Part 3 out of 11
importance.'" Although Mr. Cleveland smiled when he said this, his smile
was anything but a gracious one. The subdued satire of his keen eye
burst out for an instant, and he looked as if he would have said, "Who
is this yonker who is trespassing upon my retirement?"
Vivian had, unbidden, seated himself by the side of Mr. Cleveland's
library table; and, not knowing exactly how to proceed, was employing
himself by making a calculation whether there were more black than white
spots on the body of the old Newfoundland, who was now apparently
"Well, sir!" continued the Newfoundland's master, "the nature of your
communication? I am fond of coming to the point."
Now this was precisely the thing which Vivian had determined not to do;
and so he diplomatised, in order to gain time. "In stating, Mr.
Cleveland, that the communication which I had to make was one of
importance, I beg to be understood, that it was with reference merely to
my opinion of its nature that that phrase was used, and not as relative
to the possible, or, allow me to say, the probable, opinion of Mr.
"Well, sir!" said that gentleman, with a somewhat disappointed air.
"As to the purport or nature of the communication it is," said Vivian,
with one of his sweetest cadences and looking up to Mr. Cleveland's face
with an eye expressive of all kindness, "it is of a political nature."
"Well, sir!" again exclaimed Cleveland, looking very anxious, and moving
restlessly on his library chair.
"When we take into consideration, Mr. Cleveland, the present aspect of
the political world, when we call to mind the present situation of the
two great political parties, you will not be surprised, I feel
confident, when I mention that certain personages have thought that the
season was at hand when a move might be made in the political world with
very considerable effect--"
"Mr. Grey, what am I to understand?" interrupted Mr. Cleveland, who
began to suspect that the envoy was no greenhorn.
"I feel confident, Mr. Cleveland, that I am doing very imperfect justice
to the mission with which I am entrusted; but, sir, you must be aware
that the delicate nature of such disclosures, and--"
"Mr. Grey, I feel confident that you do not doubt my honour; and, as for
the rest, the world has, I believe, some foolish tales about me; but,
believe me, you shall be listened to with patience. I am certain that,
whatever may be the communication, Mr. Vivian Grey is a gentleman who
will do its merits justice."
And now Vivian, having succeeded in exciting Cleveland's curiosity and
securing himself the certainty of a hearing, and having also made a
favourable impression, dropped the diplomatist altogether, and was
explicit enough for a Spartan.
"Certain Noblemen and Gentlemen of eminence and influence, hitherto
considered as props of the ---- party, are about to take a novel and
decided course next Session. It is to obtain the aid and personal
co-operation of Mr. Cleveland that I am now in Wales.
"Mr. Grey, I have promised to listen to you with patience: you are too
young a man to know much, perhaps, of the history of so insignificant a
personage as myself, otherwise you would have been aware that there is
no subject in the world on which I am less inclined to converse than
that of politics. If I were entitled to take such a liberty, I would
recommend you to think of them as little as I do; but enough of this.
Who is the mover of the party?"
"My Lord Courtown is a distinguished member of it."
"Courtown, Courtown; powerful enough: but surely the good Viscount's
skull is not exactly the head for the chief of a cabal?"
"There is my Lord Beaconsfield."
"Powerful, too; but a dolt."
"Well," thought Vivian, "it must out at last; and so to it boldly. And,
Mr. Cleveland, there is little fear that we may secure the great
influence and tried talents of the Marquess of Carabas."
"The Marquess of Carabas!" almost shrieked Mr. Cleveland, as be started
from his seat and paced the room with hurried steps; and the greyhound
and the Newfoundland jumped up from the rug, shook themselves, growled,
and then imitated their master in promenading the apartment, but with
more dignified and stately paces. "The Marquess of Carabas! Now, Mr.
Grey, speak to me with the frankness which one gentleman should use to
another; is the Marquess of Carabas privy to this application?"
"He himself proposed it."
"Then he is baser than even I conceived. Mr. Grey, I am a man spare of
my speech to those with whom I am unacquainted, and the world tails me a
soured, malicious man. And yet, when I think for a moment that one so
young as you are, endowed as I must suppose with no ordinary talents,
and actuated as I will believe with a pure and honourable spirit, should
be the dupe, or tool, or even present friend of such a creature as this
perjured Peer, it gives me pang."
"Mr. Cleveland," said Vivian, "I am grateful for your kindness; and
although we may probably part, in a few hours, never to meet again, I
will speak to you with the frankness which you have merited, and to
which I feel you are entitled. I am not the dupe of the Marquess of
Carabas; I am not, I trust, the dupe, or tool, of any one whatever.
Believe me, sir, there is that at work in England which, taken at the
tide, may lead on to fortune. I see this, sir; I, a young man,
uncommitted in political principles, unconnected in public life, feeling
some confidence, I confess, in my own abilities, but desirous of
availing myself, at the same time, of the powers of others. Thus
situated, I find myself working for the same end as my Lord Carabas and
twenty other men of similar calibre, mental and moral; and, sir, am I to
play the hermit in the drama of life because, perchance, my
fellow-actors may be sometimes fools, and occasionally knaves? If the
Marquess of Carabas has done you the ill-service which Fame says he
has, your sweetest revenge will be to make him your tool; your most
perfect triumph, to rise to power by his influence.
"I confess that I am desirous of finding in you the companion of my
career. Your splendid talents have long commanded my admiration; and, as
you have given me credit for something like good feeling, I will say
that my wish to find in you a colleague is greatly increased when I see
that those splendid talents are even the least estimable points in Mr.
Cleveland's character. But, sir, perhaps all this time I am in error;
perhaps Mr. Cleveland is, as the world reports him, no longer the
ambitious being who once commanded the admiration of a listening Senate;
perhaps, convinced of the vanity of human wishes, Mr. Cleveland would
rather devote his attention to the furtherance of the interests of his
immediate circle; and, having schooled his intellect in the Universities
of two nations, is probably content to pass the hours of his life in
mediating in the quarrels of a country village."
Vivian ceased. Cleveland heard him with his head resting on both his
arms. He started at the last expression, and something like a blush
suffused his cheek, but he did not reply. At last he jumped up and rang
the bell. "Come, Mr. Grey," said he, "I am in no humour for politics
this morning. You must not, at any rate, visit Wales for nothing.
Morris! send down to the village for this gentleman's luggage. Even we
cottagers have a bed for a friend, Mr. Grey: come, and I will introduce
you to my wife."
And Vivian was now an inmate of Kenrich Lodge. It would have been
difficult to have conceived a life of more pure happiness than that
which was apparently enjoyed by its gifted master. A beautiful wife and
lovely children, and a romantic situation, and an income sufficient not
only for their own but for the wants of their necessitous neighbours;
what more could man wish? Answer me, thou inexplicable myriad of
sensations which the world calls human nature!
Three days passed over in delightful converse. It was so long since
Cleveland had seen any one fresh from the former scenes of his life,
that the company of any one would have been agreeable; but here was a
companion who knew every one, everything, full of wit and anecdote, and
literature and fashion; and then so engaging in his manners, and with
such a winning voice.
The heart of Cleveland relented; his stern manner gave way; all his
former warm and generous feeling gained the ascendant; he was in turn
amusing, communicative, and engaging. Finding that he could please
another, he began to be pleased himself. The nature of the business upon
which Vivian was his guest rendered confidence necessary; confidence
begets kindness. In a few days Vivian necessarily became more acquainted
with Mr. Cleveland's disposition and situation than if they had been
acquainted for as many years; in short.
They talked with open heart and tongue,
Affectionate and true,
A pair of friends.
Vivian, for some time, dwelt upon everything but the immediate subject
of his mission; but when, after the experience of a few days, their
hearts were open to each other, and they had mutually begun to discover
that there was a most astonishing similarity in their principles, their
tastes, their feelings, then the magician poured forth his incantation,
and raised the once-laid ghost of Cleveland's ambition. The recluse
agreed to take the lead of the Carabas party. He was to leave Wales
immediately, and resign his place; in return for which the nephew of
Lord Courtown was immediately to give up, in his favour, an office of
considerable emolument; and, having thus provided some certainty for his
family, Frederick Cleveland prepared himself to combat for a more
"Is Mr. Cleveland handsome?" asked Mrs. Felix Lorraine of Vivian,
immediately on his return, "and what colour are his eyes?"
"Upon my honour, I have not the least recollection of ever looking at
them; but I believe he is not blind."
"How foolish you are! now tell me, pray, point de moquerie, is he
"What does Mrs. Felix Lorraine mean by amusing?" asked Vivian.
"Oh! you always tease me with your definitions; go away. I will quarrel
"By-the-bye, Mrs. Felix Lorraine, how is Colonel Delmington?"
Vivian redeemed his pledge: Mr. Cleveland arrived. It was the wish of
the Marquess, if possible, not to meet his old friend till dinner-time.
He thought that, surrounded by his guests, certain awkward senatorial
reminiscences might be got over. But, unfortunately, Mr. Cleveland
arrived about an hour before dinner, and, as it was a cold autumnal day,
most of the visitors who were staying at Château Desir were assembled in
the drawing-room. The Marquess sallied forward to receive his guest with
a most dignified countenance and a most aristocratic step; but, before
he got half-way, his coronation pace degenerated into a strut, and then
into a shamble, and with an awkward and confused countenance, half
impudent and half flinching, he held forward his left hand to his
newly-arrived visitor. Mr. Cleveland looked terrifically courteous and
amiably arrogant. He greeted the Marquess with a smile at once gracious
and grim, and looked something like Goliath, as you see the Philistine
depicted in some old German painting, looking down upon the pigmy
fighting men of Israel.
As is generally the custom when there is a great deal to be arranged and
many points to be settled, days flew over, and very little of the future
system of the party was matured. Vivian made one or two ineffectual
struggles to bring the Marquess to a business-like habit of mind, but
his Lordship never dared to trust himself alone with Cleveland, and,
indeed, almost lost the power of speech when in presence of the future
leader of his party; so, in the morning, the Marquess played off the two
Lords and Sir Berdmore against his former friend, and then, to
compensate for not meeting Mr. Cleveland in the morning, he was
particularly courteous to him at dinner-time, and asked him always "how
he liked his ride?" and invariably took wine with him. As for the rest
of the day, he had particularly requested his faithful counsellor, Mrs.
Felix Lorraine, "for God's sake to take this man off his shoulders;" and
so that lady, with her usual kindness, and merely to oblige his
Lordship, was good enough to patronise Mr. Cleveland, and on the fourth
day was taking a moonlit walk with him.
Mr. Cleveland had now been ten days at Château Desir, and was to take
his departure the next morning for Wales, in order to arrange everything
for his immediate settlement in the metropolis. Every point of
importance was postponed until their meeting in London. Mr. Cleveland
only agreed to take the lead of the party in the Commons, and received
the personal pledge of Lord Courtown as to the promised office.
It was a September day, and to escape from the excessive heat of the
sun, and at the same time to enjoy the freshness of the air, Vivian was
writing his letters in the conservatory, which opened into one of the
drawing-rooms. The numerous party which then honoured the Château with
their presence were out, as he conceived, on a picnic excursion to the
Elfin's Well, a beautiful spot about ten miles off; and among the
adventurers were, as he imagined, Mrs. Felix Lorraine and Mr. Cleveland.
Vivian was rather surprised at hearing voices in the adjoining room, and
he was still more so when, on looking round, he found that the sounds
proceeded from the very two individuals whom he thought were far away.
Some tall American plants concealed him from their view, but he observed
all that passed distinctly, and a singular scene it was. Mrs. Felix
Lorraine was on her knees at the feet of Mr. Cleveland; her countenance
indicated the most contrary passions, contending, as it were, for
mastery; supplication, anger, and, shall I call it, love? Her
companion's countenance was hid, but it was evident that it was not
wreathed with smiles: there were a few hurried sentences uttered, and
then both quitted the room at different doors, the lady in despair, and
the gentleman in disgust.
And now Château Desir was almost deserted. Mrs. Million continued her
progress northward. The Courtowns, and the Beaconsfields, and the
Scropes quitted immediately after Mr. Cleveland; and when the families
that form the material of the visiting corps retire, the nameless
nothings that are always lounging about the country mansions of the
great, such as artists, tourists, authors, and other live stock, soon
disappear. Mr. Vivian Grey agreed to stay another fortnight, at the
particular request of the Marquess.
Very few days had passed ere Vivian was exceedingly struck at the
decided change which suddenly took place in his Lordship's general
demeanour towards him.
The Marquess grew reserved and uncommunicative, scarcely mentioning "the
great business" which had previously been the sole subject of his
conversation but to find fault with some arrangement, and exhibiting,
whenever his name was mentioned, a marked acrimony against Mr.
Cleveland. This rapid change alarmed as much as it astonished Vivian,
and he mentioned his feelings and observations to Mrs. Felix Lorraine.
That lady agreed with him that something certainly was wrong; but could
not, unfortunately, afford him any clue to the mystery. She expressed
the liveliest solicitude that any misunderstanding should be put an end
to, and offered her services for that purpose.
In spite, however, of her well-expressed anxiety, Vivian had his own
ideas on the subject; and, determined to unravel the affair, he had
recourse to the Marchioness.
"I hope your Ladyship is well to-day. I had a letter from Count Caumont
this morning. He tells me that he has got the prettiest poodle from
Paris that you can possibly conceive! waltzes like an angel, and acts
proverbs on its hind feet."
Her Ladyship's eyes glistened with admiration.
"I have told Caumont to send it me down immediately, and I shall then
have the pleasure of presenting it to your Ladyship."
Her Ladyship's eyes sparkled with delight.
"I think," continued Vivian, "I shall take a ride to-day. By-the-bye,
how is the Marquess? he seems in low spirits lately."
"Oh, Mr. Grey! I do not know what you have done to him," said her
Ladyship, settling at least a dozen bracelets; "but, but--"
"He thinks; he thinks."
"Thinks what, dear lady?"
"That you have entered into a combination, Mr. Grey."
"Entered into a combination!"
"Yes, Mr. Grey! a conspiracy, a conspiracy against the Marquess, with
Mr. Cleveland. He thinks that you have made him serve your purpose, and
now you are going to get rid of him."
"Well, that is excellent, and what else does he think?"
"He thinks you talk too loud," said the Marchioness, still working at
"Well! that is shockingly vulgar! Allow me to recommend your Ladyship to
alter the order of those bracelets, and place the blue and silver
against the maroon. You may depend upon it, that is the true Vienna
order. And what else dues the Marquess say?"
"He thinks you are generally too authoritative. Not that I think so, Mr.
Grey: I am sure your conduct to me has been most courteous. The blue and
silver next to the maroon, did you say? Yes; certainly it does look
better. I have no doubt the Marquess is quite wrong, and I dare say you
will set things right immediately. You will remember the pretty poodle,
Mr. Grey? and you will not tell the Marquess I mentioned anything."
"Oh! certainly not. I will give orders for them to book an inside place
for the poodle, and send him down by the coach immediately, I must be
off now. Remember the blue and silver next to the maroon. Good morning
to your Ladyship."
"Mrs. Felix Lorraine, I am your most obedient slave," said Vivian Grey,
as he met that lady on the landing-place. "I can see no reason why I
should not drive you this bright day to the Elfin's Well; we have long
had an engagement to go there."
The lady smiled a gracious assent: the pony phaeton was immediately
"How pleasant Lady Courtown and I used to discourse about martingales! I
think I invented one, did not I? Pray, Mrs. Felix Lorraine, can you tell
me what a martingale is? for upon my honour I have forgotten, or
"If you found a martingale for the mother, Vivian, it had been well if
you had found a curb for the daughter. Poor Cynthia! I had intended once
to advise the Marchioness to interfere; but one forgets these things."
"One does. O, Mrs. Felix!" exclaimed Vivian, "I told your admirable
story of the Leyden Professor to Mrs. Cleveland. It is universally
agreed to be the best ghost-story extant. I think you said you knew the
"Well! I have seen him often, and heard the story from his own lips.
And, as I mentioned before, far from being superstitious, he was an
esprit fort. Do you know, Mr. Grey, I have such an interesting packet
from Germany to-day; from my cousin, Baron Rodenstein. But I must keep
all the stories for the evening; come to my boudoir, and I will read
them to you. There is one tale which I am sure will make a convert even
of you. It happened to Rodenstein himself, and within these three
months," added the lady in a serious tone. "The Rodensteins are a
singular family. My mother was a Rodenstein. Do you think this
beautiful?" said Mrs. Felix, showing Vivian a small miniature which was
attached to a chain round her neck. It was the portrait of a youth
habited in the costume of a German student. His rich brown hair was
flowing over his shoulders, and his dark blue eyes beamed with such a
look of mysterious inspiration, that they might have befitted a
"Very, very beautiful!"
"'Tis Max, Max Rodenstein," said the lady, with a faltering voice. "He
was killed at Leipsic, at the head of a band of his friends and
fellow-students. O, Mr. Grey! this is a fair work of art, but if you had
but seen the prototype you would have gazed on this as on a dim and
washed-out drawing. There was one portrait, indeed, which did him more
justice; but then that portrait was not the production of
Vivian looked at his companion with a somewhat astonished air, but Mrs.
Felix Lorraine's countenance was as little indicative of jesting as that
of the young student whose miniature rested on her bosom.
"Did you say _not_ the production of a mortal hand, Mrs. Felix
"I am afraid I shall weary you with my stories, but the one I am about
to tell you is so well evidenced that I think even Mr. Vivian Grey will
hear it without a sneer."
"A sneer! O lady-love, do I ever sneer?"
"Max Rodenstein was the glory of his house. A being so beautiful in body
and in soul you cannot imagine, and I will not attempt to describe. This
miniature has given you some faint idea of his image, and yet this is
only the copy of a copy. The only wish of the Baroness Rodenstein, which
never could be accomplished, was the possession of a portrait of her
youngest son, for no consideration could induce Max to allow his
likeness to be taken. His old nurse had always told him that the moment
his portrait was taken he would die. The condition upon which such a
beautiful being was allowed to remain in the world was, she always said,
that his beauty should not be imitated. About three months before the
battle of Leipsic, when Max was absent at the University, which was
nearly four hundred miles from Rodenstein Castle, there arrived one
morning a large case directed to the Baroness. On opening it it was
found to contain a picture, the portrait of her son. The colouring was
so vivid, the general execution so miraculous, that for some moments
they forgot to wonder at the incident in their admiration of the work of
art. In one corner of the picture, in small characters yet fresh, was an
inscription, which on examining they found consisted of these words:
'Painted last night. Now, lady, thou hast thy wish.' My aunt sank into
the Baron's arms.
"In silence and in trembling the wonderful portrait was suspended over
the fireplace of my aunt's favourite apartment. The next day they
received letters from Max. He was quite well, but mentioned nothing of
the mysterious painting.
"Three months afterwards, as a lady was sitting alone in the Baroness's
room, and gazing on the portrait of him she loved right dearly, she
suddenly started from her seat, and would have shrieked, had not an
indefinable sensation prevented her. The eyes of the portrait moved. The
lady stood leaning on a chair, pale, and trembling like an aspen, but
gazing steadfastly on the animated portrait. It was no illusion of a
heated fancy; again the eyelids trembled, there was a melancholy smile,
and then they closed. The clock of Rodenstein Castle struck three.
Between astonishment and fear the lady was tearless. Three days
afterwards came the news of the battle of Leipsic, and at the very
moment that the eyes of the portrait closed Max Rodenstein had been
pierced by a Polish Lancer."
"And who was this wonderful lady, the witness of this wonderful
incident?" asked Vivian.
"That lady was myself."
There was something so singular in the tone of Mrs. Felix Lorraine's
voice, and so peculiar in the expression of her countenance, as she
uttered these words, that the jest died on Vivian's tongue; and, for
want of something better to do, he lashed the little ponies, which were
already scampering at their full speed.
The road to the Elfin's Well ran through the wildest parts of the park;
and after an hour and a half's drive they reached the fairy spot. It was
a beautiful and pellucid spring, that bubbled up in a small wild dell,
which, nurtured by the flowing stream, was singularly fresh and green.
Above the spring had been erected a Gothic arch of grey stone, round
which grew a few fine birch-trees. In short, nature had intended the
spot for picnics. There was fine water, and an interesting tradition;
and as the parties always bring, or always should bring, a trained
punster, champagne, and cold pasties, what more ought Nature to
"Come, Mrs. Lorraine, I will tie Gypsey to this ash, and then you and I
will rest ourselves beneath these birch-trees, just where the
"Now, truly, we should have some book of beautiful poetry to while away
an hour. You will blame me for not bringing one. Do not. I would sooner
listen to your voice; and, indeed, there is a subject on which I wish to
ask your particular advice."
"I have been thinking that this is a somewhat rash step of the Marquess;
this throwing himself into the arms of his former bitterest enemy,
"You really think so?"
"Why, Mrs. Lorraine, does it appear to you to be the most prudent course
of action which could have been conceived?"
"You agree with me, then, that there is, if not cause for regret at this
engagement, at least for reflection on its probable consequences?"
"I quite agree with you."
"I know you do. I have had some conversation with the Marquess upon this
subject this very morning."
"Have you?" eagerly exclaimed the lady, and she looked pale and breathed
"Ay; and he tells me you have made some very sensible observations on
the subject. 'Tis pity they were not made before Mr. Cleveland left; the
mischief might then have been prevented."
"I certainly have made some observations."
"And very kind of you. What a blessing for the Marquess to have such a
"I spoke to him," said Mrs. Felix, with a more assured tone, "in much
the same spirit as you have been addressing me. It does, indeed, seem a
most imprudent act, and I thought it my duty to tell him so."
"Ay, no doubt; but how came you, lady fair, to imagine that _I_ was also
a person to be dreaded by his Lordship; _I_, Vivian Grey!"
"Did I say _you_?" asked the lady, pale as death.
"Did you not, Mrs. Felix Lorraine? Have you not, regardless of my
interests, in the most unwarrantable and unjustifiable manner; have you
not, to gratify some private pique which you entertain against Mr.
Cleveland; have you not, I ask you, poisoned the Marquess' mind against
one who never did aught to you but what was kind and honourable?"
"I have been imprudent; I confess it; I have spoken somewhat loosely."
"Now. listen to me once more," and Vivian grasped her hand. "What has
passed between you and Mr. Cleveland it is not for me to inquire. I give
you my word of honour that he never even mentioned your name to me. I
can scarcely understand how any man could have incurred the deadly
hatred which you appear to entertain for him. I repeat, I can
contemplate no situation in which you could be placed together which
would justify such behaviour. It could not be justified, even if he had
spurned you while--kneeling at his feet."
Mrs. Felix Lorraine shrieked and fainted. A sprinkling from the fairy
stream soon recovered her. "Spare me! spare me!" she faintly cried: "say
nothing of what you have seen."
"Mrs. Lorraine, I have no wish. I have spoken thus explicitly that we
may not again misunderstand each other. I have spoken thus explicitly, I
say, that I may not be under the necessity of speaking again, for if I
speak again it must not be to Mrs. Felix Lorraine. There is my hand; and
now let the Elfin's Well be blotted out of our memories."
Vivian drove rapidly home, and endeavoured to talk in his usual tone and
with his usual spirit; but his companion could not be excited. Once, ay
twice, she pressed his hand, and as he assisted her from the phaeton she
murmured something like a blessing. She ran upstairs immediately. Vivian
had to give some directions about the ponies; Gipsey was ill, or Fanny
had a cold, or something of the kind; and so he was detained for about
a quarter of an hour before the house, speaking most learnedly to
grooms, and consulting on cases with a skilled gravity worthy of
When he entered the house he found the luncheon prepared, and Mrs. Felix
pressed him earnestly to take some refreshment. He was indeed wearied,
and agreed to take a glass of hock and seltzer.
"Let me mix it for you," said Mrs. Felix; "do you like sugar?"
Tired with his drive, Vivian Grey was leaning on the mantelpiece, with
his eyes vacantly gazing on the looking-glass which rested on the marble
slab. It was by pure accident that, reflected in the mirror, he
distinctly beheld Mrs. Felix Lorraine open a small silver box, and throw
some powder into the tumbler which she was preparing for him. She was
leaning down, with her back almost turned to the glass, but still Vivian
saw it distinctly. A sickness came over him, and ere he could recover
himself his Hebe tapped him on the shoulder.
"Here, drink, drink while it is effervescent."
"I cannot drink," said Vivian, "I am not thirsty; I am too hot; I am
"How foolish you are! It will be quite, spoiled."
"No, no; the dog shall have it. Here, Fidele, you look thirsty enough;
"Mr. Grey, I do not mix tumblers for dogs," said the lady, rather
agitated: "if you will not take it," and she held it once more before
him, "here it goes for ever." So saying she emptied the tumbler into a
large globe of glass, in which some gold and silver fish were swimming
their endless rounds.
This last specimen of Mrs. Felix Lorraine was somewhat too much even for
the steeled nerves of Vivian Grey, and he sought his chamber for relief.
"Is it possible? Can I believe my senses? Or has some demon, as we read
of in old tales, mocked me in a magic mirror? I can believe anything.
Oh! my heart is very sick! I once imagined that I was using this woman
for my purpose. Is it possible that aught of good can come to one who
is forced to make use of such evil instruments as these? A horrible
thought sometimes comes over my spirit. I fancy that in this mysterious
foreigner, that in this woman, I have met a kind of double of myself.
The same wonderful knowledge of the human mind, the same sweetness of
voice, the same miraculous management which has brought us both under
the same roof: yet do I find her the most abandoned of all beings; a
creature guilty of that which, even in this guilty age, I thought was
obsolete. And is it possible that I am like her? that I can resemble
her? that even the indefinite shadow of my most unhallowed thought can
for a moment be as vile as her righteousness? O God! the system of my
existence seems to stop. I cannot breathe." He flung himself upon his
bed, and felt for a moment as if he had quaffed the poisoned draught so
"It is not so; it cannot be so; it shall not be so! In seeking the
Marquess I was unquestionably impelled by a mere feeling of
self-interest; but I have advised him to no course of action in which
his welfare is not equally consulted with my own. Indeed, if not
principle, interest would make me act faithfully towards him, for my
fortunes are bound up in his. But am I entitled, I, who can lose
nothing, am I entitled to play with other men's fortunes? Am I all this
time deceiving myself with some wretched sophistry? Am I, then, an
intellectual Don Juan, reckless of human minds, as he was of human
bodies; a spiritual libertine? But why this wild declamation? Whatever I
have done, it is too late to recede; even this very moment delay is
destruction, for now it is not a question as to the ultimate prosperity
of our worldly prospects, but the immediate safety of our very bodies.
Poison! O God! O God! Away with all fear, all repentance, all thought of
past, all reckoning of future. If I be the Juan that I fancied myself,
then Heaven be praised! I have a confidant in all my troubles; the most
faithful of counsellors, the craftiest of valets; a Leporello often
tried and never found wanting: my own good mind. And now, thou female
fiend! the battle is to the strongest; and I see right well that the
struggle between two such spirits will be a long and a fearful one. Woe,
I say, to the vanquished! You must be dealt with by arts which even
yourself cannot conceive. Your boasted knowledge of human nature shall
not again stand you in stead; for, mark me, from henceforward Vivian
Grey's conduct towards you shall have no precedent in human nature."
As Vivian re-entered the drawing-room he met a servant carrying in the
globe of gold and silver fishes.
"What, still in your pelisse, Mrs. Lorraine!" said Vivian. "Nay, I
hardly wonder at it, for surely, a prettier pelisse never yet fitted
prettier form. You have certainly a most admirable taste in dress; and
this the more surprises me, for it is generally your plain personage
that is the most recherché in frills and fans and flounces."
The lady smiled.
"Oh! by-the-bye," continued her companion, "I have a letter from
Cleveland this morning. I wonder how any misunderstanding could possibly
have existed between you, for he speaks of you in such terms."
"What does he say?" was the quick question.
"Oh! what does he say?" drawled out Vivian; and he yawned, and was most
"Come, come, Mr. Grey, do tell me."
"Oh! tell you, certainly. Come, let us walk together in the
conservatory:" so saying, he took the lady by the hand, and they
left the room.
"And now for the letter, Mr. Grey."
"Ay, now for the letter;" and Vivian slowly drew an epistle from his
pocket, and therefrom read some exceedingly sweet passages, which made
Mrs. Felix Lorraine's very heart-blood tingle. Considering that Vivian
Grey had never in his life received a single letter from Mr. Cleveland,
this was tolerably well: but he was always an admirable improvisatore!
"I am sure that when Cleveland comes to town everything will be
explained; I am sure, at least, that it will not be my fault if you are
not the best friends. I am heroic in saying all this, Mrs. Lorraine;
there was a time when (and here Vivian seemed so agitated that he could
scarcely proceed), there was a time when I could have called that man
liar who would have prophesied that Vivian Grey could have assisted
another in riveting the affections of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. But enough of
this. I am a weak, inexperienced boy, and misinterpret, perhaps, that
which is merely the compassionate kindness natural to all women into a
feeling of a higher nature. But I must learn to contain myself; I really
do feel quite ashamed of my behaviour about the tumbler to-day. To act
with such, unwarrantable unkindness, merely because I had remembered
that you once performed the same kind office for Colonel Delmington, was
indeed too bad."
"Colonel Delmington is a vain, empty-headed fool. Do not think of him,
my dear Mr. Grey," said Mrs. Felix, with a countenance beaming
"Well, I will not; and I will try to behave like a man; like a man of
the world, I should say. But indeed you must excuse the warm feelings of
a youth; and truly, when I call to mind the first days of our
acquaintance, and then remember that our moonlit walks are gone for
ever, and that our--"
"Nay, do not believe so, my dear Vivian; believe me, as I ever shall be.
your friend, your--"
"I will, I will, my dear, my own Amalia!"
It was an autumnal night; the wind was capricious and changeable as a
petted beauty, or an Italian greyhound, or a shot silk. Now the breeze
blew so fresh that the white clouds dashed along the sky as if they bore
a band of witches too late for their Sabbath meeting, or some other
mischief; and now, lulled and soft as the breath of a slumbering infant,
you might almost have fancied it Midsummer Eve; and the bright moon,
with her starry court, reigned undisturbed in the light blue sky. Vivian
Grey was leaning against an old beech-tree in the most secluded part of
the park, and was gazing on the moon.
O thou bright moon! thou object of my first love! thou shalt not escape
an invocation, although perchance at this very moment some varlet
sonnetteer is prating of "the boy Endymion" and "thy silver bow." Here
to thee, Queen of the Night! in whatever name thou most delightest! Or
Bendis, as they hailed thee in rugged Thrace; or Bubastis, as they
howled to thee in mysterious Egypt; or Dian, as they sacrificed to thee
in gorgeous Rome; or Artemis, as they sighed to thee on the bright
plains of ever glorious Greece! Why is it that all men gaze on thee? Why
is it that all men love thee? Why is it that all men worship thee?
Shine on, shine on, sultana of the soul! the Passions are thy eunuch
slaves, Ambition gazes on thee, and his burning brow is cooled, and his
fitful pulse is calm. Grief wanders in her moonlit walk and sheds no
tear; and when thy crescent smiles the lustre of Joy's revelling eye is
dusked. Quick Anger, in thy light, forgets revenge; and even dove-eyed
Hope feeds on no future joys when gazing on the miracle of thy beauty.
Shine on, shine on! although a pure Virgin, thou art the mighty mother
of all abstraction! The eye of the weary peasant returning from his
daily toil, and the rapt gaze of the inspired poet, are alike fixed on
thee; thou stillest the roar of marching armies, and who can doubt thy
influence o'er the waves who has witnessed the wide Atlantic sleeping
under thy silver beam?
Shine on, shine on! they say thou art Earth's satellite; yet when I gaze
on thee my thoughts are not of thy suzerain. They teach us that thy
power is a fable, and that thy divinity is a dream. Oh, thou bright
Queen! I will be no traitor to thy sweet authority; and verily, I will
not believe that thy influence o'er our hearts is, at this moment, less
potent than when we worshipped in thy glittering fane of Ephesus, or
trembled at the dark horrors of thine Arician rites. Then, hail to thee,
Queen of the Night! Hail to thee, Diana, Triformis; Cynthia, Orthia,
Taurica; ever mighty, ever lovely, ever holy! Hail! hail! hail!
Were I a metaphysician, I would tell you why Vivian Grey had been gazing
two hours on the moon; for I could then present you with a most logical
programme of the march of his ideas, since he whispered his last honied
speech in the ear of Mrs. Felix Lorraine, at dinner-time, until this
very moment, when he did not even remember that such a being as Mrs.
Felix Lorraine breathed. Glory to the metaphysician's all-perfect
theory! When they can tell me why, at a bright banquet, the thought of
death has flashed across my mind, who fear not death; when they can tell
me why, at the burial of my beloved friend, when my very heart-strings
seemed bursting, my sorrow has been mocked by the involuntary
remembrance of ludicrous adventures and grotesque tales; when they can
tell me why, in a dark mountain pass, I have thought of an absent
woman's eyes; or why, when in the very act of squeezing the third lime
into a beaker of Burgundy cup, my memory hath been of lean apothecaries
and their vile drugs; why then, I say again, glory to the
metaphysician's all-perfect theory! and fare you well, sweet world, and
you, my merry masters, whom, perhaps, I have studied somewhat too
cunningly: nosce teipsum shall be my motto. I will doff my travelling
cap, and on with the monk's cowl.
There are mysterious moments in some men's lives when the faces of human
beings are very agony to them, and when the sound of the human voice is
jarring as discordant music. These fits are not the consequence of
violent or contending passions: they grow not out of sorrow, or joy, or
hope, or fear, or hatred, or despair. For in the hour of affliction the
tones of our fellow-creatures are ravishing as the most delicate lute;
and in the flush moment of joy where is the smiler who loves not a
witness to his revelry or a listener to his good fortune? Fear makes us
feel our humanity, and then we fly to men, and Hope is the parent of
kindness. The misanthrope and the reckless are neither agitated nor
agonised. It is in these moments that men find in Nature that
congeniality of spirit which they seek for in vain in their own species.
It is in these moments that we sit by the side of a waterfall and listen
to its music the live-long day. It is in these moments that men gaze
upon the moon. It is in these moments that Nature becomes our Egeria;
and, refreshed and renovated by this beautiful communion, we return to
the world better enabled to fight our parts in the hot war of passions,
to perform the great duties for which man appeared to have been created,
to love, to hate, to slander, and to slay.
It was past midnight, and Vivian was at a considerable distance from the
Château. He proposed entering by a side door, which led into the
billiard-room, and from thence, crossing the Long Gallery, he could
easily reach his apartment without disturbing any of the household. His
way led through the little gate at which he had parted with Mrs. Felix
Lorraine on the first day of their meeting.
As he softly opened the door which led into the Long Gallery he found he
was not alone: leaning against one of the casements was a female. Her
profile was to Vivian as he entered, and the moon, which shone bright
through the window, lit up a countenance which he might be excused for
not immediately recognising as that of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. She was
gazing steadfastly, but her eye did not seem fixed upon any particular
object. Her features appeared convulsed, but their contortions were not
momentary, and, pale as death, a hideous grin seemed chiselled on her
Vivian scarcely knew whether to stay or to retire. Desirous not to
disturb her, he determined not even to breathe; and, as is generally the
case, his very exertions to be silent made him nervous, and to save
himself from being stifled he coughed.
Mrs. Lorraine immediately started and stared wildly around her, and when
her eye caught Vivian's there was a sound in her throat something like
"Who are you?" she eagerly asked.
"A friend, and Vivian Grey."
"How came you here?" and she rushed forward and wildly seized his hand,
and then she muttered to herself, "'tis flesh."
"I have been playing, I fear, the mooncalf to-night; and find that,
though I am a late watcher, I am not a solitary one."
Mrs. Lorraine stared earnestly at him, and then she endeavoured to
assume her usual expression of countenance; but the effort was too much
for her. She dropped Vivian's arm, and buried her face in her own hands.
Vivian was retiring, when she again looked up. "Where are you going?"
she asked, with a quick voice.
"To sleep, as I would advise all: 'tis much past midnight."
"You say not the truth. The brightness of your eye belies the sentence
of your tongue. You are not for sleep."
"Pardon me, dear Mrs. Lorraine; I really have been yawning for the last
hour," said Vivian, and he moved on.
"You are speaking to one who takes her answer from the eye, which does
not deceive, and from the speaking lineaments of the face, which are
Truth's witnesses. Keep your voice for those who can credit man's words.
You will go, then? What! are you afraid of a woman, because 'tis past
midnight,' and you are in an old gallery?"
"Fear, Mrs. Lorraine, is not a word in my vocabulary."
"The words in your vocabulary are few, boy! as are the years of your
age. He who sent you here this night sent you here not to slumber. Come
hither!" and she led Vivian to the window: "what see you?"
"I see Nature at rest, Mrs. Lorraine; and I would fain follow the
example of beasts, birds, and fishes."
"Yet gaze upon this scene one second. See the distant hills, how
beautifully their rich covering is tinted with the moonbeam! These
nearer fir-trees, how radiantly their black skeleton forms are tipped
with silver; and the old and thickly foliaged oaks bathed in light! and
the purple lake reflecting in its lustrous bosom another heaven? la it
not a fair scene?"
"Beautiful! most beautiful!"
"Yet, Vivian, where is the being for whom all this beauty exists? Where
is your mighty creature, Man? The peasant on his rough couch enjoys,
perchance, slavery's only service-money, sweet sleep; or, waking in the
night, curses at the same time his lot and his lord. And that lord is
restless on some downy couch; his night thoughts, not of this sheeny
lake and this bright moon, but of some miserable creation of man's
artifice, some mighty nothing, which Nature knows not of, some offspring
of her bastard child, Society. Why, then, is Nature loveliest when man
looks not on her? For whom, then, Vivian Grey, is this scene so fair?"
"For poets, lady; for philosophers; for all those superior spirits who
require some relaxation from the world's toils; spirits who only
commingle with humanity on the condition that they may sometimes commune
"Superior spirits! say you?" and here they paced the gallery. "When
Valerian, first Lord Carabas, raised this fair castle; when, profuse for
his posterity, all the genius of Italian art and Italian artists was
lavished on this English palace; when the stuffs and statues, the
marbles and the mirrors, the tapestry, and the carvings, and the
paintings of Genoa, and Florence, and Venice, and Padua, and Vicenza,
were obtained by him at miraculous cost, and with still more miraculous
toil; what think you would have been his sensations If, while his soul
was revelling in the futurity of his descendants keeping their state in
this splendid pile, some wizard had foretold to him that, ere three
centuries could elapse, the fortunes of his mighty family would be the
sport of two individuals; one of them a foreigner, unconnected in blood,
or connected only in hatred; and the other a young adventurer alike
unconnected with his race, in blood or in love; a being ruling all
things by the power of his own genius, and reckless of all consequences
save his own prosperity? If the future had been revealed to my great
ancestor, the Lord Valerian, think you, Vivian Grey, that you and I
should be walking in this Long Gallery?"
"Really, Mrs. Lorraine, I have been so interested in discovering what
people think in the nineteenth century, that I have had but little time
to speculate on the possible opinions of an old gentleman who flourished
in the sixteenth."
"You may sneer, sir; but I ask you, if there are spirits so superior to
that of the slumbering Lord of this castle as those of Vivian Grey and
Amelia Lorraine, why may there not be spirits proportionately superior
to our own?"
"If you are keeping me from my bed, Mrs. Lorraine, merely to lecture my
conceit by proving that there are in this world wiser heads than that of
Vivian Grey, on my honour you are giving yourself a great deal of
"You will misunderstand me, then, you wilful boy!"
"Nay, lady, I will not affect to misunderstand your meaning; but I
recognise, you know full well, no intermediate essence between my own
good soul and that ineffable and omnipotent spirit in whose existence
philosophers and priests alike agree."
"Omnipotent and ineffable essence! Leave such words to scholars and to
school-boys! And think you that such indefinite nothings, such unmeaning
abstractions, can influence beings whose veins are full of blood,
bubbling like this?" And here she grasped Vivian with a feverish hand.
"Omnipotent and ineffable essence! Oh! I have lived in a land where
every mountain, and every stream, and every wood, and every ruin, has
its legend and its peculiar spirit; a land in whose dark forests the
midnight hunter, with his spirit-shout, scares the slumbers of the
trembling serf; a land from whose winding rivers the fair-haired Undine
welcomes the belated traveller to her fond and fatal embrace; and you
talk to me of omnipotent and ineffable essence! Miserable Mocker! It is
not true, Vivian Grey; you are but echoing the world's deceit, and even
at this hour of the night you dare not speak as you do think. You
worship no omnipotent and ineffable essence; you believe in no
omnipotent and ineffable essence. Shrined in this secret chamber of your
soul there is an image before which you bow down in adoration, and that
image is YOURSELF. And truly, when I do gaze upon your radiant eyes,"
and here the lady's tone became more terrestrial; "and truly, when I do
look upon your luxuriant curls," and here the lady's small white hand
played like lightning through Vivian's dark hair; "and truly, when I do
remember the beauty of your all-perfect form, I cannot deem your
self-worship a false idolatry," and here the lady's arms were locked
round Vivian's neck, and her head rested on his bosom.
"Oh, Amalia! it would lie far better for you to rest here than to think
of that of which the knowledge is vanity."
"Vanity!" shrieked Mrs. Lorraine, and she violently loosened her
embrace, and extricated herself from the arm which, rather in courtesy
than in kindness, had been wound round her delicate waist: "Vanity! Oh!
if you knew but what I know, oh! if you had but seen what I have seen;"
and here her voice failed her, and she stood motionless in the
moonshine, with averted head and outstretched arms.
"Amalia! this is madness; for Heaven's sake calm yourself!"
"Calm myself! Yes, it is madness; very, very madness! 'tis the madness
of the fascinated bird; 'tis the madness of the murderer who is
voluntarily broken on the wheel; 'tis the madness of the fawn that gazes
with adoration on the lurid glare of the anaconda's eye; 'tis the
madness of woman who flies to the arms of her Fate;" and here she sprang
like a tigress round Vivian's neck, her long light hair bursting from
its bands, and clustering down her shoulders.
And here was Vivian Grey, at past midnight, in this old gallery, with
this wild woman clinging round his neck. The figures in the ancient
tapestry looked living in the moon, and immediately opposite him was one
compartment of some old mythological tale, in which were represented,
grinning, in grim majesty, the Fates.
The wind now rose again, and the clouds which had vanished began to
reassemble in the heavens. As the blue sky was gradually covering, the
gigantic figures of Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos became as gradually
dimmer and dimmer, and the grasp of Vivian's fearful burden looser and
looser. At last the moon was entirely hid, the figures of the Fates
vanished, and Mrs. Felix Lorraine sank lifeless into his arms.
Vivian groped his way with difficulty to the nearest window, the very
one at which she was leaning when he first entered the gallery. He
played with her wild curls; he whispered to her in a voice sweeter than
the sweetest serenade; but she only raised her eyes from his breast and
stared wildly at him, and then clung round his neck with, if possible, a
For nearly half an hour did Vivian stand leaning against the window,
with his mystic and motionless companion. At length the wind again fell;
there was a break in the sky, and a single star appeared in the midst of
the clouds, surrounded with a little heaven of azure.
"See there, see there!" the lady cried, and then she unlocked her arms.
"What would you give, Vivian Grey, to read that star?"
"Am I more interested in that star, Amalia, than in any other of the
bright host?" asked Vivian with a serious tone, for he thought it
necessary to humour his companion.
"Are you not? is it not the star of your destiny?"
"Are you learned in all the learning of the Chaldeans, too?"
"Oh, no, no, no!" slowly murmured Mrs. Lorraine, and then she started:
but Vivian seized her arms, and prevented her from again clasping
"I must keep these pretty hands close prisoners," he said, smiling,
"unless you promise to behave with more moderation. Come, my Amalia! you
shall be my instructress! Why am I so interested in this brilliant
star?" and holding her hands in one of his, he wound his arm round her
waist, and whispered her such words as he thought might calm her
troubled spirit. The wildness of her eyes gradually gave way; at length
she raised them to Vivian with a look of meek tenderness, and her head
sank upon his breast.
"It shines, it shines, it shines, Vivian!" she softly whispered; "glory
to thee and woe to me! Nay, you need not hold my hands; I will not harm
you. I cannot: 'tis no use. O Vivian! when we first met, how little did
I know to whom I pledged myself!"
"Amalia, forget these wild fancies; estrange yourself from the wild
belief which has exercised so baneful an influence, not only over your
mind, but over the very soul of the land from which you come. Recognise
in me only your friend, and leave the other world to those who value it
more, or more deserve it. Does not this fair earth contain sufficient of
interest and enjoyment?"
"O Vivian! you speak with a sweet voice, but with a sceptic's spirit.
You know not what I know."
"Tell me, then, my Amalia; let me share your secrets, provided they be
"Almost within this hour, and in this park, there has happened that
which--" and here her voice died, and she looked fear-fully round her.
"Nay, fear not; no one can harm you here, no one shall harm you. Rest
upon me, and tell me all thy grief."
"I dare not, I cannot tell you."
"Nay, thou shalt."
"I cannot speak; your eye scares me. Are you mocking me? I cannot speak
if you look so at me."
"I will not look on you; I will gaze on yonder star. Now speak on."
"O Vivian, there is a custom in my native land: the world calls it an
unhallowed one; you, in your proud spirit, will call it a vain one. But
you would not deem it vain if you were the woman now resting on your
bosom. At certain hours of particular nights, and with peculiar
ceremonies, which I need not here mention, we do believe that in a lake
or other standing water fate reveals itself to the solitary votary. O
Vivian, I have been too long a searcher after this fearful science; and
this very night, agitated in spirit, I sought yon water. The wind was in
the right direction, and everything concurred in favouring a propitious
divination. I knelt down to gaze on the lake. I had always been
accustomed to view my own figure performing some future action, or
engaged in some future scene of my life. I gazed, but I saw nothing but
a brilliant star. I looked up into the heavens, but the star was not
there, and the clouds were driving quick across the sky. More than
usually agitated by this singular occurrence, I gazed once more; and
just at the moment when with breathless and fearful expectation I waited
the revelation of my immediate destiny there flitted a figure across the
water. It was there only for the breathing of u second, and as it passed
it mocked me." Here Mrs. Lorraine writhed in Vivian's arms; her features
were moulded in the same unnatural expression as when he first entered
the gallery, and the hideous grin was again sculptured on her
countenance. Her whole frame was in such a state of agitation that she
rose up and down in Vivian's arms, and it was only with the exertions of
his whole strength that he could retain her.
"Why, Amalia, this, this was nothing; your own figure."
"No, not my own; it was yours!"
Uttering a piercing shriek, which echoed through the winding gallery,
Vivian gazed on her in a state of momentary stupefaction, for the
extraordinary scene had begun to influence his own nerves. And now he
heard the tread of distant feet, and a light shone through the key-hole
of the nearest door. The fearful shriek had alarmed some of the
household. What was to be done? In desperation Vivian caught the lady up
in his arms, and dashing out of an opposite door bore her to
What is this chapter to be about? Come, I am inclined to be courteous!
You shall choose the subject of it. What shall it be, sentiment or
scandal? a love-scene or a lay sermon? You will not choose? Then we must
open the note which Vivian, in the morning, found on his pillow:--
"Did you hear the horrid shriek last night? It must have disturbed every
one. I think it must have been one of the South American birds which
Captain Tropic gave the Marchioness. Do not they sometimes favour the
world with these nocturnal shriekings? Is not there a passage in Spix
apropos to this? A----."
"Did you hear the shriek last night, Mr. Grey?" asked the Marchioness,
as Vivian entered the breakfast-room.
"Oh, yes! Mr. Grey, did you hear the shriek?" asked Miss Graves.
"Who did not?"
"What could it be?" said the Marchioness.
"What could it be?" said Miss Graves.
"What should it be; a cat in a gutter, or a sick cow, or a toad dying to
be devoured, Miss Graves?"
Always snub toadeys and led captains. It is only your greenhorns who
endeavour to make their way by fawning and cringing to every member of
the establishment. It is a miserable mistake. No one likes his
dependants to be treated with respect, for such treatment affords an
unpleasant contrast to his own conduct. Besides, it makes the toadey's
blood unruly. There are three persons, mind you, to be attended to: my
lord, or my lady, as the case may be (usually the latter), the pet
daughter, and the pet dog. I throw out these hints en passant, for my
principal objects in writing this work are to amuse myself and to
instruct society. In some future hook, probably the twentieth or
twenty-fifth, when the plot logins to wear threadbare, and we can afford
a digression. I may give a chapter on Domestic Tactics.
"My dear Marchioness," continued Vivian, "see there: I have kept my
promise, there is your bracelet. How is Julie to-day?"
"Poor dear, I hope she is better."
"Oh! yes, poor Julie I think she is better."
"I do not know that, Miss Graves," said her Ladyship, somewhat tartly,
not at all approving of a toadey thinking. "I am afraid that scream
last night must have disturbed her. O dear, Mr. Grey, I am afraid she
will be ill again."
Miss Graves looked mournful, and lifted up her eyes and hands to Heaven,
but did not dare to speak this time.
"I thought she looked a little heavy about the eyes this morning," said
the Marchioness, apparently very agitated; "and I have heard from
Eglamour this post; he is not well, too; I think everybody is ill now;
he has caught a fever going to see the ruins of Paestum. I wonder why
people go to see ruins!"
"I wonder, indeed," said Miss Graves; "I never could see anything in a
"O, Mr. Grey!" continued the Marchioness, "I really am afraid Julie is
going to be very ill."
"Let Miss Graves pull her tail and give her a little mustard seed: she
will be better tomorrow."
"Remember that, Miss Graves."
"Oh! y-e-s, my Lady!"
"Mrs. Felix," said the Marchioness, as that lady entered the room, "you
are late to-day; I always reckon upon you as a supporter of an early
breakfast at Desir."
"I have been half round the park."
"Did you hear the scream, Mrs. Felix?"
"Do you know what it was, Marchioness?"
"No: do you?"
"See the reward of early rising and a walk before breakfast. It was one
of your new American birds, and it has half torn down your aviary."
"One of the new Americans? O the naughty thing; and has it broken the
new fancy wirework?"
Here a little odd-looking, snuffy old man, with a brown scratch wig, who
had been very busily employed the whole breakfast-time with a cold game
pie, the bones of which Vivian observed him most scientifically pick and
polish, laid down his knife and fork, and addressed the Marchioness with
an air of great interest.
"Pray, will your Ladyship have the goodness to inform me what bird this
The Marchioness looked astounded at any one presuming to ask her a
question; and then she drawled, "Mr. Grey, you know everything; tell
this gentleman what some bird is."
Now this gentleman was Mr. Mackaw, the most celebrated ornithologist
extant, and who had written a treatise on Brazilian parroquets, in three
volumes folio. He had arrived late at the Château the preceding night,
and, although he had the honour of presenting his letter of introduction
to the Marquess, this morning was the first time he had been seen by any
of the party present, who were of course profoundly ignorant of his
"Oh! we were talking of some South American bird given to the
Marchioness by the famous Captain Tropic; you know him, perhaps;
Bolivar's brother-in-law, or aide-de-camp, or something of that kind;
and which screams so dreadfully at night that the whole family is
disturbed. The Chowchowtow it is called; is not it, Mrs. Lorraine?"
"The Chowchowtow!" said Mr. Mackaw; "I don't know it by that name."
"Do not you? I dare say we shall find an account of it in Spix,
however," said Vivian, rising, and taking a volume from the book-case;
"ay! here it is; I will read it to you."
"'The Chowchowtow is about five feet seven inches in height from the
point of the bill to the extremity of the claws. Its plumage is of a
dingy, yellowish white; its form is elegant, and in its movements and
action a certain pleasing and graceful dignity is observable; but its
head is by no means worthy of the rest of its frame; and the expression
of its eye is indicative of the cunning and treachery of its character.
The habits of this bird are peculiar: occasionally most easily
domesticated, it is apparently sensible of the slightest kindness; but
its regard cannot be depended upon, and for the slightest inducement, or
with the least irritation, it will fly at its feeder. At other times it
seeks perfect solitude, and can only be captured with the utmost skill
and perseverance. It generally feeds three times a day, but its appetite
is not rapacious; it sleeps little, is usually on the wing at sunrise,
and proves that it slumbers but little in the night by its nocturnal and
"What an extraordinary bird! Is that the bird you meant, Mrs. Felix
Mr. Mackaw was restless the whole time that Vivian was reading this
interesting passage. At last he burst forth with an immense deal of
science and a great want of construction, a want which scientific men
often experience, always excepting those mealy-mouthed professors who
lecture "at the Royal," and get patronised by the blues, the Lavoisiers
of May Fair!
"Chowchowtow, my Lady! five feet seven inches high! Brazilian bird! When
I just remind your Ladyship that the height of the tallest bird to be
found in Brazil, and in mentioning this fact, I mention nothing
hypothetical, the tallest bird does not stand higher than four feet
nine. Chowchowtow! Dr. Spix is a name, accurate traveller, don't
remember the passage, most singular bird! Chowchowtow! don't know it by
that name. Perhaps your Ladyship is not aware; I think you called that
gentleman Mr. Grey; perhaps Mr. Grey is not aware, that I am Mr. Mackaw,
I arrived late here last night, whose work in three volumes folio, on
Brazilian Parroquets, although I had the honour of seeing his Lordship.
is, I trust, a sufficient evidence that I am not speaking at random on
this subject; and consequently, from the lateness of the hour, could not
have the honour of being introduced to your Ladyship."
"Mr. Mackaw!" thought Vivian. "The deuce you are! Oh! why did I not say
a Columbian cassowary, or a Peruvian penguin, or a Chilian condor, or a
Guatemalan goose, or a Mexican mastard; anything but Brazilian. Oh!
unfortunate Vivian Grey!"
The Marchioness, who was quite overcome with this scientific appeal,
raised her large, beautiful, sleepy eyes from a delicious compound of
French roll and new milk, which she was working up in a Sèvre saucer for
Julie; and then, as usual, looked to Vivian for assistance.
"Mr. Grey, you know everything; tell Mr. Mackaw about a bird."
"Is there any point on which you differ from Spix in his account of the
Chowchowtow, Mr. Mackaw?"
"My dear sir, I don't follow him at all. Dr. Spix is a most excellent
man, a most accurate traveller, quite a name; but, to be sure, I've only
read his work in our own tongue; and I fear from the passage you have
just quoted, five feet seven inches high! in Brazil! it must be an
imperfect version. I say, that four feet nine is the greatest height I
know. I don't speak without some foundation for my statement. The only
bird I know above that height is the Paraguay cassowary; which, to be
sure, is sometimes found in Brazil. But the description of your bird,
Mr. Grey, does not answer that at all. I ought to know. I do not speak
at random. The only living specimen of that extraordinary bird, the
Paraguay cassowary, in this country, is in my possession. It was sent me
by Bompland, and was given to him by the Dictator of Paraguay himself. I
call it, in compliment, Doctor Francia. I arrived here so late last
night, only saw his Lordship, or I would have had it on the lawn
"Oh, then, Mr. Mackaw," said Vivian, "that was the bird which screamed
"Oh, yes! oh, yes! Mr. Mackaw," said Mrs. Felix Lorraine.
"Lady Carabas!" continued Vivian, "it is found out. It is Mr. Mackaw's
particular friend, his family physician, whom he always travels with,
that awoke us all last night."
"Is he a foreigner?" asked the Marchioness, looking up.
"My dear Mr. Grey, impossible! the Doctor never screams."
"Oh! Mr. Mackaw, Mr. Mackaw!" said Vivian.
"Oh! Mr. Mackaw, Mr. Mackaw!" said Mrs. Felix Lorraine.
"I tell you he never screams," reiterated the man of science; "I tell
you he can't scream; he's muzzled."
"Oh, then, it must Have been the Chowchowtow."
"Yes, I think it must have been the Chowchowtow."
"I should very much like to hear Spix's description again," said Mr.
Mackaw, "only I fear it is troubling you too much, Mr. Grey."
"Read it yourself, my dear sir," said Vivian, putting the book into his
hand, which was the third volume of Tremaine.
Mr. Mackaw looked at the volume, and turned it over, and sideways, and
upside downwards: the brain of a man who has written three folios on
parroquets is soon puzzled. At first, he thought the book was a novel;
but then, an essay on predestination, under the title of Memoirs of a
Man of Refinement, rather puzzled him; then he mistook it for an Oxford
reprint of Pearson on the Creed; and then he stumbled on rather a warm
scene in an old Château in the South of France.
Before Mr. Mackaw could gain the power of speech the door opened, and
entered, who? Dr. Francia.
Mr. Mackaw's travelling companion possessed the awkward accomplishment
of opening doors, and now strutted in, in quest of his beloved master.
Affection for Mr. Mackaw was not, however, the only cause which induced
The household of Château Desir, unused to cassowaries, had neglected to
supply Dr. Francia with his usual breakfast, which consisted of half a
dozen pounds of rump steaks, a couple of bars of hard iron, some pig
lead, and brown stout. The consequence was, the Dictator was
All the ladies screamed; and then Mrs. Felix Lorraine admired the
Doctor's violet neck, and the Marchioness looked with an anxious eye on
Julie, and Miss Graves, as in duty bound, with an anxious eye on the
There stood the Doctor, quite still, with his large yellow eye fixed on
Mr. Mackaw. At length he perceived the cold pasty, and his little black
wings began to flutter on the surface of his immense body.
"Che, che, che, che!" said the ornithologist, who did not like the
symptoms at all: "Che, che, che, che, don't be frightened, ladies! you
see he's muzzled; che, che, che, che, now, my dear doctor, now, now,
now, Franky, Franky, Franky, now go away, go away, that's a dear doctor,
che, che, che, che!"
But the large yellow eye grew more flaming and fiery, and the little
black wings grew larger and larger; and now the left leg was dashed to
and fro with a fearful agitation. Mackaw looked agonised. What a whirr!
Francia is on the table! All shriek, the chairs tumble over the
ottomans, the Sèvre china is in a thousand pieces, the muzzle is torn
off and thrown at Miss Graves; Mackaw's wig is dashed in the clotted
cream, and devoured on the spot; and the contents of the boiling urn are
poured over the beauteous and beloved Julie!
THE HONOURABLE CYNTHIA COURTOWN TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.
"Alburies, Oct. 18--.
"We have now been at Alburies for a fortnight. Nothing can be more
delightful. Here is everybody in the world that I wish to see, except
yourself. The Knightons, with as many outriders as usual: Lady Julia and
myself are great allies; I like her amazingly. The Marquess of Grandgoût
arrived here last week, with a most delicious party; all the men who
write 'John Bull.' I was rather disappointed at the first sight of
Stanislaus Hoax. I had expected, I do not know why, something juvenile
and squibbish, when lo! I was introduced to a corpulent individual, with
his coat buttoned up to his chin, looking dull, gentlemanlike, and
apoplectic. However, on acquaintance, he came out quite rich, sings
delightfully, and improvises like a prophet, ten thousand times more
entertaining than Pistrucci. We are sworn friends; and I know all the
secret history of 'John Bull.' There is not much, to be sure, that you
did not tell me yourself; but still there are some things. I must not
trust them, however, to paper, and therefore pray dash down to Alburies
immediately; I shall be most happy to introduce you to Lord Devildrain.
There _was_ an interview. What think you of that? Stanislaus told me
all, circumstantially, and after dinner; I do not doubt that it is quite
true. What would you give for the secret history of the 'rather yellow,
rather yellow,' chanson? I dare not tell it you. It came from a quarter
that will quite astound you, and in a very elegant, small, female hand.
You remember Lambton did stir very awkwardly in the Lisbon business.
Stanislaus wrote all the songs that appeared in the first number, except
that; but he never wrote a single line of prose for the first three
months: it all came from Vivida Vis.
"I like the Marquess of Grandgoût so much! I hope he will be elevated in
the peerage: he looks as if he wanted it so! Poor dear man!"
"Oh! do you know I have discovered a liaison between Bull and
Blackwood. I am to be in the next Noctes; I forget the words of the
chorus exactly, but Courtown is to rhyme with port down, or something of
that kind, and then they are to dash their glasses over their heads,
give three cheers, and adjourn to whisky-toddy and the Chaldee chamber.
"The Prima Donnas are at Cheltenham, looking most respectable. Do you
ever see the 'Age'? It is not proper for me to take it in. Pray send me
down your numbers, and tell me all about it. Is it true that his
Lordship paragraphises a little?
"I have not heard from Ernest Clay, which I think very odd. If you write
to him, mention this, and tell him to send me word how Dormer Stanhope
behaves at mess. I understand there has been a melee, not much; merely a
rouette; do get it all out of him.
"Colonel Delmington is at Cheltenham, with the most knowing beard you
can possibly conceive; Lady Julia rather patronises him. Lady Doubtful
has been turned out of the rooms; fifty challenges in consequence and
one duel; missed fire, of course.
"I have heard from Alhambra; he has been wandering about in all
directions. He has been to the Lakes, and is now at Edinburgh. He likes
Southey. He gave the laureate a quantity of hints for his next volume of
the Peninsular War, but does not speak very warmly of Wordsworth:
gentlemanly man, but only reads his own poetry.
"Here has been a cousin of yours about us; a young barrister going the
circuit; by name Hargrave Grey. The name attracted my notice, and due
inquiries having been made and satisfactorily answered, I patronised the
limb of law. Fortunate for him! I got him to all the fancy balls and
pic-nics that were going on. He was in heaven for a fortnight, and at
length, having overstayed his time, he left us, also leaving his bag and
only brief behind him. They say he is ruined for life. Write soon.
ERNEST CLAY, ESQ., TO VlVIAN GREY, ESQ.
"I am sick of key-bugles and country-balls! All the girls in the town
are in love with me, or my foraging cap. I am very much obliged to you
for your letter to Kennet, which procured everything I wanted. The
family turned out bores, as you had prepared me. I never met such a
clever family in my life; the father is summoning up courage to favour
the world with a volume of sermons; and Isabella Kennet most
satisfactorily proved to me, after an argument of two hours, which for
courtesy's sake I fought very manfully, that Sir Walter Scott was not
the author of Waverley; and then she vowed, as I have heard fifty young
literary ladies vow before, that she had 'seen the Antiquary in
"There has been a slight row to diversify the monotony of our military
life. Young Premium, the son of the celebrated loan-monger, has bought
in; and Dormer Stanhope, and one or two others equally fresh,
immediately anticipated another Battier business; but, with the greatest
desire to make a fool of myself, I have a natural repugnance to
mimicking the foolery of others; so with some little exertion, and very
fortunately for young Premium, I got the tenth voted vulgar, on the
score of curiosity, and we were civil to the man. As it turned out, it
was all very well, for Premium is a quiet, gentlemanlike fellow enough,
and exceedingly useful. He will keep extra grooms for the whole mess, if
they want it. He is very grateful to me for what does not deserve any
gratitude, and for what gave me no trouble; for I did not defend him
from any feeling of kindness: and both the Mounteneys, and young
Stapylton Toad, and Augustus, being in the regiment, why, I have very
little trouble in commanding a majority, if it come to a division.
"I dined the other day at old Premium's, who lives near this town in a
magnificent old hall; which, however, is not nearly splendid enough for
a man who is the creditor of every nation from California to China; and,
consequently, the great Mr. Stucco is building a plaster castle for him
in another part of the park. Glad am I enough that I was prevailed upon
to patronise the Premium; for I think I seldom witnessed a more amusing
scene than I did the day I dined there.
"I was ushered through an actual street of servitors, whose liveries
were really cloth of gold, and whose elaborately powdered heads would
not have disgraced the most ancient mansion in St. James's Square, into
a large and crowded saloon. I was, of course, received with miraculous
consideration; and the ear of Mrs. Premium seemed to dwell upon the
jingling of my spurs (for I am adjutant) as upon exquisite music. It
was bona fide evidence of 'the officers being there.'
"Premium is a short, but by no means vulgar-looking man, about fifty,
with a high forehead covered with wrinkles, and with eyes deep sunk in
his head. I never met a man of apparently less bustle, and of a cooler
temperament. He was an object of observation from his very
unobtrusiveness. There were. I immediately perceived, a great number of
foreigners in the room. They looked much too knowing for Arguelles and
Co., and I soon found that they were members of the different embassies,
or missions of the various Governments to whose infant existence Premium
is foster father. There were two striking figures in Oriental costume,
who were shown to me as the Greek Deputies; not that you are to imagine
that they always appear in this picturesque dress. It was only as a
particular favour, and to please Miss Premium (there, Grey, my boy!
there is a quarry!), that the illustrious envoys appeared habited this
day in their national costume.
"You would have enjoyed the scene. In one part of the room was a naval
officer, just hot from the mines of Mexico, and lecturing eloquently on
the passing of the Cordillera. In another was a man of science, dilating
on the miraculous powers of a newly-discovered amalgamation process to a
knot of merchants, who, with bent brows and eager eyes, were already
forming a Company for its adoption. Here floated the latest anecdote of
Bolivar; and there a murmur of some new movement of Cochrane's. And then
the perpetual babble about 'rising states,' and 'new loans,' and
'enlightened views,' and 'juncture of the two oceans,' and 'liberal
principles,' and 'steamboats to Mexico,' and the earnest look which
every one had in the room. How different to the vacant gaze that we have
been accustomed to! I was really particularly struck by the
circumstance. Every one at Premium's looked full of some great plan, as
if the fate of empires wag on his very breath. I hardly knew whether
they were most like conspirators, or gamblers, or the lions of a public
dinner, conscious of an universal gaze, and consequently looking
proportionately interesting. One circumstance particularly struck me: as
I was watching the acute countenance of an individual, who young Premium
informed me was the Chilian minister, and who was listening with great
attention to a dissertation from Captain Tropic, the celebrated
traveller, on the feasibility of a railroad over the Andes, I observed a
great sensation among those around me; every one shifting, and
shuffling, and staring, and assisting in that curious and confusing
ceremony called 'making way.' Even Premium appeared a little excited
when he came forward with a smile on his face to receive an individual,
apparently a foreigner, and who stepped on with great though gracious
dignity. Being curious to know who this great man was, I found that this
was an ambassador, the representative of a recognised state.
"'Pon my honour, when I saw all this, I could not refrain from
moralising on the magic of wealth; and when I just remembered the embryo
plot of some young Hussar officers to cut the son of the magician, I
rather smiled; but while I, with even greater reverence than all others,
was making way for his Excellency, I observed Mrs. Premium looking at my
spurs. 'Farewell Philosophy!' thought I; 'Puppyism for ever!'
"Dinner was at last announced, and the nice etiquette which was observed
between recognised states and non-recognised states was really
excessively amusing: not only the ambassador would take precedence of
the mere political agent, but his Excellency's private secretary was
equally tenacious as to the agent's private secretary. At length we were
all seated: the spacious dining-room was hung round with portraits of
most of the successful revolutionary leaders, and over Mr. Premium was
suspended a magnificent portrait of Bolivar. If you could but have seen
the plate! By Jove! I have eaten off the silver of most of the first
families in England, yet never in my life did it enter into my
imagination that it was possible for the most ingenious artist that ever
existed to repeat a crest half so often in a tablespoon as in that of
Premium. The crest is a bubble, and really the effect produced by it is
"I was very much struck at table by the appearance of an individual who
came in very late, but who was evidently, by his bearing, no
insignificant personage. He was a tall man, with a long hooked nose and
high cheek bones, and with an eye (were you ever at the Old Bailey?
there you may see its fellow); his complexion looked as if it had been
accustomed to the breezes of many climes, and his hair, which had once
been red, was now silvered, or rather iron-greyed, not by age. Yet there
was in his whole bearing, in his slightest actions, even in the easy,
desperate air with which he took; a glass of wine, an indefinable
something (you know what I mean) which attracted your unremitting
attention to him. I was not wrung in my suspicions of his celebrity;
for, as Miss Premium, whom I sat next to, whispered, 'he was quite a
lion.' It was Lord Oceanville What he is after no one knows. Some say he
is going to Greece, others whisper an invasion of Paraguay, and others,
of course, say other things; perhaps equally correct. I think he is for
Greece. I know he is one of the most extraordinary men I ever met with.
I am getting prosy. Good-bye! Write soon. Any fun going on? How is
Cynthia? I ought to have written. How is Mrs. Felix Lorraine? She is a
deuced odd woman!
HARGRAVE GREY, ESQ., TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.
"You ought not to expect a letter from me. I cannot conceive why you do
not occasionally answer your correspondents' letters, if correspondents
they may be called. It is really a most unreasonable habit of yours; any
one but myself would quarrel with you.
"A letter from Baker met me at this place, and I find that the whole of
that most disagreeable and annoying business is arranged. From the
promptitude, skill, and energy which are apparent in the whole affair, I
suspect I have to thank the very gentleman whom I was just going to
quarrel with. You are a good fellow, Vivian, after all. For want of a
brief, I sit down to give you a sketch of my adventures on this my
"This circuit is a cold and mercantile adventure, and I am disappointed
in it. Not so either, for I looked for but little to enjoy. Take one day
of my life as a specimen; the rest are mostly alike. The sheriff's
trumpets are playing; one, some tune of which I know nothing, and the
other no tune at all. I am obliged to turn out at eight. It is the first
day of the Assize, so there is some chance of a brief, being a new
place. I push my way into court through files of attorneys, as civil to
the rogues as possible, assuring them there is plenty of room, though I
am at the very moment gasping for breath wedged-in in a lane of
well-lined waistcoats. I get into court, take my place in the quietest
corner, and there I sit, and pass other men's fees and briefs like a
twopenny postman, only without pay. Well! 'tis six o'clock, dinner-time,
at the bottom of the table, carve for all, speak to none, nobody speaks
to me, must wait till last to sum up, and pay the bill. Reach home quite
devoured by spleen, after having heard every one abused who happened to
"I travelled to this place with Manners, whom I believe you know, and
amused myself by getting from him an account of my fellows,
anticipating, at the same time, what in fact happened; to wit, that I
should afterwards get his character from them. It is strange how freely
they deal with each other; that is, the person spoken of being away. I
would not have had you see our Stanhope for half a hundred pounds; your
jealousy would have been so excited. To say the truth, we are a little
rough; our mane wants pulling and our hoofs trimming, but we jog along
without performing either operation; and, by dint of rattling the whip
against the splash-board, using all one's persuasion of hand and voice,
and jerking the bit in his mouth, we do contrive to get into the circuit
town, usually, just about the time that the sheriff and his _posse
comitatus_ are starting to meet my Lord the King's Justice: and that is
the worst of it; for their horses are prancing and pawing coursers just
out of the stable, sleek skins and smart drivers. We begin to be knocked
up just then, and our appearance is the least brilliant of any part of
the day. Here I had to pass through a host of these powdered, scented
fops; and the multitude who had assembled to gaze on the nobler
exhibition rather scoffed at our humble vehicle. As Manners had just
then been set down to find the inn and lodging, I could not jump out and
leave our equipage to its fate, so I settled my cravat, and seemed not
to mind it, only I did.
"But I must leave off this nonsense, and attend to his Lordship's
charge, which is now about to commence. I have not been able to get you
a single good murder, although I have kept a sharp look-out, as you
desired me; but there is a chance of a first-rate one at ----n.
"I am quite delighted with Mr. Justice St. Prose. He is at this moment
in a most entertaining passion, preparatory to a 'conscientious' summing
up; and in order that his ideas may not be disturbed, he has very
liberally ordered the door-keeper to have the door oiled immediately, at
his own expense. Now for my Lord the King's Justice.
"'Gentlemen of the Jury,
"'The noise is insufferable, the heat is intolerable, the door-keepers
let the people keep shuffling in, the ducks in the corner are going
quack, quack, quack, here's a little girl being tried for her life, and
the judge can't hear a word that's said. Bring me my black cap, and I'll
condemn her to death instantly.'
"'You can't, my Lord.' shrieks the infant sinner; 'it's only for petty
"I have just got an invite from the Kearneys. Congratulate me.
"Dear Vivian, yours faithfully,
LADY SCROPE TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.
"Ormsby Park, Oct. 18--.
"MY DEAR VIVIAN,
"By desire of Sir Berdmore, I have to request the fulfilment of a
promise, upon the hope of which being performed I have existed through
this dull month. Pray, my dear Vivian, come to us immediately. Ormsby
has at present little to offer for your entertainment. We have had that
unendurable bore Vivacity Dull with us for a whole fortnight. A report
of the death of the Lord Chancellor, or a rumour of the production of a
new tragedy, has carried him up to town; but whether it be to ask for
the seals, or to indite an ingenious prologue to a play which will be
condemned the first night, I cannot inform you. I am quite sure he is
capable of doing either. However, we shall have other deer in a
"I believe you have never met the Mounteneys. They have never been at
Hallesbrooke since you have been at Desir. They are coming to us
immediately. I am sure you will like them very much. Lord Mounteney is
one of those kind, easy-minded, accomplished men, who, after all, are
nearly the pleasantest society one ever meets. Rather wild in his youth,
but with his estate now unencumbered, and himself perfectly domestic.
His lady is an unaffected, agreeable woman. But it is Caroline Mounteney
whom I wish you particularly to meet. She is one of those delicious
creatures who, in spite of not being married, are actually conversable.
Spirited, without any affectation or brusquerie; beautiful, and knowing
enough to be quite conscious of it; perfectly accomplished, and yet
never annoying you with tattle about Bochsa, and Ronzi de Begnis, and
"We also expect the Delmonts, the most endurable of the Anglo-Italians
that I know. Mrs. Delmont is not always dropping her handkerchief like
Lady Gusto, as if she expected a miserable cavalier servente to be
constantly upon his knees; or giving those odious expressive looks,
which quite destroy my nerves whenever I am under the same roof as that
horrible Lady Soprano. There is a little too much talk, to be sure,
about Roman churches, and newly-discovered mosaics, and Abbate Maii, but
still we cannot expect perfection. There are reports going about that
Ernest Clay is either ruined or going to be married. Perhaps both are
true. Young Premium has nearly lost his character by driving a
square-built, striped green thing, drawn by one horse. Ernest Clay got
him through this terrible affair. What can be the reasons of the Sieur
Ernest's excessive amiability?
"Both the young Mounteneys are with their regiment, but Aubrey Vere is
coming to us, and I have half a promise from--; but I know you never
speak to unmarried men, so why do I mention them? Let me, I beseech you,
my dear Vivian, have a few days of you to myself before Ormsby is full,
and before you are introduced to Caroline Mounteney. I did not think it
was possible that I could exist so long without seeing you; but you
really must not try me too much, or I shall quarrel with you. I have
received all your letters, which are very, very agreeable; but I think
rather, rather impudent. Adieu!
HORACE GREY, ESQ., TO VIVIAN GREY, ESQ.
"Paris, Oct. 18--.
"MY DEAR VIVIAN,
"I have received yours of the 9th, and have read it with mixed feelings
of astonishment and sorrow.
"You are now, my dear son, a member of what is called the great world;
society formed on anti-social principles. Apparently you have possessed
yourself of the object of your wishes; but the scenes you live in are
very moveable; the characters you associate with are all masked; and it
will always be doubtful whether you c an retain that long, which has
been obtained by some slippery artifice. Vivian, you are a juggler; and
the deceptions of your sleight-of-hand tricks depend upon
"When the selfish combine with the selfish, bethink you how many
projects are doomed to disappointment! how many cross interests baffle
the parties at the same time joined together without ever uniting. What
a mockery is their love! but how deadly are their hatreds! All this
great society, with whom so young an adventurer has trafficked, abate
nothing of their price in the slavery of their service and the sacrifice
of violated feelings. What sleepless nights has it cost you to win over
the disobliged, to conciliate the discontented, to cajole the
contumatious! You may smile at the hollow flatteries, answering to
flatteries as hollow, which like bubbles when they touch, dissolve into
nothing; but tell me, Vivian, what has the self-tormentor felt at the
laughing treacheries which force a man down into self-contempt?
"Is it not obvious, my dear Vivian, that true Fame and true Happiness
must rest upon the imperishable social affections? I do not mean that
coterie celebrity which paltry minds accept as fame; but that which
exists independent of the opinions or the intrigues of individuals: nor
do I mean that glittering show of perpetual converse with the world
which some miserable wanderers call Happiness; but that which can only
be drawn from the sacred and solitary fountain of your own feelings.
"Active as you have now become in the great scenes of human affairs, I
would not have you be guided by any fanciful theories of morals or of
human nature. Philosophers have amused themselves by deciding on human
actions by systems; but, as these system? are of the most opposite
natures, it is evident that each philosopher, in reflecting his own
feelings in the system he has so elaborately formed, has only painted
his own character.
"Do not, therefore, conclude, with Hobbes and Mandeville, that man lives
in a state of civil warfare with man; nor with Shaftesbury, adorn with a
poetical philosophy our natural feelings. Man is neither the vile nor
the excellent being which he sometimes imagines himself to be. He does
not so much act by system as by sympathy. If this creature cannot always
feel for others, he is doomed to feel for himself; and the vicious are,
at least, blessed with the curse of remorse.
"You are now inspecting one of the worst portions of society in what is
called the great world (St. Giles' is bad, but of another kind), and it
may be useful, on the principle that the actual sight of brutal ebriety
was supposed to have inspired youth with the virtue of temperance; on
the same principle that the Platonist, in the study of deformity,
conceived the beautiful. Let me warn you not to fall into the usual
error of youth in fancying that the circle you move in is precisely the
world itself. Do not imagine that there are not other beings, whose
benevolent principle is governed by finer sympathies, by more generous
passions, and by those nobler emotions which really constitute all our
public and private virtues. I give you this hint, lest, in your present
society, you might suppose these virtues were merely historical.
"Once more, I must beseech you not to give loose to any elation of mind.
The machinery by which you have attained this unnatural result must be
so complicated that in the very tenth hour you will find yourself
stopped in some part where you never counted on an impediment; and the
want of a slight screw or a little oil will prevent you from
accomplishing your magnificent end.
"We are, and have been, very dull here. There is every probability of
Madame de Genlis writing more volumes than ever. I called on the old
lady, and was quite amused with the enthusiasm of her imbecility.
Chateaubriand is getting what you call a bore; and the whole city is mad
about a new opera by Boieldieu. Your mother sends her love, and desires
me to say, that the salmi of woodcocks, à la Lucullus, which you write
about, does not differ from the practice here in vogue. How does your
cousin Hargrave prosper on his circuit? The Delmingtons are here, which
makes it very pleasant for your mother, as well as for myself; for it
allows me to hunt over the old bookshops at my leisure. There are no new
books worth sending you, or they would accompany this; but I would
recommend you to get Meyer's new volume from Treüttel and Wurtz, and
continue to make notes as you read it. Give my compliments to the
Marquess, and believe me,
"Your affectionate father,
It was impossible for any human being to behave with more kindness than
the Marquess of Carabas did to Vivian Grey after that young gentleman's
short conversation with Mrs. Felix Lorraine in the conservatory. The
only feeling which seemed to actuate the Peer was an eager desire to
compensate, by his present conduct, for any past misunderstanding, and
he loaded his young friend with all possible favour. Still Vivian was
about to quit Château Desir; and in spite of all that had passed, he was
extremely loth to leave his noble friend under the guardianship of his
About this time, the Duke and Duchess of Juggernaut, the very pink of
aristocracy, the wealthiest, the proudest, the most ancient, and most
pompous couple in Christendom, honoured Château Desir with their
presence for two days; only two days, making the Marquess's mansion a
convenient resting-place in one of their princely progresses to one of
their princely castles.
Vivian contrived to gain the heart of her Grace by his minute
acquaintance with the Juggernaut pedigree; and having taken the
opportunity, in one of their conversations, to describe Mrs. Felix
Lorraine as the most perfect specimen of divine creation with which he
was acquainted, at the same time the most amusing and the most amiable
of women, that lady was honoured with an invitation to accompany her
Grace to Himalaya Castle. As this was the greatest of all possible
honours, and as Desir was now very dull, Mrs. Felix Lorraine accepted
the invitation, or rather obeyed the command, for the Marquess would not
hear of a refusal, Vivian having dilated in the most energetic terms on
the opening which now presented itself of gaining the Juggernaut. The
coast being thus cleared, Vivian set off the next day for Sir
The important hour drew nigh. Christmas was to be passed by the Carabas
family, the Beaconsfields, the Scropes, and the Clevelands at Lord
Courtown's villa at Richmond; at which place, on account of its vicinity
to the metropolis, the Viscount had determined to make out the holidays,
notwithstanding the Thames entered his kitchen windows, and the Donna
del Lago was acted in the theatre with real water, Cynthia Courtown
performing Elena, paddling in a punt.
"Let us order our horses, Cleveland, round to the Piccadilly gate, and
walk through the Guards. I must stretch my legs. That bore, Horace
Buttonhole, captured me in Pall Mall East, and has kept me in the same
position for upwards of half an hour. I shall make a note to blackball
him at the Athenaeum. How is Mrs. Cleveland?"
"Extremely well. She goes down to Buckhurst Lodge with Lady Carabas. Is
not that Lord Lowersdale?"
"His very self. He is going to call on Vivida Vis, I have no doubt.
Lowersdale is a man of very considerable talent; much more than the
world gives him credit for."
"And he doubtless finds a very able counsellor in Monsieur le
"Can you name a better one?"
"You rather patronise Vivida, I think, Grey?"
"Patronise him! he is my political pet!"
"And yet Kerrison tells me you reviewed the Suffolk papers in the
"So I did; what of that? I defended them in Blackwood."
"This, then, is the usual method of you literary gentlemen. Thank God! I
never could write a line."
"York House rises proudly; if York House be its name."
"This confounded Catholic Question is likely to give us a great deal of
trouble, Grey. It is perfect madness for us to advocate the cause of the
'six millions of hereditary bondsmen;' and yet, with not only the
Marchese, but even Courtown and Beaconsfield committed, it is, to say
the least, a very delicate business."
"Very delicate, certainly; but there are some precedents, I suspect,
Cleveland, for the influence of a party being opposed to measures which
the heads of that party had pledged themselves to adopt."
"Does old Gifford still live at Pimlico, Grey?"
"He is a splendid fellow, after all."
"Certainly, a mind of great powers, but bigoted."
"Oh, yes! I know exactly what you are going to say. It is the fashion, I
am aware, to abuse the old gentleman. He is the Earl of Eldon of
literature; not the less loved because a little vilified. But, when I
just remember what Gifford has done; when I call to mind the perfect and
triumphant success of everything he has undertaken; the Anti-Jacobin,
the Baviad and Maeviad, the Quarterly; all palpable hits, on the very
jugular; I hesitate before I speak of William Gifford in any other
terms, or in any other spirit, than those of admiration and of
"And to think. Grey, that the Tory Administration and the Tory party of
Great Britain should never, by one single act, or in a single instance,
have indicated that they were in the least aware that the exertions of
such a man differed in the slightest degree from those of Hunt and Hone!
Of all the delusions which flourish in this mad world, the delusion of
that man is the most frantic who voluntarily, and of his own accord,
supports the interest of a party. I mention this to you because it is
the rock on which all young politicians strike. Fortunately, you enter
life under different circumstances from those which usually attend most
political debutants. You have your connections formed and your views
ascertained. But if, by any chance, you find yourself independent and
unconnected, never, for a moment, suppose that you can accomplish your
objects by coming forward, unsolicited, to fight the battle of a party.
They will cheer your successful exertions, and then smile at your
youthful zeal; or, crossing themselves for the unexpected succour, be
too cowardly to reward their unexpected champion. No, Grey; make them
fear you, and they will kiss your feet. There is no act of treachery or
meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics
there is no honour.
"As to Gifford, I am surprised at their conduct towards him, although I
know better than most men of what wood a minister is made, and how much
reliance may be placed upon the gratitude of a party: but Canning; from
Canning I certainly did expect different conduct."
"Oh, Canning! I love the man: but as you say, Cleveland, ministers have
short memories, and Canning's; that was Antilles that just passed us;
apropos to whom, I quite rejoice that the Marquess has determined to
take such a decided course on the West India Question."
"Oh, yes! curse your East India sugar."
"To be sure; slavery and sweetmeats forever!"
"But, aside with joking, Grey, I really think, that if any man of
average ability dare rise in the House, and rescue many of the great
questions of the day from what Dugald Stuart or Disraeli would call the
spirit of Political Religionism, with which they are studiously mixed
up, he would not fail to make a great impression upon the House, and a
still greater one upon the country."
"I quite agree with you; and certainly I should recommend commencing
with the West India Question. Singular state of affairs when even
Canning can only insinuate his opinion when the very existence of some
of our most valuable colonies is at stake, and when even his