Part 2 out of 9
continued, after a pause. "I must give it up, or it'll be the ruin of
me." "It makes you say queer things," said the captain, looking
Altamont hard in the face. "Remember what you said last night at
"Say? What _did_ I say?" asked the other hastily. "Did I split any
thing? Dammy, Strong, did I split any thing?"
"Ask me no questions, and I will tell you no lies," the chevalier
replied on his part. Strong thought of the words Mr. Altamont had
used, and his abrupt departure from the baronet's dining-table and
house as soon as he recognized Major Pendennis, or Captain Beak, as he
called the major. But Strong resolved to seek an explanation of these
words otherwise than from Colonel Altamont, and did not choose to
recall them to the other's memory. "No," he said then, "you didn't
split as you call it, colonel; it was only a trap of mine to see if I
could make you speak; but you didn't say a word that any body could
comprehend--you were too far gone for that."
So much the better, Altamont thought; and heaved a great sigh, as if
relieved. Strong remarked the emotion, but took no notice, and the
other being in a communicative mood, went on speaking.
"Yes, I own to my faults," continued the colonel. "There is some
things I can't, do what I will, resist: a bottle of brandy, a box of
dice, and a beautiful woman. No man of pluck and spirit, no man as was
worth his salt ever could, as I know of. There's hardly p'raps a
country in the world in which them three ain't got me into trouble."
"Indeed?" said Strong.
"Yes, from the age of fifteen, when I ran away from home, and went
cabin-boy on board an Indiaman, till now, when I'm fifty year old,
pretty nigh, them women have always been my ruin. Why, it was one of
'em, and with such black eyes and jewels on her neck, and sattens and
ermine like a duchess, I tell you--it was one of 'em at Paris that
swept off the best part of the thousand pound as I went off. Didn't I
ever tell you of it? Well, I don't mind. At first I was very cautious,
and having such a lot of money kep it close and lived like a
gentleman--Colonel Altamont, Meurice's hotel, and that sort of thing--
never played, except at the public tables, and won more than I lost.
Well, sir, there was a chap that I saw at the hotel and the Palace
Royal too, a regular swell fellow, with white kid gloves and a tuft to
his chin, Bloundell-Bloundell his name was, as I made acquaintance
with somehow, and he asked me to dinner, and took me to Madame the
Countess de Foljambe's soirées--such a woman, Strong!--such an eye!
such a hand at the pianner. Lor bless you, she'd sit down and sing to
you, and gaze at you, until she warbled your soul out of your body
a'most. She asked me to go to her evening parties every Toosday; and
didn't I take opera-boxes and give her dinners at the restaurateurs,
that's all? But I had a run of luck at the tables, and it was not in
the dinners and opera-boxes that poor Clavering's money went. No, be
hanged to it, it was swep off in another way. One night, at the
countess's, there was several of us at supper--Mr. Bloundell-Bloundell,
the Honorable Deuceace, the Marky de la Tour de Force--all tip-top nobs,
sir, and the height of fashion, when we had supper, and champagne,
you may be sure, in plenty, and then some of that confounded brandy.
I would have it--I would go on at it--the countess mixed the tumblers
of punch for me, and we had cards as well as grog after supper, and I
played and drank until I don't know what I did. I was like I was last
night. I was taken away and put to bed somehow, and never woke until the
next day, to a roaring headache, and to see my servant, who said the
Honorable Deuceace wanted to see me, and was waiting in the sitting-room.
'How are you, colonel?' says he, a-coming into my bedroom. 'How long did
you stay last night after I went away? The play was getting too high for
me, and I'd lost enough to you for one night.'
"'To me', says I, 'how's that, my dear feller? (for though he was an
earl's son, we was as familiar as you and me). How's that, my dear
feller,' says I, and he tells me, that he had borrowed thirty louis of
me at vingt-et-un, that he gave me an I.O.U. for it the night before,
which I put into my pocket-book before he left the room. I takes out
my card-case--it was the countess as worked it for me--and there was
the I.O.U. sure enough, and he paid me thirty louis in gold down upon
the table at my bed-side. So I said he was a gentleman, and asked him
if he would like to take any thing, when my servant should get it for
him; but the Honorable Deuceace don't drink of a morning, and he went
away to some business which he said he had.
"Presently there's another ring at my outer door: and this time it's
Bloundell-Bloundell and the marky that comes in. 'Bong jour, marky,'
says I. 'Good morning--no headache,' says he. So I said I had one, and
how I must have been uncommon queer the night afore; but they both
declared I didn't show no signs of having had too much, but took my
liquor as grave as a judge.
"'So,' says the marky, 'Deuceace has been with you; we met him in the
Palais Royal as we were coming from breakfast. Has he settled with
you? Get it while you can: he's a slippery card; and as he won three
ponies of Bloundell, I recommend you to get your money while he
"'He has paid me,' says I; but I knew no more than the dead that he
owed me any thing, and don't remember a bit about lending him
The marky and Bloundell looks and smiles at each other at this; and
Bloundell says, 'Colonel, you are a queer feller. No man could have
supposed, from your manners, that you had tasted any thing stronger
than tea all night, and yet you forget things in the morning. Come,
come--tell that to the marines, my friend--we won't have it any
price.' '_En effet_' says the marky, twiddling his little black
mustaches in the chimney-glass, and making a lunge or two as he used
to do at the fencing-school. (He was a wonder at the fencing-school,
and I've seen him knock down the image fourteen times running, at
Lepage's). 'Let us speak of affairs. Colonel, you understand that
affairs of honor are best settled at once: perhaps it won't be
inconvenient to you to arrange our little matters of last night.'
"'What little matters?' says I. 'Do you owe me any money, marky?'
"'Bah!' says he; 'do not let us have any more jesting. I have your
note of hand for three hundred and forty louis. _La voici._' says he,
taking out a paper from his pocket-book.
"'And mine for two hundred and ten,' says Bloundell-Bloundell, and he
pulls out _his_ bit of paper.
"I was in such a rage of wonder at this, that I sprang out of bed, and
wrapped my dressing-gown round me. 'Are you come here to make a fool
of me?' says I. 'I don't owe you two hundred, or two thousand, or two
louis; and I won't pay you a farthing. Do you suppose you can catch me
with your notes of hand? I laugh at 'em and at you; and I believe you
to be a couple--'
"'A couple of what?' says Mr. Bloundell. 'You, of course, are aware
that we are a couple of men of honor, Colonel Altamont, and not come
here to trifle or to listen to abuse from you. You will either pay us
or we will expose you as a cheat, and chastise you as a cheat, too,'
"'_Oui, parbleu_,' says the marky, but I didn't mind him, for I could
have thrown the little fellow out of the window; but it was different
with Bloundell, he was a large man, that weighs three stone more than
me, and stands six inches higher, and I think he could have done
"'Monsieur will pay, or monsieur will give me the reason why. I
believe you're little better than a _polisson_, Colonel
Altamont,'--that was the phrase he used"--Altamont said with a
grin--and I got plenty more of this language from the two fellows,
and was in the thick of the row with them, when another of our party
came in. This was a friend of mine--a gent I had met at Boulogne, and
had taken to the countess's myself. And as he hadn't played at all on
the previous night, and had actually warned me against Bloundell and
the others, I told the story to him, and so did the other two.
"'I am very sorry,' says he. 'You would go on playing: the countess
entreated you to discontinue. These gentlemen offered repeatedly to
stop. It was you that insisted on the large stakes, not they.' In fact
he charged dead against me: and when the two others went away, he told
me how the marky would shoot me as sure as my name was--was what it
is. 'I left the countess crying, too,' said he. 'She hates these two
men; she has warned you repeatedly against them,' (which she actually
had done, and often told me never to play with them) 'and now,
colonel, I have left her in hysterics almost, lest there should be
any quarrel between you, and that confounded marky should put a bullet
through your head. It's my belief,' says my friend, 'that that woman
is distractedly in love with you.'
"'Do you think so?' says I; upon which my friend told me how she had
actually gone down on her knees to him and said, 'Save Colonel
"As soon as I was dressed, I went and called upon that lovely woman.
She gave a shriek and pretty near fainted when she saw me. She called
me Ferdinand--I'm blest if she didn't."
"I thought your name was Jack," said Strong, with a laugh; at which
the colonel blushed very much behind his dyed whiskers.
"A man may have more names than one, mayn't he, Strong?" Altamont
asked. "When I'm with a lady, I like to take a good one. She called me
by my Christian name. She cried fit to break your heart. I can't stand
seeing a woman cry--never could--not while I'm fond of her. She said
she could not bear to think of my losing so much money in her house.
Wouldn't I take her diamonds and necklaces, and pay part?
"I swore I wouldn't touch a farthing's worth of her jewelry, which
perhaps I did not think was worth a great deal, but what can a woman
do more than give you her all? That's the sort I like, and I know
there's plenty of 'em. And I told her to be easy about the money, for
I would not pay one single farthing.
"'Then they'll shoot you,' says she; 'they'll kill my Ferdinand.'"
"They'll kill my Jack wouldn't have sounded well in French," Strong
"Never mind about names," said the other, sulkily: "a man of honor may
take any name he chooses, I suppose."
"Well, go on with your story," said Strong. "She said they would kill
"'No,' says I, 'they won't: for I will not let that scamp of a marquis
send me out of the world; and if he lays a hand on me, I'll brain him,
marquis as he is.'
"At this the countess shrank back from me as if I had said something
very shocking. 'Do I understand Colonel Altamont aright?' says she:
'and that a British officer refuses to meet any person who provokes
him to the field of honor?'
"'Field of honor be hanged, countess,' says I, 'You would not have me
be a target for that little scoundrel's pistol practice.'
"'Colonel Altamont,' says the countess, 'I thought you were a man of
honor--I thought, I--but no matter. Good-by, sir.' And she was
sweeping out of the room her voice regular choking in her
"'Countess,' says I, rushing after her, and seizing her hand.
"'Leave me, Monsieur le Colonel,' says she, shaking me off, 'my father
was a general of the Grand Army. A soldier should know how to pay
_all_ his debts of honor.'
"What could I do? Every body was against me. Caroline said I had
lost the money: though I didn't remember a syllable about the
business. I had taken Deuceace's money, too; but then it was because
he offered it to me you know, and that's a different thing. Every one
of these chaps was a man of fashion and honor; and the marky and the
countess of the first families in France. And by Jove, sir, rather
than offend her, I paid the money up: five hundred and sixty gold
Napoleons, by Jove: besides three hundred which I lost when I had
"And I can't tell you at this minute whether I was done or not
concluded the colonel, musing. Sometimes I think I was: but then
Caroline was so fond of me. That woman would never have seen me done:
never, I'm sure she wouldn't: at least, if she would, I'm deceived
Any further revelations of his past life which Altamont might have
been disposed to confide to his honest comrade the chevalier, were
interrupted by a knocking at the outer door of their chambers; which,
when opened by Grady the servant, admitted no less a person than Sir
Francis Clavering into the presence of the two worthies.
"The governor, by Jove," cried Strong, regarding the arrival of his
patron with surprise. "What's brought you here?" growled Altamont,
looking sternly from under his heavy eyebrows at the baronet. "It's no
good, I warrant." And indeed, good very seldom brought Sir Francis
Clavering into that or any other place.
Whenever he came into Shepherd's Inn, it was money that brought the
unlucky baronet into those precincts: and there was commonly a
gentleman of the money-dealing world in waiting for him at Strong's
chambers, or at Campion's below; and a question of bills to negotiate
or to renew. Clavering was a man who had never looked his debts fairly
in the face, familiar as he had been with them all his life; as long
as he could renew a bill, his mind was easy regarding it; and he would
sign almost any thing for to-morrow, provided to-day could be left
unmolested. He was a man whom scarcely any amount of fortune could
have benefited permanently, and who was made to be ruined, to cheat
small tradesmen, to be the victim of astuter sharpers: to be niggardly
and reckless, and as destitute of honesty as the people who cheated
him, and a dupe, chiefly because he was too mean to be a successful
knave. He had told more lies in his time, and undergone more baseness
of stratagem in order to stave off a small debt, or to swindle a poor
creditor, than would have suffered to make a fortune for a braver
rogue. He was abject and a shuffler in the very height of his
prosperity. Had he been a crown prince, he could not have been more
weak, useless, dissolute or ungrateful. He could not move through life
except leaning on the arm of somebody: and yet he never had an agent
but he mistrusted him; and marred any plans which might be arranged
for his benefit, by secretly acting against the people whom he
employed. Strong knew Clavering, and judged him quite correctly. It
was not as friends that this pair met: but the chevalier worked for
his principal, as he would when in the army have pursued a harassing
march, or undergone his part in the danger and privations of a siege;
because it was his duty, and because he had agreed to it. "What is
it he wants," thought the two officers of the Shepherd's Inn garrison,
when the baronet came among them.
His pale face expressed extreme anger and irritation. "So, sir," he
said, addressing Altamont, "you've been at your old tricks."
"Which of 'um?" asked Altamont, with a sneer.
"You have been at the Rouge et Noir: you were there last night," cried
"How do you know--were you there?" the other said. "I was at the Club:
but it wasn't on the colors I played--ask the captain--I've been
telling him of it. It was with the bones. It was at hazard, Sir
Francis, upon my word and honor it was;" and he looked at the baronet
with a knowing, humorous mock humility, which only seemed to make the
other more angry.
"What the deuce do I care, sir, how a man like you loses his money,
and whether it is at hazard or roulette?" screamed the baronet, with a
multiplicity of oaths, and at the top of his voice. "What I will not
have, sir, is that you should use my name, or couple it with yours.
Damn him, Strong, why don't you keep him in better order? I tell you
he has gone and used my name again, sir; drawn a bill upon me, and
lost the money on the table--I can't stand it--I won't stand it. Flesh
and blood won't bear it. Do you know how much I have paid for
"This was only a very little 'un, Sir Francis--only fifteen pound,
Captain Strong, they wouldn't stand another: and it oughtn't to anger
you, governor. Why it's so trifling, I did not even mention it to
Strong,--did I now, captain? I protest it had quite slipped my
memory, and all on account of that confounded liquor I took."
"Liquor or no liquor, sir, it is no business of mine. I don't care
what you drink, or where you drink it--only it shan't be in my house.
And I will not have you breaking into my house of a night, and a
fellow like you intruding himself on my company: how dared you show
yourself in Grosvenor-place last night, sir--and--and what do you
suppose my friends must think of me when they see a man of your sort
walking into my dining-room uninvited, and drunk, and calling for
liquor as if you were the master of the house.
"They'll think you know some very queer sort of people, I dare say,"
Altamont said with impenetrable good-humor. "Look here, baronet, I
apologize; on my honor, I do, and ain't an apology enough between two
gentlemen? It was a strong measure I own, walking into your cuddy, and
calling for drink, as if I was the captain: but I had had too much
before, you see, that's why I wanted some more; nothing can be more
simple--and it was because they wouldn't give me no more money upon
your name at the Black and Red, that I thought I would come down and
speak to you about it. To refuse me was nothing: but to refuse a bill
drawn on you that have been such a friend to the shop, and are a
baronet, and a member of parliament, and a gentleman, and no
mistake--Damme, it's ungrateful." "By heavens, if ever you do it
again. If ever you dare to show yourself in my house; or give my name
at a gambling-house or at any other house, by Jove--at any other
house--or give any reference at all to me, or speak to me in the
street, by Gad, or any where else until I speak to you--I disclaim you
altogether--I won't give you another shilling."
"Governor, don't be provoking," Altamont said, surlily. "Don't talk to
me about daring to do this thing or t'other, or when my dander is up
it's the very thing to urge me on. I oughtn't to have come last night,
I know I oughtn't: but I told you I was drunk, and that ought to be
sufficient between gentleman and gentleman."
"You a gentleman! dammy, sir," said the baronet, "how dares a fellow
like you to call himself a gentleman?"
"I ain't a baronet, I know;" growled the other; "and I've forgotten
how to be a gentleman almost now, but--but I was one once, and my
father was one, and I'll not have this sort of talk from you, Sir F.
Clavering, that's flat. I want to go abroad again. Why don't you come
down with the money, and let me go? Why the devil are you to be
rolling in riches, and me to have none? Why should you have a house
and a table covered with plate, and me be in a garret here in this
beggarly Shepherd's Inn? We're partners, ain't we? I've as good a
right to be rich as you have, haven't I? Tell the story to Strong
here, if you like; and ask him to be umpire between us. I don't mind
letting my secret out to a man that won't split. Look here,
Strong--perhaps you guess the story already--the fact is, me and the
"D--, hold your tongue," shrieked out the baronet in a fury. "You
shall have the money as soon as I can get it. I ain't made of money.
I'm so pressed and badgered, I don't know where to turn. I shall go
mad; by Jove, I shall. I wish I was dead, for I'm the most miserable
brute alive. I say, Mr. Altamont, don't mind me. When I'm out of
health--and I'm devilish bilious this morning--hang me, I abuse every
body, and don't know what I say. Excuse me if I've offended you.
I--I'll try and get that little business done. Strong shall try. Upon
my word he shall. And I say, Strong, my boy, I want to speak to you.
Come into the office for a minute."
Almost all Clavering's assaults ended in this ignominious way, and in
a shameful retreat. Altamont sneered after the baronet as he left the
room, and entered into the office, to talk privately with
"What is the matter now?" the latter asked of him. "It's the old
story, I suppose."
"D----it, yes," the baronet said. "I dropped two hundred in ready money
at the Little Coventry last night, and gave a check for three hundred
more. On her ladyship's bankers, too, for to-morrow; and I must meet
it, for there'll be the deuce to pay else. The last time she paid my
play-debts, I swore I would not touch a dice-box again, and she'll
keep her word, Strong, and dissolve partnership, if I go on. I wish I
had three hundred a year, and was away. At a German watering-place
you can do devilish well with three hundred a year. But my
habits are so d----reckless: I wish I was in the Serpentine. I wish I
was dead, by Gad, I wish I was. I wish I had never touched those
confounded bones. I had such a run of luck last night, with five for
the main, and seven to five all night, until those ruffians wanted to
pay me with Altamont's bill upon me. The luck turned from that minute.
Never held the box again for three mains, and came away cleaned out,
leaving that infernal check behind me. How shall I pay it? Blackland
won't hold it over. Hulker and Bullock will write about it directly to
her ladyship. By Jove, Ned, I'm the most miserable brute in
It was necessary for Ned to devise some plan to console the baronet
under this pressure of grief; and no doubt he found the means of
procuring a loan for his patron, for he was closeted at Mr. Campion's
offices that day for some time. Altamont had once more a guinea or two
in his pocket, with a promise of a farther settlement; and the baronet
had no need to wish himself dead for the next two or three months at
least. And Strong, putting together what he had learned from the
colonel and Sir Francis, began to form in his own mind a pretty
accurate opinion as to the nature of the tie which bound the two men
A CHAPTER OF CONVERSATIONS.
Every day, after the entertainments at Grosvenor-place and Greenwich,
of which we have seen Major Pendennis partake, the worthy gentleman's
friendship and cordiality for the Clavering family seemed to increase.
His calls were frequent; his attentions to the lady of the house
unremitting. An old man about town, he had the good fortune to be
received in many houses, at which a lady of Lady Clavering's
distinction ought also to be seen. Would her ladyship not like to be
present at the grand entertainment at Gaunt House? There was to be a
very pretty breakfast ball at Viscount Marrowfat's, at Fulham. Every
body was to be there (including august personages of the highest
rank), and there was to be a Watteau quadrille, in which Miss Amory
would surely look charming. To these and other amusements the
obsequious old gentleman kindly offered to conduct Lady Clavering, and
was also ready to make himself useful to the baronet in any way
agreeable to the latter.
In spite of his present station and fortune, the world persisted in
looking rather coldly upon Clavering, and strange suspicious rumors
followed him about. He was blackballed at two clubs in succession. In
the house of commons, he only conversed with a few of the most
disreputable members of that famous body, having a happy knack of
choosing bad society, and adapting himself naturally to it, as other
people do to the company of their betters. To name all the senators
with whom Clavering consorted, would be invidious. We may mention
only a few. There was Captain Raff, the honorable member for Epsom,
who retired after the last Goodwood races, having accepted, as Mr.
Hotspur, the whip of the party, said, a mission to the Levant; there
was Hustingson, the patriotic member for Islington, whose voice is
never heard now denunciating corruption, since his appointment to the
Governorship of Coventry Island; there was Bob Freeny, of the
Booterstown Freenys, who is a dead shot, and of whom we therefore wish
to speak with every respect; and of all these gentlemen, with whom in
the course of his professional duty Mr. Hotspur had to confer, there
was none for whom he had a more thorough contempt and dislike than for
Sir Francis Clavering, the representative of an ancient race, who had
sat for their own borough of Clavering time out of mind in the house.
"If that man is wanted for a division," Hotspur said, "ten to one he
is to be found in a hell. He was educated in the Fleet, and he has not
heard the end of Newgate yet, take my word for it. He'll muddle away
the Begum's fortune at thimble-rig, be caught picking pockets, and
finish on board the hulks." And if the high-born Hotspur, with such an
opinion of Clavering, could yet from professional reasons be civil to
him, why should not Major Pendennis also have reasons of his own for
being attentive to this unlucky gentleman?
"He has a very good cellar and a very good cook," the major said; "as
long as he is silent he is not offensive, and he very seldom speaks.
If he chooses to frequent gambling-tables, and lose his money to
blacklegs, what matters to me? Don't look too curiously into any man's
affairs, Pen, my boy; every fellow has some cupboard in his house,
begad, which he would not like you and me to peep into. Why should we
try, when the rest of the house is open to us? And a devilish good
house, too, as you and I know. And if the man of the family is not all
one could wish, the women are excellent. The Begum is not
over-refined, but as kind a woman as ever lived, and devilish clever
too; and as for the little Blanche, you know my opinion about her, you
rogue; you know my belief is that she is sweet on you, and would have
you for the asking. But you are growing such a great man, that I
suppose you won't be content under a duke's daughter--Hey, sir? I
recommend you to ask one of them, and try."
Perhaps Pen was somewhat intoxicated by his success in the world; and
it may also have entered into the young man's mind (his uncle's
perpetual hints serving not a little to encourage the notion) that
Miss Amory was tolerably well disposed to renew the little flirtation
which had been carried on in the early days of both of them, by the
banks of the rural Brawl. But he was little disposed to marriage, he
said, at that moment, and, adopting some of his uncle's worldly tone,
spoke rather contemptuously of the institution, and in favor of a
"You are very happy, sir," said he, "and you get on very well alone,
and so do I. With a wife at my side, I should lose my place in
society; and I don't, for my part, much fancy retiring into the
country with a Mrs. Pendennis; or taking my wife into lodgings to be
waited upon by the servant-of-all-work. The period of my little
illusions is over. You cured me of my first love, who certainly was
a fool, and would have had a fool for her husband, and a very sulky,
discontented husband, too, if she had taken me. We young fellows live
fast, sir; and I feel as old at five-and-twenty as many of the old
fo--, the old bachelors--whom I see in the bay-window at Bays's. Don't
look offended, I only mean that I am _blasé_ about love matters, and
that I could no more fan myself into a flame for Miss Amory now, than
I could adore Lady Mirabel over again. I wish I could; I rather like
old Mirabel for his infatuation about her, and think his passion is
the most respectable part of his life."
"Sir Charles Mirabel was always a theatrical man, sir," the major
said, annoyed that his nephew should speak flippantly of any person of
Sir Charles's rank and station. "He has been occupied with theatricals
since his early days. He acted at Carlton House when he was page to
the prince; he has been mixed up with that sort of thing; he could
afford to marry whom he chooses; and Lady Mirabel is a most
respectable woman, received every where--every where, mind. The
Duchess of Connaught receives her, Lady Rockminster receives her--it
doesn't become young fellows to speak lightly of people in that
station. There's not a more respectable woman in England than Lady
Mirabel: and the old fogies, as you call them at Bays's, are some of
the first gentlemen in England, of whom you youngsters had best learn
a little manners, and a little breeding, and a little modesty." And
the major began to think that Pen was growing exceedingly pert and
conceited, and that the world made a great deal too much of him.
The major's anger amused Pen. He studied his uncle's peculiarities
with a constant relish, and was always in a good humor with his
worldly old Mentor. "I am a youngster of fifteen years standing, sir,"
he said, adroitly, "and if you think that _we_ are disrespectful, you
should see those of the present generation. A protégé of yours came to
breakfast with me the other day. You told me to ask him, and I did it
to please you. We had a day's sights together, and dined at the club,
and went to the play. He said the wine at the Polyanthus was not so
good as Ellis's wine at Richmond, smoked Warrington's cavendish after
breakfast, and when I gave him a sovereign as a farewell token, said
he had plenty of them, but would take it to show he wasn't proud."
"Did he?--did you ask young Clavering?" cried the major, appeased at
once, "fine boy, rather wild, but a fine boy--parents like that sort
of attention, and you can't do better than pay it to our worthy
friends of Grosvenor-place. And so you took him to the play and tipped
him? That was right, sir, that was right;" with which Mentor quitted
Telemachus, thinking that the young men were not so very bad, and that
he should make something of that fellow yet.
As Master Clavering grew into years and stature, he became too strong
for the authority of his fond parents and governess; and rather
governed them than permitted himself to be led by their orders. With
his papa he was silent and sulky, seldom making his appearance,
however, in the neighborhood of that gentleman; with his mamma he
roared and fought when any contest between them arose as to the
gratification of his appetite, or other wish of his heart; and in his
disputes with his governess over his book, he kicked that quiet
creature's shins so fiercely, that she was entirely overmastered and
subdued by him. And he would have so treated his sister Blanche, too,
and did on one or two occasions attempt to prevail over her; but she
showed an immense resolution and spirit on her part, and boxed his
ears so soundly, that he forebore from molesting Miss Amory, as he did
the governess and his mamma, and his mamma's maid.
At length, when the family came to London, Sir Francis gave forth his
opinion that "the little beggar had best be sent to school."
Accordingly, the young son and heir of the house of Clavering was
dispatched to the Rev. Otto Rose's establishment at Twickenham, where
young noblemen and gentlemen were received preparatory to their
introduction to the great English public schools.
It is not our intention to follow Master Clavering in his scholastic
career; the paths to the Temple of learning were made more easy to him
than they were to some of us of earlier generations. He advanced
toward that fane in a carriage-and-four, so to speak, and might halt
and take refreshments almost whenever he pleased. He wore varnished
boots from the earliest period of youth, and had cambric handkerchiefs
and lemon-colored kid gloves of the smallest size ever manufactured by
Privat. They dressed regularly at Mr. Rose's to come down to dinner;
the young gentlemen had shawl dressing-gowns, fires in their bedrooms;
horse and carriage exercise occasionally, and oil for their hair.
Corporal punishment was altogether dispensed with by the principal,
who thought that moral discipline was entirely sufficient to lead
youth; and the boys were so rapidly advanced in many branches of
learning, that they acquired the art of drinking spirits and smoking
cigars, even before they were old enough to enter a public school.
Young Frank Clavering stole his father's Havannas, and conveyed them
to school, or smoked them in the stables, at a surprisingly early
period of life, and at ten years old drank his Champagne almost as
stoutly as any whiskered cornet of dragoons could do.
When this interesting youth came home for his vacations, Major
Pendennis was as laboriously civil and gracious to him as he was to
the rest of the family; although the boy had rather a contempt for old
Wigsby, as the major was denominated, mimicked him behind his back, as
the polite major bowed and smirked with Lady Clavering or Miss Amory;
and drew rude caricatures, such as are designed by ingenious youths,
in which the major's wig, his nose, his tie, &c., were represented
with artless exaggeration. Untiring in his efforts to be agreeable,
the major wished that Pen, too, should take particular notice of this
child; incited Arthur to invite him to his chambers, to give him a
dinner at the club, to take him to Madame Tussaud's, the Tower, the
play, and so forth, and to tip him, as the phrase is, at the end of
the day's pleasures. Arthur, who was good-natured and fond of
children, went through all these ceremonies one day; had the boy to
breakfast at the Temple, where he made the most contemptuous remarks
regarding the furniture, the crockery, and the tattered state of
Warrington's dressing-gown; and smoked a short pipe, and recounted the
history of a fight between Tuffy and Long Biggings, at Rose's, greatly
to the edification of the two gentlemen his hosts.
As the major rightly predicted, Lady Clavering was very grateful for
Arthur's attention to the boy; more grateful than the lad himself, who
took attentions as a matter of course, and very likely had more
sovereigns in his pocket than poor Pen, who generously gave him one of
his own slender stock of those coins.
The major, with the sharp eyes with which nature endowed him, and with
the glasses of age and experience, watched this boy, and surveyed his
position in the family without seeming to be rudely curious about
their affairs. But, as a country neighbor, one who had many family
obligations to the Claverings, an old man of the world, he took
occasion to find out what Lady Clavering's means were, how her capital
was disposed, and what the boy was to inherit. And setting himself to
work, for what purposes will appear, no doubt, ulteriorly, he soon had
got a pretty accurate knowledge of Lady Clavering's affairs and
fortune, and of the prospects of her daughter and son. The daughter
was to have but a slender provision; the bulk of the property was, as
before has been said, to go to the son, his father did not care for
him or any body else, his mother was dotingly fond of him as the child
of her latter days, his sister disliked him. Such may be stated, in
round numbers, to be the result of the information which Major
Pendennis got. "Ah! my dear madam," he would say, patting the head of
the boy, "this boy may wear a baron's coronet on his head on some
future coronation, if matters are but managed rightly, and if Sir
Francis Clavering would but play his cards well."
At this the widow Amory heaved a deep sigh. "He plays only too much of
his cards, major, I'm afraid," she said. The major owned that he knew
as much; did not disguise that he had heard of Sir Francis Clavering's
unfortunate propensity to play; pitied Lady Clavering sincerely; but
spoke with such genuine sentiment and sense, that her ladyship, glad
to find a person of experience to whom she could confide her grief and
her condition, talked about them pretty unreservedly to Major
Pendennis, and was eager to have his advice and consolation. Major
Pendennis became the Begum's confidante and house-friend, and as a
mother, a wife, and a capitalist, she consulted him.
He gave her to understand (showing at the same time a great deal of
respectful sympathy) that he was acquainted with some of the
circumstances of her first unfortunate marriage, and with even the
person of her late husband, whom he remembered in Calcutta--when she
was living in seclusion with her father. The poor lady, with tears of
shame more than of grief in her eyes, told her version of her story.
Going back a child to India after two years at a European school, she
had met Amory, and foolishly married him. "O, you don't know how
miserable that man made me," she said, "or what a life I passed
between him and my father. Before I saw him I had never seen a man
except my father's clerks and native servants. You know we didn't go
into society in India on account of--" ("I know," said Major Pendennis,
with a bow). "I was a wild romantic child, my head was full of novels
which I'd read at school--I listened to his wild stories and adventures,
for he was a daring fellow, and I thought he talked beautifully of those
calm nights on the passage out, when he used to... Well, I married him,
and was wretched from that day--wretched with my father, whose character
you know, Major Pendennis, and I won't speak of: but he wasn't a good
man, sir--neither to my poor mother, nor to me, except that he left me
his money--nor to no one else that I ever heard of: and he didn't do
many kind actions in his lifetime, I'm afraid. And as for Amory he was
almost worse; he was a spendthrift, when my father was close: he drank
dreadfully, and was furious when in that way. He wasn't in any way a
good or a faithful husband to me, Major Pendennis; and if he'd died in
the jail before his trial, instead of afterward, he would have saved
me a deal of shame and unhappiness since, sir." Lady Clavering added:
"For perhaps I should not have married at all if I had not been so
anxious to change his horrid name, and I have not been happy in my
second husband, as I suppose you know, sir. Ah, Major Pendennis, I've
got money to be sure, and I'm a lady, and people fancy I'm very happy,
but I ain't. We all have our cares, and griefs, and troubles: and
many's the day that I sit down to one of my grand dinners with an
aching heart, and many a night do I lay awake on my fine bed, a great
deal more unhappy than the maid that makes it. For I'm not a happy
woman, major, for all the world says; and envies the Begum her
diamonds, and carriages, and the great company that comes to my house.
I'm not happy in my husband; I'm not happy in my daughter. She ain't a
good girl like that dear Laura Bell at Fairoaks. She's cost me many a
tear though you don't see 'em; and she sneers at her mother because I
haven't had learning and that. How should I? I was brought up among
natives till I was twelve, and went back to India when I was fourteen.
Ah, major I should have been a good woman if I had had a good husband.
And now I must go up-stairs and wipe my eyes, for they're red with
cryin'. And Lady Rockminster's a-comin, and we're goin to 'ave a drive
in the Park. And when Lady Rockminster made her appearance, there was
not a trace of tears or vexation on Lady Clavering's face, but she was
full of spirits, and bounced out with her blunders and talk, and
murdered the king's English, with the utmost liveliness and
"Begad, she is not such a bad woman!" the major thought within
himself. "She is not refined, certainly, and calls 'Apollo' 'Apoller;'
but she has some heart, and I like that sort of thing, and a devilish
deal of money, too. Three stars in India Stock to her name, begad!
which that young cub is to have--is he?" And he thought how he should
like to see a little of the money transferred to Miss Blanche, and,
better still, one of those stars shining in the name of Mr. Arthur
Still bent upon pursuing his schemes, whatsoever they might be, the
old negotiator took the privilege of his intimacy and age, to talk in
a kindly and fatherly manner to Miss Blanche, when he found occasion
to see her alone. He came in so frequently at luncheon-time, and
became so familiar with the ladies, that they did not even hesitate to
quarrel before him: and Lady Clavering, whose tongue was loud, and
temper brusk, had many a battle with the Sylphide in the family
friend's presence. Blanche's wit seldom failed to have the mastery in
these encounters, and the keen barbs of her arrows drove her adversary
discomfited away. "I am an old fellow," the major said; "I have
nothing to do in life. I have my eyes open. I keep good counsel. I am
the friend of both of you; and if you choose to quarrel before me,
why I shan't tell any one. But you are two good people, and I intend
to make it up between you. I have between lots of people--husbands and
wives, fathers and sons, daughters and mammas, before this. I like it;
I've nothing else to do."
One day, then, the old diplomatist entered Lady Clavering's drawing-room,
just as the latter quitted it, evidently in a high state of
indignation, and ran past him up the stairs to her own apartments.
"She couldn't speak to him now," she said; "she was a great deal too
angry with that--that--that little, wicked"--anger choked the rest of
the words, or prevented their utterance until Lady Clavering had
passed out of hearing.
"My dear, good Miss Amory," the major said, entering the drawing-room,
"I see what is happening. You and mamma have been disagreeing.
Mothers and daughters disagree in the best families. It was but last
week that I healed up a quarrel between Lady Clapperton and her
daughter Lady Claudia. Lady Lear and her eldest daughter have not
spoken for fourteen years. Kinder and more worthy people than these I
never knew in the whole course of my life; for every body but each
other admirable. But they can't live together: they oughtn't to live
together: and I wish, my dear creature, with all my soul, that I could
see you with an establishment of your own--for there is no woman in
London who could conduct one better--with your own establishment,
making your own home happy."
"I am not very happy in this one," said the Sylphide; "and the
stupidity of mamma is enough to provoke a saint."
"Precisely so; you are not suited to one another. Your mother
committed one fault in early life--or was it Nature, my dear, in your
case?--she ought not to have educated you. You ought not to have been
bred up to become the refined and intellectual being you are,
surrounded, as I own you are, by those who have not your genius or
your refinement. Your place would be to lead in the most brilliant
circles, not to follow, and take a second place in any society. I have
watched you, Miss Amory: you are ambitious; and your proper sphere is
command. You ought to shine; and you never can in this house, I know
it. I hope I shall see you in another and a happier one, some day, and
the mistress of it."
The Sylphide shrugged her lily shoulders with a look of scorn "Where
is the prince, and where is the palace, Major Pendennis?" she said. "I
am ready. But there is no romance in the world now, no real
"No, indeed," said the major, with the most sentimental and simple air
which he could muster.
"Not that I know any thing about it," said Blanche, casting her eyes
down, "except what I have read in novels."
"Of course not," Major Pendennis cried; "how should you, my dear young
lady? and novels ain't true, as you remark admirably, and there is no
romance left in the world. Begad, I wish I was a young fellow, like my
nephew." "And what," continued Miss Amory, musing, "what are the men
whom we see about at the balls every night--dancing guardsmen,
penniless treasury clerks--boobies! If I had my brother's fortune, I
might have such an establishment as you promise me--but with my name,
and with my little means, what am I to look to? A country parson, or a
barrister in a street near Russell-square, or a captain in a
dragoon-regiment, who will take lodgings for me, and come home from
the mess tipsy and smelling of smoke like Sir Francis Clavering. That
is how we girls are destined to end life. O Major Pendennis, I am sick
of London, and of balls, and of young dandies with their chin-tips,
and of the insolent great ladies who know us one day and cut us the
next--and of the world altogether. I should like to leave it and to go
into a convent, that I should. I shall never find any body to
understand me. And I live here as much alone in my family and in the
world, as if I were in a cell locked up for ever. I wish there were
Sisters of Charity here, and that I could be one, and catch the
plague, and die of it--I wish to quit the world. I am not very old:
but I am tired, I have suffered so much--I've been so
disillusionated--I'm weary, I'm weary--O that the Angel of Death would
come and beckon me away!"
This speech may be interpreted as follows. A few nights since a great
lady, Lady Flamingo, had cut Miss Amory and Lady Clavering. She was
quite mad because she could not get an invitation to Lady Drum's ball:
it was the end of the season and nobody had proposed to her: she had
made no sensation at all, she who was so much cleverer than any girl
of the year, and of the young ladies forming her special circle. Dora
who had but five thousand pounds, Flora who had nothing, and Leonora
who had red hair, were going to be married, and nobody had come for
"You judge wisely about the world, and about your position, my dear
Miss Blanche," the major said. "The prince don't marry nowadays, as
you say: unless the princess has a doosid deal of money in the funds,
or is a lady of his own rank. The young folks of the great families
marry into the great families: if they haven't fortune they have each
other's shoulders, to push on in the world, which is pretty nearly as
good. A girl with your fortune can scarcely hope for a great match:
but a girl with your genius and your admirable tact and fine manners,
with a clever husband by her side, may make _any_ place for herself in
the world. We are grown doosid republican. Talent ranks with birth and
wealth now, begad: and a clever man with a clever wife, may take any
place they please."
Miss Amory did not of course in the least understand what Major
Pendennis meant. Perhaps she thought over circumstances in her mind,
and asked herself, could he be a negotiator for a former suitor of
hers, and could he mean Pen? No, it was impossible; he had been civil,
but nothing more. So she said, laughing, "Who is the clever man, and
when will you bring him to me, Major Pendennis? I am dying to see
him." At this moment a servant threw open the door, and announced
Mr. Henry Foker: at which name, and at the appearance of our friend
both the lady and the gentleman burst out laughing.
"That is not the man," Major Pendennis said. "He is engaged to his
cousin, Lord Gravesend's daughter. Good-by, my dear Miss Amory."
Was Pen growing worldly, and should a man not get the experience of
the world and lay it to his account? "He felt, for his part," as he
said, "that he was growing very old very soon. How this town forms and
changes us," he said once to Warrington. Each had come in from his
night's amusement; and Pen was smoking his pipe, and recounting, as
his habit was, to his friend the observations and adventures of the
evening just past. "How I am changed," he said, "from the simpleton
boy at Fairoaks, who was fit to break his heart about his first love?
Lady Mirabel had a reception to-night, and was as grave and collected
as if she had been born a duchess, and had never seen a trap-door in
her life. She gave me the honor of a conversation, and patronized me
about Walter Lorraine, quite kindly."
"What condescension," broke in Warrington.
"Wasn't it?" Pen said, simply; at which the other burst out laughing
according to his wont. "Is it possible," he said, "that any body
should think of patronizing the eminent author of Walter Lorraine?"
"You laugh at both of us," Pen said, blushing a little: "I was coming
to that myself. She told me that she had not read the book (as indeed
I believe she never read a book in her life), but that Lady
Rockminster had, and that the Duchess of Connaught pronounced it to be
very clever. In that case, I said I should die happy, for that to
please those two ladies was in fact the great aim of my existence, and
having their approbation, of course I need look for no other. Lady
Mirabel looked at me solemnly out of her fine eyes, and said, 'O
indeed,' as if she understood me, and then she asked me whether I went
to the duchess's Thursdays; and when I said no, hoped she should see
me there, and that I must try and get there, every body went there
--every body who was in society: and then we talked of the new
embassador from Timbuctoo, and how he was better than the old one; and
how Lady Mary Billington was going to marry a clergyman quite below
her in rank; and how Lord and Lady Ringdove had fallen out three
months after their marriage about Tom Pouter of the Blues, Lady
Ringdove's cousin, and so forth. From the gravity of that woman you
would have fancied she had been born in a palace, and lived all the
seasons of her life in Belgrave-square."
"And you, I suppose you took your part in the conversation pretty
well, as the descendant of the earl your father, and the heir of
Fairoaks Castle?" Warrington said. "Yes, I remember reading of the
festivities which occurred when you came of age. The countess gave a
brilliant tea soirée to the neighboring nobility; and the tenantry
were regaled in the kitchen with a leg of mutton and a quart of ale.
The remains of the banquet were distributed among the poor of the
village, and the entrance to the park was illuminated until old John
put the candle out on retiring to rest at his usual hour."
"My mother is not a countess," said Pen, "though she has very good
blood in her veins, too; but commoner as she is, I have never met a
peeress who was more than her peer, Mr. George; and if you will come
to Fairoaks Castle you shall judge for yourself of her and of my
cousin too. They are not so witty as the London women, but they
certainly are as well bred. The thoughts of women in the country are
turned to other objects than those which occupy your London ladies. In
the country a woman has her household and her poor, her long calm days
and long calm evenings."
"Devilish long," Warrington said, "and a great deal too calm; I've
tried 'em." "The monotony of that existence must be to a certain
degree melancholy--like the tune of a long ballad; and its harmony
grave and gentle, sad and tender: it would be unendurable else. The
loneliness of women in the country makes them of necessity soft and
sentimental. Leading a life of calm duty, constant routine, mystic
reverie--a sort of nuns at large--too much gayety or laughter would
jar upon their almost sacred quiet, and would be as out of place there
as in a church."
"Where you go to sleep over the sermon," Warrington said.
"You are a professed misogynist, and hate the sex because, I suspect,
you know very little about them," Mr. Pen continued, with an air of
considerable self-complacency. "If you dislike the women in the
country for being too slow, surely the London women ought to be fast
enough for you. The pace of London life is enormous: how do people
last at it, I wonder--male and female? Take a woman of the world:
follow her course through the season; one asks how she can survive it?
or if she tumbles into a sleep at the end of August, and lies torpid
until the spring? She goes into the world every night, and sits
watching her marriageable daughters dancing till long after dawn. She
has a nursery of little ones, very likely, at home, to whom she
administers example and affection; having an eye likewise to
bread-and-milk, catechism, music and French, and roast leg of mutton
at one o'clock; she has to call upon ladies of her own station, either
domestically or in her public character, in which she sits upon
Charity Committees, or Ball Committees, or Emigration Committees, or
Queen's College Committees, and discharges I don't know what more
duties of British stateswomanship. She very likely keeps a poor
visiting list; has combinations with the clergyman about soup or
flannel, or proper religious teaching for the parish; and (if she
lives in certain districts) probably attends early church. She has the
newspapers to read, and, at least, must know what her husband's party
is about, so as to be able to talk to her neighbor at dinner; and it
is a fact that she reads every new book that comes out; for she can
talk, and very smartly and well, about them all, and you see them all
upon her drawing-room table. She has the cares of her household
besides: to make both ends meet; to make the girl's milliner's bills
appear not too dreadful to the father and paymaster of the family; to
snip off, in secret, a little extra article of expenditure here and
there, and convey it, in the shape of a bank-note, to the boys at
college or at sea; to check the encroachments of tradesmen, and
housekeepers' financial fallacies; to keep upper and lower servants
from jangling with one another, and the household in order. Add to
this, that she has a secret taste for some art or science, models in
clay, makes experiments in chemistry, or plays in private on the
violoncello,--and I say, without exaggeration, many London ladies are
doing this--and you have a character before you such as our ancestors
never heard of, and such as belongs entirely to our era and period of
civilization. Ye gods! how rapidly we live and grow! In nine months,
Mr. Paxton grows you a pine apple as large as a portmanteau, whereas a
little one, no bigger than a Dutch cheese, took three years to attain
his majority in old times; and as the race of pine-apples so is the
race of man. Hoiaper--what's the Greek for a pine-apple, Warrington?"
"Stop, for mercy's sake, stop with the English and before you come to
the Greek," Warrington cried out, laughing. "I never heard you make
such a long speech, or was aware that you had penetrated so deeply
into the female mysteries. Who taught you all this, and into whose
boudoirs and nurseries have you been peeping, while I was smoking my
pipe, and reading my book, lying on my straw bed?"
"You are on the bank, old boy, content to watch the waves tossing in
the winds, and the struggles of others at sea," Pen said. "I am in the
stream now, and, by Jove, I like it. How rapidly we go down it, hey?
--strong and feeble, old and young--the metal pitchers and the earthen
pitchers--the pretty little china boat swims gayly till the big
bruised brazen one bumps him and sends him down--eh, vogue la
galère!--you see a man sink in the race, and say good-by to him--look,
he has only dived under the other fellow's legs, and comes up shaking
his pole, and striking out ever so far ahead. Eh, vogue la galère, I
say. It's good sport, Warrington--not winning merely, but playing."
"Well, go in and win, young 'un. I'll sit and mark the game,"
Warrington said, surveying the ardent young fellow with an almost
fatherly pleasure. "A generous fellow plays for the play, a sordid one
for the stake; an old fogy sits by and smokes the pipe of
tranquillity, while Jack and Tom are pommeling each other in
"Why don't you come in, George, and have a turn with the gloves? You
are big enough and strong enough," Pen said. "Dear old boy, you are
worth ten of me."
"You are not quite as tall as Goliath, certainly," the other answered,
with a laugh that was rough and yet tender. "And as for me, I am
disabled. I had a fatal hit in early life. I will tell you about it
some day. You may, too, meet with your master. Don't be too eager, or
too confident, or too worldly, my boy."
Was Pendennis becoming worldly, or only seeing the world, or both? and
is a man very wrong for being after all only a man? Which is the most
reasonable, and does his duty best: he who stands aloof from the
struggle of life, calmly contemplating it, or he who descends to the
ground, and takes his part in the contest? "That philosopher," Pen
said, "had held a great place among the leaders of the world, and
enjoyed to the full what it had to give of rank and riches, renown and
pleasure, who came, weary-hearted, out of it, and said that all was
vanity and vexation of spirit. Many a teacher of those whom we
reverence, and who steps out of his carriage up to his carved
cathedral place, shakes his lawn ruffles over the velvet cushion, and
cries out, that the whole struggle is an accursed one, and the works
of the world are evil. Many a conscience-striken mystic flies from it
altogether, and shuts himself out from it within convent walls (real
or spiritual), whence he can only look up to the sky, and contemplate
the heaven out of which there is no rest, and no good. But the
earth, where our feet are, is the work of the same Power as the
immeasurable blue yonder, in which the future lies into which we would
peer. Who ordered toil as the condition of life, ordered weariness,
ordered sickness, ordered poverty, failure, success--to this man a
foremost place, to the other a nameless struggle with the crowd--to
that a shameful fall, or paralyzed limb, or sudden accident--to each
some work upon the ground he stands on, until he is laid beneath it."
While they were talking, the dawn came shining through the windows of
the room, and Pen threw them open to receive the fresh morning air.
"Look, George," said he; "look and see the sun rise: he sees the
laborer on his way a-field, the work-girl plying her poor needle; the
lawyer at his desk, perhaps; the beauty smiling asleep upon her pillow
of down; or the jaded reveler reeling to bed; or the fevered patient
tossing on it; or the doctor watching by it, over the throes of the
mother for the child that is to be born into the world; to be born and
to take his part in the suffering and struggling, the tears and
laughter, the crime, remorse, love, folly, sorrow, rest."
MISS AMORY'S PARTNERS.
The noble Henry Foker, of whom we have lost sight for a few pages, has
been in the mean while occupied, as we might suppose a man of his
constancy would be, in the pursuit and indulgence of his all-absorbing
passion of love.
I wish that a few of my youthful readers who are inclined to that
amusement would take the trouble to calculate the time which is spent
in the pursuit, when they would find it to be one of the most costly
occupations in which a man can possibly indulge. What don't you
sacrifice to it, indeed, young gentlemen and young ladies of
ill-regulated minds? Many hours of your precious sleep, in the first
place, in which you lie tossing and thinking about the adored object,
whence you come down late to breakfast, when noon is advancing, and
all the family is long since away to its daily occupations. Then when
you at length get to these occupations you pay no attention to them,
and engage in them with no ardor, all your thoughts and powers of mind
being fixed elsewhere. Then the day's work being slurred over, you
neglect your friends and relatives, your natural companions and usual
associates in life, that you may go and have a glance at the dear
personage, or a look up at her windows, or a peep at her carriage in
the Park. Then at night the artless blandishments of home bore you;
mamma's conversation palls upon you; the dishes which that good soul
prepares for the dinner of her favorite are sent away untasted, the
whole meal of life, indeed, except one particular _plat_, has no
relish. Life, business, family ties, home, all things useful and dear
once become intolerable, and you are never easy except when you are in
pursuit of your flame.
Such I believe to be not unfrequently the state of mind among
ill-regulated young gentlemen, and such, indeed, was Mr. H. Foker's
condition, who, having been bred up to indulge in every propensity
toward which he was inclined, abandoned himself to this one with his
usual selfish enthusiasm. Nor because he had given his friend Arthur
Pendennis a great deal of good advice on a former occasion, need men
of the world wonder that Mr. Foker became passion's slave in his turn.
Who among us has not given a plenty of the very best advice to his
friends? Who has not preached, and who has practiced? To be sure, you,
madam, are perhaps a perfect being, and never had a wrong thought in
the whole course of your frigid and irreproachable existence: or you,
sir, are a great deal too strong-minded to allow any foolish passion
to interfere with your equanimity in chambers or your attendance on
'Change; you are so strong that you don't want any sympathy. We don't
give you any, then; we keep ours for the humble and weak, that
struggle and stumble and get up again, and so march with the rest of
mortals. What need have _you_ of a hand who never fall? Your serene
virtue is never shaded by passion, or ruffled by temptation, or
darkened by remorse; compassion would be impertinence for such an
angel: but then, with such a one companionship becomes intolerable;
you are, from the very elevation of your virtue and high attributes,
of necessity lonely; we can't reach up and talk familiarly with such
potentates. Good-by, then; our way lies with humble folks, and not
with serene highnesses like you; and we give notice that there are no
perfect characters in this history, except, perhaps, one little one,
and that one is not perfect either, for she never knows to this day
that she is perfect, and with a deplorable misapprehension and
perverseness of humility, believes herself to be as great a sinner
as need be.
This young person does not happen to be in London at the present
period of our story, and it is by no means for the like of her that
Mr. Henry Foker's mind is agitated. But what matters a few failings?
Need we be angels, male or female, in order to be worshiped as such?
Let us admire the diversity of the tastes of mankind, and the oldest,
the ugliest, the stupidest and most pompous, the silliest and most
vapid, the greatest criminal, tyrant, booby, Bluebeard, Catherine
Hayes, George Barnwell, among us, we need never despair. I have read
of the passion of a transported pickpocket for a female convict (each
of them being advanced in age, repulsive in person, ignorant,
quarrelsome, and given to drink), that was as magnificent as the loves
of Cleopatra and Antony, or Lancelot and Guinever. The passion which
Count Borulawski, the Polish dwarf, inspired in the bosom of the most
beautiful baroness at the court of Dresden, is a matter with which we
are all of us acquainted: the flame which burned in the heart of young
Cornet Tozer but the other day, and caused him to run off and espouse
Mrs. Battersby, who was old enough to be his mamma; all these
instances are told in the page of history or the newspaper column. Are
we to be ashamed or pleased to think that our hearts are formed so
that the biggest and highest-placed Ajax among us may some day find
himself prostrate before the pattens of his kitchen-maid; as that
there is no poverty or shame or crime, which will not be supported,
hugged, even with delight, and cherished more closely than virtue
would be, by the perverse fidelity and admirable constant folly of
So then Henry Foker, Esquire, longed after his love, and cursed the
fate which separated him from her. When Lord Gravesend's family
retired to the country (his lordship leaving his proxy with the
venerable Lord Bagwig), Harry still remained lingering on in London,
certainly not much to the sorrow of Lady Ann, to whom he was
affianced, and who did not in the least miss him. Wherever Miss
Clavering went, this infatuated young fellow continued to follow her;
and being aware that his engagement to his cousin was known in the
world, he was forced to make a mystery of his passion, and confine it
to his own breast, so that it was so pent in there and pressed down,
that it is a wonder he did not explode some day with the stormy
secret, and perish collapsed after the outburst.
There had been a grand entertainment at Gaunt House on one beautiful
evening in June, and the next day's journals contained almost two
columns of the names of the most closely-printed nobility and gentry
who had been honored with invitations to the ball. Among the guests
were Sir Francis and Lady Clavering and Miss Amory, for whom the
indefatigable Major Pendennis had procured an invitation, and our two
young friends Arthur and Harry. Each exerted himself, and danced a
great deal with Miss Blanche. As for the worthy major, he assumed the
charge of Lady Clavering, and took care to introduce her to that
department of the mansion where her ladyship specially distinguished
herself, namely, the refreshment-room, where, among pictures of Titian
and Giorgione, and regal portraits of Vandyke and Reynolds, and
enormous salvers of gold and silver, and pyramids of large flowers,
and constellations of wax candles--in a manner perfectly regardless of
expense, in a word--a supper was going on all night. Of how many
creams, jellies, salads, peaches, white soups, grapes, pâtes,
galantines, cups of tea, champagne, and so forth, Lady Clavering
partook, it does not become us to say. How much the major suffered as
he followed the honest woman about, calling to the solemn male
attendants, and lovely servant-maids, and administering to Lady
Clavering's various wants with admirable patience, nobody knows; he
never confessed. He never allowed his agony to appear on his
countenance in the least; but with a constant kindness brought plate
after plate to the Begum.
Mr. Wagg counted up all the dishes of which Lady Clavering partook as
long as he could count (but as he partook very freely himself of
Champagne during the evening, his powers of calculation were not to be
trusted at the close of the entertainment), and he recommended Mr.
Honeyman, Lady Steyne's medical man, to look carefully after the
Begum, and to call and get news of her ladyship the next day.
Sir Francis Clavering made his appearance, and skulked for a while
about the magnificent rooms; but the company and the splendor which he
met there were not to the baronet's taste, and after tossing off a
tumbler of wine or two at the buffet, he quitted Gaunt House for the
neighborhood of Jermyn-street, where his friends Loder, Punter, little
Moss Abrams, and Captain Skewball were assembled at the familiar green
table. In the rattle of the box, and of their agreeable conversation,
Sir Francis's spirits rose to their accustomed point of
Mr. Pynsent, who had asked Miss Amory to dance, came up on one
occasion to claim her hand, but scowls of recognition having already
passed between him and Mr. Arthur Pendennis in the dancing-room,
Arthur suddenly rose up and claimed Miss Amory as his partner for the
present dance, on which Mr. Pynsent, biting his lips and scowling yet
more savagely, withdrew with a profound bow, saying that he gave up
his claim. There are some men who are always falling in one's way in
life. Pynsent and Pen had this view of each other, and regarded each
"What a confounded, conceited provincial fool that is!" thought the
one. "Because he has written a twopenny novel, his absurd head is
turned, and a kicking would take his conceit out of him."
"What an impertinent idiot that man is!" remarked the other to his
partner. "His soul is in Downing-street; his neckcloth is foolscap;
his hair is sand; his legs are rulers; his vitals are tape and
sealing-wax; he was a prig in his cradle; and never laughed since he
was born, except three times at the same joke of his chief. I have the
same liking for that man, Miss Amory, that I have for cold boiled
veal." Upon which Blanche of course remarked, that Mr. Pendennis was
wicked, _méchant_, perfectly abominable, and wondered what he would
say when _her_ back was turned.
"Say!--Say that you have the most beautiful figure and the slimmest
waist in the world, Blanche--Miss Amory, I mean. I beg your pardon.
Another turn; this music would make an alderman dance."
"And you have left off tumbling, when you waltz now?" Blanche asked,
archly looking up at her partner's face.
"One falls and one gets up again in life, Blanche; you know I used to
call you so in old times, and it is the prettiest name in the world:
besides, I have practiced since then."
"And with a great number of partners, I'm afraid," Blanche said, with
a little sham sigh, and a shrug of the shoulders. And so in truth Mr.
Pen had practiced a good deal in this life; and had undoubtedly
arrived at being able to dance better.
If Pendennis was impertinent in his talk, Foker, on the other hand, so
bland and communicative on most occasions, was entirely mum and
melancholy when he danced with Miss Amory. To clasp her slender waist
was a rapture, to whirl round the room with her was a delirium; but to
speak to her, what could he say that was worthy of her? What pearl of
conversation could he bring that was fit for the acceptance of such a
queen of love and wit as Blanche? It was she who made the talk when
she was in the company of this love-stricken partner. It was she who
asked him how that dear little pony was, and looked at him and thanked
him with such a tender kindness and regret, and refused the dear
little pony with such a delicate sigh when he offered it. "I have
nobody to ride with in London," she said. "Mamma is timid, and her
figure is not pretty on horseback. Sir Francis never goes out with me,
He loves me like--like a step-daughter. Oh, how delightful it must be
to have a father--a father, Mr. Foker!"
"Oh, uncommon," said Mr. Harry, who enjoyed that blessing very calmly,
upon which, and forgetting the sentimental air which she had just
before assumed, Blanche's gray eyes gazed at Foker with such an arch
twinkle, that both of them burst out laughing, and Harry, enraptured
and at his ease, began to entertain her with a variety of innocent
prattle--good, kind, simple, Foker talk, flavored with many
expressions by no means to be discovered in dictionaries, and relating
to the personal history of himself or horses, or other things dear and
important to him, or to persons in the ball-room then passing before
them, and about whose appearance or character Mr. Harry spoke with
artless freedom, and a considerable dash of humor.
And it was Blanche who, when the conversation flagged, and the youth's
modesty came rushing back and overpowering him, knew how to reanimate
her companion: asked him questions about Logwood, and whether it was a
pretty place? Whether he was a hunting-man, and whether he liked women
to hunt? (in which case she was prepared to say that she adored
hunting)--but Mr. Foker expressing his opinion against sporting
females, and pointing out Lady Bullfinch, who happened to pass by, as
a horse god-mother, whom he had seen at cover with a cigar in her
face, Blanche too expressed her detestation of the sports of the
field, and said it would make her shudder to think of a dear, sweet
little fox being killed, on which Foker danced and waltzed with
renewed vigor and grace.
At the end of the waltz--the last waltz they had on that night--
Blanche asked him about Drummington, and whether it was a fine house.
His cousins, she had heard, were very accomplished; Lord Erith she had
met, and which of his cousins was his favorite? Was it not Lady Ann?
Yes, she was sure it was she: sure by his looks and his blushes. She
was tired of dancing; it was getting very late; she must go to mamma;
and, without another word, she sprang away from Harry Foker's arm, and
seized upon Pen's, who was swaggering about the dancing-room, and
again said, "Mamma, mamma!--take me to mamma, dear Mr. Pendennis!"
transfixing Harry with a Parthian shot, as she fled from him.
My Lord Steyne, with garter and ribbon, with a bald head and shining
eyes, and a collar of red whiskers round his face, always looked grand
upon an occasion of state; and made a great effect upon Lady
Clavering, when he introduced himself to her at the request of the
obsequious Major Pendennis. With his own white and royal hand, he
handed to her ladyship a glass of wine, said he had heard of her
charming daughter, and begged to be presented to her; and, at this
very juncture, Mr. Arthur Pendennis came up with the young lady on
The peer made a profound bow, and Blanche the deepest courtesy that
ever was seen. His lordship gave Mr. Arthur Pendennis his hand to
shake; said he had read his book, which was very wicked and clever;
asked Miss Blanche if she had read it, at which Pen blushed and
winced. Why, Blanche was one of the heroines of the novel. Blanche, in
black ringlets and a little altered, was the Neaera of Walter Lorraine.
Blanche had read it; the language of the eyes expressed her admiration
and rapture at the performance. This little play being achieved, the
Marquis of Steyne made other two profound bows to Lady Clavering and
her daughter, and passed on to some other of his guests at the
Mamma and daughter were loud in their expression of admiration of the
noble marquis so soon as his broad back was turned upon them. "He said
they make a very nice couple," whispered Major Pendennis to Lady
Clavering. Did he now, really? Mamma thought they would; Mamma was so
flustered with the honor which had just been shown to her, and with
other intoxicating events of the evening, that her good humor knew no
bounds. She laughed, she winked, and nodded knowingly at Pen; she
tapped him on the arm with her fan; she tapped Blanche; she tapped the
major; her contentment was boundless; and her method of showing her
joy equally expansive.
As the party went down the great staircase of Gaunt House, the morning
had risen stark and clear over the black trees of the square, the
skies were tinged with pink; and the cheeks of some of the people at
the ball--ah, how ghastly they looked! That admirable and devoted
major above all--who had been for hours by Lady Clavering's side,
ministering to her and feeding her body with every thing that was
nice, and her ear with every thing that was sweet and flattering--oh!
what an object he was! The rings round his eyes were of the color of
bistre; those orbs themselves were like the plovers' eggs whereof Lady
Clavering and Blanche had each tasted; the wrinkles in his old face
were furrowed in deep gashes; and a silver stubble, like an elderly
morning dew, was glittering on his chin, and alongside the dyed
whiskers, now limp and out of curl.
There he stood, with admirable patience, enduring uncomplainingly, a
silent agony; knowing that people could see the state of his face (for
could he not himself perceive the condition of others, males and
females, of his own age?)--longing to go to rest for hours past; aware
that suppers disagreed with him, and yet having eaten a little so as
to keep his friend, Lady Clavering, in good humor; with twinges of
rheumatism in the back and knees; with weary feet burning in his
varnished boots; so tired, oh, so tired, and longing for bed! If a
man, struggling with hardship and bravely overcoming it, is an object
of admiration for the gods, that Power in whose chapels the old major
was a faithful worshiper must have looked upward approvingly upon the
constancy of Pendennis's martyrdom. There are sufferers in that cause
as in the other; the negroes in the service of Mumbo Jumbo tattoo and
drill themselves with burning skewers with great fortitude; and we
read that the priests in the service of Baal gashed themselves and
bled freely. You who can smash the idols, do so with a good courage;
but do not be too fierce with the idolaters--they worship the best
thing they know.
The Pendennises, the elder and the younger, waited with Lady Clavering
and her daughter until her ladyship's carriage was announced, when the
elder's martyrdom may be said to have come to an end, for the
good-natured Begum insisted upon leaving him at his door in
Bury-street; so he took the back seat of the carriage, after a feeble
bow or two, and speech of thanks, polite to the last, and resolute in
doing his duty. The Begum waved her dumpy little hand by way of
farewell to Arthur and Foker, and Blanche smiled languidly out upon
the young men, thinking whether she looked very wan and green under
her rose-colored hood, and whether it was the mirrors at Gaunt House,
or the fatigue and fever of her own eyes, which made her fancy
herself so pale.
Arthur, perhaps, saw quite well how yellow Blanche looked, but did not
attribute that peculiarity of her complexion to the effect of the
looking-glasses, or to any error in his sight or her own. Our young
man of the world could use his eyes very keenly, and could see
Blanche's face pretty much as nature had made it. But for poor Foker
it had a radiance which dazzled and blinded him: he could see no
more faults in it than in the sun, which was now flaring over the
Among other wicked London habits which Pen had acquired, the moralist
will remark that he had got to keep very bad hours; and often was
going to bed at the time when sober country people were thinking of
leaving it. Men get used to one hour as to another. Editors of
newspapers, Covent-Garden market people, night cabmen, and
coffee-sellers, chimney-sweeps, and gentlemen and ladies of fashion
who frequent balls, are often quite lively at three or four o'clock of
a morning, when ordinary mortals are snoring. We have shown in the
last chapter how Pen was in a brisk condition of mind at this period,
inclined to smoke his cigar at ease, and to speak freely.
Foker and Pen walked away from Gaunt House, then, indulging in both
the above amusements; or rather Pen talked, and Foker looked as if he
wanted to say something. Pen was sarcastic and dandyfied when he had
been in the company of great folks; he could not help imitating some
of their airs and tones, and having a most lively imagination, mistook
himself for a person of importance very easily. He rattled away, and
attacked this person and that; sneered at Lady John Turnbull's bad
French, which her ladyship will introduce into all conversations, in
spite of the sneers of every body: at Mrs. Slack Roper's extraordinary
costume and sham jewels; at the old dandies and the young ones; at
whom didn't he sneer and laugh?
"You fire at everybody, Pen--you're grown awful, that you are," Foker
said. "Now, you've pulled about Blondel's yellow wig, and Colchicum's
black one, why don't you have a shy at a brown one, hay? you know
whose I mean. It got into Lady Clavering's carriage."
"Under my uncle's hat? My uncle is a martyr, Foker, my boy. My uncle
has been doing excruciating duties all night. He likes to go to bed
rather early. He has a dreadful headache if he sits up and touches
supper. He always has the gout if he walks or stands much at a ball.
He has been sitting up, and standing up, and supping. He has gone home
to the gout and the headache, and for my sake. Shall I make fun of the
old boy? no, not for Venice!"
"How do you mean that he has been doing it for your sake?" Foker
asked, looking rather alarmed.
"Boy! canst thou keep a secret if I impart it to thee?" Pen cried out,
in high spirits. "Art thou of good counsel? Wilt thou swear? Wilt thou
be mum, or wilt thou peach? Wilt thou be silent and hear, or wilt thou
speak and die?" And as he spoke, flinging himself into an absurd
theatrical attitude, the men in the cab-stand in Piccadilly wondered
and grinned at the antics of the two young swells.
"What the doose are you driving at?" Foker asked, looking very much
Pen, however, did not remark this agitation much, but continued in the
same bantering and excited vein. "Henry, friend of my youth," he
said, "and witness of my early follies, though dull at thy books, yet
thou art not altogether deprived of sense; nay, blush not, Henrico,
thou hast a good portion of that, and of courage and kindness too, at
the service of thy friends. Were I in a strait of poverty, I would
come to my Foker's purse. Were I in grief, I would discharge my grief
upon his sympathizing bosom--"
"Gammon, Pen; go on," Foker said.
"I would, Henrico, upon thy studs, and upon thy cambric, worked by the
hands of beauty, to adorn the breast of valor! Know then, friend of my
boyhood's days, that Arthur Pendennis, of the Upper Temple,
student-at-law, feels that he is growing lonely, and old Care is
furrowing his temples, and Baldness is busy with his crown. Shall we
stop and have a drop of coffee at this stall, it looks very hot and
nice? Look how that cabman is blowing at his saucer. No, you won't?
Aristocrat! I resume my tale. I am getting on in life. I have got
devilish little money. I want some. I am thinking of getting some, and
settling in life. I'm thinking of settling. I'm thinking of marrying,
old boy. I'm thinking of becoming a moral man; a steady port and
sherry character: with a good reputation in my _quartier_, and a
moderate establishment of two maids and a man; with an occasional
brougham to drive out Mrs. Pendennis, and a house near the Parks for
the accommodation of the children. Ha! what sayest thou? Answer thy
friend, thou worthy child of beer. Speak, I adjure thee, by all
"But you ain't got any money, Pen," said the other, still looking
"I ain't? No, but _she_ ave. I tell thee there is gold in store for me
--not what _you_ call money, nursed in the lap of luxury, and cradled
on grains, and drinking in wealth from a thousand mash-tubs. What do
you know about money? What is poverty to you, is splendor to the hardy
son of the humble apothecary. You can't live without an establishment,
and your houses in town and country. A snug little house somewhere off
Belgravia, a brougham for my wife, a decent cook, and a fair bottle of
wine for my friends at home sometimes; these simple necessaries
suffice for me, my Foker." And here Pendennis began to look more
serious. Without bantering further, Pen continued, "I've rather
serious thoughts of settling and marrying. No man can get on in the
world without some money at his back. You must have a certain stake to
begin with, before you can go in and play the great game. Who knows
that I'm not going to try, old fellow? Worse men than I have won at
it. And as I have not got enough capital from my fathers, I must get
some by my wife--that's all."
They were walking down Grosvenor-street, as they talked, or rather as
Pen talked, in the selfish fullness of his heart; and Mr. Pen must
have been too much occupied with his own affairs to remark the concern
and agitation of his neighbor, for he continued, "We are no longer
children, you know, you and I, Harry. Bah! the time of our romance has
passed away. We don't marry for passion, but for prudence and for
establishment. What do you take your cousin for? Because she is a nice
girl, and an earl's daughter, and the old folks wish it, and that sort
"And you, Pendennis," asked Foker, "you ain't very fond of the
girl--you're going to marry?"
Pen shrugged his shoulders. "_Comme ça_," said he; "I like her well
enough. She's pretty enough; she's clever enough. I think she'll do
very well. And she has got money enough--that's the great point. Psha!
you know who she is, don't you? I thought you were sweet on her
yourself one night when we dined with her mamma. It's little Amory."
"I--I thought so," Foker said; "and has she accepted you?"
"Not quite," Arthur replied, with a confident smile, which seemed to
say, I have but to ask, and she comes to me that instant.
"Oh, not quite," said Foker; and he broke out with such a dreadful
laugh, that Pen, for the first time, turned his thoughts from himself
toward his companion, and was struck by the other's ghastly pale face.
"My dear fellow, Fo! what's the matter? You're ill," Pen said, in a
tone of real concern.
"You think it was the Champagne at Gaunt House, don't you? It ain't
that. Come in; let me talk to you for a minute. I'll tell you what it
is. D--it, let me tell somebody," Foker said.
They were at Mr. Foker's door by this time, and, opening it, Harry
walked with his friend into his apartments, which were situated in the
back part of the house, and behind the family dining-room, where the
elder Foker received his guests, surrounded by pictures of himself,
his wife, his infant son on a donkey, and the late Earl of Gravesend
in his robes as a peer. Foker and Pen passed by this chamber, now
closed with death-like shutters, and entered into the young man's own
quarters. Dusky streams of sunbeams were playing into that room, and
lighting up poor Harry's gallery of dancing girls and opera nymphs
with flickering illuminations.
"Look here! I can't help telling you, Pen," he said. "Ever since the
night we dined there, I'm so fond of that girl, that I think I shall
die if I don't get her. I feel as if I should go mad sometimes. I
can't stand it, Pen. I couldn't bear to hear you talking about her,
just now, about marrying her only because she's money. Ah, Pen! _that_
ain't the question in marrying. I'd bet any thing it ain't. Talking
about money and such a girl as that, it's--it's--what-d'ye-callem--_you_
know what I mean--I ain't good at talking--sacrilege, then. If she'd have
me, I'd take and sweep a crossing, that I would!"
"Poor Fo! I don't think that would tempt her," Pen said, eying his
friend with a great deal of real good-nature and pity. "She is not a
girl for love and a cottage."
"She ought to be a duchess, I know that very well, and I know she
wouldn't take me unless I could make her a great place in the
world--for I ain't good for any thing myself much--I ain't clever and
that sort of thing," Foker said, sadly. "If I had all the diamonds
that all the duchesses and marchionesses had on to-night, wouldn't I
put 'em in her lap? But what's the use of talking? I'm booked for
another race. It's that kills me, Pen. I can't get out of it; though I
die, I can't get out of it. And though my cousin's a nice girl, and I
like her very well, and that, yet I hadn't seen this one when our
governors settled that matter between us. And when you talked, just
now, about her doing very well, and about her having money enough for
both of you, I thought to myself, it isn't money or mere liking a
girl, that ought to be enough to make a fellow marry. He may marry,
and find he likes somebody else better. All the money in the world
won't make you happy then. Look at me; I've plenty of money, or shall
have, out of the mash-tubs, as you call 'em. My governor thought he'd
made it all right for me in settling my marriage with my cousin. I
tell you it won't do; and when Lady Ann has got her husband, it won't
be happy for either of us, and she'll have the most miserable
beggar in town."
"Poor old fellow!" Pen said, with rather a cheap magnanimity, "I wish
I could help you. I had no idea of this, and that you were so wild
about the girl. Do you think she would have you without your money?
No. Do you think your father would agree to break off your engagement
with your cousin? You know him very well, and that he would cast you
off rather than do so."
The unhappy Foker only groaned a reply, flinging himself prostrate on
the sofa, face forward, his head in his hands.
"As for my affair," Pen went on--"my dear fellow, if I had thought
matters were so critical with you, at least I would not have pained
you by choosing you as my confidant. And my business is not serious,
at least, not as yet. I have not spoken a word about it to Miss Amory.
Very likely she would not have me if I asked her. Only I have had a
great deal of talk about it with my uncle, who says that the match
might be an eligible one for me. I'm ambitious and I'm poor. And it
appears Lady Clavering will give her a good deal of money, and Sir
Francis might be got to--never mind the rest. Nothing is settled,
Harry. They are going out of town directly. I promise you I won't ask
her before she goes. There's no hurry: there's time for every body.
But, suppose you got her, Foker. Remember what you said about
marriages just now, and the misery of a man who doesn't care for his
wife: and what sort of a wife would you have who didn't care for
"But she would care for me," said Foker, from his sofa--"that is, I
think she would. Last night only, as we were dancing, she said--"
"What did she say?" Pen cried, starting up in great wrath. But he saw
his own meaning more clearly than Foker, and broke off with a
laugh--"Well, never mind what she said, Harry. Miss Amory is a clever
girl, and says numbers of civil things--to you--to me, perhaps--and
who the deuce knows to whom besides? Nothing's settled, old boy. At
least, _my_ heart won't break if I don't get her. Win her if you can,
and I wish you joy of her. Good-by! Don't think about what I said to
you. I was excited, and confoundedly thirsty in those hot rooms, and
didn't, I suppose, put enough Seltzer water into the Champagne. Good
night! I'll keep your counsel too. 'Mum' is the word between us; and
'let there be a fair fight, and let the best man win,' as Peter
So saying, Mr. Arthur Pendennis, giving a very queer and rather
dangerous look at his companion, shook him by the hand, with something
of that sort of cordiality which befitted his just repeated simile of
the boxing-match, and which Mr. Bendigo displays when he shakes hands
with Mr. Gaunt before they fight each other for the champion's belt
and two hundred pounds a side. Foker returned his friend's salute with
an imploring look, and a piteous squeeze of the hand, sank back on his
cushions again, and Pen, putting on his hat, strode forth into the
air, and almost over the body of the matutinal housemaid, who was
rubbing the steps at the door.
"And so he wants her too? does he?" thought Pen as he marched
along--and noted within himself with a fatal keenness of perception
and almost an infernal mischief, that the very pains and tortures
which that honest heart of Foker's was suffering gave a zest and an
impetus to his own pursuit of Blanche: if pursuit that might be called
which had been no pursuit as yet, but mere sport and idle dallying.
"She said something to him, did she? perhaps she gave him the fellow
flower to this;" and he took out of his coat and twiddled in his thumb
and finger a poor little shriveled, crumpled bud that had faded and
blackened with the heat and flare of the night. "I wonder to how many
more she has given her artless tokens of affection--the little
flirt"--and he flung his into the gutter, where the water may have
refreshed it, and where any amateur of rosebuds may have picked it up.
And then bethinking him that the day was quite bright, and that the
passers-by might be staring at his beard and white neckcloth, our
modest young gentleman took a cab and drove to the Temple. Ah! is this
the boy that prayed at his mother's knee but a few years since, and
for whom very likely at this hour of morning she is praying? Is this
jaded and selfish worldling the lad who, a short while back, was ready
to fling away his worldly all, his hope, his ambition, his chance of
life, for his love? This is the man you are proud of, old Pendennis.
You boast of having formed him: and of having reasoned him out of his
absurd romance and folly--and groaning in your bed over your pains and
rheumatisms, satisfy yourself still by thinking, that, at last, that
lad will do something to better himself in life, and that the
Pendennises will take a good place in the world. And is he the only
one, who in his progress through this dark life goes willfully or
fatally astray, while the natural truth and love which should illumine
him grew dim in the poisoned air, and suffice to light him no more?
When Pen was gone away, poor Harry Foker got up from the sofa, and
taking out from his waistcoat--the splendidly buttoned, the gorgeously
embroidered, the work of his mamma--a little white rosebud, he drew
from his dressing-case, also the maternal present, a pair of scissors,
with which he nipped carefully the stalk of the flower, and placing it
in a glass of water opposite his bed, he sought refuge there from care
and bitter remembrances.
It is to be presumed that Miss Blanche Amory had more than one rose in
her bouquet, and why should not the kind young creature give out of
her superfluity, and make as many partners as possible happy?
The exertions of that last night at Gaunt House had proved almost too
much for Major Pendennis; and as soon as he could move his weary old
body with safety, he transported himself groaning to Buxton, and
sought relief in the healing waters of that place. Parliament broke
up. Sir Francis Clavering and family left town, and the affairs which
we have just mentioned to the reader were not advanced, in the brief
interval of a few days or weeks which have occurred between this and
the last chapter. The town was, however, emptied since then. The
season was now come to a conclusion: Pen's neighbors, the lawyers,
were gone upon circuit: and his more fashionable friends had taken
their passports for the Continent, or had fled for health or
excitement to the Scotch moors. Scarce a man was to be seen in the
bay-windows of the Clubs, or on the solitary Pall-Mall pavement. The
red jackets had disappeared from before the Palace-gate: the tradesmen
of St. James's were abroad taking their pleasure: the tailors had
grown mustaches, and were gone up the Rhine: the bootmakers were at
Ems or Baden, blushing when they met their customers at those places
of recreation, or punting beside their creditors at the gambling
tables: the clergymen of St. James's only preached to half a
congregation, in which there was not a single sinner of distinction:
the band in Kensington Gardens had shut up their instruments of brass
and trumpets of silver: only two or three old flies and chaises
crawled by the banks of the Serpentine, and Clarence Bulbul, who was
retained in town by his arduous duties as a Treasury clerk, when he
took his afternoon ride in Rotten Row, compared its loneliness to the
vastness of the Arabian desert, and himself to a Bedouin wending his
way through that dusty solitude. Warrington stowed away a quantity of
Cavendish tobacco in his carpet bag, and betook himself, as his custom
was, in the vacation to his brother's house in Norfolk. Pen was left
alone in chambers for a while, for this man of fashion could not quit
the metropolis when he chose always: and was at present detained by
the affairs of his newspaper, the Pall Mall Gazette, of which he acted
as the editor and chargé d'affaires during the temporary absence of
the chief, Captain Shandon, who was with his family at the salutary
watering-place of Boulogne sur Mer.
Although, as we have seen, Mr. Pen had pronounced himself for years
past to be a man perfectly _blasé_ and wearied of life, yet the truth
is that he was an exceedingly healthy young fellow; still with a fine
appetite, which he satisfied with the greatest relish and satisfaction
at least once a day; and a constant desire for society, which showed
him to be any thing but misanthropical. If he could not get a good
dinner he sat down to a bad one with perfect contentment; if he could
not procure the company of witty, or great, or beautiful persons, he
put up with any society that came to hand; and was perfectly satisfied
in a tavern-parlor or on board a Greenwich steam-boat, or in a jaunt
to Hampstead with Mr. Finucane, his colleague at the Pall Mall
Gazette; or in a visit to the summer theaters across the river; or to
the Royal Gardens of Vauxhall, where he was on terms of friendship
with the great Simpson, and where he shook the principal comic singer
or the lovely equestrian of the arena by the hand. And while he could
watch the grimaces or the graces of these with a satiric humor that
was not deprived of sympathy, he could look on with an eye of kindness
at the lookers on too; at the roystering youth bent upon enjoyment,
and here taking it: at the honest parents, with their delighted
children laughing and clapping their hands at the show: at the poor
outcasts, whose laughter was less innocent, though perhaps louder, and
who brought their shame and their youth here, to dance and be merry
till the dawn at least; and to get bread and drown care. Of this
sympathy with all conditions of men Arthur often boasted: he was
pleased to possess it: and said that he hoped thus to the last he
should retain it. As another man has an ardor for art or music, or
natural science, Mr. Pen said that anthropology was his favorite
pursuit; and had his eyes always eagerly open to its infinite
varieties and beauties: contemplating with an unfailing delight all
specimens of it in all places to which he resorted, whether it was the
coqueting of a wrinkled dowager in a ball-room, or a high-bred young
beauty blushing in her prime there; whether it was a hulking guardsman
coaxing a servant-girl in the Park, or innocent little Tommy that was
feeding the ducks while the nurse listened. And indeed a man whose
heart is pretty clean, can indulge in this pursuit with an enjoyment
that never ceases, and is only perhaps the more keen because it is
secret, and has a touch of sadness in it: because he is of his mood
and humor lonely, and apart although not alone.
Yes, Pen used to brag and talk in his impetuous way to Warrington. "I
was in love so fiercely in my youth, that I have burned out that flame
forever, I think, and if ever I marry, it will be a marriage of reason
that I will make, with a well-bred, good-tempered, good-looking person
who has a little money, and so forth, that will cushion our carriage
in its course through life. As for romance, it is all done; I have
spent that out, and am old before my time--I'm proud of it."
"Stuff!" growled the other, "you fancied you were getting bald the
other day, and bragged about it, as you do about every thing. But you
began to use the bear's-grease pot directly the hair-dresser told you;
and are scented like a barber ever since."
"You are Diogenes," the other answered, "and you want every man to
live in a tub like yourself. Violets smell better than stale tobacco,
you grizzly old cynic." But Mr. Pen was blushing while he made this
reply to his unromantical friend, and indeed cared a great deal more
about himself still than such a philosopher perhaps should have done.
Indeed, considering that he was careless about the world, Mr. Pen
ornamented his person with no small pains in order to make himself
agreeable to it, and for a weary pilgrim as he was, wore very tight
boots and bright varnish.
It was in this dull season of the year then, of a shining Friday night
in autumn, that Mr. Pendennis, having completed at his newspaper
office a brilliant leading article--such as Captain Shandon himself
might have written, had the captain been in good humor, and inclined
to work, which he never would do except under compulsion--that Mr.
Arthur Pendennis having written his article, and reviewed it
approvingly as it lay before him in its wet proof-sheet at the office
of the paper, bethought him that he would cross the water, and regale
himself with the fire-works and other amusements of Vauxhall. So he
affably put in his pocket the order which admitted "Editor of Pall
Mall Gazette and friend" to that place of recreation, and paid with
the coin of the realm a sufficient sum to enable him to cross Waterloo
Bridge. The walk thence to the Gardens was pleasant, the stars were
shining in the skies above, looking down upon the royal property,
whence the rockets and Roman candles had not yet ascended to outshine
Before you enter the enchanted ground, where twenty thousand
additional lamps are burned every night as usual, most of us have
passed through the black and dreary passage and wickets which hide the
splendors of Vauxhall from uninitiated men. In the walls of this
passage are two holes strongly illuminated, in the midst of which you
see two gentlemen at desks, where they will take either your money as
a private individual, or your order of admission if you are provided
with that passport to the Gardens. Pen went to exhibit his ticket at
the last-named orifice, where, however, a gentleman and two ladies
were already in parley before him.
The gentleman, whose hat was very much on one side, and who wore a
short and shabby cloak in an excessively smart manner, was crying out
in a voice which Pen at once recognized, "Bedad, sir, if ye doubt me
honor, will ye obleege me by stipping out of that box, and--"
"Lor, Capting!" cried the elder lady.
"Don't bother me," said the man in the box.
"And ask Mr. Hodgen himself, who's in the gyardens, to let these
leedies pass. Don't be froightened, me dear madam, I'm not going to
quarl with this gintleman, at any reet before leedies. Will ye go,
sir, and desoire Mr. Hodgen (whose orther I keem in with, and he's me
most intemate friend, and I know he's goan to sing the 'Body Snatcher'
here to-noight), with Captain Costigan's compliments, to stip out and
let in the leedies; for meself, sir, oi've seen Vauxhall, and I
scawrun any interfayrance on moi account: but for these leedies, one
of them has never been there, and oi should think ye'd harly take
advantage of me misfartune in losing the tickut, to deproive her of
"It ain't no use, captain. I can't go about your business," the
checktaker said; on which the captain swore an oath, and the elder
lady said, "Lor, ow provokin!"
As for the young one, she looked up at the captain, and said, "Never
mind, Captain Costigan, I'm sure I don't want to go at all. Come away,
mamma." And with this, although she did not want to go at all, her
feelings overcame her, and she began to cry.
"Me poor child!" the captain said. "Can ye see that, sir, and will ye
not let this innocent creature in?"
"It ain't my business," cried the door-keeper, peevishly, out of the
illuminated box. And at this minute Arthur came up, and recognizing
Costigan, said, "Don't you know me, captain? Pendennis!" And he took
off his hat and made a bow to the two ladies. "Me dear boy! Me dear
friend!" cried the captain, extending toward Pendennis the grasp of
friendship; and he rapidly explained to the other what he called "a
most unluckee conthratong." He had an order for Vauxhall, admitting
two, from Mr. Hodgen, then within the Gardens, and singing (as he did
at the Back Kitchen and the nobility's concerts the "Body Snatcher,"
the "Death of General Wolfe," the "Banner of Blood," and other
favorite melodies); and, having this order for the admission of two
persons, he thought that it would admit three, and had come
accordingly to the Gardens with his friends. But, on his way, Captain
Costigan had lost the paper of admission--it was not forthcoming at
all; and the leedies must go back again, to the great disappointment
of one of them, as Pendennis saw.
Arthur had a great deal of good nature for everybody, and sympathized
with the misfortunes of all sorts of people: how could he refuse his
sympathy in such a case as this? He had seen the innocent face as it
looked up to the captain, the appealing look of the girl, the piteous
quiver of the mouth, and the final outburst of tears. If it had been
his last guinea in the world, he must have paid it to have given the
poor little thing pleasure. She turned the sad imploring eyes away
directly they lighted upon a stranger, and began to wipe them with her
handkerchief. Arthur looked very handsome and kind as he stood before
the women, with his hat off, blushing, bowing, generous, a
gentleman. "Who are they?" he asked of himself. He thought he had seen
the elder lady before.
"If I can be of any service to you, Captain Costigan," the young man
said, "I hope you will command me; is there any difficulty about
taking these ladies into the garden? Will you kindly make use of my
purse? And--I have a ticket myself which will admit two--I hope,
ma'am, you will permit me?"
The first impulse of the Prince of Fairoaks was to pay for the whole
party, and to make away with his newspaper order as poor Costigan had
done with his own ticket. But his instinct, and the appearance of the
two women told him that they would be better pleased if he did not
give himself the airs of a _grand seigneur_, and he handed his purse
to Costigan, and laughingly pulled out his ticket with one hand, as he
offered the other to the elder of the ladies--ladies was not the
word--they had bonnets and shawls, and collars and ribbons, and the
youngest showed a pretty little foot and boot under her modest gray
gown, but his Highness of Fairoaks was courteous to every person who
wore a petticoat, whatever its texture was, and the humbler the
wearer, only the more stately and polite in his demeanor.
"Fanny, take the gentleman's arm," the elder said; "since you will be
so very kind; I've seen you often come in at our gate, sir, and go in
to Captain Strong's, at No. 4."
Fanny made a little courtesy, and put her hand under Arthur's arm. It
had on a shabby little glove, but it was pretty and small. She was
not a child, but she was scarcely a woman as yet; her tears had dried
up, and her cheek mantled with youthful blushes, and her eyes
glistened with pleasure and gratitude, as she looked up into Arthur's
Arthur, in a protecting way, put his other hand upon the little one
resting on his arm. "Fanny's a very pretty little name," he said, "and
so you know me, do you?"
"We keep the lodge, sir, at Shepherd's Inn," Fanny said, with a
courtesy; "and I've never been at Vauxhall, sir, and Pa didn't like me
to go--and--and--O--O--law, how beautiful!" She shrank back as she
spoke, starting with wonder and delight as she saw the Royal Gardens
blaze before her with a hundred million of lamps, with a splendor such
as the finest fairy tale, the finest pantomime she had ever witnessed
at the theater, had never realized. Pen was pleased with her pleasure,
and pressed to his side the little hand which clung so kindly to him.
"What would I not give for a little of this pleasure?" said the
_blasé_ young man.
"Your purse, Pendennis, me dear boy," said the captain's voice behind
him. "Will ye count it? it's all roight--no--ye thrust in old Jack
Costigan (he thrusts me, ye see, madam). Ye've been me preserver, Pen
(I've known um since choildhood, Mrs. Bolton; he's the proproietor of
Fairoaks Castle, and many's the cooper of clart I've dthrunk there
with the first nobilitee of his native countee)--Mr. Pendennis,
ye've been me preserver, and oi thank ye; me daughtther will thank ye:
Mr. Simpson, your humble servant, sir."
If Pen was magnificent in his courtesy to the ladies, what was his
splendor in comparison to Captain Costigan's bowing here and there,
and crying bravo to the singers?
A man, descended like Costigan, from a long line of Hibernian kings,
chieftains, and other magnates and sheriffs of the county, had of
course too much dignity and self-respect to walk arrum-in-arrum (as
the captain phrased it) with a lady who occasionally swept his room
out, and cooked his mutton chops. In the course of their journey from
Shepherd's Inn to Vauxhall Gardens, Captain Costigan had walked by the
side of the two ladies, in a patronizing and affable manner pointing
out to them the edifices worthy of note, and discoursing, according to
his wont, about other cities and countries which he had visited, and
the people of rank and fashion with whom he had the honor of an
acquaintance. Nor could it be expected, nor, indeed, did Mrs. Bolton
expect, that, arrived in the royal property, and strongly illuminated
by the flare of the twenty thousand additional lamps, the captain
would relax from his dignity, and give an arm to a lady who was, in
fact, little better than a housekeeper or charwoman.
But Pen, on his part, had no such scruples. Miss Fanny Bolton did not
make his bed nor sweep his chambers; and he did not choose to let go
his pretty little partner. As for Fanny, her color heightened, and her
bright eyes shone the brighter with pleasure, as she leaned for
protection on the arm of such a fine gentleman as Mr. Pen. And she
looked at numbers of other ladies in the place, and at scores of other
gentlemen under whose protection they were walking here and there; and
she thought that her gentleman was handsomer and grander looking than
any other gent in the place. Of course there were votaries of pleasure
of all ranks there--rakish young surgeons, fast young clerks and
commercialists, occasional dandies of the guard regiments, and the
rest. Old Lord Colchicum was there in attendance upon Mademoiselle
Caracoline, who had been riding in the ring; and who talked her native
French very loud, and used idiomatic expressions of exceeding strength
as she walked about, leaning on the arm of his lordship.
Colchicum was in attendance upon Mademoiselle Caracoline, little Tom
Tufthunt was in attendance upon Lord Colchicum; and rather pleased,
too, with his position. When Don Juan scales the wall, there's never a
want of a Leporello to hold the ladder. Tom Tufthunt was quite happy
to act as friend to the elderly viscount, and to carve the fowl, and
to make the salad at supper. When Pen and his young lady met the
viscount's party, that noble peer only gave Arthur a passing leer of
recognition as his lordship's eyes passed from Pen's face under the
bonnet of Pen's companion. But Tom Tufthunt wagged his head very
good-naturedly at Mr. Arthur, and said, "How are you, old boy?" and
looked extremely knowing at the god-father of this history.
"That is the great rider at Astley's; I have seen her there," Miss
Bolton said, looking after Mademoiselle Caracoline; "and who is that
old man? is it not the gentleman in the ring?"
"That is Lord Viscount Colchicum, Miss Fanny," said Pen, with an air
of protection. He meant no harm; he was pleased to patronize the young
girl, and he was not displeased that she should be so pretty, and that
she should be hanging upon his arm, and that yonder elderly Don Juan
should have seen her there.
Fanny was very pretty; her eyes were dark and brilliant; her teeth
were like little pearls; her mouth was almost as red as Mademoiselle
Caracoline's when the latter had put on her vermilion. And what a
difference there was between the one's voice and the other's, between
the girl's laugh and the woman's! It was only very lately, indeed,
that Fanny, when looking in the little glass over the Bows-Costigan
mantle-piece as she was dusting it, had begun to suspect that she was
a beauty. But a year ago, she was a clumsy, gawky girl, at whom her
father sneered, and of whom the girls at the day-school (Miss
Minifer's, Newcastle-street, Strand; Miss M., the younger sister, took
the leading business at the Norwich circuit in 182-; and she herself
had played for two seasons with some credit T.R.E.O., T.R.S.W.,
until she fell down a trap-door and broke her leg); the girls at
Fanny's school, we say, took no account of her, and thought her a
dowdy little creature as long as she remained under Miss Minifer's
instruction. And it was unremarked and almost unseen in the dark
porter's lodge of Shepherd's Inn, that this little flower bloomed
So this young person hung upon Mr. Pen's arm, and they paced the
gardens together. Empty as London was, there were still some two
millions of people left lingering about it, and among them, one or two
of the acquaintances of Mr. Arthur Pendennis.
Among them, silent and alone, pale, with his hands in his pockets, and
a rueful nod of the head to Arthur as they met, passed Henry Foker,
Esq. Young Henry was trying to ease his mind by moving from place to
place, and from excitement to excitement. But he thought about Blanche
as he sauntered in the dark walks; he thought about Blanche as he
looked at the devices of the lamps. He consulted the fortune-teller
about her, and was disappointed when that gipsy told him that he was
in love with a dark lady who would make him happy; and at the concert,
though Mr. Momus sang his most stunning comic songs, and asked his
most astonishing riddles, never did a kind smile come to visit Foker's
lips. In fact he never heard Mr. Momus at all.
Pen and Miss Bolton were hard by listening to the same concert, and
the latter remarked, and Pen laughed at, Mr. Foker's woe-begone face.
Fanny asked what it was that made that odd-looking little man so
dismal? "I think he is crossed in love!" Pen said. "Isn't that enough
to make any man dismal, Fanny?" And he looked down at her, splendidly
protecting her, like Egmont at Clara in Goethe's play, or Leicester at
Amy in Scott's novel.
"Crossed in love is he? poor gentleman," said Fanny with a sigh, and
her eyes turned round toward him with no little kindness and pity--but
Harry did not see the beautiful dark eyes.
"How-dy-do, Mr. Pendennis!"--a voice broke in here--it was that of a
young man in a large white coat with a red neckcloth, over which a
dingy short collar was turned, so as to exhibit a dubious neck--with a
large pin of bullion or other metal, and an imaginative waistcoat with
exceedingly fanciful glass buttons, and trowsers that cried with a
loud voice, "Come look at me and see how cheap and tawdry I am; my
master, what a dirty buck!" and a little stick in one pocket of his
coat, and a lady in pink satin on the other arm--"How-dy-do--Forget
me, I dare say? Huxter--Clavering."
"How do you do, Mr. Huxter," the Prince of Fairoaks said, in his most
princely manner, "I hope you are very well." "Pretty bobbish,
thanky." And Mr. Huxter wagged his head. "I say, Pendennis, you've
been coming it uncommon strong since we had the row at Wapshot's,
don't you remember. Great author, hay? Go about with the swells. Saw
your name in the Morning Post. I suppose you're too much of a swell to
come and have a bit of supper with an old friend?--Charterhouse-lane
to-morrow night--some devilish good fellows from Bartholomew's, and
some stunning gin punch. Here's my card." And with this Mr. Huxter
released his hand from the pocket where his cane was, and pulling off
the top of his card case with his teeth produced thence a visiting
ticket, which he handed to Pen.