Part 14 out of 16
over their pails in the passages as they were scouring the decks of
the Royal George. When the first unshorn waiter appeared and
unbarred the door of the inn, the Major thought that the time for
departure was arrived, and ordered a post-chaise to be fetched
instantly, that they might set off.
He then directed his steps to Mr. Sedley's room and opened the
curtains of the great large family bed wherein Mr. Jos was snoring.
"Come, up! Sedley," the Major said, "it's time to be off; the
chaise will be at the door in half an hour."
Jos growled from under the counterpane to know what the time was;
but when he at last extorted from the blushing Major (who never told
fibs, however they might be to his advantage) what was the real hour
of the morning, he broke out into a volley of bad language, which we
will not repeat here, but by which he gave Dobbin to understand that
he would jeopardy his soul if he got up at that moment, that the
Major might go and be hanged, that he would not travel with Dobbin,
and that it was most unkind and ungentlemanlike to disturb a man out
of his sleep in that way; on which the discomfited Major was obliged
to retreat, leaving Jos to resume his interrupted slumbers.
The chaise came up presently, and the Major would wait no longer.
If he had been an English nobleman travelling on a pleasure tour, or
a newspaper courier bearing dispatches (government messages are
generally carried much more quietly), he could not have travelled
more quickly. The post-boys wondered at the fees he flung amongst
them. How happy and green the country looked as the chaise whirled
rapidly from mile-stone to mile-stone, through neat country towns
where landlords came out to welcome him with smiles and bows; by
pretty roadside inns, where the signs hung on the elms, and horses
and waggoners were drinking under the chequered shadow of the trees;
by old halls and parks; rustic hamlets clustered round ancient grey
churches--and through the charming friendly English landscape. Is
there any in the world like it? To a traveller returning home it
looks so kind--it seems to shake hands with you as you pass through
it. Well, Major Dobbin passed through all this from Southampton to
London, and without noting much beyond the milestones along the
road. You see he was so eager to see his parents at Camberwell.
He grudged the time lost between Piccadilly and his old haunt at the
Slaughters', whither he drove faithfully. Long years had passed
since he saw it last, since he and George, as young men, had enjoyed
many a feast, and held many a revel there. He had now passed into
the stage of old-fellow-hood. His hair was grizzled, and many a
passion and feeling of his youth had grown grey in that interval.
There, however, stood the old waiter at the door, in the same greasy
black suit, with the same double chin and flaccid face, with the
same huge bunch of seals at his fob, rattling his money in his
pockets as before, and receiving the Major as if he had gone away
only a week ago. "Put the Major's things in twenty-three, that's
his room," John said, exhibiting not the least surprise. "Roast
fowl for your dinner, I suppose. You ain't got married? They said
you was married--the Scotch surgeon of yours was here. No, it was
Captain Humby of the thirty-third, as was quartered with the --th in
Injee. Like any warm water? What do you come in a chay for--ain't
the coach good enough?" And with this, the faithful waiter, who knew
and remembered every officer who used the house, and with whom ten
years were but as yesterday, led the way up to Dobbin's old room,
where stood the great moreen bed, and the shabby carpet, a thought
more dingy, and all the old black furniture covered with faded
chintz, just as the Major recollected them in his youth.
He remembered George pacing up and down the room, and biting his
nails, and swearing that the Governor must come round, and that if
he didn't, he didn't care a straw, on the day before he was married.
He could fancy him walking in, banging the door of Dobbin's room,
and his own hard by--
"You ain't got young," John said, calmly surveying his friend of
Dobbin laughed. "Ten years and a fever don't make a man young,
John," he said. "It is you that are always young--no, you are
"What became of Captain Osborne's widow?" John said. "Fine young
fellow that. Lord, how he used to spend his money. He never came
back after that day he was marched from here. He owes me three
pound at this minute. Look here, I have it in my book. 'April 10,
1815, Captain Osborne: '3 pounds.' I wonder whether his father would
pay me," and so saying, John of the Slaughters' pulled out the very
morocco pocket-book in which he had noted his loan to the Captain,
upon a greasy faded page still extant, with many other scrawled
memoranda regarding the bygone frequenters of the house.
Having inducted his customer into the room, John retired with
perfect calmness; and Major Dobbin, not without a blush and a grin
at his own absurdity, chose out of his kit the very smartest and
most becoming civil costume he possessed, and laughed at his own
tanned face and grey hair, as he surveyed them in the dreary little
toilet-glass on the dressing-table.
"I'm glad old John didn't forget me," he thought. "She'll know me,
too, I hope." And he sallied out of the inn, bending his steps once
more in the direction of Brompton.
Every minute incident of his last meeting with Amelia was present to
the constant man's mind as he walked towards her house. The arch
and the Achilles statue were up since he had last been in
Piccadilly; a hundred changes had occurred which his eye and mind
vaguely noted. He began to tremble as he walked up the lane from
Brompton, that well-remembered lane leading to the street where she
lived. Was she going to be married or not? If he were to meet her
with the little boy--Good God, what should he do? He saw a woman
coming to him with a child of five years old--was that she? He began
to shake at the mere possibility. When he came up to the row of
houses, at last, where she lived, and to the gate, he caught hold of
it and paused. He might have heard the thumping of his own heart.
"May God Almighty bless her, whatever has happened," he thought to
himself. "Psha! she may be gone from here," he said and went in
through the gate.
The window of the parlour which she used to occupy was open, and
there were no inmates in the room. The Major thought he recognized
the piano, though, with the picture over it, as it used to be in
former days, and his perturbations were renewed. Mr. Clapp's brass
plate was still on the door, at the knocker of which Dobbin
performed a summons.
A buxom-looking lass of sixteen, with bright eyes and purple cheeks,
came to answer the knock and looked hard at the Major as he leant
back against the little porch.
He was as pale as a ghost and could hardly falter out the words--
"Does Mrs. Osborne live here?"
She looked him hard in the face for a moment--and then turning white
too--said, "Lord bless me--it's Major Dobbin." She held out both her
hands shaking--"Don't you remember me?" she said. "I used to call
you Major Sugarplums." On which, and I believe it was for the first
time that he ever so conducted himself in his life, the Major took
the girl in his arms and kissed her. She began to laugh and cry
hysterically, and calling out "Ma, Pa!" with all her voice, brought
up those worthy people, who had already been surveying the Major
from the casement of the ornamental kitchen, and were astonished to
find their daughter in the little passage in the embrace of a great
tall man in a blue frock-coat and white duck trousers.
"I'm an old friend," he said--not without blushing though. "Don't
you remember me, Mrs. Clapp, and those good cakes you used to make
for tea? Don't you recollect me, Clapp? I'm George's godfather, and
just come back from India." A great shaking of hands ensued--Mrs.
Clapp was greatly affected and delighted; she called upon heaven to
interpose a vast many times in that passage.
The landlord and landlady of the house led the worthy Major into the
Sedleys' room (whereof he remembered every single article of
furniture, from the old brass ornamented piano, once a natty little
instrument, Stothard maker, to the screens and the alabaster
miniature tombstone, in the midst of which ticked Mr. Sedley's gold
watch), and there, as he sat down in the lodger's vacant arm-chair,
the father, the mother, and the daughter, with a thousand
ejaculatory breaks in the narrative, informed Major Dobbin of what
we know already, but of particulars in Amelia's history of which he
was not aware--namely of Mrs. Sedley's death, of George's
reconcilement with his grandfather Osborne, of the way in which the
widow took on at leaving him, and of other particulars of her life.
Twice or thrice he was going to ask about the marriage question, but
his heart failed him. He did not care to lay it bare to these
people. Finally, he was informed that Mrs. O. was gone to walk
with her pa in Kensington Gardens, whither she always went with the
old gentleman (who was very weak and peevish now, and led her a sad
life, though she behaved to him like an angel, to be sure), of a
fine afternoon, after dinner.
"I'm very much pressed for time," the Major said, "and have business
to-night of importance. I should like to see Mrs. Osborne tho'.
Suppose Miss Polly would come with me and show me the way?"
Miss Polly was charmed and astonished at this proposal. She knew
the way. She would show Major Dobbin. She had often been with Mr.
Sedley when Mrs. O. was gone--was gone Russell Square way--and knew
the bench where he liked to sit. She bounced away to her apartment
and appeared presently in her best bonnet and her mamma's yellow
shawl and large pebble brooch, of which she assumed the loan in
order to make herself a worthy companion for the Major.
That officer, then, in his blue frock-coat and buckskin gloves, gave
the young lady his arm, and they walked away very gaily. He was
glad to have a friend at hand for the scene which he dreaded
somehow. He asked a thousand more questions from his companion
about Amelia: his kind heart grieved to think that she should have
had to part with her son. How did she bear it? Did she see him
often? Was Mr. Sedley pretty comfortable now in a worldly point of
view? Polly answered all these questions of Major Sugarplums to the
very best of her power.
And in the midst of their walk an incident occurred which, though
very simple in its nature, was productive of the greatest delight to
Major Dobbin. A pale young man with feeble whiskers and a stiff
white neckcloth came walking down the lane, en sandwich--having a
lady, that is, on each arm. One was a tall and commanding middle-
aged female, with features and a complexion similar to those of the
clergyman of the Church of England by whose side she marched, and
the other a stunted little woman with a dark face, ornamented by a
fine new bonnet and white ribbons, and in a smart pelisse, with a
rich gold watch in the midst of her person. The gentleman, pinioned
as he was by these two ladies, carried further a parasol, shawl, and
basket, so that his arms were entirely engaged, and of course he was
unable to touch his hat in acknowledgement of the curtsey with which
Miss Mary Clapp greeted him.
He merely bowed his head in reply to her salutation, which the two
ladies returned with a patronizing air, and at the same time looking
severely at the individual in the blue coat and bamboo cane who
accompanied Miss Polly.
"Who's that?" asked the Major, amused by the group, and after he had
made way for the three to pass up the lane. Mary looked at him
"That is our curate, the Reverend Mr. Binny (a twitch from Major
Dobbin), and his sister Miss B. Lord bless us, how she did use to
worret us at Sunday-school; and the other lady, the little one with
a cast in her eye and the handsome watch, is Mrs. Binny--Miss Grits
that was; her pa was a grocer, and kept the Little Original Gold Tea
Pot in Kensington Gravel Pits. They were married last month, and
are just come back from Margate. She's five thousand pound to her
fortune; but her and Miss B., who made the match, have quarrelled
If the Major had twitched before, he started now, and slapped the
bamboo on the ground with an emphasis which made Miss Clapp cry,
"Law," and laugh too. He stood for a moment, silent, with open
mouth, looking after the retreating young couple, while Miss Mary
told their history; but he did not hear beyond the announcement of
the reverend gentleman's marriage; his head was swimming with
felicity. After this rencontre he began to walk double quick
towards the place of his destination--and yet they were too soon
(for he was in a great tremor at the idea of a meeting for which he
had been longing any time these ten years)--through the Brompton
lanes, and entering at the little old portal in Kensington Garden
"There they are," said Miss Polly, and she felt him again start back
on her arm. She was a confidante at once of the whole business.
She knew the story as well as if she had read it in one of her
favourite novel-books--Fatherless Fanny, or the Scottish Chiefs.
"Suppose you were to run on and tell her," the Major said. Polly
ran forward, her yellow shawl streaming in the breeze.
Old Sedley was seated on a bench, his handkerchief placed over his
knees, prattling away, according to his wont, with some old story
about old times to which Amelia had listened and awarded a patient
smile many a time before. She could of late think of her own
affairs, and smile or make other marks of recognition of her
father's stories, scarcely hearing a word of the old man's tales.
As Mary came bouncing along, and Amelia caught sight of her, she
started up from her bench. Her first thought was that something had
happened to Georgy, but the sight of the messenger's eager and happy
face dissipated that fear in the timorous mother's bosom.
"News! News!" cried the emissary of Major Dobbin. "He's come! He's
"Who is come?" said Emmy, still thinking of her son.
"Look there," answered Miss Clapp, turning round and pointing; in
which direction Amelia looking, saw Dobbin's lean figure and long
shadow stalking across the grass. Amelia started in her turn,
blushed up, and, of course, began to cry. At all this simple little
creature's fetes, the grandes eaux were accustomed to play. He
looked at her--oh, how fondly--as she came running towards him, her
hands before her, ready to give them to him. She wasn't changed.
She was a little pale, a little stouter in figure. Her eyes were
the same, the kind trustful eyes. There were scarce three lines of
silver in her soft brown hair. She gave him both her hands as she
looked up flushing and smiling through her tears into his honest
homely face. He took the two little hands between his two and held
them there. He was speechless for a moment. Why did he not take
her in his arms and swear that he would never leave her? She must
have yielded: she could not but have obeyed him.
"I--I've another arrival to announce," he said after a pause.
"Mrs. Dobbin?" Amelia said, making a movement back--why didn't he
"No," he said, letting her hands go: "Who has told you those lies?
I mean, your brother Jos came in the same ship with me, and is come
home to make you all happy."
"Papa, Papa!" Emmy cried out, "here are news! My brother is in
England. He is come to take care of you. Here is Major Dobbin."
Mr. Sedley started up, shaking a great deal and gathering up his
thoughts. Then he stepped forward and made an old-fashioned bow to
the Major, whom he called Mr. Dobbin, and hoped his worthy father,
Sir William, was quite well. He proposed to call upon Sir William,
who had done him the honour of a visit a short time ago. Sir
William had not called upon the old gentleman for eight years--it
was that visit he was thinking of returning.
"He is very much shaken," Emmy whispered as Dobbin went up and
cordially shook hands with the old man.
Although he had such particular business in London that evening, the
Major consented to forego it upon Mr. Sedley's invitation to him to
come home and partake of tea. Amelia put her arm under that of her
young friend with the yellow shawl and headed the party on their
return homewards, so that Mr. Sedley fell to Dobbin's share. The old
man walked very slowly and told a number of ancient histories about
himself and his poor Bessy, his former prosperity, and his
bankruptcy. His thoughts, as is usual with failing old men, were
quite in former times. The present, with the exception of the one
catastrophe which he felt, he knew little about. The Major was glad
to let him talk on. His eyes were fixed upon the figure in front of
him--the dear little figure always present to his imagination and in
his prayers, and visiting his dreams wakeful or slumbering.
Amelia was very happy, smiling, and active all that evening,
performing her duties as hostess of the little entertainment with
the utmost grace and propriety, as Dobbin thought. His eyes
followed her about as they sat in the twilight. How many a time had
he longed for that moment and thought of her far away under hot
winds and in weary marches, gentle and happy, kindly ministering to
the wants of old age, and decorating poverty with sweet submission--
as he saw her now. I do not say that his taste was the highest, or
that it is the duty of great intellects to be content with a bread-
and-butter paradise, such as sufficed our simple old friend; but his
desires were of this sort, whether for good or bad, and, with Amelia
to help him, he was as ready to drink as many cups of tea as Doctor
Amelia seeing this propensity, laughingly encouraged it and looked
exceedingly roguish as she administered to him cup after cup. It is
true she did not know that the Major had had no dinner and that the
cloth was laid for him at the Slaughters', and a plate laid thereon
to mark that the table was retained, in that very box in which the
Major and George had sat many a time carousing, when she was a child
just come home from Miss Pinkerton's school.
The first thing Mrs. Osborne showed the Major was Georgy's
miniature, for which she ran upstairs on her arrival at home. It
was not half handsome enough of course for the boy, but wasn't it
noble of him to think of bringing it to his mother? Whilst her papa
was awake she did not talk much about Georgy. To hear about Mr.
Osborne and Russell Square was not agreeable to the old man, who
very likely was unconscious that he had been living for some months
past mainly on the bounty of his richer rival, and lost his temper
if allusion was made to the other.
Dobbin told him all, and a little more perhaps than all, that had
happened on board the Ramchunder, and exaggerated Jos's benevolent
dispositions towards his father and resolution to make him
comfortable in his old days. The truth is that during the voyage
the Major had impressed this duty most strongly upon his fellow-
passenger and extorted promises from him that he would take charge
of his sister and her child. He soothed Jos's irritation with
regard to the bills which the old gentleman had drawn upon him, gave
a laughing account of his own sufferings on the same score and of
the famous consignment of wine with which the old man had favoured
him, and brought Mr. Jos, who was by no means an ill-natured person
when well-pleased and moderately flattered, to a very good state of
feeling regarding his relatives in Europe.
And in fine I am ashamed to say that the Major stretched the truth
so far as to tell old Mr. Sedley that it was mainly a desire to see
his parent which brought Jos once more to Europe.
At his accustomed hour Mr. Sedley began to doze in his chair, and
then it was Amelia's opportunity to commence her conversation, which
she did with great eagerness--it related exclusively to Georgy. She
did not talk at all about her own sufferings at breaking from him,
for indeed, this worthy woman, though she was half-killed by the
separation from the child, yet thought it was very wicked in her to
repine at losing him; but everything concerning him, his virtues,
talents, and prospects, she poured out. She described his angelic
beauty; narrated a hundred instances of his generosity and greatness
of mind whilst living with her; how a Royal Duchess had stopped and
admired him in Kensington Gardens; how splendidly he was cared for
now, and how he had a groom and a pony; what quickness and
cleverness he had, and what a prodigiously well-read and delightful
person the Reverend Lawrence Veal was, George's master. "He knows
EVERYTHING," Amelia said. "He has the most delightful parties. You
who are so learned yourself, and have read so much, and are so
clever and accomplished--don't shake your head and say no--HE always
used to say you were--you will be charmed with Mr. Veal's parties.
The last Tuesday in every month. He says there is no place in the
bar or the senate that Georgy may not aspire to. Look here," and
she went to the piano-drawer and drew out a theme of Georgy's
composition. This great effort of genius, which is still in the
possession of George's mother, is as follows:
On Selfishness--Of all the vices which degrade the human character,
Selfishness is the most odious and contemptible. An undue love of
Self leads to the most monstrous crimes and occasions the greatest
misfortunes both in States and Families. As a selfish man will
impoverish his family and often bring them to ruin, so a selfish
king brings ruin on his people and often plunges them into war.
Example: The selfishness of Achilles, as remarked by the poet
Homer, occasioned a thousand woes to the Greeks--muri Achaiois alge
etheke--(Hom. Il. A. 2). The selfishness of the late Napoleon
Bonaparte occasioned innumerable wars in Europe and caused him to
perish, himself, in a miserable island--that of Saint Helena in the
We see by these examples that we are not to consult our own interest
and ambition, but that we are to consider the interests of others as
well as our own.
George S. Osborne Athene House, 24 April, 1827
"Think of him writing such a hand, and quoting Greek too, at his
age," the delighted mother said. "Oh, William," she added, holding
out her hand to the Major, "what a treasure Heaven has given me in
that boy! He is the comfort of my life--and he is the image of--of
him that's gone!"
"Ought I to be angry with her for being faithful to him?" William
thought. "Ought I to be jealous of my friend in the grave, or hurt
that such a heart as Amelia's can love only once and for ever? Oh,
George, George, how little you knew the prize you had, though." This
sentiment passed rapidly through William's mind as he was holding
Amelia's hand, whilst the handkerchief was veiling her eyes.
"Dear friend," she said, pressing the hand which held hers, "how
good, how kind you always have been to me! See! Papa is stirring.
You will go and see Georgy tomorrow, won't you?"
"Not to-morrow," said poor old Dobbin. "I have business." He did
not like to own that he had not as yet been to his parents' and his
dear sister Anne--a remissness for which I am sure every well-
regulated person will blame the Major. And presently he took his
leave, leaving his address behind him for Jos, against the latter's
arrival. And so the first day was over, and he had seen her.
When he got back to the Slaughters', the roast fowl was of course
cold, in which condition he ate it for supper. And knowing what
early hours his family kept, and that it would be needless to
disturb their slumbers at so late an hour, it is on record, that
Major Dobbin treated himself to half-price at the Haymarket Theatre
that evening, where let us hope he enjoyed himself.
The Old Piano
The Major's visit left old John Sedley in a great state of agitation
and excitement. His daughter could not induce him to settle down to
his customary occupations or amusements that night. He passed the
evening fumbling amongst his boxes and desks, untying his papers
with trembling hands, and sorting and arranging them against Jos's
arrival. He had them in the greatest order--his tapes and his
files, his receipts, and his letters with lawyers and
correspondents; the documents relative to the wine project (which
failed from a most unaccountable accident, after commencing with the
most splendid prospects), the coal project (which only a want of
capital prevented from becoming the most successful scheme ever put
before the public), the patent saw-mills and sawdust consolidation
project, &c., &c. All night, until a very late hour, he passed in
the preparation of these documents, trembling about from one room to
another, with a quivering candle and shaky hands. Here's the wine
papers, here's the sawdust, here's the coals; here's my letters to
Calcutta and Madras, and replies from Major Dobbin, C.B., and Mr.
Joseph Sedley to the same. "He shall find no irregularity about ME,
Emmy," the old gentleman said.
Emmy smiled. "I don't think Jos will care about seeing those
papers, Papa," she said.
"You don't know anything about business, my dear," answered the
sire, shaking his head with an important air. And it must be
confessed that on this point Emmy was very ignorant, and that is a
pity some people are so knowing. All these twopenny documents
arranged on a side table, old Sedley covered them carefully over
with a clean bandanna handkerchief (one out of Major Dobbin's lot)
and enjoined the maid and landlady of the house, in the most solemn
way, not to disturb those papers, which were arranged for the
arrival of Mr. Joseph Sedley the next morning, "Mr. Joseph Sedley of
the Honourable East India Company's Bengal Civil Service."
Amelia found him up very early the next morning, more eager, more
hectic, and more shaky than ever. "I didn't sleep much, Emmy, my
dear," he said. "I was thinking of my poor Bessy. I wish she was
alive, to ride in Jos's carriage once again. She kept her own and
became it very well." And his eyes filled with tears, which trickled
down his furrowed old face. Amelia wiped them away, and smilingly
kissed him, and tied the old man's neckcloth in a smart bow, and put
his brooch into his best shirt frill, in which, in his Sunday suit
of mourning, he sat from six o'clock in the morning awaiting the
arrival of his son.
However, when the postman made his appearance, the little party were
put out of suspense by the receipt of a letter from Jos to his
sister, who announced that he felt a little fatigued after his
voyage, and should not be able to move on that day, but that he
would leave Southampton early the next morning and be with his
father and mother at evening. Amelia, as she read out the letter to
her father, paused over the latter word; her brother, it was clear,
did not know what had happened in the family. Nor could he, for the
fact is that, though the Major rightly suspected that his travelling
companion never would be got into motion in so short a space as
twenty-four hours, and would find some excuse for delaying, yet
Dobbin had not written to Jos to inform him of the calamity which
had befallen the Sedley family, being occupied in talking with
Amelia until long after post-hour.
There are some splendid tailors' shops in the High Street of
Southampton, in the fine plate-glass windows of which hang gorgeous
waistcoats of all sorts, of silk and velvet, and gold and crimson,
and pictures of the last new fashions, in which those wonderful
gentlemen with quizzing glasses, and holding on to little boys with
the exceeding large eyes and curly hair, ogle ladies in riding
habits prancing by the Statue of Achilles at Apsley House. Jos,
although provided with some of the most splendid vests that Calcutta
could furnish, thought he could not go to town until he was supplied
with one or two of these garments, and selected a crimson satin,
embroidered with gold butterflies, and a black and red velvet tartan
with white stripes and a rolling collar, with which, and a rich blue
satin stock and a gold pin, consisting of a five-barred gate with a
horseman in pink enamel jumping over it, he thought he might make
his entry into London with some dignity. For Jos's former shyness
and blundering blushing timidity had given way to a more candid and
courageous self-assertion of his worth. "I don't care about owning
it," Waterloo Sedley would say to his friends, "I am a dressy man";
and though rather uneasy if the ladies looked at him at the
Government House balls, and though he blushed and turned away
alarmed under their glances, it was chiefly from a dread lest they
should make love to him that he avoided them, being averse to
marriage altogether. But there was no such swell in Calcutta as
Waterloo Sedley, I have heard say, and he had the handsomest turn-
out, gave the best bachelor dinners, and had the finest plate in the
To make these waistcoats for a man of his size and dignity took at
least a day, part of which he employed in hiring a servant to wait
upon him and his native and in instructing the agent who cleared his
baggage, his boxes, his books, which he never read, his chests of
mangoes, chutney, and curry-powders, his shawls for presents to
people whom he didn't know as yet, and the rest of his Persicos
At length, he drove leisurely to London on the third day and in the
new waistcoat, the native, with chattering teeth, shuddering in a
shawl on the box by the side of the new European servant; Jos
puffing his pipe at intervals within and looking so majestic that
the little boys cried Hooray, and many people thought he must be a
Governor-General. HE, I promise, did not decline the obsequious
invitation of the landlords to alight and refresh himself in the
neat country towns. Having partaken of a copious breakfast, with
fish, and rice, and hard eggs, at Southampton, he had so far rallied
at Winchester as to think a glass of sherry necessary. At Alton he
stepped out of the carriage at his servant's request and imbibed
some of the ale for which the place is famous. At Farnham he
stopped to view the Bishop's Castle and to partake of a light dinner
of stewed eels, veal cutlets, and French beans, with a bottle of
claret. He was cold over Bagshot Heath, where the native chattered
more and more, and Jos Sahib took some brandy-and-water; in fact,
when he drove into town he was as full of wine, beer, meat, pickles,
cherry-brandy, and tobacco as the steward's cabin of a steam-packet.
It was evening when his carriage thundered up to the little door in
Brompton, whither the affectionate fellow drove first, and before
hieing to the apartments secured for him by Mr. Dobbin at the
All the faces in the street were in the windows; the little
maidservant flew to the wicket-gate; the Mesdames Clapp looked out
from the casement of the ornamented kitchen; Emmy, in a great
flutter, was in the passage among the hats and coats; and old Sedley
in the parlour inside, shaking all over. Jos descended from the
post-chaise and down the creaking swaying steps in awful state,
supported by the new valet from Southampton and the shuddering
native, whose brown face was now livid with cold and of the colour
of a turkey's gizzard. He created an immense sensation in the
passage presently, where Mrs. and Miss Clapp, coming perhaps to
listen at the parlour door, found Loll Jewab shaking upon the hall-
bench under the coats, moaning in a strange piteous way, and showing
his yellow eyeballs and white teeth.
For, you see, we have adroitly shut the door upon the meeting
between Jos and the old father and the poor little gentle sister
inside. The old man was very much affected; so, of course, was his
daughter; nor was Jos without feeling. In that long absence of ten
years, the most selfish will think about home and early ties.
Distance sanctifies both. Long brooding over those lost pleasures
exaggerates their charm and sweetness. Jos was unaffectedly glad to
see and shake the hand of his father, between whom and himself there
had been a coolness--glad to see his little sister, whom he
remembered so pretty and smiling, and pained at the alteration which
time, grief, and misfortune had made in the shattered old man. Emmy
had come out to the door in her black clothes and whispered to him
of her mother's death, and not to speak of it to their father.
There was no need of this caution, for the elder Sedley himself
began immediately to speak of the event, and prattled about it, and
wept over it plenteously. It shocked the Indian not a little and
made him think of himself less than the poor fellow was accustomed
The result of the interview must have been very satisfactory, for
when Jos had reascended his post-chaise and had driven away to his
hotel, Emmy embraced her father tenderly, appealing to him with an
air of triumph, and asking the old man whether she did not always
say that her brother had a good heart?
Indeed, Joseph Sedley, affected by the humble position in which he
found his relations, and in the expansiveness and overflowing of
heart occasioned by the first meeting, declared that they should
never suffer want or discomfort any more, that he was at home for
some time at any rate, during which his house and everything he had
should be theirs: and that Amelia would look very pretty at the
head of his table--until she would accept one of her own.
She shook her head sadly and had, as usual, recourse to the
waterworks. She knew what he meant. She and her young confidante,
Miss Mary, had talked over the matter most fully, the very night of
the Major's visit, beyond which time the impetuous Polly could not
refrain from talking of the discovery which she had made, and
describing the start and tremor of joy by which Major Dobbin
betrayed himself when Mr. Binny passed with his bride and the Major
learned that he had no longer a rival to fear. "Didn't you see how
he shook all over when you asked if he was married and he said, 'Who
told you those lies?' Oh, M'am," Polly said, "he never kept his eyes
off you, and I'm sure he's grown grey athinking of you."
But Amelia, looking up at her bed, over which hung the portraits of
her husband and son, told her young protegee never, never, to speak
on that subject again; that Major Dobbin had been her husband's
dearest friend and her own and George's most kind and affectionate
guardian; that she loved him as a brother--but that a woman who had
been married to such an angel as that, and she pointed to the wall,
could never think of any other union. Poor Polly sighed: she
thought what she should do if young Mr. Tomkins, at the surgery, who
always looked at her so at church, and who, by those mere aggressive
glances had put her timorous little heart into such a flutter that
she was ready to surrender at once,--what she should do if he were
to die? She knew he was consumptive, his cheeks were so red and he
was so uncommon thin in the waist.
Not that Emmy, being made aware of the honest Major's passion,
rebuffed him in any way, or felt displeased with him. Such an
attachment from so true and loyal a gentleman could make no woman
angry. Desdemona was not angry with Cassio, though there is very
little doubt she saw the Lieutenant's partiality for her (and I for
my part believe that many more things took place in that sad affair
than the worthy Moorish officer ever knew of); why, Miranda was even
very kind to Caliban, and we may be pretty sure for the same reason.
Not that she would encourage him in the least--the poor uncouth
monster--of course not. No more would Emmy by any means encourage
her admirer, the Major. She would give him that friendly regard,
which so much excellence and fidelity merited; she would treat him
with perfect cordiality and frankness until he made his proposals,
and THEN it would be time enough for her to speak and to put an end
to hopes which never could be realized.
She slept, therefore, very soundly that evening, after the
conversation with Miss Polly, and was more than ordinarily happy, in
spite of Jos's delaying. "I am glad he is not going to marry that
Miss O'Dowd," she thought. "Colonel O'Dowd never could have a sister
fit for such an accomplished man as Major William." Who was there
amongst her little circle who would make him a good wife? Not Miss
Binny, she was too old and ill-tempered; Miss Osborne? too old too.
Little Polly was too young. Mrs. Osborne could not find anybody to
suit the Major before she went to sleep.
The same morning brought Major Dobbin a letter to the Slaughters'
Coffee-house from his friend at Southampton, begging dear Dob to
excuse Jos for being in a rage when awakened the day before (he had
a confounded headache, and was just in his first sleep), and
entreating Dob to engage comfortable rooms at the Slaughters' for
Mr. Sedley and his servants. The Major had become necessary to Jos
during the voyage. He was attached to him, and hung upon him. The
other passengers were away to London. Young Ricketts and little
Chaffers went away on the coach that day--Ricketts on the box, and
taking the reins from Botley; the Doctor was off to his family at
Portsea; Bragg gone to town to his co-partners; and the first mate
busy in the unloading of the Ramchunder. Mr. Joe was very lonely at
Southampton, and got the landlord of the George to take a glass of
wine with him that day, at the very hour at which Major Dobbin was
seated at the table of his father, Sir William, where his sister
found out (for it was impossible for the Major to tell fibs) that he
had been to see Mrs. George Osborne.
Jos was so comfortably situated in St. Martin's Lane, he could
enjoy his hookah there with such perfect ease, and could swagger
down to the theatres, when minded, so agreeably, that, perhaps, he
would have remained altogether at the Slaughters' had not his
friend, the Major, been at his elbow. That gentleman would not let
the Bengalee rest until he had executed his promise of having a home
for Amelia and his father. Jos was a soft fellow in anybody's
hands, Dobbin most active in anybody's concerns but his own; the
civilian was, therefore, an easy victim to the guileless arts of
this good-natured diplomatist and was ready to do, to purchase,
hire, or relinquish whatever his friend thought fit. Loll Jewab, of
whom the boys about St. Martin's Lane used to make cruel fun
whenever he showed his dusky countenance in the street, was sent
back to Calcutta in the Lady Kicklebury East Indiaman, in which Sir
William Dobbin had a share, having previously taught Jos's European
the art of preparing curries, pilaus, and pipes. It was a matter of
great delight and occupation to Jos to superintend the building of a
smart chariot which he and the Major ordered in the neighbouring
Long Acre: and a pair of handsome horses were jobbed, with which
Jos drove about in state in the park, or to call upon his Indian
friends. Amelia was not seldom by his side on these excursions,
when also Major Dobbin would be seen in the back seat of the
carriage. At other times old Sedley and his daughter took advantage
of it, and Miss Clapp, who frequently accompanied her friend, had
great pleasure in being recognized as she sat in the carriage,
dressed in the famous yellow shawl, by the young gentleman at the
surgery, whose face might commonly be seen over the window-blinds as
Shortly after Jos's first appearance at Brompton, a dismal scene,
indeed, took place at that humble cottage at which the Sedleys had
passed the last ten years of their life. Jos's carriage (the
temporary one, not the chariot under construction) arrived one day
and carried off old Sedley and his daughter--to return no more. The
tears that were shed by the landlady and the landlady's daughter at
that event were as genuine tears of sorrow as any that have been
outpoured in the course of this history. In their long
acquaintanceship and intimacy they could not recall a harsh word
that had been uttered by Amelia She had been all sweetness and
kindness, always thankful, always gentle, even when Mrs. Clapp lost
her own temper and pressed for the rent. When the kind creature was
going away for good and all, the landlady reproached herself
bitterly for ever having used a rough expression to her--how she
wept, as they stuck up with wafers on the window, a paper notifying
that the little rooms so long occupied were to let! They never
would have such lodgers again, that was quite clear. After-life
proved the truth of this melancholy prophecy, and Mrs. Clapp
revenged herself for the deterioration of mankind by levying the
most savage contributions upon the tea-caddies and legs of mutton of
her locataires. Most of them scolded and grumbled; some of them did
not pay; none of them stayed. The landlady might well regret those
old, old friends, who had left her.
As for Miss Mary, her sorrow at Amelia's departure was such as I
shall not attempt to depict. From childhood upwards she had been
with her daily and had attached herself so passionately to that dear
good lady that when the grand barouche came to carry her off into
splendour, she fainted in the arms of her friend, who was indeed
scarcely less affected than the good-natured girl. Amelia loved her
like a daughter. During eleven years the girl had been her constant
friend and associate. The separation was a very painful one indeed
to her. But it was of course arranged that Mary was to come and
stay often at the grand new house whither Mrs. Osborne was going,
and where Mary was sure she would never be so happy as she had been
in their humble cot, as Miss Clapp called it, in the language of the
novels which she loved.
Let us hope she was wrong in her judgement. Poor Emmy's days of
happiness had been very few in that humble cot. A gloomy Fate had
oppressed her there. She never liked to come back to the house
after she had left it, or to face the landlady who had tyrannized
over her when ill-humoured and unpaid, or when pleased had treated
her with a coarse familiarity scarcely less odious. Her servility
and fulsome compliments when Emmy was in prosperity were not more to
that lady's liking. She cast about notes of admiration all over the
new house, extolling every article of furniture or ornament; she
fingered Mrs. Osborne's dresses and calculated their price. Nothing
could be too good for that sweet lady, she vowed and protested. But
in the vulgar sycophant who now paid court to her, Emmy always
remembered the coarse tyrant who had made her miserable many a time,
to whom she had been forced to put up petitions for time, when the
rent was overdue; who cried out at her extravagance if she bought
delicacies for her ailing mother or father; who had seen her humble
and trampled upon her.
Nobody ever heard of these griefs, which had been part of our poor
little woman's lot in life. She kept them secret from her father,
whose improvidence was the cause of much of her misery. She had to
bear all the blame of his misdoings, and indeed was so utterly
gentle and humble as to be made by nature for a victim.
I hope she is not to suffer much more of that hard usage. And, as
in all griefs there is said to be some consolation, I may mention
that poor Mary, when left at her friend's departure in a hysterical
condition, was placed under the medical treatment of the young
fellow from the surgery, under whose care she rallied after a short
period. Emmy, when she went away from Brompton, endowed Mary with
every article of furniture that the house contained, only taking
away her pictures (the two pictures over the bed) and her piano--
that little old piano which had now passed into a plaintive jingling
old age, but which she loved for reasons of her own. She was a
child when first she played on it, and her parents gave it her. It
had been given to her again since, as the reader may remember, when
her father's house was gone to ruin and the instrument was recovered
out of the wreck.
Major Dobbin was exceedingly pleased when, as he was superintending
the arrangements of Jos's new house--which the Major insisted should
be very handsome and comfortable--the cart arrived from Brompton,
bringing the trunks and bandboxes of the emigrants from that
village, and with them the old piano. Amelia would have it up in
her sitting-room, a neat little apartment on the second floor,
adjoining her father's chamber, and where the old gentleman sat
commonly of evenings.
When the men appeared then bearing this old music-box, and Amelia
gave orders that it should be placed in the chamber aforesaid,
Dobbin was quite elated. "I'm glad you've kept it," he said in a
very sentimental manner. "I was afraid you didn't care about it."
"I value it more than anything I have in the world," said Amelia.
"Do you, Amelia?" cried the Major. The fact was, as he had bought
it himself, though he never said anything about it, it never entered
into his head to suppose that Emmy should think anybody else was the
purchaser, and as a matter of course he fancied that she knew the
gift came from him. "Do you, Amelia?" he said; and the question,
the great question of all, was trembling on his lips, when Emmy
"Can I do otherwise?--did not he give it me?"
"I did not know," said poor old Dob, and his countenance fell.
Emmy did not note the circumstance at the time, nor take immediate
heed of the very dismal expression which honest Dobbin's countenance
assumed, but she thought of it afterwards. And then it struck her,
with inexpressible pain and mortification too, that it was William
who was the giver of the piano, and not George, as she had fancied.
It was not George's gift; the only one which she had received from
her lover, as she thought--the thing she had cherished beyond all
others--her dearest relic and prize. She had spoken to it about
George; played his favourite airs upon it; sat for long evening
hours, touching, to the best of her simple art, melancholy harmonies
on the keys, and weeping over them in silence. It was not George's
relic. It was valueless now. The next time that old Sedley asked
her to play, she said it was shockingly out of tune, that she had a
headache, that she couldn't play.
Then, according to her custom, she rebuked herself for her
pettishness and ingratitude and determined to make a reparation to
honest William for the slight she had not expressed to him, but had
felt for his piano. A few days afterwards, as they were seated in
the drawing-room, where Jos had fallen asleep with great comfort
after dinner, Amelia said with rather a faltering voice to Major
"I have to beg your pardon for something."
"About what?" said he.
"About--about that little square piano. I never thanked you for it
when you gave it me, many, many years ago, before I was married. I
thought somebody else had given it. Thank you, William." She held
out her hand, but the poor little woman's heart was bleeding; and as
for her eyes, of course they were at their work.
But William could hold no more. "Amelia, Amelia," he said, "I did
buy it for you. I loved you then as I do now. I must tell you. I
think I loved you from the first minute that I saw you, when George
brought me to your house, to show me the Amelia whom he was engaged
to. You were but a girl, in white, with large ringlets; you came
down singing--do you remember?--and we went to Vauxhall. Since then
I have thought of but one woman in the world, and that was you. I
think there is no hour in the day has passed for twelve years that I
haven't thought of you. I came to tell you this before I went to
India, but you did not care, and I hadn't the heart to speak. You
did not care whether I stayed or went."
"I was very ungrateful," Amelia said.
"No, only indifferent," Dobbin continued desperately. "I have
nothing to make a woman to be otherwise. I know what you are
feeling now. You are hurt in your heart at the discovery about the
piano, and that it came from me and not from George. I forgot, or I
should never have spoken of it so. It is for me to ask your pardon
for being a fool for a moment, and thinking that years of constancy
and devotion might have pleaded with you."
"It is you who are cruel now," Amelia said with some spirit.
"George is my husband, here and in heaven. How could I love any
other but him? I am his now as when you first saw me, dear William.
It was he who told me how good and generous you were, and who taught
me to love you as a brother. Have you not been everything to me and
my boy? Our dearest, truest, kindest friend and protector? Had you
come a few months sooner perhaps you might have spared me that--that
dreadful parting. Oh, it nearly killed me, William--but you didn't
come, though I wished and prayed for you to come, and they took him
too away from me. Isn't he a noble boy, William? Be his friend
still and mine"--and here her voice broke, and she hid her face on
The Major folded his arms round her, holding her to him as if she
was a child, and kissed her head. "I will not change, dear Amelia,"
he said. "I ask for no more than your love. I think I would not
have it otherwise. Only let me stay near you and see you often."
"Yes, often," Amelia said. And so William was at liberty to look
and long--as the poor boy at school who has no money may sigh after
the contents of the tart-woman's tray.
Returns to the Genteel World
Good fortune now begins to smile upon Amelia. We are glad to get
her out of that low sphere in which she has been creeping hitherto
and introduce her into a polite circle--not so grand and refined as
that in which our other female friend, Mrs. Becky, has appeared, but
still having no small pretensions to gentility and fashion. Jos's
friends were all from the three presidencies, and his new house was
in the comfortable Anglo-Indian district of which Moira Place is the
centre. Minto Square, Great Clive Street, Warren Street, Hastings
Street, Ochterlony Place, Plassy Square, Assaye Terrace ("gardens"
was a felicitous word not applied to stucco houses with asphalt
terraces in front, so early as 1827)--who does not know these
respectable abodes of the retired Indian aristocracy, and the
quarter which Mr. Wenham calls the Black Hole, in a word? Jos's
position in life was not grand enough to entitle him to a house in
Moira Place, where none can live but retired Members of Council, and
partners of Indian firms (who break, after having settled a hundred
thousand pounds on their wives, and retire into comparative penury
to a country place and four thousand a year); he engaged a
comfortable house of a second- or third-rate order in Gillespie
Street, purchasing the carpets, costly mirrors, and handsome and
appropriate planned furniture by Seddons from the assignees of Mr.
Scape, lately admitted partner into the great Calcutta House of
Fogle, Fake, and Cracksman, in which poor Scape had embarked seventy
thousand pounds, the earnings of a long and honourable life, taking
Fake's place, who retired to a princely park in Sussex (the Fogles
have been long out of the firm, and Sir Horace Fogle is about to be
raised to the peerage as Baron Bandanna)--admitted, I say, partner
into the great agency house of Fogle and Fake two years before it
failed for a million and plunged half the Indian public into misery
Scape, ruined, honest, and broken-hearted at sixty-five years of
age, went out to Calcutta to wind up the affairs of the house.
Walter Scape was withdrawn from Eton and put into a merchant's
house. Florence Scape, Fanny Scape, and their mother faded away to
Boulogne, and will be heard of no more. To be brief, Jos stepped in
and bought their carpets and sideboards and admired himself in the
mirrors which had reflected their kind handsome faces. The Scape
tradesmen, all honourably paid, left their cards, and were eager to
supply the new household. The large men in white waistcoats who
waited at Scape's dinners, greengrocers, bank-porters, and milkmen
in their private capacity, left their addresses and ingratiated
themselves with the butler. Mr. Chummy, the chimney-purifier, who
had swept the last three families, tried to coax the butler and the
boy under him, whose duty it was to go out covered with buttons and
with stripes down his trousers, for the protection of Mrs. Amelia
whenever she chose to walk abroad.
It was a modest establishment. The butler was Jos's valet also, and
never was more drunk than a butler in a small family should be who
has a proper regard for his master's wine. Emmy was supplied with a
maid, grown on Sir William Dobbin's suburban estate; a good girl,
whose kindness and humility disarmed Mrs. Osborne, who was at first
terrified at the idea of having a servant to wait upon herself, who
did not in the least know how to use one, and who always spoke to
domestics with the most reverential politeness. But this maid was
very useful in the family, in dexterously tending old Mr. Sedley,
who kept almost entirely to his own quarter of the house and never
mixed in any of the gay doings which took place there.
Numbers of people came to see Mrs. Osborne. Lady Dobbin and
daughters were delighted at her change of fortune, and waited upon
her. Miss Osborne from Russell Square came in her grand chariot
with the flaming hammer-cloth emblazoned with the Leeds arms. Jos
was reported to be immensely rich. Old Osborne had no objection
that Georgy should inherit his uncle's property as well as his own.
"Damn it, we will make a man of the feller," he said; "and I'll see
him in Parliament before I die. You may go and see his mother, Miss
O., though I'll never set eyes on her": and Miss Osborne came.
Emmy, you may be sure, was very glad to see her, and so be brought
nearer to George. That young fellow was allowed to come much more
frequently than before to visit his mother. He dined once or twice
a week in Gillespie Street and bullied the servants and his
relations there, just as he did in Russell Square.
He was always respectful to Major Dobbin, however, and more modest
in his demeanour when that gentleman was present. He was a clever
lad and afraid of the Major. George could not help admiring his
friend's simplicity, his good humour, his various learning quietly
imparted, his general love of truth and justice. He had met no such
man as yet in the course of his experience, and he had an
instinctive liking for a gentleman. He hung fondly by his
godfather's side, and it was his delight to walk in the parks and
hear Dobbin talk. William told George about his father, about India
and Waterloo, about everything but himself. When George was more
than usually pert and conceited, the Major made jokes at him, which
Mrs. Osborne thought very cruel. One day, taking him to the play,
and the boy declining to go into the pit because it was vulgar, the
Major took him to the boxes, left him there, and went down himself
to the pit. He had not been seated there very long before he felt
an arm thrust under his and a dandy little hand in a kid glove
squeezing his arm. George had seen the absurdity of his ways and
come down from the upper region. A tender laugh of benevolence
lighted up old Dobbin's face and eyes as he looked at the repentant
little prodigal. He loved the boy, as he did everything that
belonged to Amelia. How charmed she was when she heard of this
instance of George's goodness! Her eyes looked more kindly on
Dobbin than they ever had done. She blushed, he thought, after
looking at him so.
Georgy never tired of his praises of the Major to his mother. "I
like him, Mamma, because he knows such lots of things; and he ain't
like old Veal, who is always bragging and using such long words,
don't you know? The chaps call him 'Longtail' at school. I gave him
the name; ain't it capital? But Dob reads Latin like English, and
French and that; and when we go out together he tells me stories
about my Papa, and never about himself; though I heard Colonel
Buckler, at Grandpapa's, say that he was one of the bravest officers
in the army, and had distinguished himself ever so much. Grandpapa
was quite surprised, and said, 'THAT feller! Why, I didn't think he
could say Bo to a goose'--but I know he could, couldn't he, Mamma?"
Emmy laughed: she thought it was very likely the Major could do
If there was a sincere liking between George and the Major, it must
be confessed that between the boy and his uncle no great love
existed. George had got a way of blowing out his cheeks, and
putting his hands in his waistcoat pockets, and saying, "God bless
my soul, you don't say so," so exactly after the fashion of old Jos
that it was impossible to refrain from laughter. The servants would
explode at dinner if the lad, asking for something which wasn't at
table, put on that countenance and used that favourite phrase. Even
Dobbin would shoot out a sudden peal at the boy's mimicry. If
George did not mimic his uncle to his face, it was only by Dobbin's
rebukes and Amelia's terrified entreaties that the little scapegrace
was induced to desist. And the worthy civilian being haunted by a
dim consciousness that the lad thought him an ass, and was inclined
to turn him into ridicule, used to be extremely timorous and, of
course, doubly pompous and dignified in the presence of Master
Georgy. When it was announced that the young gentleman was expected
in Gillespie Street to dine with his mother, Mr. Jos commonly found
that he had an engagement at the Club. Perhaps nobody was much
grieved at his absence. On those days Mr. Sedley would commonly be
induced to come out from his place of refuge in the upper stories,
and there would be a small family party, whereof Major Dobbin pretty
generally formed one. He was the ami de la maison--old Sedley's
friend, Emmy's friend, Georgy's friend, Jos's counsel and adviser.
"He might almost as well be at Madras for anything WE see of him,"
Miss Ann Dobbin remarked at Camberwell. Ah! Miss Ann, did it not
strike you that it was not YOU whom the Major wanted to marry?
Joseph Sedley then led a life of dignified otiosity such as became a
person of his eminence. His very first point, of course, was to
become a member of the Oriental Club, where he spent his mornings in
the company of his brother Indians, where he dined, or whence he
brought home men to dine.
Amelia had to receive and entertain these gentlemen and their
ladies. From these she heard how soon Smith would be in Council;
how many lacs Jones had brought home with him, how Thomson's House
in London had refused the bills drawn by Thomson, Kibobjee, and Co.,
the Bombay House, and how it was thought the Calcutta House must go
too; how very imprudent, to say the least of it, Mrs. Brown's
conduct (wife of Brown of the Ahmednuggur Irregulars) had been with
young Swankey of the Body Guard, sitting up with him on deck until
all hours, and losing themselves as they were riding out at the
Cape; how Mrs. Hardyman had had out her thirteen sisters, daughters
of a country curate, the Rev: Felix Rabbits, and married eleven of
them, seven high up in the service; how Hornby was wild because his
wife would stay in Europe, and Trotter was appointed Collector at
Ummerapoora. This and similar talk took place at the grand dinners
all round. They had the same conversation; the same silver dishes;
the same saddles of mutton, boiled turkeys, and entrees. Politics
set in a short time after dessert, when the ladies retired upstairs
and talked about their complaints and their children.
Mutato nomine, it is all the same. Don't the barristers' wives talk
about Circuit? Don't the soldiers' ladies gossip about the Regiment?
Don't the clergymen's ladies discourse about Sunday-schools and who
takes whose duty? Don't the very greatest ladies of all talk about
that small clique of persons to whom they belong? And why should our
Indian friends not have their own conversation?--only I admit it is
slow for the laymen whose fate it sometimes is to sit by and listen.
Before long Emmy had a visiting-book, and was driving about
regularly in a carriage, calling upon Lady Bludyer (wife of Major-
General Sir Roger Bludyer, K.C.B., Bengal Army); Lady Huff, wife of
Sir G. Huff, Bombay ditto; Mrs. Pice, the Lady of Pice the
Director, &c. We are not long in using ourselves to changes in
life. That carriage came round to Gillespie Street every day; that
buttony boy sprang up and down from the box with Emmy's and Jos's
visiting-cards; at stated hours Emmy and the carriage went for Jos
to the Club and took him an airing; or, putting old Sedley into the
vehicle, she drove the old man round the Regent's Park. The lady's
maid and the chariot, the visiting-book and the buttony page, became
soon as familiar to Amelia as the humble routine of Brompton. She
accommodated herself to one as to the other. If Fate had ordained
that she should be a Duchess, she would even have done that duty
too. She was voted, in Jos's female society, rather a pleasing
young person--not much in her, but pleasing, and that sort of thing.
The men, as usual, liked her artless kindness and simple refined
demeanour. The gallant young Indian dandies at home on furlough--
immense dandies these--chained and moustached--driving in tearing
cabs, the pillars of the theatres, living at West End hotels--
nevertheless admired Mrs. Osborne, liked to bow to her carriage in
the park, and to be admitted to have the honour of paying her a
morning visit. Swankey of the Body Guard himself, that dangerous
youth, and the greatest buck of all the Indian army now on leave,
was one day discovered by Major Dobbin tete-a-tete with Amelia, and
describing the sport of pig-sticking to her with great humour and
eloquence; and he spoke afterwards of a d--d king's officer that's
always hanging about the house--a long, thin, queer-looking, oldish
fellow--a dry fellow though, that took the shine out of a man in the
Had the Major possessed a little more personal vanity he would have
been jealous of so dangerous a young buck as that fascinating Bengal
Captain. But Dobbin was of too simple and generous a nature to have
any doubts about Amelia. He was glad that the young men should pay
her respect, and that others should admire her. Ever since her
womanhood almost, had she not been persecuted and undervalued? It
pleased him to see how kindness bought out her good qualities and
how her spirits gently rose with her prosperity. Any person who
appreciated her paid a compliment to the Major's good judgement--
that is, if a man may be said to have good judgement who is under
the influence of Love's delusion.
After Jos went to Court, which we may be sure he did as a loyal
subject of his Sovereign (showing himself in his full court suit at
the Club, whither Dobbin came to fetch him in a very shabby old
uniform) he who had always been a staunch Loyalist and admirer of
George IV, became such a tremendous Tory and pillar of the State
that he was for having Amelia to go to a Drawing-room, too. He
somehow had worked himself up to believe that he was implicated in
the maintenance of the public welfare and that the Sovereign would
not be happy unless Jos Sedley and his family appeared to rally
round him at St. James's.
Emmy laughed. "Shall I wear the family diamonds, Jos?" she said.
"I wish you would let me buy you some," thought the Major. "I
should like to see any that were too good for you."
In Which Two Lights are Put Out
There came a day when the round of decorous pleasures and solemn
gaieties in which Mr. Jos Sedley's family indulged was interrupted
by an event which happens in most houses. As you ascend the
staircase of your house from the drawing towards the bedroom floors,
you may have remarked a little arch in the wall right before you,
which at once gives light to the stair which leads from the second
story to the third (where the nursery and servants' chambers
commonly are) and serves for another purpose of utility, of which
the undertaker's men can give you a notion. They rest the coffins
upon that arch, or pass them through it so as not to disturb in any
unseemly manner the cold tenant slumbering within the black ark.
That second-floor arch in a London house, looking up and down the
well of the staircase and commanding the main thoroughfare by which
the inhabitants are passing; by which cook lurks down before
daylight to scour her pots and pans in the kitchen; by which young
master stealthily ascends, having left his boots in the hall, and
let himself in after dawn from a jolly night at the Club; down which
miss comes rustling in fresh ribbons and spreading muslins,
brilliant and beautiful, and prepared for conquest and the ball; or
Master Tommy slides, preferring the banisters for a mode of
conveyance, and disdaining danger and the stair; down which the
mother is fondly carried smiling in her strong husband's arms, as he
steps steadily step by step, and followed by the monthly nurse, on
the day when the medical man has pronounced that the charming
patient may go downstairs; up which John lurks to bed, yawning, with
a sputtering tallow candle, and to gather up before sunrise the
boots which are awaiting him in the passages--that stair, up or down
which babies are carried, old people are helped, guests are
marshalled to the ball, the parson walks to the christening, the
doctor to the sick-room, and the undertaker's men to the upper
floor--what a memento of Life, Death, and Vanity it is--that arch
and stair--if you choose to consider it, and sit on the landing,
looking up and down the well! The doctor will come up to us too for
the last time there, my friend in motley. The nurse will look in at
the curtains, and you take no notice--and then she will fling open
the windows for a little and let in the air. Then they will pull
down all the front blinds of the house and live in the back rooms--
then they will send for the lawyer and other men in black, &c. Your
comedy and mine will have been played then, and we shall be removed,
oh, how far, from the trumpets, and the shouting, and the posture-
making. If we are gentlefolks they will put hatchments over our
late domicile, with gilt cherubim, and mottoes stating that there is
"Quiet in Heaven." Your son will new furnish the house, or perhaps
let it, and go into a more modern quarter; your name will be among
the "Members Deceased" in the lists of your clubs next year.
However much you may be mourned, your widow will like to have her
weeds neatly made--the cook will send or come up to ask about
dinner--the survivor will soon bear to look at your picture over the
mantelpiece, which will presently be deposed from the place of
honour, to make way for the portrait of the son who reigns.
Which of the dead are most tenderly and passionately deplored? Those
who love the survivors the least, I believe. The death of a child
occasions a passion of grief and frantic tears, such as your end,
brother reader, will never inspire. The death of an infant which
scarce knew you, which a week's absence from you would have caused
to forget you, will strike you down more than the loss of your
closest friend, or your first-born son--a man grown like yourself,
with children of his own. We may be harsh and stern with Judah and
Simeon--our love and pity gush out for Benjamin, the little one.
And if you are old, as some reader of this may be or shall be old
and rich, or old and poor--you may one day be thinking for yourself--
"These people are very good round about me, but they won't grieve
too much when I am gone. I am very rich, and they want my
inheritance--or very poor, and they are tired of supporting me."
The period of mourning for Mrs. Sedley's death was only just
concluded, and Jos scarcely had had time to cast off his black and
appear in the splendid waistcoats which he loved, when it became
evident to those about Mr. Sedley that another event was at hand,
and that the old man was about to go seek for his wife in the dark
land whither she had preceded him. "The state of my father's
health," Jos Sedley solemnly remarked at the Club, "prevents me from
giving any LARGE parties this season: but if you will come in
quietly at half-past six, Chutney, my boy, and fake a homely dinner
with one or two of the old set--I shall be always glad to see you."
So Jos and his acquaintances dined and drank their claret among
themselves in silence, whilst the sands of life were running out in
the old man's glass upstairs. The velvet-footed butler brought them
their wine, and they composed themselves to a rubber after dinner,
at which Major Dobbin would sometimes come and take a hand; and Mrs.
Osborne would occasionally descend, when her patient above was
settled for the night, and had commenced one of those lightly
troubled slumbers which visit the pillow of old age.
The old man clung to his daughter during this sickness. He would
take his broths and medicines from scarcely any other hand. To tend
him became almost the sole business of her life. Her bed was placed
close by the door which opened into his chamber, and she was alive
at the slightest noise or disturbance from the couch of the
querulous invalid. Though, to do him justice, he lay awake many an
hour, silent and without stirring, unwilling to awaken his kind and
He loved his daughter with more fondness now, perhaps, than ever he
had done since the days of her childhood. In the discharge of
gentle offices and kind filial duties, this simple creature shone
most especially. "She walks into the room as silently as a
sunbeam," Mr. Dobbin thought as he saw her passing in and out from
her father's room, a cheerful sweetness lighting up her face as she
moved to and fro, graceful and noiseless. When women are brooding
over their children, or busied in a sick-room, who has not seen in
their faces those sweet angelic beams of love and pity?
A secret feud of some years' standing was thus healed, and with a
tacit reconciliation. In these last hours, and touched by her love
and goodness, the old man forgot all his grief against her, and
wrongs which he and his wife had many a long night debated: how she
had given up everything for her boy; how she was careless of her
parents in their old age and misfortune, and only thought of the
child; how absurdly and foolishly, impiously indeed, she took on
when George was removed from her. Old Sedley forgot these charges
as he was making up his last account, and did justice to the gentle
and uncomplaining little martyr. One night when she stole into his
room, she found him awake, when the broken old man made his
confession. "Oh, Emmy, I've been thinking we were very unkind and
unjust to you," he said and put out his cold and feeble hand to her.
She knelt down and prayed by his bedside, as he did too, having
still hold of her hand. When our turn comes, friend, may we have
such company in our prayers!
Perhaps as he was lying awake then, his life may have passed before
him--his early hopeful struggles, his manly successes and
prosperity, his downfall in his declining years, and his present
helpless condition--no chance of revenge against Fortune, which had
had the better of him--neither name nor money to bequeath--a spent-
out, bootless life of defeat and disappointment, and the end here!
Which, I wonder, brother reader, is the better lot, to die
prosperous and famous, or poor and disappointed? To have, and to be
forced to yield; or to sink out of life, having played and lost the
game? That must be a strange feeling, when a day of our life comes
and we say, "To-morrow, success or failure won't matter much, and
the sun will rise, and all the myriads of mankind go to their work
or their pleasure as usual, but I shall be out of the turmoil."
So there came one morning and sunrise when all the world got up and
set about its various works and pleasures, with the exception of old
John Sedley, who was not to fight with fortune, or to hope or scheme
any more, but to go and take up a quiet and utterly unknown
residence in a churchyard at Brompton by the side of his old wife.
Major Dobbin, Jos, and Georgy followed his remains to the grave, in
a black cloth coach. Jos came on purpose from the Star and Garter
at Richmond, whither he retreated after the deplorable event. He
did not care to remain in the house, with the--under the
circumstances, you understand. But Emmy stayed and did her duty as
usual. She was bowed down by no especial grief, and rather solemn
than sorrowful. She prayed that her own end might be as calm and
painless, and thought with trust and reverence of the words which
she had heard from her father during his illness, indicative of his
faith, his resignation, and his future hope.
Yes, I think that will be the better ending of the two, after all.
Suppose you are particularly rich and well-to-do and say on that
last day, "I am very rich; I am tolerably well known; I have lived
all my life in the best society, and thank Heaven, come of a most
respectable family. I have served my King and country with honour.
I was in Parliament for several years, where, I may say, my speeches
were listened to and pretty well received. I don't owe any man a
shilling: on the contrary, I lent my old college friend, Jack
Lazarus, fifty pounds, for which my executors will not press him. I
leave my daughters with ten thousand pounds apiece--very good
portions for girls; I bequeath my plate and furniture, my house in
Baker Street, with a handsome jointure, to my widow for her life;
and my landed property, besides money in the funds, and my cellar of
well-selected wine in Baker Street, to my son. I leave twenty pound
a year to my valet; and I defy any man after I have gone to find
anything against my character." Or suppose, on the other hand, your
swan sings quite a different sort of dirge and you say, "I am a poor
blighted, disappointed old fellow, and have made an utter failure
through life. I was not endowed either with brains or with good
fortune, and confess that I have committed a hundred mistakes and
blunders. I own to having forgotten my duty many a time. I can't
pay what I owe. On my last bed I lie utterly helpless and humble,
and I pray forgiveness for my weakness and throw myself, with a
contrite heart, at the feet of the Divine Mercy." Which of these two
speeches, think you, would be the best oration for your own funeral?
Old Sedley made the last; and in that humble frame of mind, and
holding by the hand of his daughter, life and disappointment and
vanity sank away from under him.
"You see," said old Osborne to George, "what comes of merit, and
industry, and judicious speculations, and that. Look at me and my
banker's account. Look at your poor Grandfather Sedley and his
failure. And yet he was a better man than I was, this day twenty
years--a better man, I should say, by ten thousand pound."
Beyond these people and Mr. Clapp's family, who came over from
Brompton to pay a visit of condolence, not a single soul alive ever
cared a penny piece about old John Sedley, or remembered the
existence of such a person.
When old Osborne first heard from his friend Colonel Buckler (as
little Georgy had already informed us) how distinguished an officer
Major Dobbin was, he exhibited a great deal of scornful incredulity
and expressed his surprise how ever such a feller as that should
possess either brains or reputation. But he heard of the Major's
fame from various members of his society. Sir William Dobbin had a
great opinion of his son and narrated many stories illustrative of
the Major's learning, valour, and estimation in the world's opinion.
Finally, his name appeared in the lists of one or two great parties
of the nobility, and this circumstance had a prodigious effect upon
the old aristocrat of Russell Square.
The Major's position, as guardian to Georgy, whose possession had
been ceded to his grandfather, rendered some meetings between the
two gentlemen inevitable; and it was in one of these that old
Osborne, a keen man of business, looking into the Major's accounts
with his ward and the boy's mother, got a hint, which staggered him
very much, and at once pained and pleased him, that it was out of
William Dobbin's own pocket that a part of the fund had been
supplied upon which the poor widow and the child had subsisted.
When pressed upon the point, Dobbin, who could not tell lies,
blushed and stammered a good deal and finally confessed. "The
marriage," he said (at which his interlocutor's face grew dark) "was
very much my doing. I thought my poor friend had gone so far that
retreat from his engagement would have been dishonour to him and
death to Mrs. Osborne, and I could do no less, when she was left
without resources, than give what money I could spare to maintain
"Major D.," Mr. Osborne said, looking hard at him and turning very
red too--"you did me a great injury; but give me leave to tell you,
sir, you are an honest feller. There's my hand, sir, though I little
thought that my flesh and blood was living on you--" and the pair
shook hands, with great confusion on Major Dobbin's part, thus found
out in his act of charitable hypocrisy.
He strove to soften the old man and reconcile him towards his son's
memory. "He was such a noble fellow," he said, "that all of us
loved him, and would have done anything for him. I, as a young man
in those days, was flattered beyond measure by his preference for
me, and was more pleased to be seen in his company than in that of
the Commander-in-Chief. I never saw his equal for pluck and daring
and all the qualities of a soldier"; and Dobbin told the old father
as many stories as he could remember regarding the gallantry and
achievements of his son. "And Georgy is so like him," the Major
"He's so like him that he makes me tremble sometimes," the
On one or two evenings the Major came to dine with Mr. Osborne (it
was during the time of the sickness of Mr. Sedley), and as the two
sat together in the evening after dinner, all their talk was about
the departed hero. The father boasted about him according to his
wont, glorifying himself in recounting his son's feats and
gallantry, but his mood was at any rate better and more charitable
than that in which he had been disposed until now to regard the poor
fellow; and the Christian heart of the kind Major was pleased at
these symptoms of returning peace and good-will. On the second
evening old Osborne called Dobbin William, just as he used to do at
the time when Dobbin and George were boys together, and the honest
gentleman was pleased by that mark of reconciliation.
On the next day at breakfast, when Miss Osborne, with the asperity
of her age and character, ventured to make some remark reflecting
slightingly upon the Major's appearance or behaviour--the master of
the house interrupted her. "You'd have been glad enough to git him
for yourself, Miss O. But them grapes are sour. Ha! ha! Major
William is a fine feller."
"That he is, Grandpapa," said Georgy approvingly; and going up close
to the old gentleman, he took a hold of his large grey whiskers, and
laughed in his face good-humouredly, and kissed him. And he told
the story at night to his mother, who fully agreed with the boy.
"Indeed he is," she said. "Your dear father always said so. He is
one of the best and most upright of men." Dobbin happened to drop in
very soon after this conversation, which made Amelia blush perhaps,
and the young scapegrace increased the confusion by telling Dobbin
the other part of the story. "I say, Dob," he said, "there's such
an uncommon nice girl wants to marry you. She's plenty of tin; she
wears a front; and she scolds the servants from morning till night."
"Who is it?" asked Dobbin. "It's Aunt O.," the boy answered.
"Grandpapa said so. And I say, Dob, how prime it would be to have
you for my uncle." Old Sedley's quavering voice from the next room
at this moment weakly called for Amelia, and the laughing ended.
That old Osborne's mind was changing was pretty clear. He asked
George about his uncle sometimes, and laughed at the boy's imitation
of the way in which Jos said "God-bless-my-soul" and gobbled his
soup. Then he said, "It's not respectful, sir, of you younkers to
be imitating of your relations. Miss O., when you go out adriving
to-day, leave my card upon Mr. Sedley, do you hear? There's no
quarrel betwigst me and him anyhow."
The card was returned, and Jos and the Major were asked to dinner--
to a dinner the most splendid and stupid that perhaps ever Mr.
Osborne gave; every inch of the family plate was exhibited, and the
best company was asked. Mr. Sedley took down Miss O. to dinner,
and she was very gracious to him; whereas she hardly spoke to the
Major, who sat apart from her, and by the side of Mr. Osborne, very
timid. Jos said, with great solemnity, it was the best turtle soup
he had ever tasted in his life, and asked Mr. Osborne where he got
"It is some of Sedley's wine," whispered the butler to his master.
"I've had it a long time, and paid a good figure for it, too," Mr.
Osborne said aloud to his guest, and then whispered to his right-
hand neighbour how he had got it "at the old chap's sale."
More than once he asked the Major about--about Mrs. George Osborne--
a theme on which the Major could be very eloquent when he chose. He
told Mr. Osborne of her sufferings--of her passionate attachment to
her husband, whose memory she worshipped still--of the tender and
dutiful manner in which she had supported her parents, and given up
her boy, when it seemed to her her duty to do so. "You don't know
what she endured, sir," said honest Dobbin with a tremor in his
voice, "and I hope and trust you will be reconciled to her. If she
took your son away from you, she gave hers to you; and however much
you loved your George, depend on it, she loved hers ten times more."
"By God, you are a good feller, sir," was all Mr. Osborne said. It
had never struck him that the widow would feel any pain at parting
from the boy, or that his having a fine fortune could grieve her. A
reconciliation was announced as speedy and inevitable, and Amelia's
heart already began to beat at the notion of the awful meeting with
It was never, however, destined to take place. Old Sedley's
lingering illness and death supervened, after which a meeting was
for some time impossible. That catastrophe and other events may
have worked upon Mr. Osborne. He was much shaken of late, and aged,
and his mind was working inwardly. He had sent for his lawyers, and
probably changed something in his will. The medical man who looked
in pronounced him shaky, agitated, and talked of a little blood and
the seaside; but he took neither of these remedies.
One day when he should have come down to breakfast, his servant
missing him, went into his dressing-room and found him lying at the
foot of the dressing-table in a fit. Miss Osborne was apprised; the
doctors were sent for; Georgy stopped away from school; the bleeders
and cuppers came. Osborne partially regained cognizance, but never
could speak again, though he tried dreadfully once or twice, and in
four days he died. The doctors went down, and the undertaker's men
went up the stairs, and all the shutters were shut towards the
garden in Russell Square. Bullock rushed from the City in a hurry.
"How much money had he left to that boy? Not half, surely? Surely
share and share alike between the three?" It was an agitating
What was it that poor old man tried once or twice in vain to say? I
hope it was that he wanted to see Amelia and be reconciled before he
left the world to one dear and faithful wife of his son: it was
most likely that, for his will showed that the hatred which he had
so long cherished had gone out of his heart.
They found in the pocket of his dressing-gown the letter with the
great red seal which George had written him from Waterloo. He had
looked at the other papers too, relative to his son, for the key of
the box in which he kept them was also in his pocket, and it was
found the seals and envelopes had been broken--very likely on the
night before the seizure--when the butler had taken him tea into his
study, and found him reading in the great red family Bible.
When the will was opened, it was found that half the property was
left to George, and the remainder between the two sisters. Mr.
Bullock to continue, for their joint benefit, the affairs of the
commercial house, or to go out, as he thought fit. An annuity of
five hundred pounds, chargeable on George's property, was left to
his mother, "the widow of my beloved son, George Osborne," who was
to resume the guardianship of the boy.
"Major William Dobbin, my beloved son's friend," was appointed
executor; "and as out of his kindness and bounty, and with his own
private funds, he maintained my grandson and my son's widow, when
they were otherwise without means of support" (the testator went on
to say) "I hereby thank him heartily for his love and regard for
them, and beseech him to accept such a sum as may be sufficient to
purchase his commission as a Lieutenant-Colonel, or to be disposed
of in any way he may think fit."
When Amelia heard that her father-in-law was reconciled to her, her
heart melted, and she was grateful for the fortune left to her. But
when she heard how Georgy was restored to her, and knew how and by
whom, and how it was William's bounty that supported her in poverty,
how it was William who gave her her husband and her son--oh, then
she sank on her knees, and prayed for blessings on that constant and
kind heart; she bowed down and humbled herself, and kissed the feet,
as it were, of that beautiful and generous affection.
And gratitude was all that she had to pay back for such admirable
devotion and benefits--only gratitude! If she thought of any other
return, the image of George stood up out of the grave and said, "You
are mine, and mine only, now and forever."
William knew her feelings: had he not passed his whole life in
When the nature of Mr. Osborne's will became known to the world, it
was edifying to remark how Mrs. George Osborne rose in the
estimation of the people forming her circle of acquaintance. The
servants of Jos's establishment, who used to question her humble
orders and say they would "ask Master" whether or not they could
obey, never thought now of that sort of appeal. The cook forgot to
sneer at her shabby old gowns (which, indeed, were quite eclipsed by
that lady's finery when she was dressed to go to church of a Sunday
evening), the others no longer grumbled at the sound of her bell, or
delayed to answer that summons. The coachman, who grumbled that his
'osses should be brought out and his carriage made into an hospital
for that old feller and Mrs. O., drove her with the utmost alacrity
now, and trembling lest he should be superseded by Mr. Osborne's
coachman, asked "what them there Russell Square coachmen knew about
town, and whether they was fit to sit on a box before a lady?" Jos's
friends, male and female, suddenly became interested about Emmy, and
cards of condolence multiplied on her hall table. Jos himself, who
had looked on her as a good-natured harmless pauper, to whom it was
his duty to give victuals and shelter, paid her and the rich little
boy, his nephew, the greatest respect--was anxious that she should
have change and amusement after her troubles and trials, "poor dear
girl"--and began to appear at the breakfast-table, and most
particularly to ask how she would like to dispose of the day.
In her capacity of guardian to Georgy, she, with the consent of the
Major, her fellow-trustee, begged Miss Osborne to live in the
Russell Square house as long as ever she chose to dwell there; but
that lady, with thanks, declared that she never could think of
remaining alone in that melancholy mansion, and departed in deep
mourning to Cheltenham, with a couple of her old domestics. The rest
were liberally paid and dismissed, the faithful old butler, whom
Mrs. Osborne proposed to retain, resigning and preferring to invest
his savings in a public-house, where, let us hope, he was not
unprosperous. Miss Osborne not choosing to live in Russell Square,
Mrs. Osborne also, after consultation, declined to occupy the gloomy
old mansion there. The house was dismantled; the rich furniture and
effects, the awful chandeliers and dreary blank mirrors packed away
and hidden, the rich rosewood drawing-room suite was muffled in
straw, the carpets were rolled up and corded, the small select
library of well-bound books was stowed into two wine-chests, and the
whole paraphernalia rolled away in several enormous vans to the
Pantechnicon, where they were to lie until Georgy's majority. And
the great heavy dark plate-chests went off to Messrs. Stumpy and
Rowdy, to lie in the cellars of those eminent bankers until the same
period should arrive.
One day Emmy, with George in her hand and clad in deep sables, went
to visit the deserted mansion which she had not entered since she
was a girl. The place in front was littered with straw where the
vans had been laden and rolled off. They went into the great blank
rooms, the walls of which bore the marks where the pictures and
mirrors had hung. Then they went up the great blank stone
staircases into the upper rooms, into that where grandpapa died, as
George said in a whisper, and then higher still into George's own
room. The boy was still clinging by her side, but she thought of
another besides him. She knew that it had been his father's room as
well as his own.
She went up to one of the open windows (one of those at which she
used to gaze with a sick heart when the child was first taken from
her), and thence as she looked out she could see, over the trees of
Russell Square, the old house in which she herself was born, and
where she had passed so many happy days of sacred youth. They all
came back to her, the pleasant holidays, the kind faces, the
careless, joyful past times, and the long pains and trials that had
since cast her down. She thought of these and of the man who had
been her constant protector, her good genius, her sole benefactor,
her tender and generous friend.
"Look here, Mother," said Georgy, "here's a G.O. scratched on the
glass with a diamond, I never saw it before, I never did it."
"It was your father's room long before you were born, George," she
said, and she blushed as she kissed the boy.
She was very silent as they drove back to Richmond, where they had
taken a temporary house: where the smiling lawyers used to come
bustling over to see her (and we may be sure noted the visit in the
bill): and where of course there was a room for Major Dobbin too,
who rode over frequently, having much business to transact on behalf
of his little ward.
Georgy at this time was removed from Mr. Veal's on an unlimited
holiday, and that gentleman was engaged to prepare an inscription
for a fine marble slab, to be placed up in the Foundling under the
monument of Captain George Osborne.
The female Bullock, aunt of Georgy, although despoiled by that
little monster of one-half of the sum which she expected from her
father, nevertheless showed her charitableness of spirit by being
reconciled to the mother and the boy. Roehampton is not far from
Richmond, and one day the chariot, with the golden bullocks
emblazoned on the panels, and the flaccid children within, drove to
Amelia's house at Richmond; and the Bullock family made an irruption
into the garden, where Amelia was reading a book, Jos was in an
arbour placidly dipping strawberries into wine, and the Major in one
of his Indian jackets was giving a back to Georgy, who chose to jump
over him. He went over his head and bounded into the little advance
of Bullocks, with immense black bows in their hats, and huge black
sashes, accompanying their mourning mamma.
"He is just of the age for Rosa," the fond parent thought, and
glanced towards that dear child, an unwholesome little miss of seven
years of age.
"Rosa, go and kiss your dear cousin," Mrs. Frederick said. "Don't
you know me, George? I am your aunt."
"I know you well enough," George said; "but I don't like kissing,
please"; and he retreated from the obedient caresses of his cousin.
"Take me to your dear mamma, you droll child," Mrs. Frederick said,
and those ladies accordingly met, after an absence of more than
fifteen years. During Emmy's cares and poverty the other had never
once thought about coming to see her, but now that she was decently
prosperous in the world, her sister-in-law came to her as a matter
So did numbers more. Our old friend, Miss Swartz, and her husband
came thundering over from Hampton Court, with flaming yellow
liveries, and was as impetuously fond of Amelia as ever. Miss
Swartz would have liked her always if she could have seen her. One
must do her that justice. But, que voulez vous?--in this vast town
one has not the time to go and seek one's friends; if they drop out
of the rank they disappear, and we march on without them. Who is
ever missed in Vanity Fair?
But so, in a word, and before the period of grief for Mr. Osborne's
death had subsided, Emmy found herself in the centre of a very
genteel circle indeed, the members of which could not conceive that
anybody belonging to it was not very lucky. There was scarce one of
the ladies that hadn't a relation a Peer, though the husband might
be a drysalter in the City. Some of the ladies were very blue and
well informed, reading Mrs. Somerville and frequenting the Royal
Institution; others were severe and Evangelical, and held by Exeter
Hall. Emmy, it must be owned, found herself entirely at a loss in
the midst of their clavers, and suffered woefully on the one or two
occasions on which she was compelled to accept Mrs. Frederick
Bullock's hospitalities. That lady persisted in patronizing her and
determined most graciously to form her. She found Amelia's
milliners for her and regulated her household and her manners. She
drove over constantly from Roehampton and entertained her friend
with faint fashionable fiddle-faddle and feeble Court slip-slop.
Jos liked to hear it, but the Major used to go off growling at the
appearance of this woman, with her twopenny gentility. He went to
sleep under Frederick Bullock's bald head, after dinner, at one of
the banker's best parties (Fred was still anxious that the balance
of the Osborne property should be transferred from Stumpy and
Rowdy's to them), and whilst Amelia, who did not know Latin, or who
wrote the last crack article in the Edinburgh, and did not in the
least deplore, or otherwise, Mr. Peel's late extraordinary
tergiversation on the fatal Catholic Relief Bill, sat dumb amongst
the ladies in the grand drawing-room, looking out upon velvet lawns,
trim gravel walks, and glistening hot-houses.
"She seems good-natured but insipid," said Mrs. Rowdy; "that Major
seems to be particularly epris."
"She wants ton sadly," said Mrs. Hollyock. "My dear creature, you
never will be able to form her."
"She is dreadfully ignorant or indifferent," said Mrs. Glowry with a
voice as if from the grave, and a sad shake of the head and turban.
"I asked her if she thought that it was in 1836, according to Mr.
Jowls, or in 1839, according to Mr. Wapshot, that the Pope was to
fall: and she said--'Poor Pope! I hope not--What has he done?'"
"She is my brother's widow, my dear friends," Mrs. Frederick
replied, "and as such I think we're all bound to give her every
attention and instruction on entering into the world. You may fancy
there can be no MERCENARY motives in those whose DISAPPOINTMENTS are
"That poor dear Mrs. Bullock," said Rowdy to Hollyock, as they drove
away together--"she is always scheming and managing. She wants Mrs.
Osborne's account to be taken from our house to hers--and the way in
which she coaxes that boy and makes him sit by that blear-eyed
little Rosa is perfectly ridiculous."
"I wish Glowry was choked with her Man of Sin and her Battle of
Armageddon," cried the other, and the carriage rolled away over
But this sort of society was too cruelly genteel for Emmy, and all
jumped for joy when a foreign tour was proposed.
The above everyday events had occurred, and a few weeks had passed,
when on one fine morning, Parliament being over, the summer
advanced, and all the good company in London about to quit that city
for their annual tour in search of pleasure or health, the Batavier
steamboat left the Tower-stairs laden with a goodly company of
English fugitives. The quarter-deck awnings were up, and the
benches and gangways crowded with scores of rosy children, bustling
nursemaids; ladies in the prettiest pink bonnets and summer dresses;
gentlemen in travelling caps and linen-jackets, whose mustachios had
just begun to sprout for the ensuing tour; and stout trim old
veterans with starched neckcloths and neat-brushed hats, such as
have invaded Europe any time since the conclusion of the war, and
carry the national Goddem into every city of the Continent. The
congregation of hat-boxes, and Bramah desks, and dressing-cases was
prodigious. There were jaunty young Cambridge-men travelling with
their tutor, and going for a reading excursion to Nonnenwerth or
Konigswinter; there were Irish gentlemen, with the most dashing
whiskers and jewellery, talking about horses incessantly, and
prodigiously polite to the young ladies on board, whom, on the
contrary, the Cambridge lads and their pale-faced tutor avoided with
maiden coyness; there were old Pall Mall loungers bound for Ems and
Wiesbaden and a course of waters to clear off the dinners of the
season, and a little roulette and trente-et-quarante to keep the
excitement going; there was old Methuselah, who had married his
young wife, with Captain Papillon of the Guards holding her parasol
and guide-books; there was young May who was carrying off his bride
on a pleasure tour (Mrs. Winter that was, and who had been at school
with May's grandmother); there was Sir John and my Lady with a dozen
children, and corresponding nursemaids; and the great grandee
Bareacres family that sat by themselves near the wheel, stared at
everybody, and spoke to no one. Their carriages, emblazoned with
coronets and heaped with shining imperials, were on the foredeck,
locked in with a dozen more such vehicles: it was difficult to pass
in and out amongst them; and the poor inmates of the fore-cabin had
scarcely any space for locomotion. These consisted of a few
magnificently attired gentlemen from Houndsditch, who brought their
own provisions, and could have bought half the gay people in the
grand saloon; a few honest fellows with mustachios and portfolios,
who set to sketching before they had been half an hour on board; one
or two French femmes de chambre who began to be dreadfully ill by
the time the boat had passed Greenwich; a groom or two who lounged
in the neighbourhood of the horse-boxes under their charge, or
leaned over the side by the paddle-wheels, and talked about who was
good for the Leger, and what they stood to win or lose for the
All the couriers, when they had done plunging about the ship and had
settled their various masters in the cabins or on the deck,
congregated together and began to chatter and smoke; the Hebrew
gentlemen joining them and looking at the carriages. There was Sir
John's great carriage that would hold thirteen people; my Lord
Methuselah's carriage, my Lord Bareacres' chariot, britzska, and
fourgon, that anybody might pay for who liked. It was a wonder how
my Lord got the ready money to pay for the expenses of the journey.
The Hebrew gentlemen knew how he got it. They knew what money his
Lordship had in his pocket at that instant, and what interest he
paid for it, and who gave it him. Finally there was a very neat,
handsome travelling carriage, about which the gentlemen speculated.
"A qui cette voiture la?" said one gentleman-courier with a large
morocco money-bag and ear-rings to another with ear-rings and a
large morocco money-bag.
"C'est a Kirsch je bense--je l'ai vu toute a l'heure--qui brenoit
des sangviches dans la voiture," said the courier in a fine German
Kirsch emerging presently from the neighbourhood of the hold, where
he had been bellowing instructions intermingled with polyglot oaths
to the ship's men engaged in secreting the passengers' luggage, came
to give an account of himself to his brother interpreters. He
informed them that the carriage belonged to a Nabob from Calcutta
and Jamaica enormously rich, and with whom he was engaged to travel;
and at this moment a young gentleman who had been warned off the
bridge between the paddle-boxes, and who had dropped thence on to
the roof of Lord Methuselah's carriage, from which he made his way
over other carriages and imperials until he had clambered on to his
own, descended thence and through the window into the body of the
carriage, to the applause of the couriers looking on.
"Nous allons avoir une belle traversee, Monsieur George," said the
courier with a grin, as he lifted his gold-laced cap.
"D--- your French," said the young gentleman, "where's the biscuits,
ay?" Whereupon Kirsch answered him in the English language or in
such an imitation of it as he could command--for though he was
familiar with all languages, Mr. Kirsch was not acquainted with a
single one, and spoke all with indifferent volubility and
The imperious young gentleman who gobbled the biscuits (and indeed
it was time to refresh himself, for he had breakfasted at Richmond
full three hours before) was our young friend George Osborne. Uncle
Jos and his mamma were on the quarter-deck with a gentleman of whom
they used to see a good deal, and the four were about to make a
Jos was seated at that moment on deck under the awning, and pretty
nearly opposite to the Earl of Bareacres and his family, whose
proceedings absorbed the Bengalee almost entirely. Both the noble
couple looked rather younger than in the eventful year '15, when Jos
remembered to have seen them at Brussels (indeed, he always gave out
in India that he was intimately acquainted with them). Lady
Bareacres' hair, which was then dark, was now a beautiful golden
auburn, whereas Lord Bareacres' whiskers, formerly red, were at
present of a rich black with purple and green reflections in the
light. But changed as they were, the movements of the noble pair
occupied Jos's mind entirely. The presence of a Lord fascinated
him, and he could look at nothing else.
"Those people seem to interest you a good deal," said Dobbin,
laughing and watching him. Amelia too laughed. She was in a straw
bonnet with black ribbons, and otherwise dressed in mourning, but
the little bustle and holiday of the journey pleased and excited
her, and she looked particularly happy.
"What a heavenly day!" Emmy said and added, with great originality,
"I hope we shall have a calm passage."
Jos waved his hand, scornfully glancing at the same time under his
eyelids at the great folks opposite. "If you had made the voyages
we have," he said, "you wouldn't much care about the weather." But
nevertheless, traveller as he was, he passed the night direfully
sick in his carriage, where his courier tended him with brandy-and-
water and every luxury.
In due time this happy party landed at the quays of Rotterdam,
whence they were transported by another steamer to the city of
Cologne. Here the carriage and the family took to the shore, and
Jos was not a little gratified to see his arrival announced in the
Cologne newspapers as "Herr Graf Lord von Sedley nebst Begleitung
aus London." He had his court dress with him; he had insisted that
Dobbin should bring his regimental paraphernalia; he announced that
it was his intention to be presented at some foreign courts, and pay
his respects to the Sovereigns of the countries which he honoured
with a visit.
Wherever the party stopped, and an opportunity was offered, Mr. Jos
left his own card and the Major's upon "Our Minister." It was with
great difficulty that he could be restrained from putting on his
cocked hat and tights to wait upon the English consul at the Free
City of Judenstadt, when that hospitable functionary asked our
travellers to dinner. He kept a journal of his voyage and noted
elaborately the defects or excellences of the various inns at which
he put up, and of the wines and dishes of which he partook.
As for Emmy, she was very happy and pleased. Dobbin used to carry
about for her her stool and sketch-book, and admired the drawings of
the good-natured little artist as they never had been admired
before. She sat upon steamers' decks and drew crags and castles, or
she mounted upon donkeys and ascended to ancient robber-towers,
attended by her two aides-de-camp, Georgy and Dobbin. She laughed,
and the Major did too, at his droll figure on donkey-back, with his
long legs touching the ground. He was the interpreter for the
party; having a good military knowledge of the German language, and
he and the delighted George fought the campaigns of the Rhine and
the Palatinate. In the course of a few weeks, and by assiduously
conversing with Herr Kirsch on the box of the carriage, Georgy made
prodigious advance in the knowledge of High Dutch, and could talk to
hotel waiters and postilions in a way that charmed his mother and
amused his guardian.
Mr. Jos did not much engage in the afternoon excursions of his
fellow-travellers. He slept a good deal after dinner, or basked in
the arbours of the pleasant inn-gardens. Pleasant Rhine gardens!
Fair scenes of peace and sunshine--noble purple mountains, whose
crests are reflected in the magnificent stream--who has ever seen
you that has not a grateful memory of those scenes of friendly
repose and beauty? To lay down the pen and even to think of that
beautiful Rhineland makes one happy. At this time of summer
evening, the cows are trooping down from the hills, lowing and with
their bells tinkling, to the old town, with its old moats, and
gates, and spires, and chestnut-trees, with long blue shadows
stretching over the grass; the sky and the river below flame in-
crimson and gold; and the moon is already out, looking pale towards
the sunset. The sun sinks behind the great castle-crested
mountains, the night falls suddenly, the river grows darker and
darker, lights quiver in it from the windows in the old ramparts,
and twinkle peacefully in the villages under the hills on the
So Jos used to go to sleep a good deal with his bandanna over his
face and be very comfortable, and read all the English news, and
every word of Galignani's admirable newspaper (may the blessings of
all Englishmen who have ever been abroad rest on the founders and
proprietors of that piratical print! ) and whether he woke or
slept, his friends did not very much miss him. Yes, they were very
happy. They went to the opera often of evenings--to those snug,
unassuming, dear old operas in the German towns, where the noblesse
sits and cries, and knits stockings on the one side, over against
the bourgeoisie on the other; and His Transparency the Duke and his
Transparent family, all very fat and good-natured, come and occupy
the great box in the middle; and the pit is full of the most elegant
slim-waisted officers with straw-coloured mustachios, and twopence a
day on full pay. Here it was that Emmy found her delight, and was
introduced for the first time to the wonders of Mozart and Cimarosa.
The Major's musical taste has been before alluded to, and his
performances on the flute commended. But perhaps the chief pleasure
he had in these operas was in watching Emmy's rapture while
listening to them. A new world of love and beauty broke upon her
when she was introduced to those divine compositions; this lady had
the keenest and finest sensibility, and how could she be indifferent
when she heard Mozart? The tender parts of "Don Juan" awakened in
her raptures so exquisite that she would ask herself when she went
to say her prayers of a night whether it was not wicked to feel so
much delight as that with which "Vedrai Carino" and "Batti Batti"
filled her gentle little bosom? But the Major, whom she consulted
upon this head, as her theological adviser (and who himself had a
pious and reverent soul), said that for his part, every beauty of
art or nature made him thankful as well as happy, and that the
pleasure to be had in listening to fine music, as in looking at the
stars in the sky, or at a beautiful landscape or picture, was a
benefit for which we might thank Heaven as sincerely as for any
other worldly blessing. And in reply to some faint objections of
Mrs. Amelia's (taken from certain theological works like the
Washerwoman of Finchley Common and others of that school, with which
Mrs. Osborne had been furnished during her life at Brompton) he told
her an Eastern fable of the Owl who thought that the sunshine was
unbearable for the eyes and that the Nightingale was a most
overrated bird. "It is one's nature to sing and the other's to
hoot," he said, laughing, "and with such a sweet voice as you have
yourself, you must belong to the Bulbul faction."
I like to dwell upon this period of her life and to think that she
was cheerful and happy. You see, she has not had too much of that
sort of existence as yet, and has not fallen in the way of means to
educate her tastes or her intelligence. She has been domineered
over hitherto by vulgar intellects. It is the lot of many a woman.
And as every one of the dear sex is the rival of the rest of her
kind, timidity passes for folly in their charitable judgments; and
gentleness for dulness; and silence--which is but timid denial of
the unwelcome assertion of ruling folks, and tacit protestantism--
above all, finds no mercy at the hands of the female Inquisition.
Thus, my dear and civilized reader, if you and I were to find
ourselves this evening in a society of greengrocers, let us say, it
is probable that our conversation would not be brilliant; if, on the
other hand, a greengrocer should find himself at your refined and
polite tea-table, where everybody was saying witty things, and
everybody of fashion and repute tearing her friends to pieces in the
most delightful manner, it is possible that the stranger would not
be very talkative and by no means interesting or interested.
And it must be remembered that this poor lady had never met a
gentleman in her life until this present moment. Perhaps these are
rarer personages than some of us think for. Which of us can point
out many such in his circle--men whose aims are generous, whose
truth is constant, and not only constant in its kind but elevated in
its degree; whose want of meanness makes them simple; who can look
the world honestly in the face with an equal manly sympathy for the
great and the small? We all know a hundred whose coats are very well
made, and a score who have excellent manners, and one or two happy
beings who are what they call in the inner circles, and have shot
into the very centre and bull's-eye of the fashion; but of gentlemen
how many? Let us take a little scrap of paper and each make out his
My friend the Major I write, without any doubt, in mine. He had
very long legs, a yellow face, and a slight lisp, which at first was
rather ridiculous. But his thoughts were just, his brains were
fairly good, his life was honest and pure, and his heart warm and
humble. He certainly had very large hands and feet, which the two
George Osbornes used to caricature and laugh at; and their jeers and
laughter perhaps led poor little Emmy astray as to his worth. But
have we not all been misled about our heroes and changed our
opinions a hundred times? Emmy, in this happy time, found that hers
underwent a very great change in respect of the merits of the Major.
Perhaps it was the happiest time of both their lives, indeed, if
they did but know it--and who does? Which of us can point out and
say that was the culmination--that was the summit of human joy? But
at all events, this couple were very decently contented, and enjoyed
as pleasant a summer tour as any pair that left England that year.
Georgy was always present at the play, but it was the Major who put
Emmy's shawl on after the entertainment; and in the walks and
excursions the young lad would be on ahead, and up a tower-stair or
a tree, whilst the soberer couple were below, the Major smoking his