The Prime Minister
Part 2 out of 16
Duchess. Then he told her that he believed an attempt would be
made at a mixed ministry, but that he did not in the least know
to whom the work of doing so would be confided. 'You will be
about the last man who will be told,' replied the Duchess. Now,
at this moment, he had, as she knew, come direct from the house
of Mr Gresham, and she asked her question in her usual spirit.
'And what are they going to make you now?'
But he did not answer the question in his usual manner. He would
customarily smile gently at her badinage, and perhaps say a word
intended to show that he was not in the least moved by her
raillery. But in this instance he was very grave, and stood
before her a moment making no answer at all, looking at her in a
sad and almost solemn manner. 'They have told you that they can
do without you,' she said, breaking out almost into a passion.
'I knew it would be. Men are always valued by others as they
'I wish it were so,' he replied. 'I should sleep easier to-
'What is it, Plantagenet?' she exclaimed, jumping up from her
'I never cared for your ridicule hitherto, Cora, but now I feel
that I want your sympathy.'
'If you are going to do anything,--to do really anything, you
shall have it. Oh, how you shall have it!'
'I have received her Majesty's orders to go down to Windsor at
once. I must start within half an hour.'
'You are going to be Prime Minister!' she exclaimed. As she
spoke she threw her arms up, and then rushed into his embrace.
Never since their first union had she been so demonstrative
either of love or admiration. 'Oh, Plantagenet,' she said, 'if I
can do anything I will slave for you.' As he put his arm round
her waist he already felt the pleasantness of her altered way to
him. She had never worshipped him yet, and therefore her worship
when it did come had all the delight to him which it ordinarily
has to the newly married hero.
'Stop a moment, Cora. I do not know how it may be yet. But this
I know, that if without cowardice I could avoid this task, I
would certainly avoid it.'
'Oh no! And there would be cowardice; of course there would,'
said the Duchess, not much caring what might be the bonds which
bound him to the task so long as he should certainly feel himself
to be bound.
'He has told me that he thinks it my duty to make the attempt.'
'Who is he?'
'Mr Gresham. I do not know that I should have felt myself bound
by him, but the Duke said also.' This duke was our duke's old
friend, the Duke of St Bungay.
'Was he there? And who else?'
'No one else. It is no case for exultation, Cora, for the
chances are that I shall fail. The Duke has promised to help me,
on condition that one or two he has named are included, and that
one or two whom he has also named are not. In each case, I
should myself have done exactly as he proposes.'
'And Mr Gresham?'
'He will retire. That is a matter of course. He will intend to
support me, but all that is veiled in the obscurity which is
always, I think, darker as to the future of politics than any
other future. Clouds arise, one knows not why or whence, and
create darkness when one expected light. But as yet, you must
understand, nothing is settled. I cannot even say what answer I
may make to her Majesty, till I know what commands her Majesty
may lay upon me.'
'You must keep a hold of it now, Plantagenet,' said the Duchess,
clenching her own fist.
'I will not even close a finger on it with any personal
ambition,' said the Duke. 'If I could be relieved from the
burden of this moment, it would be an ease to my heart. I
remember once,' he said,--and as he spoke he again put his arm
around her waist, 'when I was debarred from taking office, by a
'I remember that too,' she said, speaking very gently and looking
up at him.
'It was a grief to me at the time, though it turned out so well,
--because the office then suggested to me was one which I thought
I could fill with credit to the country. I believed in myself
then, as far as that work went. But for this attempt I have no
belief in myself. I doubt whether I have any gift for governing
'It will come.'
'It may be that I must try;--and it may be that I must break my
heart because I fail. But I shall make the attempt if I am
directed to do so in any manner that shall seem feasible. I must
be off now. The Duke is to be here this evening. They had
better have dinner ready for me whenever I may be able to eat
it.' Then he took his departure before she could say another
When the Duchess was alone she took to thinking of the whole
thing in a manner which they who best knew her would have thought
to be very unusual with her. She already possessed all that rank
and wealth could give her, and together with those good things a
peculiar position of her own, of which she was proud, and which
she had made her own not by her wealth and rank, but by a certain
fearless energy and power of raillery which never deserted her.
Many feared her, and she was afraid of none, and many also loved
her,--whom she also loved, for her nature was affectionate. She
was happy with her children, happy with her friends, in the
enjoyment of perfect health, and capable of taking an exaggerated
interest in anything that might come uppermost for the moment.
One would have been inclined to say that politics were altogether
unnecessary to her, and that as Duchess of Omnium, lately known
as Lady Glencora Palliser, she had a wider and pleasanter
influence than could belong to any woman as wife of a Prime
Minister. And she was essentially one of those women who are not
contented to be known simply as the wives of their husbands. She
had a celebrity of her own, quite independent of his position,
and which could not be enhanced by any glory or any power added
to him. Nevertheless, when he left her to go down to the Queen
with the prospect of being called upon to act as chief of the
incoming ministry, her heart throbbed with excitement. It had
come at last, and he would be, to her thinking, the leading man
in the greatest kingdom in the world.
But she felt in regard to him somewhat as did Lady Macbeth
towards her lord.
What thou would'st highly,
That would'st thou holily.
She knew him to be full of scruples, unable to bend when aught
was to be got by bending, unwilling to domineer when men might be
brought to subjection only by domination. The first duty never
could be taught to him. To win support by smiles when his heart
was bitter within him would never be within the power of her
husband. He could never be brought to buy an enemy by political
gifts,--would never be prone to silence his keenest opponent by
making him his right hand supporter. But the other lesson was easier
and might she thought be learned. Power is so pleasant that men
quickly learn to be greedy in the enjoyment of it, and to flatter
themselves that patriotism requires them to be imperious. She
would be constant with him day and night to make him understand
that his duty to his country required him to be in very truth its
chief ruler. And then with some knowledge of things as they are,
--and also with much ignorance,--she reflected that he had at
his command a means of obtaining popularity and securing power,
which had not belonged to his immediate predecessors, and had
perhaps never to the same extent been at the command of any
minister of England. His wealth as Duke of Omnium had been
great; but hers, as available for immediate purposes, had been
greater than even his. After some fashion, of which she was
profoundly ignorant, her own property was separated from his and
reserved to herself and her children. Since her marriage she had
never said a word to him about her money,--unless it were to ask
that something out of the common course might be spent on some,
generally absurd, object. But now had come the time for
squandering money. She was not only rich, but she had a
popularity that was exclusively her own. The new Prime Minister
and the new Prime Minister's wife should entertain after a
fashion that had never yet been known even among the nobility of
England. Both in town and country those great mansions should be
kept open which were now rarely much used because she found them
dull, cold, and comfortless. In London there should not be a
member of Parliament whom she would not herself know and
influence by her flattery and grace,--or if there were men whom
she could not influence, they should live as men tabooed and
unfortunate. Money mattered nothing. Their income was enormous,
and for a series of years,--for half a dozen years if the game
could be kept up so long,--they could spend treble what they
called their income without real injury to their children.
Visions passed through her brain of wondrous things which might
be done,--if only her husband would be true to his own
The Duke had left her at about two. She did not stir out of the
house that day, but in the course of the afternoon she wrote a
line to a friend who lived not very far from her. The Duchess
dwelt in Carlton Terrace, and her friend in Park Lane. The note
was as follows:
Come to me at once. I am too
excited to go to you. Yours G
This was addressed to one Mrs Finn, a lady as to whom chronicles
have been written, and who has been known to the readers of such
chronicles as a friend dearly loved by the Duchess. As quickly
as she could put on her carriage garments and get herself to
Carlton Terrace, Mrs Finn was there. 'Well, my dear, how do you
think it's all settled at last?' said the Duchess. It will
probably be felt that the new Prime Minister's wife was
indiscreet, and hardly worthy of the confidence placed in her by
her husband. But surely we all have some one friend to whom we
tell everything, and with the Duchess Mrs Finn was that one
'Is the Duke to be Prime Minister?'
'How on earth should you have guessed that?'
'What else could make you so excited? Besides, it is by no means
strange. I understand that they have gone on trying the two old
stages till it is useless to try them any longer; and if there is
to be a fresh man, no one would be more likely than the Duke.'
'Do you think so?'
'Certainly. Why not?'
'He has frittered away his political position by such meaningless
concessions. And then he had never done anything to put himself
forward,--at any rate since he left the House of Commons.
Perhaps I haven't read things right--but I was surprised, very
'Oh yes. I can tell you everything, because you will neither
misunderstand me nor tell tales of me. Yes,--I shall like him
to be Prime Minister, though I know that I shall have a bad time
of it myself.'
'Why a bad time?'
'He is so hard to manage. Of course, I don't mean about
politics. Of course it must be a mixed kind of thing at first,
and I don't care a straw whether it run to Radicalism or Toryism.
The country goes on its own way; either for better or for worse,
which ever of them are in. I don't think it makes any difference
what sort of laws are passed. But among ourselves, in our set,
it makes a deal of difference who gets the garters, and the
counties, who are made barons and then earls, and whose name
stands at the head of everything.'
'That is your way of looking at politics?'
'I own it to you;--and I must teach it to him.'
'You never will do that, Lady Glen.'
'Never is a long word. I mean to try. For look back and tell me
of any Prime Minister who has become sick of his power. They
become sick of the want of power when it's falling away from
them,--and then they affect to disdain and put aside the thing
they can no longer enjoy. Love of power is a kind of feeling
which comes to man as he grows older.'
'Politics with the Duke have been simple patriotism,' said Mrs
'The patriotism may remain, my dear, but not the simplicity. I
don't want him to sell his country to Germany, or to turn it into
an American republic in order that he may be president. But when
he gets the reins into his hands, I want him to keep them there.
If he's so much honester than other people, of course he's the
best man for the place. We must make him believe that the very
existence of the country depends on his firmness.'
'To tell you the truth, Lady Glen, I don't think you'll ever make
the Duke believe anything. What he believes, he believes either
from very old habit, or from the working of his own mind.'
'You're always singing his praises, Marie.'
'I don't know that there is any special praise in what I say; but
as far as I can see, it is the man's character.'
'Mr Finn will come in, of course,' said the Duchess.
'Mr Finn will be like the Duke in one thing. He'll take his own
way as to being in or out, quite independent of his wife.'
'You'd like him to be in office?'
'No, indeed! Why should I? He would be more often at the House,
and keep later hours, and be always away all the morning into the
bargain. But I shall like him to do as he likes himself.'
'Fancy thinking of all that, I'd sit up all night every night of
my life,--I'd listen to every debate in the House myself,--to
have Plantagenet Prime Minister. I like to be busy. Well now,
if it does come off--'
'It isn't settled, then?'
'How can one hope that a single journey will settle it, when
those other men have been going backwards and forwards between
Windsor and London, like buckets in a well, for the last three
weeks? But if it is settled, I mean to have a cabinet of my own,
and I mean that you shall do the foreign affairs.'
'You'd better let me be at the exchequer. I'm very good at
'I'll do that myself. The accounts that I intend to set a-going
would frighten anyone less audacious. And I mean to be my own
home secretary, and to keep my own conscience,--and to be my own
master of the ceremonies certainly. I think a small cabinet gets
on best. Do you know,--I should like to put the Queen down.'
'What on earth do you mean?'
'No treason; nothing of that kind. But I should like to make
Buckingham Palace second-rate; and I'm not quite sure but I can.
I dare say you don't quite understand me.'
'I don't think that I do, Lady Glen.'
'You will some of these days. Come in to-morrow before lunch. I
suppose I shall know all about it then, and shall have found that
my basket of crockery has been kicked over and everything
ANOTHER OLD FRIEND.
At about nine the Duke returned, and was eating his very simple
dinner in the breakfast-room,--a beefsteak and a potato, with a
glass of sherry and Apollinaris water. No man more easily
satisfied as to what he eat and drank lived in London in those
days. As regarded the eating and drinking he dined alone, but
his wife sat with him and waited on him, having sent the servant
out of the room. 'I have told her Majesty I would do the best I
could,' said the Duke.
'Then you are Prime Minister.'
'Not at all. Mr Daubney is Prime Minister. I have undertaken to
form a ministry, if I find it practicable, with the assistance of
such friends as I possess, I never felt before that I had to lean
so entirely on others as I do now.'
'Lean on yourself only. Be enough for yourself.'
'Those are empty words, Cora;--words that are quite empty. In
one sense a man should always be enough for himself. He should
have enough of principle and enough of conscience to restrain him
from doing what he knows to be wrong. But can a shipbuilder
build his ship single-handed, or the watchmaker make his watch
without assistance? On former occasions such as this, I could
say, with little or no help from without, whether I would or
would not undertake the work that was proposed to me, because I
had only a bit of the ship to build, or a wheel of the watch to
make. My own efficacy for my present task would depend entirely
on the co-operation of others, and unfortunately upon that of
some others with whom I have no sympathy, nor they with me.'
'Leave them out,' said the Duchess boldly.
'But they are men who will not be left out, and whose services
the country has a right to expect.'
'Then bring them in, and think no more about it. It is no good
crying for pain that cannot be cured.'
'Co-operation is difficult without community of feeling. I find
myself to be too stubborn-hearted for the place. It was nothing
to me to sit in the same Cabinet with a man I disliked when I had
not put him there myself. But now--. As I have travelled up I
have almost felt that I could not do it! I did not know before
how much I might dislike a man.'
'Who is the one man?'
'Nay;--whoever he be, I will have to be a friend now, and
therefore I will not name him, even to you. But it is not one
only. If it were one, absolutely marked and recognised, I might
avoid him. But my friends, real friends, are so few! Who is
there besides the Duke on whom I can lean with both confidence
'Hardly so, Cora. But Lord Cantrip goes out with Mr Gresham.
They will always cling together.'
'You used to like Mr Mildmay.'
'Mr Mildmay,--yes! If there could be a Mr Mildmay in the
Cabinet this trouble would not come upon my shoulders.'
'Then I'm very glad that there can't be Mr Mildmay. Why
shouldn't there be as good fish in the sea as ever were caught
out of it?'
'When you've got a good fish you like to make as much of it as
'I suppose Mr Monk will join you.'
'I think we shall ask him. But I am not prepared to discuss
men's names as yet.'
'You must discuss them with the Duke immediately.'
'Probably;--but I had better discuss them with him before I fix
my own mind by naming them even to you.'
'You'll bring in Mr Finn, Plantagenet?'
'Yes,--Phineas Finn,--the man who was tried.'
'My dear Cora, we haven't come down to that yet. We need not at
any rate trouble ourselves about the small fishes till we are
sure that we can get the big fishes to join us.'
'I don't know why he should be a small fish. No man has done
better than he has; and if you want a man to stick to you--'
'I don't want a man to stick to me. I want a man to stick to his
'You were talking about sympathy.'
'Well, yes;--I was. But do not name anyone else just at
present. The Duke will be here soon, and I would be alone till
'There is one thing more I want to say, Plantagenet.'
'What is it?'
'One favour I want to ask.'
'Pray do not ask anything for any man at present.'
'It is not anything for any man.'
'Nor for any woman.'
'It is for a woman,--but one whom I think you would wish to
'Who is it?' Then she curtsied, smiling at him drolly, and put
her hand upon her breast. 'Something for you! What on earth can
you want that I can do for you?'
'Will you do it,--if it be reasonable?'
'If I think it reasonable, I certainly will do it.'
Then her manner changed altogether, and she became serious and
almost solemn. 'If, as I suppose, all the great places about her
Majesty be changed, I should like to be Mistress of the Robes.'
'You!' said he, almost startled out of his usual quiet demeanour.
'Why not? Is not my rank high enough?'
'You burden yourself with the intricacies and subserviences, with
the tedium and pomposities of the Court life! Cora, you do not
know what you are talking about, or what you are proposing for
'If I am willing to try to undertake a duty, why should I be
debarred from it any more than you?'
'Because I have put myself into a groove, and ground myself into
a mould, and clipped and pared and pinched myself all round,--
very ineffectually, as I fear,--to fit myself for this thing.
You have lived as free as air. You have disdained,--and though
I may have grumbled I have still been proud to see you disdain,--
to wrap yourself in the swaddling bandages of Court life. You
have ridiculed all those who have been near her Majesty as Court
'The individuals, Plantagenet, perhaps, but not the office. I am
getting older now, and I do not see why I should not begin a new
life.' She had been somewhat quelled by the unexpected energy,
and was at the moment hardly able to answer him with her usual
'Do not think of it, my dear. You asked whether your rank was
high enough. It must be so, as there is, as it happens, none
higher. But your position, should it come to pass that your
husband is the head of Government, will be too high. I may say
that in no condition should I wish to my wife to be subject to
other restraint than that which is common to all married women.
I should not choose that she should have any duties unconnected
with our joint family and home. But as First Minister of the
Crown I would altogether object to her holding an office believed
to be at my disposal.' She looked at him with her large eyes
wide open, and then left him without a word. She had no other
way of showing her displeasure, for she knew that when he spoke
as he had spoken now all argument was unavailing.
The Duke remained an hour alone before he was joined by the other
Duke, during which he did not for a moment apply his mind to the
subject which might be thought to be most prominent in his
thoughts,--the filling up, namely, of a list of his new
government. All that he could do in that direction without
further assistance had been already done very easily. There were
four or five certain names,--names that is of certain political
friends, and three or four almost equally certain of men who had
been political enemies, but who would not clearly be asked to
join the ministry. Sir Gregory Grogram, the late Attorney-
General, would of course be asked to resume his place, but Sir
Timothy Beeswax, who was up to this moment Solicitor-General for
the Conservatives, would also be invited to retain that which he
held. Many details were known, not only to the two dukes who
were about to patch up the ministry between them, but to the
political world at large,--and where facts upon which the
newspapers were able to display their wonderful foresight and
general omniscience, with their usual confidence. And as to the
points which were in doubt,--whether or not, for instance, that
consistent old Tory, Sir Orlando Drought, should be asked to put
up with the Post-office or should be allowed to remain at the
Colonies,--the younger Duke did not care to trouble himself till
the elder should have come to his assistance. But his own
position and his questionable capacity for filling it,--that
occupied all his mind. If nominally first he would be really
first. Of so much it seemed to him that his honour required him
to assure himself. To be a faneant ruler was in direct
antagonism both to his conscience and to his predilections. To
call himself by a great name before the world, and then to be
something infinitely less than that name, would be to him a
degradation. But though he felt fixed as to that, he was by no
means assured as to that other point, which to most men firm in
their resolves as he was, and backed up as he had been by the
confidence of others, would be cause of small hesitation. He did
doubt his ability to fill that place which it would now be his
duty to occupy. He more than doubted. He told himself again and
again that there was wanting to him a certain noble capacity for
commanding support and homage from other men. With things and
facts he could deal, but human beings had not opened themselves
to him. But now it was too late! And yet,--as he said to his
wife,--to fail would break his heart! No ambition had prompted
him. He was sure of himself there. One only consideration had
forced him into this great danger, and that had been the
assurance of others that it was his manifest duty to encounter
it. And how there was clearly no escape,--no escape compatible
with that clean-handed truth from which it was not possible for
him to swerve. He might create difficulties in order that
through them a way might still be opened to him of restoring to
the Queen the commission which had been entrusted to him. He
might insist on this or that impossible concession. But the
memory of escape such as that would break his heart as surely as
When the Duke was announced, he rose to greet his old friend
almost with fervour. 'It is a shame,' he said, 'to bring you out
so late. I ought to have gone to you.'
'Not at all. It is always the rule in these cases that the man
who has most to do should fix himself as well as he can where
others may be able to find him.' The Duke of St Bungay was an
old man between seventy and eighty, with hair nearly white, and
who on entering the room had to unfold himself out of various
coats and comforters. But he was in full possession not only of
his intellects but of his bodily power, showing, as many
politicians do show, that the cares of the nation may sit upon a
man's shoulders for many years without breaking or even bending
them. For the Duke had belonged to ministries nearly for the
last half century. As the chronicles have also dealt with him,
no further records of his past like shall now be given.
He had said something about the Queen, expressing gracious wishes
for the comfort of her Majesty in all these matters, something of
the inconvenience of these political journeys to and fro,
something also of the delicacy and difficulty of the operations
on hand which were enhanced by the necessity of bringing together
as cordial allies who had hitherto acted with bitter animosity
one to another, before the younger Duke said a word. 'We may as
well,' said the elder, 'make out some small provisional list, and
you can ask those you name to be with you early tomorrow. But
perhaps you have already made a list.'
'No indeed. I have not even had a pencil in my hand.'
'We may as well begin then,' said the elder facing the table when
he saw that his less-experienced companion made no attempt at
'There is something horrible to me in the idea of writing down
men's names for such a work as this, just as boys at school used
to draw out the elevens for a cricket match.' The old stager
turned round and stared at the younger politician. 'The thing
itself is so momentous that one ought to have aid from heaven.'
Plantagenet Palliser was the last man from whom the Duke of St
Bungay would have expected romance at any time, and, least of
all, at such a time as this. 'Aid from heaven you may have,' he
said, 'by saying your prayers; and I don't doubt you ask for this
and all other things generally. But an angel won't come to tell
you who ought to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.'
'No angel will, and therefore I wish I could wash my hands of
it.' His old friend stared at him. 'It is like sacrilege to me,
attempting this without feeling one's own fitness for the work.
It unmans me,--this necessity of doing that which I know I
cannot do with fitting judgement.'
'You mind has been a little too hard at work to-day.'
'It hasn't been at work at all. I've had nothing to do, and have
been unable really to think of work. But I feel that chance
circumstances have put me into a position for which I am unfit,
and which yet I have been unable to avoid. How much better would
it be that you should do this alone,--you yourself.'
'Utterly out of the question. I do know and think that I always
have known my own powers. Neither has my aptitude in debate nor
my capacity for work justified me in looking to the premiership.
But that, forgive me, is now not worthy of consideration. It is
because you do work and can work, and because you have fitted
yourself for that continued course of lucid explanation which we
now call debate, that men on both sides have called upon you as
the best man to come forward in this difficulty. Excuse me, my
friend, again, if I say that I expect to find your manliness
equal to your capacity.'
'If I could only escape from it!'
'Psha;--nonsense!' said the Duke, getting up. 'There is such a
thing as conscience with so fine an edge that it will allow a man
to do nothing. You've got to serve your country. On such
assistance as I can give you you know that you may depend with
absolute assurance. Now let us get to work. I suppose you would
wish that I should take the chair at the Council.'
'Certainly;--of course,' said the Duke of Omnium, turning to the
table. The once practical suggestion had fixed him, and from
that moment he gave himself to the work in hand with all his
energies. It was not very difficult, nor did it take them a very
long time. If the future Prime Minister had not his names at his
fingers' ends, the future President of the Council had them.
Eight men were soon named whom it was thought well that the Duke
of Omnium should consult early in the morning as to their
willingness to fill certain places.
'Each one of them may have some other one or some two whom he may
insist on bringing with him,' said the elder Duke; 'and though of
course you cannot yield to the pressure in every such case, it
will be wise to allow yourself scope for some amount of
concession. You'll find they'll shake down after the usual
amount of resistance and compliance. No;--don't leave your
house to-morrow to see anybody unless it be Mr Daubney or Her
Majesty. I'll come to you at two, and if her Grace will give me
luncheon, I'll lunch with her. Good night, and don't think too
much of the bigness of the thing. I remember dear old Lord Brock
telling me how much more difficult it was to find a good coachman
than a good Secretary of State.'
The Duke of Omnium, as he sat thinking of things for the next
hour in his chair, succeeded in proving to himself that Lord
Brock never ought to have been Prime Minister of England after
having ventured to make so poor a joke on so solemn a subject.
THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CAREER.
By the time that the Easter holidays were over,--holidays which
had been used so conveniently for the making of a new government,
--the work of getting a team together had been accomplished by
the united energy of the two dukes and other friends. The
filling up of the great places had been by no means so difficult
or so tedious,--nor indeed the cause of half so many heartburns,
--as the completion of the list of subordinates. Noblesse
oblige. The Secretaries of State, and the Chancellors, and the
First Lords, selected from this or the other party felt that the
eyes of mankind were upon them, and that it behoved them to
assume a virtue if they had it not. They were habitually
indifferent to self-exaltation, and allowed themselves to be
thrust into this or that unfitting role, professing that the
Queen's Government and the good of the country were their only
considerations. Lord Thrift made way for Sir Orlando Drought at
the Admiralty, because it was felt on all sides that Sir Orlando
could not join the new composite party without a high place. And
the same grace was shown in regard to Lord Drummond, who remained
at the Colonies, keeping the office to which he had lately been
transferred under Mr Daubney. And Sir Gregory Grogram said not a
word, whatever he may have thought, when he was told that Mr
Daubney's Lord Chancellor, Lord Ramsden, was to keep the seals.
Sir Gregory did, no doubt, think very much about it, for legal
offices have a signification differing much from that which
attaches itself to places simply political. A Lord Chancellor
becomes a peer, and on going out of office enjoys a large
pension. When the woolsack has been reached there comes an end
of doubt, and a beginning of ease. Sir Gregory was not a young
man, and this was a terrible blow. But he bore it manfully,
saying not a word when the Duke spoke to him; but he became
convinced from that moment that no more inefficient lawyer ever
sat upon the English bench, or a more presumptuous politician in
the British Parliament, than Lord Ramsden.
The real struggle, however, lay in the appropriate distribution
of the Rattlers, the Robys, the Fitzgibbons, and the Macphersons
among the subordinate offices of State. Mr Macpherson and Mr
Roby, with a host of others who had belonged to Mr Daubney, were
prepared, as they declared from the first, to lend their
assistance to the Duke. They had consulted Mr Daubney on the
subject, and Mr Daubney told them that their duty lay in that
direction. At the first blush of the matter the arrangement took
the form of a gracious tender from themselves to a statesman
called upon to act in very difficult circumstances,--and they
were thanked accordingly by the Duke, with something of real
cordial gratitude. But when the actual adjustment of things was
in hand, the Duke, having but little power of assuming a soft
countenance and using soft words while his heart was bitter, felt
on more than one occasion inclined to withdraw his thanks. He
was astounded not so much by the pretensions as by the unblushing
assertion of these pretensions in reference to places which he
had been innocent enough to think were always bestowed at any
rate without direct application. He had measured himself rightly
when he told the older Duke in one of those anxious conversations
which had been held before the attempt was made, that long as he
had been in office himself he did not know what was the way of
bestowing office. 'Two gentlemen have been here this morning,'
he said one day to the Duke of St Bungay, 'one on the heels of
the other, each assuring me not only that the whole stability of
the enterprise depends on my giving a certain office to him,--
but actually telling me to my face that I had promised it to
him!' The old statesman laughed. 'To be told within the same
half-hour by two men that I had made promises to each of them
inconsistent with each other.'
'Who were the two men?'
'Mr Rattler and Mr Roby.'
'I am assured that they are inseparable since the work has begun.
They always had a leaning to each other, and now I hear they pass
their time between the steps of the Carlton and Reform Clubs.'
'But what am I to do? One must be Patronage Secretary, no
'They're both good men in their way, you know.'
'But why do they come to me with their mouths open, like dogs
craving a bone? It used not to be so. Of course men were always
anxious for office as they are now.'
'Well; yes. We've heard of that before to-day, I think.'
'But I don't think any man ever ventured to ask Mr Mildmay.'
'Time has done much for him in consolidating his authority, and
perhaps the present world is less reticent in its eagerness than
it was in his younger days. I doubt, however, whether it is more
dishonest, and whether struggles were not made quite as
disgraceful to the strugglers as anything that is done now. You
can't alter the men, and you must use them.' The younger Duke
sat down and sighed over the degenerate patriotism of the age.
But at last even the Rattlers and Robys were fixed, if not
satisfied, and a complete list of the ministry appeared in all
the newspapers. Though the thing had been long a-doing, still it
had come suddenly,--so that the first proposition to form a
coalition ministry, the newspapers had hardly known whether to
assist or to oppose the scheme. There was no doubt, in the minds
of all these editors and contributors, the teaching of a
tradition that coalitions of this kind have been generally
feeble, sometimes disastrous, and on occasions, even disgraceful.
When a man, perhaps through a long political life, has bound
himself to a certain code of opinions, how can he change that
code at a moment? And when at the same moment, together with the
change, he secures power, patronage, and pay, how shall the
public voice absolve him? But then again, men, who have by the
work of their lives grown into a certain position in the country,
and have unconsciously but not therefore less actually made
themselves indispensable either to this side of politics, or to
that, cannot free themselves altogether from the responsibility
of managing them when a period comes such as that now reached.
This also the newspapers perceived, and having, since the
commencement of the session been very loud in exposing the
disgraceful collapse of government affairs, could hardly refuse
their support to any attempt at a feasible arrangement. When it
was first known that the Duke of Omnium had consented to make the
attempt, they had both on one side and the other been loud in his
praise, going so far as to say that he was the only man in
England who could do the work. It was probably this
encouragement which had enabled the new Premier to go on with an
undertaking which was personally distasteful to him, and for
which from day to day he believed himself to be less and less
fit. But when the newspapers told him that he was the only man
for the occasion, how could he be justified in crediting himself
in preference to them?
The work in Parliament began under the new auspices with great
tranquillity. That there would soon come causes of hot blood,--
the English Church, the county suffrage, the income tax, and
further education questions,--all men knew who knew anything.
But for the moment, for the months even, perhaps for the session,
there was to be peace, with full latitude for the performance of
routine duties. There was so to say no opposition, and at first
it seemed that one special bench in the House of Commons would
remain unoccupied. But after a day or two,--on one which Mr
Daubney had been seen sitting just below the gangway,--that
gentleman returned to the place usually held by the Prime
Minister's rival, saying with a smile that it might be for the
convenience of the House that the seat should be utilized. Mr
Gresham, at this time, had with declared purpose, asked and
obtained the Speaker's leave of absence, and was abroad. Who
should lead the House? That had been a great question, caused by
the fact that the Prime Minister was in the House of Lords;--and
what office should the leader hold? Mr Monk had consented to
take the Exchequer, but the right to sit opposite to the Treasure
Box and to consider himself for the time the principal spirit in
that chamber was at last assigned to Sir Orlando Drought. 'It
will never do,' said Mr Rattler to Mr Roby. 'I don't mean to say
anything against Drought, who had always been a very useful man
to your party;--but he lacks something of the position.'
'The fact is,' said Roby, 'that we've trusted to two men so long
that we don't know how to suppose anyone else big enough to fill
their places. Monk wouldn't have done. The House doesn't care
'I always thought it should have been Wilson, and so I told the
Duke. He had an idea that it should be one of your men.'
'I think he's right there,' said Roby. 'There ought to be
something like a fair division. Individuals might be content,
but the party would be dissatisfied. For myself, I'd have sooner
stayed out as an independent member, but Daubney said that he
thought I was bound to make myself useful.'
'I told the Duke from the beginning,' said Rattler, 'that I
didn't think that I could be of any service to him. Of course, I
would support him, but I had been too thoroughly a party man for
a new movement of this kind. But he said just the same?--that
he considered I was bound to join him. I asked Gresham, and when
Gresham said so too, of course I had no help for it.'
Neither of these excellent public servants had told a lie in
this. Some such conversations as those reported had passed;--
but a man doesn't lie when he exaggerates an emphasis, or even
when he gives by a tone a meaning to a man's words exactly
opposite to that which another tone would convey. Or, if he does
lie in doing so, he does not know that he lies. Mr Rattler had
gone back to his old office at the Treasury and Mr Roby had been
forced to content himself with the Secretaryship at the
Admiralty. But, as the old Duke had said, they were close
friends, and prepared to fight together any battle which might
keep them in the present position.
Many of the cares of office the Prime Minister did succeed in
shuffling off altogether on to the shoulders of his elder friend.
He would not concern himself with the appointment of ladies,
about whom he said he knew nothing, and as to whose fitness and
claims he professed himself to be as ignorant as the office
messenger. The offers were of course made in the usual form, as
though coming direct from the Queen, through the Prime Minister;
--but the selections were in truth effected by the old Duke in
council with--an illustrious personage. The matter affected our
Duke,--only in so far as he could get out of his mind that
strange application from his own wife. 'That she should have
even dreamed of it!' he would say to himself, not yet having
acquired sufficient experience of his fellow creatures to be
aware how wonderfully temptations will affect even those who
appear to be least subject to them. The town horse, used to
gaudy trappings, no doubt despises the work of his country
brother; but yet, now and again, there comes upon him a sudden
desire to plough. The desire for ploughing had come upon the
Duchess, but the Duke could not understand it.
He perceived, however, in spite of the multiplicity of his
official work, that his refusal sat heavily on his wife's breast,
and that, though she spoke no further word, she brooded over her
injury. And his heart was sad within him when he thought he had
vexed her,--loving her as he did with all his heart, but with a
heart that was never demonstrative. When she was unhappy he was
miserable, though he would hardly know the cause of his misery.
Her ridicule and raillery he could bear, though they stung him;
but her sorrow, if ever she were sorrowful, or her sullenness, if
ever she were sullen, upset him altogether. He was in truth so
soft of heart that he could not bear the discomfort of the one
person in the world who seemed to him to be near to him. He had
expressly asked her for her sympathy for the business he had on
hand,--thereby going much beyond his usual coldness of manner.
She, with an eagerness which might have been expected from her,
had promised that she would slave for him, if slavery were
necessary. Then she had made her request, had been refused, and
was now moody. 'The Duchess of ------ is to be Mistress of The
Robes,' he said to her one day. He had gone to her, up to her
own room, before he dressed for dinner, having devoted much more
time that as Prime Minister he ought to have done to a resolution
that he would make things straight with her, and to the best way
of doing it.
'So I am told. She ought to know her away about the place, as I
remember she was at the same work when I was a girl of eleven.'
'That's not so very long ago, Cora.'
'Silverbridge is older now than I was then, and I think that
makes it a very long time ago.' Lord Silverbridge was the Duke's
'But what does it matter? If she began her career at the time of
George the Fourth, what is it to you?'
'Nothing on earth,--only that she did in truth begin her career
in the time of George the Third. I'm sure she's nearer sixty
'I'm glad to see you remember your dates so well.'
'It's a pity she should not remember hers in the ways she
dresses,' said the Duchess.
This was marvellous to him,--that his wife, who as Lady Glencora
Palliser had been so conspicuous for a wild disregard of social
rules as to be looked upon by many as an enemy of her own class,
should be so depressed by not being allowed to be the Queen's
head servant as to descend to personal invective! 'I'm afraid,'
said he, attempting to smile, 'that it won't come within the
compass of my office to effect or even to propose any radical
change in her Grace's apparel. But don't you think that you and
I can afford to ignore all that?'
'I can certainly. She may be an antiquated Eve for me.'
'I hope, Cora, you are not still disappointed because I did not
agree with you when you spoke about the place for yourself.'
'Not because you did not agree with me,--but because you did not
think me fit to be trusted with any judgement of my own. I don't
know why I'm always to be looked upon as different from other
women,--as though I were half a savage.'
'You are what you made yourself, and I have always rejoiced that
you are as you are, fresh, untrammelled, without many prejudices
which afflict other ladies, and free from bonds by which they are
cramped and confined. Of course such a turn of character is
subject to certain dangers of its own.'
'There is no doubt about the dangers. The chances are that when
I see her Grace, I shall tell her what I think about her.'
'You will I am sure say nothing unkind to a lady who is supposed
to be in the place she now fills by my authority. But do not let
us quarrel about an old woman.'
'I won't quarrel with you even about a young one.'
'I cannot be at ease within myself while I think you are
resenting my refusal. You do not know how constantly I carry you
about with me.'
'You carry a very unnecessary burden then,' she said. But he
could tell at once from the altered tone of voice, and from the
light of her eye as he glanced into her face, that her anger
about 'The Robes' was appeased.
'I have done as you have asked about a friend of yours,' he said.
This occurred just before the final and perfected list of the new
men had appeared in all the newspapers.
'Mr Finn is to go to Ireland.'
'Go to Ireland!--How do you mean?'
'It is looked upon as being a very great promotion. Indeed, I am
told that he is considered to be the luckiest man in all the
'You don't mean as Chief Secretary?'
'Yes, I do. He certainly couldn't go as Lord Lieutenant.'
'But they said that Barrington Erle was going to Ireland.'
'Well; yes. I don't know that you'd be interested by all the ins
and outs of it. But Mr Erle declined. It seems that Mr Erle is
after all the one man in Parliament modest enough not to consider
himself to be fit for any place that can be offered to him.'
'Poor Barrington! He does not like the idea of crossing the
Channel so often. I quite sympathize with him. And so Phineas
is to be Secretary for Ireland! Not in the Cabinet?'
'No.--not in the Cabinet. It is not by any means usual that he
'That is promotion, and I'm glad! Poor Phineas! I hope they
won't murder him, or anything of that kind. They do murder
people, you know, sometimes.'
'He's an Irishman himself.'
'That just the reason why they should. He must pass up with that
of course. I wonder whether she'll like going. They'll be able
to spend money, which they always like, over there. He comes
backwards and forwards every week,--doesn't he?'
'Not quite that, I believe.'
'I shall miss her, if she has to stay away so long. I know you
don't like her.'
'I do like her. She has always behaved well, both to me and to
'She was an angel to him,--and to you too, if you only knew it.
I dare say you're sending him to Ireland so as to get her away
from me.' This she said with a smile, as though not meaning it
altogether, but yet half meaning it.
'I have asked him to undertake the office,' said the Duke
solemnly, 'because I am told he is fit for it. But I did have
some pleasure in proposing it to him because I thought it would
'It does please me, and I won't be cross any more, and the
Duchess of -- may wear her clothes just as she pleases, or go without
them. And as for Mrs Finn, I don't see why she should be with
him always when he goes. You can quite understand how necessary
she is to me. But she is in truth the only woman in London to
whom I can say what I think. And it is a comfort, you know, to
In this way the domestic peace of the Prime Minister was
readjusted, and that sympathy and co-operation for which he had
first asked was accorded to him. It may be a question whether on
the whole the Duchess did not work harder than he did. She did
not at first dare to expound to him those grand ideas which she
had conceived in regard to magnificence and hospitality. She
said nothing of any extraordinary expenditure of money. But she
set herself to work after her own fashion, making to him
suggestions as to dinners and evening receptions, to which he
objected only on the score of time. 'You must eat your dinner
somewhere,' she said, 'and you need only come in just before we
sit down, and go into your room if you please without coming
upstairs at all. I can at any rate do that part of it for you.'
And she did do that part of it with marvellous energy all through
the month of May,--so that by the end of the month, within six
weeks of the time at which she first heard of the Coalition
Ministry, all the world had begun to talk of the Prime Minister's
dinners, and of the receptions given by the Prime Minister's
MRS DICK'S DINNER PARTY----NO 1.
Our readers must not forget the troubles of poor Emily Wharton
amidst the gorgeous festivities of the new Prime Minister.
Throughout April and May she did not once see Ferdinand Lopez.
It may be remembered that on the night when the matter was
discussed between her and her father, she promised him that she
would not do so without his permission,--saying, however, at the
same time very openly that her happiness depended on such
permission being given to her. For two or three weeks not a word
further was said between her and her father on the subject, and
he had endeavoured to banish the subject from his mind,--feeling
no doubt that if nothing further were ever said it would be so
much the better. But then his daughter referred to the matter,
very plainly, with a simple question, and without disguise of her
own feeling, but still in a manner which he could not bring
himself to rebuke. 'Aunt Harriet has asked me once or twice to
go there of an evening, when you have been out. I have declined
because I thought Mr Lopez would be there. Must I tell her that
I am not to meet Mr Lopez, papa?'
'If she has asked him there on purpose to throw him in your way,
I shall think very badly of her.'
'But he has been in the habit of being there, papa. Of course if
you are decided about this, it is better that I should not see
'Did I not tell you that I was decided?'
'You said you would make some further inquiry, and speak to me
again.' Now Mr Wharton had made inquiry, but had learned nothing
to reassure himself;--neither had been able to learn any fact,
putting his finger on which he could point out to his daughter
clearly that the marriage would be unsuitable for her. Of the
man's ability and position, as certainly also of his manners, the
world at large seemed to speak well. He had been black-balled at
two clubs, but apparently without defined reason. He lived as
though he possessed a handsome income, and yet was in no degree
fast or flashy. He was supposed to be an intimate friend of Mr
Mills Happerton, one of the partners in the world-famous
commercial house of Hunky and Sons, which dealt in millions.
Indeed there had been at once time a rumour that he was going to
be taken into the house of Hunky and Sons as a junior partner.
It was evident that many people had been favourably impressed by
his outward demeanour, by his mode of talk, and by his way of
living. But no one knew anything about him. With regard to his
material position, Mr Wharton could of course ask direct
questions if he pleased, and require evidence as to his alleged
property. But he felt that by doing so he would abandon his
right to object to the man as being a Portuguese stranger, and he
did not wish to have Ferdinand Lopez as son-in-law, even though
he should be a partner in Hunky and Sons, and able to maintain a
gorgeous palace at South Kensington.
'I have made inquiry.'
'I don't know anything about him. Nobody knows anything about
'Could you not ask him yourself anything you want to know? If I
might see him I would ask him.'
'That would not do at all.'
'It comes to this, papa, that I am to sever myself from a man to
whom I am attached, and who you must admit that I have been
allowed to meet from day to day with no caution that his intimacy
was unpleasant to you, because he is called,--Lopez.'
'It isn't that at all. There are English people of that name,
but he isn't an Englishman.'
'Of course, if you say so, papa, it must be so. I have told Aunt
Harriet that I consider myself prohibited from meeting Mr Lopez
by what you have said; but I think, papa, you are a little
cruel to me.'
'Cruel to you!' said Mr Wharton, almost bursting into tears.
'I am ready to obey as a child;--but, not being a child, I think
I ought to have a reason.' To this Mr Wharton made no further
immediate answer, but pulled his hair, and shuffled his feet
about, and then escaped out of the room.
A few days afterwards his sister-in-law attached him. 'Are we to
understand, Mr Wharton, that Emily is not to meet Mr Lopez again?
It makes it very unpleasant, because he has been an intimate at
'I never said word about her not meeting him. Of course I do not
wish that any meeting should be contrived between them.'
'As it stands now it is prejudicial to her. Of course it cannot
but be observed, and it so odd that a young lady should be
forbidden to meet a certain man. It looks so unpleasant for her,
--as though she had misbehaved herself.'
'I have never thought so for a moment.'
'Of course you have not. How could you have thought so, Mr
'I say that I never did.'
'What must he think when he knows,--as of course he does know,---
that she has been forbidden to meet him? It must make him fancy
that he is very much made of. All that is so very bad for a
girl! Indeed it is, Mr Wharton.' Of course there was absolute
dishonesty in all this on the part of Mrs Roby. She was true
enough to Emily's lover,--too true to him; but she was false to
Emily's father. If Emily would have yielded to her she would
have arranged meetings at her own house between the lovers
altogether in opposition to the father. Nevertheless, there was
a show of reason about what she said which Mr Wharton was unable
to overcome. And at the same time there was a reality about the
girl's sorrow which overcame him. He had never hitherto
consulted anyone about anything in his family, having always
found his own information and intellect sufficient for his own
affairs. But now he felt grievously in want of some pillar,---
some female pillar,--on which he could lean. He did not know
all Mrs Roby's iniquities; but still he felt that she was not the
pillar of which he was in need. There was no such pillar for his
use, and he was driven to acknowledge to himself that in this
distressing position he must be guided by his own strength, and
his own lights. He thought it all out as well as he could in his
own chamber, allowing his book or brief to lie idle beside him
for many a half-hour. But he was much puzzled both as to the
extent of his own authority and the manner in which it should be
used. He certainly had not desired his daughter not to meet the
man. He could understand that unless some affront had been
offered such an edict enforced as to the conduct of a young lady
would induce all her acquaintance to suppose that she was either
very much in love or else she was very prone to misbehave
herself. He feared, indeed, that she was very much in love, but
it would not be prudent to tell her secret to all the world.
Perhaps it would be better that she should meet him, always with
the understanding that she was not to accept from him any
peculiar attention. If she would be obedient in one particular,
she would probably be so in the other, and, indeed, he did not at
all doubt her obedience. She would obey, but would take care to
show him that she was made miserable by obeying. He began to
foresee that he had a bad time before him.
And then as he still sat idle, thinking of it all, his mind
wandered off to another view of the subject. Could he be happy,
or even comfortable, if she were unhappy? Of course he
endeavoured to convince himself that if he were bold, determined
and dictatorial with her, it would only be in order that her
future happiness might be secured. A parent is often bound to
disregard the immediate comfort of a child. But then was he sure
that he was right? He of course had his own way of looking at
life, but was it reasonable that he should force his girl to look
at things with his eyes? The man was distasteful to him as being
unlike his idea of an English gentleman, and as being without
those far-reaching fibres and roots by which he thought that the
solidity and stability of a human tree should be assured. But
the world was changing around him every day. Royalty was
marrying out of its degree. Peers' sons were looking only for
money. And, more than that, peers' daughters were bestowing
themselves on Jews and shopkeepers. Had he not better make the
usual inquiry about the man's means, and, if satisfied on that
head, let the girl do as she would? Added to all this, there was
growing on him a feeling that ultimately youth would as usual
triumph over age, and that he would be beaten. If that were so,
why worry himself, or why worry her?
On the day after Mrs Roby's attack upon him he again saw that
lady, having on this occasion sent round to ask her to come to
him. 'I want you to understand that I put no embargo on Emily as
to meeting Mr Lopez. I can trust her fully. I do not wish her
to encourage his attentions, but I by no means wish her to avoid
'Am I to tell Emily what you say?'
'I will tell her myself. I think it better to say as much to
you, as you seemed to be embarrassed by the fear that they might
happen to see each other in your drawing-room.'
'It was rather awkward, wasn't it?'
'I have spoken to you now because you seemed to think so.' His
manner to her was not very pleasant, but Mrs Roby had known him
for many years, and did not care very much for his manner. She
had an object to gain, and could put up with a good deal for the
sake of her object.
'Very well. Then I shall know how to act. But, Mr Wharton, I
must say this, you know Emily has a will of her own, and you must
not hold me responsible for anything that may occur.' As soon as
he heard this he almost resolved to withdraw the concession he
had made,--but he did not do so.
Very soon after this there came a special invitation from Mr and
Mrs Roby, asking the Whartons, father and daughter, to dine with
them round the corner. It was quite a special invitation,
because it came in the form of a card,--which was unusual
between the two families. But the dinner was too, in some
degree, a special dinner,--as Emily was enabled to explain to
her father, the whole speciality having been fully detailed to
herself by her aunt. Mr Roby, whose belongings were not
generally aristocratic, had one great connection with whom, after
many years of quarrelling, he had lately come into amity. This
was his half-brother, considerably older than himself, and was no
other than that Mr Roby who was now Secretary to the Admiralty,
and who in the last Conservative Government had been one of the
Secretaries of the Treasury. The oldest Mr Roby of all, now long
since gathered to his fathers, had had two wives and two sons.
The elder son had not been left as well off as friends, or
perhaps as he himself, could have wished. But he had risen in
the world by his wits, had made his way into Parliament, and had
become, as all readers of these chronicles know, a staff of great
strength to his party. But he had always been a poor man. His
periods of office had been much shorter than those of his friend
Rattler, and his other sources of income had not been certain.
His younger half-brother, who, as far as the great world was
concerned, had none of his elder brother's advantages, had been
endowed with some fortune from his mother, and,--in an evil hour
for both of them,--had lent the politician money. As one
consequence of this transaction, they had not spoken to each
other for years. On this quarrel, Mrs Roby was always harping
with her own husband,--not taking his part. Her Roby, her Dick,
had indeed the means of supporting her with fair comfort, but had,
of his own, no power of introducing her to that sort of society
for which her soul craved. But Mr Thomas Roby was a great man--
though unfortunately poor,--and moved in high circles. Because
they had lent their money,--which was no doubt lost for ever,--
why should they also lose the advantages of such a connection?
Would it not be wiser rather to take the debt as a basis whereon
to found a claim for special fraternal observation and kindred
intercourse? Dick, who was fond of his money, would not for a
long time look at the matter in this light, but harassed his
brother from time to time by applications which were quite
useless, and which by the acerbity of their language altogether
shut Mrs Roby from the good things which might have accrued to
her from so distinguished a brother-in-law. But when it came to
pass that Thomas Roby was confirmed in office by the coalition
which has been mentioned, Mrs Dick became very energetic. She
went herself to the official hero, and told him how desirous she
was of peace. Nothing more should be said about the money,--at
any rate for the present. Let brothers be brothers. And so it
came to pass that the Secretary to the Admiralty, with his wife,
were to dine at Berkeley Street, and that Mr Wharton was asked to
'I don't particularly want to meet Mr Thomas Roby,' the old
'They want you to come,' said Emily, 'because there has been some
family reconciliation. You usually do go once or twice a year.'
'I suppose it may as well be done,' said Mr Wharton.
'I think, papa, that they mean to ask Mr Lopez,' said Emily
'I told you before that I don't want to have you banished from
your aunt's home by any man,' said the father. So the matter was
settled, and the invitation was accepted. This was just at the
end of May, at which time people were beginning to say that the
coalition was a success, and some wise men to predict that at
least fortuitous parliamentary atoms had so come together by
accidental connection, that a ministry had been formed which
might endure for a dozen years. Indeed there was no reason why
there should be any end to a ministry built on such a foundation.
Of course this was very comfortable to such men as Mr Roby, so
that the Admiralty Secretary when he entered his sister-in-law's
drawing-room was suffused with that rosy hue of human bliss which
a feeling of triumph bestows. 'Yes,' said he, in answer to some
would-be facetious remark from his brother, 'I think we have
weathered that storm pretty well. It does seem rather odd, my
sitting cheek by jowl with Mr Monk and gentlemen of that kidney;
but they don't bite. I've got one of our own set at the head of
our own office, and he leads the House. I think upon the whole
we've got a little the best of it.' This was listened to by Mr
Wharton with great disgust,--for Mr Wharton was a Tory of the
old school, who hated compromises, and abhorred in his heart the
clash of politicians to whom politics were a profession rather
than a creed.
Mr Roby, senior, having escaped from the House, was of course the
last, and had indeed kept all the other guests waiting half-an-
hour,--as becomes a parliamentary magnate in the heat of the
session. Mr Wharton, who had been early, saw all the other
guests arrive, among them Mr Ferdinand Lopez. There was also Mr
Mills Happerton,--partner in Hunky and Sons,--with his wife,
respecting whom Mr Wharton at once concluded that he was there as
being the friend of Ferdinand Lopez. If so, how much influence
must Ferdinand Lopez have in that house! Nevertheless, Mr Mills
Happerton was in his way a great man, and a credit to Mrs Roby.
And there was Sir Damask and Lady Monogram, who were people
moving in quite the first circles. Sir Damask shot pigeons, and
so did also Dick Roby,--whence had perhaps arisen an intimacy.
But Lady Monogram was not at all the person to dine with Mrs Dick
Roby without other cause than this. But a great official among
one's acquaintance can do so much for one! It was probable that
Lady Monogram's presence was among the first fruits of the happy
family reconciliation that had taken place. Then there was Mrs
Leslie, a pretty widow, rather poor, who was glad to receive
civilities from Mrs Roby, and was Emily Wharton's pet aversion.
Mrs Leslie had said impertinent things to her about Ferdinand
Lopez, and she had snubbed Mrs Leslie. But Mrs Leslie was
serviceable to Mrs Roby, and had now been asked to her great
But the two most illustrious guests have not yet been mentioned.
Mrs Roby had secured a lord,--an absolute peer of Parliament.
This was no less than Lord Mongrober, whose father had been a
great judge in the early part of the century, and had been made a
peer. The Mongrober estates were not supposed to be large, nor
was the Mongrober influence at this time extensive. But this
nobleman was seen about a good deal in society when the dinners
given were supposed to be worth eating. He was a fat, silent,
red-faced, elderly gentleman, who said very little, and who when
he did speak seemed always to be in an ill-humour. He would now
and then make ill-natured remarks about his friends' wines, as
suggesting '68 when a man would boast of his '48 claret; and when
costly dainties were supplied for his use, would remark that such
and such a dish was very well at some other time of the year. So
that ladies attentive to their tables and hosts proud of their
cellars would almost shake in their shoes before Lord Mongrober.
And it may also be said that Lord Mongrober never gave any chance
of retaliation by return dinners. There lived not the man or
woman who had dined with Lord Mongrober. But yet the Robys of
London were glad to entertain him; and the Mrs Robys, when he was
coming, would urge their cooks to superhuman energies by the
mention of his name.
And there was Lady Eustace! Of Lady Eustace it was impossible to
say whether her beauty, her wit, her wealth, or the remarkable
history of her past life, most recommended her to such hosts and
hostesses as Mr and Mrs Roby. As her history may already be
known to some, no details of it shall be repeated here. At this
moment she was free from all marital persecution, and was very
much run after by a certain set in society. There were others
again who declared that no decent man or woman ought to meet her.
On the score of lovers there was really little or nothing to be
said against her; but she had implicated herself in an
unfortunate second marriage, and then there was the old story
about the jewels! But there was no doubt about her money and her
good looks, and some considered her to be clever. These
completed the list of Mrs Roby's great dinner party.
Mr Wharton, who had arrived early, could not but take notice that
Lopez, who soon followed him into the room, had at once fallen
into conversation with Emily, as though there had never been any
difficulty in the matter. The father, standing on the rug and
pretending to answer the remarks made to him by Dick Roby, could
see that Emily said but little. The man, however, was so much at
his ease that there was no necessity for her to exert herself.
Mr Wharton hated him for being at his ease. Had he appeared to
have been rebuffed by the circumstances of his position the
prejudices of the old man would have been lessened. By degrees
the guests came. Lord Mongrober stood also on the rug dumb, with
a look of intense impatience for his food, hardly ever
condescending to answer the little attempts at conversation made
by Mrs Dick. Lady Eustace gushed into the room, kissing Mrs Dick
and afterwards kissing her great friend of the moment, Mrs
Leslie, who followed. She then looked as though she meant to
kiss Lord Mongrober, whom she playfully and almost familiarly
addressed. But Lord Mongrober only grunted. Then came Sir
Damask and Lady Monogram, and Dick at once began about his
pigeons. Sir Damask, who was the most good-natured man in the
world, interested himself at once and became energetic; but Lady
Monogram looked around the room carefully, and seeing Lady
Eustace turned up her nose, nor did she care much for meeting
Lord Mongrober. If she had been taken in as to the Admiralty
Robys, then would she let the junior Robys know what she thought
about it. Mills Happerton, with his wife, caused the frown on
Lady Monogram's brow to loosen itself a little, for, so great was
the wealth and power of the house of Hunky and Sons, that Mr
Mills Happerton was no doubt a feature at any dinner party. Then
came the Admiralty Secretary with his wife, and the order for
dinner was given.
MRS DICK'S DINNER PARTY--NO 2.
Dick walked downstairs with Lady Monogram. There had been some
doubt whether of right he should not have taken Lady Eustace, but
it was held by Mrs Dick that her ladyship had somewhat impaired
her rights by the eccentricities of her career, and also that she
would amiably pardon any little wrongdoing against her of that
kind,--whereas Lady Monogram was a person much to be considered.
Then followed Sir Damask with Lady Eustace. They seemed to be
paired so well together that there could be no doubt about them.
The ministerial Roby, who was really the hero of the night, took
Mrs Happerton, and our friend Mr Wharton took the Secretary's
wife. All that had been easy,--so easy that fate had goodnaturedly
arranged things which are sometimes difficult of
management. But then there came an embarrassment. Of course it
would in a usual way be right that a married man as was Mr
Happerton should be assigned to the widow Mrs Leslie, and that
the only two 'young' people,--in the usual sense of the word,--
should go down to dinner together. But Mrs Roby was at first
afraid of Mr Wharton, and planned it otherwise. When, however,
the last moment came she plucked up courage, gave Mrs Leslie to
the great commercial man, and with a brave smile asked Mr Lopez
to give his arm to the lady he loved. It is sometimes so hard to
manage these 'little things', said she to Lord Mongrober as she
put her hand upon his arm. His lordship had been kept standing
in that odious drawing-room for more than half-an-hour waiting
for a man whom he regarded as a poor Treasury hack, and was by no
means in a good humour. Dick Roby's wine was no doubt good, but
he was not prepared to purchase it at such a price as this.
'Things always get confused when you have waited an hour for
anyone,' he said.
'What can you do, you know, when the House is sitting?' said the
lady apologetically. 'Of course you lords can get away, but then
you have nothing to do.'
Lord Mongrober grunted, meaning to imply by his grunt that anyone
would be very much mistaken who supposed that he had any work to
do because he was a peer of Parliament.
Lopez and Emily were seated next to each other, and immediately
opposite to them was Mr Wharton. Certainly nothing fraudulent
had been intended on this occasion,--or it would have been
arranged that the father should sit on the same side of the table
with the lover, so that he should see nothing of what was going
on. But it seemed to Mr Wharton as though he had been positively
swindled by his sister-in-law. There they sat opposite to him,
talking to each other apparently with thoroughly mutual
confidence, the very two persons whom he most especially desired
to keep apart. He had not a word to say to either of the ladies
near him. He endeavoured to keep his eyes away from his daughter
as much as possible, and to divert his ears from their
conversation;--but he could not but look and he could not but
listen. Not that he really heard a sentence. Emily's voice
hardly reached him, and Lopez understood the game he was playing
much too well to allow his voice to travel. And he looked as
though his position were the most commonplace in the world, and
as though he had nothing of more than ordinary interest to say to
his neighbour. Mr Wharton, as he sat there, almost made up his
mind that he would leave his practice, give up his chambers,
abandon even his club, and take his daughter at once to,--to,---
it did not matter where, so that the place should be very distant
from Manchester Square. There could be no other remedy for this
Lopez, though he talked throughout the whole of dinner,--turning
sometimes indeed to Mrs Leslie who sat at his left hand,--said
very little that all the world might not have heard. But he did
say one such word. 'It has been dreary to me, the last month!'
Emily of course had no answer to make to this. She could not
tell him that her desolation had been infinitely worse than his,
and that she sometimes felt as though her very heart would break.
'I wonder whether it must always be like this with me,' he said,
--and then he went back to the theatres and other ordinary
'I suppose you've got to the bottom of that champagne you used to
have,' said Lord Mongrober roaring across the table to his host,
holding his glass in his hand and with strong marks of
disapprobation on his face.
'The very same wine as we were drinking when your lordship last
did me the honour of dining here,' said Dick. Lord Mongrober
raised his eyebrows, shook his head and put down the glass.
'Shall we try another bottle?' asked Mrs Dick with solicitude.
'Oh, no;--it'd be all the same, I know. I'll just take a little
dry sherry if you have it.' The man came with the decanter.
'No, dry sherry;--dry sherry,' said his lordship. The man was
confounded, Mrs Dick was at her wits' ends, and everything was in
confusion. Lord Mongrober was not the man to be kept waiting by
a government subordinate without exacting some penalty for such
'His lordship is a little out of sorts,' whispered Dick to Lady
'Very much out of sorts, it seems.'
'And the worst of it is, there isn't a better glass of wine in
London, and his lordship knows it.'
'I suppose that's what he comes for,' said Lady Monogram, being
quite as uncivil in her way as the nobleman.
'He's like a good many others. He knows where he can get a good
dinner. After all, there's no attraction like that. Of course,
a hansome woman won't admit that, Lady Monogram.'
'I will not admit it, at any rate, Mr Roby.'
'But I don't doubt Monogram is as careful as anyone else to get
the best cook he can, and takes a good deal of trouble about his
wine too. Mongrober is very unfair about that champagne. It
came out of Madame Cliquot's cellars before the war, and I gave
Sprott and Burlinghammer 100s for it.'
'I don't think there are a dozen men in London can give you such
a glass of wine as that. What do you say about the champagne,
'Very tidy wine,' said Sir Damask.
'I should think it is. I gave 100s for it before the war. His
lordship's got a fit of the gout coming, I suppose.'
But Sir Damask was engaged with his neighbour Lady Eustace. 'Of
all things I should so like to see a pigeon match,' said Lady
Eustace. 'I have heard about them all my life. Only I suppose
it isn't quite proper for a lady.'
'Oh, dear, yes.'
'The darling little pigeons! They do sometimes escape, don't
they? I hope they escape sometimes. I'll go any day you'll make
up a party,--if Lady Monogram will join us.' Sir Damask said
that he would arrange it, making up his mind, however, at the
same time, that this last stipulation, if insisted on, would make
the thing impracticable.
Roby the ministerialist, sitting at the end of the table between
his sister-in-law and Mrs Happerton, was very confidential
respecting the Government and parliamentary affairs in general.
'Yes, indeed;--of course it's a coalition, but I don't see why
we shouldn't go on very well. As to the Duke, I've always had
the greatest possible respect for him. The truth is, there's
nothing special to be done at the present moment, and there's no
reason why we shouldn't agree and divide the good things between
us. The Duke has got some craze of his own about decimal
coinage. He'll amuse himself with that; but it won't come to
anything, and it won't hurt us.'
'Isn't the Duchess giving a great many parties?' asked Mrs
'Well;---yes. That kind of thing used to be done in old Lady
Brock's time, and the Duchess is repeating it. There's no end to
their money, you know. But it's rather a bore for the persons
who have to go.' The ministerial Roby knew well how he would
make his sister-in-law's mouth water by such an allusion, as this
to the great privilege of entering the Prime Minister's mansion
in Carlton Terrace.
'I suppose you in the Government are always asked.'
'We are expected to go too, and are watched pretty close. Lady
Glen, as we used to call her, has the eyes of Argus. And of
course we who used to be on the other side are especially bound
to pay her observance.'
'Don't you like the Duchess?' asked Mrs Happerton.
'Oh yes;--I like her very well. She's mad, you know,--mad as a
hatter;--and no one can ever guess what freak may come next.
One always feels that she'll do something sooner or later that
will startle all the world.'
'There was a queer story once,--wasn't there?' asked Mrs Dick.
'I never quite believed that,' said Roby. 'It was something
about some lover she had before she was married. She went off to
Switzerland. But the Duke,--he was Mr Palliser then,--followed
her very soon and it all came right.'
'When ladies are going to be duchesses, things do come right,
don't they?' said Mrs Happerton.
On the other side of Mrs Happerton was Mr Wharton, quite unable
to talk to his right-hand neighbour, the Secretary's wife. The
elder Mrs Roby had not, indeed, much to say for herself, and he
during the whole dinner was in misery. He had resolved that
there should be no intimacy of any kind between his daughter and
Ferdinand Lopez,--nothing more than the merest acquaintance, and
there they were, talking together before his very eyes, with more
evident signs of understanding each other than were exhibited by
any other two persons at the table. And yet he had no just
ground of complaint against either of them. If people dine
together at the same house, it may of course happen that they
shall sit next to each other. And if people sit next to each
other at dinner, it is expected that they shall talk. Nobody
could accuse Emily of flirting; but then she was a girl who under
no circumstances would condescend to flirt. But she had declared
boldly to her father that she loved this man, and there she was
in close conversation with him! Would it not be better for him
to give up any further trouble, and let her marry the man? She
would certainly do so sooner or later.
When the ladies went upstairs that misery was over for a time,
but Mr Wharton was still not happy. Dick came round and took his
wife's chair so that he sat between the lord and his brother.
Lopez and Happerton fell into City conversation, and Sir Damask
tried to amuse himself with Mr Wharton. But the task was
hopeless,--as it always is when the elements of the party have
been ill-mixed. Mr Wharton had not even heard of the Aldershot
coach which Sir Damask had just started with Colonel Buskin and
Sir Alfonso Blackbird. And when Sir Damask declared that he
drove the coach up and down twice a week himself, Mr Wharton at
any rate affected to believe that such a thing was impossible.
Then when Sir Damask gave him the opinion as to the cause of the
failure of a certain horse at Northampton, Mr Wharton gave him no
encouragement whatever. 'I never was at a race-course in my
life,' said the barrister. After that Sir Damask drank his wine
'You remember that claret, my lord?' said Dick, thinking that
some little compensation was due to him for what had been said
about the champagne.
But Lord Mongrober's dinner had not yet had the effect of
mollifying the man sufficiently for Dick's purposes. 'Oh, yes.
I remember the wine. You call it '57, don't you?'
'And it is '57;--'57, Leoville.'
'Very likely,--very likely. If it hadn't been heated before the
'It hasn't been near the fire,' said Dick.
'Or put into a decanter--'
'Nothing of the kind.'
'Or treated after some other damnable fashion, it would be very
good wine, I dare say.'
'You are hard to please, my lord, to-day,' said Dick, who was put
beyond his bearing.
'What is a man to say? If you will talk about your wine, I can
only tell you what I think. Any man may get good wine,--that is
if he can afford to pay the price,--but one isn't out of ten who
knows how to put it on the table.' Dick felt this to be very
hard. When a man pays 100s a dozen for his champagne, and then
gives it to guests like Lord Mongrober, who are not even expected
to return the favour, then that man ought to be allowed to talk
about his wine without fear of rebuke. One doesn't have an
agreement to that effect written down in parchment and sealed;
but it is as well understood and ought to be as faithfully kept
as any legal contract. Dick, who could on occasions be awakened
to a touch of manliness, gave the bottle a shove and threw
himself back in his chair. 'If you ask me, I can only tell you,'
repeated Lord Mongrober.
'I don't believe you ever had a bottle of wine put before you in
better order in all your life,' said Dick. His lordship's face
became very square and very red as he looked round at his host.
'And as for talking about my wine, of course I talk to a man
about what he understands. I talk to Monogram about pigeons, to
Tom there about politics, to Apperton and Lopez about the price
of consols, and to you about wine. If I asked you what you
thought of the last new book, your lordship would be a little
surprised.' Lord Mongrober grunted and looked redder and squarer
that ever; but he made no attempt at reply, and the victory was
evidently left with Dick,--very much the general exaltation of
his character. And he was proud of himself. 'We had a little
tiff, me and Mongrober,' he said to his wife that night. 'He's a
very good fellow, and of course he's a lord and all that. But he
has to be put down occasionally, and by George, I did it tonight.
You ask Lopez.'
There were two drawing-rooms upstairs opening into each other,
but still distinct. Emily had escaped into the back room,
avoiding the gushing sentiments and equivocal morals of Lady
Eustace and Mrs Leslie,--and here she was followed by Ferdinand
Lopez. Mr Wharton was in the front room, and though on entering
it he did look furtively for his daughter, he was ashamed to
wander about in order that he might watch her. And there were
others in the back room,--Dick and Monogram standing on the rug,
and the elder Mrs Roby seated in a corner,--so that there was
nothing peculiar in the position of the two lovers.
'Must I understand,' said he, 'that I am banished from Manchester
'Has papa banished you?'
'That's what I want you to tell me.'
'I know you had an interview with him, Mr Lopez.'
'Yes, I had.'
'And you must know best what he told you.'
'He would explain himself better to you than he did to me.'
'I doubt that very much. Papa, when he has anything to say
generally says it plainly. However, I do think that he did
intend to banish you. I do not know why I should not tell you
'I do not know either.'
'I think he did--intend to banish you.'
'I shall be guided by him in all things,--as far as I can.'
'Then I am banished by you also?'
'I did not say so. But if papa says that you are not to come
there, of course I cannot ask you to do so.'
'But I may see you here?'
'Mr Lopez, I will not be asked some questions. I will not
'You know why I ask them. You know that to me you are more than
all the world.' She stood still for a moment after hearing this,
and then without any reply walked away into the other room. She
felt half ashamed of herself in that she had not rebuked him for
speaking to her in that fashion after his interview with her
father, and yet his words had filled her heart with delight. He
had never before plainly declared his love to her,--though she
had been driven by her father's questions to declare her own love
to herself. She was quite sure of herself,--that the man was
and would always be to her the one being whom she would prefer to
all others. Her fate was in her father's hands. If he chose to
make her wretched he must do so. But on one point she had quite
made up her mind. She would make no concealment. To the world
at large she had nothing to say on the matter. But with her
father there should be no attempt on her part to keep back the
truth. Were he to question her on the subject she would tell
him, as far as her memory would serve her, the very words which
Lopez had spoken to her this evening. She would ask nothing from
him. He had already told her that the man was to be rejected,
and had refused to give any other reason than his dislike to the
absence of any English connection. She would not again ask even
for a reason. But she would make her father understand that
though she obeyed him she regarded the exercise of his authority
as tyrannical and irrational.
They left the house before any of the other guests and walked
round the corner together into the Square. 'What a very vulgar
set of people!' said Mr Wharton as soon as they were down the
'Some of them were,' said Emily, making a mental reservation of
'Upon my word I don't know where to make the exception. Why on
earth anyone should want to know such a person as Lord Mongrober
I can't understand. What does he bring into society?'
'But what does that do of itself? He is an insolent, bloated
'Papa, you are using strong language to-night.'
'And that Lady Eustace! Heaven and earth! Am I to be told that
that creature is a lady?'
They had come to their own door, and while that was being opened,
and as they went up into their own drawing-room, nothing was
said, but then Emily began again. 'I wonder why you go to Aunt
Harriet's at all. You don't like the people?'
'I didn't like any of them today.'
'Why do you go there? You don't like Aunt Harriet herself. You
don't like Uncle Dick. You don't like Mr Lopez.'
'Certainly I do not.'
'I don't know who it is you do like.'
'I like Mr Fletcher.'
'It's no use saying that to me, papa.'
'You ask me a question, and I choose to answer it. I like Arthur
Fletcher, because he is a gentleman,--because he is a gentleman
of the class to which I belong myself; because he works, because
I know all about him, so that I can be sure of him, being quite
sure that he will say to me neither awkward things nor
impertinent things. He will not talk to me about driving a mail
coach like that foolish baronet, nor tell me the price of all the
wines like your uncle.' Nor would Ferdinand Lopez do so, thought
Emily to herself. 'But in all such matters, my dear, the great
thing is like to like. I have spoken of a young person, merely
because I wish you to understand that I can sympathize with
others besides those of my own age. But to-night there was no
one there at all like myself,--or, as I hope, like you. That
man Roby is a chattering ass. How such a man can be useful to
any government I can't conceive. Happerton was the best, but
what had he to say for himself? I've always thought that there
was very little wit wanted to make a fortune in the City.' In
this frame of mind, Mr Wharton went off to bed, but not a word
more was spoken about Ferdinand Lopez.
Certainly the thing was done very well by Lady Glen,--as many in
the political world persisted in calling her even in these days.
She had not as yet quite carried out her plan,--the doing of
which would have required her to reconcile her husband to some
excessive abnormal expenditure, and to have obtained from him a
deliberate sanction for appropriation and probably sale of
property. She never could find the proper moment for doing this,
having with all her courage,--low down in some corner of her
heart,--a wholesome fear of a certain quiet power which her
husband possessed. She could not bring herself to make her
proposition;--but she almost acted as though it had been made
and approved. Her house was always gorgeous with flowers. Of
course there would be the bill;--and he, when he saw the
exotics, and the whole place turned into a bower of every fresh
blooming floral glories, must know that there would be the bill.
And when he found that there was an archducal dinner-party every
week and an almost imperial reception twice a week; that at these
receptions a banquet was always provided; when he was asked to
whether she might buy a magnificent pair of bay carriage-horses,
as to which she assured him that nothing so lovely had ever as
yet been seen stepping in the streets of London,--of course he
must know that the bill would come. It was better, perhaps, to
do it in this way, than to make any direct proposition. And
then, early in June, she spoke to him as the guests to be invited
to Gatherum Castle in August. 'Do you want to go to Gatherum in
August?' he asked in surprise. For she hated the place, and had
hardly been content to spend ten days there every year at
'I think it should be done,' she said solemnly. 'One cannot
quite consider just now what one likes oneself.'
'You would hardly go to a small place like Matching in your
present position. There are so many people whom you should
entertain! You would probably have two or three of the foreign
ministers down for a time.'
'We always used to find plenty of room at Matching.'
'But you did not always use to be Prime Minister. It is only for
such a time as this that such a house as Gatherum is
He was silent for a moment, thinking about it, and then gave way
without another word. She was probably right. There was the
huge pile of magnificent buildings; and somebody, at any rate,
had thought that it behoved a Duke of Omnium to live in such a
palace. It ought to be done at any time, it ought to be done
now. In that his wife had been right. 'Very well. Let us go
'I'll manage it all,' said the Duchess, 'I and Locock.' Locock was
'I remember once,' said the Duke, and he smiled as he spoke with
a peculiarly sweet expression, which would at times come across
his generally inexpressive face,--'I remember once that some
First Minister of the Crown gave evidence as the amount of his
salary, saying that his place entailed upon him expenses higher
than his stipend would defray. I begin to think that my
experience will be the same.'
'Does that fret you?'
'No, Cora;--it certainly does not fret me, or I should not allow
it. But I think there should be a limit. No man is ever rich
enough to squander.'
Though they were to squander her fortune,--the money which she
had brought,--for the next ten years at a much greater rate than
she contemplated, they might do so without touching the Palliser
property. Of that she was quite sure. And the squandering was
to be all for his glory,--so that he might retain his position
as a popular Prime Minister. For an instant it occurred to her
that she would tell him all this. But she checked herself, and
the idea of what she had been about to say brought the blood into
her face. Never yet had she in talking to him alluded to her own
'Of course we are spending money,' she said. 'If you give me a
hint to hold my hand, I will hold it.'
He had looked at her; and read it all in her face. 'God knows,'
he said, 'you've a right to do it if it pleases you.'
'For your sake!' Then he stooped down and kissed her twice, and
left her to arrange her parties as she pleased. After that she
congratulated herself that she had not made the direct
proposition, knowing that she might now do pretty much as she
Then there were solemn cabinets held, at which she presided, and
Mrs Finn and Locock assisted. At other cabinets it is supposed
that, let a leader be ever so autocratic by disposition and
superior by intelligence, still he must not unfrequently yield to
the opinion of his colleagues. But in this cabinet the Duchess
always had her own way, though she was very persistent in asking
for counsel. Locock was frightened about the money. Hitherto
money had come without a word, out of the common, spoken to the
Duke. The Duke had always signed certain cheques, but they had
been normal cheques, and the money in its natural course had
flown in to meet them;--but now he must be asked to sign
abnormal cheques. That, indeed, had already been done; but still
the money had been there. A large balance, such as had always
stood to his credit, would stand a bigger racket than had yet
been made. But Locock was sure that the balance ought not to be
much further reduced,--and that steps must be taken. Something
must be sold! The idea of selling anything was dreadful to the
mind of Locock! Or else money must be borrowed! Now the
management of the Palliser property had always been conducted on
principles antagonistic to borrowing. 'But his Grace has never
spent his income,' said the Duchess. That was true. But the
money, as it showed a tendency to heap itself up, had been used
for the purchase of other bits of property, or for the
amelioration of the estates generally. 'You don't mean to say
that we can't get money if we want it!' Locock was profuse in
his assurance that any amount of money could be obtained,--only
that something had to be done. 'Then let something be done,'
said the Duchess, going on with her general plans. 'Many people
are rich,' said the Duchess afterwards to her friend, 'and some
people are very rich indeed; but nobody seems to be rich enough
to have ready money to do just what he wishes. It all goes into
a grand sum total, which is never to be touched without a feeling
of sacrifice. I suppose you have always enough for anything.'
It was well known that the present Mrs Finn, as Madame Goesler,
had been a wealthy woman.
'Indeed, no,--very far from that. I haven't a shilling.'
'What has happened?' asked the Duchess, pretending to be
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