The Duke's Children
Part 4 out of 14
'Yes it does. But it is not that I mean. If you knew who this
would,--would,--break his heart.' Then came a tear into the young
man's eye,--and there was something almost like a tear in the eye
of the old man too. 'Of course it was my fault. I got him to come.
He hadn't the slightest intention of staying. I think you will
believe what I say about that, sir.'
'I believe every word you say, my Lord.'
'I got into a row at Oxford. I daresay you heard. There never was
anything so stupid. That was a great grief to my father,--a very
great grief. It is so hard upon him because he never did anything
'You should try to imitate him,' Silverbridge shook his head. 'Or
at least not to grieve him.'
'That is it. He has got over the affair about me. As I'm the
eldest son I've got into Parliament, and he thinks perhaps that
all has been forgotten. An eldest son may, I fancy, be a greater
ass than his younger brother.' The Master could not but smile as
he thought of the selection which had been made of a legislator.
'But if Gerald is sent down, I don't know how he will get over
it.' And now the tears absolutely rolled down the young man's
face, so that he was forced to wipe them from his eyes.
The Master was much moved. That a young man should pray for
himself would be nothing to him. The discipline of the college was
not in his hands, and such prayers would avail nothing with him.
Nor would a brother praying simply for a brother avail much. A
father asking for his son might be resisted. But the brother
asking pardon for the brother on behalf of the father was almost
irresistible. But this man had long been in a position in which he
knew that no such prayers should ever prevail at all. In the first
place it was not his business. If he did anything, it would only
be by asking a favour when he knew that no favour should be
granted;--and a favour which he of all men should not ask, because
to him of all men it could not be refused. And then the very
altitude of the great Statesman whom he was invited to befriend,--
the position of this Duke who had been so powerful and might be
powerful again, was against any such interference. Of himself he
might be sure that he would certainly done this as readily for any
Mr Jones as for the Duke of Omnium; but were he to do it, it would
be said of him that it had been done because the benevolence would
seem to be self-seeking. 'Your father, if he were here,' said he,
'would know that I could not interfere.'
'And will he be sent down?'
'I do not know all the circumstances. From your own showing the
case seems to be one of great insubordination. To tell the truth,
Lord Silverbridge, I ought not to have spoken to you on the
subject at all.'
'You mean that I should not have spoken to you.'
'Well; I did not say so. And if you had been indiscreet I can
pardon that. I wish I could have served you; but I fear that it is
not in my power.' Then Lord Silverbridge took his leave, and
going to his brother's rooms waited there till Lord Gerald
returned from his interview with the tutor.
'It's all up,' said he, chucking down his cap, striving to be at
his ease. 'I may pack up and go--just where I please. He says that
on no account will he have anything more to do with me. I asked
him what I was to do, and he said that the Governor had better
take my name off the books of the college. I did ask whether I
couldn't go over to Maclean.'
'Who is Maclean?'
'One of the other tutors. But the brute only smiled.'
'He thought you meant it for chaff.'
'Well;--I suppose I did mean to show him that I was not going to be
exterminated by him. He will write to the Governor today. And you
will have to talk to the Governor.'
Yes! As Lord Silverbridge went back that afternoon to London he
thought very much of that talking to the Governor! Never yet had
he been able to say anything very pleasant to 'the Governor.' He
had himself been always in disgrace at Eton, and had been sent
away from Oxford. He had introduced Tregear into the family, which
of all the troubles perhaps was the worst. He had changed his
politics. He had spent more money than he ought to have done, and
now at this very moment must ask for a large sum. And he had
brought Gerald up to see the Derby, thereby causing him to be sent
away from Cambridge! And through it all there was present to him
a feeling that by no words which he could use would he be able to
make his father understand how deeply he felt all this.
He could not bring himself to see the Duke that evening, and the
next morning he was sent for before he was out of bed. He found
his father at breakfast with the tutor's letter before him. 'Do
you know anything about this?' asked the Duke very calmly.
'Gerald ran up to see the Derby, and in the evening missed the
'Mr Harnage tells me that he had been expressly ordered not to go
to these races.'
'I suppose he was, sir.'
Then there was silence between them for some minutes. 'You might
as well sit down and eat your breakfast,' said the father. Then
Lord Silverbridge did sit down and pour himself out a cup of tea.
There was no servant in the room, and he dreaded to ring the bell.
'Is there anything you want?' asked the Duke. There was a small
dish of fried bacon on the table, and some cold mutton on the
sideboard. Silverbridge declaring that he had everything that was
necessary, got up and helped himself to the cold mutton. Then
again there was silence, during which the Duke crunched his toast
and made an attempt at reading the newspaper. But, soon pushing
that aside, he again took up Mr Harnage's letter. Silverbridge
watched every motion of his father as he slowly made his way
through the slice of cold mutton. 'It seems that Gerald is to be
sent away altogether.'
'I fear so, sir.'
'He has profited by your example at Oxford. Did you persuade him
to come to these races?'
'I am afraid I did.'
'Though you knew the orders which had been given?'
'I thought it was meant that he should not be away the night.'
'He had asked permission to go to the Derby and had been
positively refused. Did you know this?'
Silverbridge sat for some moments considering. He could not at
first quite remember what he had known and what he had not known.
Perhaps he entertained some faint hope that the question would be
allowed to go unanswered. He saw, however, from his father's eye
that that was impossible. And then he did remember it all. 'I
suppose I did know it.'
'And you were willing to imperil your brother's position in life,
and my happiness, in order that he might see a horse, of which I
believe you call yourself part owner, run a race?'
'I thought there would be no risk if he got back the same night. I
don't suppose there is any good in my saying it, but I never was
so sorry for anything in all my life. I feel as if I could go and
'That is absurd,--and unmanly,' said the Duke. The expression of
sorrow, as it had been made, might be absurd and unmanly, but
nevertheless it had touched him. He was severe because he did not
know how far his severity wounded. 'It is a great blow,--another
great blow! Races! A congregation of all the worst blackguards
in the country mixed up with the greatest fools.'
'Lord Cantrip was there,' said Silverbridge; 'and I say Sir
'If the presence of Sir Timothy be an allurement to you I pity you
indeed. I have nothing further to say about it. You have ruined
your brother.' He had been driven to further anger by this
reference to one man whom he respected and to another whom he
'Don't say that, sir.'
'What am I to say?'
'Let him be an attache, or something of that sort.'
'Do you believe it possible that he should pass any examination? I
think that my children between them will bring me to my grave. You
had better go now. I suppose you will want to be--at the races
again?' Then the young man crept out of the room, and going to
his own part of the house shut himself up alone for nearly an
hour. What had he better do to give his father some comfort?
Should he abandon racing altogether, sell his share of Prime
Minister and Coalition, and go in hard and strong for committees,
debates, and divisions? Should he get rid of his drag, and resolve
to read up on Parliamentary literature? He was resolved upon one
thing at any rate. He would not go to the Oaks that day. And then
he was resolved on another thing. He would call on Lady Mab Grex
and ask her advice. He felt so disconsolate and insufficient for
himself that he wanted advice from someone whom he could trust.
He found Tifto, Dolly Longstaff, and one or two others at the
stables, from whence it was intended that the drag should start.
They were waiting, and rather angry because they had been kept
waiting. But the news, when it came, was very sad indeed. 'You
wouldn't mind taking the team down and back yourself; would you,
Dolly?' he said to Longstaff.
'You aren't going!' said Dolly, assuming a look of much heroic
'No;--I am not going today.'
'What's up?' asked Popplecourt.
'That's rather sudden, isn't it?' asked the Major.
'Well; yes. I suppose it is sudden.'
'It's throwing us over a little, isn't it?'
'Not that I see. You've got the trap and the horses.'
'Yes;--we've got the trap and the horses,' said Dolly, 'and I vote
we make a start.'
'As you are not going yourself, perhaps I'd better drive your
horses,' said Tifto.
'Dolly will take the team,' said his Lordship.
'Yes;--decidedly. I will take the team,' said Dolly. 'There isn't a
deal of driving wanted on the road to Epsom, but a man should know
how to hold his reins.' This of course gave rise to some angry
words, but Silverbridge did not stop to hear them.
The poor Duke had no one to whom he could go for advice and
consolation. When his son left him he turned to his newspaper, and
tried to read it--in vain. His mind was too ill at ease to admit of
political matters. He was greatly grieved by this new misfortune
to Gerald, and by Lord Silverbridge's propensity to racing.
But though his sorrows were heavy, there was a sorrow heavier than
these. Lady Cantrip had expressed an opinion almost in favour of
Tregear--and had certainly expressed an opinion in favour of Mrs
Finn. The whole affair in regard to Mrs Finn had been explained to
her, and she had told the Duke that, according to her thinking,
Mrs Finn had behaved well! When the Duke, with an energy which
was by no means customary with him, had asked the question, on the
answer to which so much depended, 'Should there have been a moment
lost?' Lady Cantrip had assured him that not a moment had been
lost. Mrs Finn had at once gone to work, and had arranged that the
whole affair should be told to him, the Duke, in the proper way.
'I think she did,' said Lady Cantrip, 'what I myself should have
done in the circumstances.'
If Lady Cantrip was right, then must his apology to Mrs Finn be
ample, and abject. Perhaps it was this feeling which was at the
moment most vexatious to him.
'No; My Lord. I Do Not.'
Between two and three o'clock Lord Silverbridge, in spite of his
sorrow, found himself able to eat his lunch at his club. The place
was deserted, the Beargarden world having gone to the races. As he
sat eating cold lamb and drinking soda-and-brandy he did confirm
himself in certain modified resolutions, which might be more
probably kept than those sterner laws of absolute renunciation to
which he had thought of pledging himself in his half-starved
morning condition. His father had spoken in very strong language
against racing,--saying that those who went were either fools or
rascals. He was sure this was exaggerated. Half the House of Lords
and two-thirds of the House of Commons were to be seen at the
Derby; but no doubt there were many rascals and fools, and he
could not associate with the legislators without finding himself
among the fools and rascals. He would,--and as soon as he could,--
separate himself from the Major. And he would not bet. It was on
that side of the sport that the rascals and the fools showed
themselves. Of what service could betting be to him whom
Providence had provided with all things wanted to make life
pleasant? As to the drag, his father had in a certain measure
approved of that, and he would keep the drag, as he must have some
relaxation. But his great effort of all should be made in the
House of Commons. He would endeavour to make his father perceive
that he had appreciated that letter. He would always be in the
House soon after four, and would remain there,--or, if possible, as
long as the Speaker sat in the chair. He had already begun to feel
that there was a difficulty in keeping his seat upon those
benches. The half-hours there would be so much longer than
elsewhere! An irresistible desire of sauntering out would come
upon him. There were men the very sound of whose voices was
already odious to him. There had come upon him a feeling in regard
to certain orators, that when once they had begun there was no
reason why they should ever stop. Words of some sort were always
forthcoming, like spiders' webs. He did not think that he could
learn to take a pleasure in sitting in the House; but he hoped
that he might be man enough to do it, though it was not pleasant.
He would begin today, instead of going to the Oaks.
But before he went to the House he would see Lady Mabel Grex. And
here it may be well to state that in making his resolutions as to
a better life, he had considered much whether it would not be well
for him to take a wife. His father had once told him that when he
married, the house in Carlton Terrace should be his own. 'I will
be a lodger if you will have me,' said the Duke; 'or if your wife
should not like that, I will find a lodging elsewhere.' This had
been the sadness and tenderness which had immediately followed the
death of the Duchess. Marriage would steady him. Were he a married
man, Tifto would of course disappear. Upon the whole he thought it
would be good that should marry. And, if so, who could be so nice
as Lady Mabel? That his father would be contented with Lady Mab,
he was inclined to believe. There was no better blood in England.
And Lady Mabel was known to be clever, beautiful, and, in her
peculiar circumstances, very wise.
He was aware, however, of a certain drawback. Lady Mabel as his
wife would be his superior, and in some degrees his master. Though
not older she was wiser than he,--and not only wiser but more
powerful also. And he was not quite sure but that she regarded him
as a boy. He thought that she did love him,--or would do so if he
asked her,--but that her love would be bestowed upon him as on an
inferior creature. He was already jealous of his own dignity, and
fearful lest he should miss the glory of being loved by this
lovely one for his own sake,--for his own manhood, and his own
gifts and character.
And yet his attraction to her was so great that now in the day of
his sorrow he could think of no solace but what was to be found in
her company. 'Not at the Oaks!' she said as soon as he was shown
into the drawing-room.
'No,--not at the Oaks. Lord Grex is there, I suppose?'
'Oh yes;--that is a matter of course. Why are you a recreant?'
'The House sits today.'
'How virtuous! Is it coming to that,--that when the House sits you
will never be absent?'
'That's the kind of life I'm going to lead. You haven't heard
'About your brother?'
'Yes;--you haven't heard?'
'Not a word. I hope there is not misfortune.'
'But indeed there is,--a most terrible misfortune.' Then he told
the whole story. How Gerald had been kept in London, and how he
had gone down to Cambridge,--all in vain; how his father had taken
the matter to heart, telling him that he had ruined his brother;
and how he, in consequence, had determined not to go to the races.
'Then he said,' continued Silverbridge, 'that his children between
them would bring him to his grave.'
'That was terrible.'
'But what did he mean by that?' asked Lady Mabel, anxious to hear
something about Lady Mary and Tregear.
'Well; of course what I did at Oxford made him unhappy; and now
there is this affair of Gerald's.'
'He did not allude to your sister?'
'Yes he did. You have heard of all that. Tregear told you.'
'He told me something.'
'Of course my father does not like it.'
'Do you approve of it?'
'No,' said he--curtly and sturdily.
'Why not? You like Tregear.'
'Certainly I like Tregear. He is the friend among men, whom I like
the best. I have only two real friends.'
'Who are they?' she asked, sinking her voice very low.
'He is one;--and you are the other. You know that.'
'I hoped that I was one,' she said. 'But if you love Tregear so
dearly, why do you not approve of him for your sister?'
'I always knew that it would not do.'
'But why not?'
'Mary ought to marry a man of higher standing.'
'Of higher rank you mean. The daughter of Dukes have married
'It is not exactly that. I don't like to talk of it in that way. I
knew it would make my father unhappy. In point of fact he can't
marry her. What is the good of approving of a thing that is
'I wish I knew your sister. Is she--firm?'
'Indeed she is.'
'I am not so sure you are.'
'No,' said he, after considering awhile; 'nor am I. But she is not
like Gerald or me. She is more obstinate.'
'Less fickle perhaps.'
'Yes, if you choose to call it fickle. I don't know that I am
fickle. If I were in love with a girl I should be true to her.'
'Are you sure of that?'
'Quite sure. If I were really in love with her I certainly should
not change. It is possible that I might be bullied out of it.'
'But she will not be bullied out of it?'
'Mary? No. That is just it. She will stick to it if he does.'
'I would if I were she. Where will you find any young man equal to
'Perhaps you mean to cut poor Mary out.'
'That isn't a nice thing for you to say, Lord Silverbridge. Frank
is my cousin,--as indeed you are also; but it so happens that I
have seen a great deal of him all my life. And, though I don't
want to cut your sister out, as you so prettily say, I love him
well enough to understand that any girl whom he loves ought to be
true to him.' So far what she said was very well, but she
afterwards added a word which might have been wisely omitted.
'Frank and I are almost beggars.'
'What an accursed thing money is,' he exclaimed, jumping up from
'I don't agree with you at all. It is a very comfortable thing.'
'How is anybody who has got it to know if anybody cares for him?'
'You must find that out. There is such a thing I suppose as a real
'You tell me to my face that you and Tregear would have been
lovers only that you are both poor.'
'I never said anything of the kind.'
'And that he is to be passed on to my sister because it is
supposed that she will have some money.'
'You are putting words into my mouth which I never spoke, and
ideas into my mind which I never thought.'
'And of course I feel the same about myself. How can a fellow help
it? I wish you had a lot of money, I know.'
'It is very kind of you;--but why?'
'Well;--I can't quite explain myself,' he said, blushing as was his
wont. 'I daresay it wouldn't make any difference.'
'It would make a great difference to me. As it is, having none,
and knowing as I do that papa and Percival are getting things into
a worse mess every day, I am obliged to hope that I may some day
marry a man who has got an income.'
'I suppose so,' said he, blushing, but frowning at the same time.
'You see I can be very frank with a real friend. But I am sure of
myself in this--that I shall never marry a man I do not love. A
girl needn't love a man unless she likes it, I suppose. She
doesn't tumble into love as she does into the fire. It would not
suit me to marry a poor man, and so I don't mean to fall in love
with a poor man.'
'But you do mean to fall in love with a rich one?'
'That remains to be seen, Lord Silverbridge. The rich man will at
any rate have to fall in love with me first. If you know of any
one you need not tell him to be too sure because he has a good
'There's Popplecourt. He's his own master, and fool as he is, he
knows how to keep his money.'
'I don't want a fool. You must do better for me than Lord
'What do you say to Dolly Longstaff?'
'He would be just the man, only he never would take the trouble to
come out and be married.'
'I'm afraid he's cross, and wouldn't let me have my own way.'
'I can only think of one other;--but you would not take him.'
'Then you had better not mention him. It is no good crowding the
list with impossibles.'
'I was thinking of--myself.'
'You are certainly one of the impossibles.'
'Why, Lady Mab?'
'For twenty reasons. You are too young, and you are bound to
oblige your father, and you are to be wedded to Parliament,--at any
rate for the next ten years. And altogether it wouldn't do,--for a
great many reasons.'
'I suppose you don't like me well enough?'
'What a question to ask! No, my Lord I do not. There, that's what
you may call an answer. Don't you pretend to look offended,
because if you do, I shall laugh at you. If you may have your joke
surely I may have mine.'
'I don't see any joke in it.'
'But I do. Suppose I were to say the other thing. Oh, Lord
Silverbridge, you do me so much honour! And now I come to think
about it, there is no one in the world I am so fond of as you.
Would that suit you?'
'But it wouldn't suit me. There's papa. Don't run away.'
'It's ever so much past five,' said the legislator, 'and I had
intended to be in the House more than an hour ago. Good-bye. Give
my love to Miss Cassewary.'
'Certainly. Miss Cassewary is your most devoted friend. Won't you
bring your sister to see me some day?'
'When she is in town I will.'
'I should like to know her. Good-bye.'
As he hurried down to the House in a hansom, he thought over it
all, and told himself that he feared it would not do. She might
perhaps accept him, but if so, she would do it simply in order
that she might become Duchess of Omnium. She might, he thought,
have accepted him then, had she chosen. He had spoken plainly
enough. But she had laughed at him. He felt that if she loved him,
there ought to have been something of that feminine tremor, of
that doubting, hesitating half-avowal of which he had perhaps read
in novels, and which his own instincts taught him to desire. But
there had been no tremor nor hesitating. 'No; my Lord, I do not,'
she had said when he asked her to her face whether she liked him
well enough to be his wife. 'No; my Lord I do not.' It was not
the refusal conveyed in these words which annoyed him. He did
believe that if he were to press his suit with the usual forms she
would accept him. But it was that there should be such a total
absence of trepidation in her words and manner. Before her he
blushed and hesitated and felt that he did not know how to express
himself. If she would only have done the same, then there would
have been an equality. Then he could have seized her in his arms
and sworn that never, never, never would he care for any one but
In truth he saw everything as it was only too truly. Though she
might choose to marry him if he pressed his request, she would
never subject herself to him as he would have the girl do whom he
loved. She was his superior, and in every word uttered between
them showed that it was so. But yet how beautiful she was;--how
much more beautiful than any other thing he had ever seen!
He sat on one of the high seats behind Sir Timothy Beeswax and Sir
Orlando Drought, listening, or pretending to listen, to the
speeches of three or four gentlemen respecting sugar, thinking of
all this till half-past seven;--and then he went to dine with the
proud consciousness of having done his duty. The forms and methods
of the House were, he flattered himself, soaking into him
gradually,--as his father had desired. The theory of legislation
was sinking into his mind. The welfare of the nation depended
chiefly on sugar. But he thought that, after all, his own welfare
must depend on the possession of Mab Grex.
Then He Will Come Again
Lady Mabel, when her young lover left her, was for a time freed
from the necessity of thinking about him by her father. He had
returned from the Oaks in a very bad humour. Lord Grex had been
very badly treated by his son, whom he hated worse than any one
else in the world. On the Derby-day he had won a large sum of
money, which had been to him at the time a matter of intense
delight,--for he was in great want of money. But on this day he had
discovered that his son and heir had lost more than he had won,
and an arrangement had been suggested to him that his winnings
should go to pay Percival's losings. This was a mode of settling
affairs to which the Earl would not listen for a moment, had he
possessed the power of putting a veto upon it. But there had been
a transaction lately between him and his son with reference to the
cutting off a certain entail under which money was to be paid to
Lord Percival. This money had not yet been forthcoming, and
therefore the Earl was constrained to assent. This was very
distasteful to the Earl, and he came home therefore in a bad
humour, and said a great many disagreeable things to his daughter.
'You know, papa, if I could do anything I would.' This she said
in answer to a threat, which he had made often before and now
repeated, of getting rid altogether of the house in Belgrave
Square. Whenever he made this threat he did not scruple to tell
her that the house had to be kept up solely for her welfare. 'I
don't see why the deuce you don't get married. You'll have to
sooner or later.' That was not a pleasant speech for a daughter
to hear from her father. 'As to that,' she said, 'it must come or
not as chance will have it. If you want me to sign anything I will
sign it;'--for she had been asked to sign papers, or in other words
to surrender rights;--'but for that other matter it must be left to
myself.' Then he had been very disagreeable indeed.
They dined together,--of course with all the luxury that wealth can
give. There was a well-appointed carriage to take them backwards
and forwards to the next square, such as an Earl should have. She
was splendidly dressed, as became an Earl's daughter, and he was
brilliant with some star which had been accorded to him by his
sovereign's grateful minister in return for staunch parliamentary
support. No one looking at them could have imagined that such a
father could have told such a daughter that she must marry herself
out of the way, because as an unmarried girl she was a burden.
During the dinner she was very gay. To be gay was a habit,--we may
almost say the work,--of her life. It so chanced that she sat
between Sir Timothy Beeswax, who in these days was a very great
man indeed, and that very Dolly Longstaff, whom Silverbridge in
his irony had proposed to her as a fitting suitor for her hand.
'Isn't Lord Silverbridge a cousin of yours?' asked Sir Timothy.
'A very distant one.'
'He has come over to us, you know. It is such a triumph.'
'I was so sorry to hear it.' This, however, as the reader knows,
was a fib.
'Sorry!' said Sir Timothy. 'Surely Lord Grex's daughter must be a
'Oh yes;--I am a Conservative because I was born one. I think that
people in politics should remain as they are born,--unless they are
very wise indeed. When men come to be statesmen, and all that kind
of thing, of course they can change backwards and forwards.'
'I hope that is not intended for me, Lady Mabel.'
'Certainly not. I don't knew enough about it to be personal.'
That, however, was again not quite true. 'But I have the greatest
possible respect for the Duke, and I think it a pity that he
should be made unhappy by his son. Don't you like the Duke?'
'Well;--yes;--yes in a way. He is a most respectable man; and has
been a good public servant.'
'All our lot are ruined, you know,' said Dolly, talking of the
'Who are your lot, Mr Longstaff?'
'I'm one myself.'
'I suppose so.'
'I'm utterly smashed. Then there's Percival.'
'I hope he has not lost much. Of course you know he is my
'Oh laws;--so he is. I always put my foot in it. Well;--he has lost
a lot. And so have Silverbridge and Tifto. Perhaps you don't know
'I have not the pleasure of knowing Mr Tifto.'
'He is a major. I think you'd like Major Tifto. He's a sort of
racing coach to Silverbridge. You ought to know Tifto. And Tregear
is pretty nearly cleared out.'
'Mr Tregear! Mr Frank Tregear!'
'I'm told he has been hit very heavy. I hope he's not a friend of
yours, Lady Mabel.'
'Indeed he is;--a very dear friend and cousin.'
'That's what I hear. He's very much with Silverbridge you know.'
'I cannot think that Mr Tregear has lost money.'
'I hope he hasn't. I know I have. I wish someone would stick up
for me and say it was impossible.'
'But that is not Mr Tregear's way of living. I can understand that
Lord Silverbridge or Percival should lose money.'
'Or you, if you like to say so.'
'I don't know anything about Mr Tifto.'
'Or Major Tifto;--what does it signify?'
'No;--of course. We inferior people may lose our money just as we
please. But a man who can look clever as Mr Tregear ought to win
'I told you just know that he was a friend of mine.'
'But don't you think that he does look clever?' There could be no
question but that Tregear, when he disliked his company, could
show his dislike by his countenance; and it was not improbable
that he had done so in the presence of Mr Adolphus Longstaff. 'Now
tell the truth, Lady Mabel; does he not look conceited sometimes?'
'He generally looks as if he knew what he was talking about, which
is more than some other people do.'
'Of course he is a great deal more clever than I am. I know that.
But I don't think even he can be so clever as he looks, "Or you so
stupid", that's what you ought to say now.'
'Sometimes, Mr Longstaff, I deny myself the pleasure of saying
what I think.'
When all this was over she was very angry with herself for the
anxiety she had expressed about Tregear. This Mr Longstaff was,
she thought, exactly the man to report all she had said in the
public-room at the club. But she had been annoyed by what she had
heard as to her friend. She knew that he of all men should keep
himself free from such follies. Those others had, as it were, a
right to make fools of themselves. It had seemed so natural that
the young men of her own class should dissipate their fortunes and
their reputations by every kind of extravagance! Her father had
done so, and she had never even ventured to hope that her brother
would not follow her father's example. But Tregear, if he gave way
to such follies as these, would soon fall headlong into a pit from
which there would be no escape. And if he did fall, she knew
herself well enough to be aware that she could not stifle, nor
even conceal the misery which this would occasion her. As long as
he stood well before the world she would be well able to assume
indifference. But were he to be precipitated into some bottomless
misfortunes then she could only throw herself after him. She could
see him marry, and smile,--and perhaps even like his wife. And
while he was doing so, she could also marry, and resolve that the
husband whom she took should be made to think he had a loving
wife. But were Frank to die,--then must she fall upon his body as
though he had been known by all the world to be her lover.
Something of this feeling came upon her now, when she heard that
he had been betting and had been unfortunate. She had been unable
so to subdue herself as to seem to be perfectly careless about it.
She had begun by saying that she had not believed it;--but she had
believed it. It was so natural that Tregear should have done as
the others did with whom he lived! But then the misfortune would
be to him so terrible,--so irremediable! The reader, however, may
as well know at once there was a not a word of truth in the
After dinner she went home alone. There were other festivities to
be attended, had she pleased to attend them; and poor Miss
Cassewary was dressed ready to go with her as chaperone;--but Miss
Cassewary was quite satisfied to be allowed to go to bed in lieu
of Mrs Montacute Jones's great ball. And she had gone to her
bedroom when Lady Mabel went to her. 'I am glad you are alone,'
she said, 'because I want to speak to you.'
'Is anything wrong?'
'Everything is wrong. Papa says he must give up this house.'
'He says that almost always when he comes back from the races, and
very often when he comes back from the club.'
'Percival has lost ever so much.'
'I don't think my Lord will hamper himself for your brother.'
'I can't explain it, but there is some horrible money
complication. It is hard upon you and me.'
'Who am I?' said Miss Cassewary.
'About the dearest friend that ever a poor girl had. It is hard
upon you,--and upon me. I have given up everything,--and what good
have I done?'
'It is hard, my dear.'
'But after all I do not care much for all that. The thing has been
going on for so long that one is used to it.'
'What is it then?'
'Ah;--yes;--what is it? How am I to tell you?'
'Surely you can tell me,' said the old woman, putting out her hand
so as to caress the arm of the younger one.
'I could tell no one else; I am sure of that. Frank Tregear has
taken to gambling,--like the rest of them.'
'Who says so?'
'He has lost a lot of money at these races. A man who sat next to
me at dinner,--one of those stupid do-nothing fools that one meets
everywhere,--told me so. He is one of the Beargarden set, and of
course he knows all about it.'
'Did he say how much?'
'How is he to pay anything? Of all things men do this is the
worst. A man who would think himself disgraced for ever if he
accepted a present of money will not scruple to use all his wits
to rob his friend of everything that he has by studying the run of
the cards or by watching the paces of some brutes of horses! And
they consider themselves to be fine gentlemen! A real gentleman
should never want the money out of another man's pocket;--should
never think of money at all.'
'I don't know how that is to be helped, my dear. You have got to
think of money.'
'Yes; I have to think of it, and do think of it, and because I do
so I am not what I call a gentleman.'
'No;--my dear, you're a lady.'
'Psha! you know what I mean. I might have had the feelings of a
gentleman as well as the best man that was ever born. I haven't;
but I have never done anything so mean as gambling. Now I have got
something else to tell you.'
'What is it? You do frighten me so when you look like that.'
'You may well be frightened,--for if this all comes round I shall
very soon be able to dispense with you altogether. His Royal
Highness Lord Silverbridge--'
'What do you mean, Mabel?'
'He's next door to a Royal Highness at any rate, and a much more
topping man than most of them. Well then;--His Serene Highness the
heir of the Duke of Omnium has done me the inexpressible honour of
asking me--to marry him.'
'You may well say No. and to tell the exact truth, he didn't.'
'Then why do you say he did?'
'I don't think he did quite ask me, but he gave me to understand
that he would do so if I gave him any encouragement.'
'Did he mean it?'
'Yes;--poor boy! He meant it. With a word;--with a look, he would
have been down there kneeling. He asked me whether I liked him
well enough. What do you think I did?'
'What did you do?'
'I spared him;--out of sheer downright Christian charity! I said
to myself, "Love your neighbours." "Don't be selfish." "Do unto
him as you would he should do unto you,"-that is, I think of his
welfare. Though I had him in my net, I let him go. Shall I go to
heaven for doing that?'
'I don't know,' said Miss Cassewarey, who was much perturbed by
the news she had just heard as to be unable to come to any opinion
on the point just raised.
'Or mayn't I rather go to the other place? From how much
embarrassment should I have relieved my father! What a friend I
should have made for Percival! How much I might have been able to
do for Frank! And then what a wife I should have made him!'
'I think you would.'
'He'll never get another half so good; and he'll be sure to get
one before long. It is a sort of tenderness that is quite
inefficacious. He will become a prey, as I should have made him a
prey. But where is there another who will treat him so well?'
'I cannot bear to hear you speak of yourself in that way.'
'But it is true. I know the sort of girl he should marry. In the
first place she should be two years younger, and four years
fresher. She should be able not only to like him and love him, but
to worship him. How well I can see her! She should have fair
hair, and bright green-grey eyes, with the sweetest complexion,
and the prettiest little dimples;--two inches shorter than me, and
the delight of her life should be to hang with two hands on his
arm. She should have a feeling that her Silverbridge is an Apollo
upon earth. To me he is a rather foolish, but very, very sweet-
tempered young man;--anything rather than a god. If I thought that
he would get the fresh young girl with the dimples then I ought to
'If he was in earnest,' said Miss Cassewary, throwing aside all
this badinage and thinking of the main point, 'if he was in
earnest he will come again.'
'He was quite in earnest.'
'Then he will come again.'
'I don't think he will,' said Lady Mabel. 'I told him that I was
too old for him, and I tried to laugh him out of it. He does not
like being laughed at. He was been saved, and he will know it.'
'But if he should come again?'
'I shall not spare him again. No;--not twice. I felt it to be hard
to do so once, because I so nearly love him! There are so many of
them who are odious to me, as to whom the idea of marrying them
seems to be mixed somehow with an idea of suicide.'
'But he is as sweet as a rose. If I were his sister, or his
servant, or his dog, I could be devoted to him. I can fancy that
his comfort and his success and his name should be everything to
'That is what a wife ought to feel.'
'But I could never feel him to be my superior. That is what a wife
ought to feel. Think of those two young men and the difference
between them! Well;--don't look like that at me. I don't often
give way, and I dare say after all I shall live to be the Duchess
of Omnium.' Then she kissed her friend and went away to her own
Sir Timothy Beeswax
There had lately been a great Conservative reaction in the
country, brought about in part by the industry and good management
of gentlemen who were strong on that side;--but due also in part to
the blunders and quarrels of their opponents. That these opponents
should have blundered and quarrelled, being men active and in
earnest, was to have been expected. Such blunderings and
quarrellings have been a matter of course since politics have been
politics, and since religion has been religion. When men combine
to do nothing, how should there be disagreement? When men combine
to do much, how should there not be disagreement? Thirty men can
sit still, each as like the other as peas. But put your thirty men
up to run a race, and they will soon assume different forms. And
in doing nothing, you can hardly do amiss. Let the does of nothing
have something of action forced upon them, and they, too, will
blunder and quarrel.
The wonder is that there should ever be in a reforming party
enough of consentaneous action to carry any reform. The reforming
or Liberal party in British politics had thus stumbled,--and
stumbled till it fell. And now there had been a great Conservative
reaction! Many of the most Liberal constituencies in the country
had been untrue to their old political convictions. And, as the
result, Lord Drummond was Prime Minister in the House of Lords,--
with Sir Timothy Beeswax acting as first man in the House of
It cannot be denied that Sir Timothy had his good points as a
politician. He was industrious, patient, clear-sighted,
intelligent, courageous, and determined. Long before he had had a
seat in the House, when he was simply making his way up to the
probability of a seat by making a reputation as an advocate, he
had resolved that he would be more than an Attorney-General, more
than a judge,--more, as he thought it, than a Chief Justice; but at
any rate something different. This plan he had all but gained,--and
it must be acknowledged that he had been moved by a grand and
manly ambition. But there were drawbacks to the utility and beauty
of Sir Timothy's character as a statesman. He had no idea as to
the necessity or non-necessity of any measure whatever in
reference to the well-being of the country. It may, indeed, be
said that all such ideas were to him absurd, and the fact that
they should be held by his friends and supporters was an
inconvenience. He was not in accord with those who declare that a
Parliament is a collection of windbags which puff, and blow, and
crack to the annoyance of honest men. But to him Parliament was a
debating place, by having a majority in which, and by no other
means, he,--or another,--might become the great man of the day. By
no other than parliamentary means could such a one as he come to
be the chief man. And this use of Parliament, either on his own
behalf or on behalf of others, had been for so many years present
to his mind, that there seemed to be nothing absurd in an
institution supported for such a purpose. Parliament was a club so
eligible in its nature that all Englishmen wished to belong to it.
They who succeeded were acknowledged to be the cream of the land.
They who dominated in it were the cream of the cream. Those two
who were elected to be the chiefs of the two parties had more of
cream in their composition than any others. But he who could be
the chief of the strongest party, and who therefore, in accordance
with the prevailing arrangements of the country, should have the
power of making dukes, and bestowing garters and appointing
bishops, he who by attaining the first seat should achieve the
right of snubbing all before him, whether friends or foes, he,
according to the feelings of Sir Timothy, would have gained an
Elysium of creaminess not to be found in any other position on the
earth's surface. No man was more warmly attached to parliamentary
government than Sir Timothy Beeswax; but I do not think that he
ever cared much for legislation.
Parliamentary management was his forte. There have been various
rocks on which men have shattered their barks in their attempts to
sail successfully into the harbours of parliamentary management.
There is the great Senator who declared to himself that personally
he will have neither friend or foe. There is his country before
him and its welfare. Within his bosom is the fire of patriotism,
and within his mind the examples of all past time. He knows that
he can be just, he teaches himself to be eloquent, and he strives
to be wise. But he will not bend;--and at last, in some great
solitude, though closely surrounded by those whose love he has
neglected to acquire,--he breaks his heart.
Then there is he who is seeing the misfortune of that great one,
tells himself that patriotism, judgement, industry, and eloquence
will not suffice for him unless he himself can be loved. To do
great things a man must have a great following, and to achieve
that he must be popular. So he smiles and learns the necessary
wiles. He is all for his country and his friends,--but for his
friends first. He too must be eloquent and well instructed in the
ways of Parliament, must be wise and diligent; but in all that he
does and all that he says, he says he must first study his party.
It is well with him for a time;--but he has closed the door of his
Elysium too rigidly. Those without gradually become stronger than
his friends within, and so he falls.
But may not the door be occasionally opened to an outsider, so
that the exterior force be diminished? We know how great is the
pressure of water, and how the peril of an overwhelming weight of
it may be removed by opening the way for a small current. There
comes therefore the Statesman who acknowledges to himself that he
will be pregnable. That, as a Statesman, he should have enemies is
a matter of course. Against moderate enemies he will hold his own.
But when there comes one immoderately forcible, violently
inimical, then to that man he will open his bosom. He will tempt
him into his camp with an offer of high command any foe that may
be worth his purchase. The loyalty of officers so procured must be
open to suspicion. The man who has said bitter things against you
will never sit at your feet in contented submission, nor will your
friend of any standing long endure to be superseded by such
All these dangers Sir Timothy had seen and studied, and for each
of them he had hoped to be able to provide an antidote. Love
cannot do all. Fear acknowledges a superior. Love desires an
equal. Love is to be created by benefits done, and means
gratitude, which we all know to be weak. But hope, which refers
itself to benefits to come, is of all our feelings the strongest.
And Sir Timothy had parliamentary doctrines concealed in the
depths of his own bosom more important even than these. The
Statesman who falls is he who does much, and thus injures many.
The Statesman who stands the longest is he who does nothing and
injures no one. He soon knew that the work which he had taken in
hand required all the art of the great conjurer. He must be
possessed of tricks so marvellous that not even they who sat
nearest to him might know how there were performed.
For the executive or legislative business of the country he cared
little. The one should be left in the hands of men who liked
work;--of the other there should be little, or, if possible, none.
But Parliament must be managed,--and his party. Of patriotism he
did not know the meaning;--few, perhaps, do, beyond the feeling
that they would like to lick the Russians, or to get the better of
the Americans in a matter of fisheries or frontiers. But he
invented a pseudo-patriotic conjuring phraseology which no one
understood but which many admired. He was ambitious that it should
be said of him that he was far-and-away the cleverest of his
party. He knew himself to be clever. But he could only be far-and-
away the cleverest by saying and doing that which no one could
understand. If he could become master of some great hocus-pocus
system which could be made to be graceful to the ears and eyes of
many, which might for awhile seem to have within it some semi-
divine attribute, which should have all but divine power of
mastering the loaves and fishes, then would they who followed him
believe in him more firmly than other followers who had believed
in their leaders. When you see a young woman read a closed book
placed on her dorsal vertebrae,--if you do believe that she so
reads it, you think that she is endowed with a wonderful faculty!
And should you also be made to believe that the same young woman
had direct communication with Abraham, by means of some invisible
wire, you would be apt to do a great many things as that young
woman might tell you. Conjuring, when not knowing to be conjuring,
is very effective.
Much, no doubt, of Sir Timothy's power had come from his
praiseworthy industry. Though he cared nothing for the making of
laws, though he knew nothing of finance, though he had abandoned
his legal studies, still he worked hard. And because he had worked
harder in a special direction than others around him, therefore he
was enabled to lead them. The management of a party is a very
great work in itself; and when to that is added the management of
the House of Commons, a man has enough upon his hands even he
neglects altogether the ordinary pursuits of a Statesman. Those
around Sir Timothy were fond of their party; but they were for the
most part men who had not condescended to put their shoulders to
the wheel as he had done. Had there been any great light among
them, had there been a Pitt or a Peel, Sir Timothy would probably
have become Attorney-General and have made his way to the bench;--
but there had been no Pitt or a Peel, and he had seen his opening.
He had studied the ways of Members. Parliamentary practice had
become familiar to him. He had shown himself to be ready at all
hours to fight the battle of the party he had joined. And no man
knew so well as did Sir Timothy how to elevate a simple
legislative attempt into a good faction fight. He had so mastered
his tricks of conjuring that no one could get to the bottom of
them, and had assumed a look of preternatural gravity which made
many young Members think that Sir Timothy was born to be a king of
There was no doubt some among his older supporters who felt their
thraldom previously. There were some lords in the Upper House and
some of the sons of lords in the Lower,--with pedigrees going back
far enough for pride,--who found it irksome to recognise Sir
Timothy as a master. No doubt he had worked very hard, and had
worked for them. No doubt he knew how to do the work and they did
not. There was no other man among them to whom the lead could be
conveniently transferred. But yet they were uncomfortable,--and
perhaps a little ashamed.
It had arisen partly from this cause, that there had been
something of a counter reaction at the last general election. When
the Houses met the Ministers had indeed a majority, but a much
lessened majority. The old Liberal constituencies had returned to
an expression of their real feeling. This reassertion of the
progress of the tide, this recovery from the partial ebb which
checks the violence of every flow, is common enough in politics,
but at the present moment there were many who said that all this
had been accelerated by a feeling in the country that Sir Timothy
was hardly all that the country required as the leader of the
The Duke in his Study
It was natural that at such a time, when success greater than had
been expected had attended the efforts of the Liberals, when some
dozen unexpected votes had been acquired, the leading politicians
of that party should have found themselves compelled to look about
them and see how these good things might be utilised. In February
they certainly had not expected to be called to power in the
course of the existing session. Perhaps they did not expect it
yet. There was still a Conservative majority,--though but a small
majority. But the strength of the minority consisted, not in the
fact that the majority against them was small, but that it was
decreasing. How quickly does the snowball grow into hugeness as it
is rolled on;--but when the change comes in the weather how quickly
does it melt, and before it is gone become a thing ugly, weak and
formless! Where is the individual who does not assert to himself
that he would be more loyal to a falling than to a rising friend?
Such is perhaps the nature of each one of us. But when any large
number of men act together, the falling friend is apt to be
deserted. There was a general feeling among politicians that Lord
Drummond's ministry,--or Sir Timothy's--was failing, and the
Liberals, though they could not yet count the votes by which they
might hope to be supported in power, nevertheless felt that they
ought to be looking to their arms.
There had been a coalition. They who are well read in the
political literature of their country will remember all about
that. It had perhaps succeeded in doing that for which it had been
intended. The Queen's government had been carried on for two or
three years. The Duke of Omnium had been the head of that
Ministry; but, during those years had suffered so much as to have
become utterly ashamed of the coalition,--so much as to have said
often to himself that under no circumstances would he again join
any Ministry. At this time there was no idea of another coalition.
That is a state of things which cannot come about frequently,--
which can only be reproduced by men who have never hitherto felt
the mean insipidity of such a condition. But they who had served
on the Liberal side in that coalition must again put their
shoulders to the wheel. Of course it was in every man's mouth that
the Duke must be induced to forget his miseries and once more to
take upon himself the duties of an active servant of the State.
But they who were most anxious on the subject, such men as Lord
Cantrip, Mr Monk, our old friend Phineas Finn, and a few others,
were almost afraid to approach him. At the moment when the
coalition was broken up he had been very bitter in spirit,
apparently almost arrogant, holding himself aloof from his late
colleagues,--and since that, troubles had come to him, which had
aggravated the soreness of his heart. His wife had died, and he
had suffered much through his children. What Lord Silverbridge had
done at Oxford was a matter of general conversation, and also what
he had not done.
That the heir of the family should have become a renegade in
politics was supposed to have greatly affected the father. Now
Lord Gerald had been expelled from Cambridge, and Silverbridge was
on the turf in conjunction with Major Tifto! Something, too, had
oozed out into general ears about Lady Mary,--something which
should have been kept secret as the grave. It had therefore come
to pass that it was difficult even to address the Duke.
There was but one man, and but one, who could do this with ease to
himself;--and that man was at last put into motion at the instance
of the leaders of the party. The old Duke of St Bungay wrote the
following letter to the Duke of Omnium. The letter purported to be
an excuse for the writer's own defalcations. But the chief object
of the writer was to induce the younger Duke once more to submit
'Longroyston, 3 June, 187-
'DEAR DUKE OF OMNIUM,
'How quickly the things come round! I had thought that I should
never again have been called upon even to think of the formation
of another Liberal Ministry; and now, though it was but yesterday
that were all telling ourselves that we were thoroughly manumitted
from our labours by the altered opinions of the country, sundry of
our old friends have again been putting their heads together.
'Did they not do so they would neglect a manifest duty. Nothing is
more essential to the political well-being of the country than
that the leaders on both sides in politics should be prepared for
their duties. But for myself, I am bound at last to put in the old
plea with a determination that it shall be respected. "Solve
senescentem." It is now, if I calculate rightly, exactly fifty
years since I first entered public life in obedience to the advice
of Lord Grey. I had then already sat five years in the House of
Commons. I had assisted humbly in the emancipation of the Roman
Catholics, and have learned by the legislative troubles of just
half a century that those whom we then invited to sit with us in
Parliament have been in all things our worst enemies. But what
then? had we benefited only those who love us, would not the
sinners also,--or even the Tories,--have done as much as that?
'But such memories are of no avail now. I write to say that after
so much of active political life, I will at last retire. My
friends when they see me inspecting a pigsty or picking a peach
are apt to remind me that I can still stand on my legs, and with
more of compliment than of kindness will argue therefore that I
ought still to undertake active duties in Parliament. I can select
my own hours for pigs and peaches, and should I, through the
dotage of age, make mistakes as to the breeding of one or the
flavour of the other, the harm done will not go far. In politics I
have done my work. What you and others in the arena do will
interest me more than all other things in this world, I think and
hope, to my dying day. But I will not trouble the workers with the
querulousness of old age.
'So much for myself. And let me, as I go, say a parting word to
him with whom in politics I have been for many years more in
accord than with any other leading man. As nothing but age or
infirmity would to my own mind have justified me in retiring, so
do I think that you, who can plead neither age nor infirmity, will
find yourself at last to want self-justification, if you permit
yourself to be driven from the task either by pride or
'I should express my feelings better if were I to say by pride and
diffidence. I look to our friendship, to the authority given me by
my age, and to the thorough goodness of your heart for pardon in
thus accusing you. That little men should have ventured to ill-use
you, has hurt your pride. That these little men should have been
able to do so has created your diffidence. Put you to a piece of
work that a man may do, you have less false pride as to the way in
which you may do it than any man I have known; and, let the way be
open to you, as little diffidence as any. But in this political
mill of ours in England, a man cannot always find the way open to
do things. It does not often happen that an English statesman can
go in and make a great score off his own bat. But not the less is
he bound to play the game and to go to the wicket when he finds
that his time has come.
'There are, I think, two things for you to consider in this
matter, and two only. The first is your capacity, and the other is
your duty. A man may have found by experience that he is unfitted
for public life. You and I have known men in regard to whom we
have thoroughly wished that such experience had been reached. But
this is a matter in which a man who doubts himself is bound to
take the evidence of those around him. The whole party is most
anxious for your co-operation. If this be so,--and I make you the
assurance from most conclusive evidence,--you are bound to accept
the common consent of your political friends on that matter. You
perhaps think that a certain period of your life you failed. They
all agree with me that you did not fail. It is a matter on which
you should be bound by our opinion rather than by your own.
'As to that matter of duty, I shall have less difficulty in
carrying you with me. Though this renewed task may be personally
disagreeable to you, even though your tastes should lead you to
some other life,--which I think is not the case,--still if your
country wants you, you should serve your country. It is a work as
to which such a one as you has no option. Of most of those who
choose public life,--it may be said that were they not there, there
would be others as serviceable. But when a man such as you, has
shown himself to be necessary, as long as health and age permit,
he cannot recede without breach of manifest duty. The work to be
done is so important, the numbers to be benefited are so great,
that he cannot be justified in even remembering that he has a
'As I have said before, I trust that my own age and your goodness
will induce you to pardon this great interference. But whether
pardoned or not I shall always be
'Your most affectionate friend,
The Duke,--our Duke,--on reading this letter was by no means pleased
by its contents. He could ill bear to be reminded either of his
pride or of his diffidence. And yet the accusations which others
made against him were as nothing to those which he charged
himself. He would do this till at last he was forced to defend
himself against himself by asking himself whether he could be
other than as God had made him. It is the last and poorest
makeshift of a defence to which a man can be brought in his own
court! Was it his fault that he was so thin-skinned that all
things hurt him? When some coarse man said to him that which ought
not to have been said, was it his fault that at every word a
penknife had stabbed him? Other men had borne these buffets
without shrinking, and had shown themselves thereby to be more
useful, much more efficacious; but he could no more imitate them
than he could procure for himself the skin of a rhinoceros, or the
tusk of an elephant. And this shrinking was what man called
pride,--was the pride of which his old friend wrote! 'Have I ever
been haughty, unless in my own defence?' he asked himself,
remembering certain passages of humility in his life,--and certain
passages of haughtiness also.
And the Duke told him also that he was diffident. Of course he was
diffident. Was it not one and the same thing? The very pride of
which he was accused was no more than a shrinking which comes from
the want of trust in oneself. He was a shy man. All his friends
and all his enemies knew that;--it was thus that he still
discoursed with himself;--a shy, self-conscious, timid, shrinking,
thin-skinned man! Of course he was diffident. Then why urge him
on to tasks for which he was by nature unfitted?
And yet there was much in his old friend's letter which moved him.
There were certain words which he kept on repeating to himself.
'He cannot be justified in even remembering that he has a self'.
It was a hard thing to say of any man, but yet a true thing of
such a man as his correspondent had described. His correspondent
had spoken of a man who should know himself to be capable of
serving the State. If a man were capable, and was sure within his
own bosom of his own capacity, it would be his duty. But what if
he were not so satisfied? What if he felt that any labours of his
would be vain, and all self-abnegation useless? His friend had
told him that on that matter he was bound to take the opinion of
others. Perhaps so. But if so, had not that opinion been given to
him very plainly when he was told that he was both proud and
diffident? That he was called upon to serve his country, by good
service, if such were within his power, he did acknowledge freely;
but not that he should allow himself to be stuck up as a ninepin
only to be knocked down! There are politicians for whom such
occupation seems to be proper,--and who like it too. A little
office, a little power, a little rank, a little pay, a little
niche in the ephemeral history of the year will reward many men
adequately for being knocked down.
And yet he loved power, and even when thinking of all this allowed
his mind from time to time to run away into a dreamland of
prosperous political labours. He thought what it would be to be an
all-beneficent Prime Minister, with a loyal majority, with a well-
conditioned unanimous cabinet, with a grateful people, and an
appreciative Sovereign. How well might a man spend himself night
and day, even to death, in the midst of such labours as these.
Half an hour after receiving the Duke's letter he suddenly jumped
up and sat himself down at his desk. He felt it to be necessary
that he should at once write to his old friend;--and the more
necessary that he should do so at once, because he had resolved
that he would do so before he had made up his mind on the chief
subject of that letter. It did not suit him to say either that he
would or that he would not do as his friend had advised him. The
reply was made in a very few words. 'As to myself,' he said, after
expressing his regret that the Duke should find it necessary to
retire from public life--'as to myself, pray understand that
whatever I may do I shall never cease to be grateful for your
affectionate and high-spirited counsels.'
Then his mind recurred to a more immediate and, for the moment, a
heavier trouble. He had as yet given no answer to that letter from
Mrs Finn, which the reader will perhaps remember. It might indeed
be passed over without an answer; but that was impossible. She had
accused him in the very strongest language of injustice, and had
made him understand that if he were unjust to her, then would he
be most ungrateful. He, looking at the matter with his own lights,
had thought that he had been right, but had resolved to submit the
question to another person. As judge in the matter he had chosen
Lady Cantrip, and Lady Cantrip had given judgement against him.
He had pressed Lady Cantrip for a decided opinion, and she had
told him that she, in the same position, would have done just as
Mrs Finn had done. He had constituted Lady Cantrip his judge, and
had resolved that her judgement should be final. He declared to
himself that he did not understand it. If a man's house be on
fire, do you think of certain rules of etiquette before you bid
him send for the engines? If a wild beast be loose, do you go
through some ceremony before you caution the wanderers abroad?
There should not have been a moment! But, nevertheless, it was
now necessary that he should conform himself to the opinion of
Lady Cantrip, and in doing so he must apologise for the bitter
scorn with which he allowed himself to treat his wife's most loyal
and loving friend.
The few words to the Duke had not been difficult, but this letter
seemed to be an Herculean task. It was made infinitely more
difficult by the fact that Lady Cantrip had not seemed to think
that the marriage was impossible. 'Young people when they have set
their minds upon it do so generally prevail at last!' These had
been her words, and they discomforted him greatly. She had thought
the marriage to be possible. Had she not almost expressed an
opinion that they ought to be allowed to marry? And if so, would
it not be his duty to take his girl away from Lady Cantrip? As to
the idea that young people, because they have declared themselves
to be in love, were to have just what they wanted,--with that he
did not agree at all. Lady Cantrip had told him that young people
generally prevail at last. He knew the story of one young person,
whose position in her youth had been very much the same as that of
his daughter now, and she had not prevailed. And in her case had
not the opposition which had been made to her wishes been most
fortunate? That young person had become his wife, his Glencora,
his Duchess. Had she been allowed to have her own way when she was
a child, what would have been her fate? Ah what! Then he had to
think of it all. Might she not have been alive now, and perhaps
happier than she had ever been with him? And had he remained
always unmarried, devoted simply to politics, would not the
troubles of the world have been lighter on him? But what had that
to do with it? In these matters it was not the happiness of this
or that individual which should be considered. There is a
propriety in things;--and only by an adherence to that propriety on
the part of individuals can the general welfare be maintained. A
King in his country, or the heir or the possible heir to the
throne, is debarred from what might possibly be a happy marriage
by regard to the good of his subjects. To the Duke's thinking the
maintenance of the aristocracy of the country was second only in
importance to the maintenance of the Crown. How should the
aristocracy be maintained if its wealth were allowed to fall into
the hands of an adventurer!
Such were the opinions with regard to his own order of one who was
as truly Liberal in his ideas as any man in England, and who had
argued out these ideas to their consequences. As by the spread of
education and increase of the general well-being every proletaire
was brought nearer to a Duke, so by such action would the Duke be
brought nearer to a proletaire. Such drawing-nearer of the classes
was the object to which all this man's political action tended.
And yet it was a dreadful thing to him that his own daughter
should desire to marry a man so much beneath her own rank and
fortunes as Frank Tregear.
He would not allow himself to believe that the young people could
ever prevail; but nevertheless, as the idea of the thing had not
alarmed Lady Cantrip as it had him, it was necessary that he
should make some apology to Mrs Finn. Each moment of
procrastination was a prick to his conscience. He now therefore
dragged out from the secrecy of some close drawer Mrs Finn's
letter and read it through to himself once again. Yet--it was true
that he had condemned her, and that he had punished her. Though he
had done nothing to her, said nothing, and written but very
little, still he had punished her most severely.
She had written as though the matter was almost one of life and
death to her. He could understand that too. His uncle's conduct to
this woman, and his wife's, had created the intimacy which had
existed. Through their efforts she had become almost as one of the
family. And now to be dismissed, like a servant who had misbehaved
herself! And then her arguments in her own defence were all so
good,--if only that which Lady Cantrip had laid down as law was to
be held as law. He was aware now that she had had no knowledge of
the matter till his daughter had told her of her engagement at
Matching. Then it was evident also that she had sent this Tregear
to him immediately on her return to London. And at the end of the
letter she had accused him of what she had been pleased to call
his usual tenacity in believing ill of her! He had been
obstinate,--too obstinate in this respect; but he did not love her
the better for having told him of it.
At last he did put his apology into words.
'MY DEAR MRS FINN,
'I believe I had better acknowledge to you at once that I
have been wrong in my judgement as to your conduct in a certain
matter. You tell me that I owe it to you to make this
acknowledgement,--and I make it. The subject is, as you may
imagine, so painful that I will spare myself if possible, any
further allusion to it. I believe I did you a wrong, and therefore
I ask your pardon.
'I should perhaps apologise also for delay in my reply. I have had
much to think of in this matter, and have many others also on my
'Believe me to be,
It was very short, and as being short was infinitely less
troublesome at the moment than a fuller epistle; but he was very
angry with himself, knowing that it was too short, feeling that it
was ungracious. He should have expressed a hope that he might soon
see her again,--only he had no such wish. There had been times at
which he had liked her, but he knew that he did not like her now.
And yet he was bound to be her friend! If he could only do some
great thing for her, and thus satisfy his feeling of indebtedness
towards her! But all the favours had been from her to him and
Frank Tregear Wants a Friend
Six or seven weeks had passed since Tregear had made his
communication to the Duke, and during that time he had heard not a
word about the girl he loved. He knew, indeed, that she was at the
Horns, and probably had reason to suppose that she was being
guarded there, as it were, out of his reach. This did not surprise
him; nor did he regard it as a hardship. It was to be expected
that she should be kept out of his sight. But this was a state of
things to which, as he thought, there should not be more than a
moderate amount of submission. Six weeks was not a very long
period, but it was perhaps long enough for evincing that respect
which he owed to the young lady's father. Something must be done
some day. How could he expect her to be true to him unless he took
some means of showing himself to be true to her?
In these days he did not live very much with her brother. He not
only disliked, but distrusted Major Tifto, and had so expressed
himself as to give rise to angry words. Silverbridge had said that
he knew how to take care of himself. Tregear had replied that he
had his doubts on that matter. Then the Member of Parliament had
declared that at any rate he did not intend to be taken care of by
Frank Tregear! In such a state of things it was not possible that
there should be any close confidence as to Lady Mary. Nor does it
often come to pass that the brother is the confidant of his
sister's lover. Brothers hardly like their sisters to have lovers,
though they are often well satisfied that their sisters should
find husbands. Tregear's want of rank and wealth added something
to this feeling in the mind this brother, so that Silverbridge,
though he felt himself to be deterred by friendship from any open
opposition, still was almost inimical. 'It won't do, you know,' he
had said to his brother Gerald, shaking his head.
Tregear, however, was determined to be active in the matter, to
make some effort, to speak to somebody. But how to make an
effort,--and to whom should he speak? Thinking of all this he
remembered that Mrs Finn had sent for him and had told him to go
with his love story to the Duke. She had been almost severe with
him;--but after the interview was over, he had felt that she had
acted well and wisely. He therefore determined that he would go to
She had as yet received no answer from the Duke, though nearly a
fortnight had elapsed since she had written her letter. During
that time she had become very angry. She felt that he was not
treating her as a gentleman should treat a lady, and certainly not
as the husband of her late friend should have treated the friend
of his late wife. She had a proud consciousness of having behaved
well to the Pallisers, and now this head of the Pallisers was
rewarding her by evil treatment. She had been generous; he was
ungenerous. She had been honest; he was deficient even in that
honesty for which she had given him credit. And she had been
unable to obtain any of that consolation which could have come to
her from talking of her wrongs. She could not complain to her
husband because there were reasons that made it essential that her
husband should not quarrel with the Duke. She was hot with
indignation at the very moment that Tregear was announced.
He began by apologising for his intrusion, and she of course
assured him that he was welcome. 'After the liberty which I took
with you, Mr Tregear, I am only too well pleased that you should
come to see me.'
'I am afraid,' he said, 'that I was a little rough.'
'A little warm;--but that was to be expected. A gentleman never
likes to be interfered with on such a matter.'
'The position was and is difficult, Mrs Finn.'
'And I am bound to acknowledge the very ready way in which you did
what I asked you to do.'
'And now, Mrs Finn, what is to come next?'
'Something must be done! You know of course that the Duke did not
receive me with any great favour.'
'I did not suppose he would.'
'Nor did I. Of course he would object to such a marriage. But a
man in these days cannot dictate to his daughter what husband she
'Perhaps he can dictate to her what husband she shall not marry.'
'Hardly that. He may put impediments in the way; and the Duke will
do so. But if I am happy enough to have won the affection of his
daughter,--so as to make it essential to her happiness that she
should become my wife,--he will give way.'
'What am I to say, Mr Tregear?'
'Just what you think.'
'Why should I be made to say what I think on so delicate a matter?
Or of what use would by my thoughts? Remember how far I am
removed from her.'
'You are his friend.'
'Not at all! No one less so!' As she said this she could not
hinder the colour from coming into her face. 'I was her friend,--
lady Glencora's; but with the death of my friend there was an end
of all that.'
'You were staying with him,--at his request. You told me so
'I shall never stay with him again. But all that, Mr Tregear, is
of no matter. I do not mean to say a word against him;--not a word.
But if you wish to interest any one as being the Duke's friend,
then I can assure you that I am the last person in London to whom
you should come. I know no one to whom the Duke is likely to
entertain any feelings so little kind towards me.' This she said
in a peculiarly solemn way that startled Tregear. But before he
could answer her a servant entered the room with a letter. She
recognised at once the Duke's handwriting. Here was the answer for
which she had been so long waiting in silent expectation! She
could not keep it unread till he was gone. 'Will you allow me a
moment,' she whispered, and then she opened the envelope. As she
read the few words her eyes became laden with tears. They quite
sufficed to relieve the injured pride which had sat so heavy at
her heart. 'I believe I did you a wrong, and therefore I ask you
your pardon!' It was so like what she had believed the man to be!
She could not be longer angry with him. And yet the very last
words she had spoken were words complaining of his conduct. 'This
is from the Duke,' she said, putting the letter back into its
'It is odd that it should have come while you were here.'
'Is it,--is it,--about Lady Mary?'
'No;--at least,--not directly. I perhaps spoke more harshly about
him than I should have done. The truth is I had expected a line
from him, and it had not come. Now it is here; but I do not
suppose I shall ever see much of him. My intimacy was with her.
But I would not wish you to remember what I said just now, if--if--'
'If what, Mrs Finn? You mean perhaps, if I should ever be allowed
to call myself his son-in-law. It may seem to you to be arrogant,
but it is an honour which I expect to win.'
'Faint heart,--you know, Mr Tregear.'
'Exactly. One has to tell oneself that very often. You will help
'Certainly not,' she said, as though she were much startled. 'How
can I help you?'
'By telling me what I should do. I suppose if I were to go down to
Richmond I should not be admitted.'
'If you ask me, I think not;--not to see Lady Mary. Lady Cantrip
would perhaps see you.'
'She is acting the part of-Duenna.'
'As I should do so, if Lady Mary were staying with me. You don't
suppose that if she were here I would let her see you in my house
without her father's leave?'
'I suppose not.'
'Certainly not; and therefore I conceive that Lady Cantrip will
not do so either.'
'I wish she were here.'
'It would be of no use. I should be a dragon in guarding her.'
'I wish you would let me feel that you were like a sister to me in
'But I am not your sister, nor yet your aunt, nor yet your
grandmother. What I mean is that I cannot be on your side.'
'Can you not?'
'No, Mr Tregear. Think how long I have known these other people.'
'But just now you said that he was your enemy.'
'I did say so; but as I have unsaid it since, you as a gentleman
will not remember my words. At any rate I cannot help you in
'I shall write to her.'
'It can be nothing to me. If you write she will show your letter
either to her father or to Lady Cantrip.'
'But she will read it first.'
'I cannot tell you how that may be. In fact I am the very last
person in the world to whom you should come for assistance in this
matter. If I gave any assistance to anybody I should be bound to
give it to the Duke.'
'I cannot understand that, Mrs Finn.'
'Nor can I explain it, but it would be so. I shall always be very
glad to see you, and I do feel that we ought to be friends,--
because I took such a liberty with you. But in this matter I
cannot help you.'
When she said this he had to take his leave. It was impossible
that he should further press his case upon her, though he would
have been very glad to extract from her some kindly word. It is
such a help in a difficulty to have somebody who will express even
a hope that the difficulty is perhaps not invincible! He had no
one to comfort him in this matter. There was one dear friend,--as a
friend dearer than any other,--to whom he might go, and who would
after some fashion bid him prosper. Mabel would encourage him. She
had said that she would do so. But in making that promise she had
told him that Romeo would not have spoken of his love for Juliet
to Rosaline, whom he had loved before he saw Juliet. No doubt she
had gone on to tell him that he might come to her and talk freely
of his love for Lady Mary,--but after what had been said before he
felt that he could not do so without leaving a sting behind. When
a man's heart goes well with him,--so well as to be in some degree
oppressive to him even by its prosperity,--when the young lady has
jumped into his arms, and the father and the mother have been
quite willing, then he wants no confidant. He does not care to
speak very much off the matter which among his friends is apt to
become a subject for raillery. When you call a man Benedict he
does not come to you with ecstatic descriptions of the beauty and
the wit of his Beatrice. But no one was likely to call him
Benedict in reference to Lady Mary.
In spite of his manner, in spite of his apparent self-sufficiency,
this man was very soft within. Less than two years back he had
been willing to sacrifice all the world for his cousin Mabel, and
his cousin Mabel had told him that he was wrong. 'It does not pay
to sacrifice the world for love.' So cousin Mabel had said, and
had added something as to its being necessary that she should
marry a rich man, and expedient that he should marry a rich woman.
He had thought much about it, and had declared to himself that on
no account would he marry a woman for her money. Then he had
encountered Lady Mary Palliser. There had been no doubt, no
resolution after that, no thinking about it,--but downright love.
There was nothing left of real regret for his cousin in his bosom.
She had been right. That love had been impossible. But this would
be possible,--ah, so deliciously possible,--if only her father and
mother would assist! The mother, imprudent in this as in all
things, had assented. The reader knows the rest.
It was in every way possible. 'She will have money enough,' the
Duchess had said, 'if only her father can be brought to give it to
you.' So Tregear had set his heart upon it, and had said to
himself that the thing was to be done. Then his friend the Duchess
had died, and the real difficulties had commenced. From that day
he had not seen his love, or heard from her. How was he to know
whether she would be true to him? And where was he to seek for
that sympathy which he felt to be so necessary to him? A wild
idea had come into his head that Mrs Finn would be his friend;--but
she had repudiated him.
He went straight home and at once wrote to the girl. The letter
was a simple love-letter, and as such need not be given here. In
what sweetest language he could find he assured her that even
though he should never be allowed to see her or to hear from her,
that still he should cling to her. And then he added this passage:
'If your love for me be what I think it is to be, no one can have
a right to keep us apart. Pray be sure that I shall not change. If
you change let me know it;--but I shall as soon expect the heavens
She Must Be Made to Obey
Lady Mary Palliser down at the Horns had as much liberty allowed
to as is usually given to young ladies in these very free days.
There was indeed no restriction placed upon her at all. Had
Tregear gone down to Richmond and asked for the young lady, and
had Lady Cantrip at the time been out and the young lady at home,
it would have depended altogether upon the young lady whether she
would have seen her lover or not. Nevertheless Lady Cantrip kept
her eyes open, and when the letter came from Tregear she was aware
that the letter had come. But the letter found its way into Lady
Mary's hands and was read in the seclusion of her own bedroom. 'I
wonder whether you would mind reading that,' she said very shortly
afterwards to Lady Cantrip. 'What answer ought I to make?'
'Do you think any answer ought to be made, my dear?'
'Oh yes; I must answer him.'
'Would your papa wish it?'
'I told papa that I would not promise not to write to him. I think
I told him that he should see any letters that there were. But if
I show them to you, I suppose that will do as well.'
'You had better keep your word to him absolutely.'
'I am not afraid of doing so, if you mean that. I cannot bear to
give him pain, but this is a matter in which I mean to have my own
'Mean to have your own way!' said Lady Cantrip, much surprised by
the determined tone of the young lady.
'Certainly I do. I want you to understand so much! I suppose papa
can keep us from marrying for ever and ever if he pleases, but he
never will make me say that I will give up Mr Tregear. And if he
does not yield I shall think him cruel. Why should he wish to make
me unhappy all my life?'
'He certainly does not wish that, my dear.'
'But he will do it.'
'I cannot go against your father, Mary.'
'No, I suppose not. I shall write to Mr Tregear, and then I will
show you what I have written. Papa shall see it too if he pleases.
I will do nothing secret, but I will never give up Mr Tregear.'
Lord Cantrip came down to Richmond that evening, and his wife told
him that in her opinion it would be best that the Duke should
allow the young people to marry, and should give them money enough
to live upon. 'Is not that a strong order?' asked the Earl. The
Countess acknowledged that it was a 'strong order', but suggested
that for the happiness of them all it might as well be done at
first as last.
The next morning Lady Mary showed her a copy of the reply which
she had already sent to her lover.
'You may be quite sure that I shall never give you up. I will
not write more at present because papa does not wish me to do so.
I shall show papa your letter and my answer.
'Your own most affectionate
'Has it gone?' asked the Countess.
'I put it myself into the pillar letter-box.' Then Lady Cantrip
felt that she had to deal with a very self-willed young lady
That afternoon Lady Cantrip asked Lady Mary whether she might be
allowed to take the two letters up to town with the express
purpose of showing them to the Duke. 'Oh yes,' said Mary. 'I think
it would be so much the best. Give papa my kindest love, and tell
him from me that if he wants to make his poor little girl happy he
will forgive her and be kind to her in all this.' Then the
Countess made some attempts to argue the matter. There were
proprieties! High rank might be a blessing or might be the
reverse--as people thought of it;--but all men acknowledged that
much was due to it. 'Noblesse oblige.' It was often the case in
life that women were called upon by circumstances to sacrifice
their inclinations! What right had a gentleman to talk of
marriage who had no means? These things she said and very many
more, but it was to no purpose. The young lady asserted that as
the gentleman was a gentleman there need be no question as to
rank, and that in regard to money there need be no difficulty if
one of them had sufficient. 'But you have none but what your
father gives you,' said Lady Cantrip. 'Papa can give it us without
any trouble,' said Lady Mary. This child had a clear idea of what
she thought to be her own rights. Being the child of rich parents
she had the right to money. Being a woman she had a right to a
husband. Having been born free she had a right to choose one for
herself. Having had a man's love given to her she had a right to
keep it. 'One doesn't know which she is most like, her father or
her mother,' Lady Cantrip said afterwards to her husband. 'She has
his cool determination, and her hot-headed obstinacy.'
She did show the letters to the Duke, and in answer to a word or
two from him explained that she could not take upon herself to
debar her guest from the use of the post. 'But she will write
nothing without letting you know it.'
'She ought to write nothing at all.'
'What she feels is much worse than what she writes.'
'If there were no intercourse she would forget him.'
'Ah; I don't know,' said the Countess sorrowfully, 'I thought so
'All children are determined as long as they are allowed to have
their own way.'
'I mean to say that it is the nature of her character to be
obstinate. Most girls are prone to yield. They have not character
enough to stand against opposition. I am not speaking now only of
affairs like this. It would be the same with her in any thing.
Have you not always found it so?'
Then he had to acknowledge to himself that he had never found out
anything in reference to his daughter's character. She had been
properly sweet, affectionate, always obedient to him;--the most
charming plaything in the world on the few occasions in which he
had allowed himself to play. But as to her actual disposition, he
had never taken any trouble to inform himself. She had been left
to her mother,--as other girls are left. And his sons had been left
to their tutors. And now he had no control over any of them. 'She
must be made to obey like others,' he said at last, speaking
through his teeth.
There was something in this which almost frightened Lady Cantrip.
She could not bear to hear him say that the girl must be made to
yield with that spirit of despotic power under which women were
restrained in years now passed. If she could have spoken her own
mind it would have been to this effect: 'Let us do what we can to
lead her away from this desire of hers; and in order that we may
do so, let us tell her that her marriage with Mr Tregear is out of
the question. But if we do not succeed,--let us give way. Let us
make it a matter of joy that the young man himself is so
acceptable and well-behaved.' That was her idea, and with that
she would have indoctrinated the Duke had she been able. But his
was different. 'She must be made to obey,' he said. And, as he
said it, he seemed to be indifferent to the sorrow which such
enforced obedience might bring upon his child. In answer to this
she could only shake her head. 'What do you mean?' he asked. 'Do
you think we ought to yield?'
'Not at once, certainly.'
'But at last?'
'What can you do, Duke? If she be as firm as you, can you bear to
see her pine away in misery?'
'Girls do not do like that,' he said.
'Girls and men are very different. They gradually will yield to
external influences. English girls, though they become the most
loving wives in the world, do not generally become so riven by an
attachment as to become deep sufferers when it is disallowed. But
here, I fear, we have to deal with one who will suffer after this
'Why should she not be like others?'
'It may be so. We will try. But you see what she says in her
letter to him. She writes as though your authority were to be
nothing in that matter of giving up. In all that she says to me
there is the same spirit. If she is firm, Duke, you must yield.'
'Never! She shall never marry him with my sanction.'
There was nothing more to be said, and Lady Cantrip went her way.
But the Duke, though he could say nothing more, continued to think
of it hour after hour. He went down to the House of Lords to
listen to a debate in which it was intended to cover the ministers
with heavy disgrace. But the Duke could not listen even to his own
friends. He could listen to nothing as he thought of the condition
of his children.
He had been asked whether he could bear to see his girl suffer, as
though he were indifferent to the sufferings of his child. Did he
not know of himself that there was no father who would do more for
the welfare of his daughter? Was he not sure of the tenderness of
his own heart? In all that he was doing was he governed by
anything but a sense of duty? Was it personal pride or love of
personal aggrandisement? He thought that he could assure himself
that he was open to no such charge. Would he not die for her,--or
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