Part 1 out of 16
This etext was prepared by KENNETH DAVID COOPER
THE PRIME MINISTER
by Anthony Trollope
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 Ferdinand Lopez
2 Everett Wharton
3 Mr Abel Wharton QC
4 Mrs Roby
5 'No one knows anything about him.'
6 An Old Friend Goes to Windsor
7 Another Old Friend
8 The Beginning of a New Career
9 Mrs Dicks' Dinner Party - No 1
10 Mrs Dicks' Dinner Party - No 2
11 Carlton Terrace
12 The Gathering of Clouds
13 Mr Wharton Complains
14 A Lover's Perseverance
15 Arthur Fletcher
16 Never Run Away!
18 The Duke of Omnium Thinks of Himself
20 Sir Orlando's Policy
21 The Duchess's New Swan
22 St James's Park
24 The Marriage
25 The Beginning of the Honeymoon
26 The End of the Honeymoon
27 The Duke's Misery
28 The Duchess is Much Troubled
29 The Two Candidates for Silverbridge
30 'Yes;--a lie!'
31 'Yes;--with a horsewhip in my hand'
32 'What business is it of yours?'
33 Showing that a Man Should not Howl
34 The Silverbridge Election
35 Lopez Back in London
36 The Jolly Blackbird
37 The Horns
38 Sir Orlando Retires
39 'Get round him'
40 'Come and try it'
41 The Value of a Thick Skin
43 Kauri Gum
44 Mr Wharton Thinks of a New Will
45 Mrs Sexty Parker
46 'He wants to get rich too quick'
47 As for Love!
48 'Has he ill-treated you?'
49 Where is Guatemala?
50 Mr Slide's Revenge
51 Coddling the Prime Minister
52 'I can sleep here tonight, I suppose?'
53 Mr Hartlepool
55 Mrs Parker's Sorrows
56 What the Duchess Thought of Her Husband
57 The Explanation
58 'Quite settled'
59 The First and the Last
60 The Tenway Junction
61 The Widow and her Friends
62 Phineas Finn Has a Book to Read
63 The Duchess and her Friend
64 The New K.G.
65 There Must Be Time
66 The End of the Session
67 Mrs Lopez Prepares to Move
68 The Prime Minister's Political Creed
69 Mrs Parker's Fate
70 At Wharton
71 The Ladies at Longbarns Doubt
72 'He thinks that our days are numbered'
73 Only the Duke of Omnium
74 'I am disgraced and shamed'
75 The Great Wharton Alliance
76 Who Will it Be?
77 The Duchess in Manchester Square
78 The New Ministry
79 The Wharton Wedding
80 The Last Meeting at Matching
The Prime Minister
It is a certainty of service to a man to know who were his
grandfathers and who were his grandmothers if he entertain an
ambition to move in the upper circles of society, and also of
service to be able to speak of them as of persons who were
themselves somebodies in their time. No doubt we all entertain
great respect for those who by their own energies have raised
themselves in the world; and when we hear that the son of a
washerwoman has become Lord Chancellor or Archbishop of
Canterbury we do, theoretically and abstractedly, feel a higher
reverence for such self-made magnate than for one who has been as
it were born into forensic or ecclesiastical purple. But not the
less must the offspring of the washerwoman have had very much
trouble on the subject of his birth, unless he has been, when
young as well as when old, a very great man indeed. After the
goal has been absolutely reached, and the honour and the titles
and the wealth actually won, a man may talk with some humour,
even with some affection, of the maternal tub;--but while the
struggle is going on, with the conviction strong upon the
struggler that he cannot be altogether successful unless he be
esteemed a gentleman, not to be ashamed, not to conceal the old
family circumstances, not at any rate to be silent, is difficult.
And the difficulty is certainly not less if fortunate
circumstances rather than hard work and intrinsic merit have
raised above his natural place an aspirant to high social
position. Can it be expected that such a one when dining with a
duchess shall speak of his father's small shop, or bring into the
light of day his grandfather's cobbler's awl? And yet it is so
difficult to be altogether silent! It may not be necessary for
any of us to be always talking of our own parentage. We may be
generally reticent as to our uncles and aunts, and may drop even
our brothers and sisters in our ordinary conversation. But if a
man never mentions his belongings among those with whom he lives,
he becomes mysterious, and almost open to suspicion. It begins
to be known that nobody knows anything of such a man, and even
friends become afraid. It is certainly convenient to be able to
allude, if it be but once in a year, to some blood relation.
Ferdinand Lopez, who in other respects had much in his
circumstances on which to congratulate himself, suffered trouble
in his mind respecting his ancestors such as I have endeavoured
to describe. He did not know very much himself, but what little
he did know he kept altogether to himself. He had no father or
mother, no uncle, aunt, brother or sister, no cousin even whom he
could mention in a cursory way to his dearest friend. He
suffered no doubt;--but with Spartan consistency he so hid his
trouble from the world that no one knew that he suffered. Those
with whom he lived, and who speculated often and wondered much as
to who he was never dreamed that the silent man's reticence was a
burden to himself. At no special conjuncture of his life, at no
period which could be marked with the finger of the observer, did
he glaringly abstain from any statement which at the moment might
be natural. He never hesitated, blushed, or palpably laboured at
concealment; but the fact remained that though a great many men
and not a few women knew Ferdinand Lopez very well, none of them
knew whence he had come, or what was his family.
He was a man, however, naturally reticent, who never alluded to
his own affairs unless in pursuit of some object the way to which
was clear before his eyes. Silence therefore on a matter which
is common in the mouths of most men was less difficult to him
than to another, and the result less embarrassing. Dear old
Jones, who tells his friends at the club of every pound that he
loses or wins at the races, who boasts of Mary's favours and
mourns over Lucy's coldness almost in public, who issues
bulletins on the state of his purse, his stomach, his stable, and
his debts, could not with any amount of care keep from us the
fact that his father was an attorney's clerk, and made his first
money by discounting small bills. Everybody knows it, and Jones,
who like popularity, grieves at the unfortunate publicity. But
Jones is relieved from a burden which would have broken his poor
shoulders, and which even Ferdinand Lopez, who is a strong man,
often finds it hard to bear without wincing.
It was admitted on all sides that Ferdinand Lopez was a
'gentleman'. Johnson says that any other derivation of this
difficult word than that which causes it to signify 'a man of
ancestry' is whimsical. There are many who, in defining the term
for their own use, still adhere to Johnson's dictum;--but they
adhere to it with certain unexpressed allowances for possible
exceptions. The chances are very much in favour of the well-born
man, but exceptions may exist. It was not generally believed
that Ferdinand Lopez was well born;--but he was a gentleman.
And this most precious rank was acceded to him although he was
employed,--or at least had been employed,--on business which
does not of itself give such a warrant of position as is supposed
to be afforded by the bar and the church, by the military
services and by physic. He had been on the Stock Exchange, and
still in some manner, not clearly understood by his friends, did
business in the City.
At the time with which we are now concerned Ferdinand Lopez was
thirty-three years old, and as he had begun life early he had
been long before the world. It was known of him that he had been
at a good English private school, and it was reported, on the
solitary evidence of one of who had been there as his
schoolfellow, that a rumour was current in the school that his
school bills were paid by an old gentleman who was not related to
him. Thence, at the age of seventeen, he had been sent to a
German university, and at the age of twenty-one had appeared in
London, in a stockbroker's office, where he was soon known as an
accomplished linguist, and as a very clever fellow,--precocious,
not given to many pleasures, apt for work, but considered hardly
trustworthy by employers, not as being dishonest, but as having a
taste for being a master rather than a servant. Indeed his
period of servitude was very short. It was not in his nature to
be active on behalf of others. He was soon active for himself,
and at one time it was supposed that he was making a fortune.
Then it was known that he had left his regular business, and it
was supposed that he had lost all that he had ever made or had
ever possessed. But nobody, not even his own bankers, or his own
lawyer,--not even the old woman who looked after his linen,--
ever really knew the state of his affairs.
He was certainly a handsome man,--his beauty being of a sort
which men are apt to deny and women to admit lavishly. He was
nearly six feet tall, very dark and very thin, with regular well-
cut features, indicating little to the physiognomist unless it be
the great gift of self-possession. His hair was cut short, and
he wore no beard beyond an absolutely black moustache. His teeth
were perfect, in form and in whiteness,--a characteristic which
though it may be a valued item in a general catalogue of personal
attraction, does not generally recommend a man to the unconscious
judgment of his acquaintance. But about the mouth and chin of
this man there was a something of a softness, perhaps in the play
of his lips, perhaps in the dimple, which in some degree lessened
the feeling of hardness which was produced by the square brow and
bold, unflinching, combative eyes. They who knew him and like
him were reconciled by the lower face. The greater number who
knew him and did not like him, felt and resented,--even though
in nine cases out of ten they might, express no resentment even
to themselves,--the pugnacity of his steady glance.
For he was essentially one of those men who are always, in the
inner workings of their minds, defending themselves and attacking
others. He could not give a penny to a woman at a crossing
without a look which argued at full length her injustice in
making her demand, and his freedom from all liability let him
walk the crossing as often as he might. He could not seat
himself in a railway carriage without a lesson to his opposite
neighbour that in all the mutual affairs of travelling,
arrangement of feet, disposition of bags, and opening of windows,
it would be that neighbour's duty to submit and his to exact. It
was, however, for the spirit rather than for the thing itself
that he combatted. The woman with the broom got her penny. The
opposite gentleman when once by a glance he had expressed
submission was allowed his own way with the legs and with the
window. I would not say that Ferdinand Lopez was prone to do
ill-natured things; but he was imperious, and he had learned to
carry his empire in his eye.
The reader must submit to be told one or two further and still
smaller details respecting the man, and then the man shall be
allowed to make his own way. No one of those around him knew how
much care he took to dress himself well, or how careful he was
that no one should know it. His very tailor regarded him as
being simply extravagant in the number of his coats and trousers,
and his friends looked upon him as one of those fortunate beings
to whose nature belongs a facility of being well dressed, or
almost an impossibility of being ill dressed. We all know the
man,--a little man generally, who moves seldom and softly,--who
looks always as though he had just been sent home in a bandbox.
Ferdinand Lopez was not a little man, and moved freely enough;
but never, at any moment,--going into the city or coming out of
it, on horseback or on foot, at home over his book or after the
mazes of the dance,--was he dressed otherwise than with perfect
care. Money and time did it, but folk thought that it grew with
him, as did his hair and his nails. And he always rode a horse
which charmed good judges of what a park nag should be;--not a
prancing, restless, giggling, sideway-going, useless garran, but
an animal well made, well bitted, with perfect paces, on whom a
rider if it pleased him could be as quiet as a statue in a
monument. It often did please Ferdinand Lopez to be quiet on
horseback; and yet he did not look like a statue, for it was
acknowledged through all London that he was a good horseman. He
lived luxuriously too,--though whether at his ease or not nobody
knew,--for he kept a brougham of his own, and during the hunting
season, he had two horses down at Leighton. There had once been
a belief abroad that he was ruined, but they who interest
themselves in such matters had found out,--or at any rate
believed that they had found out,--that he paid his tailor
regularly: and now there prevailed an opinion that Ferdinand
Lopez was a monied man.
It was known to some few that he occupied rooms in a flat at
Westminster,--but to very few exactly where the rooms were
situate. Among all his friends no one was known to have entered
them. In a moderate way he was given to hospitality,--that is
to infrequent but when the occasion came, to graceful
hospitality. Some club, however, or tavern perhaps, in the
summer, some river bank would be chosen as the scene of these
festivities. To a few,--if, as suggested, amidst summer flowers
on the water's edge to men and women mixed,--he would be a
courtly and efficient host; for he had the rare gift of doing
such things well.
Hunting was over, and the east wind was still blowing, and a
great portion of the London world was out of town taking its
Easter holiday, when on an unpleasant morning, Ferdinand Lopez
travelled into the city by the Metropolitan railway from
Westminster Bridge. It was his custom to go thither when he did
go,--not daily like a man of business, but as chance might
require, like a capitalist or a man of pleasure,--in his own
brougham. But on this occasion he walked down the river side,
and then walked from the Mansion House into a dingy little court
called Little Tankard Yard, near the Bank of England, and going
through a narrow dark long passage got into a little office at
the back of a building, in which there sat at a desk a greasy
gentleman with a new hat on one side of his head, who might
perhaps be about forty years old. The place was very dark, and
the man was turning over the leaves of a ledger. A stranger to
city ways might probably have said that he was idle, but he was
no doubt filling his mind with that erudition which would enable
him to earn his bread. On the other side of the desk there was a
little boy copying letters. These were Mr Sextus Parker,--
commonly called Sexty Parker,--his clerk. Mr Parker was a
gentleman very well known and at the present moment favourably
esteemed on the Stock Exchange. 'What, Lopez!' said he.
'Uncommon glad to see you. What can I do for you?'
'Just come inside,--will you?' said Lopez. Now within Mr
Parker's very small office there was a smaller office, in which
there were a safe, a small rickety Pembroke table, two chairs,
and an old washing-stand with a tumbled towel. Lopez led the way
into this sanctum as though he knew the place well, and Sexty
Parker followed him.
'Beastly day, isn't it?' said Sexty.
'Yes,--a nasty east wind.'
'Cutting one in two, with a hot sun at the same time. One ought
to hybernate at this time of the year.'
'Then why don't you hybernate?' said Lopez.
'Business is too good. That's about it. A man has to stick to
it when it does come. Everybody can't do like you;--give up
regular work, and make a better thing of an hour now and an hour
then, just as it pleases you. I shouldn't dare go in for that
kind of thing.
'I don't suppose you or any one else know what I go in for,' said
Lopez, with a look that indicated offence.
'Nor don't care,' said Sexty;--'only hope it's something good,
for your sake.' Sexty Parker had known Mr Lopez well, now for
some years, and being an overbearing man himself,--somewhat even
of a bully if the truth be spoken,--and by no means apt to give
way unless hard pressed, had often tried his 'hand' on his
friend, as he himself would have said. But I doubt whether he
could remember any instance in which he could congratulate
himself on success. He was trying his hand again now, but did it
with a faltering voice, having caught a glance of his friend's
'I dare say not,' said Lopez. Then he continued without changing
his voice or the nature of his eye. 'I'll tell you what I want
you to do now. I want your name to this bill for three months.'
Sexty Parker opened his mouth and his eyes, and took the bit of
paper that was tendered to him. It was a promissory note for 750
pounds, which, if signed by him, would at the end of the
specified period make him liable for that sum were it not
otherwise paid. His friend Mr Lopez was indeed applying to him
for the assistance of his name in raising a loan to the amount of
the sum named. This was a kind of favour which a man should ask
almost on his knees,--and which, if so asked, Mr Sextus Parker
would certainly refuse. And here was Ferdinand Lopez asking it,
who, Sextus Parker had latterly regarded as an opulent man,--and
asking it not at all on his knees, but, as one might say, at the
muzzle of a pistol. 'Accommodation bill!' said Sexty. 'Why, you
ain't hard up, are you?'
'I'm not going just at present to tell you much about my affairs,
and yet I expect you to do what I ask you. I don't suppose you
doubt my ability to raise 750 pounds.'
'Oh, dear, no,' said Sexty, who had been looked at and who had not
borne the inspection well.
'And I don't suppose you would refuse me even if I were hard up,
as you call it.' There had been affairs before between the two
men in which Lopez had probably been the stronger, and the memory
of them, added to the inspection which was still going on, was
heavy upon poor Sexty.
'Oh, dear, no;--I wasn't thinking of refusing, I suppose a
fellow may be a little surprised at such a thing.'
'I don't know why you should be surprised, as such things are
very common. I happen to have taken a share in a loan a little
beyond my immediate means, and therefore want a few hundreds.
There is no one I can ask with a better grace than you. If you
ain't--afraid about it, just sign it.'
'Oh, I ain't afraid,' said Sexty, taking his pen and writing his
name across the bill. But even before the signature was
finished, when his eye was taken away from the face of his
companion and fixed upon the disagreeable piece of paper beneath
his hand, he repented of what he was doing. He almost arrested
his signature half-way. He did hesitate, but had not pluck
enough to stop his hand. 'It does seem to be an odd
transaction all the same,' he said as he leaned back in his
'It's the commonest thing in the world,' said Lopez picking up
the bill in a leisurely way, folding it and putting it into his
pocket-book. 'Have our names never been together on a bit of
'When we both had something to make by it.'
'You've nothing to make and nothing to lose by this. Good day
and many thanks,--though I don't think so much of the affair as
you seem to do.' Then Ferdinand Lopez took his departure, and
Sexty Parker was left alone in bewilderment.
'By George,--that's queer,' he said to himself. 'Who'd have
thought of Lopez being hard up for a few hundred pounds? But it
must be all right. He wouldn't have come in that fashion, if it
hadn't been all right. I oughtn't to have done it though! A man
ought never to do that kind of thing,--never,--never!' And Mr
Sextus Parker was much discontented with himself, so that when he
got home that evening to the wife of his bosom and his little
family at Ponders End, he by no means made himself agreeable to
them. For that sum of 750 pounds sat upon his bosom as he ate
his supper, and lay upon his chest as he slept,--like a
On that same day Lopez dined with his friend Everett Wharton at a
new club, called the Progress, of which they were both members.
The Progress was certainly a new club, having as yet been open
hardly more than three years; but still it was old enough to have
seen many of the hopes of its early youth become dim with age and
inaction. For the Progress had intended to do great things for
the Liberal Party,--or rather for political liberality in
general,--and had in truth done little or nothing. It had been
got up with considerable enthusiasm, and for a while certain
fiery politicians had believed that through the instrumentality
of this institution men of genius and spirit, and natural power,
but without wealth,--meaning always themselves,--would be
supplied with sure seats in Parliament and a probably share in
the Government. But no such results had been achieved. There
had been a want of something,--some deficiency felt but not yet
defined,--which had hitherto been fatal. The young men said it
was because no old stager who knew the way of pulling the wires
would come forward and put the club in the proper groove. The
old men said it was because the young men were pretentious
puppies. It was, however, not to be doubted that the party of
Progress had become slack, and that the Liberal politicians of
the country, although a special new club had been opened for the
furtherance of their views, were not at present making much way.
'What we want is organization,' said one of the leading young
men. But the organization was not as yet forthcoming.
The club, nevertheless, went on its way, like other clubs, and
men dined and smoked and played billiards and pretended to read.
Some few energetic members still hoped that a good day would come
in which their grand ideas might be realized,--but as regarded
the members generally, they were content to eat and drink and
play billiards. It was a fairly good club,--with a sprinkling
of Liberal lordlings, a couple of dozen of members of Parliament
who had been made to believe that they would neglect their party
duties unless they paid their money, and the usual assortment of
barristers, attorneys, city merchants, and idle men. It was good
enough, at any rate, for Ferdinand Lopez, who was particular
about his dinner, and had an opinion of his own about wines. He
had been heard to assert that, for real quiet comfort, there was
not a club in London equal to it, but his hearers were not aware
that in the past days he had been black-balled at the T and the
G. These were accidents which Lopez had a gift of keeping in
the background. His present companion, Everett Wharton, had, as
well himself, been an original member;--and Wharton had been one
of those who had hoped to find in the club a stepping-stone to
high political life, and who now talked often with idle energy of
the need for organization.
'For myself,' said Lopez, 'I can conceive no vainer object of
ambition than a seat in the British Parliament. What does any
man gain by it? The few are successful work very hard for little
pay and no thanks,--or nearly equally hard for no pay and as
little thanks. The many who fail sit idly for hours, undergoing
the weary task of listening to platitudes, and enjoy in return
the now absolutely valueless privilege of having MP written on
'Somebody must make the laws for the country.'
'I don't see the necessity. I think the country would do
uncommonly well if it were to know that no old law would be
altered or new law made for the next twenty years.'
'You wouldn't have repealed the corn laws?'
'There are no corn laws to repeal now.'
'Nor modify the income tax?'
'I would modify nothing. But at any rate, whether laws are to be
altered or to be left, it is a comfort to me that I need not put
my finger into that pie. There is one benefit indeed in being in
'You can't be arrested.'
'Well;--that, as far as it goes, and one other. It assists a
man in getting a seat as the director of certain companies.
People are still such asses that they trust a Board of Directors
made up of members of Parliament, and therefore of course members
are made welcome. But if you want to get into the House, why
don't you arrange it with your father, instead of waiting for
what the club may do for you?'
'My father wouldn't pay a shilling for such a purpose. He was
never in the House himself.'
'And therefore despises it.'
'A little of that, perhaps. No man ever worked harder than he
did, or, in his way, more successfully; and having seen one after
another of his juniors become members of Parliament, while he
stuck to the attorneys, there is perhaps a little jealousy about
'From what I see of the way you live at home, I should think your
father would do anything for you,--with proper management.
There is no doubt, I suppose, that he could afford it?'
'My father never in his life said anything to me about his own
money affairs though he says a great deal about mine. No man
ever was closer than my father. But I believe he could afford
'I wish I had such a father,' said Ferdinand Lopez. 'I think
that I should succeed in ascertaining the extent of his
capabilities, and in making some use of them too.'
Wharton nearly asked his friend,--almost summoned courage to ask
him,--whether his father had done much for him. They were very
intimate; and on one subject, in which Lopez was much interested,
their confidence had been very close. But the younger and weaker
man of the two could not quite bring himself to the point of
making an inquiry which he thought would be disagreeable. Lopez
had never before, in all their intercourse, hinted at the
possibility of his having or having had filial aspirations. He
had been as though he had been created self-sufficient,
independent of mother's milk or father's money. Now the question
might have been asked almost naturally. But it was not asked.
Everett Wharton was a trouble to his father,--but not an
agonizing trouble, as are some sons. His faults were not of a
nature to rob his father's cup of all its sweetness and to bring
grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. Old Wharton had never had
to ask himself whether he should now, at length, let his son fall
into the lowest abysses, or whether he should yet again struggle
to put him on his legs, again forgive him, again pay his debts,
again endeavour to forget dishonour, and place it all to the
score of thoughtless youth. Had it been so, I think that, if not
on the first or second fall, certainly on the third, the young
man would have gone into the abyss, for Mr Wharton was a stern
man, and capable of coming to a clear conclusion on things that
were nearest and even dearest to himself. But Everett Wharton
had simply shown himself to be inefficient to earn his own bread.
He had never declined even to do this,--but had simply been
inefficient. He had not declared, either by words or by actions,
that as his father was a rich man, and as he was an only son, he
would therefore do nothing. But he had tried his hand thrice,
and in each case, after but short trial, had assured his father
and his friends that the thing had not suited him. Leaving
Oxford without a degree,--for reading of the schools did not
suit him,--he had gone into a banking-house, by no means as a
mere clerk, but with an expressed proposition from his father,
backed by the assent of a partner, that he should work his way up
to wealth and a great commercial position. But six months taught
him that banking was an 'abomination', and he at once went into a
course of reading with a barrister. He remained at this till he
was called,--for a man may be called with very little continuous
work. But after he was called the solitude of his chambers was
too much for him, and at twenty-five he found that the Stock
Exchange was the mart in the world for such talents and energies
as he possessed. What was the nature of his failure during the
year that he went into the city, was know only to himself and his
father,--unless Ferdinand Lopez knew something of it also. But
at six-and-twenty the Stock Exchange was also abandoned; and now,
at eight-and-twenty, Everett Wharton had discovered that a
parliamentary career was that for which nature and his special
genius had intended him. He had probably suggested this to his
father, and had met with some cold rebuff.
Everett Wharton was a good-looking, manly fellow, six feet high,
with broad shoulders with light hair, wearing a large silky bushy
beard, which made him look older than his years, who neither by
his speech nor by his appearance would ever be taken for a fool,
but who showed by the very actions of his body as well as by the
play of his face, that he lacked firmness of purpose. He
certainly was no fool. He had read much, and though he generally
forgot what he read, there were left with him from his readings
certain nebulous lights, begotten by other men's thinking, which
enabled him to talk on most subjects. It cannot be said of him
that he did much thinking for himself;--but he thought what he
thought. He believed of himself that he had gone rather deep
into politics, and that he was entitled to call many statesmen
asses because they did not see the things which he saw. He had
the great question of labour, and all that refers to unions,
strikes, and lock-outs, quite at his fingers' ends. He knew how
the Church of England should be disestablished and recomposed.
He was quite clear on questions of finance, and saw to a 't' how
progress should be made towards communism, so that no violence
should disturb that progress, and that in due course of centuries
all desire for personal property should be conquered and
annihilated by a philanthropy so general as hardly be accounted a
virtue. In the meantime he could never contrive to pay his
tailor's bill regularly out of the allowance of 400 pounds a year
which his father made him, and was always dreaming of the
comforts of a handsome income.
He was a popular man certainly,--very popular with women, to
whom he was always courteous, and generally liked by men, to whom
he was genial and good-natured. Though he was not himself aware
of the fact, he was very dear to his father, who in his own
silent way almost admired and certainly liked the openness and
guileless freedom of a character which was very opposite to his
own. The father, though he had never said a word to flatter the
son, did in truth give his offspring credit for greater talent
than he possessed, and, even when appearing to scorn them, would
listen to the young man's diatribes almost with satisfaction.
And Everett was very dear also to a sister, who was the only
other living member of this branch of the Wharton family. Much
will be said of her in these pages, and it is hoped that the
reader may take an interest in her fate. But here, in speaking
of the brother, it may suffice to say, that the sister, who was
endowed with infinitely finer gifts than his, did give credit to
the somewhat pretentious claims of her less noble brother.
Indeed it had been perhaps a misfortune with Everett Wharton that
some people had believed in him,--and a further misfortune that
some others had thought it worth their while to pretend to
believe in him. Among the latter might probably be reckoned the
friend with whom he was now dining at the Progress. A man may
flatter another, as Lopez occasionally did flatter Wharton,
without preconcerted falsehood. It suits one man to be well with
another, and the one learns gradually and perhaps unconsciously
the way to take advantage of the foibles of the other. Now it
was most material to Lopez that he should stand well with all the
members of the Wharton family, as he aspired to the hand of the
daughter of the house. Of her regard he already thought himself
nearly sure. Of the father's sanction to such a marriage he had
reason to be almost more than doubtful. But the brother was his
friend,--and in such circumstances a man is almost justified in
flattering a brother.
'I'll tell you what it is, Lopez,' said Wharton, as they strolled
out of the club together, a little after ten o'clock, 'the men of
the present day won't give themselves the trouble to occupy their
minds with matters which have, or should have, real interest.
Pope knew all about when he said that "The proper study of
mankind is man." But people don't read Pope now, or if they do
they don't take the trouble to understand him.'
'Men are too busy making money, my dear fellow.'
'That's just it. Money's a very nice thing.'
'Very nice,' said Lopez.
'But the search after it is debasing. If a man could make money
for four, or six, or even eight hours a day, and then wash his
mind of the pursuit, as a clerk in an office washes the copies
and ledgers out of his mind, then--'
'He would never make money in that way--and keep it.'
'And therefore the whole thing is debasing. A man ceases to care
for the great interests of the world, or even to be aware of
their existence, when his whole soul is in Spanish bonds. They
wanted to make a banker of me, but I found that it would kill
'It would kill me, I think if I had to confine myself to Spanish
'You know what I mean. You at any rate understand me, though I
fear you are too far gone to abandon the idea of making a
'I would abandon it to-morrow if I could come into a fortune
ready made. A man must at any rate eat.'
'Yes,--he must eat. But I am not quite sure,' said Wharton
thoughtfully, 'that he need think about what he eats.'
'Unless the beef is sent up without horse radish!' It had
happened that when the two men sat down to their dinner the
insufficient quantity of that vegetable supplied by the steward
of the club had been all consumed, and Wharton had complained of
'A man has a right to that for which he has paid,' said Wharton,
with mock solemnity, 'and if he passes over laches of that nature
without observation, he does an injury to humanity at large. I'm
not going to be caught in a trap, you know, because I like horse
radish with my beef. Well, I can't go farther out of my way, as
I have a deal of reading to do before I court my Morpheus. If
you'll take my advice, you'll go straight to the governor.
Whatever Emily may feel, I don't think she'll say much to
encourage you unless you go about it after that fashion. She has
prim notions of her own, which perhaps are not after all so much
amiss when a man wants to marry a girl.'
'God forbid that I should think that anything about your sister
'I don't think there is much myself. Women are generally
superficial,--but some are honestly superficial and some
dishonestly. Emily at any rate is honest.'
'Stop half a moment.' Then they sauntered arm in arm down the
broad pavement leading from Pall Mall to the Duke of York's
column. 'I wish I could make out your father more clearly. He
is always civil to me, but he has a cold way of looking at me
which makes me think I am not in his good books.'
'He is like that to everybody.'
'I never seem to get beyond the skin with him. You must have
heard him speak of me in my absence.'
'He never says very much about anybody.'
'But a word would let me know how the land lies. You know me
well enough to be aware that I am the last man to be curious as
to what others think of me. Indeed I do not care about it as
much as a man should do. I am utterly indifferent to the opinion
of the world at large, and would never object to the company of a
pleasant person because the pleasant person abused me behind my
back. What I value is the pleasantness of the man, and not the
liking or disliking for myself. But here the dearest aim of my
life is concerned, and I might be guided either this way or that,
or to my great advantage, by knowing whether I stand well or ill
'You have dined three times within the last three months in
Manchester Square, and I don't know any other man,--certainly no
other young man,--who has had such strong proof of intimacy from
'Yes, and I know my advantages. But I have been there as your
friend, not his.'
'He doesn't care twopence about my friends. I wanted to give
Charlie Skate a dinner, but my father wouldn't have him at any
'Charlie Skate is out at elbows, and bets at billiards. I am
respectable,--or at any rate your father thinks so. Your father
is more anxious about you than you are aware of, and wishes to
make his house pleasant to you as long as he can do so to your
advantage. As far as you are concerned he rather approves of me,
fancying that my turn for making money is stronger than my turn
for spending it. Nevertheless, he looks upon me as a friend of
yours rather than his own. Though he has given me three dinners
in three months,--and I own the greatness of his hospitality,--
I don't suppose he ever said a word in my favour. I wish I knew
what he does say.'
'He says he knows nothing about you.'
'Oh;--that's it, is it? Then he can know no harm. When next he
says so ask him how many of the men who dine at his house he can
say as much. Good night;--I won't keep you any longer. But I
can tell you this;--if between us we can manage to handle him
rightly, you may get your seat in Parliament and I may get my
wife;--that is, of course, if she will have me.'
Then they parted, but Lopez remained in the pathway, walking up
and down by the side of the old military club, thinking of
things. He certainly knew his friend, the younger Wharton
intimately, appreciating the man's good qualities, and being
fully aware of the man's weakness. By his questions he had
extracted quite enough to assure himself that Emily's father
would be adverse to his proposition. He had not felt much doubt
before, but now he was certain. 'He doesn't know much about me,'
he said, musing to himself. 'Well, no; he doesn't;--and there
isn't very much that I can tell him. Of course he's wise,--as
wisdom goes. But then, wise men do do foolish things at
intervals. The discreetest of city bankers are talked out of
their money; the most scrupulous of matrons are talked out of
their virtue; the most experienced of statesmen are talked out of
their principles. And who can really calculate chances? Men who
lead forlorn hopes generally push through without being wounded;
--and the fifth or sixth heir comes to a title.' So much he
said, palpably, though to himself with his inner voice. Then--
impalpably, with no even inner voice,--he asked himself what
chance he might have of prevailing with the girl herself; and he
almost ventured to tell himself that in that direction, he need
In very truth he loved the girl and reverenced her, believing her
to be better and higher and nobler than other human beings,--as
a man does when he is in love; and so believing, he had those
doubts as to his own success which such reverence produces.
MR ABEL WHARTON Q.C.
Lopez was not a man to let grass grow under his feet when he had
anything to do. When he was tired of walking backwards and
forwards over the same bit of pavement, subject all the while to
a cold east wind, he went home and thought of the same matter
while he lay in bed. Even were he to get the girl's assurances
of love, without her father's consent he might find himself
farther from his object than ever. Mr Wharton was a man of old
fashions, who would think himself ill-used and his daughter ill-
used, and who would think also that a general offence would have
been committed against good social manners, if his daughter were
to be asked for her hand without his previous consent. Should he
absolutely refuse,--why then the battle, though it would be a
desperate battle, might perhaps be fought with other strategy;
but, giving to the matter his best consideration, Lopez thought
it expedient to go at once to the father. In doing this he would
have no silly tremors. Whatever he might feel in speaking to the
girl, he had sufficient self-confidence to be able to ask the
father, if not with assurance, at any rate without trepidation.
It was, he thought, probable that the father, at the first
attack, would neither altogether accede, or altogether refuse.
The disposition of the man was averse to the probability of an
absolute reply at the first moment. The lover imagined that it
might be possible for him to take advantage of the period of
doubt which would be created.
Mr Wharton was and had for a great many years been a barrister
practising in the Equity Courts,--or rather in one Equity Court,
for throughout a life's work, now extending to nearly fifty
years, he had hardly ever gone out of the single Vice-
Chancellor's Court which was much better known by Mr Wharton's
name than by that of the less eminent judge who now sat there.
His had been a very peculiar, a very toilsome, but yet probably a
very satisfactory life. He had begun his practice early, and had
worked in a stuff gown till he was nearly sixty. At that time,
he had amassed a large fortune, mainly from his profession, but
partly also by the careful use of his own small patrimony and by
his wife's money. Men knew that he was rich, but no one knew the
extent of his wealth. When he submitted to take a silk gown, he
declared among his friends that he did so as a step preparatory
to his retirement. The altered method of work would not suit him
at his age, nor,--as he said,--would it be profitable. He
would take his silk, as a honour for his declining years, so that
he might become a bencher at his Inn. But he had now been
working for the last twelve or fourteen years with his silk gown,
--almost as hard as in younger days, and with pecuniary results
almost as serviceable; and though from month to month he declared
his intention of taking no fresh briefs, and though he did now
occasionally refuse work, still he was there with his mind as
clear as ever, and with his body apparently as little affected by
Mr Wharton had not married till he was forty, and his wife had
now been two years dead. He had had six children,--of whom but
two were now left to make a household for his old age. He had
been nearly fifty years when his youngest daughter was born, and
was therefore now an old father of a young child. But he was one
of those men who, as in youth they are never very young, so in
age are they never very old. He could still ride his cob in the
park jauntily; and did so carefully every morning in his life,
after an early cup of tea and before his breakfast. And he could
walk home from his chambers every day, and on Sundays could to
the round of the parks on foot. Twice a week, on Wednesdays and
Saturdays, he dined at that old law club, the Eldon, and played
whist after dinner till twelve o'clock. This was the great
dissipation and, I think, the chief charm of his life. In the
middle of August he and his daughter usually went for a month to
Wharton Hall in Hertfordshire, the seat of his cousin Sir Alured
Wharton;--and this was the one duty of his life which was a
burden to him. But he had been made to believe that it was
essential to his health, and to his wife's, and then to his
girl's, health, that he should every summer leave town for a
time,--and where else was there to go? Sir Alured was a
relation and a gentleman. Emily liked Wharton Hall. It was the
proper thing. He hated Wharton Hall, but then he did not know
any place out of London that he would not hate worse. He had
once been induced to go up the Rhine; but had never repeated the
experiment of foreign travel. Emily sometimes went abroad with
her cousins during which periods it was supposed that the old
lawyer spent a good deal of his time at the Eldon. He was a
spare, thin, strongly made man, with spare light brown hair,
hardly yet grizzled, with small grey whiskers, clear eyes, bushy
eyebrows, with a long ugly nose, on which young barristers had
been heard to declare that you might hang a small kettle, and
with considerable vehemence of talk when he was opposed in
argument. For, with all his well-known coolness of temper, Mr
Wharton could become very hot in an argument, when the nature of
the case in hand required heat. On one subject all who knew him
were agreed. He was a thorough lawyer. Many doubted his
eloquence, and some declared that he had known well the extent of
his own powers in abstaining from seeking the higher honours of
his profession; but no one doubted his law. He had once written
a book,--on the mortgage of stocks in trade; but that had been
in early life, and he had never since dabbled in literature.
He was certainly a man of whom men were generally afraid. At the
whist-table no one would venture to scold him. In the court no
one ever contradicted him. In his own house, though he was very
quiet, the servants dreaded to offend him, and were attentive to
his slightest behests. When he condescended to ride with any
acquaintance in the park, it was always acknowledged that old
Wharton was to regulate the pace. His name was Abel, and all his
life he had been known as able Abe,--a silent, far-seeing,
close-fisted, just old man, who, was not, however, by any means
deficient in sympathy either with the sufferings or with the joys
It was Easter time, and the courts were not sitting, but Mr
Wharton was in his chamber as a matter of course at ten o'clock.
He knew no real homely comforts elsewhere,--unless at the whist-
table at the Eldon. He ate and drank and slept in his own house
in Manchester Square, but he could hardly be said to live there.
It was not there that his mind was awake, and the powers of the
man were exercised. When he came up from the dining-room to join
his daughter after dinner, he would get her to sing him a song,
and would then seat himself with a book. But he never read in
his own house, invariably falling into a sweet and placid
slumber, from which he was never disturbed till his daughter
kissed him as she went to bed. Then he would walk about the room
and look at his watch, and shuffle uneasily through half an hour,
till his conscience allowed him to take himself to his chamber.
He was a man of no pursuits in his own house. But from ten in
the morning til five, or often six, in the evening, his mind was
active in some work. It was not now all law, as it used to be.
In the drawer of the old piece of furniture which stood just at
the right hand of his own arm-chair there were various books
hidden away, which he was sometimes ashamed to have seen by his
clients,--poetry and novels, and even fairy tales. For there
was nothing Mr Wharton could not read in his chambers, though
there was nothing that he could read in his own house. He had a
large pleasant room in which to sit, looking out from the ground
floor of Stone Buildings on to the gardens belonging to the Inn,
--and here, in the centre of the metropolis, but in perfect quiet
as far as the outside world was concerned, he had lived and still
lived his life.
At about noon on the day following that on which Lopez had made
his sudden swoop on Mr Parker and had then dined with Everett
Wharton, he called at Stone Buildings, and was shown into the
lawyer's room. His quick eye at once discovered the book which
Mr Wharton half hid away, and saw upon it Mr Mudie's suspicious
ticket. Barristers certainly never get their law books from
Mudie, and Lopez at once knew that his hoped-for father-in-law
had been reading a novel. He had not suspected such weakness,
but argued well from it for the business he had in hand. There
must be a soft spot to be found about the heart of an old lawyer
who spent his mornings in such occupation. 'How do you do, sir?'
said Mr Wharton rising from his seat. 'I hope you are well,
sir.' Though he had been reading a novel his tone and manner
were very cold. Lopez had never been in Stone Buildings before,
and was not quite sure that he might not have committed some
offence in coming there. 'Take a seat, Mr Lopez. Is there
anything I can do for you in my way?'
There was a great deal that could be done 'in his way' as father,
--but how was it to be introduced and the case made clear? Lopez
did not know whether the old man had as yet ever suspected such a
feeling as that which he now intended to declare. He had been
intimate at the house at Manchester Square, and had certainly
ingratiated himself very closely with a certain Mrs Roby, who had
been Mr Wharton's sister and constant companion, who lived in
Berkeley Street, close round the corner from Manchester Square,
and spent very much of her time with Emily Wharton. They were
together daily, as though Mrs Roby had assumed the part of a
second mother, and Lopez was well aware that Mrs Roby knew of his
love. If there was a real confidence between Mrs Roby and the
old man, the old lawyer knew about it also;--but as to that
Lopez felt that he was in the dark.
The task of speaking to an old father is not unpleasant when the
lover knows that he has been smiled upon, and, in fact, approved
for the last six months. He is going to be patted on the back,
and made much of, and received in the family. He is to be told
that his Mary or his Augusta has been the best daughter in the
world, and will therefore certainly be the best wife, and he
himself will probably on that special occasion be spoken of with
unqualified praise,--and all will be pleasant. But the subject
is one very difficult to broach when no previous light has been
thrown on it. Ferdinand Lopez, however, was not the man to stand
shivering on the brink when a plunge was necessary,--and
therefore he made his plunge. 'Mr Wharton, I have taken the
liberty to call upon you, because I want to speak to you about
'About my daughter!' The old man's surprise was quite genuine.
Of course when he had given himself a moment to think, he knew
what must be the nature of his visitor's communication. But up
to that moment he had never mixed his daughter and Ferdinand
Lopez in his thoughts together. And now, the idea having come
upon him, he looked at the aspirant with severe and unpleasant
eyes. It was manifest to the aspirant that the first flash of
the thing was painful to the father.
'Yes, sir. I know how great is my presumption. But, yet having
ventured, I will hardly say to entertain any hope, but to have
come to such a state that I can only by happy by hoping, I have
thought it best to come to you at once.'
'Does she know anything of this?'
'Of my visit to you? Nothing.'
'Of your intentions;--of your suit generally? Am I to
understand that this has any sanction from her?'
'None at all.'
'Have you told her anything of it?'
'Not a word. I come to ask you for your permission to address
'You mean that she has no knowledge whatever of your, your
preference for her.'
'I cannot say that. It is hardly possible that I should have
learned to love her as I do without some consciousness on her
part that it is so.'
'What I mean is, without any beating about the bush,--have you
been making love to her?'
'Who is to say what making love consists, Mr Wharton?'
'D it, sir, a gentleman knows. A gentleman knows whether he
has been playing on a girl's feelings, and a gentleman, when he
is asked as I have asked you, will at any rate tell the truth. I
don't want any definitions. Have you been making love to her?'
'I think, Mr Wharton, that I have behaved like a gentleman; and
that you will acknowledge at least so much when you come to know
exactly what I have done and what I have not done. I have
endeavoured to commend myself to your daughter, but I have never
spoken a word of love to her.'
'Does Everett know of all this?'
'And has he encouraged it?'
'He knows of it because he is my intimate friend. Whoever the
lady might have been, I should have told him. He is attached to
me, and would not I think, on his own account, object to call me
his brother. I spoke to him yesterday on the matter very
plainly, and he told me that I ought certainly to see you first.
I quite agreed with him, and therefore I am here. There has
certainly been nothing in his conduct to make you angry, and I do
not think that there has been anything in mine.'
There was a dignity of demeanour and a quiet assured courage
which had its effect upon the old lawyer. He felt that he could
not storm and talk in ambiguous language of what a 'gentleman'
would or would not do. He might disapprove of this man
altogether as a son-in-law,--and at the present moment he
thought he did,--but still the man was entitled to a civil
answer. How were lovers to approach the ladies of their love in
any manner more respectful than this? 'Mr Lopez,' he said, 'you
must forgive me if I say that you are comparatively a stranger to
'That is an accident which would easily be cured if your will in
that direction were as good as mine.'
'But, perhaps, it isn't. One has to be explicit in these
matters. A daughter's happiness is a very serious consideration;
--and some people, among whom I confess that I am one, consider
that like people should marry like. I should wish to see my
daughter marry,--not only in my own sphere, neither higher nor
lower,--but with someone of my own class.'
'I hardly know, Mr Wharton, whether that is intended to exclude
'Well,--to tell you the truth I know nothing about you. I don't
know who your father was,--whether he was an Englishman, whether
he was a Christian, whether he was a Protestant,--not even
whether he was a gentleman. These are questions which I should
not dream of asking under any other circumstances;--would be
matters with which I should have no possible concern, if you were
simply an acquaintance. But when you talk to a man about his
'I acknowledge freely your right of inquiry.'
'And I know nothing of your means;--nothing whatever. I
understand that you live as a man of fortune, but I presume that
you earn your bread. I know nothing of the way in which you earn
it, nothing of the certainty or amount of your means.'
'Those things are of course matters for inquiry; but may I
presume that you have no objection which satisfactory answers to
such questions may not remove?'
'I shall never willingly give my daughter to anyone who is not
the son of an English gentleman. It may be a prejudice, but that
is my feeling.'
'My father was certainly not an English gentleman. He was a
Portuguese.' In admitting this, and subjecting himself at once
to one clearly-stated ground of objection,--the objection being
one which, though admitted, carried with it neither fault nor
disgrace,--Lopez felt that he had got a certain advantage. He
could not get over the fact that he was the son of a Portuguese
parent, but by admitting that openly he thought he might avoid
present discussion on matters which might, perhaps, be more
disagreeable, but to which he need not allude if the accident of
birth were to be taken by the father as settling the question.
'My mother was an English lady,' he added, 'but my father
certainly was not an Englishman. I never had the common
happiness of knowing either of them. I was an orphan before I
understood what it was to have a parent.'
This was said with a pathos, which for the moment stopped the
expression of any further harsh criticism from the lawyer. Mr
Wharton could not instantly repeat his objection to a parentage
which was matter for such melancholy reflections; but he felt at
the same time that as he had luckily landed himself on a positive
and undeniable ground of objection to a match which was
distasteful to him, it would be unwise for him to go to other
matters in which he might be less successful. By doing so, he
would seem to abandon the ground which he had already made good.
He thought it probable that the man might have an adequate
income, and yet he did not wish to welcome him as a son-in-law.
He thought it possible that the Portuguese father might be a
Portuguese nobleman, and therefore one whom he might be driven to
admit to have been some sort of gentleman;--but yet this man who
was now in his presence and whom he continued to scan with the
closest observation, was not what he called a gentleman. The
foreign blood was proved, and that would suffice. As he looked
at Lopez, he thought that he detected Jewish signs, but he was
afraid to make any allusions to religion, lest Lopez should
declare his ancestors had been noted as Christians since St James
first preached in the Peninsula.
'I was educated altogether in England,' continued Lopez, 'till I
was sent to a German university in the idea that the languages of
the Continent are not generally well learned in this country;--I
can never be sufficiently thankful to my guardian for doing so.'
'I dare say;--I dare say. French and German are very useful. I
have a prejudice of my own in favour of Greek and Latin.'
'But I rather fancy I picked up more Greek and Latin at Bonn than
I should have got here, had I stuck to nothing else.'
'I dare say;--I dare say. You may be an Admirable Crichton for
what I know.'
'I have not intended to make any boast, sir, but simply to
vindicate those who had the care of my education. If you have
no objection except that founded on my birth, which is an
'When one man is a peer and another a ploughman, that is an
accident. One doesn't find fault with the ploughman, but one
doesn't ask him to dinner.'
'But my accident,' said Lopez smiling, 'is one which you would
hardly discover unless you were told. Had I called myself Talbot
you would not know but that I was as good an Englishman as
'A man of course may be taken in by falsehoods,' said the lawyer.
'If your have no other objection than that raised, I hope you
will allow me to visit in Manchester Square.'
'There may be ten thousand other objections, Mr Lopez, but I
really think that the one is enough. Of course I know nothing of
my daughter's feelings. I should imagine that the matter is as
strange to her as it is to me. But I cannot give you anything
like encouragement. If I am ever to have a son-in-law, I should
wish to have an English son-in-law. I do not even know what your
'I am engaged in foreign loans.'
'Very precarious I should think. A sort of gambling, isn't it?'
'It is the business by which many of the greatest mercantile
houses in the city have been made.'
'I dare say;--I dare say;--and by which they come to ruin. I
have the greatest respect in the world for mercantile enterprise,
and I have had as much to do as most men with mercantile
questions. But I ain't sure that I wish to marry my daughter in
the City. Of course it's all prejudice. I won't deny that on
general subjects I can give as much latitude as any man; but when
one's own heart is attacked--'
'Surely such a position as mine, Mr Wharton, is no attack!'
'In my sense it is. When a man proposes to assault and invade
the very kernel of another man's heart, to share with him, and
indeed to take from him, the very dearest of his possessions, to
become part and parcel with him either for infinite good or
infinite evil, then a man has a right to guard even his
prejudices as precious bulwarks.' Mr Wharton as he said this was
walking about the room with his hands in his trouser pockets. 'I
have always been for absolute toleration in matters of religion,
--have always advocated the admission of Roman Catholics and Jews
into Parliament, and even to the Bench. In ordinary life I never
question a man's religion. It is nothing to do with me whether
he believes in Mahomet, or has no belief at all. But when a man
comes to ask for my daughter--'
'I have always belonged to the Church of England,' said Ferdinand
'Lopez is at any rate a bad name to go to a Protestant church
with, and I don't want my daughter to bear it if I am very frank
with you, as in such a matter men ought to understand each other.
Personally I have liked you well enough, and have been glad to
see you at my house. Everett and you have seemed to be friends,
and I have had no objection to make. But marrying into a family
is a very serious thing indeed.'
'No man feels that more strongly than I do, Mr Wharton.'
'There had better be an end of it.'
'Even though I should be happy enough to obtain her favour?'
'I can't think that she cares about you. I don't think it for a
moment. You say that you haven't spoken to her, and I am sure
she's not a girl to throw herself at a man's head. I don't
approve it, and it had better fall to the ground. It must fall
to the ground.'
'I wish you would give me a reason.'
'Because you are not English.'
'But I am English. My father was a foreigner.'
'It doesn't suit my ideas. I suppose I may have my own ideas
about my own family, Mr Lopez? I feel perfectly certain that my
child will do nothing to displease me, and this would displease
me. If we were to talk for an hour, I could say nothing
'I hope that I may be able to present things to you in an aspect
so altered,' said Lopez as he prepared to take his leave, 'as to
make you change your mind.'
'Possibly;--possibly,' said Wharton; 'but I do not think it is
possible. Good morning to you, sir. If I have said anything
that has seemed to be unkind, put it down to my anxiety as a
father and to not to my conduct as a man.' Then the door was
closed behind his visitor, and Mr Wharton was left walking up and
down his room alone. He was by no means satisfied with himself.
He felt that he had been rude and at the same time not decisive.
He had not explained to the man as he would wish to have done,
that it was monstrous and out of the question that a daughter of
the Whartons, one of the oldest families in England, should be
given to a friendless Portuguese, a probable Jew,--about whom
nobody knew nothing. Then he remembered that sooner or later his
girl would have at least 60,000 pounds, a fact of which no human
being but himself was aware. Would it not be well that somebody
should be made aware of it, so that his girl might have the
chance of suitors preferable to the swarthy son of Judah? He
began to be afraid, as he thought of it, that he was not managing
his matters well. How would it be with him if he should find
that the girl was really in love with this swarthy son of Judah?
He had never inquired about his girl's heart, though there was
one to whom he hoped that his girl's heart might some day be
given. He almost made up his mind to go home at once, so anxious
was he. But the prospect of having to spend an entire afternoon
in Manchester Square was too much for him, as he remained in his
chamber till the usual hour.
Lopez, as he returned from Lincoln's Inn, westward to his club,
was, on the whole, contented with the interview. He had expected
opposition. He had not thought the cherry would fall easily into
his mouth. But the conversation generally had not taken those
turns which he thought would be most detrimental to him.
Mr Wharton, as he walked home, remembered that Mrs Roby was to
dine at his house that evening. During the remainder of the day,
after the departure of Lopez, he had been unable to take his mind
from the consideration of the proposition made to him. He had
tried the novel, and he had tried Huggins v. the Trustees of the
Charity of St Ambox, a case of undeniable importance in which he
was engaged on the part of Huggins, but neither was sufficiently
powerful to divert his thoughts. Throughout the morning he was
imagining what he would say to Emily about this lover of hers,--
in what way he would commence the conversation, and how he would
express his own opinion should he find that she was in any degree
favourable to the man. Should she altogether ignore the man's
pretensions, there would be no difficulty. But if she hesitated,
--if, as was certainly possible, she should show any partiality
for the man, then there would be a knot which would required
untying. Hitherto the intercourse between the father and
daughter had been simple and pleasant. He had given her
everything she had asked for, and she had obeyed him in all the
very few matters as to which he had demanded obedience.
Questions of discipline, as far as there had been any discipline,
had generally been left to Mrs Roby. Mrs Roby was to dine at
Manchester Square to-day, and perhaps it would be well that he
should have a few words with Mrs Roby before he spoke to his
Mrs Roby had a husband, but Mr Roby had not been asked to dine in
the Square on this occasion. Mrs Roby dined in the Square very
often, but Mr Roby very seldom,--not probably above once a year,
on some special occasion. He and Mr Wharton had married sisters,
but they were quite unlike in character, and had never become
friends. Mrs Wharton had been nearly twenty years younger than
her sister; and Mr Roby a year or two younger than his wife. The
two men therefore belonged to different periods of life, Mr Roby
at the present time being a florid youth of forty. He had a
moderate fortune, inherited from his mother, of which he was
sufficiently careful; but he loved races, and read sporting
papers; he was addicted to hunting and billiards; he shot
pigeons,--and, so Mr Wharton had declared calumniously more than
once to an intimate friend,--had not an H in his vocabulary.
The poor man did drop an aspirate now and again; but he knew his
defect and strove hard, and with fair average success, to
overcome it. But Mr Wharton did not love him, and they were not
friends. Perhaps neither did Mrs Roby love him very ardently.
She was at any rate almost always willing to leave her own house
to come to the Square, and on such occasions Mr Roby was always
willing to dine at the Nimrod, the club which it delighted him to
Mr Wharton on entering his own house, met his son on the
staircase. 'Do you dine at home to-day, Everett?'
'Well, sir, no, sir. I don't think I do. I think I half
promised to dine with a fellow at the club.'
'Don't you think you'd make things meet more easily about the end
of the year if you dined oftener here, where you have nothing to
pay, and less frequently at the club, where you pay for
'But what should I save you would lose, sir. That's the way I
look at it.'
'Then I advise you to look at it the other way, and leave me to
take care of myself. Come in here, I want to speak to you.'
Everett followed his father into a dingy back parlour, which was
fitted up with book shelves and was generally called the study,
but which was gloomy and comfortless because it was seldom used.
'I have had your friend Lopez with me at my chambers to-day. I
don't like your friend Lopez.'
'I am sorry for that, sir.'
'He is a man to whom I should wish to have a good deal of
evidence before I would trust him to be what he seems to be. I
dare say he's clever.'
'I think he's more than clever.'
'I dare say;--and well instructed in some respects.'
'I believe him to be a thorough linguist, sir.'
'I dare say. I remember a waiter in a hotel in Holborn who could
speak seven languages. It's an accomplishment very necessary for
a Courier or Queen's Messenger.'
'You don't mean to say, sir, that you disregard foreign
'I have said nothing of the kind. But in my estimation they
don't stand in the place of principles, or a profession, or
birth, or country. I fancy there has been some conversation
between you about your sister.'
'Certainly there has.'
'A young man should be very chary about how he speaks to another
man, to a stranger, about his sister. A sister's name should be
too sacred for club talk.'
'Club talk! Good heavens, sir, you don't think that I have
spoken of Emily in that way? There isn't a man in London who has
a higher respect for his sister than I have for mine. This man,
by no means in a light way, but with all seriousness, has told me
that he was attached to Emily; and I believing him to be a
gentleman and well to do in this world, have referred him to you.
Can that have been wrong?'
'I don't know how he's "to do", as you call it. I haven't asked,
and I don't mean to ask. But I doubt his being a gentleman. He
is not an English gentleman. What was his father?'
'I haven't the least idea.'
'Or his mother?'
'He has never mentioned her to me.'
'Nor his family; nor anything of their antecedents? He is a man
fallen out of the moon. All that is nothing to us as passing
acquaintances. Between men such ignorance should I think bar
absolute intimacy;--but that may be a matter of taste. But it
should be held to be utterly antagonistic to any such alliance as
that of marriage. He seems to be a friend of yours. You had
better make him understand that it is quite out of the question.
I have told him so, and you had better repeat it.' So saying, Mr
Wharton went upstairs to dress, and Everett, having received his
father's instructions, went away to the club.
When Mr Wharton reached the drawing-room, he found Mrs Roby
alone, and he at once resolved to discuss the matter with her
before he spoke to his daughter. 'Harriet,' he said abruptly,
'do you know anything of Mr Lopez?'
'Mr Lopez! Oh, yes, I know him.'
'Do you mean that he is an intimate friend?'
'As friends go on London, he is. He comes to our house, and I
think that he hunts with Dick.' Dick was Mr Roby.
'That's a recommendation.'
'Well, Mr Wharton, I hardly know what you mean by that,' said Mrs
Roby, smiling. 'I don't think my husband will do Mr Lopez any
harm; and I am sure Mr Lopez won't do my husband any.'
'I dare say not. But that's not the question. Roby can take
care of himself.'
'And so I dare say can Mr Lopez.' At this moment Emily entered
the room. 'My dear,' said her father, 'I am speaking to your
aunt. Would you mind going downstairs and waiting for us? Tell
them we shall be ready for dinner in ten minutes.' Then Emily
passed out of the room, and Mrs Roby assumed a grave demeanour.
'The man we are speaking of has been to me and has made an offer
for Emily.' As he said this he looked anxiously into his sister-
in-law's face, in order that he might tell from that how far she
favoured the idea of such a marriage,--and he thought that he
perceived at once, that she was not averse to it. 'You know it
is quite out of the question,' he continued.
'I don't know why it should be out of the question. But of
course your opinion would have great weight with Emily.'
'Great weight! Well;--I should hope so. If not, I do not know
whose opinion is to have weight. In the first place, the man is
'Oh, no;--he is English. But if he were a foreigner many
English girls marry foreigners.'
'My daughter shall not;--not with my permission. You have not
encouraged her, I hope.'
'I have not interfered at all,' said Mrs Roby. But this was a
lie. Mrs Roby had interfered. Mrs Roby, in discussing the
merits and character of the lover to the young lady, had always
lent herself to the lover's aid,--and had condescended to accept
from the lover various presents which she could hardly have taken
had she been hostile to him.
'And now tell me about herself. Has she seen him often?'
'Why, Mr Wharton, he has dined here, in the house, over and over
again. I thought you were encouraging him.'
'Heavens and earth!'
'Of course she has seen him. When a man dines at a house he is
bound to call. Of course he has called,--I don't know how
often. And she has met him round the corner.'--"Round the
corner" in Manchester Square, meant Mrs Roby's house in Berkeley
Street.--'Last Sunday they were at the Zoo together. Dick got
them tickets. I thought you knew about it.'
'Do you mean that my daughter went to the Zoological Gardens
alone with this man?' the father asked in dismay.
'Dick was with them. I should have gone, only I had a headache.
Did you not know that she went?'
'Yes,--I heard about the Gardens. But I heard nothing about the
'I thought, Mr Wharton, you were all in his favour.'
'I am not at all in his favour. I dislike him particularly. For
anything I know he may have sold pencils about the streets like
any other Jew-boy.'
'He goes to church, just as you do,--that is, if he goes
anywhere; which I dare say he does about as often as yourself, Mr
Wharton.' Now Mr Wharton, though he was a thorough and perhaps
bigoted member of the Church of England, was not fond of going to
'Do you mean to tell me,' he said, pressing his hands together,
and looking very seriously into his sister-in-law's face; 'do you
mean to tell me that she--likes him?'
'Yes;--I think she does like him.'
'You don't mean to say--she's in love with him?'
'She has never told me that she is. Young ladies are shy of
making such assertions as to their own feelings before due time
for doing so has come. I think she prefers him to anybody else;
and that were he to propose to herself, she would give him her
consent to go to you.'
'He shall never enter this house again,' said Mr Wharton
'You must arrange that with her. If you have so strong an
objection to him. I wonder that you should have had him here at
'How was I to know? God bless my soul!--just because a man was
allowed to dine here once or twice! Upon my word, it's too bad.'
'Papa, won't you and aunt come down to dinner?' asked Emily,
opening the door gently. Then they went down to dinner, and
during the meal nothing was said about Mr Lopez. But they were
not very merry together, and poor Emily felt sure her own affairs
had been discussed in a troublesome manner.
'NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT HIM.'
Neither at dinner on that evening at Manchester Square, nor after
dinner, as long as Mrs Roby remained in the house, was a word
said about Lopez by Mr Wharton. He remained longer than usual
with his bottle of port wine in the dining-room, and when he went
upstairs, he sat himself down and fell asleep, almost without a
sign. He did not ask for a song, nor did Emily offer to sing.
But as soon as Mrs Roby was gone,--and Mrs Roby went home, round
the corner, somewhat earlier than usual,--then Mr Wharton woke up
instantly and made inquiry of his daughter.
There had, however, been a few words spoken on the subject
between Mrs Roby and her niece, which had served to prepare Emily
for what was coming. 'Lopez has been to your father,' said Mrs
Roby, in a voice not specially encouraging for such an occasion.
Then she paused a moment, but her niece said nothing, and she
continued, 'Yes,--and your father has been blaming me,--as if I
had done anything! If he did not mean you to choose for
yourself, why didn't he keep a closer look-out?'
'I haven't chosen anyone, Aunt Harriet.'
'Well;--to speak fairly. I thought you had; and I have nothing
to say against your choice. As young men go, I think Mr Lopez is
as good as the best of them. I don't know why you shouldn't have
him. Of course you'll have money, but then I suppose he makes a
large income himself. As to Mr Fletcher, you don't care a bit
'Not in that way certainly.'
'No doubt your papa will have it out with you just now; so you
had better make up your mind what you will say to him. If you
really like the man, I don't see why you shouldn't say so, and
stick to it. He has made a regular offer, and girls these days
are not expected to be their father's slaves.' Emily said
nothing further to her aunt on that occasion, but finding that
she must in truth 'have it out' with her father presently, gave
herself up to reflection. It might probably be the case that the
whole condition of her future life would depend on the way in
which she might now 'have it out' with her father.
I would not wish the reader to be prejudiced against Miss Wharton
by the most unnatural feeling which perhaps may be felt in regard
to the aunt. Mrs Roby was pleased with little intrigues, was
addicted to the amusement of fostering love affairs, was fond of
being thought to be useful in such matters, and was not averse to
having presents given to her. She had married a vulgar man; and
though she had not become like the man, she had become vulgar.
She was not an eligible companion for Mr Wharton's daughter,--a
matter as to which the father had not given himself proper
opportunities of learning the facts. An aunt in his close
neighbourhood was so great a comfort to him,--so ready and so
natural an assistance to him in his difficulties! But Emily
Wharton was not in the least like her aunt, nor had Mrs Wharton
been at all like Mrs Roby. No doubt the contact was dangerous.
Injury had perhaps already been done. It may be that some
slightest soil had already marred the pure white of the girl's
natural character. But if so, the stain was yet too impalpable
to be visible to ordinary eyes.
Emily Wharton was a tall fair girl, with grey eyes, rather
exceeding the average proportions as well as height of women.
Her features were regular and handsome, and her form was perfect,
but it was by her manner and her voice that she conquered, rather
than by her beauty,--by those gifts and by a clearness of
intellect joined with that feminine sweetness which has its most
frequent foundation in self-denial. Those who knew her well, and
had become attached to her, were apt to endow her with all
virtues, and to give her credit for a loveliness which strangers
did not find on her face. But as we do not light up our houses
with our brightest lamps for all comers, so neither did she emit
from her eyes their brightest sparks till special occasion for
such shining had arisen. To those who were allowed to love her
no woman was more lovable. There was innate in her an
appreciation of her own position as a woman, and with it a
principle of self-denial as a human being, which it was beyond
the power of any Mrs Roby to destroy or even defile by small
Like other girls she had been taught to presume that it was her
destiny to be married, and like other girls she had thought much
about her destiny. A young man generally regards it as his
destiny either to succeed or to fail in this world, and he thinks
about that. To him marriage, when it comes, is an accident to
which he has hardly as yet given a thought. But to the girl the
matrimony which is or is not to be her destiny contains within
itself the only success or failure which she anticipates. The
young man may become Lord Chancellor, or at any rate earn his
bread comfortably as a country court judge. But the girl can
look forward to little else than the chance of having a good man
for her husband;--a good man, or if her tastes lie in that
direction, a rich man. Emily Wharton had doubtless thought about
those things, and she sincerely believed that she had found the
good man in Ferdinand Lopez.
The man, certainly, was one strangely endowed with the power of
creating a belief. When going to Mr Wharton in his chambers, he
had not intended to cheat the lawyer into any erroneous idea
about his family, but he had resolved that he would so discuss
the question of his own condition, which would probably be
raised, as to leave upon the old man's mind an unfounded
conviction that, in regard to money and income, he had no reason
to fear question. Not a word had been said about his money or
his income. And Mr Wharton had felt himself bound to abstain
from allusions to such matters from an assured feeling that he
could not in that direction plant an enduring objection. In this
way Lopez had carried his point with Mr Wharton. He had
convinced Mrs Roby that among all the girl's attractions the
greatest attraction for him was the fact that she was Mrs Roby's
niece. He had made Emily herself believe that the one strong
passion of his life was his love for her, and this he had done
without ever having asked for her love. And he had even taken
the trouble to allure Dick, and had listened to and had talked
whole pages out of "Bell's Life". On his own behalf it must be
acknowledged that he did love the girl, as well perhaps as he was
capable of loving anyone;--but he had found out many particulars
as to Mr Wharton's money before he had allowed himself to love
As soon as Mrs Roby had gathered up her knitting, and declared,
as she always did on such occasions, that she could go round the
corner without having anyone to look after her. Mr Wharton
began, 'Emily, my dear, come here.' Then she came and sat on a
footstool at his feet, and looked up into his face. 'Do you know
what I am going to speak about, my darling?'
'Yes, papa; I think I do. It is about--Mr Lopez.'
'Your aunt has told you, I suppose. Yes, it is about Mr Lopez.
I have been very much astonished to-day by Mr Lopez,--a man of
whom I have seen very little and know less. He came to me to-day
and asked for my permission--to address you.' She sat perfectly
quiet, still looking at him, but did not say a word. 'Of course
I did not give my permission.'
'Why of course, papa?'
'Because he is a stranger and a foreigner. Would you have wished
me to tell him that he might come?'
'Yes, papa.' He was sitting on a sofa and shrank back a little
from her as she made this free avowal. 'In that case I could
have judged for myself. I suppose every girl would like to do
'But should you have accepted him?'
'I think I should have consulted you before I did that. But I
should have wished to accept him. Papa, I do love him. I have
never said that before to anyone. I would not say so to you now,
if he had not--spoken to you as he has done.'
'Emily, it must not be.'
'Why not, papa? If you say it shall not be so, it shall not, I
will do as you bid me.' Then he put out his hand and caressed
her, stroking down her hair. 'But I think you ought to tell me
why it must not be,--as I do love him.'
'He is a foreigner.'
'But is he? And why should not a foreigner be as good as an
Englishman? His name is foreign, but he talks English and lives
as an Englishman.'
'He has no relatives, no family, no belongings. He is what we
call an adventurer. Marriage, my dear, is a most serious thing.'
'Yes, papa, I know that.'
'One is bound to be very careful. How can I give you to a man I
know nothing about,--an adventurer? What would they say in
'I don't know why they should say anything, but if they did I
shouldn't much care.'
'I should, my dear. I should care very much. One is bound to
think of one's family. Suppose it should turn out afterwards
that he was--disreputable?'
'You may say that of any man, papa.'
'But when a man has connections, a father and a mother, or uncles
and aunts, people that everybody knows about, then there is some
guarantee of security. Did you ever hear this man speak of his
'I don't know that he ever did.'
'Or his mother,--or his family? Don't you think that is
'I will ask him, papa, if you wish.'
'No. I would have you ask him nothing. I would not wish that
there should be an opportunity for such asking. If there has
been intimacy between you, such information should have come
naturally,--as a thing of course. You have made him no
'Oh no, papa.'
'Nor spoken to him--of your regard for him?'
'Never;--not a word. Nor to me,--except in such words as one
understands even though they say nothing.'
'I wish he had never seen you.'
'Is he a bad man, papa?'
'Who knows? I cannot tell. He may be ever so bad. How is one
to know whether a man be bad or good when one knows nothing about
him?' At this point the father got up and walked about the room.
'The long and the short of it is that you must not see him any
'Did you tell him so?'
'Yes;--well; I don't know whether I said exactly that, but I
told him that the whole thing must come to an end. And it must.
Luckily it seems that nothing has been said on either side.'
'But papa;--is there to be no reason?'
'Haven't I given reasons? I will not have my daughter encourage
an adventurer,--a man of whom nobody knows anything. That is
'He has a business, and lives with gentlemen. He is Everett's
friend. He is well educated;--oh, so much better than most men
that one meets. And he is clever. Papa, I wish you knew him
better than you do.'
'I do not want to know him better.'
'Is not that prejudice, papa?'
'My dear Emily,' said Mr Wharton, striving to wax into anger that
he might be firm against her. 'I don't think it becomes you to
ask your father such a question as that. You ought to believe
that it is the chief object of my life to do the best I can for
'I am sure it is.'
'And you ought to feel that, as I have had a long experience in
the world, my judgement about a young man might be trusted.'
That was a statement which Miss Wharton was not prepared to
admit. She had already professed herself willing to submit to
her father's judgement, and did not now by any means contemplate
rebellion against parental authority. But she did feel that on a
matter so vital to her she had a right to plead her cause before
judgement should be given, and she was not slow to assure
herself, even as this interview went on, that her love for the
man was strong enough to entitle her to assure her father that
her happiness depended on his reversal of the sentence already
pronounced. 'You know, papa, that I trust you,' she said, 'And I
have promised you that I will not disobey you. If you tell me
that I am never to see Mr Lopez again, I will not see him.'
'You are a good girl. You were always a good girl.'
'But I think that you ought to hear me.' Then he stood still
with his hands in his trouser pockets looking at her. He did not
want to hear a word, but he felt that he would be a tyrant if he
refused. 'If you tell me that I am not to see him, I shall not
see him. But I shall be very unhappy. I do love him, and I
shall never love anyone else in the same way.'
'That is nonsense, Emily. There is Arthur Fletcher.'
'I am sure you will never ask me to marry a man I do not love,
and I shall never love Arthur Fletcher. If this is to be as you
say, it will make me very, very wretched. It is right that you
should know the truth. If it is only because Mr Lopez has a
'It isn't only that; no one knows anything about him, or where
one might inquire even.'
'I think you should inquire, papa, and be quite certain before
you pronounce such a sentence against me. It will be a crushing
blow.' He looked at her, and saw that there was a fixed purpose
in her countenance of which he had never before seen similar
signs. 'You claim a right to my obedience, and I acknowledge it.
I am sure you believe me when I promise not to see him without
'I do believe you. Of course I believe you.'
'But if I do that for you, papa, I think that you ought to be
very sure, on my account, that I haven't to bear such unhappiness
for nothing. You'll think about it, papa,--will you not, before
you quite decide?' She leaned against him as she spoke, and he
kissed her. 'Good night, now, papa. You will think about it?'
'I will. I will. Of course I will.'
And he began the process of thinking about it immediately,--
before the door was closed behind her. But what was there to
think about? Nothing that she had said altered in the least
his idea about the man. He was convinced as ever that unless
there was much to conceal there would not be so much concealment.
But a feeling began to grow upon him already that his daughter
had a mode of pleading with him which he would not ultimately be
able to resist. He had the power, he knew, of putting an end to
the thing altogether. He had only to say resolutely and
unchangeably that the thing shouldn't be, and it wouldn't. If he
could steel his heart against his daughter's sorrow for, say, a
twelvemonth, the victory would be won. But he already began to
fear that he lacked the power to steel his heart against his
AN OLD FRIEND GOES TO WINDSOR.
'And what are they going to make you now?'
This question was asked of her husband by a lady with whom
perhaps the readers of this volume may have already formed some
acquaintance. Chronicles of her early life have been written, at
any rate copiously. The lady was the Duchess of Omnium, and her
husband was of course the Duke. In order that the nature of the
question asked by the Duchess may be explained, it must be stated
that just at this time the political affairs of the nation had
got themselves tied up into one of those truly desperate knots
from which even the wisdom and experience of septuagenarian
statesmen can see no unravelment. The heads of parties were at a
standstill. In the House of Commons, there was, so to say, no
majority on either side. The minds of members were so astray
that, according to the best calculation that could be made, there
would be a majority of about ten against any possible Cabinet.
There would certainly be a majority against either of those well-
tried, but, at this moment, little trusted Prime Ministers, Mr
Gresham and Mr Daubney. There were certain men, nominally
belonging to this or to the other party, who would certainly
within a week of the nomination of a Cabinet in the House, oppose
the Cabinet which they ought to support. Mr Daubney had been in
power,--nay, was in power, though he had twice resigned. Mr
Gresham had been twice sent for to Windsor, and had on one
occasion undertaken and on another had refused to undertake to
form a Ministry. Mr Daubney had tried two or three combinations,
and had been at his wits' end. He was no doubt still in power,--
could appoint bishops, and make peers, and give away ribbons.
But he couldn't pass a law, and certainly continued to hold his
present uncomfortable position by no will of his own. But a
Prime Minister cannot escape till he has succeeded in finding a
successor; and though the successor be found and consents to make
an attempt, the old unfortunate cannot be allowed to go free when
the attempt is shown to be a failure. He has not absolutely
given up the keys of his boxes, and no one will take them from
him. Even a sovereign can abdicate; but the Prime Minister of a
constitutional government is in bonds. The reader may therefore
understand that the Duchess was asking her husband what place
among the political rulers of the country had been offered to him
by the last aspirant to the leadership of the Government.
But the reader should understand more than this, and may perhaps
do so, if he has ever seen those former chronicles to which
allusion has been made. The Duke, before he became a duke, had
held very high office, having been the Chancellor of the
Exchequer. When he was transferred, perforce, to the House of
Lords, he had,--as it is not uncommon in such cases,--accepted
a lower political station. This had displeased the Duchess, who
was ambitious both on her own behalf and that of her lord,--and
who thought that a Duke of Omnium should be nothing in the
Government if not at any rate near the top. But after that, with
the simple and single object of doing some special piece of work
for the nation,--something which he fancied that nobody else
would do if he didn't do it,--his Grace, of his own motion, at
his own solicitation, had encountered further official
degradation, very much to the disgust of the Duchess. And it was
not the way with her Grace to hide such sorrows in the depth of
her bosom. When affronted she would speak out, whether to her
husband, or to another,--using irony rather than argument to
support her cause and to vindicate her ways. The shafts of
ridicule hurled by her against her husband in regard to his
voluntary abasement had been many and sharp. They stung him, but
never for a moment influenced him. It was her nature to say such
things,--and he knew that they came rather from her uncontrolled
spirit than from any malice. She was his wife too, and he had an
idea that of little injuries of that sort there should be no end
of bearing on the part of a husband. Sometimes he would
endeavour to explain to her the motives which actuated him; but
he had come to fear that they were and must be unintelligible to
her. But he credited her with less than her real intelligence.
She did understand the nature of his work and his reasons for
doing it; and, after her own fashion, did what she conceived to
be her own work in endeavouring to create within his bosom a
desire for higher things. 'Surely,' she said to herself, 'if a
man of his rank is to be a minister, he should be a great
minister;--at any rate as great as his circumstances will make
him. A man never can save his country by degrading himself.' In
this he would probably have agreed; but his idea of degradation
and hers hardly tallied.
When therefore she asked him what they were going to make him, it
was as though some sarcastic housekeeper in a great establishment
should ask the butler,--some butler too prone to yield in such
matters,--whether the master had appointed him lately to the
cleaning of shoes or the carrying of coals. Since these knots
had become so very tight, and since the journeys to Windsor had
become so very frequent, her Grace had asked many such questions,
and had received but very indifferent replies. The Duke had
sometimes declared that the matter was not ripe enough to allow
him to make any answer. 'Of course,' said the Duchess, 'you
should keep the secret. The editors of the evening papers
haven't known it for above an hour.' At another time he told her
that he had undertaken to give Mr Gresham his assistance in any
way that might be asked.
'Joint undersecretary with Lord Fawn, I should say,' answered the