Mr. Hogarth's Will
Catherine Helen Spence(1825-1910)
Part 5 out of 9
battling with the world alone and unprotected, and doing always the
right thing at the right time, and in the right way--and truly
she has her reward. Those orphan children will rise up and call her
blessed, and if she has no husband to do it, her own works will praise
her in the gates."
"I did not think that you knew as much of your Bible as to be able to
make so long a quotation," said Miss Phillips, who could not understand
or sympathize with Brandon's enthusiasm; but Elsie fully appreciated
this generous and well-deserved tribute to Peggy's character. She saw
now that she had been too rash in her rejection of her only lover. It
was only now that she had lost him for ever that she had discovered the
real goodness of his character; but she was pleased, very much pleased
to find out that Peggy's conduct had been understood and admired by Mr.
Brandon, and had done him such excellent service. To think him worthy
was delightful, even though she should never see anything more of him
henceforward. The colour rose to her cheek and the lustre to her eye,
and when Brandon's glance met her bright face, he could not
help confessing that she was very pretty, let the Phillipses say what
they pleased, and the idea of having a little conversation with her in
the evening was much more agreeable to him than Harriett would have at
all approved of.
Francis Makes A Favourable Impression On Harriett Phillips
With all Harriett Phillips's success in society she had never had much
admiration from the other sex. This she did not attribute so much to
anything as to her own superiority; it really wanted a great deal of
courage for an average mortal to propose to her. Her unconscious
egotism had something rather grand in it; it was rarely obtrusive, but
it was always there. Her mind was naturally a vigorous one, but it had
moved in a narrow channel, and whatever was out of her own groove, she
ignored. She appreciated whatever Jane Melville knew that she was
herself acquainted with, but whatever she--Harriett Phillips--was
ignorant of, must be valueless. Now a comfortable opinion of
oneself is not at all a disagreeable thing for the possessor, and kept
within due bounds it is also a pleasant thing to one's friends and
acquaintances. Brandon had been disposed to take Harriett Phillips at
her own valuation, and to consider her very superior to himself in many
things; while she liked him, for his attentions gave her importance;
and though he wearied her sometimes, she could make up her mind to pass
her life with him without any feeling of its being a great sacrifice.
But he must stay in England; all his talk of returning to Victoria was
only talk; her influence would be quite sufficient to induce him to do
that. Though her heart was, in this lukewarm way, given to Mr. Brandon,
she had a great curiosity to see this Mr. Hogarth, whom Brandon had
called, in his rather vulgar colonial phraseology, "just her sort". She
laid herself out to please the new comer; and Brandon was disposed to
take offence--and did so. The events of the morning had made
an impression on him; but if she had possessed the tact which sympathy
and imagination alone can give, she might have appeased him, and
brought him back to his allegiance. She did not guess where the shoe
pinched, and she still further estranged the lover she had been secure
of. She was charmed at the idea of making him a little jealous; it was
the first opportunity she had ever had of flirting with another person
in his presence, and the flirtation was carried on in such a sensible
way that there was not a word said he had a right to be offended with.
She only talked of things about which Brandon knew very little, and Mr.
Hogarth a great deal, and she thought she was convincing both gentlemen
of her great conversational powers. It was really time Brandon should
be brought to the point, and this was the way to do it. While Brandon
felt the chains not of love, but of habit, dropping off him, and wished
that Elsie Melville was beside him, and not sitting between her
cousin and another Australian, who was talking to her vigorously on his
favourite subject of spirit-rapping and table-turning, and she was
listening so patiently, and making little smart speeches--he could
tell quite well by the expression of her eyes, though he could not hear
the low sweet voice distinctly enough to tell exactly what she said. He
recollected the party at Mrs. Rennie's, and how pleasant her voice was;
and felt Harriett Phillips's was not at all musical, at least, when she
was talking about the fine arts and tomorrow's exhibition to Mr.
Hogarth; while Francis wondered at any one presuming to have so much to
say while his cousin Jane was in the room.
"Now, as to table-turning, Mr. Dempster," said Harriett, who fancied
she saw Brandon's eyes directed to that side of the table a little too
often, "you will never convince me there is an atom of truth in it. I
am quite satisfied with Faraday's explanation. You may think you have
higher authority, but I bow to Faraday."
"Faraday's explanation is most insufficient and most
unsatisfactory; it cannot account for things I have seen with my own
eyes," said Mr. Dempster.
"But to what do all these manifestations tend?" asked Jane. "Of what
value are the revelations you receive from the so-called spiritual
"Of infinite value to me," said Mr. Dempster, "I have had my faith
strengthened, and my sorrows comforted. We do want to know more of our
departed friends--to have more assurance of their continued existence,
and of their continued identity than we have without spiritualism. I
always believed that nothing was lost in the divine economy; that as
matter only decayed to give way to new powers of life, so spirit must
only leave the material form it inhabits to be active in a new sphere,
or to be merged in the One Infinite Intelligence. But this is merely an
analogy--a strong one, but only an analogy, which cannot prove a
"But, Mr. Dempster, I think we have quite sufficient grounds
for believing in immortality from revelation. In scientific matters, I
bow to Faraday, as I said before; in religious matters, I would not go
any further than the Bible. But if that does not satisfy you, of course
you must inquire of chairs and tables," said Miss Phillips, with a
condescending irony, which she thought very cutting.
"The Bible is indistinct and indefinite as to the future state--so
much so that theologians differ on the possibilities of recognition in
heaven," said Mr. Dempster. "Now, eternal existence without complete
identity is not to me desirable. That our beloved ones no longer have
the warm personal interest in us which they felt in life--that they
are perhaps merged in the perfection of God, or undergoing
transmigration out of one form of intelligence to another, without any
recollection of what happened in a former state, is not consoling to
the yearning human heart that never can forget, and with all the
sufferings which memory may bring, would not lose the saddest memory of
love for worlds. This assurance of continued identity is what I
find in spiritualism; and it meets the wants of my soul."
"What extraordinary heathenish ideas!" said Miss Phillips, who in her
Derbyshire retreat had never heard anything of pantheism, or of this
doctrine of metempsychosis as being entertained by sane Englishmen. "If
you have such notions, I do not wonder at your flying to anything; for
my part, I have never been troubled with doubts."
"The Bible is, I think, purposely indistinct on the subject of the
future life," said Elsie. "Each soul imagines a heaven for itself,
different in some degree from that of any other soul; but to me memory
and identity are so necessary to the idea of continued existence that I
cannot conceive of a heaven without it."
"I do not know," said Mr. Dempster, shaking his head. "Till I saw these
wonderful manifestations, I had no clear or satisfactory feeling of it,
and now I have. The evidence is first hand from the departed spirits
themselves, and their revelations are consistent with our
highest ideas of the goodness of God, and of the eternal nature of
"'That which is seen is not faith,' St. Paul says, and the very
minuteness of your information would lead me to doubt its genuineness,"
said Francis. "I do not think it was intended that we should have such
assurance; but that we should have a large faith in a God who will do
well for us hereafter as he has done well for us here. But though I may
not feel the need of such assurance, I do not deny that others may.
There is much that is very remarkable about these spiritual
manifestations;--whether it is mesmerism, or delusion, or positive
fraud, I think it is a remarkable instance of the questioning spirit of
the day, unsatisfied with old creeds and desirous of reconstructing
some new belief."
"I should like you to come to a seance" said Mr. Dempster, glad to find
some one who was disposed to inquire on the subject. He had only
recently become a convert, and was very anxious to induce
others to think with him. "I am quite sure that you will see something
that will impress you with the reality of the manifestations."
"I should like to go too," said Mrs. Phillips.
"I certainly should not," said Harriett. "I think these things are
"These questions have never given me any trouble," said Mr. Phillips,
"and to my mind, Mr. Dempster, the revelations, such as I have heard at
least, are very puerile and contemptible; but that there must be a
singular excitement attending even an imaginary conversation with the
dead I can easily believe, and I do not care for exposing myself to
"Nor I," said Brandon; "as Miss Alice says, I have got my own idea of
heaven, and I am satisfied with it. I think we are not intended to know
all the particulars."
Why did Brandon, in giving no original opinion of his own (poor fellow,
he was incapable of that), give Elsie's argument in preference to hers?
Miss Phillips felt still more inclined to be agreeable to Mr.
Hogarth from this slight to herself, and began to think that an
inquiring spirit, in a man at least, was more admirable than Brandon's
lazy satisfaction with things as they are at present.
Mr. Dempster's eagerness after a possible convert was only to be
satisfied by Francis making an appointment with him to attend a seance
on the following evening in his own house. And then the conversation
changed to politics--English, foreign, and colonial--in which Francis
and his cousins were much interested.
Mr. Dempster was rather an elderly man, who had lost his wife and all
his family, with the exception of one daughter, who was married and
settled in South Australia. Though so enthusiastic a believer in
spiritualism, he was a very shrewd and well-informed man in mundane
matters. He had been a very old colonist on the Adelaide side; and,
having been a townsman, had taken a more active part in politics than
the Victorian squatters, Phillips and Brandon. They were all in
the full tide of talk about the advantages and disadvantages of giving
to their infant States constitutional government, and allowing each
colony to frame its constitution for itself. The good and evil effects
of manhood suffrage and vote by ballot Francis for the first time heard
discussed by people who had lived under these systems, and English,
French, and American blunders in the science of politics looked at from
a new and independent point of view. At what Jane and Elsie considered
the most interesting part of the conversation, Mrs. Phillips and
Harriett, who cared for none of these subjects, gave the signal for the
ladies to withdraw, so they had to leave with them.
Jane saw the children to bed, and Elsie got on with Mrs. Phillips's
bonnet, while the gentlemen remained in the dining room; but both
reappeared in the drawing-room by the time they came upstairs. Elsie
did not like to disappoint any one, and the idea struck her that if she
got up very early in the morning, and things went all well with
her, she could finish Harriett's bonnet also in time, for really Mrs.
Phillips's new one would make her sister-in-law's look very shabby. It
was the first new bonnet she had been trusted to make since she came;
she had had CARTE BLANCHE for the materials, and had pleased herself
with the style, and Elsie believed it would be her CHEF-D'OEUVRE. The
idea of giving Miss Phillips such an unexpected pleasure made her feel
quite kindly disposed towards her, though the feeling was not
reciprocated, for as Harriett did not know of Elsie's intentions, she
could not be supposed to be grateful for them; but, on the contrary,
she felt a grudge at her for enjoying herself in this way at the
expense of her bonnet. Harriett Phillips played and sang very well; her
father was fond of music, and that taste had been very well cultivated
for her time and opportunities, and she had kept up with all the modern
music very meritoriously. Perhaps it was this, more than anything else,
that had made her Dr. Phillips's favourite daughter, for in all other
things Georgiana was more self-forgetful and more sympathising.
Stanley, too, admired his sister's accomplishment; he had missed the
delightful little family concerts and the glee-singing that he had left
for his bush life, and if it could have been possible for his wife to
acquire music it would certainly have been a boon to him; but as she
had no ear and no taste, even he saw that it was impracticable; but
Emily was to be an accomplished musician. She did not go to bed with
the little ones, but sat up to play her two little airs to her papa's
friends--to teach her confidence, Mrs. Phillips said, but, in reality,
to give her a little spur to application.
"As for Emily needing confidence," whispered Brandon to Alice Melville,
"that is a splendid absurdity. These colonial children do not know what
bashfulness or timidity means--not but what I am very fond of all the
Phillipses, and Emily is my favourite."
"She is mine, too," said Elsie; "she is an affectionate and an original
child, with quick perceptions and quick feelings. I believe she is
very fond of me; I like little people to be fond of me."
"Not big people, too?" said Brandon, with an expression half comic,
Elsie blushed. Emily came up to her dear friend, Mr. Brandon, and her
favourite, Alice. "Aunt Harriett is going to play and sing now, and
after that, Alice, you must sing. I like your songs better than Aunt
Harriett's twenty times, because I can hear all your words."
"I cannot sing," said Elsie, "I never had a lesson in either music or
singing in my life."
"Oh! but you sing very nicely; indeed she does, Mr. Brandon: and there
is not a thing that happens that she cannot turn into a song or a poem,
just like what there is in books, and you would think it very pretty if
you only heard them. We get her to bring her work into our nursery in
the evenings, and there we have stories and songs from her."
"You are in luck," said Mr. Brandon; "but now that you have told us of
Miss Alice Melville's accomplishments, we must be made to share
in your good fortune."
"No, indeed," said Elsie; "as Burns says, 'crooning to a body's sel'
does weel eneugh;' but my crooning is not fit for company, except that
of uncritical children."
"You know I am as uncritical as the veriest child," said Brandon. "I
must have given you a very erroneous impression of my character, if you
can feel the least awe of me; but I recollect your twisting a very
innocent speech of mine, the first evening I had the pleasure of
meeting you, into something very severe. That was rather ill natured."
"Alice is not ill-natured at all," said Emily. "Aunt Harriett sometimes
is. She is looking cross at me now for talking while she is singing."
"It is very rude in all of us," said Elsie, composing herself to give
attention to Miss Phillips's song.
"I tell you what, you dear old boy," whispered Emily. "I don't think
Alice will sing here, or tell you any of her lovely stories; but I
will smuggle you into the nursery some day, and you will just
have a treat."
"What have I done since I came to England," said Brandon in the same
undertone, "that I should have been banished in this cruel way from the
nursery? Did you ever refuse me admission at Wiriwilta--did not I kiss
every one of you in your little nightclothes, and see you tucked into
bed? If I was worthy of that honour then, why am I debarred from it
"You saved our lives, papa says--you and Peggy--and so we always
liked you; and, for my part, I like you as well as ever I did now; but
we are in England now, and it is so different from Wiriwilta--dear old
Wiriwilta, I wish I was back to it. I wish papa was not so rich, for
then we would go back again; but it's no use as long as he has got
enough of money to stay here. The letters that came the other day--you
"I got none," said Brandon; "I suppose mine are sent by Southampton."
"Well, I don't think they had good news, or papa's face looked
rather long, and he has been so quiet and dull ever since; so I am in
hopes that things are not going very well without him, and then we will
have another beautiful long voyage with you, and get back to dear,
darling Australia again. Harriett wants to go back too."
"What a chatterbox you are, Emily," said her aunt, who had finished her
song. "It is quite time you were in bed."
"Not quite, auntie; papa said I might sit up till ten tonight; and Mr.
Brandon and I are so busy talking about old times, that I do not feel
it a bit late."
"Old times, indeed," said Harriett; "what old times can a little chit
like you find to talk of?"
"Oh, the dear old times at Wiriwilta, when we were such friends; and,
the time that I cannot recollect of when there was the fire, and Peggy
and this old fellow saved our lives. I wish I could remember about
it--mamma does, though."
"Indeed I do," said Mrs. Phillips, with a tranquil expression
of satisfaction at the thought of the danger she had escaped. "We was
all in terrible danger, and all through that horrid doctor. Stanley
should have let me have my own way, and taken me to Melbourne; but he
would not listen to reason."
"Well, Lily, you are none of the worse now, and I hope you do not feel
it burdensome to be so much obliged to our old friend Brandon."
"Oh no, not at all."
"You need not be," said he, laughing; "don't attempt to make a hero of
me: a mere neighbourly good turn happened to have important
consequences. Peggy's conduct was far beyond mine."
"But you were badly scorched," said Emily. "Do let us see the scar on
your arm once more--I have not seen it in England." Brandon indulged
the child; turned up his sleeve, and Emily gave the arm a hug and a
This was rather a strange exhibition for a drawing-room,
Harriett Phillips thought, but Brandon never was much of a gentleman.
Even Stanley had sadly fallen back in his manners in Australia, and
what could be expected of Brandon? Mr. Hogarth had more taste; he had
the dignified reserve of a man of birth and fortune; he had made
remarks on her musical performance that showed he was really a judge.
It was not often that she had met with any man so variously
accomplished, or so perfectly well bred. He had promised to accompany
them to the exhibition of paintings on the morrow, and she had great
pleasure in anticipating his society, if it were not for the thought of
A Bonnet Gained And A Lover Lost
"My letters have come at last," said Brandon, next morning, as he
joined his friends at breakfast. "My overseer, I suppose, wanted to
show his economy, and posted them by the Southampton mail, which does
not suit me at all. I would rather do without my dinner on mail-day
than have my letters delayed for nearly a week. And now there is bad
news for me, I must leave by the first ship. Had I got my letters when
you received yours, I should have gone by the mail steamer and saved a
month, but I cannot possibly manage to get off so soon."
"Oh! Mr. Brandon," said Mrs. Phillips, calmly, "there surely is
no such need for hurry."
"Everything is going to the dogs at my station. I will probably have to
buy land at a high price; and there appears to have been great
mismanagement, from the accounts I hear. Another six months like the
last and I will be a ruined man. It is very hard that one cannot take a
short holiday without suffering so grievously for it. What were your
accounts, Phillips; I think you said they were rather unsatisfactory?"
"Not very good, certainly; but not so bad as that comes to. You will
look to Wiriwilta a little when you return, and send me your opinion. I
had better entrust you with full powers to act for me, for I should
prefer you as my attorney to Grant."
"I hope he will not be offended at the transfer," said Brandon.
"Oh! I think not; he took it very reluctantly, for he said his own
affairs were enough for him."
"And perhaps a little more than enough," said Brandon, with a
smile. "In that case I will be very glad to do all in my power for
"I have no wish to return to Australia," said Mr. Phillips, "if I can
possibly afford to live here. With a family like mine, England offers
so many advantages. In fact, there is only one place in the world worth
living in, and that is London."
"Very true, if you have enough to live on," said Brandon, shrugging his
shoulders. "I must go now to work as hard as ever to get things set to
rights again, and perhaps in another dozen of years, when I am feeble,
old, and grey, I may return and spend the poor remnant of my days in
this delightful centre of civilization. But with me, fortunately, there
are only the two alternatives, either London or the bush of
Australia--there is no middle course of life desirable. If I cannot attain
the one, I must make the best of the other."
Harriett Phillips listened to all this, and believed that matters were
much worse with Brandon than they really were. She had no fancy
for a twelve years' banishment from England, nor for a rough life in
the bush. Mr. Brandon had been represented to her as a thriving settler
who had made money. She saw the very comfortable style in which her
brother lived, and she had no objection to such an establishment for
herself; but she was not so particularly fond of Mr. Brandon as to
accept for his sake a life so very different and so very much inferior.
She felt that she had been deceived, and she did not like being
deceived, or mistaken, and she still less liked to make mistakes; and
instead of blaming herself, she was angry with everyone else--her
brother, her sister-in-law, Brandon himself--for leading her to
believe that his circumstances were so much better than they were. Of
course, he would ask her--he could not help doing so; but as to
accepting him--that was quite a different question.
She had put on her old bonnet with a grudge at Elsie; and when Mrs.
Phillips appeared in the drawing-room ready for the party to the
exhibition in all the splendour of her new one, which really
looked lovely, and she lovely in it, and Harriett caught the reflection
of both figures in the large mirror, she felt still more dissatisfied
with everybody than she had done before. The gentlemen were ready, and
they were just about to start, when a light quick step came to the
door, and a little tap was heard.
Harriett opened it, and was delighted to see Elsie holding in her hand
the second bonnet completed--equally beautiful, equally tasteful, and
apparently quite as expensive.
"Oh, Alice, how good of you! What a love of a bonnet! Come in and see
Mr. Hogarth. Look, Mrs. Phillips--look at Alice's clever handiwork."
And Alice was introduced a little unwillingly into the drawing room to
be complimented on her taste and her despatch, and to shake hands with
the two gentlemen. Miss Phillips was too much engrossed with her
bonnet, and with the improvement it would make in her appearance, to
observe the earnest, anxious looks of her two fancied admirers,
as they greeted her sister's lady'smaid; or that they looked with
interest and concern on her tired face, which, though now a little
flushed with excitement, bore to those who knew the circumstances
traces of having been up very late and very early over her work.
"I knew she could do it," Harriett whispered to Mr. Brandon, when Alice
left the room; "she is so excessively quick. I never would have said so
much about it yesterday, if I had not known she could easily do it; and
does not mine look as well as Mrs. Phillips's? I said it would." And so
she accepted Mr. Hogarth's arm, and went to see the pictures with a
better judge than Brandon, in all the triumph of her new bonnet--the
lightest, the most becoming she had ever had in her life: but her
influence with Walter Brandon was lost for ever. He wished he had had
Jane Melville, with her good common sense, or Elsie, with her sweet
voice and winning ways, hanging on his arm instead of Mrs. Phillips,
who was very uninteresting to him, though her great beauty and
excellent style of dress made her an object of interest to other
people, and who always enjoyed being well stared at in public places.
But Jane was engaged with her pupils at this time, and Elsie was always
kept very busy, so that neither of them could accompany the party, and
Francis Hogarth felt disappointed, for he had anticipated the society
of one or both of them.
How curiously the egotist, who fancies every one is engrossed with him
or with her, would be disappointed if he or she could see the real
thoughts of the people about them.. How Harriett Phillips would have
started if she could have read the hearts of Hogarth and Brandon, and
seen what a very infinitesimal share she had in either.
Francis was only impelled to pay attention to Miss Phillips by his
natural sense of politeness, and by the wish to make the situation of
his cousins in the family pleasant, as far as it lay in his power to do
so; while Brandon, who had at last struck the key-note of Harriett's
character, was astonished to find new proofs of her selfishness
and egotism peeping out in the most trifling circumstances. He observed
how different her manner was towards him, now that a man of property in
the old country had appeared in the circle of her acquaintances, and he
could not fail to see that an additional coldness had come over her
when his circumstances were supposed to be less flourishing, and this
made him rather disposed to make the most and the worst of his bad
In Derbyshire, where she had her own established place in the
household, and where her father and her sister Georgiana gave way to
her so much, she had appeared more amiable than she did now. The armed
neutrality which she maintained with her sister-in-law had amused
Brandon at first, but now it appeared to him to be unladylike and
ungraceful to accept of hospitality in her brother's house without any
gratitude or any forbearance. He began to question the reality of her
very great superiority over Mrs. Phillips; with all her advantages of
education and society she ought to have shown more gentleness
and affection both to her brother's wife and his children. He analysed,
as he had never done before, her expressions, and weighed her opinions,
and found they generally had more sound than sense; and her habitual
assumption that she knew everything much better than other people,
became tiresome when he did not believe in her superiority.
He began, too, to contrast the charm of a face, when the colour went
and came with every emotion, with that of one so unimpressible as
Harriett Phillips's--whose self-possession was nearly as different
from that of Jane Melville as it was from the timidity and diffidence
of Elsie. Jane's calmness was the result of a strong will mastering the
strong emotions which she really felt, and not in the absence of any
powerful feeling or emotion whatever. Brandon had learned to like Jane
better as he knew more of her, and rather enjoyed being preached to by
one who could practise as well as preach. He felt that if she was
superior to him she did not look down on him; and she certainly
had the power of making him speak well, and of bringing out the very
large amount of real useful practical knowledge that he had acquired in
his Australian life. Her eagerness to hear everything about Australia
and Australians certainly was in pleasing contrast to Miss Phillips's
distaste for all things and people colonial; but above all, Miss
Phillips's want of consideration for Alice Melville had weaned Mr.
Brandon's heart from her. It was not merely unladylike; it was
unwomanly. He could not love a wife who had so little sympathy and so
Francis Hogarth did not forget his promise to Mr. Dempster, and went to
his house at the hour appointed, to be witness of the seance. A number
of his friends and fellow-converts were there, and the proceedings of
the evening were opened by a short and earnest prayer that none but
good spirits should be permitted to be present, and that all the
communications they might be permitted to hear might be blessed to the
souls of all of them.
The medium was a thin, nervous-looking youth of about nineteen; but, as
Mr. Dempster assured Mr. Hogarth, was in every way to be trusted, as
his character was irreproachable, and of great sincerity and
simplicity. Francis was very incredulous as to the appearances being
caused by spiritual agency, and though he could give no satisfactory
explanation of the extraordinary movements of tables, easy chairs,
sofas, &c., he felt that these things were very undignified and absurd,
as every unbeliever always feels at first; but the eagerness of the
large party who were gathered together had something infectious in it.
Many of them had known severe bereavement--many of them had been
tossed on the dark sea of doubt and despondency--and the brief
messages communicated by raps, or by the voice of the medium, gave them
consolation and hope.
To Francis, the details communicated appeared to be meagre and
unsatisfactory. The spirits all said that they were happy, which to
some present was a fact of inestimable value, but to him it was a
matter of course. He never had believed, since he had thought out the
subject in early manhood, that God would continue existence if He did
not make it a blessing. But to others who, like many before
him, had intelligently accepted of a sterner theology, and who had been
struggling through years of chaotic doubts and fancies for footing on
which to rest, he saw that these assurances gave real strength and
support. An hour had passed amidst these manifestations--the interest
of the believers continued to be unflagging, but Francis felt a little
tired of it. He had lost no dear friend by death. The future world had
not the intense personal interest to him that it had to others. The
dearest beings in the world to him were his two cousins, and they were
divided from him by circumstances almost as cruel as the grave. How few
have done justice to the sad partings, the mournful alienations that
have been caused by circumstances! Bereavement in all its varied
bitterness has been sung by many poets in strains worthy of the
subject; but circumstances are so insidious, and often so prosaic, that
their tragical operation has been rarely treated of in verse.
His thoughts recurred, as they always did when he felt sad or
serious, to Jane Melville--to the will that had brought them together,
and at the same time so cruelly parted them--to the unknown father,
whose own life had been blighted by the loss of domestic happiness,
dealing so fatal a blow to the son whom he meant to bless and reward,
by placing him in circumstances where he could not help loving Jane,
and forbidding--so far as he could forbid--the marriage of two souls
made for one another. Francis was wondering if his father now saw the
mistake he had committed, or regretted it, when he was startled by the
announcement that his father was in the room, and wished to communicate
"How am I to know it is he?" said Francis, starting up incredulously,
but at the same time somewhat awed by the mere possibility that such a
one was there, out of the body, owning him as his son, which he had not
done while he was alive.
"Does the spirit mean to communicate by raps or through the medium?"
asked Mr. Dempster.
"By raps," was the answer given.
"Take the alphabet in your own hand," said Mr. Dempster, "and ask the
spirit his name, and then pass your finger over the alphabet--the rap
will arrest you at the right letter."
Francis passed his finger along the alphabet, half disdainfully, half
in curiosity. The rap stopped him at the letter H. He had never thought
the curious little taps sounded so unearthly before. Next he was
stopped at E, then at N, then at R, and next at Y; and so on, till the
full name of Henry Hogarth was spelled out.
"You wish to communicate with me;--then you love me now?"
The three quick raps meaning "Yes" was the immediate reply.
"Are you satisfied with what I have done at Cross Hall since your
Again the alphabet was called for, and the raps spelled out, "Very much
"Are you sorry for the will you made?"
"All will be well in the end," was spelled out.
"Did you see your nieces' sufferings unmoved--their poverty,
their disappointments, their unfitness for the work that you had set
them to do?"
"They are better for what they have suffered," was spelled out; "and
"Does the letter in my pocket come from my mother?"
The three raps replied in the affirmative.
"Did you give her an annuity, as she says you did?"
A single rap, meaning "No," was the reply.
"What did you give her, then, to make her forego her claims on you?"
"A sum of money," was the reply.
Francis observed a great difference in the character of the raps
proceeding from Mr. Hogarth from those of the spirit last summoned,
which had been supposed to be that of Mr. Dempster's eldest daughter,
who had died at sixteen, and of a lingering disease. The latter were
faint, and almost inaudible to an unpractised ear, while those of his
father were firm and distinct. There was never any power of
knowing from what part of the room the raps would come, and as answer
after answer appeared to come so readily to his questions, it is not to
be wondered at that Francis felt excited and awed at the mysterious
"Advise me, my father; tell me what to do if you see more and know than
more I can do. Should I assist my mother, as she asks me to do?"
The single impatient rap, meaning "No," was the immediate reply.
"Is she not in poverty and want?"
Again the answer was "No."
"Should not I write to her?"
"No; have nothing to do with her," was the answer.
"Can I ever have what I most desire in the world? You promise
improvement--I want happiness," said Francis, passionately, startled
out of himself by the extraordinary pertinence of the answers to his
questions, and careless in the company of absolute strangers as
to what they thought of him.
"Patience! I watch over you," was the reply.
"What do you do in the spiritual world?"
"I am learning," answered the spirit, "from one who loves me."
"What is her name?" asked Francis.
The alphabet was in his hands; he was anxious not to let any sign of
his give any clue in case of its being all imposture and extraordinary
quickness of sight. He purposely passed over the letters, but was
rapped back by the recognised signal till the name "Marguerite" was
"Yes," said he to himself, "you think all is well in the end; you have
met Marguerite in the spirit world, after being separated for a
lifetime in this, and this is very sweet to you; but I want Jane now to
help me to live worthily. Can I win her in this life?"
"After a time," said the spirit, rapping by the alphabet this answer to
his inaudible question.
"You then can answer mental questions," thought Francis. "What
connection can Mr. Phillips possibly have with Mrs. Peck, or rather
Elizabeth Hogarth?" But to this inaudible question the spirit made no
reply, and told him, through the medium, that he was disinclined for
any further communication. Certainly it was a question which he felt
conscious he had no right to put, after what Mr. Phillips had said to
him. The spirit was in the right not to answer it.
"Are you convinced?" said Mr. Dempster, who had seen the surprise with
which Mr. Hogarth had spelled out the answers.
"I am staggered," said Francis. "The general answers might have been
given at random, but the names, I am convinced, were unknown to every
one here except myself."
"It always is the names that convince people," said a friend of the
"I have asked some questions as to the future," said Francis. "I do not
know if it is allowable to do so. Do your spirits claim to have a
knowledge of what is to come?"
"Oh, yes; they do--those of the highest class in particular,"
said Mr. Dempster.
"I do not see how they can," said Francis musingly. "To know the future
is a prerogative of Omniscience, and even the highest created
intelligence cannot tell what His purposes may be."
"How do we guess at the future with sufficient accuracy to direct us in
the present but by generalization from experience? Now, a departed
spirit certainly has had a wider experience--sees more into other
souls and their workings than we can possibly do while encumbered with
these robes of clay--and consequently can make a juster
generalization," said Mr. Dempster.
"But not an infallible one?" said Francis.
"No; certainly not," said Mr. Dempster.
"But, as to the present, their views are sure to be correct?" said
"If they are good spirits, and not lying spirits. We prayed against
their appearance, and I do not believe that the spirit who has
been communicating with you was of that kind," said Mr. Dempster.
"How, then, do you judge between lying spirits and true ones?" asked
"By the nature of their communications. A false or an immoral message
cannot be delivered by a good spirit."
"Then you still continue to be the judges of the spirits? You do not
bow your morality to theirs--you select and reject as you see good?"
"Morality is universal and eternal," said Mr. Dempster. "Even God
himself cannot make evil good or good evil by any fiat of his own."
"Then have these manifestations taught you anything that could not have
been otherwise learned?" asked Francis.
"They have taught ME much that I could not have otherwise learned. I
cannot say what other people may attain to through pure reason or
through a simple faith in the revealed will of God. There are
diversities of administration, but the same spirit," said Mr. Dempster,
with a simple earnestness that weighed much with Francis. But
here Mr. Dempster's attention was called to a message from an old
friend who had just died one of the saddest of deaths, having been lost
in the Australian scrub twelve years before.
These raps were still stronger than those of Mr. Hogarth, being
violent, and following immediately on the question wherever a negative
or affirmative was used.
Mr. Dempster said he had been a powerful young man, of the most
unquestionable determination, and that the raps were always consonant
to the character of the spirit when in life. He eagerly turned to
identify him. The name was correctly given; the date of his death; the
length of time he had existed without food and water, and the clothes
he had on when he died. Then a message was sent to his aged mother, who
had so long mourned for her youngest born, that he was expecting her
soon to join him in the spirit land. The place where the old lady lived
was mentioned, and her state of health was described as being bad.
"All perfectly true, perfectly true, Mr. Hogarth. Poor Tom! His
was a distressing fate. I expected that we should have something good
in manifestations this evening, but I scarcely looked for anything so
perfectly satisfactory as this. Every name and every date exactly
correct. Are you not convinced now?"
"I am certainly very much staggered," said Francis. "Have you been
thinking much about your friend or his mother lately?"
"Not particularly that I know of; but I liked him very much, and I
often think of his solitary death."
"Have you heard that his mother is in bad health?"
"She has been an invalid for years, and you heard her age; but we must
make a note of the date, and ascertain if she is particularly worse
to-night. I feel sure that there are not many days of this earth for
her, and how blessed a thing it is that we have such an assurance of a
reunion and recognition as these communications give to us."
When Francis got into the open air after the excitement of the
evening, he was inclined to think that all had been a dream or a
delusion, but the answer and the names recurred with startling
significance; the difficulty and almost the impossibility of any cheat
or collusion, and the apparent sincerity of all who had been sitting by
him during the manifestations, increased the bewilderment of his mind.
"I must see Jane about this to-morrow," said he; "her clear head can
perhaps solve this curious problem; but if I had not seen it, I would
not have believed what I saw. Will she believe without seeing? Yes, she
will receive my testimony, for I would receive hers. After a time I may
hope to be happy. How long a time, I wonder?"
Spiritualism, Love, And Politics
Great was the grief of Emily when she heard that Mr. Brandon was going
away in a week or two, and that he might never come back to England for
a dozen of years; and now, instead of spending the rest of his time in
London with them, he had to go to Ashfield, to spend his last days in
England with his mother and sisters and nephews and nieces. She felt
quite wronged by this conduct, and bade him goodbye when he came to
take his temporary leave of them, with an amount of sulkiness rather
foreign to her character. Lessons were a far greater bore than usual on
that day, and both Emily and Harriett tried Jane's patience sorely.
After they were set free for two hours in the middle of the
day, Jane found her cousin was waiting for her to go out with him, and
she wished very particularly to see him, on account of some news she
had got from Scotland. He had not been satisfied to have none of her
society on the preceding day, and had appointed with Mrs. Phillips to
come when she would be at leisure, which that lady had forgotten or
neglected to tell Jane or Elsie. It was Jane alone whom he wished to
see--it was to her alone that he could speak about the communication
with reference to his letter. Jane was sorry that Elsie was not asked
to accompany their walk; but when Francis said he had something on his
mind, and proceeded to tell all the singular circumstances of the
previous evening, she listened with the greatest attention and with a
suspended judgment. When he came to the mental question which related
to herself, he simply called it something on which his heart was
greatly set--it might have been his allotments or his cottages; but
Jane asked no questions, and took no notice of his want of
completeness in his narrative. Then he told of the inquiry as to Mrs.
Peck's connection with Mr. Phillips, which he ought not to have asked,
and which had received no answer. He paused for Jane's opinion before
he came to narrate Mr. Dempster's message from his friend lost in the
"Now, what do you think of all this, Jane?"
"I am a little staggered, as you were," said she. "I wish you had heard
more or less--it bewilders me."
"Should I then follow this advice so strangely given?"
"I think the advice exactly corresponds with what you had resolved to
do at any rate. It need not influence you either one way or the other.
You asked my advice the other day, but neither from me nor from a
departed spirit should you accept of or follow any advice which appears
to your own soul not to be good. You cannot shift off your personal
responsibility. As I said, it is your affair, not mine; and I feel
sorry that consideration for me, and for my generous employer,
has weighed so much with you that you scarcely give the claims of your
mother their just due."
"And the spirit said she was my mother, but at the same time advised,
or rather commanded me to have nothing to do with her. I do not wish to
have anything to do with her. What is it to be grateful for--such a
loveless, joyless life as mine has been--thwarted even now in my
dearest hopes and wishes."
"Francis," said Jane, "you have a great deal to be thankful for, and so
have I. With all the sufferings of the past year, I would not have been
without it for the world. We have both learned much, both from
circumstances and from each other."
"Jane, I am weary of all this talk about progress and perfection. I am
hungering for happiness, as I told this strange interlocutor last
night," said Francis, earnestly.
"And you will attain to it, Francis! but do not set your heart on what
it is not right, or wise, or expedient for you to obtain. And you
cannot look me in the face and say that, if one thing is
denied, you have not many sources of happiness."
Jane looked at him with her sisterly eyes, feeling the pain she was
giving, but determined not to show that she had any personal regret. It
was very kind, but it was very discouraging. She felt for him like a
sister--and nothing more.
"If I have any eyes," said Francis, trying violently to change the
subject, "Brandon is still an admirer of your sister's. What in the
world keeps him from declaring himself? Why does he not offer her all
he has, and all he may hope to gain? He cares no more for Miss Phillips
than I do, and she would never consent to accompany him to Australia.
And Elsie looks so pretty and so sad, she needs a protector; she would
be grateful to him; she cannot stand alone, as you do; and she knows
she makes your position here much more difficult."
"The truth is, Elsie refused him, and it is difficult for a man to make
a second offer when he has such slight opportunities of seeing
her, even if he has not made a transfer of his affections."
"I would make an opportunity--I would write--I would ask point-blank
to see her--I would speak to you about it, if I were in his place. It
is cowardly in Brandon."
"Why, Francis, you are very unreasonable. Elsie refused him as
positively and uncompromisingly as possible on her way down to
Derbyshire. I do not think she would do so now; but how is he to know
"I would hint as much to him, if I were you. Why, Jane, a word from you
might secure your sister's happiness for life, and you shrink from
"Indeed I do," said Jane. "I think no good can come from interfering in
such matters, and I am particularly ill-adapted for such a delicate
communication. Besides, if one may judge by the last few weeks, it is
Miss Phillips who ought to receive the offer of marriage, and not
Elsie. If her brother were to ask what Mr. Brandon's intentions
are, as he might very well do, the result would be a marriage of two
very ill-assorted people. She cannot comprehend the real goodness and
simplicity of his character, and despises the man whom she is scarcely
worthy to wait on. She even looks down on her generous brother; she has
no love for her brother's children, and no sympathy with anyone. I am
really very glad to observe, with you, that her influence with Mr.
Brandon has decreased of late; but he certainly has paid her a great
deal of attention, and she expects a proposal."
"Her face has no charm to me," said Francis. "Taken feature by feature
it is handsome enough; but it wants play and variety, and it has not
the perfect harmony of Mrs. Phillips's. That is a singularly beautiful
index to a soul that appears to be nothing particular. I have heard it
said that we have all our ugly moments. Have you ever seen such a time
with Mrs. Phillips?"
"There are times when she certainly does not look beautiful to
me, nor to Elsie either. But I wanted to speak to you of your own
affairs. I had letter from Tom Lowrie this morning, in which he says
that he hears from one of his old schoolfellows that you have been
asked to stand for the Swinton group of burghs, and that every one says
you will easily be able to carry them over the duke's man."
"Ah! has he heard about it? I should have told you of it, but the more
pressing personal interest of the letter from Melbourne, Mr. Phillips's
strange agitation, and this mysterious spiritual communication, put it
out of my head for the time, and a word from you would put it aside for
ever," said Francis, with the old wistful look.
Jane, like all women who are interested in public matters at all, and
they form a very small minority of her sex, rather over-estimated the
importance of a parliamentary career. She knew the turn of her cousin's
mind, his education as a man of the people, his position as a man of
property, his earnest desire to do right, his patient habits of
business, and his thorough method of research and inquiry, were all
certain guarantees that he could not fail; and she had the belief that
his abilities, and readiness, and confidence would make him an eloquent
and skilful debater. It appeared to her to be an object of great
importance that a perfectly honest and independent member should
replace for the burghs in her native country the nominee of a great
family, who only voted with his party, and never had done any credit
either to the electors or to the nation. She said truly when she spoke
of her ambition finding its vent in dreams about him and her pupil, Tom
Lowrie. She certainly had influenced Francis Hogarth's character
greatly during the turning-point of his life; the ideas she had nursed
in her trials had been on his mind with force and earnestness, and
through him she could hope to give a voice to a number of her crotchets
and theories. Where a woman writes as well as thinks, she does not feel
this dependence on the other sex so strongly; for, though at a
disadvantage, she can for herself utter her thoughts--but
Jane, as my readers will have observed, was not literary. She was an
intelligent, well-informed, observing woman, but her field was action,
and not books. In her present situation she had very little time for
reading; but, from all that she saw, and from all the conversation she
could hear, she found hints for action and subjects for thought. To see
Francis in the British Parliament was a worthy ambition, and to give up
such a probable career for an inglorious and obscure life with herself
was not to be thought of. His wistful looks and earnest tones were to
be treasured up in her heart for ever; but her own love for him was not
of that imperious and unreasonable nature that she could not live
"Do you think that you can really get in?' said Jane, eagerly. 'I know
that my uncle said the Liberal interest was much stronger in the burghs
of late, and you are really the fittest man they could have. I was
quite pleased to hear from Tom that you are so soon appreciated. Of
course, he is enthusiastic on the subject."
"I do not know if I am appreciated or not, but the burghs are a little
tired of a struggle between the Conservative duke and the Whig earl,
always resulting in some one being put up on both sides, to whom there
were no strong objections, and no strong recommendations--a mere
nobody, in fact."
"You are popular in the county, are you not?" asked Jane.
"No, not exactly. I do not think I could possibly carry the county,
even if I could afford the contest, for I am not considered a safe
person for the landed interest. I gained some eclat on the road
trusteeship, by opening a road which was a great public convenience,
but I lost more than I gained there, by my allotments, which are looked
on as a dangerous precedent. The cottages make me popular with those
who have no votes, and with the more enlightened class of farmers, but
the old school of tenants object to them, and almost all the landlords
fear that they may be asked to lay out money in the same way. On the
whole, I am considered rather a dangerous man in the county, but in the
burghs I am popular, I think. I have the character of being a man of
the people, who has not lost sympathy with his class, and I can afford
to give them my time and services, such as they are."
"If you go in, you want to do so independently," said Jane.
"Yes, I do; and here I risk my election. The Liberal party want
a certain vote, which they think they could secure better by sending up
a stranger from the Reform Club, who knows little and cares less about
the burghs, than by supporting a man who will look into political and
national questions for himself, and who will not be a mere partisan. If
they mistrust me and send some one to divide the Liberal interest, I
can only save the Swinton burghs from the duke's man, by retiring."
"But how foolish to divide the Liberal interest," said Jane.
"My dear Jane, you forget that his party is dearer to a party man than
anything else. The question to be considered--and I want to see how
your nice conscience will guide you through the bewildering mazes of
political morality--is this: Whether it would be right to pledge
myself to the party, in which case I am sure of my return, or to remain
independent, and so make it very doubtful," said Francis.
"You cannot vote always with the Liberals--at least with the
Liberals who form governments and oppositions," said Jane. "They are
often in the wrong, and particularly so in the bestowal of patronage,
which, I suppose, is a very important matter among party politicians.
The appointments which the Whigs have made of late years have often
been most shamefully actuated by family or party reasons, and not with
a single eye to the public service. Many times the Conservatives are
really more liberal than the Whigs--sometimes the Whigs are more
Conservative than the Tories. It is of the first importance that there
should be many men such as you in Parliament, who will watch over both
parties; and, if this determined dualism is at work everywhere, how are
such men to get into the legislature? But, surely, you could carry the
burghs--you can speak, can you not?"
"I don't know, I never tried; but I dare say I could beat Mr.
Fortescue, the duke's candidate. He has never opened his mouth in the
House, but to give his vote, and on the hustings he made no figure."
"Try the independent course, by all means; you may be beaten,
but then if you succeed, you will be so much more useful."
"It will probably cost me a thousand pounds."
"It is shameful that the duty of serving one's country for nothing
should be so dearly bought. If you get in, you must try to introduce
some measure to reduce election expenses."
"A difficult matter. The object of the Parliament, when once assembled,
is to make it difficult and expensive to get in. To keep the
candidature within the limits of a privileged body is considered a
"Not by me, or by you," said Jane. "I want you to get in because you
know the feelings and the wants of the people who have no votes better
than ninety-nine out of a hundred, who are members of Parliament. Oh!
Francis, I feel quite sure that if you exert yourself you can get in.
And what is a thousand pounds?--you have it to spare."
"I am doubtful," said Francis, shaking his head, "if I can
afford to go into Parliament."
"Have you not two thousand a year? and do not lawyers who can scarcely
make a living go into Parliament? I am sure there is some perjury on
the subject of property qualification--but as, perhaps, the latter is
unnecessary, it is the less matter."
"They go to increase their means, or their practice, or their
influence, and generally take the first opportunity of accepting
something better than the Chiltern Hundreds under Government," said
"There must be something very wrong somewhere, if a country gentleman
of your standing cannot afford to give his services to the House of
Commons. Have you brought the requisition that was sent to you?" said
"Yes; do you really want to see it? I have it in my pocket, and if I
really felt in earnest on the subject, I ought to communicate with Mr.
Freeman, the earl's political agent in London, to know how he will
favour a man who would support the general policy of
Government, but who will hold himself free to vote against them
whenever he sees them in the wrong. My only means of securing the
earl's influence is by convincing him that he cannot carry the burghs
against Fortescue by such a man as he has to put up; and as I am rather
doubtful on that point, I can scarcely assert it confidently. If he
chooses to withhold his family interest he can make me fail; but if it
comes to the push, I would rather retire than let Fortescue get in."
"Electioneering, then, is very nice and difficult work," said Jane.
"Very difficult for the scrupulous, the sincere, and the far-seeing."
"Who are just the sort of people whom we want to see in Parliament."
"Whom YOU want to see, Jane, but not whom the two great parties wish to
see. Then, should I go to Mr. Freeman, do you think, with this
requisition and a frank declaration of my principles, and hear what he
says on the matter? If the earl supports me I may count on a
majority of twenty--a safe enough one; and if not, shall I spend the
thousand pounds in a glorious defeat; writing the boldest and most
independent of addresses; making the most uncompromising speeches from
the hustings, if I can find voice?"
"No fear of your finding voice, Francis," said Jane, warmly.
"Regardless of the savour of rotten eggs; undaunted by the sneers at my
birth and breeding; the tales about my father, the jeers at my mother;
and only retiring at the last moment, when I have said all that I have
got to say, but which, I fear, my audience were not much in a mood to
hear. My own idea is, that I should succeed better in the calm
argumentative debates in Parliament, than as a hustings orator, or a
"Yes, you will, and you certainly should try the second, that you may
attain to the first. My uncle was asked to stand for these burghs some
ten years ago, but he was too crotchety, and could not write an
address that was at all likely to be acceptable to the electors, so he
gave up the contest before it began. Yet, you know, it would be well to
have a few crotchety people in the House of Commons. The game of life,
whether social or political, is not played by only two sets of black
and red men--like chess or backgammon."
"I have met a gentleman at Miss Thomson's pretty frequently," said
Francis, "who struck me as having the most remarkable qualifications
for a member of Parliament. He has a habit of recurring to first
principles which is rather startling, but which always forces you to
give a reason for the faith that is in you, and which either confirms
your opinion satisfactorily, or changes, or modifies it. He has retired
from business on about 700 pounds a year--which he has made in America,
principally--has no family, no cares, and plenty of leisure--is the
most upright of men, and knows more of the principles of jurisprudence,
and the details of commercial matters than any one I ever knew; but no
constituency would choose him, and he cannot afford to throw
away a thousand pounds for the privilege of having his say out. He is
one of the electors of Swinton, and particularly anxious that I should
contest the burghs. His own vote he can answer for, but he boasts of no
large following; though he is a man who ought to exert mental
influence, he is too far ahead to be popular. If I were to stand, and
were to succeed, I will find him a most useful prompter; and with you
to inspire enthusiasm for the public service, and this Mr. Sinclair to
suggest principles and details, I ought to distinguish myself."
"I am quite sure that you will," said Jane; "so my advice is to lose no
time in seeing Mr. Freeman. I cannot believe that people who call
themselves liberal can act so illiberally as to endeavour to stifle
independence. You will tell me a different tale tomorrow."
Francis did as Jane advised him, and as he himself thought he should
do, and waited on Mr. Freeman. It happened to be a time of a
lull in party politics; there was no question strongly before the
public mind on which Whigs and Tories were so equally pitted that one
vote was of extreme importance; there was no near prospect of a change
of Ministry, and the great Whig houses had been much baited lately
about their family selfishness and their party selfishness being quite
as bad as that of the old Tory set. So it appeared to Mr. Freeman at
the present crisis to be a very wise and expedient thing to offer
support to an independent man like Mr. Hogarth, for it was very
questionable if the duke, who had been more liberal in his expenditure
in the towns, would not carry it against a mere club man, and they had
no better man to spare. Mr. Hogarth, at least, was sure to ask nothing
of the Government. His support, when they got it, would cost nothing;
his adverse vote would be only on outside questions, as a rule. It
would look very well for the county election, which was to be a very
tough affair between a younger son of the duke and a younger brother of
the earl, that Mr. Hogarth, of Cross Hall, should have the
earl's cordial support in the burghs. His vote was secure for the
Honourable James, and all those he could influence, he hoped. Francis
said he could answer for his own, but his tenants must please
"Oh, yes, certainly; but tenants generally find it for their advantage
to vote with their landlord," said the agent.
"I will give my tenants distinctly to understand that they must vote
from conviction, and that that will please me. That is my view of being
a Liberal," said Francis.
"And if all the other county proprietors had the same view the
Honourable James would walk the course; but we must oppose all the
stratagems of war of an enemy who takes every advantage, and strains to
the utmost the influence of property and patronage."
"I want to go in with perfectly clean hands," said Francis.
"Bless you, so does everybody," said the parliamentary agent; "but
somehow there is a lot of queer work must be done to get fairly
seated on the benches."
"I not only wish it, but I mean to do it," said Mr. Hogarth.
"Well, well--I hope you will be able to manage it. I must introduce
you to the earl. I think he will say, as I say, that he will give you
cordial support; so that the sooner you get your address out the
better--as soon in the field as possible, and don't fall asleep over it.
The other party are like weasels--they are not to be caught napping; and
will undermine what you fancy secure ground, if you only give them a
The result of Francis' interview with the earl was as satisfactory as
that with the agent. Party for once was inclined to waive its high
prerogative, and to allow a person to slip into Parliament without any
pledge as to future action. His manner prepossessed the earl; he
received an invitation to dinner to meet a few political friends, and
to talk over the canvass for the county, which was one on which all
their strength was to be expended. Harriett Phillips was all
the more interested in Mr. Hogarth when he had been invited to dinner
with a peer of the realm, and stood a good chance of adding M.P.
(though only for a Scotch group of burghs) to his name. Even Mrs.
Phillips felt a little excited at the idea of a British member of
Parliament, and seemed to view both Jane and Elsie with more favour
than she had done before; while Mr. Phillips, anxious to do away with
the impression of his first interview with Mr. Hogarth, was quietly and
cordially hospitable, and hoped that the Swinton burghs would return
him, that they might have the pleasure of his society in London for the
coming sessions. Francis spent a week or more in London, and promised
Miss Phillips to pay a visit to her father in Derbyshire by and by. Mr.
Brandon was completely at a discount, and as fairly out of the circle
of Harriett's probable future life at Ashfield as if he had sailed for
While Jane and Francis were discussing the state of Brandon's
affections, the object of their solicitude was going as fast as the
railway could take him to Ashfield, where his widowed mother lived with
his unmarried sister, a confirmed invalid, and a widowed sister, Mrs.
Holmes, the mother of those wonderful nephews and nieces whose
ignorance on the subject of dirt-pies had so much impressed Emily
Phillips. Brandon had always been very glad to go to see them, and to
stay a short time, but the intolerable dullness of the place had always
driven him back to London. Australians generally prefer a large town as
a residence, and London most of all; for though their relatives
in small country towns or rural neighbourhoods fancy that it must be so
much more lively with them than it is in the bush, there is a great
difference between the dullness where there is plenty of work to be
done, and the dullness where there is absolutely nothing.
Mrs. Brandon was a conscientious and, to a certain extent, rather a
clever woman, but she had many prejudices and little knowledge of the
world. Mary Brandon was the most amiable and the most pious and patient
of sufferers, who only got out in a Bath chair, and received a great
deal of care from her mother, while Mrs. Holmes devoted herself to her
children with a fidelity and an exclusiveness that made her influence
elsewhere almost infinitesimal. All of them loved Walter dearly, and
were very anxious that he should be married--most disinterestedly--for
their circumstances were straitened, and but for Walter's
assistance, which had been given whenever he could possibly afford to
do so, they would have found it difficult to make ends meet.
Mr. Holmes had been unfortunate in business, and the widow had
sacrificed part of her jointure, and the invalid sister as much of her
little fortune as was at her own disposal, to assist him in his
difficulties. Their generosity had the usual result of only delaying
the crash for him, and of finally impoverishing themselves.
One most promising brother had died at the close of a long, expensive
professional education, which he had expected to turn to great account
for the benefit of his sisters. Walter himself had been sent out to
Australia in his father's lifetime with a better capital than could
have been given afterwards, so that he always considered that he had
got more than his share, and that his assistance was nothing at all
The young Holmeses were taught and guarded by their mother night and
day; she accompanied their walks, she overlooked their games, she read
all their books before giving them to the children to read, and cut out
or erased anything that she thought incorrect in fact or questionable
in tendency. She allowed no intercourse with servants, and
almost as little with playfellows of their own age. And when Uncle
Walter from Australia came first to disturb the even tenor of their way
by lavish presents of sweetmeats, cakes, and toys, and by offers to
take the whole family to every attainable amusement, he was first
reasoned with, and then, as he was not convinced, he was put down, his
gifts returned, and the children instructed to say that they would
rather not have the treats he offered. He certainly preferred the wild
spirits and rebellious conduct of the little Phillipses, even in their
worst days, to the prim good-child behaviour of his own nephews and
He had the pleasure of telling Mrs. Holmes on this occasion that the
wild young Australians had been reduced to something like order by an
admirable governess whom he had been the means of procuring for them:
that in spite of all the overindulgence she had suffered from, Emily
was proving a very tolerable scholar--that she had good abilities and
an excellent heart, though she did climb on his knee for
comfits, and beg to be taken to Astley's. Mrs. Holmes wondered at his
procuring a governess for the children, and asked a good deal about
her, with the view of ascertaining if her brother was fixed at last;
but he talked about her with perfect NONCHALANCE, saying that she was a
particular favourite of an old servant of his called Peggy Walker, and
that her account of Miss Melville's qualifications was perfectly
satisfactory, as the result had proved. Mrs. Holmes was bewildered as
to the curious social relations of Australian people, but her mind was
set at rest about Jane Melville.
"But, Fanny," said he to his sister, "you know I have come to bid you
goodbye in a week or ten days. I cannot help it; things look so badly
just at present that unless I am on the spot I cannot see my way at all
clearly. I have little doubt that I will work things all right again;
the master's eye makes all go well. There need be no difference in the
little allowance I sent to my mother and you--that will be sent home
regularly as before. But I want to assist you otherwise if you
will allow me to do it. You have enough to do to bring up those six
children of yours, even with my little help. I will take your boy Edgar
with me; as I am not going overland it will not be so expensive. I will
train him to be useful to me, and make a man of him."
"No, no, Walter, I could not let him be away from under my own eye; he
is so young--his education is not finished," said Mrs. Holmes.
"And never will be, if you keep him always at your apron-string. You
cannot do it, Fanny; you must turn him into the world some day, and
surely he will be better turned out under my guidance than under none
at all. Why, the lad is sixteen, and though he is uncommonly ignorant
of the world, he knows enough of books and that sort of thing to acquit
himself very fairly in Australia. I promise to do my very best for him,
and he can be of great service to me very soon, if he has only a head
on his shoulders. And though it is very hard to find out what
your children are fit for, I dare say the boy has average
"Average intelligence!" exclaimed Mrs. Holmes; "his memory is
admirable. If you would only examine him in history, or geography, or
Latin, or scientific dialogues, or chronology, you would find-----"
"That I do not know the tenth part of what he does, no doubt," said
Brandon. "But that is not what will make him get on in the world. You
cannot afford to give him a profession."
"I fear not. I wish I could. Perhaps I might by more economy. The
education of my children has cost me very little hitherto, only the
classics and mathematics from the curate. I should like to bring Edgar
up for the Church."
"But, my dear Fanny, if you were to give him a profession, you must
send him away from you. If I take him I will do my utmost to get him
on, and I will really look after him, and keep him out of mischief,
better than you can do at a public school or a university."
"Oh! Walter, you know what a state Victoria is in--full of
runaway convicts, and all sorts of bad characters, attracted there by
the gold-diggings. I should not like Edgar to meet with such people."
"At my sheep stations he will see little or nothing of these people. I
will keep him busy, and by and by, when he comes to man's estate, I
will give him a start; and if you think I succeed with Edgar, I will
take Robert, too, when he is old enough."
"I know, Walter, that you mean very kindly by me and mine, but I do not
care so much for my boys being rich, or getting on, as you call it; I
want them to be good. I do not wish to throw them into the world till
their principles are fixed, and strong enough to withstand temptation.
Edgar is very young, and you are not firm enough to have the guidance
"I can be firm enough in important things," said Brandon; "but there
are a number of little matters that a lad should learn to determine for
himself. Let us ask Edgar if he would like to go. Don't say anything
for or against. For once let the boy exercise his choice, and
have the freedom of his own will. You may reverse his decision
afterwards if you see fit."
Mrs. Holmes assented to this, but with some fear and trembling. Edgar
was called in, and his uncle kindly and fairly made him the offer. The
lad hesitated--looked at his mother, then at his uncle, then at the
"What do you think I should do, mamma?" said he.
"Your mother wishes you to make your own choice," said Brandon.
"Then I think I should like to go with you, Uncle Walter."
"No, no; I cannot part with you yet, my dear boy."
"Nonsense, Fanny; do not stand in the boy's light," said Brandon, a
little ruffled at being taken at his word, and the lad's decision
reversed by his mother.
"I don't want to go if you do not wish it, mamma," said Edgar, looking
rather ashamed at his choice.
"Consult our mother and Mary on the matter, Fanny; I believe
they will be more reasonable."
The advice of both grandmother and aunt was to the effect that Mrs.
Holmes should take advantage of her brother's kindness, and entrust
Edgar to his care. It was not without a great effort that she made up
her mind to part with her son, and she had many serious compunctions of
conscience afterwards; but as his letters home were regular and very
prettily expressed, and as his uncle Walter generally added a few lines
to say that the boy was doing remark ably well, and growing strong and
large, she took comfort, and hoped that all was for the best.
Brandon was rather surprised at the cool reception he got from Harriett
Phillips on his return; it was a relief to him to see that she could
part from him without regret, for he felt none at leaving her. He had
been putting on his Australian set of feelings, and preparing to like
his bush life very much, as he had done in reality before. He had Edgar
with him when he came to bid the Phillipses goodbye, and Emily
was much amused at the idea of this model lad going out to Melbourne in
a large ship, and seeing dear Wiriwilta before she could do so. She
gave him messages to some of the people, and desired him to inquire
after the welfare of her pet opossum and her rose-crested cockatoo, and
write her a full, true, and particular account of them all, and of how
he liked the colony, which Edgar readily promised to do.
"And so this Mr. Hogarth has left London, Emily?" said Mr. Brandon.
"Oh, he has gone home to see about getting into Parliament--what
stupid work it must be!"
"Don't talk so absurdly," said Aunt Harriett.
"I see by the newspapers that he is likely to be put up; and you think
it stupid work, Emily, do you? You are a young lady of taste. I think
"He is quite sure of success," said Harriett Phillips, who thought the
question and remarks might have been addressed to her, as the best
informed person in the house.
"Miss Melville will be pleased at her cousin's going into the
political line," said he.
"Indeed, we are all pleased. I never saw any one so fitted to shine in
Parliament," said Harriett. "He has promised, when the election is
over, to visit papa; their politics will suit, I think."
"And how is Miss Melville?" asked Brandon.
"Quite well, she is always well; but we have been very much troubled
about servants of late. I believe really that all the good servants
have gone to Australia, for we cannot hear of a housemaid or nurse to
suit us, and it puts every one about. I know it annoys me, and Miss
Melville (who holds rather a singular combination of employments, and I
must say that she certainly discharges both of them extremely well) is
particularly engaged just now, making up her housekeeping books."
"And how is Miss Alice Melville? She is not so invariably well as her
"No, she mopes more. She has not half the spirit of Miss Melville; but
I believe she is quite well just now."
"Well", said Brandon, with a half sigh, "I have come to bid you
all goodbye; no one can tell when we may meet again."
"Oh! no fear," said Mrs. Phillips, "we will see you here again in a
year or two. Mr. Phillips is often grumbling about his affairs, but I
know it just ends in nothing."
"By the by, Emily," whispered Brandon, "you promised if I was a good
boy that you would give me a great treat. You will never have another
"Oh! yes," said Emily, "I recollect quite well--come along with me,"
and Brandon followed the child to the nursery. Elsie was singing
something to a tune that sounded like that of "Chevy Chase," a great
favourite with Brandon in his childhood--but she caught the sound of
footsteps at the door and stopped abruptly.
"This is our nursery," said Emily; "mamma says it is far better than
the old one at Wiriwilta, but I do not like it half so well. I have
brought Mr. Brandon here, Alice, to hear your songs and your
stories, as I promised him the night you would not sing in the
drawing-room when he asked you."
"Go on, Miss Alice, I beg of you; do not let me interrupt you. Indulge
me for once--that old air carries me back many years," said Brandon.
"Oh, no," said Alice; "I could not venture on a stanza before you. You
cannot imagine what doggerel I make to please the children."
"It is not doggerel; it is beautiful," said little Harriett; "it is the
best song of all, and the newest--the one that Alice has made about
the fire, when we were such tiny babies; and how poor mamma was so weak
and ill, and papa was away, and the flames were all around; and Peggy
and Jim--you recollect Jim, black Jim, Mr. Brandon--and Mrs. Tuck--Martha,
you know--were working so hard to save us; and then when Mr.
Brandon came up on his horse, Cantab--we told Alice his name was
Cantab--she knew all the rest of the story--and rode so fast
and got off in such a hurry, and fetched water and quenched the fire.
Oh! Mr. Brandon, it is a lovely song."
"And all made up after our talk of old times the other night; for I
thought it was just the thing for a ballad, and Alice will do anything
I ask her. You see that we will make a hero of you, and we will sing
this song in your praise when you are far away," said Emily.
"Then I am not be forgotten," said Brandon, speaking to Emily, but
looking very hard at Elsie. "I do not wish to be forgotten by any one
here; but I do not care for being remembered as a hero, which I do not
deserve to be--but as a--a friend."
"Our friends here have been so few that we are not likely to forget any
of them, and with Emily beside us we stand a good chance of hearing
your name frequently," said Elsie.
"And you made a song about me--actually about me," said Brandon,
looking as if he wished the five young Phillipses out of the way.
"Oh! Alice can make a song about anything," said Constance;
"she made one about my little kitten."
"And such a nice one about my humming-top--how it goes whiz--whiz,"
"And Peggy told Alice and Miss Melville about the fire, and all about
you long ago--long before she saw any of us," said Emily.
"She made up a pretty story to amuse them just as Alice does for us
when they were sad and dull--only Peggy's story was all true, and
Alice's are mostly not."
Brandon's quick eye could observe the faintest additional flush pass
over Elsie's already crimson cheek, and guessed that Peggy's
revelations had been a little too true and minute. What motive had she
to conceal anything about him when she was relating her own experiences
to divert the minds of the two poor girls in their troubles and
perplexities? Was this the solution of his refusal in the railway
carriage? If it was. he should try again. He had been a fool, an idiot,
to give up so readily at the first nay-say. Now, it was too late; his
passage was taken out for himself and Edgar, and he was to sail
on the morrow; but if things looked decently well at Barragong on his
return he must write, though he was no great scribe.
"Shall I not call Jane?" said Elsie, who felt embarrassed by his looks
and manner, and dreaded his saying anything particular before a group
of the sharpest children in the world. "She is extremely busy, but if
you have come to bid her goodbye, she must see you for that."
"You used to talk of going to Australia--to Melbourne, I mean--with
your sister and Peggy, when she returns."
"We hope to be able to do so," said Elsie.
"Then I will see you again--I must see you again. Don't call your
Here Brandon was interrupted by the entrance of Miss Harriett, whose
curiosity as to where Emily had taken her friend had led her to the
nursery, a place she seldom visited.
"Why, Emily, what a thing to bring Mr. Brandon into the nursery! You
are a dreadful girl! I must tell Miss Melville of this."
"I have only come to bid goodbye to some friends," said
"They should have come to you in the drawing-room, only those children
are so fond of their liberty that they prefer the nursery, where they
can torment Alice to their hearts' content, to anything like restraint
in the drawing-room. What a litter the place is in! I do wish we could
get a nurse."
"I must see Miss Melville, too, and bid her goodbye," said Brandon.
"She is in the housekeeper's room," said Harriett. "As you have been
introduced by Emily into the nursery, perhaps you will let me take you
"Goodbye, then, Miss Alice," said Brandon.
"Goodbye," said she.
Brandon could not drop a word of his intention to Jane, for Harriett
Phillips was at his elbow when he made his adieu; but somehow Elsie
treasured up his parting looks, and embarrassed expressions, with as
much fidelity as if he had made an open declaration of love. Many
a woman's heart lives long on such slight food as this. And the
next day, Brandon was on board, and soon on the high seas, on his way
back to his sheep-stations and his troubles.
Francis Hogarth's Canvass And Election
There can be little doubt that Jane Melville was a good deal influenced
in her decision as to the position she ought to hold with Francis by
the letter she had received from Tom Lowrie on the morning of the day
in which her cousin had betrayed to her more unmistakably than ever the
state of his own heart. It was something more for him to give up, and,
as I have said before, she rather overestimated both the importance of
the public duty and the amount of success in it which Francis was
likely to attain to. It might seem to impartial observers rather
Utopian to hope and expect some regeneration of the political world of
Great Britain from the return of an intelligent country
gentleman of independent and original principles, for a few obscure
Scottish burghs, to be one of an assembly of six hundred and
fifty-eight legislators, but it is from such Utopianism, felt, not in
one instance, but in many, that the atmosphere of politics, both in
Great Britain and in Australia, can be cleared and purified. When
people, whether as electors or candidates (or, as in the case of Jane
Melville, even those who are neither), take an exaggerated view of the
trouble, expense, and annoyance attending the discharge of public duty,
and form a low estimate of the good that each honest energetic
individual can do to his country by using every means in his power to
secure good government, to promote public spirit, and to raise the
standard of political morality, the country is on the decline. It may
grow rich, it may increase in national prosperity, but, as a nation, it
wants the soul of national life and national freedom. I prefer Jane
Melville's rather unreasonable hopes to the pusillanimous fears--the
LASSEZ FAIRE policy of those who think they know the world far
better, and who believe the game of public life is not worth the cost
of the candle that lights it up.
If she had been the only woman in the world, or the only woman likely
to suit Francis, and to make him happy, she would have felt very
differently; but surely he could have no difficulty in finding, among
the hundreds of thousands of marriageable women in Great Britain, some
one as likely (she even thought, more likely), to satisfy his heart
than herself. It was only because circumstances had made him know her
so well, and because he had been so intimately connected with no one
else, that he believed he loved her. He was a man whom any woman might
easily learn to love; and if she steadily held out to him that she was
only his dear sister--his faithful friend, and that she could never be
anything else, he would ere long form a tenderer tie. But she hoped and
wished that his lot might be cast with a good woman, who would not
grudge her the secondary place that she felt she could not give
up. She tried to convince herself that it could be only friendship
really on his part; but he had been so unused to affectionate
friendships, especially with one of the other sex, that he was very
likely to mistake his feelings.
The state of her own heart she did not like to look into very closely;
she knew that Francis was inexpressibly dear to her, but the absolute
absence of all jealousy made her doubt if it were really what is called
love. She could look forward without pain to another person becoming
more to him than herself. My readers will think that if it had been
really love, it would have forced itself upon her, and burst through
all the barriers that were laid across its course. But love in a strong
nature is a very different thing from the same amount of love in a
feeble nature. If it had been her own property and career that had to
be given up for his sake, her love would have probably conquered all
private ambition; but the very high estimation in which she held her
cousin, fought against her instinctive wish to make him happy.
And if the irrevocable step were taken, what security would she have
that he might not regret it?
She dwelt in her own mind on the disparities between them, which, but
for the peculiar circumstances in which they had been placed by her
uncle's will, must have prevented the formation even of the friendship,
now so close and so precious. She was perhaps scarcely aware that such
contrasts are more favourable to the growth and the continuance of love
than too near resemblance in character and temperament. She was so
different in many ways from him--he was literary--she was practical;
he was poetical and artistic, and by no means scientific--she was
destitute of taste, and saw more romance in the wonders of science than
in much of the poetry he admired so much; he was aristocratic by
temperament, and only forced by her influence at the turning-point of
his life into her democratic views--she could not rest from the
over-activity of her nature, while he liked repose, meditative,
literary, and DILETTANTI. The strong sense of duty, which
certainly was the guiding principle of his nature, led him to exertion;
while Jane worked because she could not help it. With Jane's
temperament Francis never would have stayed for fifteen years clerk in
the Bank of Scotland, while there were new countries to conquer, or new
fields to work in. He found pleasure in beautiful things; all disorder
or disorganization was positively painful to him. To begin again a life
of comparative poverty, burdened with the care of Elsie, would be far
more trying to him than to her; for though she had been brought up in
greater affluence, she cared less for the elegances of life. She loved
him far too well to allow him to sacrifice a great deal more than she
thought she was worth for such a doubtful good, and she entered heart
and soul into the prospects of this election, as the thing which would
decide Francis' fate, and would give him still nobler work to do, to
keep him from regretting what it was better he should not obtain.
The spiritual communication on the subject of Francis' hopes,
to the effect that after a time he should succeed in the object dearest
to his heart, had made far less impression on her mind than on his. She
had not heard the unearthly taps; she had not been startled by the
appropriate answers; she had not herself had her hand arrested at the
letters which spelled out the unknown names. Her curiosity led her to
attend a seance with Francis at the same place, but everything on that
occasion was a failure. The spirits had not got rightly EN RAPPORT with
her; her dead relations were misnamed; their messages were
uncharacteristic; and the spirit of Mr. Hogarth never could be summoned
up again. She therefore determined to dismiss the whole subject from
her thoughts, and advised Francis to do the same. Mr. Dempster,
however, was not willing to relinquish his half-made proselyte; and
certainly, the less Jane was inclined to believe in these
manifestations the more she became attached to the simple-minded pious
visionary who rested so completely in them.
Jane's own life was particularly full of work and of worry at
this time; for, as Miss Phillips might have taken part of the blame to
herself, if she had conceived it possible that she could do wrong; for
it was on her account that the housemaid had given warning--she said
that two missusses, that was, Mrs. Phillips and Miss Melville, was
enough for her, and she could not submit to a third, and she couldn't
abear Miss Phillips's interference. The nursemaid took umbrage at Elsie
sitting so much in the nursery with the children, though it was what
Mr. Phillips liked, and what the children delighted in; and besides
there was no other convenient place for her except her own bedroom,
which was too cold for comfort and too dark for fine work. Elsie's
position in the house was rather anomalous, and certainly added to
While Francis was busily engaged with his canvass, Mr. and Mrs.
Phillips took a short tour on the Continent. Harriett would have liked
to accompany them, and threw out hints to show that she
expected an invitation; but her sister-in-law thought they had done
quite enough for her, having her all that time in London, and taking
her about everywhere. Jane was to be left in charge of the children,
and Elsie was to go with her mistress. Now that Mrs. Phillips had a
lady's-maid, she could not possibly travel without one; and as neither
her husband nor herself knew any modern language but their own, Elsie
might be useful besides as an interpreter, as she understood French
very tolerably, and had learned a good deal of Italian. There might be
advantage by and by from being able to advertise French and Italian
acquired off the Continent, for perhaps a school might suit the
Melvilles better than going into business; so Jane was very glad indeed
that her sister, who would profit most by it, should take the trip
rather than herself. Miss Phillips returned to Derbyshire, as she had
no desire to stay even with such a congenial companion as Miss
Melville, with the drawback of a houseful of children.
In the meantime Francis' canvass went on briskly; Mr. Sinclair
constituted himself his most active agent, and certainly took more
trouble and fatigue about it than any paid agent; but he sometimes
seemed to do his cause more harm than good by his constant recurrence
to first principles, which alarmed the jog-trot old Whigs, and
occasionally even the out-and-out Radicals.
The five burghs, whose representation Mr. Hogarth was about to contest,
were grouped together because they lay in adjoining counties, and not
because they had any identity of interests. In the good old times,
before the passing of the Reform Bill, each burgh sent one delegate to
vote for the member. The delegate was elected by the majority of the
town council, and as that body invariably elected their successors, the
representation of the citizens, either municipal or parliamentary, by
such means, was the most glorious fiction that has ever been devised by
the wisdom of our ancestors. The double election in this case had no
good tendency. The Reform Bill was, on the whole, a very good thing,
more because it was a great change in the representation, which
was carried out without endangering the constitution, and was an
earnest of still greater reforms being made in the future, than because
there is any very great improvement either in the character of the
electors or their representatives; but to Scotland it was a greater
boon than to England; for the semblance of representative institutions
without the reality was a mockery to a free people, and a very
mischievous mockery. In 185--the burghs had each their registered
voters on the roll, who each voted for his favourite candidate, so that
the votes of five hundred men in one burgh could not be neutralized by
those of eighty men in another.
The stronghold of the Conservative party lay in Swinton, the genteel,
and Freeburgh, the county town. The Liberals mustered very strong in
Ladykirk, which had taken to the woollen manu factory within the last
quarter of a century, and had increased very much in extent and
population, so that it had far more voters paying 10 pounds rent than any
of the other towns. In Auldbiggin and Plainstanes parties were so
equal that no majority on either side could be reckoned on, but the
Whig majority in Ladykirk was expected to overtop the Tory majority in
the two first towns by as much as would secure Hogarth's return. The
Honourable Mr. Fortescue was again to be put up for the Tory interest,
for though he had not distinguished himself last parliament, he was a
perfectly safe party man, and connected by marriage, not with the duke,
but with a Tory marquis, next in consideration in the district, who had
great influence in the county returns.
Mr. Fortescue found he had a different man to fight with in Francis
Hogarth from his opponent last election, Mr. Turnbull; so he felt he
needed more backing, and brought with him a Mr. Toutwell, a great gun
with his party, who went his rounds both with and without him, and
acted as his mouthpiece.
"One has confidence in an experienced man," said this gentleman, in a
confidential way, to the electors, when he met them singly or by twos
and threes. "If the earl had put up a man of greater
parliamentary experience, he might have had a chance to oust Mr.
Fortescue, but his picking up this quill-driver, who has spent his life
behind a bank-counter, and offering him to the burghs, is really an
insult to the constituency. Mr. Fortescue is no orator--there is
enough of us in the House to speak, Heaven knows--there is only too
much talk about nothing; but Mr. Fortescue's vote was never given
wrong--never once did he forsake his colours! Don't look to the
speeches--look to the division list, and there you will see that you can
trust your member. As for this Hogarth, there is not a single thing that
he has done that inspires confidence, even with his own party. He is far
too Radical even for the earl. I cannot imagine how that old fox has
been so misled as to take him up--probably for a consideration. Look
at those allotments he has made over or given away to his labourers--the
most dangerous innovation that could possibly be made in such a
country as this. When the non-propertied classes see such
things, they fancy they should all share in the spoil. This is how
Socialism is to come in upon us. These levelling and no doubt godless
views prepare the way for such revolutions as we have seen with so much
horror across the Channel. Old Cross Hall was a sceptic of the worst
kind, and picked up his views of religion and politics in France, and
this new man could not rest till he too went to France to improve his
mind in the same way. These cottages he has built on his estate, no
doubt to increase his popularity, and perhaps at Ladykirk they may go
down, but in Swinton and Freeburgh people see things differently, and
even Plainstanes and Auldbiggin like no such new fangled notions put
into working people's heads. The idea of compelling proprietors to
build such palaces for their tenants' labourers, when the labourers
themselves do not ask for them, and do not care for them when they get
them!--and I hear that Hogarth says they should all build houses just
like his. Mere clap-trap to win political influence--for his own
people break the windows, and take no care of their fine new
houses. I am sure property is burdened heavily enough without this
absurd crotchet for additional spoliation. Old Cross Hall was crazy
enough to leave him a lot of money as well as the estate; he certainly
might have left the money to the poor girls he had brought up like his
daughters, and not have left them to starve, and to be a burden on the
country; and young Cross Hall can see no better way of spending it than
in throwing it away for the chance of this seat--but he has no chance.
The bank-clerk's hoards will be somewhat diminished before all his
expenses are paid. We need take no trouble--indeed, Mr. Fortescue
might walk the course."
But, in spite of all this careless talk, Mr. Fortescue, and Mr.
Toutwell too, did take a great deal of trouble, and employed every
possible means to secure the certain majority of thirty which they
spoke of. The greatest hope they had was in a split between the new man
and the earl's party, and Mr. Fortescue's agents managed to make the
most of every little point in dispute.
Reports reached the earl from different quarters, mostly
reliable, that the return of Mr. Hogarth would not at all strengthen
his party in the country. He had but a small following, and was
comparatively little known. The county voters were mostly tenant
farmers, who generally voted with their landlords. The race of
portioners, or small proprietors, was dying out in-----shire, as it is
in all the British island, and large proprietors were very much opposed
to Cross Hall, on account of his loose views as to the rights of
property. At Newton, however, which was a large manufacturing town of
recent growth, and not a royal burgh, but which was of very great
importance in the county representation, Francis Hogarth was extremely
popular. He was the real friend of the people--the only man in the
county who seemed to understand anything about the rights of labour.
The electors of Newtown felt aggrieved that they, who were far more
numerous than those of any of the five royal burghs, were thrown into
the county representation, where their votes did not count for
one-fourth of what they would do in the burghs. They felt personally
interested in the return of Cross Hall (as he was generally called),
and would not leave a stone unturned to secure it. The non-electors of
Newtown--a still more numerous body--regretted that they could do
nothing to further his views, except by going EN MASSE to Ladykirk on
the day of the election, and combining with the non-electors there, so
as to make as great a physical demonstration as possible, for they
considered that Cross Hall, if returned, would be their
representative--ready to fight their battles, and to redress their
"Be careful, Mr. Hogarth, be careful," said Mr. Prentice, his Freeburgh
agent. "Say nothing that may awaken jealousy or mistrust among our own
party. You are much too frank in your assertion of your opinions--correct
enough, no doubt; but your people are not prepared for them,
and your majority is not so large that you can afford to lose a single
"It certainly is not large in your burgh," said Francis.
"A minority of twenty-three is the most favourable thing you can expect
here--I think twenty-four. At Swinton there is a certain minority of
fourteen, which the least imprudence on your part would double.
Auldbiggin and Plainstanes are ties at present, so your majority at
Ladykirk should be large, to cover up our deficit. We have the hardest
work to do, with the least credit; we should have double pay at these
losing burghs," said Prentice, laughing. "But, for Heaven's sake! Mr.
Hogarth, keep your friend Sinclair quiet. If he would only take a fever
or something of that kind, to keep him in bed till he is wanted to
vote, it would be a real service to the cause. You must address the
electors tonight at a public meeting, and if possible, keep Mr.
Sinclair away. We will get Mr. Hunter, and Mr. Thirlstane, and a few
others, to speak in a quiet, taking way, and you need not say too much
yourself, and do not make it too distinct. I have been agent
here ever since the passing of the Reform Bill, and I should know what
electioneering for these burghs is. Our people admire fine speaking--a
few flowers of rhetoric. A little oratory and enthusiasm are very
telling, but you need not pin yourself down to any definite course of
"I am, perhaps, too much disposed to an indefinite course of action; my
principles I wish the electors to confide in, and I will act up to them
as the occasion may offer," said Francis.
"But if you are too broad and direct in your assertion of principles,
you may offend a third part of our sure votes. Nothing like a few good
large words, with not much meaning, for these burghs. By the by, there
is a deputation from Ladykirk come to wait on you, before you speak at
this meeting. It is nearer for them to come here than to Swinton, so it
is more convenient."
In fact there were two deputations awaiting the Liberal candidate--one
from the electors of Ladykirk, headed by Sandy Pringle, a man
who had risen by the fabrication of woollen yarn from a weaver into a
millowner, though not in a very large way; and the other from the
non-electors of Newtown, who, though they had no legitimate right to
take up Cross Hall's time, wanted a few words with him before election.
Their spokesman was Jamie Howison, of the class called in the south
country, in common parlance, a CREESHEY WEAVER, who had not risen, and
was not likely to rise.
Both deputations appeared at once, which to a man less honest and
direct than Francis, would have been inconvenient. He might have
requested one to retire while he gave audience to the other, but he had
so little the fear of Mr. Prentice before his eyes, that he really
wished every elector and every non-elector to hear his sentiments and
opinions as fully and openly as possible, and he received both of the
He first heard what his own would-be constituents had to say, and
satisfied them as to his perfect independence of the great Whig
families, and that he meant to keep his judgment unbiassed by party
"Then what about the extension o' the suffrage?" asked Sandy Pringle;
"we want five-pound voters at Ladykirk."
"That is a question likely to be kept in abeyance during the sitting of
this parliament," said Francis. "If it is brought forward I must say
that I cannot at present vote for extension of the suffrage."
"Oh! we thocht ye were an oot-an'-oot Leeberal--nane o' your finality
Whigs that took ae bit step in the richt direction, and then durstna
venture further. Ye maun vote for the five-pound vote if ye are to be
oor man," said Sandy Pringle.
"We thocht ye would be for a baulder step than a five-pound vote," said
Jamie Howison; "ye're said to be the puir man's friend. Is it fair that
the like o' huz, that mak the country what it is, should hae nae voice
in the elections? We're for manhood suffrage, an' the ballot, and
we look to you to be oor advocate, for we thocht ye was to be
oor member. If so be as we had had our richts, and had votes to gie, ye
should hae them a'."
"It's fear--it's fear of the earl and the Freeburgh gentry that keeps
him frae speakin' oot his mind," said Sandy Pringle; "but his heart is
a' richt. He kens what's wanted, and if he's no thirled to the Elliotts
and the Greys, he can vote as he thinks fit. I think we can depend on
"My friends," said Francis, "I wish to show no fear and no favour. I
would not say to you what I would not say to the earl, nor to the earl
what I would be sorry or ashamed to let you hear. I wish you to know,
as clearly as I can explain them, my political principles, so that I
may raise no unfounded expectations and disappoint no one wilfully or
designedly. I think with you that it is a great evil that the working
man has no voice in the election of the members of the Legislature. I
hope to live to see the day--and I will labour to advance it--when
every man shall feel his influence in greater or less measure in
that most important part of the duty of a free people; but have any of
you ever seriously considered the effect which would follow the
adoption in Great Britain, at present, of manhood suffrage, or even of
reducing the franchise to a five-pound vote?"
"There would be far mair economy in the public service," said Sandy
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