Part 6 out of 9
after this, upon her birth-day, which happened in the month of June,
Miss Amory received from "a friend" a parcel containing an enormous
brass-inlaid writing-desk, in which there was a set of amethysts, the
most hideous eyes ever looked upon--a musical snuff-box, and two
keepsakes of the year before last, and accompanied with a couple of
gown-pieces of the most astounding colors, the receipt of which goods
made the Sylphide laugh and wonder immoderately. Now it is a fact that
Colonel Altamont had made a purchase of cigars and French silks from
some duffers in Fleet-street about this period; and he was found by
Strong in the open Auction-room, in Cheapside, having invested some
money in two desks, several pairs of richly-plated candlesticks, a
dinner épergne and a bagatelle-board. The dinner épergne remained at
chambers and figured at the banquets there, which the colonel gave
pretty freely. It seemed beautiful in his eyes, until Jack Holt said
it looked as if it had been taken in "a bill." And Jack Holt
The dinners were pretty frequent at chambers, and Sir Francis Clavering
condescended to partake of them constantly. His own house was
shut up; the successor of Mirobolant, who had sent in his bills so
prematurely, was dismissed by the indignant Lady Clavering; the
luxuriance of the establishment was greatly pruned and reduced. One of
the large footmen was cashiered, upon which the other gave warning,
not liking to serve without his mate, or in a family where on'y one
footman was kep'. General and severe economical reforms were practiced
by the Begum in her whole household, in consequence of the
extravagance of which her graceless husband had been guilty. The
major, as her ladyship's friend; Strong, on the part of poor
Clavering; her ladyship's lawyer, and the honest Begum herself,
executed these reforms with promptitude and severity. After paying the
baronet's debts, the settlement of which occasioned considerable
public scandal, and caused the baronet to sink even lower in the
world's estimation than he had been before, Lady Clavering quitted
London for Tunbridge Wells in high dudgeon, refusing to see her
reprobate husband, whom nobody pitied. Clavering remained in London
patiently, by no means anxious to meet his wife's just indignation,
and sneaked in and out of the House of Commons, whence he and Captain
Raff and Mr. Marker would go to have a game at billiards and a cigar:
or showed in the sporting public-houses; or might be seen lurking
about Lincoln's Inn and his lawyers', where the principals kept him
for hours waiting, and the clerks winked at each other, as he sat in
their office. No wonder that he relished the dinners at Shepherd's
Inn, and was perfectly resigned there: resigned? he was so happy
nowhere else; he was wretched among his equals, who scorned him; but
here he was the chief guest at the table, where they continually
addressed him with "Yes, Sir Francis," and "No, Sir Francis," where he
told his wretched jokes, and where he quavered his dreary little
French song, after Strong had sung his jovial chorus, and honest
Costigan had piped his Irish ditties. Such a jolly menage as Strong's,
with Grady's Irish stew, and the chevalier's brew of punch after
dinner, would have been welcome to many a better man than Clavering,
the solitude of whose great house at home frightened him, where he was
attended only by the old woman who kept the house, and his valet who
sneered at him.
"Yes, dammit," said he, to his friends in Shepherd's Inn. "That fellow
of mine, I must turn him away, only I owe him two years' wages, curse
him, and can't ask my lady. He brings me my tea cold of a morning,
with a dem'd leaden tea-spoon, and he says my lady's sent all the
plate to the banker's because it ain't safe. Now ain't it hard that
she won't trust me with a single tea-spoon--ain't it ungentlemanlike,
Altamont? You know my lady's of low birth--that is--I beg your
pardon--hem--that is, it's most cruel of her not to show more
confidence in me. And the very servants begin to laugh--the dam
scoundrels! I'll break every bone in their great hulking bodies, curse
'em, I will. They don't answer my bell: and--and, my man was at
Vauxhall last night with one of my dress shirts and my velvet
waistcoat on, I know it was mine--the confounded impudent
blackguard--and he went on dancing before my eyes, confound him; I'm
sure he'll live to be hanged--he deserves to be hanged--all those
infernal rascals of valets."
He was very kind to Altamont now: he listened to the colonel's loud
stories when Altamont described how--when he was working his way home
once from New Zealand, where he had been on a whaling expedition--he
and his comrades had been obliged to shirk on board at night, to
escape from their wives, by Jove--and how the poor devils put out in
their canoes when they saw the ship under sail, and paddled madly
after her: how he had been lost in the bush once for three months in
New South Wales, when he was there once on a trading speculation: how
he had seen Boney at Saint Helena, and been presented to him with the
rest of the officers of the Indiaman of which he was a mate--to all
these tales (and over his cups Altamont told many of them; and, it
must be owned, lied and bragged a great deal) Sir Francis now listened
with great attention; making a point of drinking wine with Altamont at
dinner and of treating him with every distinction.
"Leave him alone, I know what he's a-coming to," Altamont said,
laughing to Strong, who remonstrated with him, "and leave me alone; I
know what I'm a-telling, very well. I was officer on board an
Indiaman, so I was; I traded to New South Wales, so I did, in a ship
of my own, and lost her. I became officer to the Nawaub, so I did;
only me and my royal master have had a difference, Strong--that's it.
Who's the better or the worse for what I tell? or knows any thing
about me? The other chap is dead--shot in the bush, and his body
reckonized at Sydney. If I thought any body would split, do you think
I wouldn't wring his neck? I've done as good before now, Strong--I
told you how I did for the overseer before I took leave--but in fair
fight, I mean--in fair fight; or, rayther, he had the best of it. He
had his gun and bay'net, and I had only an ax. Fifty of 'em saw
it--ay, and cheered me when I did it--and I'd do it again,--him,
wouldn't I? I ain't afraid of any body; and I'd have the life of the
man who split upon me. That's my maxim, and pass me the liquor--_You_
wouldn't turn on a man. I know you. You're an honest feller, and will
stand by a feller, and have looked death in the face like a man. But
as for that lily-livered sneak--that poor lyin', swindlin', cringin'
cur of a Clavering--who stands in my shoes--stands in my shoes, hang
him! I'll make him pull my boots off and clean 'em, I will. Ha, ha!"
Here he burst out into a wild laugh, at which Strong got up and put
away the brandy-bottle. The other still laughed good-humoredly.
"You're right, old boy," he said; "you always keep your head cool, you
do--and when I begin to talk too much--I say, when I begin to _pitch_,
I authorize you, and order you, and command you, to put away the
"Take my counsel, Altamont," Strong said, gravely, "and mind how you
deal with that man. Don't make it too much his interest to get rid of
you; or who knows what he may do?"
The event for which, with cynical enjoyment, Altamont had been on the
look-out, came very speedily. One day, Strong being absent upon an
errand for his principal, Sir Francis made his appearance in the
chambers, and found the envoy of the Nawaub alone. He abused the world
in general for being heartless and unkind to him: he abused his wife
for being ungenerous to him: he abused Strong for being
ungrateful--hundreds of pounds had he given Ned Strong--been his
friend for life and kept him out of jail, by Jove--and now Ned was
taking her ladyship's side against him and abetting her in her
infernal, unkind treatment of him. "They've entered into a conspiracy
to keep me penniless, Altamont," the baronet said: "they don't give me
as much pocket-money as Frank has at school."
"Why don't you go down to Richmond and borrow of him, Clavering?"
Altamont broke out with a savage laugh. "He wouldn't see his poor old
beggar of a father without pocket-money, would he?"
"I tell you, I've been obliged to humiliate myself cruelly," Clavering
said. "Look here, sir--look here, at these pawn-tickets! Fancy a
member of Parliament and an old English baronet, by gad! obliged to
put a drawing-room clock and a Buhl inkstand up the spout; and a gold
duck's head paper-holder, that I dare say cost my wife five pound, for
which they'd only give me fifteen-and-six! Oh, it's a humiliating
thing, sir, poverty to a man of my habits; and it's made me shed
tears, sir--tears; and that d--d valet of mine--curse him, I wish he
was hanged!--has had the confounded impudence to threaten to tell my
lady: as if the things in my own house weren't my own, to sell or to
keep, or to fling out of window if I chose--by gad! the confounded
"Cry a little; don't mind cryin' before me--it'll relieve you,
Clavering" the other said. "Why, I say, old feller, what a happy
feller I once thought you, and what a miserable son of a gun you
"It's a shame that they treat me so, ain't it," Clavering went
on--for, though ordinarily silent and apathetic, about his own griefs
the baronet could whine for an hour at a time. "And--and, by gad, sir,
I haven't got the money to pay the very cab that's waiting for me at
the door; and the porteress, that Mrs. Bolton, lent me three
shillin's, and I don't like to ask her for any more: and I asked that
d--d old Costigan, the confounded old penniless Irish miscreant, and
he hadn't got a shillin', the beggar; and Campion's out of town, or
else he'd do a little bill for me, I know he would."
"I thought you swore on your honor to your wife that you wouldn't put
your name to paper," said Mr. Altamont, puffing at his cigar.
"Why does she leave me without pocket-money then? Damme, I must have
money," cried out the baronet. "Oh, Am--, Oh, Altamont, I'm the most
miserable beggar alive."
"You'd like a chap to lend you a twenty-pound-note, wouldn't you now?"
the other asked.
"If you would, I'd be grateful to you forever--forever, my dearest
friend," cried Clavering. "How much would you give? Will you give a
fifty-pound bill, at six months, for half down and half in plate,"
"Yes, I would, so help me--, and pay it on the day," screamed
Clavering. "I'll make it payable at my banker's: I'll do any thing
"Well, I was only chaffing you. I'll _give_ you twenty pound."
"You said a pony," interposed Clavering; "my dear fellow, you said a
pony, and I'll be eternally obliged to you; and I'll not take it as a
gift--only as a loan, and pay you back in six months. I take my oath
"Well--well--there's the money, Sir Francis Clavering. I ain't a bad
fellow. When I've money in my pocket, dammy, I spend it like a man.
Here's five-and-twenty for you. Don't be losing it at the hells now.
Don't be making a fool of yourself. Go down to Clavering Park, and
it'll keep you ever so long. You needn't 'ave butchers' meat: there's
pigs I dare say on the premises: and you can shoot rabbits for dinner,
you know, every day till the game comes in. Besides, the neighbors
will ask you about to dinner, you know, sometimes: for you _are_ a
baronet, though you have outrun the constable. And you've got this
comfort, that _I'm_ off your shoulders for a good bit to come--p'raps
this two years--if I don't play; and I don't intend to touch the
confounded black and red: and by that time my lady, as you call her--
Jimmy, I used to say--will have come round again; and you'll be ready
for me, you know, and come down handsomely to yours truly."
At this juncture of their conversation Strong returned, nor did the
baronet care much about prolonging the talk, having got the money: and
he made his way from Shepherd's Inn, and went home and bullied his
servant in a manner so unusually brisk and insolent, that the man
concluded his master must have pawned some more of the house
furniture, or at any rate, have come into possession of some
"And yet I've looked over the house, Morgan, and I don't think he has
took any more of the things," Sir Francis's valet said to Major
Pendennis's man, as they met at their club soon after. "My lady locked
up a'most all the befews afore she went away, and he couldn't take
away the picters and looking-glasses in a cab: and he wouldn't spout
the fenders and fire-irons--he ain't so bad as that. But he's got
money somehow. He's so dam'd imperent when he have. A few nights ago I
sor him at Vauxhall, where I was a polkin with Lady Hemly Babewood's
gals--a wery pleasant room that is, and an uncommon good lot in it,
hall except the 'ousekeeper, and she's methodisticle--I was a
polkin--you're too old a cove to polk, Mr. Morgan--and 'ere's your
'ealth--and I 'appened to 'ave on some of Clavering's _abberdashery_,
and he sor it too; and he didn't dare so much as speak a word."
"How about the house in St. John's Wood?" Mr. Morgan asked.
"Execution in it.--Sold up hevery thing: ponies and pianna, and
Brougham, and all. Mrs. Montague Rivers hoff to Boulogne--non est
inwentus, Mr. Morgan. It's my belief she put the execution in herself:
and was tired of him."
"Play much?" asked Morgan.
"Not since the smash. When your governor, and the lawyers, and my lady
and him had that tremenduous scene: he went down on his knees, my lady
told Mrs. Bonner, as told me--and swoar as he never more would touch a
card or a dice, or put his name to a bit of paper; and my lady was
a-goin' to give him the notes down to pay his liabilities after the
race: only your governor said (which he wrote it on a piece of paper,
and passed it across the table to the lawyer and my lady), that some
one else had better book up for him, for he'd have kep' some of the
money. He's a sly old cove, your gov'nor." The expression of "old
cove," thus flippantly applied by the younger gentleman to himself and
his master, displeased Mr. Morgan exceedingly. On the first occasion,
when Mr. Lightfoot used the obnoxious expression, his comrade's anger
was only indicated by a silent frown; but on the second offense,
Morgan, who was smoking his cigar elegantly, and holding it on the tip
of his penknife, withdrew the cigar from his lips, and took his young
friend to task.
"Don't call Major Pendennis an old cove, if you'll 'ave the goodness,
Lightfoot, and don't call _me_ an old cove, nether. Such words
ain't used in society; and we have lived in the fust society, both at
'ome and foring. We've been intimate with the fust statesmen of
Europe. When we go abroad we dine with Prince Metternitch and Louy
Philup reg'lar. We go here to the best houses, the tip-tops, I tell
you. We ride with Lord John and the noble Whycount at the edd of
Foring Affairs. We dine with the Earl of Burgrave, and are consulted
by the Marquis of Steyne in every think. We _ought_ to know a
thing or two, Mr. Lightfoot. You're a young man, I'm an old cove, as
you say. We've both seen the world, and we both know that it ain't
money, nor bein' a baronet, nor 'avin' a town and country 'ouse, nor a
paltry five or six thousand a year."
"It's ten, Mr. Morgan," cried Mr. Lightfoot, with great animation.
"It _may_ have been, sir," Morgan said, with calm severity; "it
may have been Mr. Lightfoot, but it ain't six now, nor five, sir. It's
been doosedly dipped and cut into, sir, by the confounded extravygance
of your master, with his helbow-shakin' and his bill discountin', and
his cottage in the Regency Park, and his many wickednesses. He's a bad
un, Mr. Lightfoot--a bad lot, sir, and that you know. And it ain't
money, sir--not such money as that, at any rate, come from a Calcuttar
attorney, and I dessay wrung out of the pore starving blacks--that
will give a pusson position in society, as you know very well. We've
no money, but we go every where; there's not a housekeeper's room,
sir, in this town of any consiquince, where James Morgan ain't
welcome. And it was me who got you into this club, Lightfoot, as you
very well know, though I am an old cove, and they would have
blackballed you without me, as sure as your name is Frederic."
"I know they would, Mr. Morgan," said the other, with much humility.
"Well, then, don't call me an old cove, sir. It ain't gentlemanlike,
Frederic Lightfoot, which I knew you when you was a cab-boy, and when
your father was in trouble, and got you the place you have now when
the Frenchman went away. And if you think, sir, that because you're
making up to Mrs. Bonner, who may have saved her two thousand
pound--and I dare say she has in five-and-twenty years as she have
lived confidential maid to Lady Clavering--yet, sir, you must remember
who put you into that service, and who knows what you were before,
sir, and it don't become you, Frederic Lightfoot, to call me an
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Morgan--I can't do more than make an
apology--will you have a glass, sir, and let me drink your 'ealth?"
"You know I don't take sperrits, Lightfoot," replied Morgan, appeased.
"And so you and Mrs. Bonner is going to put up together, are you?"
"She's old, but two thousand pound's a good bit, you see, Mr. Morgan.
And we'll get the 'Clavering Arms' for a very little; and that'll be
no bad thing when the railroad runs through Clavering. And when we are
there, I hope you'll come and see us, Mr. Morgan."
"It's a stoopid place, and no society," said Mr. Morgan. "I know it
well. In Mrs. Pendennis's time we used to go down reg'lar, and the
hair refreshed me after the London racket."
"The railroad will improve Mr. Arthur's property," remarked Lightfoot.
"What's about the figure of it, should you say, sir?"
"Under fifteen hundred, sir," answered Morgan; at which the other, who
knew the extent of poor Arthur's acres, thrust his tongue in his
cheek, but remained wisely silent.
"Is his man any good, Mr. Morgan?" Lightfoot resumed.
"Pigeon ain't used to society as yet; but he's young and has good
talents, and has read a good deal, and I dessay he will do very well,"
replied Morgan. "He wouldn't quite do for _this_ kind of thing,
Lightfoot, for he ain't seen the world yet."
When the pint of sherry for which Mr. Lightfoot called, upon Mr.
Morgan's announcement that he declined to drink spirits, had been
discussed by the two gentlemen, who held the wine up to the light, and
smacked their lips, and winked their eyes at it, and rallied the
landlord as to the vintage, in the most approved manner of
connoisseurs, Morgan's ruffled equanimity was quite restored, and he
was prepared to treat his young friend with perfect good-humor.
"What d'you think about Miss Amory, Lightfoot?--tell us in confidence,
now--do you think we should do well--you understand--if we make Miss
A. into Mrs. A. P.? _Comprendy vous_?"
"She and her ma's always quarrelin'," said Mr. Lightfoot. "Bonner is
more than a match for the old lady, and treats Sir Francis like that--like
this year spill, which I fling into the grate. But she daren't
say a word to Miss Amory. No more dare none of us. When a visitor
comes in, she smiles and languishes, you'd think that butter wouldn't
melt in her mouth: and the minute he is gone, very likely, she flares
up like a little demon, and says things fit to send you wild. If Mr.
Arthur comes, it's 'Do let's sing that there delightful song!' or,
'Come and write me them pooty verses in this halbum!' and very likely
she's been a rilin' her mother, or sticking pins into her maid, a
minute before. She do stick pins into her and pinch her. Mary Hann
showed me one of her arms quite black and blue; and I recklect Mrs.
Bonner, who's as jealous of me as a old cat, boxed her ears for
showing me. And then you should see Miss at luncheon, when there's
nobody but the family! She makes b'leave she never eats, and my! you
should only jest see her. She has Mary Hann to bring her up plum-cakes
and creams into her bedroom; and the cook's the only man in the house
she's civil to. Bonner says, how, the second season in London,
Mr. Soppington was a-goin' to propose for her, and actially came one
day, and sor her fling a book into the fire, and scold her mother so,
that he went down softly by the back droring-room door, which he came
in by; and next thing we heard of him was, he was married to Miss
Rider. Oh, she's a devil, that little Blanche, and that's my candig
apinium, Mr. Morgan."
"Apinion, not apinium, Lightfoot, my good fellow," Mr. Morgan said,
with parental kindness, and then asked of his own bosom with a sigh,
why the deuce does my governor want Master Arthur to marry such a girl
as this? and the _tête-à-tête_ of the two gentlemen was broken up by
the entry of other gentlemen, members of the club--when fashionable
town-talk, politics, cribbage, and other amusements ensued, and the
conversation became general.
The Gentleman's Club was held in the parlor of the Wheel of Fortune
public-house, in a snug little by-lane, leading out of one of the
great streets of May Fair, and frequented by some of the most select
gentlemen about town. Their masters' affairs, debts, intrigues,
adventures; their ladies' good and bad qualities and quarrels with
their husbands; all the family secrets were here discussed with
perfect freedom and confidence, and here, when about to enter into a
new situation, a gentleman was enabled to get every requisite
information regarding the family of which he proposed to become a
member. Liveries it may be imagined were excluded from this select
precinct; and the powdered heads of the largest metropolitan footmen
might bow down in vain, entreating admission into the Gentleman's
Club. These outcast giants in plush took their beer in an outer
apartment of the Wheel of Fortune, and could no more get an entry into
the club room than a Pall Mall tradesman or a Lincoln's Inn attorney
could get admission into Bay's or Spratt's. And it is because the
conversation which we have been permitted to overhear here, in some
measure explains the characters and bearings of our story, that we
have ventured to introduce the reader into a society so exclusive.
THE WAY OF THE WORLD.
A short time after the piece of good fortune which befel Colonel
Altamont at Epsom, that gentleman put into execution his projected
foreign tour, and the chronicler of the polite world who goes down to
London-bridge for the purpose of taking leave of the people of fashion
who quit this country, announced that among the company on board the
Soho to Antwerp last Saturday, were "Sir Robert, Lady, and the Misses
Hodge; Mr. Sergeant Kewsy, and Mrs. and Miss Kewsy; Colonel Altamont,
Major Coddy, &c." The colonel traveled in state, and as became a
gentleman: he appeared in a rich traveling costume: he drank
brandy-and-water freely during the passage, and was not sick, as some
of the other passengers were; and he was attended by his body servant,
the faithful Irish legionary who had been for some time in waiting
upon himself and Captain Strong in their chambers of Shepherd's Inn.
The chevalier partook of a copious dinner at Blackwall with his
departing friend the colonel, and one or two others, who drank many
healths to Altamont at that liberal gentleman's expense. "Strong, old
boy," the chevalier's worthy chum said, "if you want a little money,
now's your time. I'm your man. You're a good feller, and have been a
good feller to me, and a twenty pound note, more or less, will make no
odds to me." But Strong said, no, he didn't want any money; he was
flush, quite flush--"that is, not flush enough to pay you back your
last loan, Altamont, but quite able to carry on for some time to
come"--and so, with a not uncordial greeting between them, the two
parted. Had the possession of money really made Altamont more honest
and amiable than he had hitherto been, or only caused him to seem
more amiable in Strong's eyes? Perhaps he really was better; and money
improved him. Perhaps it was the beauty of wealth Strong saw and
respected. But he argued within himself "This poor devil, this unlucky
outcast of a returned convict, is ten times as good a fellow as my
friend Sir Francis Clavering, Bart. He has pluck and honesty, in his
way. He will stick to a friend, and face an enemy. The other never had
courage to do either. And what is it that has put the poor devil under
a cloud? He was only a little wild, and signed his father-in-law's
name. Many a man has done worse, and come to no wrong, and holds his
head up. Clavering does. No, he don't hold his head up: he never did
in his best days." And Strong, perhaps, repented him of the falsehood
which he had told to the free-handed colonel, that he was not in want
of money; but it was a falsehood on the side of honesty, and the
chevalier could not bring down his stomach to borrow a second time
from his outlawed friend. Besides, he could get on. Clavering had
promised him some: not that Clavering's promises were much to be
believed, but the chevalier was of a hopeful turn, and trusted in many
chances of catching his patron, and waylaying some of those stray
remittances and supplies, in the procuring of which for his principal
lay Mr. Strong's chief business.
He had grumbled about Altamont's companionship in the Shepherd's Inn
chambers; but he found those lodgings more glum now without his
partner than with him. The solitary life was not agreeable to his
social soul; and he had got into extravagant and luxurious habits,
too, having a servant at his command to run his errands, to arrange
his toilet, and to cook his meal. It was rather a grand and touching
sight now to see the portly and handsome gentleman painting his own
boots, and broiling his own mutton chop. It has been before stated
that the chevalier had a wife, a Spanish lady of Vittoria, who had
gone back to her friends, after a few months' union with the captain,
whose head she broke with a dish. He began to think whether he should
not go back and see his Juanita. The chevalier was growing melancholy
after the departure of his friend the colonel; or, to use his own
picturesque expression, was "down on his luck." These moments of
depression and intervals of ill-fortune occur constantly in the lives
of heroes; Marius at Minturnae, Charles Edward in the Highlands,
Napoleon before Elba. What great man has not been called upon to face
evil fortune? From Clavering no supplies were to be had for some time.
The five-and-twenty pounds, or "pony" which the exemplary baronet had
received from Mr. Altamont, had fled out of Clavering's keeping as
swiftly as many previous ponies. He had been down the river with a
choice party of sporting gents, who dodged the police and landed in
Essex, where they put up Billy Bluck to fight Dick the cabman, whom
the baronet backed, and who had it all his own way for thirteen
rounds, when, by an unluckly blow in the windpipe, Billy killed him.
"It's always my luck, Strong," Sir Francis said; "the betting was
three to one on the cabman, and I thought myself as sure of thirty
pounds, as if I had it in my pocket. And dammy, I owe my man
Lightfoot fourteen pound now which he's lent and paid for me: and he
duns me--the confounded impudent blackguard: and I wish to Heaven I
knew any way of getting a bill done, or of screwing a little out of my
lady! I'll give you half, Ned, upon my soul and honor, I'll give you
half if you can get any body to do us a little fifty."
But Ned said sternly that he had given his word of honor, as a
gentleman, that he would be no party to any future bill-transactions
in which her husband might engage (who had given his word of honor
too), and the chevalier said that he, at least, would keep his word,
and Would black his own boots all his life rather than break his
promise. And what is more, he vowed he would advise Lady Clavering
that Sir Francis was about to break his faith toward her, upon the
very first hint which he could get that such was Clavering's
intention. Upon this information Sir Francis Clavering, according to
his custom, cried and cursed very volubly. He spoke of death as his
only resource. He besought and implored his dear Strong, his best
friend, his dear old Ned, not to throw him over; and when he quitted
his dearest Ned, as he went down the stairs of Shepherd's Inn, swore
and blasphemed at Ned as the most infernal villain, and traitor, and
blackguard, and coward under the sun, and wished Ned was in his grave,
and in a worse place, only he would like the confounded ruffian to
live, until Frank Clavering had had his revenge out of him.
In Strong's chambers the baronet met a gentleman whose visits were
now, as it has been shown, very frequent in Shepherd's Inn, Mr. Samuel
Huxter, of Clavering. That young fellow, who had poached the walnuts
in Clavering Park in his youth, and had seen the baronet drive through
the street at home with four horses, and prance up to church with
powdered footmen, had an immense respect for his member, and a
prodigious delight in making his acquaintance. He introduced himself,
with much blushing and trepidation, as a Clavering man--son of Mr.
Huxter, of the market-place--father attended Sir Francis's keeper,
Coxwood, when his gun burst and took off three fingers--proud to make
Sir Francis's acquaintance. All of which introduction Sir Francis
received affably. And honest Huxter talked about Sir Francis to the
chaps at Bartholomew's; and told Fanny, in the lodge, that, after all,
there was nothing like a thorough-bred un, a regular good old English
gentleman, one of the olden time! To which Fanny replied, that she
thought Sir Francis was an ojous creature--she didn't know why--but
she couldn't a-bear him--she was sure he was wicked, and low, and
mean--she knew he was; and when Sam to this replied that Sir Francis
was very affable, and had borrowed half a sov' of him quite kindly,
Fanny burst into a laugh, pulled Sam's long hair (which was not yet of
irreproachable cleanliness), patted his chin, and called him a
stoopid, stoopid, old foolish stoopid, and said that Sir Francis was
always borrering money of every body, and that Mar had actially
refused him twice, and had to wait three months to get seven shillings
which he had borrered of 'er.
"Don't say 'er but her, borrer but borrow, actially but actually,
Fanny," Mr. Huxter replied--not to a fault in her argument, but to
grammatical errors in her statement.
"Well then, her, and borrow, and hactually--there then, you stoopid,"
said the other; and the scholar made such a pretty face that the
grammar master was quickly appeased, and would have willingly given
her a hundred more lessons on the spot at the price which he took
for that one.
Of course Mrs. Bolton was by, and I suppose that Fanny and Mr. Sam
were on exceedingly familiar and confidential terms by this time, and
that time had brought to the former certain consolations, and soothed
certain regrets, which are deucedly bitter when they occur, but which
are, no more than tooth-pulling, or any other pang, eternal.
As you sit, surrounded by respect and affection; happy, honored, and
flattered in your old age; your foibles gently indulged; your least
words kindly cherished; your garrulous old stories received for the
hundredth time with dutiful forbearance, and never-failing
hypocritical smiles; the women of your house constant in their
flatteries; the young men hushed and attentive when you begin to
speak; the servants awe-stricken; the tenants cap in hand, and ready
to act in the place of your worship's horses when your honor takes a
drive--it has often struck you, O thoughtful Dives! that this respect,
and these glories, are for the main part transferred, with your
fee-simple, to your successor--that the servants will bow, and the
tenants shout, for your son as for you; that the butler will fetch him
the wine (improved by a little keeping) that's now in your cellar; and
that, when your night is come, and the light of your life is gone
down, as sure as the morning rises after you and without you, the sun
of prosperity and flattery shines on your heir. Men come and bask in
the halo of consols and acres that beams round about him: the
reverence is transferred with the estate; of which, with all its
advantages, pleasures, respect, and good-will, he in turn becomes the
life-tenant. How long do you wish or expect that your people will
regret you? How much time does a man devote to grief before he begins
to enjoy? A great man must keep his heir at his feast like a living
_memento mori_. If he holds very much by life, the presence of the
other must be a constant sting and warning. "Make ready to go," says
the successor to your honor; "I am waiting: and I could hold it as
well as you."
What has this reference to the possible reader, to do with any of the
characters of this history? Do we wish to apologize for Pen because he
has got a white hat, and because his mourning for his mother is
fainter? All the lapse of years, all the career of fortune, all the
events of life, however strongly they may move or eagerly excite him,
never can remove that sainted image from his heart, or banish that
blessed love from its sanctuary. If he yields to wrong, the dear eyes
will look sadly upon him when he dares to meet them; if he does well,
endures pain, or conquers temptation, the ever present love will greet
him, he knows, with approval and pity; if he falls, plead for him; if
he suffers, cheer him;--be with him and accompany him always until
death is past, and sorrow and sin are no more. Is this mere dreaming
or, on the part of an idle storyteller, useless moralizing? May not
the man of the world take his moment, too, to be grave and thoughtful?
Ask of your own hearts and memories, brother and sister, if we do not
live in the dead; and (to speak reverently) prove God by love?
Of these matters Pen and Warrington often spoke in many a solemn and
friendly converse in after days; and Pendennis's mother was worshiped
in his memory, and canonized there, as such a saint ought to be. Lucky
he in life who knows a few such women! A kind provision of Heaven it
was, that sent us such; and gave us to admire that touching and
wonderful spectacle of innocence, and love, and beauty.
But as it is certain that if, in the course of these sentimental
conversations, any outer stranger, Major Pendennis for instance, had
walked into Pen's chambers, Arthur and Warrington would have stopped
their talk, and chosen another subject, and discoursed about the
Opera, or the last debate in Parliament, or Miss Jones's marriage with
Captain Smith, or what not--so let us imagine that the public steps in
at this juncture, and stops the confidential talk between author and
reader, and begs us to resume our remarks about this world, with which
both are certainly better acquainted than with that other one into
which we have just been peeping.
On coming into his property, Arthur Pendennis at first comported
himself with a modesty and equanimity which obtained his friend
Warrington's praises, though Arthur's uncle was a little inclined to
quarrel with his nephew's meanness of spirit, for not assuming greater
state and pretensions now that he had entered on the enjoyment of his
kingdom. He would have had Arthur installed in handsome quarters, and
riding on showy park hacks, or in well-built cabriolets, every day. "I
am too absent," Arthur said, with a laugh, "to drive a cab in London;
the omnibuses would cut me in two, or I should send my horse's head
into the ladies' carriage windows; and you wouldn't have me driven
about by my servant like an apothecary, uncle?" No, Major Pendennis
would on no account have his nephew appear like an apothecary; the
august representative of the house of Pendennis must not so demean
himself. And when Arthur, pursuing his banter, said, "And yet, I
daresay, sir, my father was proud enough when he first set up his
gig," the old major hemmed and ha'd, and his wrinkled face reddened
with a blush as he answered, "You know what Bonaparte said, sir, '_Il
faut laver son linge sale en famille.'_ There is no need, sir, for you
to brag that your father was a--a medical man. He came of a most
ancient but fallen house, and was obliged to reconstruct the family
fortunes as many a man of good family has done before him. You are
like the fellow in Sterne, sir--the marquis who came to demand his
sword again. Your father got back yours for you. You are a man of
landed estate, by Gad, sir, and a gentleman--never forget you are a
Then Arthur slily turned on his uncle the argument which he had heard
the old gentleman often use regarding himself. "In the society which I
have the honor of frequenting through your introduction, who cares to
ask about my paltry means or my humble gentility, uncle?" he asked.
"It would be absurd of me to attempt to compete with the great folks;
and all that thay can ask from us is, that we should have a decent
address and good manners."
"But for all that, sir, I should belong to a better Club or two," the
uncle answered: "I should give an occasional dinner, and select my
society well; and I should come out of that horrible garret in the
Temple, sir." And so Arthur compromised by descending to the second
floor in Lamb-court: Warrington still occupying his old quarters, and
the two friends being determined not to part one from the other.
Cultivate kindly, reader, those friendships of your youth: it is only
in that generous time that they are formed. How different the
intimacies of after days are, and how much weaker the grasp of your
own hand after it has been shaken about in twenty years' commerce with
the world, and has squeezed and dropped a thousand equally careless
palms! As you can seldom fashion your tongue to speak a new language
after twenty, the heart refuses to receive friendship pretty soon: it
gets too hard to yield to the impression.
So Pen had many acquaintances, and being of a jovial and easy turn,
got more daily: but no friend like Warrington; and the two men
continued to live almost as much in common as the Knights of the
Temple, riding upon one horse (for Pen's was at Warrington's service),
and having their chambers and their servitor in common.
Mr. Warrington had made the acquaintance of Pen's friends of
Grosvenor-place during their last unlucky season in London, and had
expressed himself no better satisfied with Sir Francis and Lady
Clavering and her ladyship's daughter than was the public in general.
"The world is right," George said, "about those people. The young men
laugh and talk freely before those ladies, and about them. The girl
sees people whom she has no right to know, and talks to men with whom
no girl should have an intimacy. Did you see those two reprobates
leaning over Lady Clavering's carriage in the Park the other day, and
leering under Miss Blanche's bonnet? No good mother would let her
daughter know those men, or admit them within her doors."
"The Begum is the most innocent and good-natured soul alive,"
interposed Pen. "She never heard any harm of Captain Blackball, or
read that trial in which Charley Lovelace figures. Do you suppose that
honest ladies read and remember the Chronique Scandaleuse as well as
you, you old grumbler?"
"Would you like Laura Bell to know those fellows?" Warrington asked,
his face turning rather red. "Would you let any woman you loved be
contaminated by their company? I have no doubt that poor Begum is
ignorant of their histories. It seems to me she is ignorant of a great
number of better things. It seems to me that your honest Begum is not
a lady, Pen. It is not her fault, doubtless, that she has not had the
education, or learned the refinements of a lady."
"She is as moral as Lady Portsea, who has all the world at her balls,
and as refined as Mrs. Bull, who breaks the king's English, and has
half-a-dozen dukes at her table," Pen answered, rather sulkily. "Why
should you and I be more squeamish than the rest of the world? Why are
we to visit the sins of her fathers on this harmless, kind creature?
She never did any thing but kindness to you or any mortal soul. As far
as she knows she does her best. She does not set up to be more than
she is. She gives you the best dinners she can buy, and the best
company she can get. She pays the debts of that scamp of a husband of
hers. She spoils her boy like the most virtuous mother in England. Her
opinion about literary matters, to be sure, is not much; and I daresay
she never read a line of Wordsworth, or heard of Tennyson in
"No more has Mrs. Flanagan the laundress," growled out Pen's Mentor;
"no more has Betty the housemaid; and I have no word of blame against
them. But a high-souled man doesn't make friends of these. A
gentleman doesn't choose these for his companions, or bitterly rues it
afterward if he do. Are you, who are setting up to be a man of the
world and philosopher, to tell me that the aim of life is to guttle
three courses and dine off silver? Do you dare to own to yourself that
your ambition in life is good claret, and that you'll dine with any,
provided you get a stalled ox to feed on? You call me a Cynic--why,
what a monstrous Cynicism it is, which you and the rest of you men of
the world admit. I'd rather live upon raw turnips and sleep in a
hollow tree, or turn backwoodsman or savage, than degrade myself to
this civilization, and own that a French cook was the thing in life
best worth living for."
"Because you like a raw beef-steak and a pipe afterward," broke out
Pen, "you give yourself airs of superiority over people, whose tastes
are more dainty, and are not ashamed of the world they live in. Who
goes about professing particular admiration, or esteem, or friendship,
or gratitude, even for the people one meets every day? If A. asks me
to his house, and gives me his best, I take his good things for what
they are worth, and no more. I do not profess to pay him back in
friendship, but in the convention's money of society. When we part, we
part without any grief. When we meet, we are tolerably glad to see one
another. If I were only to live with my friends, your black muzzle,
old George, is the only face I should see."
"You are your uncle's pupil," said Warrington, rather sadly; "and you
speak like a worldling."
"And why not?" asked Pendennis; "why not acknowledge the world I stand
upon, and submit to the conditions of the society which we live in and
live by? I am older than you, George, in spite of your grizzled
whiskers, and have seen much more of the world than you have in your
garret here, shut up with your books and your reveries and your ideas
of one-and-twenty. I say, I take the world as it is, and being of it,
will not be ashamed of it. If the time is out of joint, have I any
calling or strength to set it right?"
"Indeed, I don't think you have much of either," growled Pen's
"If I doubt whether I am better than my neighbor," Arthur
continued--"if I concede that I am no better--I also doubt whether he
is better than I. I see men who begin with ideas of universal reform,
and who, before their beards are grown, propound their loud plans for
the regeneration of mankind, give up their schemes after a few years
of bootless talking and vain-glorious attempts to lead their fellows;
and after they have found that men will no longer hear them, as indeed
they never were in the least worthy to be heard, sink quietly into the
rank and file--acknowledging their aims impracticable, or thankful
that they were never put into practice. The fiercest reformers grow
calm, and are fain to put up with things as they are: the loudest
Radical orators become dumb, quiescent placemen: the most fervent
Liberals, when out of power, become humdrum Conservatives, or
downright tyrants or despots in office. Look at Thiers, look at
Guizot, in opposition and in place! Look at the Whigs appealing
to the country, and the Whigs in power! Would you say that the conduct
of these men is an act of treason, as the Radicals bawl--who would
give way in their turn, were their turn ever to come? No, only that
they submit to circumstances which are stronger than they--march as
the world marches toward reform, but at the world's pace (and the
movements of the vast body of mankind must needs be slow)--forego this
scheme as impracticable, on account of opposition--that as immature,
because against the sense of the majority--are forced to calculate
drawbacks and difficulties, as well as to think of reforms and
advances--and compelled finally to submit, and to wait, and to
"The Right Honorable Arthur Pendennis could not speak better, or be
more satisfied with himself, if he was First Lord of the Treasury and
Chancellor of the Exchequer," Warrington said.
"Self-satisfied? Why self-satisfied?" continued Pen. "It seems to me
that my skepticism is more respectful and more modest than the
revolutionary ardor of other folks. Many a patriot of eighteen, many a
spouting-club orator, would turn the bishops out of the House of Lords
to-morrow, and throw the lords out after the bishops, and throw the
throne into the Thames after the peers and the bench. Is that man more
modest than I, who take these institutions as I find them, and wait
for time and truth to develop, or fortify, or (if you like) destroy
them? A college tutor, or a nobleman's toady, who appears one fine day
as my right reverend lord, in a silk apron and a shovel-hat, and
assumes benedictory airs over me, is still the same man we remember at
Oxbridge, when he was truckling to the tufts, and bullying the poor
under-graduates in the lecture-room. An hereditary legislator, who
passes his time with jockeys and blacklegs and ballet-girls, and who
is called to rule over me and his other betters, because his
grandfather made a lucky speculation in the funds, or found a coal or
tin-mine on his property, or because his stupid ancestor happened to
be in command of ten thousand men as brave as himself, who overcame
twelve thousand Frenchmen, or fifty thousand Indians--such a man, I
say, inspires me with no more respect than the bitterest democrat can
feel toward him. But, such as he is, he is a part of the old society
to which we belong: and I submit to his lordship with acquiescence;
and he takes his place above the best of us at all dinner parties, and
there bides his time. I don't want to chop his head off with a
guillotine, or to fling mud at him in the streets. When they call such
a man a disgrace to his order; and such another, who is good and
gentle, refined and generous, who employs his great means in promoting
every kindness and charity, and art and grace of life, in the kindest
and most gracious manner, an ornament to his rank--the question as to
the use and propriety of the order is not in the least affected one
way or other. There it is, extant among us, a part of our habits, the
creed of many of us, the growth of centuries, the symbol of a most
complicated tradition--there stand my lord the bishop and my lord the
hereditary legislator--what the French call _transactions_ both of
them--representing in their present shape mail-clad barons and
double-sworded chiefs (from whom their lordships the hereditaries,
for the most part, _don't_ descend), and priests, professing to hold
an absolute truth and a divinely inherited power, the which truth
absolute our ancestors burned at the stake, and denied there; the
which divine transmissible power still exists in print--to be
believed, or not, pretty much at choice; and of these, I say, I
acquiesce that they exist, and no more. If you say that these schemes,
devised before printing was known, or steam was born; when thought was
an infant, scared and whipped; and truth under its guardians was
gagged, and swathed, and blindfolded, and not allowed to lift its
voice, or to look out or to walk under the sun; before men were
permitted to meet, or to trade, or to speak with each other--if any
one says (as some faithful souls do) that these schemes are for ever,
and having been changed, and modified constantly are to be subject to
no farther development or decay, I laugh, and let the man speak. But I
would have toleration for these, as I would ask it for my own
opinions; and if they are to die, I would rather they had a decent and
natural than an abrupt and violent death."
"You would have sacrificed to Jove," Warrington said, "had you lived
in the time of the Christian persecutions."
"Perhaps I would," said Pen, with some sadness. "Perhaps I am a
coward--perhaps my faith is unsteady; but this is my own reserve. What
I argue here is that I will not persecute. Make a faith or a dogma
absolute, and persecution becomes a logical consequence; and Dominic
burns a Jew, or Calvin an Arian, or Nero a Christian, or Elizabeth or
Mary a Papist or Protestant; or their father both or either, according
to his humor; and acting without any pangs of remorse--but, on the
contrary, with strict notions of duty fulfilled. Make dogma absolute,
and to inflict or to suffer death becomes easy and necessary; and
Mahomet's soldiers shouting 'Paradise! Paradise!' and dying on the
Christian spears, are not more or less praiseworthy than the same men
slaughtering a townful of Jews, or cutting off the heads of all
prisoners who would not acknowledge that there was but one prophet
"A little while since, young one," Warrington said, who had been
listening to his friend's confessions neither without sympathy nor
scorn, for his mood led him to indulge in both, "you asked me why I
remained out of the strife of the world, and looked on at the great
labor of my neighbor without taking any part in the struggle. Why,
what a mere dilettante you own yourself to be, in this confession of
general skepticism, and what a listless spectator yourself! You are
six-and-twenty years old, and as _blase_ as a rake of sixty. You
neither hope much, nor care much, nor believe much. You doubt about
other men as much as about yourself. Were it made of such
_pococuranti_ as you, the world would be intolerable; and I had rather
live in a wilderness of monkeys, and listen to their chatter, than in
a company of men who denied every thing."
"Were the world composed of Saint Bernards or Saint Dominics, it would
be equally odious," said Pen, "and at the end of a few scores of years
would cease to exist altogether. Would you have every man with his
head shaved, and every woman in a cloister--carrying out to the full
the ascetic principle? Would you have conventicle hymns twanging from
every lane in every city in the world? Would you have all the birds of
the forest sing one note and fly with one feather? You call me a
skeptic because I acknowledge what _is_; and in acknowledging that, be
it linnet or lark, a priest or parson, be it, I mean, any single one
of the infinite varieties of the creatures of God (whose very name I
would be understood to pronounce with reverence, and never to approach
but with distant awe), I say that the study and acknowledgment of that
variety among men especially increases our respect and wonder for the
Creator, Commander, and Ordainer of all these minds, so different and
yet so united--meeting in a common adoration, and offering up each
according to his degree and means of approaching the Divine centre,
his acknowledgment of praise and worship, each singing (to recur to
the bird simile) his natural song."
"And so, Arthur, the hymn of a saint, or the ode of a poet, or the
chant of a Newgate thief, are all pretty much the same in your
philosophy," said George.
"Even that sneer could be answered were it to the point," Pendennis
replied; "but it is not; and it could be replied to you, that even to
the wretched outcry of the thief on the tree, the wisest and the best
of all teachers we know of, the untiring Comforter and Consoler,
promised a pitiful hearing and a certain hope. Hymns of saints! Odes
of poets! who are we to measure the chances and opportunities, the
means of doing, or even judging, right and wrong, awarded to men; and
to establish the rule for meting out their punishments and rewards? We
are as insolent and unthinking in judging of men's morals as of their
intellects. We admire this man as being a great philosopher, and set
down the other as a dullard, not knowing either, or the amount of
truth in either, or being certain of the truth any where. We sing Te
Deum for this hero who has won a battle, and De Profundis for that
other one who has broken out of prison, and has been caught afterward
by the policemen. Our measure of rewards and punishments is most
partial and incomplete, absurdly inadequate, utterly worldly, and we
wish to continue it into the next world. Into that next and awful
world we strive to pursue men, and send after them our impotent party
verdicts of condemnation or acquittal. We set up our paltry little
rods to measure Heaven immeasurable, as if, in comparison to that,
Newton's mind or Pascal's or Shakspeare's was any loftier than mine;
as if the ray which travels from the sun would reach me sooner than
the man who blacks my boots. Measured by that altitude, the tallest
and the smallest among us are so alike diminutive and pitifully base,
that I say we should take no count of the calculation, and it is a
meanness to reckon the difference."
"Your figure fails there, Arthur," said the other, better pleased; "if
even by common arithmetic we can multiply as we can reduce almost
infinitely, the Great Reckoner must take count of all; and the small
is not small, or the great great, to his infinity."
"I don't call those calculations in question," Arthur said: "I only
say that yours are incomplete and premature; false in consequence,
and, by every operation, multiplying into wider error. I do not
condemn the man who murdered Socrates and damned Galileo. I say that
they damned Galileo and murdered Socrates."
"And yet but a moment since you admitted the propriety of acquiescence
in the present, and, I suppose, all other tyrannies?"
"No: but that if an opponent menaces me, of whom and without cost of
blood and violence I can get rid, I would rather wait him out, and
starve him out, than fight him out. Fabius fought Hannibal
skeptically. Who was his Roman coadjutor, whom we read of in Plutarch
when we were boys, who scoffed at the other's procrastination and
doubted his courage, and engaged the enemy and was beaten for
In these speculations and confessions of Arthur, the reader may
perhaps see allusions to questions which, no doubt, have occupied and
discomposed himself, and which he has answered by very different
solutions to those come to by our friend. We are not pledging
ourselves for the correctness of his opinions, which readers will
please to consider are delivered dramatically, the writer being no
more answerable for them, than for the sentiments uttered by any other
character of the story: our endeavor is merely to follow out, in its
progress, the development of the mind of a worldly and selfish, but
not ungenerous or unkind, or truth-avoiding man. And it will be seen
that the lamentable stage to which his logic at present has brought
him, is one of general skepticism and sneering acquiescence in the
world as it is; or if you like so to call it, a belief qualified with
scorn in all things extant. The tastes and habits of such a man
prevent him from being a boisterous demagogue, and his love of truth
and dislike of cant keep him from advancing crude propositions, such
as many loud reformers are constantly ready with; much more of
uttering downright falsehoods in arguing questions or abusing
opponents, which he would die or starve rather than use. It was not in
our friend's nature to be able to utter certain lies; nor was he
strong enough to protest against others, except with a polite sneer;
his maxim being, that he owed obedience to all Acts of Parliament, as
long as they were not repealed.
And to what does this easy and skeptical life lead a man? Friend
Arthur was a Sadducee, and the Baptist might be in the Wilderness
shouting to the poor, who were listening with all their might and
faith to the preacher's awful accents and denunciations of wrath or
woe or salvation; and our friend the Sadducee would turn his sleek
mule with a shrug and a smile from the crowd, and go home to the shade
of his terrace, and muse over preacher and audience, and turn to his
roll of Plato, or his pleasant Greek song-book babbling of honey and
Hybla, and nymphs and fountains and love. To what, we say, does this
skepticism lead? It leads a man to a shameful loneliness and
selfishness, so to speak--the more shameful, because it is so
good-humored and conscienceless and serene. Conscience! What is
conscience? Why accept remorse? What is public or private faith?
Mythuses alike enveloped in enormous tradition. If seeing and
acknowledging the lies of the world, Arthur, as see them you can with
only too fatal a clearness, you submit to them without any protest
farther than a laugh: if plunged yourself in easy sensuality, you
allow the whole wretched world to pass groaning by you unmoved: if the
fight for the truth is taking place, and all men of honor are on the
ground armed on the one side or the other, and you alone are to lie on
your balcony and smoke your pipe out of the noise and the danger, you
had better have died, or never have been at all, than such a
"The truth, friend!" Arthur said, imperturbably; "where is the truth?
Show it me. That is the question between us. I see it on both sides. I
see it in the Conservative side of the house, and among the Radicals,
and even on the ministerial benches. I see it in this man who worships
by act of Parliament, and is rewarded with a silk apron and five
thousand a year; in that man, who, driven fatally by the remorseless
logic of his creed, gives up every thing, friends, fame, dearest ties,
closest vanities, the respect of an army of churchmen, the recognized
position of a leader, and passes over, truth-impelled, to the enemy,
in whose ranks he will serve henceforth as a nameless private
soldier:--I see the truth in that man, as I do in his brother, whose
logic drives him to quite a different conclusion, and who, after
having passed a life in vain endeavors to reconcile an irreconcileable
book, flings it at last down in despair, and declares, with tearful
eyes, and hands up to heaven, his revolt and recantation. If the truth
is with all these, why should I take side with any one of them? Some
are called upon to preach: let them preach. Of these preachers there
are somewhat too many, methinks, who fancy they have the gift. But we
can not all be parsons in church, that is clear. Some must sit silent
and listen, or go to sleep mayhap. Have we not all our duties? The
head charity-boy blows the bellows; the master canes the other boys in
the organ-loft; the clerk sings out Amen from the desk; and the beadle
with the staff opens the door for his Reverence, who rustles in silk
up to the cushion. I won't cane the boys, nay, or say Amen always, or
act as the church's champion and warrior, in the shape of the beadle
with the staff; but I will take off my hat in the place, and say my
prayers there too, and shake hands with the clergyman as he steps on
the grass outside. Don't I know that his being there is a compromise,
and that he stands before me an Act of Parliament? That the church he
occupies was built for other worship? That the Methodist chapel is
next door; and that Bunyan the tinker is bawling out the tidings of
damnation on the common hard by? Yes, I am a Sadducee; and I take
things as I find them, and the world, and the Acts of Parliament of
the world, as they are; and as I intend to take a wife, if I find
one--not to be madly in love and prostrate at her feet like a
fool--not to worship her as an angel, or to expect to find her as
such--but to be good-natured to her, and courteous, expecting
good-nature and pleasant society from her in turn. And so, George, if
ever you hear of my marrying, depend on it, it won't be a romantic
attachment on my side: and if you hear of any good place under
Government, I have no particular scruples that I know of, which would
prevent me from accepting your offer."
"O Pen, you scoundrel! I know what you mean," here Warrington broke
out. "This is the meaning of your skepticism, of your quietism, of
your atheism, my poor fellow. You're going to sell yourself, and
Heaven help you! You're going to make a bargain which will degrade you
and make you miserable for life, and there's no use talking of it. If
you are once bent on it, the devil won't prevent you."
"On the contrary, he's on my side, isn't he, George?" said Pen with a
laugh. "What good cigars these are! Come down and have a little dinner
at the Club; the _chef's_ in town, and he'll cook a good one for me.
No, you won't? Don't be sulky, old boy, I'm going down to--to the
WHICH ACCOUNTS PERHAPS FOR CHAPTER XXIII.
The information regarding the affairs of the Clavering
family, which Major Pendennis had acquired through Strong, and by his
own personal interference as the friend of the house, was such as
almost made the old gentleman pause in any plans which he might have
once entertained for his nephew's benefit. To bestow upon Arthur a
wife with two such fathers-in-law as the two worthies whom the
guileless and unfortunate Lady Clavering had drawn in her marriage
ventures, was to benefit no man. And though the one, in a manner,
neutralized the other, and the appearance of Amory or Altamont in
public would be the signal for his instantaneous withdrawal and
condign punishment--for the fugitive convict had cut down the officer
in charge of him--and a rope would be inevitably his end, if he came
again under British authorities; yet, no guardian would like to secure
for his ward a wife, whose parent was to be got rid of in such a way;
and the old gentleman's notion always had been that Altamont, with the
gallows before his eyes, would assuredly avoid recognition; while, at
the same time, by holding the threat of his discovery over Clavering,
the latter, who would lose every thing by Amory's appearance, would be
a slave in the hands of the person who knew so fatal a secret.
But if the Begum paid Clavering's debts many times more, her wealth
would be expended altogether upon this irreclaimable reprobate: and
her heirs, whoever they might be, would succeed but to an emptied
treasury; and Miss Amory, instead of bringing her husband a good
income and a seat in Parliament, would bring to that individual her
person only, and her pedigree with that lamentable note of _sus per
coll_ at the name of the last male of her line.
There was, however, to the old schemer revolving these things in his
mind, another course yet open; the which will appear to the reader who
may take the trouble to peruse a conversation, which presently ensued,
between Major Pendennis and the honorable baronet, the member for
When a man, under pecuniary difficulties, disappears from among his
usual friends and equals--dives out of sight, as it were, from the
flock of birds in which he is accustomed to sail, it is wonderful at
what strange and distant nooks he comes up again for breath. I have
known a Pall Mall lounger and Rotten Row buck, of no inconsiderable
fashion, vanish from among his comrades of the Clubs and the Park, and
be discovered, very happy and affable, at an eighteenpenny ordinary in
Billingsgate: another gentleman, of great learning and wit, when out
running the constables (were I to say he was a literary man, some
critics would vow that I intended to insult the literary profession),
once sent me his address at a little public-house called the "Fox
under the Hill," down a most darksome and cavernous archway in the
Strand. Such a man, under such misfortunes, may have a house, but he
is never in his house; and has an address where letters may be left;
but only simpletons go with the hopes of seeing him. Only a few of the
faithful know where he is to be found, and have the clew to his
hiding-place. So, after the disputes with his wife, and the
misfortunes consequent thereon, to find Sir Francis Clavering at home
was impossible. "Ever since I hast him for my book, which is fourteen
pound, he don't come home till three o'clock, and purtends to be
asleep when I bring his water of a mornin', and dodges hout when I'm
down stairs," Mr. Lightfoot remarked to his friend Morgan; and
announced that he should go down to my Lady, and be butler there, and
marry his old woman. In like manner, after his altercations with
Strong, the baronet did not come near him, and fled to other haunts,
out of the reach of the chevalier's reproaches; out of the reach of
conscience, if possible, which many of us try to dodge and leave
behind us by changes of scenes and other fugitive stratagems.
So, though the elder Pendennis, having his own ulterior object, was
bent upon seeing Pen's country neighbor and representative in
Parliament, it took the major no inconsiderable trouble and time
before he could get him into such a confidential state and
conversation, as were necessary for the ends which the major had in
view. For since the major had been called in as family friend, and had
cognizance of Clavering's affairs, conjugal and pecuniary, the baronet
avoided him: as he always avoided all his lawyers and agents when
there was an account to be rendered, or an affair of business to be
discussed between them; and never kept any appointment but when its
object was the raising of money. Thus, previous to catching this most
shy and timorous bird, the major made more than one futile attempt to
hold him; on one day it was a most innocent-looking invitation to
dinner at Greenwich, to meet a few friends; the baronet accepted,
suspected something, and did not come; leaving the major (who indeed
proposed to represent in himself the body of friends) to eat his
whitebait done: on another occasion the major wrote and asked for
ten minutes' talk, and the baronet instantly acknowledged the note,
and made the appointment at four o'clock the next day at Bays's
_precisely_ (he carefully underlined the "precisely"); but though four
o'clock came, as in the course of time and destiny it could not do
otherwise, no Clavering made his appearance. Indeed, if he had
borrowed twenty pounds of Pendennis, he could not have been more
timid, or desirous of avoiding the major; and the latter found that it
was one thing to seek a man, and another to find him.
Before the close of that day in which Strong's patron had given the
chevalier the benefit of so many blessings before his face and curses
behind his back, Sir Francis Clavering who had pledged his word and
his oath to his wife's advisers to draw or accept no more bills of
exchange, and to be content with the allowance which his victimized
wife still awarded him, had managed to sign his respectable name to a
piece of stamped paper, which the baronet's friend, Mr. Moss Abrams,
had carried off, promising to have the bill "done" by a party with
whose intimacy Mr. Abrams was favored. And it chanced that Strong
heard of this transaction at the place where the writings had been
drawn--in the back parlor, namely, of Mr. Santiago's cigar-shop,
where the chevalier was constantly in the habit of spending an hour in
"He is at his old work again," Mr. Santiago told his customer. "He and
Moss Abrams were in my parlor. Moss sent out my boy for a stamp. It
must have been a bill for fifty pound. I heard the baronet tell Moss
to date it two months back. He will pretend that it is an old bill,
and that he forgot it when he came to a settlement with his wife the
other day. I daresay they will give him some more money now he is
clear." A man who has the habit of putting his unlucky name to
"promises to pay" at six months, has the satisfaction of knowing, too,
that his affairs are known and canvassed, and his signature handed
round among the very worst knaves and rogues of London.
Mr. Santiago's shop was close by St. James's-street and Bury-street,
where we have had the honor of visiting our friend Major Pendennis in
his lodgings. The major was walking daintily toward his apartment, as
Strong, burning with wrath and redolent of Havanna, strode along the
same pavement opposite to him.
"Confound these young men: how they poison every thing with their
smoke," thought the major. "Here comes a fellow with mustaches and a
cigar. Every fellow who smokes and wears mustaches is a low fellow.
Oh! it's Mr. Strong--I hope you are well, Mr. Strong?" and the old
gentleman, making a dignified bow to the chevalier, was about to pass
into his house; directing toward the lock of the door, with trembling
hand, the polished door-key.
We have said, that, at the long and weary disputes and conferences
regarding the payment of Sir Francis Clavering's last debts, Strong
and Pendennis had both been present as friends and advisers of the
baronet's unlucky family. Strong stopped and held out his hand to his
brother negotiator, and old Pendennis put out toward him a couple of
"What is your good news?" said Major Pendennis, patronizing the other
still farther, and condescending to address to him an observation, for
old Pendennis had kept such good company all his life, that he vaguely
imagined he honored common men by speaking to them. "Still in town,
Mr. Strong? I hope I see you well."
"My news is bad news, sir," Strong answered; "it concerns our friends
at Tunbridge Wells, and I should like to talk to you about it.
Clavering is at his old tricks again, Major Pendennis."
"Indeed! Pray do me the favor to come into my lodging," cried the
major with awakened interest; and the pair entered and took possession
of his drawing-room. Here seated, Strong unburdened himself of his
indignation to the major, and spoke at large of Clavering's
recklessness and treachery. "No promises will bind him sir," he said.
"You remember when we met, sir, with my lady's lawyer, how he wouldn't
be satisfied with giving his honor, but wanted to take his oath on his
knees to his wife, and rang the bell for a Bible, and swore perdition
on his soul if he ever would give another bill. He has been signing
one this very day, sir: and will sign as many more as you please for
ready money: and will deceive any body, his wife or his child, or his
old friend, who has backed him a hundred times. Why, there's a bill of
his and mine will be due next week--"
"I thought we had paid all--"
"Not that one," Strong said, blushing. "He asked me not to mention it,
and--and--I had half the money for that, major. And they will be down
on me. But I don't care for it; I'm used to it. It's Lady Clavering
that riles me. It's a shame that that good-natured woman, who has paid
him out of jail a score of times, should be ruined by his
heartlessness. A parcel of bill-stealers, boxers, any rascals, get his
money; and he don't scruple to throw an honest fellow over. Would you
believe it, sir, he took money of Altamont--you know whom I mean."
"Indeed? of that singular man, who I think came tipsy once to Sir
Francis's house?" Major Pendennis said, with impenetrable countenance.
"Who _is_ Altamont, Mr. Strong?"
"I am sure I don't know, if you don't know," the chevalier answered,
with a look of surprise and suspicion.
"To tell you frankly," said the major, "I have my suspicions. I
suppose--mind, I only suppose--that in our friend Clavering's life--
who, between you and me, Captain Strong, we must own is about as loose
a fish as any in my acquaintance--there are, no doubt, some queer
secrets and stories which he would not like to have known: none of us
would. And very likely this fellow, who calls himself Altamont, knows
some story against Clavering, and has some hold on him, and gets money
out of him on the strength of his information. I know some of the best
men of the best families in England who are paying through the nose in
that way. But their private affairs are no business of mine, Mr.
Strong; and it is not to be supposed that because I go and dine with
a man, I pry into his secrets, or am answerable for all his past
life. And so with our friend Clavering, I am most interested for his
wife's sake, and her daughter's, who is a most charming creature: and
when her ladyship asked me, I looked into her affairs, and tried to
set them straight; and shall do so again, you understand, to the hest
of my humble power and ability, if I can make myself useful. And if I
am called upon--you understand, if I am called upon--and--by-the-way,
this Mr. Altamont, Mr. Strong? How is this Mr. Altamont? I believe you
are acquainted with him. Is he in town?"
"I don't know that I am called upon to know where he is, Major
Pendennis," said Strong, rising and taking up his hat in dudgeon, for
the major's patronizing manner and impertinence of caution offended
the honest gentleman not a little.
Pendennis's manner altered at once from a tone of hauteur to one of
knowing good-humor. "Ah, Captain Strong, you are cautious too, I see;
and quite right, my good sir, quite right. We don't know what ears
walls may have, sir, or to whom we may be talking; and as a man of the
world, and an old soldier--an old and distinguished soldier, I have
been told, Captain Strong--you know very well that there is no use in
throwing away your fire; you may have your ideas, and I may put two
and two together and have mine. But there are things which don't
concern him that many a man had better not know, eh, captain? and
which I, for one, won't know until I have reason for knowing them: and
that I believe is your maxim too. With regard to our friend the
baronet, I think with you, it would be most advisable that he should
be checked in his imprudent courses; and most strongly reprehend any
man's departure from his word, or any conduct of his which can give
any pain to his family, or cause them annoyance in any way. That is my
full and frank opinion, and I am sure it is yours."
"Certainly," said Mr. Strong, drily.
"I am delighted to hear it; delighted, that an old brother soldier
should agree with me so fully. And I am exceedingly glad of the lucky
meeting which has procured me the good fortune of your visit. Good
evening. Thank you. Morgan, show the door to Captain Strong."
And Strong, preceded by Morgan, took his leave of Major Pendennis; the
chevalier not a little puzzled at the old fellow's prudence; and the
valet, to say the truth, to the full as much perplexed at his master's
reticence. For Mr. Morgan, in his capacity of accomplished valet,
moved here and there in a house as silent as a shadow; and, as it so
happened, during the latter part of his master's conversation with his
visitor, had been standing very close to the door, and had overheard
not a little of the talk between, the two gentlemen, and a great deal
more than he could understand.
"Who is that Altamont? know any thing about him and Strong?" Mr.
Morgan asked of Mr. Lightfoot, on the next convenient occasion when
they met at the Club.
"Strong's his man of business, draws the governor's bills, and
indosses 'em, and does his odd jobs and that; and I suppose
Altamont's in it too," Mr. Lightfoot replied. "That kite-flying, you
know, Mr. M. always takes two or three on 'em to set the paper going.
Altamont put the pot on at the Derby, and won a good bit of money. I
wish the governor could get some somewhere, and I could get my
book paid up."
"Do you think my lady would pay his debts again?" Morgan asked "Find
out that for me, Lightfoot, and I'll make it worth your while my boy."
Major Pendennis had often said with a laugh, that his valet Morgan was
a much richer man than himself: and, indeed, by a long course of
careful speculation, this wary and silent attendant had been amassing
a considerable sum of money, during the years which he had passed in
the major's service, where he had made the acquaintance of many other
valets of distinction, from whom he had learned the affairs of their
principals. When Mr. Arthur came into his property, but not until
then, Morgan had surprised the young gentleman, by saying that he had
a little sum of money, some fifty or a hundred pound, which he wanted
to lay out to advantage; perhaps the gentlemen in the Temple, knowing
about affairs and business and that, could help a poor fellow to a
good investment? Morgan would be very much obliged to Mr. Arthur, most
grateful and obliged indeed, if Arthur could tell him of one. When
Arthur laughingly replied, that he knew nothing about money matters,
and knew no earthly way of helping Morgan, the latter, with the utmost
simplicity, was very grateful, very grateful indeed, to Mr. Arthur,
and if Mr. Arthur _should_ want a little money before his rents was
paid perhaps he would kindly remember that his uncle's old and
faithful servant had some as he would like to put out: and be most
proud if he could be useful anyways to any of the family.
The Prince of Fairoaks, who was tolerably prudent and had no need of
ready money, would as soon have thought of borrowing from his uncle's
servant as of stealing the valet's pocket-handkerchief, and was on the
point of making some haughty reply to Morgan's offer, but was checked
by the humor of the transaction. Morgan a capitalist! Morgan offering
to lend to him! The joke was excellent. On the other hand, the man
might be quite innocent, and the proposal of money a simple offer of
good-will. So Arthur withheld the sarcasm that was rising to his lips,
and contented himself by declining Mr. Morgan's kind proposal. He
mentioned the matter to his uncle, however, and congratulated the
latter on having such a treasure in his service.
It was then that the major said that he believed Morgan had been
getting devilish rich for a devilish long time; in fact he had bought
the house in Bury-street, in which his master was a lodger; and had
actually made a considerable sum of money, from his acquaintance with
the Clavering family and his knowledge obtained through his master
that the Begum would pay all her husband's debts, by buying up as many
of the baronet's acceptances as he could raise money to purchase. Of
these transactions the major, however, knew no more than most gentlemen
do of their servants, who live with us all our days and are
strangers to us, so strong custom is, and so pitiless the distinction
between class and class.
"So he offered to lend you money, did he?" the elder Pendennis
remarked to his nephew. "He's a dev'lish sly fellow, and a dev'lish
rich fellow; and there's many a nobleman would like to have such a
valet in his service, and borrow from him too. And he ain't a bit
changed, Monsieur Morgan. He does his work just as well as ever--he's
always ready to my bell--steals about the room like a cat--he's so
dev'lishly attached to me, Morgan!"
On the day of Strong's visit, the major bethought him of Pen's story,
and that Morgan might help him, and rallied the valet regarding his
wealth with that free and insolent way which so high-placed a
gentleman might be disposed to adopt toward so unfortunate a creature.
"I hear that you have got some money to invest, Morgan," said the
It's Mr. Arthur has been telling, hang him, thought the valet.
"I'm glad my place is such a good one."
"Thank you, sir--I've no reason to complain of my place, nor of my
master," replied Morgan, demurely.
"You're a good fellow: and I believe you are attached to me; and I'm
glad you get on well. And I hope you'll be prudent, and not be taking
a public-house or that kind of thing."
A public-house, thought Morgan--me in a public-house!--the old
fool!--Dammy, if I was ten years younger I'd set in Parlyment before I
died, that I would. "No, thank you kindly, sir. I don't think of the
public line, sir. And I've got my little savings pretty well put
"You do a little in the discounting way, eh, Morgan?"
"Yes, sir, a very little--I--I beg your pardon, sir--might I be so
free as to ask a question--"
"Speak on, my good fellow," the elder said, graciously.
"About Sir Francis Clavering's paper, sir? Do you think he's any
longer any good, sir? Will my lady pay on 'em, any more, sir?"
"What, you've done something in that business already?"
"Yes, sir, a little," replied Morgan, dropping down his eyes. "And I
don't mind owning, sir, and I hope I may take the liberty of saying,
sir, that a little more would make me very comfortable if it turned
out as well as the last."
"Why, how much have you netted by him, in Gad's name?" asked the
"I've done a good bit, sir, at it: that I own, sir. Having some
information, and made acquaintance with the fam'ly through your
kindness, I put on the pot, sir."
"You did what?"
"I laid my money on, sir--I got all I could, and borrowed, and bought
Sir Francis's bills; many of 'em had his name, and the gentleman's as
is just gone out, Edward Strong, Esquire, sir: and of course I know of
the blow hup and shindy as is took place in Grosvenor-place, sir:
and as I may as well make my money as another, I'd be _very_ much
obleeged to you if you'd tell me whether my lady will come down
Although Major Pendennis was as much surprised at this intelligence
regarding his servant, as if he had heard that Morgan was a disguised
marquis, about to throw off his mask and assume his seat in the House
of Peers; and although he was of course indignant at the audacity of
the fellow who had dared to grow rich under his nose, and without his
cognizance; yet he had a natural admiration for every man who
represented money and success, and found himself respecting Morgan,
and being rather afraid of that worthy, as the truth began to
dawn upon him.
"Well, Morgan," said he, "I mustn't ask how rich you are; and the
richer the better for your sake, I'm sure. And if I could give you any
information that could serve you, I would speedily help you. But
frankly, if Lady Clavering asks me whether she shall pay any more of
Sir Francis's debts, I shall advise and I hope she won't, though I
fear she will--and that is all I know. And so you are aware that Sir
Francis is beginning again in his--eh--reckless and imprudent course?"
"At his old games, sir--can't prevent that gentleman. He will do it."
"Mr. Strong was saying that a Mr. Moss Abrams was the holder of one of
Sir Francis Covering's notes. Do you know any thing of this Mr.
Abrams, or the amount of the bill?"
"Don't know the bill--know Abrams quite well, sir."
"I wish you would find out about it for me. And I wish you would find
out where I can see Sir Francis Clavering, Morgan."
And Morgan said, "thank you, sir, yes, sir, I will, sir;" and retired
from the room, as he had entered it, with his usual stealthy respect
and quiet humility; leaving the major to muse and wonder over what he
had just heard.
The next morning the valet informed Major Pendennis that he had seen
Mr. Abrams; what was the amount of the bill that gentleman was
desirous to negotiate; and that the baronet would be sure to be in the
back parlor of the Wheel of Fortune Tavern that day at one o'clock.
To this appointment Sir Francis Clavering was punctual, and as at one
o'clock he sat in the parlor of the tavern in question, surrounded by
spittoons, Windsor chairs, cheerful prints of boxers, trotting horses,
and pedestrians, and the lingering of last night's tobacco fumes--as
the descendant of an ancient line sate in this delectable place,
accommodated with an old copy of Bell's Life in London, much blotted
with beer, the polite Major Pendennis walked into the apartment.
"So it's you, old boy?" asked the baronet, thinking that Mr. Moss
Abrams had arrived with the money.
"How do you do, Sir Francis Clavering? I wanted to see you, and
followed you here," said the major, at sight of whom the other's
countenance fell. Now that he had his opponent before him, the major
was determined to make a brisk and sudden attack upon him, and went
into action at once. "I know," he continued, "who is the exceedingly
disreputable person for whom you took me, Clavering; and the errand
which brought you here."
"It ain't your business, is it?" asked the baronet, with a sulky and
deprecatory look. "Why are you following me about and taking the
command, and meddling in my affairs, Major Pendennis? I've never done
_you_ any harm, have I? I've never had _your_ money. And I don't
choose to be dodged about in this way, and domineered over. I don't
choose it, and I won't have it. If Lady Clavering has any proposal to
make to me, let it be done in the regular way, and through the
lawyers. I'd rather not have you."
"I am not come from Lady Clavering," the major said, "but of my own
accord, to try and remonstrate with you, Clavering, and see if you can
be kept from ruin. It is but a month ago that you swore on your honor,
and wanted to get a Bible to strengthen the oath, that you would
accept no more bills, but content yourself with the allowance which
Lady Clavering gives you. All your debts were paid with that proviso,
and you have broken it; this Mr. Abrams has a bill of yours for
"It's an old bill. I take my solemn oath it's an old bill," shrieked
out the baronet.
"You drew it yesterday, and you dated three months back purposely. By
Gad, Clavering, you sicken me with lies, I can't help telling you so.
I've no patience with you, by Gad. You cheat every body, yourself
included. I've seen a deal of the world, but I never met your equal at
humbugging. It's my belief you had rather lie than not."
"Have you come here, you old, old beast, to tempt me to--to pitch into
you, and--and knock your old head off?" said the baronet, with a
poisonous look of hatred at the major.
"What, sir?" shouted out the old major, rising to his feet and
clasping his cane, and looking so fiercely, that the baronet's tone
instantly changed toward him.
"No, no," said Clavering piteously, "I beg your pardon. I didn't mean
to be angry, or say any thing unkind, only you're so damned harsh to
me, Major Pendennis. What is it you want of me? Why have you been
hunting me so? Do _you_ want money out of me too? By Jove, you know
I've not got a shilling,"--and so Clavering, according to his custom,
passed from a curse into a whimper.
Major Pendennis saw from the other's tone, that Clavering knew his
secret was in the major's hands.
"I've no errand from any body, or no design upon you," Pendennis said,
"but an endeavor, if it's not too late, to save you and your family
from utter ruin, through the infernal recklessness of your courses. I
knew your secret--"
"I didn't know it when I married her; upon my oath I didn't know it
till the d--d scoundrel came back and told me himself; and it's the
misery about that which makes me so reckless, Pendennis; indeed it
is;" the baronet cried, clasping his hands.
"I knew your secret from the very first day when I saw Amory come
drunk into your dining-room in Grosvenor-place. I never forget faces.
I remember that fellow in Sidney a convict, and he remembers me. I
know his trial, the date of his marriage, and of his reported death in
the bush. I could swear to him. And I know that you are no more
married to Lady Clavering than I am. I've kept your secret well
enough, for I've not told a single soul that I know it--not your wife,
not yourself till now."
"Poor Lady C., it would cut her up dreadfully," whimpered Sir Francis;
"and it wasn't my fault, major; you know it wasn't."
"Rather than allow you to go on ruining her as you do, I _will_ tell
her, Clavering, and tell all the world too; that is what I swear I
will do, unless I can come to some terms with you, and put some curb
on your infernal folly. By play, debt, and extravagance of all kind,
you've got through half your wife's fortune, and that of her
legitimate heirs, mind--her legitimate heirs. Here it must stop. You
can't live together. You're not fit to live in a great house like
Clavering; and before three years more were over would not leave a
shilling to carry on. I've settled what must be done. You shall have
six hundred a year; you shall go abroad and live on that. You must
give up Parliament, and get on as well as you can. If you refuse, I
give you my word I'll make the real state of things known to-morrow;
I'll swear to Amory, who, when identified, will go back to the country
from whence he came, and will rid the widow of you and himself
together. And so that boy of yours loses at once all title to old
Snell's property, and it goes to your wife's daughter. Ain't I making
myself pretty clearly understood?"
"You wouldn't be so cruel to that poor boy, would you, Pendennis?"
asked the father, pleading piteously; "hang it, think about him. He's
a nice boy: though he's dev'lish wild, I own--he's dev'lish wild."
"It's you who are cruel to him," said the old moralist. "Why, sir,
you'll ruin him yourself inevitably in three years."
"Yes, but perhaps I won't have such dev'lish bad luck, you know; the
luck must turn: and I'll reform, by Gad, I'll reform. And if you were
to split on me, it would cut up my wife so; you know it would, most
"To be parted from _you_," said the old major, with a sneer; "you know
she won't live with you again."
"But why can't Lady C. live abroad, or at Bath, or at Tunbridge, or at
the doose, and I go on here?" Clavering continued. "I like being here
better than abroad, and I like being in Parliament. It's dev'lish
convenient being in Parliament. There's very few seats like mine left;
and if I gave it to 'em, I should not wonder the ministry would give
me an island to govern, or some dev'lish good thing; for you know I'm
a gentleman of dev'lish good family, and have a handle to my name,
and--and that sort of thing, Major Pendennis. Eh, don't you see? Don't
you think they'd give me something dev'lish good if I was to play
my cards well? And then, you know, I'd save money, and be kept out of
the way of the confounded hells and _rouge et noir_--and--and so I'd
rather not give up Parliament, please." For at one instant to hate and
defy a man, at the next to weep before him, and at the next to be
perfectly confidential and friendly with him, was not an unusual
process with our versatile-minded baronet.
"As for your seat in Parliament," the major said, with something of a
blush on his cheek, and a certain tremor, which the other did not see
"you must part with that, Sir Francis Clavering, to--to me."
"What! are you going into the House, Major Pendennis?"
"No--not I; but my nephew, Arthur, is a very clever fellow, and would
make a figure there: and when Clavering had two members, his father
might very likely have been one; and--and I should like Arthur to be
there," the major said.
"Dammy, does _he_ know it, too?" cried out Clavering.
"Nobody knows any thing out of this room," Pendennis answered; "and if
you do this favor for me, I hold my tongue. If not, I'm a man of my
word, and will do what I have said."
"I say, major," said Sir Francis, with a peculiarly humble smile,
"you--you couldn't get me my first quarter in advance, could you, like
the best of fellows? You can do any thing with Lady Clavering; and,
upon my oath, I'll take up that bill of Abrams. The little dam
scoundrel, I know he'll do me in the business--he always does; and if
you could do this for me, we'd see, major."
"And I think your best plan would be to go down in September to
Clavering to shoot, and take my nephew with you, and introduce him.
Yes, that will be the best time. And we will try and manage about the
advance." (Arthur may lend him that, thought old Pendennis. Confound
him, a seat in Parliament is worth a hundred and fifty pounds.) "And,
Clavering, you understand, of course, my nephew knows nothing about
this business. You have a mind to retire: he is a Clavering man, and a
good representative for the borough; you introduce him, and your
people vote for him--you see."
"When can you get me the hundred and fifty, major? When shall I come
and see you? Will you be at home this evening or to-morrow morning?
Will you have any thing here? They've got some dev'lish good bitters
in the bar. I often have a glass of bitters, it sets one up so."
The old major would take no refreshment; but rose and took his leave
of the baronet, who walked with him to the door of the Wheel of
Fortune, and then strolled into the bar, where he took a glass of gin
and bitters with the landlady there: and a gentleman connected with
the ring (who boarded at the Wheel of F.) coming in, he and Sir
Francis Clavering and the landlord talked about the fights and the
news of the sporting world in general; and at length Mr. Moss Abrams
arrived with the proceeds of the baronet's bill, from which his own
handsome commission was deducted, and out of the remainder Sir Francis
"stood" a dinner at Greenwich to his distinguished friend, and passed
the evening gayly at Vauxhall. Meanwhile Major Pendennis, calling a
cab in Piccadilly, drove to Lamb-court, Temple, where he speedily was
closeted with his nephew in deep conversation.
After their talk they parted on very good terms, and it was in
consequence of that unreported conversation, whereof the reader
nevertheless can pretty well guess the bearing, that Arthur expressed
himself as we have heard in the colloquy with Warrington, which is
reported in the last chapter.
When a man is tempted to do a tempting thing, he can find a hundred
ingenious reasons for gratifying his liking; and Arthur thought very
much that he would like to be in Parliament, and that he would like to
distinguish himself there, and that he need not care much what side he
took, as there was falsehood and truth on every side. And on this and
on other matters he thought he would compromise with his conscience,
and that Sadduceeism was a very convenient and good-humored profession
PHILLIS AND CORYDON.
On a picturesque common in the neighborhood of Tunbridge Wells, Lady
Clavering had found a pretty villa, whither she retired after her
conjugal disputes at the end of that unlucky London season. Miss
Amory, of course, accompanied her mother, and Master Clavering came
home for the holidays, with whom Blanche's chief occupation was to
fight and quarrel. But this was only a home pastime, and the young
school-boy was not fond of home sports. He found cricket, and horses,
and plenty of friends at Tunbridge. The good-natured Begum's house was
filled with a constant society of young gentlemen of thirteen, who ate
and drank much too copiously of tarts and Champagne, who rode races on
the lawn, and frightened the fond mother; who smoked and made
themselves sick, and the dining-room unbearable to Miss Blanche. She
did not like the society of young gentlemen of thirteen.
As for that fair young creature, any change, as long as it was change,
was pleasant to her; and for a week or two she would have liked
poverty and a cottage, and bread and cheese; and, for a night,
perhaps, a dungeon and bread and water, and so the move to Tunbridge
was by no means unwelcome to her. She wandered in the woods, and
sketched trees and farm-houses; she read French novels habitually; she
drove into Tunbridge Wells pretty often, and to any play, or ball, or
conjuror, or musician who might happen to appear in the place; she
slept a great deal; she quarreled with mamma and Frank during the
morning; she found the little village school and attended it, and
first fondled the girls and thwarted the mistress, then scolded the
girls and laughed at the teacher; she was constant at church, of
course. It was a pretty little church, of immense antiquity--a little
Anglo-Norman _bijou,_ built the day before yesterday, and decorated
with all sorts of painted windows, carved saints' heads, gilt
Scripture texts, and open pews. Blanche began forthwith to work a most
correct high-church altar-cover for the church. She passed for a saint
with the clergyman for a while, whom she quite took in, and whom she
coaxed, and wheedled, and fondled so artfully, that poor Mrs. Smirke,
who at first was charmed with her, then bore with her, then would
hardly speak to her, was almost mad with jealousy. Mrs. Smirke was the
wife of our old friend Smirke, Pen's tutor and poor Helen's suitor. He
had consoled himself for her refusal with a young lady from Clapham
whom his mamma provided. When the latter died, our friend's views
became every day more and more pronounced. He cut off his coat collar,
and let his hair grow over his back. He rigorously gave up the curl
which he used to sport on his forehead, and the tie of his neckcloth
of which he was rather proud. He went without any tie at all. He went
without dinner on Fridays. He read the Roman Hours, and intimated that
he was ready to receive confessions in the vestry. The most harmless
creature in the world, he was denounced as a black and a most
dangerous Jesuit and Papist, by Muffin of the Dissenting chapel, and
Mr. Simeon Knight at the old church. Mr. Smirke had built his chapel
of ease with the money left him by his mother at Clapham. Lord! lord!
what would she have said to hear a table called an altar! to see
candlesticks on it! to get letters signed on the Feast of Saint
So-and-so, or the Vigil of Saint What-do-you-call-'em! All these
things did the boy of Clapham practice; his faithful wife following
him. But when Blanche had a conference of near two hours in the vestry
with Mr. Smirke, Belinda paced up and down on the grass, where there
were only two little grave-stones as yet; she wished that she had a
third there: only, only he would offer very likely to that creature,
who had infatuated him, in a fortnight. No, she would retire; she
would go into a convent, and profess, and leave him. Such bad thoughts
had Smirke's wife and his neighbors regarding him; these, thinking him
in direct correspondence with the bishop of Rome; that, bewailing
errors to her even more odious and fatal; and yet our friend meant no
earthly harm. The post-office never brought him any letters from the
Pope; he thought Blanche, to be sure, at first, the most pious,
gifted, right-thinking, fascinating person he had ever met; and her
manner of singing the chants delighted him--but after a while he began
to grow rather tired of Miss Amory, her ways and graces grew stale
somehow; then he was doubtful about Miss Amory; then she made a
disturbance in his school, lost her temper, and rapped the children's
fingers. Blanche inspired this admiration and satiety, somehow, in
many men. She tried to please them, and flung out all her graces at
once; came down to them with all her jewels on, all her smiles, and
cajoleries, and coaxings, and ogles. Then she grew tired of them and
of trying to please them, and never having cared about them, dropped
them: and the men grew tired of her, and dropped her too. It was a
happy night for Belinda when Blanche went away; and her husband, with
rather a blush and a sigh, said "he had been deceived in her; he had
thought her endowed with many precious gifts, he feared they were mere
tinsel; he thought she had been a right-thinking person, he feared she
had merely made religion an amusement--she certainly had quite lost
her temper to the schoolmistress, and beat Polly Rucker's knuckles
cruelly." Belinda flew to his arms, there was no question about the
grave or the veil any more. He tenderly embraced her on the forehead.
"There is none like thee, my Belinda," he said, throwing his fine eyes
up to the ceiling, "precious among women!" As for Blanche, from the
instant she lost sight of him and Belinda, she never thought or cared
about either any more.
But when Arthur went down to pass a few days at Tunbridge Wells with
the Begum, this stage of indifference had not arrived on Miss
Blanche's part or on that of the simple clergyman. Smirke believed her
to be an angel and wonder of a woman. Such a perfection he had never
seen, and sate listening to her music in the summer evenings,
open-mouthed, rapt in wonder, tea-less, and bread-and-butterless.
Fascinating as he had heard the music of the opera to be--he had never
but once attended an exhibition of that nature (which he mentioned
with a blush and a sigh--it was on that day when he had accompanied
Helen and her son to the play at Chatteris)--he could not conceive any
thing more delicious, more celestial, he had almost said, than Miss
Amory's music. She was a most gifted being: she had a precious soul:
she had the most remarkable talents--to all outward seeming, the most
heavenly disposition, &c. It was in this way that, being then at the
height of his own fever and bewitchment for Blanche, Smirke discoursed
to Arthur about her.
The meeting between the two old acquaintances had been very cordial.
Arthur loved any body who loved his mother; Smirke could speak on that
theme with genuine feeling and emotion. They had a hundred things to
tell each other of what had occurred in their lives. "Arthur would
perceive," Smirke said, "that his--his views on Church matters had
developed themselves since their acquaintance." Mrs. Smirke, a most
exemplary person, seconded them with all her endeavors. He had built
this little church on his mother's demise, who had left him provided
with a sufficiency of worldly means. Though in the cloister himself,
he had heard of Arthur's reputation. He spoke in the kindest and most
saddened tone; he held his eyelids down, and bowed his fair head on
one side. Arthur was immensely amused with him; with his airs; with
his follies and simplicity; with his blank stock and long hair; with
his real goodness, kindness, friendliness of feeling. And his praises
of Blanche pleased and surprised our friend not a little, and made him
regard her with eyes of particular favor.
The truth is, Blanche was very glad to see Arthur; as one is glad to
see an agreeable man in the country, who brings down the last news and
stories from the great city; who can talk better than most country
folks, at least can talk that darling London jargon, so dear and
indispensable to London people, so little understood by persons out
of the world. The first day Pen came down, he kept Blanche laughing
for hours after dinner. She sang her songs with redoubled spirit. She
did not scold her mother; she fondled and kissed her to the honest
Begum's surprise. When it came to be bed-time, she said, "_Déjà!_"
with the prettiest air of regret possible; and was really quite sorry
to go to bed, and squeezed Arthur's hand quite fondly. He on his side
gave her pretty palm a very cordial pressure. Our young gentleman was
of that turn, that eyes very moderately bright dazzled him.
"She is very much improved," thought Pen, looking out into the night,
"very much. I suppose the Begum won't mind my smoking with the window
open. She's a jolly good old woman, and Blanche is immensely improved.
I liked her manner with her mother to-night. I liked her laughing way
with that stupid young cub of a boy, whom they oughtn't to allow to
get tipsy. She sang those little verses very prettily; they were
devilish pretty verses too, though I say it who shouldn't say it." And
he hummed a tune which Blanche had put to some verses of his own. "Ah!
what a fine night! How jolly a cigar is at night! How pretty that
little Saxon church looks in the moonlight! I wonder what old
Warrington's doing? Yes, she's a dayvlish nice little thing, as my
"O heavenly!" here broke out a voice from a clematis-covered casement
near--a girl's voice: it was the voice of the author of _Mes Larmes_.
Pen burst into a laugh. "Don't tell about my smoking," he said,
leaning out of his own window.
"O! go on! I adore it," cried the lady of _Mes Larmes_. "Heavenly
night! Heavenly, heavenly moon! but I most shut my window, and not
talk to you on account of _les moeurs_. How droll they are, _les
moeurs!_ Adieu." And Pen began to sing the good night to Don Basilio.
The next day they were walking in the fields together, laughing and
chattering--the gayest pair of friends. They talked about the days of
their youth, and Blanche was prettily sentimental. They talked about
Laura, dearest Laura--Blanche had loved her as a sister: was she happy
with that odd Lady Rockminster? Wouldn't she come and stay with them
at Tunbridge? O, what walks they would take together! What songs they
would sing--the old, old songs. Laura's voice was splendid. Did
Arthur--she must call him Arthur--remember the songs they sang in the
happy old days, now he was grown such a great man, and had such a
_succès?_ &c. &c.
And the day after, which was enlivened with a happy ramble through
the woods to Penshurst, and a sight of that pleasant Park and Hall,
came that conversation with the curate which we have narrated, and
which made our young friend think more and more.
"Is she all this perfection?" he asked himself. "Has she become
serious and religious? Does she tend schools, and visit the poor? Is
she kind to her mother and brother? Yes, I am sure of that, I have
seen her." And walking with his old tutor over his little parish, and
going to visit his school, it was with inexpressible delight that Pen
found Blanche seated instructing the children, and fancied to himself
how patient she must be, how good-natured, how ingenuous, how really
simple in her tastes, and unspoiled by the world.
"And do you really like the country?" he asked her, as they walked
"I should like never to see that odious city again. O Arthur--that is,
Mr.--well, Arthur, then--one's good thoughts grow up in these sweet
woods and calm solitudes, like those flowers which won't bloom in
London, you know. The gardener comes and changes our balconies once a
week. I don't think I shall bear to look London in the face again--its
odious, smoky, brazen face! But, heigho!"
"Why that sigh, Blanche?" "Never mind why."
"Yes, I do mind why. Tell me, tell me every thing."
"I wish you hadn't come down;" and a second edition of _Mes Soupirs_
"You don't want me, Blanche?"
"I don't want you to go away. I don't think this house will be very
happy without you, and that's why I wish that you never had come."
_Mes Soupirs_ were here laid aside, and _Mes Larmes_ had begun.
Ah! What answer is given to those in the eyes of a young woman? What
is the method employed for drying them? What took place? O ringdoves
and roses, O dews and wildflowers, O waving greenwoods and balmy airs
of summer! Here were two battered London rakes, taking themselves in
for a moment, and fancying that they were in love with each other,
like Phillis and Corydon!
When one thinks of country houses and country walks, one wonders that
any man is left unmarried.
Easy and frank-spoken as Pendennis commonly was with Warrington, how
came it that Arthur did not inform the friend and depository of all
his secrets, of the little circumstances which had taken place at the
villa near Tunbridge Wells? He talked about the discovery of his old
tutor Smirke, freely enough, and of his wife, and of his Anglo-Norman
church, and of his departure from Clapham to Rome; but, when asked
about Blanche, his answers were evasive or general; he said she was a
good-natured, clever little thing--that, rightly guided, she might
make no such bad wife after all; but that he had for the moment no
intention of marriage, that his days of romance were over, that he was
contented with his present lot, and so forth.
In the mean time there came occasionally to Lamb Court, Temple, pretty
little satin envelopes, superscribed in the neatest handwriting, and
sealed with one of those admirable ciphers, which, if Warrington had
been curious enough to watch his friend's letters, or indeed if the
cipher had been decipherable, would have shown George that Mr. Arthur
was in correspondence with a young lady whose initials were B. A. To
these pretty little compositions Mr. Pen replied in his best and
gallantest manner; with jokes, with news of the town, with points of
wit, nay, with pretty little verses very likely, in reply to the
versicles of the Muse of "Mes Larmes." Blanche we know rhymes with
"branch," and "stanch," and "launch," and no doubt a gentleman of
Pen's ingenuity would not forego these advantages of position, and
would ring the pretty little changes upon these pleasing notes. Indeed
we believe that those love-verses of Mr. Pen's, which had such
a pleasing success in the "Roseleaves," that charming Annual edited by
Lady Violet Lebas, and illustrated by portraits of the female nobility
by the famous artist Pinkney, were composed at this period of our
hero's life; and were first addressed to Blanche, per post, before
they figured in print, _cornets_ as it were to Pinkney's
"Verses are all very well," the elder Pendennis said, who found Pen
scratching down one of these artless effusions at the Club as he was
waiting for his dinner; "and letter-writing if mamma allows it, and
between such old country friends of course there may be a
correspondence, and that sort of thing--but mind, Pen, and don't
commit yourself, my boy. For who knows what the doose may happen? The
best way is to make your letters safe. I never wrote a letter in all
my life that would commit me, and demmy, sir, I have had some
experience of women." And the worthy gentleman, growing more garrulous
and confidential with his nephew as he grew older, told many affecting
instances of the evil results consequent upon this want of caution to
many persons in "society;"--how from using too ardent expressions in
some poetical notes to the widow Naylor, young Spoony had subjected
himself to a visit of remonstrance from the widow's brother, Colonel
Flint; and thus had been forced into a marriage with a woman old
enough to be his mother: how when Louisa Salter had at length
succeeded in securing young Sir John Bird, Hopwood, of the Blues,
produced some letters which Miss S. had written to him, and caused a
withdrawal on Bird's part, who afterward was united to Miss Stickney,
of Lyme Regis, &c. The major, if he had not reading, had plenty of
observation, and could back his wise saws with a multitude of modern
instances, which he had acquired in a long and careful perusal of the
great book of the world.
Pen laughed at the examples, and blushing a little at his uncle's
remonstrances, said that he would bear them in mind and be cautious.
He blushed, perhaps, because he _had_ borne them in mind; because he
_was_ cautious: because in his letters to Miss Blanche he had from
instinct or honesty perhaps refrained from any avowals which might
compromise him. "Don't you remember the lesson I had, sir, in Lady
Mirabel's--Miss Fotheringay's affair? I am not to be caught again,
uncle," Arthur said with mock frankness and humility. Old Pendennis
congratulated himself and his nephew heartily on the latter's prudence
and progress, and was pleased at the position which Arthur was taking
as a man of the world.
No doubt, if Warrington had been consulted, his opinion would have
been different; and he would have told Pen that the boy's foolish
letters were better than the man's adroit compliments and slippery
gallantries; that to win the woman he loves, only a knave or a coward
advances under cover, with subterfuges, and a retreat secured behind
him: but Pen spoke not on this matter to Mr. Warrington, knowing
pretty well that he was guilty, and what his friend's verdict
Colonel Altamont had not been for many weeks absent on his foreign
tour, Sir Francis Clavering having retired meanwhile into the
country pursuant to his agreement with Major Pendennis, when the ills
of fate began to fall rather suddenly and heavily upon the sole
remaining partner of the little firm of Shepherd's Inn. When Strong,
at parting with Altamont, refused the loan proffered by the latter in
the fullness of his purse and the generosity of his heart, he made
such a sacrifice to conscience and delicacy as caused him many an
after-twinge and pang; and he felt--it was not very many hours in his
life he had experienced the feeling--that in this juncture of his
affairs he had been too delicate and too scrupulous. Why should a
fellow in want refuse a kind offer kindly made? Why should a thirsty
man decline a pitcher of water from a friendly hand, because it was a
little soiled? Strong's conscience smote him for refusing what the
other had fairly come by, and generously proffered: and he thought
ruefully, now it was too late, that Altamont's cash would have been as
well in his pocket as in that of the gambling-house proprietor at
Baden or Ems, with whom his Excellency would infallibly leave his
Derby winnings. It was whispered among the tradesmen,
bill-discounters, and others who had commercial dealings with Captain
Strong, that he and the baronet had parted company, and that the
captain's "paper" was henceforth of no value. The tradesmen,
who had put a wonderful confidence in him hitherto--for who could
resist Strong's jolly face and frank and honest demeanor?--now began