The World's Greatest Books, Vol VIII
Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton, Eds.
Part 4 out of 6
a person as any in his dominions, conceived I might be a piece of
clockwork, until he heard me speak. He sent for three great scholars,
who, after much debate, concluded that I was only _lusus naturae_; a
determination agreeable to the modern philosophy of Europe, whose
professors have invented this wonderful solution of all difficulties, to
the unspeakable advancement of human knowledge.
I entreated to be heard a word or two, and assured them that I came from
a country where everything was in proportion, and where, in consequence,
I might defend myself and find sustenance. To which they only replied,
with a smile of contempt, saying, "that the farmer had instructed me
very well in my lesson." The King, who had a much better understanding,
dismissed his learned men, and after some further examination, began to
think what we told him might be true. A convenient apartment was
provided for Glumdalclitch, a governess to attend to her education, a
maid to dress her, and two other servants; but the care of me was wholly
appropriated to herself. I soon became a great favourite with the King;
my little chair and table were placed at his left hand, before the
salt-cellar, and he took pleasure in conversing with me, inquiring into
the laws, government, and learning of Europe. He made very wise
observations upon all I said, but once when I had been a little too
copious in talking of my beloved country, he took me up in his hand, and
in a hearty fit of laughter asked me if I were a Whig or a Tory? Then,
turning to his first minister, observed how contemptible a thing was
human grandeur, which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects as I.
But as I was not in a condition to resent injuries, so upon mature
thoughts I began to doubt whether I was injured or no. For after being
accustomed to the sight of these people for some time, I really began to
imagine myself dwindled many degrees below my usual size. My littleness
exposed me to many ridiculous and troublesome accidents, which
determined Glumdalclitch never to let me go abroad out of her sight. I
was, indeed, treated with much kindness, the favourite of the King and
Queen, and the delight of the whole Court. But I could never forget the
domestic pledges I had left behind me, and longed to be again with
people with whom I could converse on equal terms.
About the beginning of the third year of my stay in this country,
Glumdalclitch and I attended the King and Queen in a progress round the
south coast. I was carried as usual in my travelling box, a very
convenient closet about twelve feet wide. I longed to see the ocean,
which must be the only scene of my escape, and desired leave to take the
air of the sea with a page who sometimes took charge of me.
I shall never forget with what unwillingness Glumdalclitch consented; we
were both much tired with our journey, and the poor girl was so ill as
to be confined to her chamber. The boy took me out in my box towards the
seashore, when ordering him to set me down, I cast many a wistful glance
toward the sea.
I found myself not very well, and hoping a nap would do me good soon
fell asleep. I conjecture as I slept the page went off to look for
birds' eggs, for I was awakened by finding myself raised high in the air
and borne forward with prodigious speed. I called out, I looked out, but
could see nothing but clouds and sky. I heard a great flapping of
wings--they increased very fast, and my box was tossed up and down, and
I felt myself falling with incredible swiftness. My fall was stopped by
a terrible squash, I was quite in the dark for a minute, then I could
see light from the tops of my windows. I had fallen into the sea. I did
then, and do now, suppose that the eagle, that had flown away with me,
was pursued by two or three others, and forced to let me drop. I was for
four hours, under these circumstances, expecting, and, indeed, hoping,
every moment to be my last.
I heard a grating sound on the side of my box, and soon felt I was being
towed along the sea, and called for help until I was hoarse. In return I
heard a great shout, giving me transports of joy, and somebody called in
the English tongue that I was safe, for my box was fastened to their
ship. The carpenter came, in a few minutes, and sawed a hole, through
which I was taken into the ship in a very weak condition.
The Captain, a worthy Shropshire man, was returning to England, and we
came into the Downs on the 3rd of June, 1706, about nine months after my
When I came to my own house my wife protested I should never go to sea
* * * * *
WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY
William Makepeace Thackeray was born on July 18, 1811, at
Calcutta, where his father was in the service of the East
India Company. He was educated at Charterhouse School, then
situated in Smithfield, and spent two years at Trinity
College, Cambridge. After travelling on the continent as an
artist, he returned to London, and wrote for the "Examiner"
and "Fraser's Magazine," subsequently joining the staff of
"Punch." "The Newcomes," finished by Thackeray at Paris in
1855, was the fourth of his great novels. Without being in any
real sense a sequel to "Pendennis," it reintroduces us to
several characters of the earlier work, and is told in the
first person by Arthur Pendennis himself. The Gray Friars
School is the Charterhouse where Thackeray was at school. In
1859 Thackeray started the "Cornhill Magazine," and on
December 23, 1863, he died at Kensington. Besides his five
great novels, a large number of shorter stories and sketches
came from Thackeray's pen.
_I.--The "Cave of Harmony"_
It was in the days of my youth, when, having been to the play with some
young fellows of my own age, we became naturally hungry at twelve
o'clock at night, and a desire for welsh-rarebits and good old glee
singing led us to the "Cave of Harmony," then kept by the celebrated
Hoskins, among whose friends we were proud to count.
It happened that there was a very small attendance at the "cave" that
night, and we were all more sociable and friendly because the company
was select. The songs were chiefly of the sentimental class; such
ditties were much in vogue at the time of which I speak.
There came into the "cave" a gentleman with a lean brown face and long
black mustachios, and evidently a stranger to the place. At least he had
not visited it for a long time. He was pointing out changes to a lad who
was in his company; and, calling for sherry-and-water, he listened to
the music and twirled his mustachios with great enthusiasm.
At the very first glimpse of me the boy jumped up from the table, ran to
me with his hands out, and, blushing, said, "Don't you know me?"
It was little Newcome, my schoolfellow, whom I had not seen for six
years, grown a fine tall young stripling now, with the same bright blue
eyes which I remembered when he was quite a little boy.
"What the deuce brings you here?" said I.
He laughed and looked roguish. "My father--that's my father--would come.
He's just come back from India. He says all the wits used to come here.
I told him your name, and that you used to be very kind to me when I
first went to Smithfield. I've left now: I'm to have a private tutor."
Here the whiskered gentleman, Newcome's father, strode across the room
to the table where we sat, and held out his hand to me.
"I have heard of your kindness, sir," says he, "to my boy. And whoever
is kind to him is kind to me. Will you allow me to sit down by you? and
may I beg of you to try my cheroots."
We were friends in a minute--young Newcome snuggling by my side, and his
It was worth a guinea to see the simple Colonel, and his delight at the
music. He became quite excited over his sherry-and-water. He joined in
all the choruses with an exceedingly sweet voice; and when Hoskins sang
(as he did admirably) "The Old English Gentleman," and described the
death of that venerable aristocrat, tears trickled down the honest
And now Mr. Hoskins asking if any gentleman would volunteer a song, what
was our amazement when the simple Colonel offered to sing himself. Poor
Clive Newcome blushed as red as a peony, and I thought what my own
sensations would have been if, in that place, my own uncle Major
Pendennis had suddenly proposed to exert his lyrical powers.
The Colonel selected the ditty of "Wapping Old Stairs," and gave his
heart and soul to the simple ballad. When the song was over, Clive held
up his head too, and looked round with surprise and pleasure in his
eyes. The Colonel bowed and smiled with good nature at our plaudits. "I
learnt that song forty years ago," he said, turning round to his boy. "I
used to slip out from Grey Friars to hear it. Lord! Lord! how the time
Whilst he was singing his ballad, there had reeled into the room my
friend Captain Costizan, in his usual condition at this hour of the
"Captain Costizan, will you take something to drink?"
"Bedad I will," says the Captain, "and I'll sing ye a song too."
Having procured a glass of whisky and water, the unlucky wretch, who
scarcely knew what he was doing or saying, selected one of the most
outrageous of what he called his prime songs, and began his music. At
the end of the second verse, the Colonel started up, and looking as
ferocious as though he had been going to do battle with a Pindaree,
roared out "Silence!"
"Do you dare, sir," cries the Colonel, trembling with anger, "to call
yourself a gentleman, and to say that you hold the king's commission,
and to sit down amongst Christians and men of honour, and defile the
ears of young boys with this wicked balderdash?"
"Why do you bring young boys here, old man?" cries a malcontent.
"Why? Because I thought I was coming to a society of gentlemen. I never
could have believed that Englishmen could meet together and allow an old
man so to disgrace himself. For shame! Go home to your bed, you hoary
old sinner! And for my part, I'm not sorry that my son should see for
once in his life to what degradation, drunkenness, and whisky may bring
a man. Never mind the change, sir!" says the Colonel, to the amazed
waiter. "Keep it till you see me in this place again, which will be
never--by George, never!" And shouldering his stick, and scowling round
at the company, the indignant gentleman stalked away, his boy after him.
Clive seemed rather shamefaced; but I fear the rest of the company
looked still more foolish.
_II.--Clive Newman in Love_
The Colonel, in conjunction with an Indian friend of his, Mr. Binnie,
took a house in London, No. 120, Fitzroy Square, and there was fine
amusement for Clive and his father and Mr. Binnie in the purchase of
furniture for the new mansion. It was like nobody else's house. What
cosy pipes did we not smoke in the dining room, in the drawing room, or
where we would!
Clive had a tutor, whom we recommended to him, and with whom the young
gentleman did not fatigue his brains very much; but his great _forte_
decidedly lay in drawing. He sketched the horses, he drew the dogs. He
drew his father in all postures--asleep, on foot, on horseback; and
jolly little Mr. Binnie, with his plump legs on a chair, or jumping
briskly on the back of a cob which he rode.
"Oh," says Clive, if you talk to him now about those early days, "it was
a jolly time! I do not believe there was any young fellow in London so
happy." And there hangs up in his painting-room now a head, with hair
touched with grey, with a large moustache, and melancholy eyes. And
Clive shows that portrait of their grandfather to his children, and
tells them that the whole world never saw a nobler gentleman.
Of course our young man commenced as an historical painter, deeming that
the highest branch of art. He painted a prodigious battle-piece of
Assaye, and will it be believed that the Royal Academicians rejected
this masterpiece? Clive himself, after a month's trip to Paris with his
father, declared the thing was rubbish.
It was during this time, when Clive and his father were in Paris, that
Mr. Binnie, laid up with a wrenched ankle, was consoled by a visit from
his sister, Mrs. Mackenzie, a brisk, plump little widow, and her
daughter, Miss Rosey, a blue-eyed, fair-haired lass, with a very sweet
Of course the most hospitable and polite of colonels would not hear of
Mrs. Mackenzie and her daughter quitting his house when he returned to
it, after the pleasant sojourn in Paris; nor indeed, did his fair guest
show the least anxiety or intention to go away. Certainly, the house was
a great deal more cheerful for the presence of the two pleasant ladies.
Everybody liked them. Binnie received their caresses very
good-humouredly. The Colonel liked every woman under the sun. Clive
laughed and joked and waltzed alternately with Rosey and her mamma. None
of us could avoid seeing that Mrs. Mackenzie was, as the phrase is,
"setting her cap" openly at Clive; and Clive laughed at her simple
manoeuvres as merrily as the rest.
Some months after the arrival of Mr. Binnie's niece and sister in
Fitzroy Square, Mrs. Newcome, wife of Hobson Newcome, banker, the
Colonel's brother, gave a dinner party at her house in Bryanstone
Square. "It is quite a family party," whispered the happy Mrs. Newcome,
when we recognised Lady Ann Newcome's carriage, and saw her ladyship,
her mother--old Lady Kew, her daughter, Ethel, and her husband, Sir
Brian, (Hobson's twin brother and partner in the banking firm of Hobson
Brothers and Newcome), descend from the vehicle. The whole party from
St. Pancras were already assembled--Mr. Binnie, the Colonel and his son,
Mrs. Mackenzie and Miss Rosey.
Everybody was bent upon being happy and gracious. Miss Newcome ran up to
the Colonel with both hands out, and with no eyes for anyone else, until
Clive advancing, those bright eyes become brighter still with surprise
and pleasure as she beholds him. And, as she looks, Miss Ethel sees a
very handsome fellow, while the blushing youth casts down his eyes
"Upon my word, my dear Colonel," says old Lady Kew, nodding her head
shrewdly, "I think we were right."
"No doubt right in everything your ladyship does, but in what
particularly?" asks the Colonel.
"Right to keep him out of the way. Ethel has been disposed of these ten
years. Did not Ann tell you? How foolish of her! But all mothers like to
have young men dying for their daughters. Your son is really the
handsomest boy in London. Ethel, my dear! Colonel Newcome must present
us to Mrs. Mackenzie and Miss Mackenzie;" and Ethel, giving a nod to
Clive, with whom she had talked for a minute or two, again puts her hand
into her uncle's and walks towards Mrs. Mackenzie.
Let the artist give us a likeness of Ethel. She is seventeen years old,
rather taller than the majority of women. Youth looks out of her bright
eyes and flashes scorn or denial, perhaps too readily, when she
encounters flattery or meanness. Her smile, when it lights up her face
and eyes, is as beautiful as spring sunshine. Her countenance somewhat
grave and haughty, on occasion brightens with humour or beams with
kindliness and affection.
That night in the drawing room we found the two young ladies engaged
over an album, containing a number of Clive's drawings made in the time
of his very early youth, and Miss Ethel seemed to be very much pleased
with these performances.
Old Major Pendennis, whom I met earlier in the day, made some
confidential remarks concerning Miss Ethel and her relatives, which I
set down here. "Your Indian Colonel," says he, "seems a worthy man. He
don't seem to know much of the world and we are not very intimate. They
say he wanted to marry your friend Clive to Lady Ann's daughter, an
exceedingly fine girl; one of the prettiest girls come out this season.
And that shows how monstrous ignorant of the world Colonel Newcome is.
His son could no more get that girl than he could marry one of the royal
princesses. These banker fellows are wild after grand marriages. Mark my
words, they intend Miss Newcome for some man of high rank. Old Lady Kew
is a monstrous clever woman. Nothing could show a more deplorable
ignorance of the world than poor Newcome supposing his son could make
such a match as that with his cousin. Is it true that he is going to
make his son an artist? I don't know what the deuce the world is coming
to. An artist! By Gad, in my time a fellow would as soon have thought of
making his son a hairdresser, or a pastrycook, by Gad."
Lady Kew carried off her granddaughter Ethel, the Colonel returned to
India, and Clive, endowed with a considerable annual sum from his
father, went abroad with an apparatus of easels and painting boxes.
Clive found Lady Ann, with Ethel and her other children, at Bount on
their way to Baden Baden, and the old Countess being away for the time,
it seemed to Clive that the barrier between himself and the family was
withdrawn. He was glad enough to go with his cousins, and travel in the
orbit of Ethel Newcome--who is now grown up and has been presented at
At Baden Baden was Lady Kew; and Clive learning that Ethel was about to
be betrothed, and that his suit was hopeless, retreated, with his paint
boxes across the Alps to Rome.
_III.--Clive is Married_
It was announced that Miss Newcome was engaged to the Marquis Fairntosh,
but for all that no marriage took place. First the death of Lady Kew
made an inevitable postponement, and then Ethel herself shrunk from the
loveless match, and, in spite of Lord Fairntosh's protests, dismissed
the noble marquis.
But the announcement drove Clive to marry pretty little Rose Mackenzie.
The Colonel was back in England again, and for good--a rich man, thanks
to the success of the Bundeleund Bank, Bengal, in which his savings were
invested, and heavily displeased with Ethel's treatment of his son.
Clive's marriage was performed in Brussels, where Mr. James Binnie, who
longed to see Rosey wedded, and his sister, whom we flippantly ventured
to call the Campaigner, had been staying that summer. After the marriage
they went off to Scotland, and the Colonel and his son and
daughter-in-law came to London--not to the old bachelor quarters in
Fitzroy Square, but to a sumptuous mansion in the Tyburnian
district--and one which became people of their station. To this house
came Mrs. Mackenzie when the baby was born, and there she stayed.
In a pique with the woman he loved, and from that generous weakness
which led him to acquiesce in most wishes of his good father, the young
man had gratified the darling wish of the Colonel's heart, and taken the
wife whom his old friends brought to him. Rosey, who was also of a very
obedient and docile nature, had acquiesced gladly enough in her mamma's
opinion, that she was in love with the rich and handsome young Clive,
and accepted him for better or worse.
If Clive was gloomy and discontented even when the honeymoon had scarce
waned, what was the young man's condition in poverty, when they had no
love along with a silent dinner of herbs; when his mother-in-law grudged
each morsel which his poor old father ate--when a vulgar, coarse-minded
woman--as Mrs. Mackenzie was--pursued with brutal sarcasm one of the
tenderest and noblest gentlemen in the world; when an ailing wife,
always under some one's domination, received him with helpless
hysterical cries and reproaches!
For a ghastly bankruptcy overwhelmed the Bundeleund Bank, and with its
failure went all Colonel Newcome's savings, and all Mrs. Mackenzie's
money and her daughter's. Even the Colonel's pension and annuities were
swallowed up in the general ruin, for the old man would pay every
shilling of his debts.
When I ventured to ask the Colonel why Mrs. Mackenzie should continue to
live with them--"She has a right to live in the house," he said, "it is
I who have no right in it. I am a poor old pensioner, don't you see,
subsisting on Rosey's bounty. We live on the hundred a year secured to
her at her marriage, and Mrs. Mackenzie has her forty pounds of pension
which she adds to the common stock. They put their little means
together, and they keep us--me and Clive. What can we do for a living?
Great God! What can we do?"
But Clive was getting on tolerably well, at his painting, and many
sitters came to him from amongst his old friends; he had work, scantily
paid it is true, but work sufficient. "I am pretty easy in my mind,
since I have become acquainted with a virtuous dealer," the painter
assured me one day. "I sell myself to him, body and soul, for some half
dozen pounds a week. I know I can get my money, and he is regularly
supplied with his pictures. But for Rosey's illness we might carry on
Rosey's illness? I was sorry to hear of that; and poor Clive, entering
into particulars, told me how he had spent upon doctors rather more than
a fourth of his year's earnings.
_IV.--The Colonel Says "Adsum" When His Name is Called_
Mention has been made of the Grey Friars school--where the Colonel and
Clive and I had been brought up, an ancient foundation still subsisting
On the 12th of December, the Founder's Day, a goodly company of old
Cistercians is generally brought together, to hear a sermon in chapel;
after which we adjourn to a great dinner, where old condisciples meet,
and speeches are made. In the chapel sit some three-score old gentlemen
pensioners of the hospital, listening to the prayers and the psalms.
The service for Founder's Day is a special one, and we hear--
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord
upholdeth him with his hand.
I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the
righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.
As we came to this verse in the psalms I chanced to look up from my book
towards the black-coated pensioners, and amongst them--amongst them--sat
There was no mistaking him. He wore the black gown of the pensioners of
the Hospital of Grey Friars. The steps of this good man had been ordered
hither by heaven's decree to this alms-house!
The organ played us out of chapel, and I waited until the pensioners
took their turn to quit it. The wan face of my dear old friend flushed
up when he saw me, and his hand shook in mine, "I have found a home,
Arthur," said he. "My good friend Lord H., who is a Cistercian like
ourselves, and has just been appointed a governor, gave me his first
nomination. Don't be agitated, Arthur, my boy; I am very happy. I have
good quarters, good food, good light and fire, and good friends. Why,
sir, I am as happy as the day is long."
We walked through the courts of the building towards his room, which in
truth I found neat and comfortable, with a brisk fire on the hearth, a
little tea-table laid out, and over the mantelpiece a drawing of his
grandson by Clive.
"You may come and see me here, sir, whenever you like--but you must not
stay now. You must go back to your dinner."
Of course I came to him on the very next day, and I had the happiness of
bringing Clive and his little boy to Thomas Newcome that evening. Clive
thought his father was in Scotland with Lord H.
It was at Xmas that Miss Ethel found an old unposted letter of her
grandmother's, Mrs. Newcome, asking her lawyer to add a codicil to her
will leaving a legacy of L6000 to Clive. The letter, of course, had no
legal value, but Ethel was a rich woman, and insisted that the money
should be sent, as from the family.
The old Colonel seemed hardly to comprehend it, and when Clive told him
the story of the legacy, and said they could now pay Mrs. Mackenzie,
"Quite right, quite right; of course we shall pay her, Clivy, when we
can!" was all he said.
So it was, that when happier days seemed to be dawning for the good man,
that reprieve came too late. Grief and years, and humiliation and care,
had been too strong for him, and Thomas Newcome was stricken down. Our
Colonel was no more our friend of old days. After some days the fever
which had attacked him left him, but left him so weak and enfeebled that
he could only go from his bed to the chair by his fireside.
Two more days and I had to take two advertisements to the _Times_ on the
part of poor Clive. Among the announcements of births was printed, "On
the 28th in Howland street, Mrs. Clive Newcome of a son, still born."
And a little lower, in the third division of the same column, appeared
the words, "On the 29th, in Howland street, aged 26, Rosaline, wife of
Clive Newcome, Esq." So this poor little flower had bloomed for its
little day, and pined and withered.
The days went on, and our hopes for the Colonel's recovery, raised
sometimes, began to flicker and fail. One evening the Colonel left his
chair for his bed in pretty good spirits, but passed a disturbed night,
and the next morning was too weak to rise. Then he remained in his bed
and his friends visited him there.
Weeks passed away. Our old friend's mind was gone at intervals, but
would rally feebly; and with his consciousness returned his love, his
simplicity, his sweetness. The circumstances of Clive's legacy he never
understood, but Ethel was almost always with him.
One afternoon in early spring, Thomas Newcome began to wander more and
more. He talked louder; he gave the word of command, spoke Hindustanee
as if to his men. Ethel and Clive were with him, and presently his voice
sank into faint murmurs.
At the usual evening hour the chapel bell began to toll, and Thomas
Newcome's hands feebly beat time. And just as the last bell struck a
peculiar sweet smile shone over his face, and he lifted up his head a
little, and quickly said "Adsum!" and fell back. It was the word we used
at school, when names were called; and lo, he, whose heart was as that
of a little child, had answered his name, and stood in the presence of
* * * * *
"The Virginians" was published in 1859, and ranks as one of
its author's five great novels. It contains some excellent
description of fashionable life in England in the middle of
the eighteenth century. The "Lamberts" rank among Thackeray's
best character sketches.
_I.--Harry Warrington Comes Home_
One summer morning in the year 1756, and in the reign of his Majesty
King George the Second, the _Young Rachel_, Virginian ship, Edward
Franks, master, came up the Avon river on her happy return from her
annual voyage to the Potomac. She proceeded to Bristol with the tide,
and moored in the stream as near as possible to Frail's wharf, and Mr.
Frail, her part owner, who could survey his ship from his counting-house
windows, straightway took boat and came up her side.
While the master was in conversation with Mr. Frail a young man of some
nineteen years of age came up the hatchway. He was dressed in deep
mourning and called out, "Gumbo, you idiot, why don't you fetch the
baggage out of the cabin? Well, shipmate, our journey is ended. I
thought yesterday the voyage would never be done, and now I am almost
sorry it is over."
"This is Mr. Warrington, Madam Esmond Warrington's son of Castlewood,"
said Captain Franks to Mr. Frail. The British merchant's hat was
instantly off his head, and its owner was bowing, as if a crown prince
were before him.
"Gracious powers, Mr. Warrington! This is a delight indeed! Let me
cordially and respectfully welcome you to England; let me shake your
hand as the son of my benefactress and patroness, Mrs. Esmond
Warrington, whose name is known and honoured on Bristol 'Change, I
warrant you, my dear Mr. George."
"My name is not George; my name is Henry," said the young man as he
turned his head away, and his eyes filled with tears.
"Gracious powers, what do you mean, sir? Are you not my lady's heir? and
is not George Esmond Warrington, Esq--"
"Hold your tongue, you fool!" cried Mr. Franks.
"Don't you see the young gentleman's black clothes? Mr. George is
there," pointing with his finger towards the topmast, or the sky beyond.
"He is dead a year sir, come next July. He would go out with General
Braddock, and he and a thousand more never came back again. Every man of
them was murdered as he fell. You know the Indian way, Mr. Frail?
Horrible! Ain't it, sir? He was a fine young man, the very picture of
this one; only his hair was black, which is now hanging in a bloody
Indian wigwam. He was often on board on the _Young Rachel_, with his
chest of books,--a shy and silent young gent, not like this one, which
was the merriest, wildest young fellow full of his songs and fun. He
took on dreadful at the news, but he's got better on the voyage; and, in
course, the young gentleman can't be for ever a-crying after a brother
who dies and leaves him a great fortune. Ever since we sighted Ireland
he has been quite gay and happy, only he would go off at times, when he
was most merry, saying, 'I wish my dearest Georgie could enjoy this here
sight along with me,' and when you mentioned t'other's name, you see, he
couldn't stand it."
Again and again Harry Warrington and his brother had poured over the
English map, and determined upon the course which they should take upon
arriving at Home. The sacred point in their pilgrimage was that old
Castlewood in Hampshire, the home of their family, whence had come their
grandparents. From Bristol to Bath, to Salisbury, to Winchester, to
_Home_; they had mapped the journey many and many a time. Without
stopping in Bristol, Harry Warrington was whirled away in a postchaise
and at last drew up at the rustic inn on Castlewood Green. Then with a
beating heart he walked towards the house where his grandsire Colonel
Esmond's youth had been passed.
The family was away, and the housekeeper was busy getting ready for my
lord and my lady who were expected that evening. Harry wrote down his
name on a paper from his own pocket and laid it on a table in the hall;
and then walked away, not caring to own how disappointed he was. No one
had known him. Had any of his relatives ridden up to his house in
Virginia, whether the master were present or absent, the guests would
have been made welcome. Harry felt terribly alone. The inn folks did not
know the name of Warrington. They told him before he went to bed that my
lord Castlewood and his sister Lady Maria, and their stepmother the
Countess, and her son Mr. William, had arrived at the Castle, and two
hours later the Baroness Bernstein, my lord's aunt. Harry remembered
that the Baroness Bernstein was his mother's half-sister, for Colonel
Esmond's wife was the mother of Beatrice Bernstein who had married a
German baron, after marrying Bishop Tusher.
The Castlewoods were for letting their young American kinsman stay at
his inn, but Madam Bernstein, of whom all the family stood in awe, at
once insisted that Harry Warrington should be sent for, and on his
arrival made much of him. As for the boy, he felt very grateful towards
the lady who had received him so warmly.
Within six months Harry had fallen in love with Lady Maria, who was over
forty. He was wealthy and, thanks to Gumbo, his servant, the extent of
his estate had been greatly magnified by that cheerfullest of negroes.
The Castlewoods professed themselves indifferent to the love-making that
seemed to be going on between Harry and Maria, but Madam Bernstein was
"Do you remember," she cried, with energy, "who the poor boy is, and
what your house owes to its family? His grandfather gave up this estate,
this title, this very castle, that you and yours might profit by it. And
the reward for all this is that you talk of marrying him to a silly
elderly creature, who might be his mother. He _shan't_ marry her."
So Madam Bernstein, having tired of Castlewood, decided that Maria must
accompany her to Tunbridge Wells and Harry was invited to act as escort,
and to stay a day or two at the Wells. At the end of the first day's
travel, when they had just reached Farnham, poor Maria was ill, and her
cheeks were yellow when she retired for the night.
"That absurd Maria!" says Madam Bernstein, playing piquet with Harry.
"She never had a good constitution. I hope she intends to be well
to-morrow morning. She was forty-one years old. All her upper teeth are
false, and she can't eat with them. How clumsily you deal, child!"
The next morning Lady Maria's indisposition was over, but Harry was
wretched. Then in the evening the horse Harry was riding, in the matter
of which he had been cheated by his cousin Will, at Castlewood, came
down on his knees and sent the rider over his head. Mr. Harry was picked
up insensible and carried home into a house called Oakhurst that stood
hard by the road.
That Mr. Warrington is still alive can be proved by the following
letter, sent from the lady into whose house he was taken after his fall
from Mr. Will's broken-kneed horse, to Mrs. Esmond Warrington. "If Mrs.
Esmond Warrington of Virginia can call to mind twenty-three years ago,
she may perhaps remember Miss Molly Benson, her classmate, at Kensington
boarding school. Yesterday evening, as we were at tea there came a great
ringing at our gate, and the servants, running out returned with the
news that a young gentleman was lying lifeless on the road. At this, my
dear husband, Colonel Lambert (who is sure the most Samaritan of men)
hastens away, and presently, with the aid of the servants, and followed
by two ladies,--one of whom is your cousin, Lady Maria Esmond and the
other Baroness of Bernstein,--brings into the house such a pale,
beautiful young man! The ladies went on to Tunbridge when Mr. Warrington
was restored to consciousness and this morning the patient is very
comfortable and the Colonel, who has had plenty of practice in accidents
of this nature during his campaigns, pronounces that in two days more
Mr. Warrington will be ready to take the road.
"Madam, Your affectionate, humble servant,
Harry Warrington's dislocated shoulder having been set, he was well
enough to rise the following day, and Colonel Lambert lead his young
guest into the parlour and introduced him to his two daughters, Miss
Hester and Miss Theo. Three days later Mr. Warrington's health was
entirely restored and he was out walking with Mrs. Lambert and the young
ladies. What business had he to be walking with anybody but Lady Maria
Esmond on the Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells? Why did he stay behind, unless
he was in love with either of the young ladies? (and we say he wasn't).
Could it be that he did not want to go? Only a week ago he was
whispering in Castlewood shrubberies, and was he now ashamed of the
nonsense he had talked there? What if his fell aunt's purpose is
answered, and if his late love is killed by her communications? Surely
kind hearts must pity Lady Maria, for she is having no very pleasant
time of it at Tunbridge Wells. There is no one to protect her. Madam
Beatrix has her all to herself. Lady Maria is poor, and hopes for money
for her aunt, and Lady Maria has a secret or two which the old woman
knows and brandishes over her.
Meanwhile Harry Warrington remained day after day contentedly at
Oakhurst, with each day finding the kindly folks who welcomed him more
to his liking. Never, since his grandfather's death, had he been in such
good company. His lot had lain among fox hunting Virginian squires, and
until he left his home he did not know how narrow and confined his life
had been there.
Here the lad found himself in the midst of a circle where everything
about him was incomparably gayer, brighter and more free. He was living
with a man and woman who had seen the world, though they lived retired
from it, and one of the benefits which Harry Warrington received from
this family was to begin to learn that he was a profoundly ignorant
young fellow. He admired his brother at home faithfully, of his kinsman
at Castlewood he had felt himself at least the equal. In Colonel Lambert
he found a man who had read far more books than Harry could pretend to
judge of, and who had goodness and honesty written on his face and
breathing from his lips.
As for the women, they were the kindest, merriest, most agreeable he had
ever known. Here was a tranquil, sunshiny day of a life that was to be
agitated and stormy. He was not in love, either with saucy Hetty or
generous Theodosia: but when the time came for going away, he fastened
on both their hands, and felt an immense regard for them.
"He is very kind and honest," said Theo gravely as they watched him and
their father riding away.
"I am glad he has got papa to ride with him to Westerham," said little
Hetty. "I don't like his going to those Castlewood people. I am sure
that Madam Bernstein is a wicked old woman. I expected to see her ride
away on her crooked stick. The other old woman seemed fond of him. She
looked very melancholy when she went away, but Madam Bernstein whisked
her off with her crutch, and she was obliged to go."
_III.--Harry Warrington is Disinherited_
Our young Virginian found himself after a few days at Tunbridge Wells by
far the most important personage in the place. The story of his wealth
had been magnified, and his winnings at play, which were considerable,
were told and calculated at every tea-table. The old aunt Bernstein
enjoyed his triumphs, and bade him pursue his enjoyments. As for Lady
Maria, though Harry Warrington knew she was as old as his mother, he had
given her his word to marry her at Castlewood, and, as he said, "A
Virginian Esmond has but his word!"
Madam Bernstein offered her niece L5,000 to free Mr. Warrington of his
engagement but the offer was declined, and a few weeks later Lady Maria
returned to Castlewood, while Harry went to London. He knew that his
mother, who was mistress for life of the Virginian property, would
refuse her consent to his marriage, and the thought of it was put off to
a late period. Meanwhile it hung like a weight round the young man's
No wonder that his spirits rose more gaily as he came near London. He
took lodgings in Bond Street and lived upon the fat of the land. His
title of Fortunate Youth, bestowed upon him because of his luck at
cards, was prettily recognised. But after a few weeks of lavish success,
the luck turned and he lost heavily: the last blow was after a private
game at piquet with his kinsman Lord Castlewood. Harry Warrington had
now drawn and spent all his patrimony, and one evening when he was
leaving the house of his uncle Sir Miles Warrington,--his dead father's
elder brother,--two bailiffs took him for a debt of L500 and the
Fortunate Youth was lodged in a sponging house in Chancery Lane.
Madam Bernstein was willing to pay her nephew's debts at once if he
would break off his engagement with Lady Maria, but this the
high-spirited youth declined to do.
Castlewood wrote frankly and said he had not got enough money for the
purpose, and Lady Warrington sent a tract and said Sir Miles was away
from home. But for his faithful servant Gumbo, Harry would have wanted
ready money for his food.
It was Colonel Lambert, of whom Harry had seen little since he left
Oakhurst, who came to his young friend's assistance. But the same night
which saw Colonel Lambert at the sponging house saw the reappearance of
his brother George.
"I am the brother whom you have heard of, sir," he said, addressing
Colonel Lambert; "and who was left for dead in Mr. Braddock's action:
and came to life again after eighteen months amongst the French; and
live to thank God, and thank you for your kindness to my Harry. I can
never forget that you helped my brother at his need."
While the two brothers were rejoicing over their meeting, "the whole
town" was soon busy talking over the news that Mr. Harry Warrington was
but a second son, and no longer the heir to a principality and untold
George loved his brother too well to have any desire for the union with
Lady Maria, and lost no time in explaining to Lord Castlewood that Harry
had no resources save dependence,--"and I know no worse lot than to be
dependent on a self-willed woman like our mother. The means my brother
had to make himself respected at home he hath squandered away here."
To Harry himself George repeated these words and added:
"My dear, I think one day you will say I have done my duty."
That night after the two brothers had dined together Harry went out, and
did not return for three hours.
"It was shabby to say I would not aid him, and God help me, it was not
true. I won't leave him, though he marries a blackamoor," thought George
as he sat alone.
Presently Harry came in, looking ghastly pale. He came up and took his
"Perhaps what you did was right," he said, "though I, for one, will
never believe that you would throw your brother off in distress. At
dinner I thought suddenly, I'll say to her, 'Maria, poor as I am, I am
yours to take or to leave. If you will have me, here I am: I will
enlist: I will work: I will try and make a livelihood for myself
somehow, and my bro--my relations will relent, and give us enough to
live on.' That's what I determined to tell her; and I did, George. I
found them all at dinner, all except Will; that is, I spoke out that
very moment to them all, sitting round the table over their wine.
'Maria,' says I, 'a poor fellow wants to redeem his promise which he
made when he fancied he was rich. Will you take him?' I found I had
plenty of words, and I ended by saying 'I would do my best and my duty
by her, so help me God!'
"When I had done, she came up to me quite kind. She took my hand, and
kissed it before the rest. 'My dear,' she said, 'I have long seen it was
only duty and a foolish promise made by a young man to an old woman,
that has held you to your engagement. To keep it would make you
miserable, and I absolve you from it, thanking you with all my heart for
your fidelity, and blessing my dear cousin always.' And she came up to
me and kissed me before them all, and went out of the room quite
stately, and without a single tear. Oh, George, isn't she a noble
"Here's her health," cries George, filling a glass.
"Hip, hip, huzzay!" says Harry. He was wild with delight at being free.
Madame Bernstein was scarcely less pleased than her Virginian nephews at
the result of Harry's final interview with Lady Maria.
_IV.--From the Warrington MSS._
My brother Harry Warrington went to Canada to serve tinder General
Wolfe, and remained with the army after the death of his glorious
commander. And I, George Warrington, stayed in London, read law in the
Temple, and wrote plays which were performed at Covent Garden, and was
in love with Miss Theodosia Lambert. Madame Esmond Warrington, however,
refused her consent to the match, and Major General Lambert declared an
engagement impossible under the circumstances.
Then in 1760, when George II. was dead, and George III. was king,
General Lambert was appointed to be governor and commander-in-chief of
the Island of Jamaica. His speedy departure was announced, he would have
a frigate given him, and _take his family with him._ Merciful powers!
and were we to be parted?
At last, one day, almost the last of his stay, when the General's
preparations for departure were all made, the good man (His Excellency
we call him now) canoe home to his dinner and sighed out to his wife:
"I wish, Molly, George was here. I may go away and never see him again,
and take his foolish little sweetheart along with me. I suppose you will
write to each other, children? I can't prevent that, you know."
"George is in the drawing-room," says mamma, quietly.
"Is he? my dearest boy!" cries the general. "Come to me--come in!" And
when I entered he held me to his heart and kissed me.
"Always loved you as a son--haven't I, Molly?" he mutters hurriedly.
"Broke my heart nearly when I quarrelled with you about this
little--What, all down on your knees! In heaven's name, tell me what has
What had happened was, that George Esmond Warrington and Theodosia
Lambert had been married in Southwark Church that morning.
I pass over the scenes of forgiveness, of reconciliation, of final
separation when the ship sailed away before us, leaving me and Theo on
the shore. And there is no need to recall her expressions of maternal
indignation when my mother was informed of the step I had taken. On the
pacification of Canada, my dear Harry dutifully paid a visit to
Virginia, and wrote describing his reception at home.
Many were the doubts and anxieties which, for my last play had been a
failure, now beset us, and plan after plan I tried for procuring work
and adding to our dwindling stock of money. By a hard day's labour at
translating from foreign languages for the booksellers, I could earn a
few shillings--so few that a week's work would hardly bring me a guinea.
Hard times were not over with us till some time after the Baroness
Bernstein's death (she left everything she had to her dear nephew, Henry
Esmond Warrington), when my uncle Sir Miles procured me a post as one of
his Majesty's commissioners for licensing hackney coaches. His only
child was dead, and I was now heir to the Baronetcy.
Then one morning, before almost I had heard of my uncle's illness, a
lawyer waits upon me at my lodgings in Bloomsbury, and salutes me by the
name of Sir George Warrington.
The records of a prosperous country life are easily told. Obedient
tenants bowed and curtsied as we went to church, and we drove to visit
our neighbours in the great family coach.
Shall I ever see the old mother again, I wonder! When Hal was in
England, we sent her pictures of both her sons painted by the admirable
Sir Joshua Reynolds. We never let Harry rest until he had asked Hetty in
marriage. He obeyed, and it was she who declined. "She had always," she
wrote, "the truest regard for him from the dear old time when they had
met almost children together. But she would never leave her father. When
it pleased God to take him, she hoped she would be too old to think of
bearing any other name but her own."
My brother Hal is still a young man, being little more than 50, and
Hetty is now a staid little lady. There are days when she looks
surprisingly young and blooming. Why should Theo and I have been so
happy, and thou so lonely?
* * * * *
"Vanity Fair" was published in 1848, and at once placed its
author in the front rank of novelists. It was followed by
"Pendennis" in 1850, "Esmond" in 1852, "The Newcomes" in 1855,
and "The Virginians" in 1859. Some critics profess to see
manifested in "Vanity Fair" a certain sharpness and sarcasm in
Thackeray's character which does not appear in his later
works, but however much the author may have mellowed in his
later novels, "Vanity Fair" continues to be his acknowledged
masterpiece, and of all the characters he drew, Becky Sharp is
the best known.
_I.--Miss Sharp Opens Her Campaign_
One sunshiny morning in June there drove up to the great iron gate of
Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large
family coach with two fat horses in blazing harness.
"It is Mrs. Sedley's coach, sister," said Miss Jemima. The day of
departure had come, and Miss Amelia Sedley, an amiable young lady, was
glad to go home, and yet woefully sad at leaving school. Miss Rebecca
Sharp, whose father had been an artist, accompanied Amelia, to pass a
week with her friend in Russell Square before she entered upon her
duties as governess in Sir Pitt Crawley's family.
Thus the world began for these two young ladies. For Amelia it was quite
a new, fresh, brilliant world, with all the bloom upon it. It was not
quite a new one for Rebecca, who, before she came to the Mall, as a
governess-pupil, had turned many a dun away from her father's door. She
had never been a girl, she said: she had been a woman since she was
eight years old.
At Russell Square Rebecca saw the two magnificent Cashmere shawls which
Joseph Sedley of the East India Company's Civil Service had brought home
to his sister, said with perfect truth that it must be delightful to
have a brother, and easily got the pity of the tender-hearted Amelia for
being alone in the world. A series of queries, addressed to her friend,
brought Rebecca, who was but nineteen, to the following conclusion:--"As
Mr. Joseph Sedley is rich and unmarried, why should I not marry him? I
have only a fortnight, to be sure, but there is no harm in trying." I
don't think we have any right to blame her, if Rebecca did not set her
heart upon the conquest of this beau, for she had no kind parents to
arrange these delicate matters for her.
But Mr. Joseph Sedley, greedy, vain, and cowardly, would not be brought
up to the sticking point. Young George Osborne, Captain of the --th, old
Sedley's godson, and the accepted lover of Amelia, thought Joseph was a
milksop. He turned over in his mind, as the Sedleys did, the possibility
of marriage between Joseph and Rebecca, and was not over well pleased
that a member of a family into which he, George Osborne, was going to
marry, should make a mesalliance with a little nobody--a little upstart
governess. "Hang it, the family's low enough already without _her_,"
Osborne said to his friend Captain Dobbin. "A governess is all very
well, but I'd rather have a lady for my sister-in-law. I'm a liberal
man; but I've proper pride, and know my own station: let her know hers.
And I'll take down that hectoring Nabob, and prevent him from being made
a greater fool than he is. That's why I told him to look out, lest she
brought an action against him."
Joseph Sedley fled to Cheltenham, and Rebecca said in her heart, "It was
George Osborne who prevented my marriage." And she loved George Osborne
Miss Amelia would have been delighted that Joseph should carry back a
wife to India. Old Mr. Sedley was neutral. "Let Joseph marry whom he
likes," he said to his wife. "It's no affair of mine. This girl has no
fortune; no more had Mrs. Sedley. She seems good-humoured and clever,
and will keep him in order, perhaps. Better she, my dear, than a black
Mrs. Sedley, and a dozen of mahogany grandchildren. As I am perfectly
sure that if you and I and his sister were to die to-morrow, he would
say 'Good Gad!' and eat his dinner just as well as usual, I am not going
to make myself anxious about him. Let him marry whom he likes. It's no
affair of mine."
If he had had the courage, Joseph Sedley's bachelorhood would have been
at an end. He did not lie awake all night thinking whether or not he was
in love with Miss Sharp; the passion of love never interfered with the
appetite or the slumber of Mr. Joseph Sedley; but he thought to himself
how delightful it would be to hear such songs as Miss Sharp could sing
in India--what a _distinguee_ girl she was--how she could speak French
better than the governor-general's lady herself--and what a sensation
she would make at the Calcutta balls. "It's evident the poor devil's in
love with me" thought he. "She is just as rich as most of the girls who
come out to India. I might go further and fare worse, egad!"
Then came an evening at Vauxhall, on which occasion Dobbin, George
Osborne, and Joseph Sedley escorted Amelia and Rebecca, and the Indian
civilian got hopelessly tipsy on a bowl of rack punch. The next morning,
which Rebecca thought was to dawn upon her fortune, found Sedley
groaning in agonies, soothing the fever of his previous night's potation
with small beer--for soda water was not invented yet. George Osborne,
calling upon him, so frightened the unhappy Joseph with stories of his
overnight performance, that instead of proposing marriage Joseph Sedley
hastened away to Cheltenham that day, sending a note to Amelia praying
her to excuse him to Miss Sharp for his conduct.
It was now clear to every soul in the house, except poor Amelia, that
Rebecca should take her departure, and accordingly she set out for the
residence of Sir Pitt Crawley, Baronet, of Queen's Crawley, Hants. Sir
Pitt had two sons by his first wife, Pitt and Rawdon; and by his second
wife, two daughters,--for whose benefit Miss Rebecca Sharp was now
engaged as governess. It will be seen that the young lady was come into
a family of very genteel connections, and was about to move in a much
more distinguished circle than the one she had just quitted in Russell
Before Rebecca had been a year at Queen's Crawley she had quite won the
Baronet's confidence. She was almost mistress of the house when Mr.
Crawley was absent, but conducted herself in her new and exalted
situation with such circumspection and modesty as not to offend the
authorities of the kitchen and stable.
The elder and younger son of the house of Crawley hated each other
cordially, and Rawdon Crawley, who was in the heavy dragoons, seldom
came to the place except when Miss Crawley paid her annual visit. The
great good quality of this old lady was that she possessed seventy
thousand pounds, and had almost adopted Rawdon.
Both Miss Crawley and Rawdon were charmed with Rebecca, and on Lady
Crawley's death Sir Pitt said to his children's governess, "I can't get
on without you. Come and be my wife. You're as good a lady as ever I
see. Say yes, Becky. I'm good for twenty years. I'll make you happy, see
if I don't."
Rebecca started back a picture of consternation, "O Sir Pitt!" she
said--"O sir--I--I'm married already!"
* * * * *
"Suppose the old lady doesn't come round, eh, Becky?" Rawdon said to his
little wife, as they sat together in their snug Brompton lodgings, a few
"_I'll_ make your fortune," she said.
But old Miss Crawley did not come round, and Captain Rawdon Crawley and
Rebecca went to Brussels in June 1815 with the flower of the British
Another young married couple also went to Brussels at that time, Captain
George Osborne and Amelia his wife.
The landing of Napoleon at Cannes in March, 1815, brought, amongst other
things, ruin to the worthy old stockbroker John Sedley, and the most
determined and obstinate of his creditors was his old friend and
neighbour John Osborne--whom he had set up in life, and whose son was to
marry his daughter, and who consequently had the intolerable sense of
former benefit to goad and irritate him.
Joseph Sedley acted as a man of his disposition would; when the
announcement of the family misfortune reached him. He did not come to
London, but he wrote to his mother to draw upon his agents for whatever
money was wanted, so that his kind broken-spirited old parents had no
present poverty to fear. This done, Joseph went on at his boarding-house
at Cheltenham pretty much as before.
Amelia took the news very pale and calmly. A brutal letter from John
Osborne told her in a few curt lines that all engagements between the
families were at an end, and old Joseph Sedley spoke with almost equal
bitterness. No power on earth, he swore, would induce him to marry his
daughter to the son of such a villain, and he ordered Emmy to banish
George from her mind.
It was Captain William Dobbin, who, having made up his mind that Miss
Sedley would die of the disappointment, found himself the great promoter
of the match between George Osborne and Amelia.
To old Sedley's refusal Dobbin answered finally, "If you don't give your
daughter your consent it will be her duty to marry without it. What
better answer can there be to Osborne's attacks on you, than that his
son claims to enter your family and marry your daughter?"
George Osborne parted in anger from his father.
"I ain't going to have any of this damn sentimental nonsense here, sir,"
old Osborne cried out at the end of the interview. "There shall be no
beggar-marriages in my family." He pulled frantically at the cord to
summon the butler and, almost black in the face, ordered that
functionary to call a coach for Captain Osborne.
George told Dobbin what had passed between his father and himself.
"I'll marry her to-morrow," he said, with an oath. "I love her more
every day, Dobbin."
So on a gusty, raw day at the aid of April Captain Osborne and Captain
Dobbin drove down to a certain chapel near the Fulham Road.
"Here you are," said Joseph Sedley, coming forward. "What a day, eh?
You're five minutes late, George, my boy. Come along; my mother and Emmy
are in the vestry."
There was nobody in the church besides the officiating persons and a
small marriage party and their attendants. Old Sedley would not be
present. Joseph acted for his father giving away the bride, whilst
Captain Dobbin stepped up as groomsman to his friend George.
"God bless you, old Dobbin," George said, grasping him by the hand, when
they went into the vestry and signed the register. William replied only
by nodding his head; his heart was too full to say much.
Ten days after the above ceremony Dobbin came down to Brighton, where
not only Captain Osborne and Amelia, but also the Rawdon Crawleys were
enjoying themselves, with news. He had seen old Osborne, and tried to
reconcile him to his son's marriage, with the result that he left the
implacable old man in a fit. He had also learnt from his old Colonel
that in a day or two the army would get its marching orders, for
"It's my opinion, George," he said, "that the French Emperor will be
upon us before three weeks are over. But you need not say that to Mrs.
Osborne, you know, and Brussels is full of fine people and ladies of
Little Amelia, it must be owned, had rather a mean opinion of her
husband's friend, Captain Dobbin. He was very plain and homely-looking,
and exceedingly awkward and ungainly. Not knowing him intimately as yet,
she made light of honest William; and he knew her opinions of him quite
well, and acquiesced in them very humbly. A time came when she knew him
better, and changed her notions regarding him; but that was distant as
As for Rebecca, Captain Dobbin had not been two hours in the ladies'
company before she understood his secret perfectly. She did not like
him, and feared him privately. He was so honest, that her arts did not
affect him, and he shrank from her with instinctive repugnance.
On May 8 George Osborne received a letter from his father's lawyer,
informing him that "in consequence of the marriage which he had been
pleased to contract Mr. Osborne ceases to consider him henceforth as a
member of his family. This determination is final and irrevocable."
Within a week of this epistle George Osborne and his wife, Dobbin,
Joseph Sedley, and the Rawdon Crawleys, were on their way to Brussels.
About three weeks after the 18th of June, Alderman Sir William Dobbin
called at Mr. Osborne's house in Russell Square, and insisted upon
seeing that gentleman. "My son," the Alderman said, with some
hesitation, "dispatched me a letter by an officer of the --th, who
arrived in town to-day. My son's letter contains one for you, Osborne."
The letter was in George's well-known bold handwriting. He had written
it before daybreak on the 16th of June, just before he took leave of
Amelia. The very seal that sealed it had been robbed from George's dead
body on the field of battle. The father knew nothing of this, but sat
and looked at the letter in terrified vacancy.
The poor boy's letter did not say much. He had been too proud to
acknowledge the tenderness which his heart felt. He only said that on
the eve of a great battle he wished to bid his father farewell, and
solemnly to implore his good offices for the wife--it might be for the
child--whom he had left behind. His English habit, pride, awkwardness,
perhaps, had prevented him from saying more. His father could not see
the kiss George had placed on the superscription of his letter. Mr.
Osborne dropped it with the bitterest, deadliest pang of balked
affection and revenge. His son was still beloved and unforgiven.
Two months afterwards an elaborate funeral monument to the memory of
Captain George Osborne appeared on the wall of the church which Mr.
Osborne attended, and in the autumn the old man went to Belgium.
George's widow was still in Brussels, and very many of the brave --th,
recovering of their wounds. The city was a vast military hospital for
months after the great battle.
Mr. Osborne made the journey of Waterloo and Quarter Bras soon after his
arrival, and his carriage, nearing the gates of the city at sunset, met
another open barouche by the side of which an officer was riding.
Osborne gave a start back, but Amelia, for it was she, though she stared
blank in his face did not know him. Her face was white and thin; her
eyes were fixed, and looked nowhere. Osborne saw who it was and hated
her--he did not know how much until he saw her there. Her carriage
passed on; a minute afterwards a horse came clattering over the pavement
behind Osborne's carriage, and Major Dobbin rode up.
"Mr. Osborne, Mr. Osborne!" cried Dobbin, while the other shouted to his
servant to drive on. "I will see you, sir; I have a message for you."
"From that woman?" said Osborne fiercely.
"No, from your son." At which Osborne fell back into his carriage and
Dobbin followed him to his hotel and up to his apartments.
"Make it short, sir," said Osborne, with an oath.
"I'm here as your son's closest friend," said the Major, "and the
executor of his will. Are you aware how small his means were, and of the
straitened circumstances of his widow? Do you know, sir, Mrs. Osborne's
condition? Her life and her reason almost have been shaken by the blow
which has fallen on her. She will be a mother soon. Will you visit the
parent's offence upon the child's head? Or will you forgive the child
for poor George's sake?"
Osborne broke into a rhapsody of self praise and imprecations. No father
in all England could have behaved more generously to a son who had
rebelled against him, and had died without even confessing he was wrong.
As for himself, he had sworn never to speak to that woman, or to
recognise her as his son's wife. "And that's what I will stick to till
the last day of my life," he concluded, with an oath.
There was no hope from that quarter then. The widow must live on her
slender pittance, or on such aid as Joseph could give her.
For six years Amelia did live on this pittance in shabby genteel poverty
with her boy and her parents in Fulham. Dobbin and Joseph Sedley were in
India now, and old Sedley, always speculating in bootless schemes, once
more brought ruin on his family.
Mr. Osborne had seen his grandson, and had formally offered to take the
boy and make him heir to the fortune intended for his father. He would
make Mrs. George Osborne an allowance, such as to assure her a decent
competency. But it must be understood that the child would live entirely
with his grandfather in Russell Square, and that he would be
occasionally permitted to see Mrs. George Osborne at her own residence.
At first Amelia rejected the offer with indignation. It was only on the
knowledge that her father, in his speculations, had made away with the
annuity from Joseph that poverty and misery made her capitulate. Her
own, pittance would barely enable her to support her parents, and would
not suffice for her son.
"What! Mrs. Pride has come down, has she?" old Osborne said when with a
tremulous, eager voice, Miss Osborne, the only unmarried daughter, read
him Amelia's letter.
"Regular starve out, hey? ha, ha! I knew she would." He tried to keep
his dignity, as he chuckled and swore to himself behind his paper.
"Get the room over mine--his room that was--ready. And you had better
send that woman some money," Mr. Osborne said before he went out. "She
shan't want for nothing. Send her a hundred pound. But she don't come in
here, mind. No, not for all the money in London."
A few days are past, and the great event of Amelia's life is
consummated. The child is sacrificed and offered up to fate, and the
widow is quite alone.
It was about this time when the Rawdon Crawleys, after contriving to
live well on nothing a year, for a considerable period, came to smash.
Rawdon retired to the Governorship of Coventry Island, a post procured
for him by the influence of that great nobleman the Marquis of Steyne,
and who cared what became of Becky? It was said she went to Naples.
Rawdon certainly declined to be reconciled to her, because of the money
she had received from Lord Steyne and which she had concealed from her
husband. "If she's not guilty, she's as bad as guilty; and I'll never
see her again--never," he said.
_IV.--Colonel Dobbin Leaves the Army_
Good fortune began to smile upon Amelia when Joseph Sedley, once more
came back to England, a rich man, and with him Major Dobbin. But the
round of decorous pleasure in which the Sedley family now indulged was
soon broken by Mrs. Sedley's death, and old Sedley was not long in
following his wife whither she had preceded him.
A change was coming over old Osborne's mind. He found that Major Dobbin
was a distinguished officer, and one day looking into his grandson's
accounts he learnt that it was out of William Dobbin's own pocket the
fund had been supplied upon which the poor widow and the child had
Then the pair shook hands, and after that the Major would often come and
dine at the gloomy old house in Russell Square. He tried to soften the
old man and reconcile him towards his son's memory, and more than once
Mr. Osborne asked him about Mrs. George Osborne. A reconciliation was
announced as speedy and inevitable, when one morning old Osborne was
found lying at the foot of his dressing-table in a fit. He never could
speak again and in four days he died.
When the will was opened, it was seen that half the property was left to
his grandson, George, and the remainder to two married daughters. An
annuity of L500 was left to "the widow of my beloved son, George
Osborne," who was to resume the guardianship of the boy, and "Major
William Dobbin, my beloved son's friend," was appointed executor.
That summer Major Dobbin and Joseph Sedley escorted the widow and her
boy to the Continent and at Pumpernickel, in a happy valley in Germany,
Joseph renewed acquaintance with Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, and after a long
and confidential talk was convinced that Becky was the most virtuous as
she was one of the most fascinating of women. Amelia was won over at the
tale of Becky's sufferings, but Major Dobbin was obdurate. Amelia
declined to give up Becky, and Major Dobbin said "good-bye."
Amelia didn't wish to marry him, but she wished to keep him, and his
departure left her broken and cast down. Becky bore Dobbin no rancour
for the part he had taken against her. It was an open move; she was in
the game and played fairly. She even admired him, and now that she was
in comfortable quarters, made no scruple of declaring her admiration for
the high-minded gentleman, and of telling Emmy that she had behaved most
cruelly regarding him.
From Pumpernickel Joseph and Amelia were persuaded to go to Ostend, and
here, while Becky was cut by scores of people, two ruffians, Major Loder
and Captain Rook, easily got an introduction to Mr. Joseph Sedley's
Rebecca, to do her justice, never would let either of these men remain
alone with Amelia.
"Listen to me, Amelia," said Becky that same night; "you must go away
from here. You are no more fit to live in the world than a baby in arms.
You must marry or you and your precious boy will go to ruin. You must
have a husband, you fool; and one of the best gentlemen I ever saw has
offered you an hundred times, and you have ejected him, you silly,
heartless, ungrateful little creature!"
"I--I wrote to him this morning," Emmy said, blushing exceedingly.
Only George and his uncle were present at the marriage ceremony. Colonel
Dobbin quitted the service immediately after his marriage, and rented a
pretty little place in Hampshire, not far from Queen's Crawley.
His excellency Colonel Rawdon Crawley died of yellow fever at Coventry
Island, six weeks before the death of his brother Sir Pitt, who had
succeeded to the title.
Rebecca, Lady Crawley (so she called herself, though she never was
_Lady_ Crawley) has a liberal allowance, and chiefly hangs about Bath
and Cheltenham, where a very strong party of excellent people consider
her a most injured woman.
Ah! _Vanitas Vanitatum_! which of us is happy in this world?
* * * * *
COUNT LYOF N. TOLSTOY
Lyof (Lev or Leo) Tolstoy (who objects to his name being
transliterated Tolstoi) is generally recognised as the noblest
figure in modern Russia. He was born on the family estate at
Yasnaya Polyana, in the Government of Tula, about 100 miles
south of Moscow, on August 28 (new style September 9), 1828.
His father, Count N.I. Tolstoy, who retired from the army
about the time of his son's birth, had been among the
prisoners taken by Napoleon's invading forces in the war of
1812. He died suddenly in 1837. Young Tolstoy after three
years at Kazan University decided to abandon his college
studies without graduating, so repelled was he by the degraded
character of the average student. Retiring to his estate at
Yasnaya Polyana in 1847, he sought, though without success, to
ameliorate the condition of his serfs. The Imperial decree of
emancipation was not promulgated till 1861. In 1851 Count
Tolstoy joined the army in the Caucasus, and shortly
afterwards he participated in the defence of Sebastopol during
the great Crimean War. Since that period his life has been a
wonderful career of literary success. On his fine estate, with
his large family and his servants about him, he lives the life
of a simple peasant, advocating a form of socialism which he
considers to constitute a practical interpretation of the
Sermon on the Mount. In "Anna Karenina" Tolstoy manifestly
aims at furnishing an elaborate delineation of the
sociological ethics of high life in Russia. It is a lurid and
sombre recital, of the most realistic kind. It is not a story
of the masses, for no prominent characters from lower life
appear. Little is seen of the ways and doings of the poor. All
the real personages of this story are members of the
fashionable section of St. Petersburg and Moscow, or are great
landed proprietors, or high officials. In these pages appear
some of the noblest and some of the most profligate
characters, and all are perfectly typical. As in all the
writings of Tolstoy, wit and humour are entirely lacking, but
the emotionalism is intense, the psychological analysis is
masterly, and the fidelity to actual conditions is scrupulous.
The tale is a moral one, written with a purpose that is
consistently pursued throughout. Sin is displayed without a
mask, and its retribution is shown to be inevitable. There is
no attempt at varnishing or veneering the surface of a lax
moral order. The idea prevails among critics that Tolstoy
himself appears in this novel under the character of Levin.
(See also Vol. X, p. 291.)
The Oblonsky family was plunged into miserable confusion, for the wife,
through detecting a flirtation between her husband and the French
governess, declared she would no longer live with him. She remained in
her rooms, and the husband had not shown himself at home for three days.
Some of the servants quarrelled and others demanded their wages.
Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch (socially styled Stiva) had on returning one
evening from the theatre found his Dolly sitting with a letter in her
hand, and an expression of terror and despair on her countenance. "What
is this? This?" she asked. Instead of attempting a reply, Stepan smiled
good-humouredly and stupidly; and Dolly, after a flow of passionate
reproaches, rushed from the room.
Stepan had never imagined that any such discovery would have such an
effect on his wife. "How delightfully we were living till this
happened!" said he, as on the third morning after the outbreak he awoke
in his library, where he had rested on the lounge. "I never interfered
with Dolly, and she did as she pleased with the household and children.
What can be done?" He rose and put on his dressing gown and rang for his
valet, who came in response to the summons, followed by the barber. The
valet handed him a telegram, which announced that his loving sister,
Anna Arkadyevna, was coming on a visit. He was pleased to receive the
intelligence, for it might mean that she would effect a reconciliation.
Prince Stepan tranquilly partook of breakfast over his newspaper, and
became absorbed in thought. Suddenly two children's voices roused him
from his reverie. They were those of Grisha, his youngest boy, and
Tania, his eldest daughter. The little girl, his favourite, ran in and
laughingly and fondly embraced him. "What is mamma doing? Is she all
right?" he asked of the girl.
"I don't know," was the reply. "She told us we were not to have lessons
to-day but were to go to grandmamma's." He told the children to run
along, and then said to himself, "To go, or not to go--but it has to be
done, sooner or later," and straightening himself and lighting a
cigarette, he opened the door into his wife's room. She was standing in
the room removing the contents of a drawer, and turned her worn face on
Stepan with a look of terror. She had dreaded this moment, for though
she felt she could not stay, yet she knew she loved him and that it was
impossible to leave him.
"What do you want? Go away, go away," she cried. He broke into sobs and
began to beg forgiveness. "Dolly, think for the love of God of the
children. They are not to blame. I alone am to blame. Now, Dolly,
forgive me." But as the voice of one of the children was heard, she went
out from him and slammed the door.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was naturally idle, yet his natural gifts had
enabled him to do well at school, and he had gained an excellent
position at Moscow as _natchalnik_, or president of one of the courts,
through the influence of Aleksei Alexandrovitch Karenin, husband of his
sister Anna, one of the most important members of the ministry. In this
office Stepan enjoyed a salary of 6,000 roubles. Everyone who knew
Oblonsky liked him, for his amiability, honesty, and brilliance,
qualities which rendered him a most attractive character.
Going to his office after his unpleasant interview with his wife, he
attended to matters in the court for some time, and on suspending
business for lunch found his friend Levin waiting to see him--a
fair-complexioned, broad-shouldered man whom he often saw in Moscow.
Levin frequently came in from the country, full of enthusiasm about
great things he had been attempting, at the reports of which Stepan was
apt to smile in his good-humoured style. That Levin was in love with his
sister Kitty was well enough known to Stepan.
When Oblonsky on this occasion, after chatting over some rural concerns
in Levin's district, asked his friend what had specially brought him to
Moscow, Levin blushed and was vexed with himself for blushing. He could
not bring himself to reply that he had come to ask for the hand of
Stepan's sister-in-law Kitty, though that was really his errand. As a
student and a friend of the Shcherbatsky family, belonging like his own
to the old nobility of Moscow, Konstantin Levin at first thought himself
in love with Dolly, the eldest, but she married Oblonsky; then with
Natalie, who married Lyof, a diplomat; and finally his passion settled
on Kitty, who had been only a child when he left the University. He was
now thirty-two, was wealthy, would surely have been reckoned an
acceptable suitor, but had a most exalted opinion of Kitty, and to a
corresponding degree depreciated himself.
He feared that probably Kitty did not love him, and he knew that his
friends only looked upon him as a country proprietor, occupied with
farming, or amusing himself with hunting. He was not what is understood
as a society man. But he felt that he could no longer rest without
seeking to get the question settled whether she would or would not be
Levin made his way to the gate of the Zoological Gardens and followed
the path to the ice-mountains, where he knew that he should find the
Shcherbatskys there, Kitty among them. He had seen their carriage at the
gate. It was a lovely day, and the gaily-clad fashionable people, the
Russian _izbas_ with their carved woodwork, the paths gleaming with
snow, and the old birch-trees, brilliant with icicles, combined to
render the whole scene one of fascination.
Drawing near the ice-mountains, where the sledges rushed down the
inclines, he soon discovered Kitty, who was on the opposite side,
standing in close conversation with a lady. For him her presence filled
the place with light and glory. He asked himself whether he was brave
enough to go and meet her on the ice. The spot where she was seemed to
him like a sanctuary, and all the persons privileged to be near her
seemed to be the elect of heaven. This day the ice was the common
meeting-ground for fashionable people, the masters in the art of skating
being among them. Nikolai Shcherbatsky, Kitty's cousin, catching sight
of Levin, exclaimed, "There is the best skater in Russia." Kitty
cordially invited Levin to skate with her. He did so, and the faster
they went together, the closer Kitty held his hand. And when after a
spin they rested, and she asked how long he was going to stay in St.
Petersburg, he astonished her by replying, "It depends on you." Either
she did not understand, or did not wish to understand, his words, for
she at once made an excuse to leave him.
At this moment Stepan came up and took Levin's arm, and the two went to
the restaurant. Here Levin opened his soul to Stepan, and Stepan assured
him that Kitty would become his wife. "But," said Levin, "it is shocking
that we who are already getting old dare not approach a pure and
innocent being. I look on my life with dismay, and mourn over it
Said Stepan, "You have not much cause for self-reproach. What can you
do? The world is thus constituted."
"There is only one comfort," replied Levin. "That is in the prayer I
have always delighted in: 'Pardon me not according to my deserts, but
according to Thy loving kindness.' Thus only can she forgive me."
Kitty had another suitor, Count Vronsky, on whom she looked with the
favour that she could not accord to Levin. He was rich, intelligent, of
good birth, with a brilliant career before him in court and navy. He was
charming, and in him the Princess Shcherbatsky saw an admirable match
for her youngest daughter. Princess Kitty was now eighteen. She was the
favourite child of her father. It was manifest to both parents that she
was in love with Vronsky. Yet when at length Levin ventured on an actual
declaration of his love, she was deeply agitated. Lifting her sincere
glance to him, she said hastily, "This cannot be. Forgive me."
Anna Karenina arrived in the home of Stepan Arkadyevitch, where she was
received with cordial kisses by Dolly, who remembered that Stepan's
sister was not to blame, and that she was a _grande dame_ of St.
Petersburg, wife of one of the important personages of the city. She was
delighted to think that at last she could open her mind and tell her
troubles. And she was not disappointed, for in a lengthy and sympathetic
colloquy Dolly's heart was touched with the sentiment of forgiveness.
Anna was one of the most beautiful and graceful of women. And she was as
tactful as she was lovely. Before many hours she had successfully played
the part of peacemaker, and thanked God in her heart that she had been
able to effect complete reconciliation between Stepan and his wife. That
same evening Anna went to a grand ball with Kitty and her mother, where
the three were quickly saluted by Vronsky. It was a most brilliant
affair. But next morning Anna telegraphed to her husband that she was
leaving Moscow for home. It happened that Vronsky travelled by the same
train, and thus the two were thrown together for the long journey.
Aleksei Alexandrovitch, though he affectionately met his wife, found but
little time to spend with her. The next day several visitors came to
dine with the Karenins. Every moment of Aleksei's life was fully
occupied with his official duties, and he was forced to be strictly
regular and punctual in his arrangements. He was an excellent man, and
an intellectual one, delighting in art, poetry, and music, and loving to
talk of Shakespeare, Raphael, and Beethoven.
Society in St. Petersburg is very united, and Anna Karenina had very
friendly relations with the gay world of fashion, with its dinner
parties and balls. She met Vronsky at several of these brilliant
reunions. He, deeply impressed with her, notwithstanding his connection
with Kitty, went everywhere that he was likely to meet her, and her joy
at meeting him easily betrayed itself in her eyes and her smile. And he
did not refrain from actually making love to Anna on the occasions when
they were able to engage in tete-a-tete conversations. Nor was he
positively repelled. Soon the acquaintance became more and more
intimate. Meantime, Aleksei as usual would come home and, instead of
seeking his wife's society, would bury himself in his library amongst
his books. But suddenly the idea that his wife could form an attachment
to another man filled him with terror. He resolved to remonstrate with
her, but she received his expostulations with laughing and good-humoured
mockery, which entirely frustrated his purpose. He dropped the subject;
yet from that moment a new life began for the husband and wife. There
was no outward sign of the change. Anna continued to meet Vronsky, and
Aleksei felt himself powerless to intervene.
While Vronsky was thus entangling himself with Anna Karenina at St.
Petersburg, the Shcherbatskys at Moscow were growing anxious about the
health of Princess Kitty, their beautiful daughter who was so deeply in
love with him. She was ill, and after a consultation of physicians it
was decided that travelling abroad would be advisable. But the girl said
to herself that her trouble was one that they could not fathom, that her
supposed illness and the remedies she had to endure were nonsense. What
did they amount to? Nothing more than the gathering up of the fragments
of a broken vase to patch it up again. Her heart was broken, and could
it be healed by pills and powders?
Absorbed by his passion, Vronsky yet proceeded in his regular manner of
life, sustaining as usual his social and military relations. He loved
his regiment and was very popular in it. Naturally, he spoke not a
syllable to anyone about his passion. He drank moderately, and not an
indiscreet word escaped him. But his mother was not a little disturbed
when she discovered that his infatuation for Madame Karenina had
impelled him to refuse an excellent promotion which would have
necessitated his removal from the metropolis. She feared that instead of
being a flirtation of which she might not disapprove, this passion might
develop into a Werther-like tragedy and lead her son to commit some
Many fashionable young ladies who were jealous of Anna and were weary of
hearing her praised, were malignantly pleased to hear rumours to her
disparagement and to feel justified in alluding scornfully to her.
Vronsky received a message from his mother in Moscow. She desired him to
come to her. His elder brother, though not himself by any means a
pattern of perfect propriety, strongly expressed his dissatisfaction,
because he felt that the unpleasant rumours would be likely to cause
displeasure in certain high quarters.
Early in the spring, Anna Karenina's husband went abroad, according to
his annual custom, to take the water-cure after the toils of winter.
Returning in July to St. Petersburg, he at once resumed his official
duties with the usual vigour. Anna had already gone into the country,
not far from the capital, to the summer _datcha_ at Peterhof. Since the
pair had failed to come to a mutual understanding coolness had existed,
but it was simply a cloud, not an actual alienation.
He resolved for the sake of appearances to visit his wife once a week.
To his astonishment, his doctor called voluntarily on him, to ask if he
might examine into the condition of his health. The secret reason of
this was that a kind friend, the Countess Lidia, had begged the doctor
to do so, as she had noticed that Aleksei did not look well. The medical
man after the diagnosis was perturbed with the result, for Aleksei's
liver was congested and his digestion was out of order. The waters had
not benefited him. He was ordered to take more physical exercise and to
undergo less mental strain, and above all to avoid all worry.
It was not with real pleasure, but with an affectation of cordiality
that Anna received her husband when he reached the _datcha_. She was gay
and animated. He was somewhat constrained, and the conversation was
without any special interest. But Anna afterwards could only recall it
with real pain. The crisis came on a racecourse. One of Vronsky's chief
pleasures was horse-racing, and at the brilliant races that season he
himself rode his own splendid horse. But the occasion was a most
disastrous one, for at the hurdle races more than half the riders were
thrown, Vronsky being one of them. He was picked up uninjured, but the
horse had its back broken.
Aleksei and his wife and several friends were amongst the gay crowd, and
he noted with deep displeasure that his wife turned pale when the
accident happened and was strangely excited throughout the occasion. In
the carriage, as the pair returned, he taxed her with her unseemly
demeanour, and a violent quarrel ensued, in which she exclaimed, "I love
him. I fear you. I hate you. Do as you please with me." And Anna flung
herself to the bottom of the carriage, covering her face with her hands
and sobbing convulsively.
Aleksei sat in silence during the rest of the journey home, but as they
came near the house he said, "I insist that from this moment appearances
be preserved for the sake of my honour, and I will communicate my
decision to you after I have considered what measures I shall take." He
assisted her to alight at the _datcha_, shook hands with her in the
presence of the servants, and returned to St. Petersburg.
"Thank God, it is all over between us," said Anna to herself. But,
notwithstanding this reflection, she had felt strangely impressed by the
aspect of deathlike rigidity in her husband's face, though he gave no
sign of inward agitation. As he rode off alone he felt a keen pain in
his heart. But, curiously enough, he also experienced a sensation of
deep relief of soul now that a vast load of doubt and jealousy had been
lifted from him.
"I always knew she was without either heart or religion," said he to
himself. "I made a mistake when I united my life with hers, but I should
not be unhappy, for my error was not my fault. Henceforth for me she
does not exist." He pondered over the problem whether he should
challenge Vronsky, but he soon decided against the idea of fighting a
duel. No one would expect it of him, so his reputation would not be
injured by abstaining from such a proceeding. At length he came to the
conclusion that an open separation would not be expedient and that the
_status quo_ alone was advisable, on the condition that Anna should obey
his will and break off her acquaintance with Vronsky.
"Only thus," thought Aleksei, "can I conform to the requirements of
religion. I give her another chance, and consecrate my powers to her
salvation." He wrote his wife a letter saying that for his own sake, for
her sake, and the sake of her son, their lives must remain unchanged,
the family must not be sacrificed, and as he was sure she felt penitent,
he hoped at their next interview to come to a complete understanding.
Though, when she received this communication, Anna felt her anger
rising, yet her heart told her that she was in a false position from
which she longed to escape. A new sensation had taken possession of her
soul, and she seemed to be a double kind of personality. At length,
after long agitation she wrote to her husband, telling him that she
could no longer remain in his house, but was going away, taking their
boy Serosha with her. "Be generous; let me have him," were the last
words in the letter. She wrote a little note to Vronsky, but her cheeks
burned as she wrote, and presently she tore the note to tatters. Then
she made her preparations for going to Moscow.
Anna returned to the home in St. Petersburg. Husband and wife met with a
silent greeting, and the silence lasted some time. Then ensued an
interview in which each side coldly accused the other, but which ended
in Aleksei's demand that his wife should so comport herself that neither
the world nor the servants could accuse her, on which condition she
could enjoy the position and fulfil the duties of an honourable wife.
And so the Kareninas continued to live in the same house, to meet daily,
and yet to remain strangers to each other. Vronsky was never seen near
the place, yet Anna met him elsewhere and Aleksei knew it.
Meanwhile, a change was coming over the prospect for Kitty and Levin. He
had never renounced the hope of possessing the beautiful girl, and at
length she had come to understand his nobility of character and to feel
that she could reciprocate his affection. During a conversation with
her, he watched as she mechanically drew circles with chalk on the
"I have waited for a long time to ask you a question," said he, looking
fondly at her.
"What is it?" said Kitty.
"This is it," said Levin, taking the chalk and writing the letters w, y,
s, i, i, i, w, i, i, t, o, a? The letters were the initials of the
words, "When you said 'It is impossible,' was it impossible then, or
Kitty studied the letters long and attentively, and at length took the
chalk and, blushing deeply, wrote the letters: t, I, c, n, a, d. Levin's
face soon beamed with joy. He comprehended that the reply was: "Then I
could not answer differently." Everything was settled. Kitty had
acknowledged her love for him, and Levin at last was happy.
Aleksei sat alone in his room, pondering events, when he was startled by
a telegram from his wife--"I am dying. I beg you to come; I shall die
easier if I have your forgiveness." He read the words with momentary
scorn, imagining that some scheme of deceit was being practised. But
presently he reflected that it might be true, and, if so, it would be
cruel and foolish to refuse to go, and besides, everybody would blame
He travelled all night and arrived, tired and dusty, in the morning at
St. Petersburg. Reaching his house, he went into the drawing-room, and
the nurse quickly led him into the bedroom, saying, "Thank God, you have
come. She talks only of you."
"Bring ice at once," the doctor's voice was heard saying. Aleksei was
startled to see in the boudoir, seated on a low chair, Vronsky, weeping
with his hands over his face. And the latter was startled in turn as,
disturbed by the doctor's words, he looked up and caught sight of the
husband. He rose and seemed desiring to disappear, but with an evident
effort said, "She is dying and the doctors say there is no hope. I am in
your power, but allow me to stay and I will conform to your wishes."
Aleksei turned without replying and went to the door. Anna was talking
clearly and gaily. Her cheeks were bright and her eyes gleamed. Rattling
on incoherently, she suddenly recognised her husband, and looking
terrified, raised her hands as if to avert a blow; but she said the next
moment, "No, no, I am not afraid of him, I am afraid of dying. Aleksei,
I have but a few moments to live. Soon the fever will return and I shall
know nothing more, but now I understand everything. There is another
being in me, who loved him and hated you, but now I am my real self. But
no, you cannot forgive me. Go away, you are too good."
With one burning hand she pushed him away, with the other she held him.
Aleksei's emotion became uncontrollable. His soul was filled with love
and forgiveness. Kneeling by the bed, he sobbed like a child. The
doctors said that there was not one chance in a hundred of her living.
Vronsky returned to his home in an agony of soul. He tried in vain to
sleep. Visions of the faces of Aleksei and Anna rose before him.
Suddenly his brain seemed to receive a shock. He rose, paced the room,
went to the table, took from it a revolver, which he examined and
loaded. Presently he held it to his breast and without flinching pulled
the trigger. The blow knocked him down, but he had failed to kill
himself The valet, who had heard the report, ran in, but was so
frightened at the sight of his master lying on the floor wounded that he
rushed out again for help. In an hour came Varia, Vronsky's
sister-in-law, who sent for three doctors. They managed to put the
wounded man to bed, and Varia stayed to nurse him.
Vronsky's wound, though the heart was not touched, was so dangerous that
for several days his life was in the balance. But gradually the crisis
passed, and as he recovered he felt calmed with the conviction that he
had now effected redemption from his faults. He accepted without
hesitation an appointment to a position in Tashkend. But the nearer the
time came, the more irrepressible grew the desire to see Anna for a
farewell. He sent her a message, and she waited for his coming. The
visit was fatal. Anna had made up her mind what to say, but the presence
of Vronsky instantly overcame her resolution, and when she could find
words she said, "Yes, you have conquered me. I am yours."
A month later Aleksei was left alone with his son, and Anna went abroad
The marriage of Levin and Kitty was a brilliant occasion. A difficulty
for Levin before the marriage was the necessity of attending confession.
Like the majority of his fellows in society, he cherished no decided
views on religion. He did not believe, nor did he positively disbelieve.
But there could be no wedding without a certificate of confession. To
the priest he frankly acknowledged his doubts, that doubt was his chief
sin, that he was nearly always in doubt. But the gentle and kindly
priest exhorted him to cultivate the practice of prayer, and then
pronounced the formula of absolution.
In presence of a great assembly the wedding took place. The same priest
who had heard the confession ministered for the marriage. He handed to
each of the couple a lighted candle decorated with flowers. The chanting
of an invisible choir resounded richly through the church, and when the
liturgy was finished, the solemn benediction was read over the bridal
pair. It was a great event in the fashionable world of Moscow.
Anna and Vronsky had been travelling for three months in Europe. As for
Anna, she had revelled in the exuberance of her freedom from a
disagreeable past, the events of which seemed like some frightful
nightmare. She appeased her conscience to some extent by saying to
herself: "I have done my husband an irreparable injury, but I also
suffer, and I shall suffer." The prediction was soon fulfilled. Vronsky
soon began to feel dissatisfied. He grew weary of lack of occupation in
foreign cities for sixteen hours a day. Life soon became intolerable in
little Italian cities, and Anna, though astonished at this speedy
disillusionment, agreed to return to Russia and to spend the summer on
his estate. They travelled home, but neither of them was happy. Vronsky
perceived that Anna was in a strange state of mind, evidently tormented
by something which she made no attempt to explain. By degrees she, on
her part, realized that Vronsky was willing to absent himself from her
society on various excuses. Quarrels became frequent, and at length
alienation was complete.
* * * * *
A tragedy happened on the railway. A woman went along the platform of
the station and walked off on to the line. Like a madman a short time
afterwards Vronsky rushed into the barracks where Anna's body had been
carried. Her head was untouched, with its heavy braids of hair and light
curls gathered about the temples. Her eyes were half closed and her lips
were slightly opened as if she was about to speak, and to repeat the
last words she had uttered to him: "You will repent."
The war with Turkey had broken out, and Vronsky, disgusted with his
whole life, left for Servia.
* * * * *
Few English men of letters have had an unhappier childhood
than Anthony Trollope. Born in London on April 24, 1815, his
home was made sordid by his father's misfortunes, and at
Harrow and Winchester, where he was for nearly eleven years,
his mean appearance subjected him to many dire humiliations. A
final catastrophe in the fortunes of the elder Trollope drove
the family to Belgium, where Anthony for a time acted as usher
in a school at Brussels. But at the age of nineteen a
Post-office appointment brought him back to London. The
turning point in his career came in 1841, when he accepted the
position of a cleric to one of the surveyors in the West of
England. Here he developed an extraordinary energy and
ability, and it was during this time, in 1847, that he
published his first novel, "The Macdermots of Ballycloran."
"The Warden," published in 1855, was the first and in many
ways the best of the famous six Barsetshire series that caused
Trollope to attract the notice of the reading public. Henry
James says, "'The Warden' is simply the history of an old
man's conscience, and Trollope never did anything happier than
the picture of this sweet and serious little old gentleman."
The book is regarded as Trollope's masterpiece.
The Rev. Septimus Harding was a beneficed clergyman residing in the
cathedral town of Barchester.
Mr. Harding had married early in life, and was the father of two
daughters. The elder, Susan, had been married some twelve years since to
the Rev. Dr. Theophilus Grantly, son of the bishop, archdeacon of
Barchester, and rector of Plumstead Episcopi, and a few months after her
marriage her father became precentor of Barchester Cathedral. The
younger daughter, Eleanor, was twenty-four years of age.
Now there are peculiar circumstances connected with the precentorship
which must be explained. In the year 1434 there died at Barchester one
John Hiram, who had made money in the town as a wool-stapler, and in his
will he left the house in which he died and certain meadows and closes
near the town for the support of twelve superannuated wool-carders; he
also appointed that an alms-house should be built for their abode, with
a fitting residence for a warden, which warden was also to receive a
certain sum annually out of the rents of the said meadows and closes.
He, moreover, willed that the precentor of the cathedral should have the
option of being also warden of the alms-house, if the bishop approved.
From that day to this the charity had gone on and prospered--at least,
the charity had gone on, and the estates had prospered. The bedesmen
received one shilling and fourpence a day and a comfortable lodging. The
stipend of the precentor was L80 a year. The income arising from the
wardenship of the hospital was L800, besides the value of the house.
Murmurs had been heard in Barchester--few indeed and far between--that
the proceeds of John Hiram's property had not been fairly divided; the
thing had been whispered, and Mr. Harding had heard it. And Mr. Harding,
being an open-handed, just-minded man, had, on his instalment, declared
his intention of adding twopence a day to each man's pittance.
Mr. Harding was a small man, now verging on sixty years. His warmest
admirers could not say that he had ever been an industrious man; the
circumstances of his life had not called on him to so; and yet he could
hardly be called an idler. He had greatly improved the choir of
Barchester, and taken something more than his fair share in the
cathedral services. He was generous to all, but especially to the twelve
old men who were under his care. With an income of L800 a year and only
one daughter, Mr. Harding should have been above the world, but he was
not above Archdeacon Grantly, and was always more or less in debt to his
son-in-law, who had to a certain extent assumed the management of the
precentor's pecuniary affairs.
Mr. Harding had been precentor of Barchester for ten years when the
murmurs respecting the proceeds of Hiram's estate again became audible.
He was aware that two of his old men had been heard to say that if
everyone had his own, they might each have their hundred pounds a year,
and live like gentlemen, instead of a beggarly one shilling and sixpence
a day. One of this discontented pair, Abel Handy, had been put into the
hospital by Mr. Harding himself; he had been a stonemason in Barchester,
and had broken his thigh by a fall from a scaffolding. (Dr. Grantly had
been very anxious to put into it instead an insufferable clerk of his at
Plumstead, who had lost all his teeth, and whom the archdeacon hardly
knew how to get rid of by other means.) There was living at Barchester a
young man, a surgeon, named John Bold, and both Mr. Harding and Dr.
Grantly were well aware that to him was owing the pestilent rebellious
feeling which had shown itself in the hospital; and the renewal, too, of
that disagreeable talk about Hiram's estates which was again prevalent
in Barchester. Nevertheless, Mr. Harding and Mr. Bold were acquainted
with each other, and were friends in spite of the great disparity in
their years; for John Bold--whose father had been a physician in London,
who had bought property in Barchester and retired to die there--was not
more than twenty-seven years old at this time.
John Bold was a clever man, but, having enough to live on since his
father's death, he had not been forced to work for bread. In three years
he had not taken three fees, but he frequently bound up the bruises and
set the limbs of such of the poorer classes as professed his way of
thinking. Bold was a strong reformer. His passion was the reform of all
abuses, and he was thoroughly sincere in his patriotic endeavours to
mend mankind. No wonder that Dr. Grantly regarded Bold as a firebrand
and a demagogue, and would have him avoided as the plague. But the old
Doctor and Mr. Harding had been fast friends and young Johnny Bold used
to play as a boy on Mr. Harding's lawn.
Eleanor Harding had not plighted her troth to John Bold, but she could
not endure that anyone should speak harshly of him; she cared little to
go to houses where she would not meet him, and, in fact, she was in
love. Nor was there any reason why Eleanor Harding should not love John
Bold. His character was in all respects good; he had sufficient income
to support a wife, and, above all, he was in love with her. Mr. Harding
himself saw no reason why his daughter should not love John Bold.
_II.--The Barchester Reformer_
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