When Lady Clonbrony led her to look at the
Chinese pagoda, the lady paused, with her foot on the threshold, as
if afraid to enter this porcelain Elysium, as she called it--Fool's
Paradise, she would have said; and, by her hesitation, and by the
half pronounced word, suggested the idea,--"None but belles without
petticoats can enter here," said she, drawing her clothes tight round
her; "fortunately, I have but two, and Lady Langdale has but one."
Prevailed upon to venture in, she walked on with prodigious care and
trepidation, affecting to be alarmed at the crowd of strange forms and
monsters by which she was surrounded.
"Not a creature here that I ever saw before in nature!--Well, now I
may boast I've been in a real Chinese pagoda!"
"Why, yes, every thing is appropriate here, I flatter my self," said
"And how good of you, my dear Lady Clonbrony, in defiance of bulls
and blunders, to allow us a comfortable English fire-place and plenty
of Newcastle coal in China!--And a white marble--no! white velvet
hearthrug painted with beautiful flowers--Oh! the delicate, the
Vexed by the emphasis on the word _useful_, Lady Clonbrony endeavoured
to turn off the attention of the company. "Lady Langdale, your
ladyship's a judge of china--this vase is an unique, I am told."
"I am told," interrupted Mrs. Dareville, "this is the very vase in
which B----, the nabob's father, who was, you know, a China captain,
smuggled his dear little Chinese wife and all her fortune out of
Canton--positively, actually put the lid on, packed her up, and sent
her off on shipboard!--True! true! upon my veracity! I'll tell you my
With this story, Mrs. Dareville drew all attention from the jar, to
Lady Clonbrony's infinite mortification.
Lady Langdale at length turned to look at a vast range of china jars.
"Ali Baba and the forty thieves!" exclaimed Mrs. Dareville: "I hope
you have boiling oil ready!"
Lady Clonbrony was obliged to laugh, and to vow that Mrs. Dareville
was uncommon pleasant to-night--"But now," said her ladyship, "let me
take you to the Turkish tent."
Having with great difficulty got the malicious wit out of the pagoda
and into the Turkish tent, Lady Clonbrony began to breathe move
freely; for here she thought she was upon safe ground:--"Every thing,
I flatter myself," said she, "is correct, and appropriate, and quite
picturesque"--The company, dispersed in happy groups, or reposing on
seraglio ottomans, drinking lemonade and sherbet--beautiful Fatimas
admiring, or being admired--"Every thing here quite correct,
appropriate, and picturesque," repeated Mrs. Dareville.
This lady's powers as a mimic were extraordinary, and she found them
irresistible. Hitherto she had imitated Lady Clonbrony's air and
accent only behind her back; but, bolder grown, she now ventured, in
spite of Lady Langdale's warning pinches, to mimic her kind hostess
before her face, and to her face. Now, whenever Lady Clonbrony saw any
thing that struck her fancy in the dress of her fashionable friends,
she had a way of hanging her head aside, and saying, with a peculiarly
sentimental drawl, "How pretty!--How elegant!--Now that quite suits
my _teeste_." this phrase, precisely in the same accent, and with the
head set to the same angle of affectation, Mrs. Dareville had the
assurance to address to her ladyship, apropos to something which she
pretended to admire in Lady Clonbrony's _costume_--a costume, which,
excessively fashionable in each of its parts, was, altogether, so
extraordinarily unbecoming, as to be fit for a print-shop. The
perception of this, added to the effect of Mrs. Dareville's mimicry,
was almost too much for Lady Langdale; she could not possibly have
stood it, but for the appearance of Miss Nugent at this instant behind
Lady Clonbrony. Grace gave one glance of indignation, which seemed
suddenly to strike Mrs. Dareville. Silence for a moment ensued, and
afterwards the tone of the conversation was changed.
"Salisbury!--explain this to me," said a lady, drawing Mr. Salisbury
aside. "If you are in the secret, do explain this to me; for unless I
had seen it, I could not have believed it. Nay, though I have seen it,
I do not believe it. How was that daring spirit laid? By what spell?"
"By the spell which superior minds always cast on inferior spirits."
"Very fine," said the lady, laughing, "but as old as the days of
Leonora de Galigai, quoted a million times. Now tell me something new
and to the purpose, and better suited to modern days."
"Well, then, since you will not allow me to talk of superior minds in
the present day, let me ask you if you have never observed that a wit,
once conquered in company by a wit of higher order, is thenceforward
in complete subjection to the conqueror; whenever and wherever they
"You would not persuade me that yonder gentle-looking girl could ever
be a match for the veteran Mrs. Dareville? She may have the wit, but
has she the courage?"
"Yes; no one has more courage, more civil courage, where her own
dignity, or the interests of her friends are concerned--I will tell
you an instance or two to-morrow."
"To-morrow!--To-night!--tell it me now."
"Not a safe place."
"The safest in the world, in such a crowd as this--Follow my example.
Take a glass of orgeat--sip from time to time, thus--speak low,
looking innocent all the while straight forward, or now and then up at
the lamps--keep on in an even tone--use no names--and you may tell any
"Well, then, when Miss Nugent first came to London, Mrs. Dareville--"
"Two names already--did not I warn ye?"
"But how can I make myself intelligible?"
"Initials--can't you use--or genealogy?--What stops you?--It is only
Lord Colambre, a very safe person, I have a notion, when the eulogium
is of Miss Nugent."
Lord Colambre, who had now performed his arduous duties as a dancer,
and had disembarrassed himself of all his partners, came into the
Turkish tent just at this moment to refresh himself, and just in time
to hear Mr. Salisbury's anecdotes.
"Now go on."
"Mrs. Dareville, you remember, some years ago, went to Ireland, with
some lady lieutenant, to whom she was related--there she was most
hospitably received by Lord and Lady Clonbrony--went to their country
house--was as intimate with Lady Clonbrony and with Miss Nugent as
possible--stayed at Clonbrony Castle for a month; and yet, when
Lady Clonbrony came to London, never took the least notice of her.
At last, meeting at the house of a common friend, Mrs. Dareville
could not avoid recognizing her ladyship; but, even then, did it in
the least civil manner and most cursory style possible--'Ho! Lady
Clonbrony!--didn't know you were in England!--When did you come?--How
long shall you stay in town?--Hope, before you leave England, your
ladyship and Miss Nugent will give us a day?'--_A day!_--Lady
Clonbrony was so astonished by this impudence of ingratitude, that she
hesitated how to _take it_; but Miss Nugent, quite coolly, and with a
smile, answered, 'A day!--Certainly--to you, who gave us a month!'"
"Admirable!--Now I comprehend perfectly why Mrs. Dareville declines
insulting Miss Nugent's friends in her presence."
Lord Colambre said nothing, but thought much. "How I wish my mother,"
thought he, "had some of Grace Nugent's proper pride! She would not
then waste her fortune, spirits, health, and life, in courting such
people as these."
He had not seen--he could not have borne to have beheld--the manner
in which his mother had been treated by some of her guests; but he
observed that she now looked harassed and vexed; and he was provoked
and mortified, by hearing her begging and beseeching some of the saucy
leaders of the ton to oblige her, to do her the favour, to do her the
honour, to stay to supper. It was just ready--actually announced. "No,
they would not, they could not; they were obliged to run away: engaged
to the Duchess of Torcaster."
"Lord Colambre, what is the matter?" said Miss Nugent, going up to
him, as he stood aloof and indignant: "Don't look so like a chafed
lion; others may perhaps read your countenance, as well as I do."
"None can read my mind so well," replied he. "Oh, my dear Grace!--"
"Supper!--Supper!" cried she: "your duty to your neighbour, your hand
to your partner."
The supper room, fitted up at great expense, with scenery to imitate
Vauxhall, opened into a superb greenhouse, lighted with coloured
lamps, a band of music at a distance--every delicacy, every luxury
that could gratify the senses, appeared in profusion. The company
ate and drank--enjoyed themselves--went away--and laughed at their
hostess. Some, indeed, who thought they had been neglected, were in
too bad humour to laugh, but abused her in sober earnest; for Lady
Clonbrony had offended half, nay, three quarters of her guests, by
what they termed her exclusive attention to those very leaders of the
ton, from whom she had suffered so much, and who had made it obvious
to all that they thought they did her too much honour in appearing
at her gala. So ended the gala for which she had lavished such sums;
for which she had laboured so indefatigably; and from which she had
expected such triumph.
"Colambre, bid the musicians stop--they are playing to empty benches,"
said Lady Clonbrony. "Grace, my dear, will you see that these lamps
are safely put out? I am so tired, so _worn out_, I must go to bed;
and I am sure I have caught cold, too. What a _nervous business_ it is
to manage these things! I wonder how one gets through it, or _why_ one
Lady Clonbrony was taken ill the day after her gala; she had caught
cold by standing, when much overheated, in a violent draught of wind,
paying her parting compliments to the Duke of V----, who thought her a
_bore_, and wished her in heaven all the time for keeping his horses
standing. Her ladyship's illness was severe and long; she was confined
to her room for some weeks by a rheumatic fever, and an inflammation
in her eyes. Every day, when Lord Colambre went to see his mother,
he found Miss Nugent in her apartment, and every hour he found fresh
reason to admire this charming girl. The affectionate tenderness, the
indefatigable patience, the strong attachment she showed for her aunt,
actually raised Lady Clonbrony in her son's opinion. He was persuaded
she must surely have some good or great qualities, or she could not
have excited such strong affection. A few foibles out of the question,
such as her love of fine people, her affectation of being English, and
other affectations too tedious to mention, Lady Clonbrony was really a
good woman, had good principles, moral and religious, and, selfishness
not immediately interfering, she was good-natured; and, though
her whole soul and attention were so completely absorbed in the
duties of acquaintanceship that she did not know it, she really had
affections--they were concentrated upon a few near relations. She was
extremely fond and extremely proud of her son. Next to her son, she
was fonder of her niece than of any other creature. She had received
Grace Nugent into her family when she was left an orphan, and deserted
by some of her other relations. She had bred her up, and had treated
her with constant kindness. This kindness and these obligations had
raised the warmest gratitude in Miss Nugent's heart; and it was the
strong principle of gratitude which rendered her capable of endurance
and exertions seemingly far above her strength. This young lady was
not of a robust appearance, though she now underwent extraordinary
fatigue. Her aunt could scarcely bear that she should leave her for
a moment: she could not close her eyes, unless Grace sat up with her
many hours every night. Night after night she bore this fatigue; and
yet, with little sleep or rest, she preserved her health, at least,
supported her spirits; and every morning when Lord Colambre came into
his mother's room, he saw Miss Nugent look as blooming as if she had
enjoyed the most refreshing sleep. The bloom was, as he observed, not
permanent; it came and went with every emotion of her feeling heart;
and he soon learned to fancy her almost as handsome when she was pale
as when she had a colour. He had thought her beautiful when he beheld
her in all the radiance of light, and with all the advantages of dress
at the gala, but he found her infinitely more lovely and interesting
now, when he saw her in a sick-room--a half-darkened chamber--where
often he could but just discern her form, or distinguish her, except
by her graceful motion as she passed, or when, but for a moment, a
window-curtain drawn aside let the sun shine upon her face, or on the
ringlets of her hair.
Much must be allowed for an inflammation in the eyes, and something
for a rheumatic fever; yet it may seem strange that Lady Clonbrony
should be so blind and deaf as neither to see nor hear all this
time; that having lived so long in the world, it should never occur
to her that it was rather imprudent to have a young lady, not
eighteen, nursing her--and such a young lady!--when her son, not
one-and-twenty--and such a son!--came to visit her daily. But, so it
was, Lady Clonbrony knew nothing of love--she had read of it, indeed,
in novels, which sometimes for fashion's sake she had looked at, and
over which she had been obliged to dose; but this was only love in
books--love in real life she had never met with--in the life she led,
how should she? She had heard of its making young people, and old
people even, do foolish things; but those were foolish people; and if
they were worse than foolish, why it was shocking, and nobody visited
them. But Lady Clonbrony had not, for her own part, the slightest
notion how people could be brought to this pass, nor how any body
out of Bedlam could prefer, to a good house, a decent equipage, and
a proper establishment, what is called love in a cottage. As to
Colambre, she had too good an opinion of his understanding--to say
nothing of his duty to his family, his pride, his rank, and his being
her son--to let such an idea cross her imagination. As to her niece;
in the first place, she was her niece, and first cousins should never
marry, because they form no new connexions to strengthen the family
interest, or raise its consequence. This doctrine her ladyship had
repeated for years so often and so dogmatically, that she conceived
it to be incontrovertible, and of as full force as any law of the
land, or as any moral or religious obligation. She would as soon have
suspected her niece of an intention of stealing her diamond necklace
as of purloining Colambre's heart, or marrying this heir of the house
Miss Nugent was so well apprized, and so thoroughly convinced of
all this, that she never for one moment allowed herself to think of
Lord Colambre as a lover. Duty, honour, and gratitude--gratitude,
the strong feeling and principle of her mind--forbade it; she had
so prepared and accustomed herself to consider him as a person with
whom she could not possibly be united, that, with perfect ease
and simplicity, she behaved towards him exactly as if he were her
brother--not in the equivocating sentimental romance style in which
ladies talk of treating men as their brothers, whom they are all the
time secretly thinking of and endeavouring to please as lovers--not
using this phrase, as a convenient pretence, a safe mode of securing
herself from suspicion or scandal, and of enjoying the advantages of
confidence and the intimacy of friendship, till the propitious moment,
when it should be time to declare or avow _the secret of the heart_.
No: this young lady was quite above all double dealing; she had no
mental reservation--no metaphysical subtleties--but, with plain,
unsophisticated morality, in good faith and simple truth, acted as she
professed, thought what she said, and was that which she seemed to be.
As soon as Lady Clonbrony was able to see any body, her niece sent to
Mrs. Broadhurst, who was very intimate with the family; she used to
come frequently, almost every evening, to sit with the invalid. Miss
Broadhurst accompanied her mother, for she did not like to go out with
any other chaperon--it was disagreeable to spend her time alone at
home, and most agreeable to spend it with her friend Miss Nugent. In
this she had no design; Miss Broadhurst had too lofty and independent
a spirit to stoop to coquetry: she thought that, in their interview
at the gala, she understood Lord Colambre, and that he understood
her--that he was not inclined to court her for her fortune--that she
would not be content with any suitor who was not a lover. She was two
or three years older than Lord Colambre, perfectly aware of her want
of beauty, yet with a just sense of her own merit, and of what was
becoming and due to the dignity of her sex. This, she trusted, was
visible in her manners, and established in Lord Colambre's mind; so
that she ran no risk of being misunderstood by him; and as to what the
rest of the world thought, she was so well used to hear weekly and
daily reports of her going to be married to fifty different people,
that she cared little for what was said on this subject. Indeed,
conscious of rectitude, and with an utter contempt for mean and
commonplace gossiping, she was, for a woman, and a young woman, rather
too disdainful of the opinion of the world. Mrs. Broadhurst, though
her daughter had fully explained herself respecting Lord Colambre,
before she began this course of visiting, yet rejoiced that even on
this footing there should be constant intercourse between them. It was
Mrs. Broadhurst's warmest wish that her daughter should obtain rank,
and connect herself with an ancient family; she was sensible that the
young lady's being older than the gentleman might be an obstacle; and
very sorry she was to find that her daughter had so imprudently, so
unnecessarily, declared her age: but still this little obstacle might
be overcome, much greater difficulties in the marriage of inferior
heiresses being every day got over, and thought nothing of. Then, as
to the young lady's own sentiments, her mother knew them better than
she did herself: she understood her daughter's pride, that she dreaded
to be made an object of bargain and sale; but Mrs. Broadhurst, who,
with all her coarseness of mind, had rather a better notion of love
matters than Lady Clonbrony, perceived, through her daughter's horror
of being offered to Lord Colambre, through her anxiety that nothing
approaching to an advance on the part of her family should be made,
that if Lord Colambre should himself advance, he would stand a better
chance of being accepted than any other of the numerous persons who
had yet aspired to the favour of this heiress. The very circumstance
of his having paid no court to her at first operated in his favour;
for it proved that he was not mercenary, and that, whatever attention
he might afterwards show, she must be sure would be sincere and
"And now, let them but see one another in this easy, intimate, kind
of way; and you will find, my dear Lady Clonbrony, things will go on
of their own accord, all the better for our--minding our cards--and
never minding any thing else. I remember, when I was young--but let
that pass--let the young people see one another, and manage their
own affairs their own way--let them be together--that's all I say.
Ask half the men you are acquainted with why they married, and
their answer, if they speak truth, will be--'because I met Miss
Such-a-one at such a place, and we were continually together.'
Propinquity!--Propinquity!--as my father used to say--And he was
married five times, and twice to heiresses."
In consequence of this plan of leaving things to themselves, every
evening Lady Clonbrony made out her own little card-table with Mrs.
Broadhurst, and a Mr. and Miss Pratt, a brother and sister, who were
the most obliging, convenient neighbours imaginable. From time to
time, as Lady Clonbrony gathered up her cards, she would direct an
inquiring glance to the group of young people at the other table;
whilst the more prudent Mrs. Broadhurst sat plump with her back to
them, pursing up her lips, and contracting her brows in token of
deep calculation, looking down impenetrable at her cards, never even
noticing Lady Clonbrony's glances, but inquiring from her partner,
"How many they were by honours?"
The young party generally consisted of Miss Broadhurst, Lord Colambre,
Miss Nugent, and her admirer, Mr. Salisbury. Mr. Salisbury was a
middle-aged gentleman, very agreeable, and well informed; he had
travelled; had seen a great deal of the world; had lived in the
best company; had acquired what is called good _tact_; was full of
anecdote, not mere gossiping anecdotes that lead to nothing, but
characteristic of national manners, of human nature in general, or
of those illustrious individuals who excite public curiosity and
interest. Miss Nugent had seen him always in large companies, where he
was admired for his sçavoir-vivre, and for his entertaining anecdotes,
but where he had no opportunity of producing any of the higher powers
of his understanding, or showing character. She found that Mr.
Salisbury appeared to her quite a different person when conversing
with Lord Colambre. Lord Colambre, with that ardent thirst for
knowledge which it is always agreeable to gratify, had an air of
openness and generosity, a frankness, a warmth of manner, which,
with good breeding, but with something beyond it and superior to its
established forms, irresistibly won the confidence and attracted the
affection of those with whom he conversed. His manners were peculiarly
agreeable to a person like Mr. Salisbury, tired of the sameness and
egotism of men of the world.
Miss Nugent had seldom till now had the advantage of hearing
much conversation on literary subjects. In the life she had been
compelled to lead she had acquired accomplishments, had exercised
her understanding upon every thing that passed before her, and from
circumstances had formed her judgment and her taste by observations
on real life; but the ample page of knowledge had never been unrolled
to her eyes. She had never had opportunities of acquiring a taste
for literature herself, but she admired it in others, particularly
in her friend Miss Broadhurst. Miss Broadhurst had received all the
advantages of education which money could procure, and had benefited
by them in a manner uncommon among those for whom they are purchased
in such abundance: she not only had had many masters, and read many
books, but had thought of what she read, and had supplied, by the
strength and energy of her own mind, what cannot be acquired by
the assistance of masters. Miss Nugent, perhaps overvaluing the
information that she did not possess, and free from all idea of
envy, looked up to her friend as to a superior being, with a sort of
enthusiastic admiration; and now, with "charmed attention," listened,
by turns, to her, to Mr. Salisbury, and to Lord Colambre, whilst they
conversed on literary subjects--listened, with a countenance so full
of intelligence, of animation, so expressive of every good and kind
affection, that the gentlemen did not always know what they were
"Pray go on," said she, once, to Mr. Salisbury: "you stop, perhaps,
from politeness to me--from compassion to my ignorance; but though I
am ignorant, you do not tire me, I assure you. Did you ever condescend
to read the Arabian Tales? Like him whose eyes were touched by the
magical application from the dervise, I am enabled at once to see the
riches of a new world--Oh! how unlike, how superior to that in which I
have lived--the GREAT world, as it is called!"
Lord Colambre brought down a beautiful edition of the Arabian Tales,
looked for the story to which Miss Nugent had alluded, and showed it
to Miss Broadhurst, who was also searching for it in another volume.
Lady Clonbrony, from her card-table, saw the young people thus
"I profess not to understand these things so well as you say you do,
my dear Mrs. Broadhurst," whispered she; "but look there now; they are
at their books! What do you expect can come of that sort of thing? So
ill bred, and downright rude of Colambre, I must give him a hint."
"No, no, for mercy's sake! my dear Lady Clonbrony, no hints, no hints,
no remarks! What would you have?--she reading, and my lord at the back
of her chair leaning over--and allowed, mind, to lean over to read the
same thing. Can't be better!--Never saw any man yet allowed to come so
near her!--Now, Lady Clonbrony, not a word, not a look, I beseech."
"Well, well!--but if they had a little music."
"My daughter's tired of music. How much do I owe your ladyship
now?--three rubbers, I think. Now, though you would not believe it of
a young girl," continued Mrs. Broadhurst, "I can assure your ladyship,
my daughter would often rather go to a book than a ball."
"Well, now, that's very extraordinary, in the style in which she has
been brought up; yet books and all that are so fashionable now, that
it's very natural," said Lady Clonbrony.
About this time, Mr. Berryl, Lord Colambre's Cambridge friend, for
whom his lordship had fought the battle of the curricle with Mordicai,
came to town. Lord Colambre introduced him to his mother, by whom he
was graciously received; for Mr. Berryl was a young gentleman of good
figure, good address, good family, heir to a good fortune, and in
every respect a fit match for Miss Nugent. Lady Clonbrony thought that
it would be wise to secure him for her niece before he should make
his appearance in the London world, where mothers and daughters would
soon make him feel his own consequence. Mr. Berryl, as Lord Colambre's
intimate friend, was admitted to the private evening parties at Lady
Clonbrony's; and he contributed to render them still more agreeable.
His information, his habits of thinking, and his views, were
all totally different from Mr. Salisbury's; and their collision
continually struck out that sparkling novelty which pleases peculiarly
in conversation. Mr. Berryl's education, disposition, and tastes,
fitted him exactly for the station which he was destined to fill in
society--that of _a country gentleman_; not meaning by that expression
a mere eating, drinking, hunting, shooting, ignorant, country squire
of the old race, which is now nearly extinct; but a cultivated,
enlightened, independent English country gentleman--the happiest,
perhaps, of human beings. On the comparative felicity of the town
and country life; on the dignity, utility, elegance, and interesting
nature of their different occupations, and general scheme of passing
their time, Mr. Berryl and Mr. Salisbury had one evening a playful,
entertaining, and, perhaps, instructive conversation; each party,
at the end, remaining, as frequently happens, of their own opinion.
It was observed, that Miss Broadhurst ably and warmly defended
Mr. Berryl's side of the question; and in their views, plans, and
estimates of life, there appeared a remarkable and, as Lord Colambre
thought, a happy coincidence. When she was at last called upon to give
her decisive judgment between a town and a country life, she declared
that if she were condemned to the extremes of either, she should
prefer a country life, as much as she should prefer Robinson Crusoe's
diary to the journal of the idle man in the Spectator.
"Lord bless me!--Mrs. Broadhurst, do you hear what your daughter is
saying?" cried Lady Clonbrony, who, from the card-table, lent an
attentive ear to all that was going forward. "Is it possible that Miss
Broadhurst, with her fortune, and pretensions, and sense, can really
be serious in saying she would be content to live in the country?"
"What's that you say, child, about living in the country?" said Mrs.
Miss Broadhurst repeated what she had said.
"Girls always think so who have lived in town," said Mrs. Broadhurst:
"they are always dreaming of sheep and sheep-hooks; but the first
winter in the country cures them: a shepherdess in winter is a sad and
sorry sort of personage, except at a masquerade."
"Colambre," said Lady Clonbrony, "I am sure Miss Broadhurst's
sentiments about town life, and all that, must delight you--For do you
know, ma'am, he is always trying to persuade me to give up living in
town? Colambre and Miss Broadhurst perfectly agree."
"Mind your cards, my dear Lady Clonbrony," interrupted Mrs.
Broadhurst, "in pity to your partner. Mr. Pratt has certainly the
patience of Job--your ladyship has revoked twice this hand."
Lady Clonbrony begged a thousand pardons, fixed her eyes, and
endeavoured to fix her mind on the cards; but there was something
said at the other end of the room, about an estate in Cambridgeshire,
which soon distracted her attention again. Mr. Pratt certainly had the
patience of Job. She revoked again, and lost the game, though they had
four by honours.
As soon as she rose from the card-table, and could speak to Mrs.
Broadhurst apart, she communicated her apprehensions. "Seriously, my
dear madam," said she, "I believe I have done very wrong to admit
Mr. Berryl just now, though it was on Grace's account I did it. But,
ma'am, I did not know Miss Broadhurst had an estate in Cambridgeshire;
their two estates just close to one another, I heard them say--Lord
bless me, ma'am! there's the danger of propinquity indeed!"