Beauchamps Career, complete
George Meredith

Part 12 out of 12

penny, no wider! And from that you jumped at a bound to the round of
this earth: you were for humanity. Ay, we sailed our planet among the
icy spheres, and were at blood-heat for its destiny, you and I! And now
you hover for a wind to catch you. So it is for a soul rejecting prayer.
This wind and that has it: the well-springs within are shut down fast!
I pardon my Jenny, my Harry Denham's girl. She is a woman, and has a
brain like a bell that rings all round to the tongue. It is her kingdom,
of the interdicted untraversed frontiers. But what cares she, or any
woman, that this Age of ours should lie like a carcase against the Sun?
What cares any woman to help to hold up Life to him? He breeds divinely
upon life, filthy upon stagnation. Sail you away, if you will, in your
trance. I go. I go home by land alone, and I await you. Here in this
land of moles upright, I do naught but execrate; I am a pulpit of curses.
Counter-anathema, you might call me.'

'Oh! I feel the comparison so, for England shining spiritually bright,'
said Jenny, and cut her husband adrift with the exclamation, and saw him
float away to Dr. Shrapnel.

'Spiritually bright!'

'By comparison, Nevil.'

'There's neither spiritual nor political brightness in England, but a
common resolution to eat of good things and stick to them,' said the
doctor: 'and we two out of England, there's barely a voice to cry scare
to the feeders. I'm back! I'm home!'

They lost him once in Cadiz, and discovered him on the quay, looking
about for a vessel. In getting him to return to the Esperanza, they
nearly all three fell into the hands of the police. Beauchamp gave him a
great deal of his time, reading and discussing with him on deck and in
the cabin, and projecting future enterprises, to pacify his restlessness.
A translation of Plato had become Beauchamp's intellectual world. This
philosopher singularly anticipated his ideas. Concerning himself he was
beginning to think that he had many years ahead of him for work. He was
with Dr. Shrapnel, as to the battle, and with Jenny as to the delay in
recommencing it. Both the men laughed at the constant employment she
gave them among the Greek islands in furnishing her severely accurate
accounts of sea-fights and land-fights: and the scenes being before them
they could neither of them protest that their task-work was an idle
labour. Dr. Shrapnel assisted in fighting Marathon and Salamis over
again cordially--to shield Great Britain from the rule of a satrapy.

Beauchamp often tried to conjure words to paint his wife. On grave
subjects she had the manner of speaking of a shy scholar, and between
grave and playful, between smiling and serious, her clear head, her nobly
poised character, seemed to him to have never had a prototype and to
elude the art of picturing it in expression, until he heard Lydiard
call her whimsically, 'Portia disrobing'

Portia half in her doctor's gown, half out of it. They met Lydiard and
his wife Louise, and Mr. and Mrs. Tuckham, in Venice, where, upon the
first day of October, Jenny Beauchamp gave birth to a son. The thrilling
mother did not perceive on this occasion the gloom she cast over the
father of the child and Dr. Shrapnel. The youngster would insist on his
right to be sprinkled by the parson, to get a legal name and please his
mother. At all turns in the history of our healthy relations with women
we are confronted by the parson! 'And, upon my word, I believe,'
Beauchamp said to Lydiard, 'those parsons--not bad creatures in private
life: there was one in Madeira I took a personal liking to--but they're
utterly ignorant of what men feel to them--more ignorant than women!'
Mr. Tuckham and Mrs. Lydiard would not listen to his foolish objections;
nor were they ever mentioned to Jenny. Apparently the commission of the
act of marriage was to force Beauchamp from all his positions one by one.

'The education of that child?' Mrs. Lydiard said to her husband.

He considered that the mother would prevail.

Cecilia feared she would not.

'Depend upon it, he'll make himself miserable if he can,' said Tuckham.

That gentleman, however, was perpetually coming fuming from arguments
with Beauchamp, and his opinion was a controversialist's. His common
sense was much afflicted. 'I thought marriage would have stopped all
those absurdities,' he said, glaring angrily, laughing, and then
frowning. 'I 've warned him I'll go out of my way to come across him if
he carries on his headlong folly. A man should accept his country for
what it is when he's born into it. Don't tell me he's a good fellow.
I know he is, but there 's an ass mounted on the good fellow. Talks of
the parsons! Why, they're men of education.'

'They couldn't steer a ship in a gale, though.'

'Oh! he's a good sailor. And let him go to sea,' said Tuckham. 'His
wife's a prize. He's hardly worthy of her. If she manages him she'll
deserve a monument for doing a public service.'

How fortunate it is for us that here and there we do not succeed in
wresting our temporary treasure from the grasp of the Fates!

This good old commonplace reflection came to Beauchamp while clasping his
wife's hand on the deck of the Esperanza, and looking up at the mountains
over the Gulf of Venice. The impression of that marvellous dawn when he
and Renee looked up hand-in-hand was ineffaceable, and pity for the
tender hand lost to him wrought in his blood, but Jenny was a peerless
wife; and though not in the music of her tongue, or in subtlety of
delicate meaning did she excel Renee, as a sober adviser she did, and
as a firm speaker; and she had homelier deep eyes, thoughtfuller brows.
The father could speculate with good hope of Jenny's child. Cecilia's
wealth, too, had gone over to the Tory party, with her incomprehensible
espousal of Tuckham. Let it go; let all go for dowerless Jenny!

It was (she dared to recollect it in her anguish) Jenny's choice to go
home in the yacht that decided her husband not to make the journey by
land in company with the Lydiards.

The voyage was favourable. Beauchamp had a passing wish to land on the
Norman coast, and take Jenny for a day to Tourdestelle. He deferred to
her desire to land baby speedily, now they were so near home. They ran
past Otley river, having sight of Mount Laurels, and on to Bevisham, with
swelling sails. There they parted. Beauchamp made it one of his 'points
of honour' to deliver the vessel where he had taken her, at her moorings
in the Otley. One of the piermen stood before Beauchamp, and saluting
him, said he had been directed to inform him that the Earl of Romfrey was
with Colonel Halkett, expecting him at Mount Laurels. Beauchamp wanted
his wife to return in the yacht. She turned her eyes to Dr. Shrapnel.
It was out of the question that the doctor should think of going.
Husband and wife parted. She saw him no more.

This is no time to tell of weeping. The dry chronicle is fittest.
Hard on nine o'clock in the December darkness, the night being still and
clear, Jenny's babe was at her breast, and her ears were awake for the
return of her husband. A man rang at the door of the house, and asked
to see Dr. Shrapnel. This man was Killick, the Radical Sam of politics.
He said to the doctor: 'I 'm going to hit you sharp, sir; I've had it
myself: please put on your hat and come out with me; and close the door.
They mustn't hear inside. And here's a fly. I knew you'd be off for the
finding of the body. Commander Beauchamp's drowned.'

Dr. Shrapnel drove round by the shore of the broad water past a great
hospital and ruined abbey to Otley village. Killick had lifted him into
the conveyance, and he lifted him out. Dr. Shrapnel had not spoken a
word. Lights were flaring on the river, illuminating the small craft
sombrely. Men, women, and children crowded the hard and landing-places,
the marshy banks and the decks of colliers and trawlers. Neither Killick
nor Dr. Shrapnel questioned them. The lights were torches and lanterns;
the occupation of the boats moving in couples was the dragging for the

'O God, let's find his body,' a woman called out.

'Just a word; is it Commander Beauchamp?' Killick said to her.

She was scarcely aware of a question. 'Here, this one,' she said, and
plucked a little boy of eight by the hand close against her side, and
shook him roughly and kissed him.

An old man volunteered information. 'That's the boy. That boy was in
his father's boat out there, with two of his brothers, larking; and he
and another older than him fell overboard; and just then Commander
Beauchamp was rowing by, and I saw him from off here, where I stood, jump
up and dive, and he swam to his boat with one of them, and got him in
safe: that boy: and he dived again after the other, and was down a long
time. Either he burst a vessel or he got cramp, for he'd been rowing
himself from the schooner grounded down at the river-mouth, and must have
been hot when he jumped in: either way, he fetched the second up, and
sank with him. Down he went.'

A fisherman said to Killick: 'Do you hear that voice thundering? That's
the great Lord Romfrey. He's been directing the dragging since five o'
the evening, and will till he drops or drowns, or up comes the body.'

'O God, let's find the body!' the woman with the little boy called out.

A torch lit up Lord Romfrey's face as he stepped ashore. 'The flood has
played us a trick,' he said. 'We want more drags, or with the next ebb
the body may be lost for days in this infernal water.'

The mother of the rescued boy sobbed, 'Oh, my lord, my lord!'

The earl caught sight of Dr. Shrapnel, and went to him.

'My wife has gone down to Mrs. Beauchamp,' he said. 'She will bring her
and the baby to Mount Laurels. The child will have to be hand-fed. I
take you with me. You must not be alone.'

He put his arm within the arm of the heavily-breathing man whom he had
once flung to the ground, to support him.

'My lord! my lord!' sobbed the woman, and dropped on her knees.

'What 's this?' the earl said, drawing his hand away from the woman's
clutch at it.

'She's the mother, my lord,' several explained to him.

'Mother of what?'

'My boy,' the woman cried, and dragged the urchin to Lord Romfrey's feet,
cleaning her boy's face with her apron.

'It's the boy Commander Beauchamp drowned to save,' said a man.

All the lights of the ring were turned on the head of the boy. Dr.
Shrapnel's eyes and Lord Romfrey's fell on the abashed little creature.
The boy struck out both arms to get his fists against his eyelids.

This is what we have in exchange for Beauchamp!

It was not uttered, but it was visible in the blank stare at one
another of the two men who loved Beauchamp, after they had examined the
insignificant bit of mudbank life remaining in this world in the place of


And life said, Do it, and death said, To what end?
As fair play as a woman's lord could give her
Beauchamp's career
Dogs die more decently than we men
Dreads our climate and coffee too much to attempt the voyage
Had come to be her lover through being her husband
He bowed to facts
He condensed a paragraph into a line
He runs too much from first principles to extremes
I do not think Frenchmen comparable to the women of France
It would be hard! ay, then we do it forthwith
Making too much of it--a trick of the vulgar
More argument I cannot bear
None but fanatics, cowards, white-eyeballed dogmatists
Push indolent unreason to gain the delusion of happiness
Reproof of such supererogatory counsel
She had no longer anything to resent: she was obliged to weep
Slaves of the priests
The healthy only are fit to live
The world without him would be heavy matter
This girl was pliable only to service, not to grief
Virtue of impatience
We women can read men by their power to love
When he's a Christian instead of a Churchman
Where love exists there is goodness
Without a single intimation that he loathed the task
Wonderment that one of her sex should have ideas


A cloud of millinery shoots me off a mile from a woman
A kind of anchorage in case of indiscretion
A night that had shivered repose
A tear would have overcome him--She had not wept
A wound of the same kind that we are inflicting
A string of pearls: a woman who goes beyond that's in danger
A dash of conventionalism makes the whole civilized world kin
A bone in a boy's mind for him to gnaw and worry
Admires a girl when there's no married woman or widow in sight
Affectedly gentle and unusually roundabout opening
After forty, men have married their habits
Aimlessness of a woman's curiosity
Alike believe that Providence is for them
All concessions to the people have been won from fear
Am I thy master, or thou mine?
An instinct labouring to supply the deficiencies of stupidity
An old spoiler of women is worse than one spoiled by them!
And life said, Do it, and death said, To what end?
And never did a stroke of work in my life
And now came war, the purifier and the pestilence
And one gets the worst of it (in any bargain)
Anticipate opposition by initiating measures
Appealed to reason in them; he would not hear of convictions
Appetite to flourish at the cost of the weaker
Are we practical?' penetrates the bosom of an English audience
Art of speaking on politics tersely
As fair play as a woman's lord could give her
As to wit, the sneer is the cloak of clumsiness
As for titles, the way to defend them is to be worthy of them
Automatic creature is subject to the laws of its construction
Beauchamp's career
Beautiful servicelessness
Better for men of extremely opposite opinions not to meet
Boys are unjust
Braggadocioing in deeds is only next bad to mouthing it
Calm fanaticism of the passion of love
Canvassing means intimidation or corruption
Carry a scene through in virtue's name and vice's mask
Comfortable have to pay in occasional panics for the serenity
Compassionate sentiments veered round to irate amazement
Consult the family means--waste your time
Contemptuous exclusiveness could not go farther
Convict it by instinct without the ceremony of a jury
Convictions are generally first impressions
Cordiality of an extreme relief in leaving
Country can go on very well without so much speech-making
Cowardice is even worse for nations than for individual men
Crazy zigzag of policy in almost every stroke (of history)
Dark-eyed Renee was not beauty but attraction
Death within which welcomed a death without
Decline to practise hypocrisy
Despises the pomades and curling-irons of modern romance
Dialectical stiffness
Dignity of sulking so seductive to the wounded spirit of man
Discover the writers in a day when all are writing!
Disqualification of constantly offending prejudices
Dogs die more decently than we men
Dreads our climate and coffee too much to attempt the voyage
Effort to be reticent concerning Nevil, and communicative
Efforts to weary him out of his project were unsuccessful
Empty magnanimity which his uncle presented to him
Energy to something, that was not to be had in a market
Feigned utter condemnation to make partial comfort acceptable
Feminine pity, which is nearer to contempt than to tenderness
Fine eye for celestially directed consequences is ever haunted
Fit of Republicanism in the nursery
Forewarn readers of this history that there is no plot in it
Fretted by his relatives he cannot be much of a giant
Frozen vanity called pride, which does not seek to be revenged
Give our courage as hostage for the fulfilment of what we hope
Give our consciences to the keeping of the parsons
Given up his brains for a lodging to a single idea
Good maxim for the wrathful--speak not at all
Grief of an ill-fortuned passion of his youth
Had come to be her lover through being her husband
Half-truth that we may put on the mask of the whole
Hates a compromise
Haunted many pillows
He was too much on fire to know the taste of absurdity
He condensed a paragraph into a line
He runs too much from first principles to extremes
He bowed to facts
He lost the art of observing himself
He had expected romance, and had met merchandize
He smoked, Lord Avonley said of the second departure
He never calculated on the happening of mortal accidents
Heights of humour beyond laughter
Holding to his work after the strain's over--That tells the man
Hopes of a coming disillusion that would restore him
How angry I should be with you if you were not so beautiful!
Humour preserved her from excesses of sentiment
I can confess my sight to be imperfect: but will you ever do so?
I do not think Frenchmen comparable to the women of France
I cannot say less, and will say no more
If there's no doubt about it, how is it I have a doubt about it?
Immense wealth and native obtuseness combine to disfigure us
Impossible for him to think that women thought
Impudent boy's fling at superiority over the superior
In India they sacrifice the widows, in France the virgins
Incessantly speaking of the necessity we granted it unknowingly
Infallibility of our august mother
Inflicted no foretaste of her coming subjection to him
Irony provoked his laughter more than fun
Irritability at the intrusion of past disputes
It would be hard! ay, then we do it forthwith
It is not high flying, which usually ends in heavy falling
Leader accustomed to count ahead upon vapourish abstractions
Led him to impress his unchangeableness upon her
Let none of us be so exalted above the wit of daily life
Levelling a finger at the taxpayer
Love, that has risen above emotion, quite independent of craving
Love's a selfish business one has work in hand
Made of his creed a strait-jacket for humanity
Making too much of it--a trick of the vulgar
Man owes a duty to his class
Mankind is offended by heterodoxy in mean attire
Mark of a fool to take everybody for a bigger fool than himself
Martyrs of love or religion are madmen
May not one love, not craving to be beloved?
Men had not pleased him of late
Mental and moral neuters
Money's a chain-cable for holding men to their senses
More argument I cannot bear
Never was a word fitter for a quack's mouth than "humanity"
Never pretend to know a girl by her face
No heart to dare is no heart to love!
No case is hopeless till a man consents to think it is
No stopping the Press while the people have an appetite for it
No man has a firm foothold who pretends to it
None but fanatics, cowards, white-eyeballed dogmatists
Oggler's genial piety made him shrink with nausea
On which does the eye linger longest--which draws the heart?
Once called her beautiful; his praise had given her beauty
Oratory will not work against the stream, or on languid tides
Parliament, is the best of occupations for idle men
Passion is not invariably love
Past fairness, vaguely like a snow landscape in the thaw
Peace-party which opposed was the actual cause of the war
Peculiar subdued form of laughter through the nose
People with whom a mute conformity is as good as worship
People is one of your Radical big words that burst at a query
Planting the past in the present like a perceptible ghost
Play the great game of blunders
Please to be pathetic on that subject after I am wrinkled
Pleasure-giving laws that make the curves we recognize as beauty
Politics as well as the other diseases
Practical or not, the good people affectingly wish to be
Prayer for an object is the cajolery of an idol
Press, which had kindled, proceeded to extinguished
Presumptuous belief
Protestant clergy the social police of the English middle-class
Push indolent unreason to gain the delusion of happiness
Ready is the ardent mind to take footing on the last thing done
Rebellion against society and advocacy of humanity run counter
Reproof of such supererogatory counsel
Scotchman's metaphysics; you know nothing clear
She was not, happily, one of the women who betray strong feeling
She had no longer anything to resent: she was obliged to weep
Shun comparisons
Shuns the statuesque pathetic, or any kind of posturing
Silence and such signs are like revelations in black night
Slaves of the priests
Small things producing great consequences
So the frog telleth tadpoles
Socially and politically mean one thing in the end
Story that she believed indeed, but had not quite sensibly felt
Straining for common talk, and showing the strain
Style resembling either early architecture or utter dilapidation
That a mask is a concealment
The girl could not know her own mind, for she suited him exactly
The critic that sneers
The religion of this vast English middle-class--Comfort
The slavery of the love of a woman chained
The turn will come to us as to others--and go
The language of party is eloquent
The defensive is perilous policy in war
The healthy only are fit to live
The system is cursed by nature, and that means by heaven
The world without him would be heavy matter
The weighty and the trivial contended
The rider's too heavy for the horse in England
The greater wounds do not immediately convince us of our fate
The people always wait for the winner
The defensive is perilous policy in war
The family view is everlastingly the shopkeeper's
The infant candidate delights in his honesty
The tragedy of the mirror is one for a woman to write
Their hearts are eaten up by property
Their not caring to think at all
There is no step backward in life
There may be women who think as well as feel; I don't know them
There is no first claim
There's nothing like a metaphor for an evasion
They may know how to make themselves happy in their climate
They have their thinking done for them
They're always having to retire and always hissing
Thirst for the haranguing of crowds
This girl was pliable only to service, not to grief
Those whose humour consists of a readiness to laugh
Those happy men who enjoy perceptions without opinions
Threatened powerful drugs for weak stomachs
Times when an example is needed by brave men
To beg the vote and wink the bribe
Tongue flew, thought followed
Too many time-servers rot the State
Trust no man Still, this man may be better than that man
Unanimous verdicts from a jury of temporary impressions
Use your religion like a drug
Virtue of impatience
We do not see clearly when we are trying to deceive
We women can read men by their power to love
We could row and ride and fish and shoot, and breed largely
We dare not be weak if we would
We were unarmed, and the spectacle was distressing
We can't hope to have what should be
We have a system, not planned but grown
We are chiefly led by hope
We're treated like old-fashioned ornaments!
Welcomed and lured on an adversary to wild outhitting
Well, sir, we must sell our opium
What ninnies call Nature in books
When he's a Christian instead of a Churchman
Where love exists there is goodness
Who cannot talk!--but who can?
Without a single intimation that he loathed the task
Wives are only an item in the list, and not the most important
Women don't care uncommonly for the men who love them
Women must not be judging things out of their sphere
Won't do to be taking in reefs on a lee-shore
Wonderment that one of her sex should have ideas
Wooing a good man for his friendship
World cannot pardon a breach of continuity
You are not married, you are simply chained
You're talking to me, not to a gallery


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