Part 4 out of 10
The opportunities thus offered had not been lost upon a disposition
which, with all its native reserve, was singularly susceptible.
Cadurcis had quickly imbibed the tone and adopted the usages of
the circle in which he moved. Naturally impatient of control, he
endeavoured by his precocious manhood to secure the respect and
independence which would scarcely have been paid or permitted to his
years. From an early period he never permitted himself to be treated
as a boy; and his guardian, a man whose whole soul was concentred in
the world, humoured a bent which he approved and from which he augured
the most complete success. Attracted by the promising talents and the
premature character of his ward, he had spared more time to assist the
development of his mind and the formation of his manners than might
have been expected from a minister of state. His hopes, indeed, rested
with confidence on his youthful relative, and he looked forward with
no common emotion to the moment when he should have the honour of
introducing to public life one calculated to confer so much credit
on his tutor, and shed so much lustre on his party. The reader will,
therefore, not be surprised if at this then unrivalled period of
political excitement, when the existence of our colonial empire was
at stake, Cadurcis, with his impetuous feelings, had imbibed to
their fullest extent all the plans, prejudices, and passions of his
political connections. He was, indeed, what the circumstances of the
times and his extreme youth might well excuse, if not justify, a most
violent partisan. Bold, sanguine, resolute, and intolerant, it was
difficult to persuade him that any opinions could be just which were
opposed to those of the circle in which he lived; and out of that
pale, it must be owned, he was as little inclined to recognise the
existence of ability as of truth.
As Lord Cadurcis slowly directed his way through the woods and park of
Cherbury, past years recurred to him like a faint yet pleasing dream.
Among these meads and bowers had glided away the only happy years of
his boyhood, the only period of his early life to which he could look
back without disgust. He recalled the secret exultation with which, in
company with his poor mother, he had first repaired to Cadurcis, about
to take possession of what, to his inexperienced imagination, then
appeared a vast and noble inheritance, and for the first time in his
life to occupy a position not unworthy of his rank. For how many
domestic mortifications did the first sight of that old abbey
compensate! How often, in pacing its venerable galleries and solemn
cloisters, and musing over the memory of an ancient and illustrious
ancestry, had he forgotten those bitter passages of daily existence,
so humbling to his vanity and so harassing to his heart! Ho had beheld
that morn, after an integral of many years, the tomb of his mother.
That simple and solitary monument had revived and impressed upon him a
conviction that too easily escaped in the various life and busy scenes
in which he had since moved, the conviction of his worldly desolation
and utter loneliness. He had no parents, no relations; now that he was
for a moment free from the artificial life in which he had of late
mingled, he felt that he had no friends. The image of his mother came
back to him, softened by the magical tint of years; after all she was
his mother, and a deep sharer in all his joys and woes. Transported to
the old haunts of his innocent and warm-hearted childhood. He sighed
for a finer and a sweeter sympathy than was ever yielded by the roof
which he had lately quitted; a habitation, but not a home. He conjured
up the picture of his guardian, existing in a whirl of official bustle
and social excitement. A dreamy reminiscence of finer impulses stole
over the heart of Cadurcis. The dazzling pageant of metropolitan
splendour faded away before the bright scene of nature that surrounded
him. He felt the freshness of the fragrant breeze; he gazed with
admiration on the still and ancient woods, and his pure and lively
blood bubbled beneath the influence of the golden sunbeams. Before him
rose the halls of Cherbury, that roof where he had been so happy, that
roof to which he had appeared so ungrateful. The memory of a thousand
acts of kindness, of a thousand soft and soothing traits of affection,
recurred to him with a freshness which startled as much as it pleased
him. Not to him only, but to his mother, that mother whose loss he had
lived to deplore, had the inmates of Cherbury been ministering angels
of peace and joy. Oh! that indeed had been a home; there indeed had
been days of happiness; there indeed he had found sympathy, and
solace, and succour! And now he was returning to them a stranger, to
fulfil one of the formal duties of society in paying them his cold
respects; an attention which he could scarcely have avoided offering
had he been to them the merest acquaintance, instead of having found
within those walls a home not merely in words, but friendship the most
delicate and love the most pure, a second parent, and the only being
whom he had ever styled sister!
The sight of Cadurcis became dim with emotion as the associations of
old scenes and his impending interview with Venetia brought back
the past with a power which he had rarely experienced in the
playing-fields of Eton, or the saloons of London. Five years! It was
an awful chasm in their acquaintance.
He despaired of reviving the kindness which had been broken by such a
dreary interval, and broken on his side so wilfully; and yet he
began to feel that unless met with that kindness he should be very
miserable. Sooth to say, he was not a little embarrassed, and scarcely
knew which contingency he most desired, to meet, or to escape from
her. He almost repented his return to Cadurcis, and yet to see Venetia
again he felt must be exquisite pleasure. Influenced by these feelings
he arrived at the hall steps, and so, dismounting and giving his horse
to his groom, Cadurcis, with a palpitating heart and faltering hand,
formally rang the bell of that hall which in old days he entered at
all seasons without ceremony.
Never perhaps did a man feel more nervous; he grew pale, paler even
than usual, and his whole frame trembled as the approaching footstep
of the servant assured him the door was about to open. He longed now
that the family might not be at home, that he might at least gain
four-and-twenty hours to prepare himself. But the family were at home
and he was obliged to enter. He stopped for a moment in the hall under
the pretence of examining the old familiar scene, but it was merely to
collect himself, for his sight was clouded; spoke to the old servant,
to reassure himself by the sound of his own voice, but the husky words
seemed to stick in his throat; ascended the staircase with tottering
steps, and leant against the banister as he heard his name announced.
The effort, however, must be made; it was too late to recede; and Lord
Cadurcis, entering the terrace-room, extended his hand to Lady Annabel
Herbert. She was not in the least changed, but looked as beautiful and
serene as usual. Her salutation, though far from deficient in warmth,
was a little more dignified than that which Plantagenet remembered;
but still her presence reassured him, and while he pressed her hand
with earnestness he contrived to murmur forth with pleasing emotion,
his delight at again meeting her. Strange to say, in the absorbing
agitation of the moment, all thought of Venetia had vanished; and
it was when he had turned and beheld a maiden of the most exquisite
beauty that his vision had ever lighted on, who had just risen from
her seat and was at the moment saluting him, that he entirely lost his
presence of mind; he turned scarlet, was quite silent, made an awkward
bow, and then stood perfectly fixed.
'My daughter,' said Lady Annabel, slightly pointing to Venetia; 'will
not you be seated?'
Cadurcis fell into a chair in absolute confusion. The rare and
surpassing beauty of Venetia, his own stupidity, his admiration of
her, his contempt for himself, the sight of the old chamber, the
recollection of the past, the minutest incidents of which seemed all
suddenly to crowd upon his memory, the painful consciousness of the
revolution which had occurred in his position in the family, proved by
his first being obliged to be introduced to Venetia, and then
being addressed so formally by his title by her mother; all these
impressions united overcame him; he could not speak, he sat silent and
confounded; and had it not been for the imperturbable self-composure
and delicate and amiable consideration of Lady Annabel, it would
have been impossible for him to have remained in a room where he
experienced agonising embarrassment.
Under cover, however, of a discharge of discreet inquiries as to when
he arrived, how long he meant to stay, whether he found Cadurcis
altered, and similar interrogations which required no extraordinary
exertion of his lordship's intellect to answer, but to which he
nevertheless contrived to give inconsistent and contradictory
responses, Cadurcis in time recovered himself sufficiently to maintain
a fair though not very brilliant conversation, and even ventured
occasionally to address an observation to Venetia, who was seated at
her work perfectly composed, but who replied to all his remarks with
the same sweet voice and artless simplicity which had characterised
her childhood, though time and thought had, by their blended
influence, perhaps somewhat deprived her of that wild grace and
sparkling gaiety for which she was once so eminent.
These great disenchanters of humanity, if indeed they had stolen away
some of the fascinating qualities of infancy, had amply recompensed
Venetia Herbert for the loss by the additional and commanding charms
which they had conferred on her. From a beautiful child she had
expanded into a most beautiful woman. She had now entirely recovered
from her illness, of which the only visible effect was the addition
that it had made to her stature, already slightly above the middle
height, but of exquisite symmetry. Like her mother, she did not wear
powder, then usual in society; but her auburn hair, of the finest
texture, descended in long and luxuriant tresses far over her
shoulders, braided with ribands, perfectly exposing her pellucid brow,
here and there tinted with an undulating vein, for she had retained,
if possible with increased lustre, the dazzling complexion of her
infancy. If the rose upon the cheek were less vivid than of yore, the
dimples were certainly more developed; the clear grey eye was shadowed
by long dark lashes, and every smile and movement of those ruby lips
revealed teeth exquisitely small and regular, and fresh and brilliant
as pearls just plucked by a diver.
Conversation proceeded and improved. Cadurcis became more easy and
more fluent. His memory, which seemed suddenly to have returned to him
with unusual vigour, wonderfully served him. There was scarcely an
individual of whom he did not contrive to inquire, from Dr. Masham to
Mistress Pauncefort; he was resolved to show that if he had neglected,
he had at least not forgotten them. Nor did he exhibit the slightest
indication of terminating his visit; so that Lady Annabel, aware that
he was alone at the abbey and that he could have no engagement in the
neighbourhood, could not refrain from inviting him to remain and dine
with them. The invitation was accepted without hesitation. In due
course of time Cadurcis attended the ladies in their walk; it was a
delightful stroll in the park, though he felt some slight emotion when
he found himself addressing Venetia by the title of 'Miss Herbert.'
When he had exhausted all the topics of local interest, he had a great
deal to say about himself in answer to the inquiries of Lady Annabel.
He spoke with so much feeling and simplicity of his first days at
Eton, and the misery he experienced on first quitting Cherbury, that
his details could not fail of being agreeable to those whose natural
self-esteem they so agreeably mattered. Then he dwelt upon his casual
acquaintance with London society, and Lady Annabel was gratified to
observe, from many incidental observations, that his principles were
in every respect of the right tone; and that he had zealously enlisted
himself in the ranks of that national party who opposed themselves
to the disorganising opinions then afloat. He spoke of his impending
residence at the university with the affectionate anticipations which
might have been expected from a devoted child of the ancient and
orthodox institutions of his country, and seemed perfectly impressed
with the responsible duties for which he was destined, as an
hereditary legislator of England. On the whole, his carriage and
conversation afforded a delightful evidence of a pure, and earnest,
and frank, and gifted mind, that had acquired at an early age much of
the mature and fixed character of manhood, without losing anything
of that boyish sincerity and simplicity too often the penalty of
The dinner passed in pleasant conversation, and if they were no longer
familiar, they were at least cordial. Cadurcis spoke of Dr. Masham
with affectionate respect, and mentioned his intention of visiting
Marringhurst on the following day. He ventured to hope that Lady
Annabel and Miss Herbert might accompany him, and it was arranged that
his wish should be gratified. The evening drew on apace, and Lady
Annabel was greatly pleased when Lord Cadurcis expressed his wish to
remain for their evening prayers. He was indeed sincerely religious;
and as he knelt in the old chapel that had been the hallowed scene
of his boyish devotions, he offered his ardent thanksgivings to his
Creator who had mercifully kept his soul pure and true, and allowed
him, after so long an estrangement from the sweet spot of his
childhood, once more to mingle his supplications with his kind and
Influenced by the solemn sounds still lingering in his ear, Cadurcis
bade them farewell for the night, with an earnestness of manner and
depth of feeling which he would scarcely have ventured to exhibit at
their first meeting. 'Good night, dear Lady Annabel,' he said, as he
pressed her hand; 'you know not how happy, how grateful I feel, to be
once more at Cherbury. Good night, Venetia!'
That last word lingered on his lips; it was uttered in a tone at once
mournful and sweet, and her hand was unconsciously retained for a
moment in his; but for a moment; and yet in that brief instant a
thousand thoughts seemed to course through his brain.
Before Venetia retired to rest she remained for a few minutes in her
mother's room. 'What do you think of him, mamma?' she said; 'is he not
'He is, my love,' replied Lady Annabel; 'what I sometimes thought he
might, what I always hoped he would, be.'
'He really seemed happy to meet us again, and yet how strange that for
years he should never have communicated with us.'
'Not so very strange, my love! He was but a child when we parted, and
he has felt embarrassment in resuming connections which for a long
interval had been inevitably severed. Remember what a change his life
had to endure; few, after such an interval, would have returned with
feelings so kind and so pure!'
'He was always a favourite of yours, mamma!'
'I always fancied that I observed in him the seeds of great virtues
and great talents; but I was not so sanguine that they would have
flourished as they appear to have done.'
In the meantime the subject of their observations strolled home
on foot, for he had dismissed his horses, to the abbey. It was a
brilliant night, and the white beams of the moon fell full upon the
old monastic pile, of which massy portions were in dark shade while
the light gracefully rested on the projecting ornaments of the
building, and played, as it were, with the fretted and fantastic
pinnacles. Behind were the savage hills, softened by the hour; and on
the right extended the still and luminous lake. Cadurcis rested for
a moment and gazed upon the fair, yet solemn scene. The dreams of
ambition that occasionally distracted him were dead. The surrounding
scene harmonised with the thoughts of purity, repose, and beauty that
filled his soul. Why should he ever leave this spot, sacred to him by
the finest emotions of his nature? Why should he not at once quit
that world which he had just entered, while he could quit it without
remorse? If ever there existed a being who was his own master, who
might mould his destiny at his will, it seemed to be Cadurcis. His
lone yet independent situation, his impetuous yet firm volition, alike
qualified him to achieve the career most grateful to his disposition.
Let him, then, achieve it here; here let him find that solitude he had
ever loved, softened by that affection for which he had ever sighed,
and which here only he had ever found. It seemed to him that there
was only one being in the world whom he had ever loved, and that was
Venetia Herbert: it seemed to him that there was only one thing in
this world worth living for, and that was the enjoyment of her sweet
heart. The pure-minded, the rare, the gracious creature! Why should
she ever quit these immaculate bowers wherein she had been so
mystically and delicately bred? Why should she ever quit the fond
roof of Cherbury, but to shed grace and love amid the cloisters of
Cadurcis? Her life hitherto had been an enchanted tale; why should
the spell ever break? Why should she enter that world where care,
disappointment, mortification, misery, must await her? He for a season
had left the magic circle of her life, and perhaps it was well. He was
a man, and so he should know all. But he had returned, thank Heaven!
he had returned, and never again would he quit her. Fool that he had
been ever to have neglected her! And for a reason that ought to have
made him doubly her friend, her solace, her protector. Oh! to think of
the sneers or the taunts of the world calling for a moment the colour
from that bright cheek, or dusking for an instant the radiance of that
brilliant eye! His heart ached at the thought of her unhappiness, and
he longed to press her to it, and cherish her like some innocent dove
that had flown from the terrors of a pursuing hawk.
'Well, Pauncefort,' said Lord Cadurcis, smiling, as he renewed his
acquaintance with his old friend, 'I hope you have not forgotten my
last words, and have taken care of your young lady.'
'Oh! dear, my lord,' said Mistress Pauncefort, blushing and simpering.
'Well to be sure, how your lordship has surprised us all! I thought we
were never going to see you again!'
'You know I told you I should return; and now I mean never to leave
'Never is a long word, my lord,' said Mistress Pauncefort, looking
'Ah! but I mean to settle, regularly to settle here,' said Lord
'Marry and settle, my lord,' said Mistress Pauncefort, still more
'And why not?' inquired Lord Cadurcis, laughing.
'That is just what I said last night,' exclaimed Mistress Pauncefort,
eagerly. 'And why not? for I said, says I, his lordship must marry
sooner or later, and the sooner the better, say I: and to be sure he
is very young, but what of that? for, says I, no one can say he does
not look quite a man. And really, my lord, saving your presence, you
are grown indeed.'
'Pish!' said Lord Cadurcis, turning away and laughing, 'I have left
off growing, Pauncefort, and all those sort of things.'
'You have not forgotten our last visit to Marringhurst?' said Lord
Cadurcis to Venetia, as the comfortable mansion of the worthy Doctor
appeared in sight.
'I have forgotten nothing,' replied Venetia with a faint smile; 'I do
not know what it is to forget. My life has been so uneventful that
every past incident, however slight, is as fresh in my memory as if it
'Then you remember the strawberries and cream?' said Lord Cadurcis.
'And other circumstances less agreeable,' he fancied Venetia observed,
but her voice was low.
'Do you know, Lady Annabel,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'that I was very
nearly riding my pony to-day? I wish to bring back old times with the
utmost possible completeness; I wish for a moment to believe that I
have never quitted Cherbury.'
'Let us think only of the present now,' said Lady Annabel in a
cheerful voice, 'for it is very agreeable. I see the good Doctor; he
has discovered us.'
'I wonder whom he fancies Lord Cadurcis to be?' said Venetia.
'Have you no occasional cavalier for whom at a distance I may be
mistaken?' inquired his lordship in a tone of affected carelessness,
though in truth it was an inquiry that he made not without anxiety.
'Everything remains here exactly as you left it,' replied Lady
Annabel, with some quickness, yet in a lively tone.
'Happy Cherbury!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis. 'May it indeed never
They rode briskly on; the Doctor was standing at his gate. He saluted
Lady Annabel and Venetia with his accustomed cordiality, and then
stared at their companion as if waiting for an introduction.
'You forget an old friend, my dear Doctor,' said Cadurcis.
'Lord Cadurcis!' exclaimed Dr. Masham. His lordship had by this time
dismounted and eagerly extended his hand to his old tutor.
Having quitted their horses they all entered the house, nor was there
naturally any want of conversation. Cadurcis had much information to
give and many questions to answer. He was in the highest spirits
and the most amiable mood; gay, amusing, and overflowing with
kind-heartedness. The Doctor seldom required any inspiration, to be
joyous, and Lady Annabel was unusually animated. Venetia alone, though
cheerful, was calmer than pleased Cadurcis. Time, he sorrowfully
observed, had occasioned a greater change in her manner than he could
have expected. Youthful as she still was, indeed but on the threshold
of womanhood, and exempted, as it seemed she had been, from anything
to disturb the clearness of her mind, that enchanting play of fancy
which had once characterised her, and which he recalled with a sigh,
appeared in a great degree to have deserted her. He watched her
countenance with emotion, and, supremely beautiful as it undeniably
was, there was a cast of thoughtfulness or suffering impressed upon
the features which rendered him mournful he knew not why, and caused
him to feel as if a cloud had stolen unexpectedly over the sun and
made him shiver.
But there was no time or opportunity for sad reflections; he had to
renew his acquaintance with all the sights and curiosities of the
rectory, to sing to the canaries, and visit the gold fish, admire the
stuffed fox, and wonder that in the space of five years the voracious
otter had not yet contrived to devour its prey. Then they refreshed
themselves after their ride with a stroll in the Doctor's garden;
Cadurcis persisted in attaching himself to Venetia, as in old days,
and nothing would prevent him from leading her to the grotto. Lady
Annabel walked behind, leaning on the Doctor's arm, narrating, with no
fear of being heard, all the history of their friend's return.
'I never was so surprised in my life,' said the Doctor; 'he is vastly
improved; he is quite a man; his carriage is very finished.'
'And his principles,' said Lady Annabel. 'You have no idea, my dear
Doctor, how right his opinions seem to be on every subject. He has
been brought up in a good school; he does his guardian great credit.
He is quite loyal and orthodox in all his opinions; ready to risk his
life for our blessed constitution in Church and State. He requested,
as a favour, that he might remain at our prayers last night. It is
delightful for me to see him turn out so well!'
In the meantime Cadurcis and Venetia entered the grotto.
'The dear Doctor!' said Cadurcis: 'five years have brought no visible
change even to him; perhaps he may be a degree less agile, but I will
not believe it. And Lady Annabel; it seems to me your mother is more
youthful and beautiful than ever. There is a spell in our air,'
continued his lordship, with a laughing eye; 'for if we have changed,
Venetia, ours is, at least, an alteration that bears no sign of decay.
We are advancing, but they have not declined; we are all enchanted.'
'I feel changed,' said Venetia gravely.
'I left you a child and I find you a woman,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'a
change which who can regret?'
'I would I were a child again,' said Venetia.
'We were happy,' said Lord Cadurcis, in a thoughtful tone; and then in
an inquiring voice he added, 'and so we are now?'
Venetia shook her head.
'Can you be unhappy?'
'To be unhappy would be wicked,' said Venetia; 'but my mind has lost
'Ah! say not so, Venetia, or you will make even me gloomy. I am happy,
positively happy. There must not be a cloud upon your brow.'
'You are joyous,' said Venetia, 'because you are excited. It is the
novelty of return that animates you. It will wear off; you will grow
weary, and when you go to the university you will think yourself happy
'I do not intend to go to the university,' said Cadurcis.
'I understood from you that you were going there immediately.'
'My plans are changed,' said Cadurcis; 'I do not intend ever to leave
'When you go to Cambridge,' said Dr. Masham, who just then reached
them, 'I shall trouble you with a letter to an old friend of mine
whose acquaintance you may find valuable.'
Venetia smiled; Cadurcis bowed, expressed his thanks, and muttered
something about talking over the subject with the Doctor.
After this the conversation became general, and at length they all
returned to the house to partake of the Doctor's hospitality, who
promised to dine at the hall on the morrow. The ride home was
agreeable and animated, but the conversation on the part of the ladies
was principally maintained by Lady Annabel, who seemed every moment
more delighted with the society of Lord Cadurcis, and to sympathise
every instant more completely with his frank exposition of his
opinions on all subjects. When they returned to Cherbury, Cadurcis
remained with them as a matter of course. An invitation was neither
expected nor given. Not an allusion was made to the sports of the
field, to enjoy which was the original purpose of his visit to the
abbey; and he spoke of to-morrow as of a period which, as usual, was
to be spent entirely in their society. He remained with them, as on
the previous night, to the latest possible moment. Although reserved
in society, no one could be more fluent with those with whom he was
perfectly unembarrassed. He was indeed exceedingly entertaining, and
Lady Annabel relaxed into conversation beyond her custom. As for
Venetia, she did not speak often, but she listened with interest, and
was evidently amused. When Cadurcis bade them good-night Lady Annabel
begged him to breakfast with them; while Venetia, serene, though kind,
neither seconded the invitation, nor seemed interested one way or the
other in its result.
Except returning to sleep at the abbey, Lord Cadurcis was now as much
an habitual inmate of Cherbury Hall as in the days of his childhood.
He was there almost with the lark, and never quitted its roof until
its inmates were about to retire for the night. His guns and dogs,
which had been sent down from London with so much pomp of preparation,
were unused and unnoticed; and he passed his days in reading
Richardson's novels, which he had brought with him from town, to the
ladies, and then in riding with them about the country, for he loved
to visit all his old haunts, and trace even the very green sward
where he first met the gipsies, and fancied that he had achieved his
emancipation from all the coming cares and annoyances of the world.
In this pleasant life several weeks had glided away: Cadurcis had
entirely resumed his old footing in the family, nor did he attempt to
conceal the homage he was paying to the charms of Venetia. She indeed
seemed utterly unconscious that such projects had entered, or indeed
could enter, the brain of her old playfellow, with whom, now that
she was habituated to his presence, and revived by his inspiriting
society, she had resumed all her old familiar intimacy, addressing him
by his Christian name, as if he had never ceased to be her brother.
But Lady Annabel was not so blind as her daughter, and had indeed her
vision been as clouded, her faithful minister, Mistress Pauncefort,
would have taken care quickly to couch it; for a very short time had
elapsed before that vigilant gentlewoman, resolved to convince her
mistress that nothing could escape her sleepless scrutiny, and that it
was equally in vain for her mistress to hope to possess any secrets
without her participation, seized a convenient opportunity before she
bid her lady good night, just to inquire 'when it might be expected to
take place?' and in reply to the very evident astonishment which Lady
Annabel testified at this question, and the expression of her extreme
displeasure at any conversation on a circumstance for which there
was not the slightest foundation, Mistress Pauncefort, after duly
flouncing about with every possible symbol of pettish agitation and
mortified curiosity, her cheek pale with hesitating impertinence, and
her nose quivering with inquisitiveness, condescended to admit with a
sceptical sneer, that, of course, no doubt her ladyship knew more of
such a subject than she could; it was not her place to know anything
of such business; for her part she said nothing; it was not her
place, but if it were, she certainly must say that she could not help
believing that my lord was looking remarkably sweet on Miss Venetia,
and what was more, everybody in the house thought the same, though for
her part, whenever they mentioned the circumstance to her, she said
nothing, or bid them hold their tongues, for what was it to them; it
was not their business, and they could know nothing; and that nothing
would displease her ladyship more than chattering on such subjects,
and many's the match as good as finished, that's gone off by no worse
means than the chitter-chatter of those who should hold their tongues.
Therefore she should say no more; but if her ladyship wished her to
contradict it, why she could, and the sooner, perhaps, the better.
Lady Annabel observed to her that she wished no such thing, but
she desired that Pauncefort would make no more observations on the
subject, either to her or to any one else. And then Pauncefort bade
her ladyship good night in a huff, catching up her candle with a
rather impertinent jerk, and gently slamming the door, as if she had
meant to close it quietly, only it had escaped out of her fingers.
Whatever might be the tone, whether of surprise or displeasure, which
Lady Annabel thought fit to assume to her attendant on her noticing
Lord Cadurcis' attentions to her daughter, there is no doubt that
his conduct had early and long engaged her ladyship's remark, her
consideration, and her approval. Without meditating indeed an
immediate union between Cadurcis and Venetia, Lady Annabel pleased
herself with the prospect of her daughter's eventual marriage with one
whom she had known so early and so intimately; who was by nature of a
gentle, sincere, and affectionate disposition, and in whom education
had carefully instilled the most sound and laudable principles and
opinions; one apparently with simple tastes, moderate desires, fair
talents, a mind intelligent, if not brilliant, and passions which at
the worst had been rather ill-regulated than violent; attached also
to Venetia from her childhood, and always visibly affected by her
influence. All these moral considerations seemed to offer a fair
security for happiness; and the material ones were neither less
promising, nor altogether disregarded by the mother. It was an union
which would join broad lands and fair estates; which would place on
the brow of her daughter one of the most ancient coronets in England;
and, which indeed was the chief of these considerations, would,
without exposing Venetia to that contaminating contact with the
world from which Lady Annabel recoiled, establish her, without this
initiatory and sorrowful experience, in a position superior to which
even the blood of the Herberts, though it might flow in so fair and
gifted a form as that of Venetia, need not aspire.
Lord Cadurcis had not returned to Cherbury a week before this scheme
entered into the head of Lady Annabel. She had always liked him; had
always given him credit for good qualities; had always believed that
his early defects were the consequence of his mother's injudicious
treatment; and that at heart he was an amiable, generous, and
trustworthy being, one who might be depended on, with a naturally good
judgment, and substantial and sufficient talents, which only required
cultivation. When she met him again after so long an interval, and
found her early prognostics so fairly, so completely fulfilled, and
watched his conduct and conversation, exhibiting alike a well-informed
mind, an obliging temper, and, what Lady Annabel valued even above all
gifts and blessings, a profound conviction of the truth of all her own
opinions, moral, political, and religious, she was quite charmed; she
was moved to unusual animation; she grew excited in his praise; his
presence delighted her; she entertained for him the warmest affection,
and reposed in him unbounded confidence. All her hopes became
concentred in the wish of seeing him her son-in-law; and she detected
with lively satisfaction the immediate impression which Venetia had
made upon his heart; for indeed it should not be forgotten, that
although Lady Annabel was still young, and although her frame and
temperament were alike promising of a long life, it was natural, when
she reflected upon the otherwise lone condition of her daughter, that
she should tremble at the thought of quitting this world without
leaving her child a protector. To Doctor Masham, from whom Lady
Annabel had no secrets, she confided in time these happy but covert
hopes, and he was not less anxious than herself for their fulfilment.
Since the return of Cadurcis the Doctor contrived to be a more
frequent visitor at the hall than usual, and he lost no opportunity of
silently advancing the object of his friend.
As for Cadurcis himself, it was impossible for him not quickly to
discover that no obstacle to his heart's dearest wish would arise on
the part of the parent. The demeanour of the daughter somewhat more
perplexed him. Venetia indeed had entirely fallen into her old habits
of intimacy and frankness with Plantagenet; she was as affectionate
and as unembarrassed as in former days, and almost as gay; for his
presence and companionship had in a great degree insensibly removed
that stillness and gravity which had gradually influenced her mind and
conduct. But in that conduct there was, and he observed it with some
degree of mortification, a total absence of the consciousness of being
the object of the passionate admiration of another. She treated Lord
Cadurcis as a brother she much loved, who had returned to his home
after a long absence. She liked to listen to his conversation, to hear
of his adventures, to consult over his plans. His arrival called
a smile to her face, and his departure for the night was always
alleviated by some allusion to their meeting on the morrow. But many
an ardent gaze on the part of Cadurcis, and many a phrase of emotion,
passed unnoticed and unappreciated. His gallantry was entirely
thrown away, or, if observed, only occasioned a pretty stare at the
unnecessary trouble he gave himself, or the strange ceremony which
she supposed an acquaintance with society had taught him. Cadurcis
attributed this reception of his veiled and delicate overtures to
her ignorance of the world; and though he sighed for as passionate
a return to his strong feelings as the sentiments which animated
himself, he was on the whole not displeased, but rather interested, by
these indications of a pure and unsophisticated spirit.
Cadurcis had proposed, and Lady Annabel had seconded the proposition
with eager satisfaction, that they should seek some day at the abbey
whatever hospitality it might offer; Dr. Masham was to be of the
party, which was, indeed, one of those fanciful expeditions where the
same companions, though they meet at all times without restraint
and with every convenience of life, seek increased amusement in the
novelty of a slight change of habits. With the aid of the neighbouring
town of Southport, Cadurcis had made preparations for his friends not
entirely unworthy of them, though he affected to the last all the
air of a conductor of a wild expedition of discovery, and laughingly
impressed upon them the necessity of steeling their minds and bodies
to the experience and endurance of the roughest treatment and the most
The morning of this eventful day broke as beautifully as the preceding
ones. Autumn had seldom been more gorgeous than this year. Although he
was to play the host, Cadurcis would not deprive himself of his usual
visit to the hall; and he appeared there at an early hour to accompany
his guests, who were to ride over to the abbey, to husband all their
energies for their long rambles through the demesne.
Cadurcis was in high spirits, and Lady Annabel scarcely less
joyous. Venetia smiled with her usual sweetness and serenity. They
congratulated each other on the charming season; and Mistress
Pauncefort received a formal invitation to join the party and go
a-nutting with one of her fellow-servants and his lordship's valet.
The good Doctor was rather late, but he arrived at last on his stout
steed, in his accustomed cheerful mood. Here was a party of pleasure
which all agreed must be pleasant; no strangers to amuse, or to be
amusing, but formed merely of four human beings who spent every day of
their lives in each other's society, between whom there was the most
complete sympathy and the most cordial good-will.
By noon they were all mounted on their steeds, and though the air was
warmed by a meridian sun shining in a clear sky, there was a gentle
breeze abroad, sweet and grateful; and moreover they soon entered the
wood and enjoyed the shelter of its verdant shade. The abbey looked
most picturesque when they first burst upon it; the nearer and wooded
hills, which formed its immediate background, just tinted by the
golden pencil of autumn, while the meads of the valley were still
emerald green; and the stream, now lost, now winding, glittered
here and there in the sun, and gave a life and sprightliness to the
landscape which exceeded even the effect of the more distant and
They were received at the abbey by Mistress Pauncefort, who had
preceded them, and who welcomed them with a complacent smile. Cadurcis
hastened to assist Lady Annabel to dismount, and was a little confused
but very pleased when she assured him she needed no assistance but
requested him to take care of Venetia. He was just in time to receive
her in his arms, where she found herself without the slightest
embarrassment. The coolness of the cloisters was grateful after their
ride, and they lingered and looked upon the old fountain, and felt the
freshness of its fall with satisfaction which all alike expressed.
Lady Annabel and Venetia then retired for a while to free themselves
from their riding habits, and Cadurcis affectionately taking the arm
of Dr. Masham led him a few paces, and then almost involuntarily
exclaimed, 'My dear Doctor, I think I am the happiest fellow that ever
'That I trust you may always be, my dear boy,' said Dr. Masham; 'but
what has called forth this particular exclamation?'
'To feel that I am once more at Cadurcis; to feel that I am here once
more with you all; to feel that I never shall leave you again.'
'Never!' said Cadurcis. 'The experience of these last few weeks, which
yet have seemed an age in my existence, has made me resolve never to
quit a society where I am persuaded I may obtain a degree of happiness
which what is called the world can never afford me.'
'What will your guardian say?'
'What care I?'
'A dutiful ward!'
'Poh! the relations between us were formed only to secure my welfare.
It is secured; it will be secured by my own resolution.'
'And what is that?' inquired Dr. Masham.
'To marry Venetia, if she will accept me.'
'And that you do not doubt.'
'We doubt everything when everything is at stake,' replied Lord
Cadurcis. 'I know that her consent would ensure my happiness; and when
I reflect, I cannot help being equally persuaded that it would secure
hers. Her mother, I think, would not be adverse to our union. And you,
my dear sir, what do you think?'
'I think,' said Dr. Masham, 'that whoever marries Venetia will marry
the most beautiful and the most gifted of God's creatures; I hope you
may marry her; I wish you to marry her; I believe you will marry her,
but not yet; you are too young, Lord Cadurcis.'
'Oh, no! my dear Doctor, not too young to marry Venetia. Remember I
have known her all my life, at least so long as I have been able to
form an opinion. How few are the men, my dear Doctor, who are so
fortunate as to unite themselves with women whom they have known, as I
have known Venetia, for more than seven long years!'
'During five of which you have never seen or heard of her.'
'Mine was the fault! And yet I cannot help thinking, as it may
probably turn out, as you yourself believe it will turn out, that
it is as well that we have been separated for this interval. It has
afforded me opportunities for observation which I should never have
enjoyed at Cadurcis; and although my lot either way could not have
altered the nature of things, I might have been discontented, I might
have sighed for a world which now I do not value. It is true I have
not seen Venetia for five years, but I find her the same, or changed
only by nature, and fulfilling all the rich promise which her
childhood intimated. No, my dear Doctor, I respect your opinion more
than that of any man living; but nobody, nothing, can persuade me that
I am not as intimately acquainted with Venetia's character, with all
her rare virtues, as if we had never separated.'
'I do not doubt it,' said the Doctor; 'high as you may pitch your
estimate you cannot overvalue her.'
'Then why should we not marry?'
'Because, my dear friend, although you may be perfectly acquainted
with Venetia, you cannot be perfectly acquainted with yourself.'
'How so?' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis in a tone of surprise, perhaps a
'Because it is impossible. No young man of eighteen ever possessed
such precious knowledge. I esteem and admire you; I give you every
credit for a good heart and a sound head; but it is impossible, at
your time of life, that your character can be formed; and, until it
be, you may marry Venetia and yet be a very miserable man.'
'It is formed,' said his lordship firmly; 'there is not a subject
important to a human being on which my opinions are not settled.'
'You may live to change them all,' said the Doctor, 'and that very
'Impossible!' said Lord Cadurcis. 'My dear Doctor, I cannot understand
you; you say that you hope, that you wish, even that you believe that
I shall marry Venetia; and yet you permit me to infer that our union
will only make us miserable. What do you wish me to do?'
'Go to college for a term or two.'
'Without Venetia! I should die.'
'Well, if you be in a dying state you can return.'
'You joke, my dear Doctor.'
'My dear boy, I am perfectly serious.'
'But she may marry somebody else?'
'I am your only rival,' said the Doctor, with a smile; 'and though
even friends can scarcely be trusted under such circumstances, I
promise you not to betray you.'
'Your advice is not very pleasant,' said his lordship.
'Good advice seldom is,' said the Doctor.
'My dear Doctor, I have made up my mind to marry her, and marry her at
once. I know her well, you admit that yourself. I do not believe that
there ever was a woman like her, that there ever will be a woman like
her. Nature has marked her out from other women, and her education
has not been less peculiar. Her mystic breeding pleases me. It
is something to marry a wife so fair, so pure, so refined, so
accomplished, who is, nevertheless, perfectly ignorant of the world.
I have dreamt of such things; I have paced these old cloisters when a
boy and when I was miserable at home, and I have had visions, and
this was one. I have sighed to live alone with a fair spirit for my
minister. Venetia has descended from heaven for me, and for me alone.
I am resolved I will pluck this flower with the dew upon its leaves.'
'I did not know I was reasoning with a poet,' said the Doctor, with a
smile. 'Had I been conscious of it, I would not have been so rash.'
'I have not a grain of poetry in my composition,' said his lordship;
'I never could write a verse; I was notorious at Eton for begging all
their old manuscripts from boys when they left school, to crib from;
but I have a heart, and I can feel. I love Venetia, I have always
loved her, and, if possible, I will marry her, and marry her at once.'
The reappearance of the ladies at the end of the cloister terminated
this conversation, the result of which was rather to confirm Lord
Cadurcis in his resolution of instantly urging his suit, than the
reverse. He ran forward to greet his friends with a smile, and took
his place by the side of Venetia, whom, a little to her surprise, he
congratulated in glowing phrase on her charming costume. Indeed she
looked very captivating, with a pastoral hat, then much in fashion,
and a dress as simple and as sylvan, both showing to admirable
advantage her long descending hair, and her agile and springy figure.
Cadurcis proposed that they should ramble over the abbey, he talked of
projected alterations, as if he really had the power immediately to
effect them, and was desirous of obtaining their opinions before any
change was made. So they ascended the staircase which many years
before Venetia had mounted for the first time with her mother, and
entered that series of small and ill-furnished rooms in which Mrs.
Cadurcis had principally resided, and which had undergone no change.
The old pictures were examined; these, all agreed, never must move;
and the new furniture, it was settled, must be in character with the
building. Lady Annabel entered into all the details with an interest
and animation which rather amused Dr. Masham. Venetia listened and
suggested, and responded to the frequent appeals of Cadurcis to her
judgment with an unconscious equanimity not less diverting.
'Now here we really can do something,' said his lordship as they
entered the saloon, or rather refectory; 'here I think we may effect
wonders. The tapestry must always remain. Is it not magnificent,
Venetia? But what hangings shall we have? We must keep the old chairs,
I think. Do you approve of the old chairs, Venetia? And what shall we
cover them with? Shall it be damask? What do you think, Venetia? Do
you like damask? And what colour shall it be? Shall it be crimson?
Shall it be crimson damask, Lady Annabel? Do you think Venetia would
like crimson damask? Now, Venetia, do give us the benefit of your
Then they entered the old gallery; here was to be a great
transformation. Marvels were to be effected in the old gallery,
and many and multiplied were the appeals to the taste and fancy of
'I think,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'I shall leave the gallery to be
arranged when I am settled. The rooms and the saloon shall be done at
once, I shall give orders for them to begin instantly. Whom do you
recommend, Lady Annabel? Do you think there is any person at Southport
who could manage to do it, superintended by our taste? Venetia, what
do you think?'
Venetia was standing at the window, rather apart from her companions,
looking at the old garden. Lord Cadurcis joined her. 'Ah! it has been
sadly neglected since my poor mother's time. We could not do much in
those days, but still she loved this garden. I must depend upon you
entirely to arrange my garden, Venetia. This spot is sacred to you.
You have not forgotten our labours here, have you, Venetia? Ah! those
were happy days, and these shall be more happy still. This is your
garden; it shall always be called Venetia's garden.'
'I would have taken care of it when you were away, but--'
'But what?' inquired Lord Cadurcis anxiously.
'We hardly felt authorised,' replied Venetia calmly. 'We came at first
when you left Cadurcis, but at last it did not seem that our presence
was very acceptable.'
'The brutes!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis.
'No, no; good simple people, they were unused to orders from strange
masters, and they were perplexed. Besides, we had no right to
'No right to interfere! Venetia, my little fellow-labourer, no
right to interfere! Why all is yours! Fancy your having no right to
interfere at Cadurcis!'
Then they proceeded to the park and wandered to the margin of the
lake. There was not a spot, not an object, which did not recall
some adventure or incident of childhood. Every moment Lord Cadurcis
exclaimed, 'Venetia! do you remember this?' 'Venetia! have you
forgotten that?' and every time Venetia smiled, and proved how
faithful was her memory by adding some little unmentioned trait to the
lively reminiscences of her companion.
'Well, after all,' said Lord Cadurcis with a sigh, 'my poor mother was
a strange woman, and, God bless her! used sometimes to worry me out
of my senses! but still she always loved you. No one can deny that.
Cherbury was a magic name with her. She loved Lady Annabel, and she
loved you, Venetia. It ran in the blood, you see. She would be happy,
quite happy, if she saw us all here together, and if she knew--'
'Plantagenet,' said Lady Annabel, 'you must build a lodge at this
end of the park. I cannot conceive anything more effective than an
entrance from the Southport road in this quarter.'
'Certainly, Lady Annabel, certainly we must build a lodge. Do not you
think so, Venetia?'
'Indeed I think it would be a great improvement,' replied Venetia;
'but you must take care to have a lodge in character with the abbey.'
'You shall make a drawing for it,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'it shall be
built directly, and it shall be called Venetia Lodge.'
The hours flew away, loitering in the park, roaming in the woods. They
met Mistress Pauncefort and her friends loaded with plunder, and they
offered to Venetia a trophy of their success; but when Venetia, merely
to please their kind hearts, accepted their tribute with cordiality,
and declared there was nothing she liked better, Lord Cadurcis would
not be satisfied unless he immediately commenced nutting, and each
moment he bore to Venetia the produce of his sport, till in time she
could scarcely sustain the rich and increasing burden. At length they
bent their steps towards home, sufficiently wearied to look forward
with welcome to rest and their repast, yet not fatigued, and
exhilarated by the atmosphere, for the sun was now in its decline,
though in this favoured season there were yet hours enough remaining
of enchanting light.
In the refectory they found, to the surprise of all but their host, a
banquet. It was just one of those occasions when nothing is
expected and everything is welcome and surprising; when, from the
unpremeditated air generally assumed, all preparation startles and
pleases; when even ladies are not ashamed to eat, and formality
appears quite banished. Game of all kinds, teal from the lake,
and piles of beautiful fruit, made the table alike tempting and
picturesque. Then there were stray bottles of rare wine disinterred
from venerable cellars; and, more inspiriting even than the choice
wine, a host under the influence of every emotion, and swayed by every
circumstance that can make a man happy and delightful. Oh! they were
very gay, and it seemed difficult to believe that care or sorrow,
or the dominion of dark or ungracious passions, could ever disturb
sympathies so complete and countenances so radiant.
At the urgent request of Cadurcis, Venetia sang to them; and while she
sang, the expression of her countenance and voice harmonising with the
arch hilarity of the subject, Plantagenet for a moment believed that
he beheld the little Venetia of his youth, that sunny child so full
of mirth and grace, the very recollection of whose lively and bright
existence might enliven the gloomiest hour and lighten the heaviest
Enchanted by all that surrounded him, full of hope, and joy, and
plans of future felicity, emboldened by the kindness of the daughter,
Cadurcis now ventured to urge a request to Lady Annabel, and the
request was granted, for all seemed to feel that it was a day on which
nothing was to be refused to their friend. Happy Cadurcis! The child
had a holiday, and it fancied itself a man enjoying a triumph. In
compliance, therefore, with his wish, it was settled that they should
all walk back to the hall; even Dr. Masham declared he was competent
to the exertion, but perhaps was half entrapped into the declaration
by the promise of a bed at Cherbury. This consent enchanted Cadurcis,
who looked forward with exquisite pleasure to the evening walk with
Although the sun had not set, it had sunk behind the hills leading
to Cherbury when our friends quitted the abbey. Cadurcis, without
hesitation, offered his arm to Venetia, and whether from a secret
sympathy with his wishes, or merely from some fortunate accident, Lady
Annabel and Dr. Masham strolled on before without busying themselves
too earnestly with their companions.
'And how do you think our expedition to Cadurcis has turned out?'
inquired the young lord, of Venetia, 'Has it been successful?'
'It has been one of the most agreeable days I ever passed,' was the
'Then it has been successful,' rejoined his lordship; 'for my only
wish was to amuse you.'
'I think we have all been equally amused,' said Venetia. 'I never knew
mamma in such good spirits. I think ever since you returned she has
been unusually light-hearted.'
'And you: has my return lightened only her heart, Venetia?'
'Indeed it has contributed to the happiness of every one.'
'And yet, when I first returned, I heard you utter a complaint; the
first that to my knowledge ever escaped your lips.'
'Ah! we cannot be always equally gay.'
'Once you were, dear Venetia.'
'I was a child then.'
'And I, I too was a child; yet I am happy, at least now that I am with
'Well, we are both happy now.'
'Oh! say that again, say that again, Venetia; for indeed you made me
miserable when you told me that you had changed. I cannot bear that
you, Venetia, should ever change.'
'It is the course of nature, Plantagenet; we all change, everything
changes. This day that was so bright is changing fast.'
'The stars are as beautiful as the sun, Venetia.'
'And what do you infer?'
'That Venetia, a woman, is as beautiful as Venetia, a little girl; and
should be as happy.'
'Is beauty happiness, Plantagenet?'
'It makes others happy, Venetia; and when we make others happy we
should be happy ourselves.'
'Few depend upon my influence, and I trust all of them are happy.'
'No one depends upon your influence more than I do.'
'Well, then, be happy always.'
'Would that I might! Ah, Venetia! can I ever forget old days? You were
the solace of my dark childhood; you were the charm that first taught
me existence was enjoyment. Before I came to Cherbury I never was
happy, and since that hour--Ah, Venetia! dear, dearest Venetia! who is
like to you?'
'Dear Plantagenet, you were always too kind to me. Would we were
children once more!'
'Nay, my own Venetia! you tell me everything changes, and we must not
murmur at the course of nature. I would not have our childhood back
again, even with all its joys, for there are others yet in store for
us, not less pure, not less beautiful. We loved each other then,
Venetia, and we love each other now.'
'My feelings towards you have never changed, Plantagenet; I heard
of you always with interest, and I met you again with heartfelt
'Oh, that morning! Have you forgotten that morning? Do you know, you
will smile very much, but I really believe that I expected to see my
Venetia still a little girl, the very same who greeted me when I first
arrived with my mother and behaved so naughtily! And when I saw you,
and found what you had become, and what I ought always to have known
you must become, I was so confused I entirely lost my presence of
mind. You must have thought me very awkward, very stupid?'
'Indeed, I was rather gratified by observing that you could not meet
us again without emotion. I thought it told well for your heart, which
I always believed to be most kind, at least, I am sure, to us.'
'Kind! oh, Venetia! that word but ill describes what my heart ever
was, what it now is, to you. Venetia! dearest, sweetest Venetia!
can you doubt for a moment my feelings towards your home, and what
influence must principally impel them? Am I so dull, or you so blind,
Venetia? Can I not express, can you not discover how much, how
ardently, how fondly, how devotedly, I, I, I love you?'
'I am sure we always loved each other, Plantagenet.'
'Yes! but not with this love; not as I love you now!'
'I thought we could not love each other more than we did,
Plantagenet,' at length she said. 'Do you remember the jewel that you
gave me? I always wore it until you seemed to forget us, and then I
thought it looked so foolish! You remember what is inscribed on it:
'TO VENETIA, FROM HER AFFECTIONATE BROTHER, PLANTAGENET.' And as a
brother I always loved you; had I indeed been your sister I could not
have loved you more warmly and more truly.'
'I am not your brother, Venetia; I wish not to be loved as a brother:
and yet I must be loved by you, or I shall die.'
'What then do you wish?' inquired Venetia, with great simplicity.
'I wish you to marry me,' replied Lord Cadurcis.
'Marry!' exclaimed Venetia, with a face of wonder. 'Marry! Marry you!
Marry you, Plantagenet!'
'Ay! is that so wonderful? I love you, and if you love me, why should
we not marry?'
Venetia was silent and looked upon the ground, not from agitation,
for she was quite calm, but in thought; and then she said, 'I never
thought of marriage in my life, Plantagenet; I have no intention, no
wish to marry; I mean to live always with mamma.'
'And you shall always live with mamma, but that need not prevent you
from marrying me,' he replied. 'Do not we all live together now? What
will it signify if you dwell at Cadurcis and Lady Annabel at Cherbury?
Is it not one home? But at any rate, this point shall not be an
obstacle; for if it please you we will all live at Cherbury.'
'You say that we are happy now, Plantagenet; oh! let us remain as we
'My own sweet girl, my sister, if you please, any title, so it be one
of fondness, your sweet simplicity charms me; but, believe me, it
cannot be as you wish; we cannot remain as we are unless we marry.'
'Because I shall be wretched and must live elsewhere, if indeed I can
live at all.'
'Oh, Plantagenet! indeed I thought you were my brother; when I found
you after so long a separation as kind as in old days, and kinder
still, I was so glad; I was so sure you loved me; I thought I had the
kindest brother in the world. Let us not talk of any other love. It
will, indeed it will, make mamma so miserable!'
'I am greatly mistaken,' replied Lord Cadurcis, who saw no obstacles
to his hopes in their conversation hitherto, 'if, on the contrary, our
union would not prove far from disagreeable to your mother, Venetia; I
will say our mother, for indeed to me she has been one.'
'Plantagenet,' said Venetia, in a very earnest tone, 'I love you
very much; but, if you love me, press me on this subject no more at
present. You have surprised, indeed you have bewildered me. There are
thoughts, there are feelings, there are considerations, that must be
respected, that must influence me. Nay! do not look so sorrowful,
Plantagenet. Let us be happy now. To-morrow, only to-morrow, and
to-morrow we are sure to meet, we will speak further of all this; but
now, now, for a moment let us forget it, if we can forget anything so
strange. Nay! you shall smile!'
He did. Who could resist that mild and winning glance! And indeed Lord
Cadurcis was scarcely disappointed, and not at all mortified at his
reception, or, as he esteemed it, the progress of his suit. The
conduct of Venetia he attributed entirely to her unsophisticated
nature and the timidity of a virgin soul. It made him prize even more
dearly the treasure that he believed awaited him. Silent, then, though
for a time they both struggled to speak on different subjects, silent,
and almost content, Cadurcis proceeded, with the arm of Venetia locked
in his and ever and anon unconsciously pressing it to his heart. The
rosy twilight had faded away, the stars were stealing forth, and the
moon again glittered. With a soul softer than the tinted shades of eve
and glowing like the heavens, Cadurcis joined his companions as they
entered the gardens of Cherbury. When they had arrived at home it
seemed that exhaustion had suddenly succeeded all the excitement
of the day. The Doctor, who was wearied, retired immediately. Lady
Annabel pressed Cadurcis to remain and take tea, or, at least to ride
home; but his lordship, protesting that he was not in the slightest
degree fatigued, and anticipating their speedy union on the morrow,
bade her good night, and pressing with fondness the hand of Venetia,
retraced his steps to the now solitary abbey.
Cadurcis returned to the abbey, but not to slumber. That love of
loneliness which had haunted him from his boyhood, and which ever
asserted its sway when under the influence of his passions, came over
him now with irresistible power. A day of enjoyment had terminated,
and it left him melancholy. Hour after hour he paced the moon-lit
cloisters of his abbey, where not a sound disturbed him, save the
monotonous fall of the fountain, that seems by some inexplicable
association always to blend with and never to disturb our feelings;
gay when we are joyful, and sad amid our sorrow.
Yet was he sorrowful! He was gloomy, and fell into a reverie about
himself, a subject to him ever perplexing and distressing. His
conversation of the morning with Doctor Masham recurred to him. What
did the Doctor mean by his character not being formed, and that
he might yet live to change all his opinions? Character! what was
character? It must be will; and his will was violent and firm. Young
as he was, he had early habituated himself to reflection, and the
result of his musings had been a desire to live away from the world
with those he loved. The world, as other men viewed it, had no charms
for him. Its pursuits and passions seemed to him on the whole paltry
and faint. He could sympathise with great deeds, but not with bustling
life. That which was common did not please him. He loved things that
were rare and strange; and the spell that bound him so strongly to
Venetia Herbert was her unusual life, and the singular circumstances
of her destiny that were not unknown to him. True he was young;
but, lord of himself, youth was associated with none of those
mortifications which make the juvenile pant for manhood. Cadurcis
valued his youth and treasured it. He could not conceive love, and the
romantic life that love should lead, without the circumambient charm
of youth adding fresh lustre to all that was bright and fair, and a
keener relish to every combination of enjoyment. The moonbeam fell
upon his mother's monument, a tablet on the cloister wall that
recorded the birth and death of KATHERINE CADURCIS. His thoughts flew
to his ancestry. They had conquered in France and Palestine, and left
a memorable name to the annalist of his country. Those days were past,
and yet Cadurcis felt within him the desire, perhaps the power, of
emulating them; but what remained? What career was open in this
mechanical age to the chivalric genius of his race? Was he misplaced
then in life? The applause of nations, there was something grand and
exciting in such a possession. To be the marvel of mankind what would
he not hazard? Dreams, dreams! If his ancestors were valiant and
celebrated it remained for him to rival, to excel them, at least in
one respect. Their coronet had never rested on a brow fairer than
the one for which he destined it. Venetia then, independently of his
passionate love, was the only apparent object worth his pursuit, the
only thing in this world that had realised his dreams, dreams sacred
to his own musing soul, that even she had never shared or guessed. And
she, she was to be his. He could not doubt it: but to-morrow would
decide; to-morrow would seal his triumph.
His sleep was short and restless; he had almost out-watched the stars,
and yet he rose with the early morn. His first thought was of Venetia;
he was impatient for the interview, the interview she promised and
even proposed. The fresh air was grateful to him; he bounded along to
Cherbury, and brushed the dew in his progress from the tall grass and
shrubs. In sight of the hall, he for a moment paused. He was before
his accustomed hour; and yet he was always too soon. Not to-day,
though, not to-day; suddenly he rushes forward and springs down the
green vista, for Venetia is on the terrace, and alone!
Always kind, this morning she greeted him with unusual affection.
Never had she seemed to him so exquisitely beautiful. Perhaps her
countenance to-day was more pale than wont. There seemed a softness in
her eyes usually so brilliant and even dazzling; the accents of her
salutation were suppressed and tender.
'I thought you would be here early,' she remarked, 'and therefore I
rose to meet you.'
Was he to infer from this artless confession that his image had
haunted her in her dreams, or only that she would not delay the
conversation on which his happiness depended? He could scarcely doubt
which version to adopt when she took his arm and led him from the
terrace to walk where they could not be disturbed.
'Dear Plantagenet,' she said, 'for indeed you are very dear to me; I
told you last night that I would speak to you to-day on your wishes,
that are so kind to me and so much intended for my happiness. I do not
love suspense; but indeed last night I was too much surprised, too
much overcome by what occurred, that exhausted as I naturally was by
all our pleasure, I could not tell you what I wished; indeed I could
not, dear Plantagenet.'
'My own Venetia!'
'So I hope you will always deem me; for I should be very unhappy if
you did not love me, Plantagenet, more unhappy than I have even been
these last two years; and I have been very unhappy, very unhappy
'Unhappy, Venetia! my Venetia unhappy?'
'Listen! I will not weep. I can control my feelings. I have learnt to
do this; it is very sad, and very different to what my life once was;
but I can do it.'
'You amaze me!'
Venetia sighed, and then resumed, but in a tone mournful and low, and
yet to a degree firm.
'You have been away five years, Plantagenet.'
'But you have pardoned that.'
'I never blamed you; I had nothing to pardon. It was well for you to
be away; and I rejoice your absence has been so profitable to you.'
'But it was wicked to have been so silent.'
'Oh! no, no, no! Such ideas never entered into my head, nor even
mamma's. You were very young; you did as all would, as all must do.
Harbour not such thoughts. Enough, you have returned and love us yet.'
'Five years are a long space of time, Plantagenet. Events will happen
in five years, even at Cherbury. I told you I was changed.'
'Yes!' said Lord Cadurcis, in a voice of some anxiety, with a
'You left me a happy child; you find me a woman, and a miserable one.'
'Good God, Venetia! this suspense is awful. Be brief, I pray you. Has
Venetia looked at him with an air of perplexity. She could not
comprehend the idea that impelled his interruption.
'Go on,' Lord Cadurcis added, after a short pause; 'I am indeed all
'You remember that Christmas which you passed at the hall and walking
at night in the gallery, and--'
'Well! Your mother, I shall never forget it.'
'You found her weeping when you were once at Marringhurst. You told me
'There is a wing of our house shut up. We often talked of it.'
'Often, Venetia; it was a mystery.'
'I have penetrated it,' replied Venetia in a solemn tone; 'and never
have I known what happiness is since.'
'Yes, yes!' said Lord Cadurcis, very pale, and in a whisper.
'Plantagenet, I have a father.'
Lord Cadurcis started, and for an instant his arm quitted Venetia's.
At length he said in a gloomy voice, 'I know it.'
'Know it!' exclaimed Venetia with astonishment. 'Who could have told
you the secret?'
'It is no secret,' replied Cadurcis; 'would that it were!'
'Would that it were! How strange you speak, how strange you look,
Plantagenet! If it be no secret that I have a father, why this
concealment then? I know that I am not the child of shame!' she added,
after a moment's pause, with an air of pride. A tear stole down the
cheek of Cadurcis.
'Plantagenet! dear, good Plantagenet! my brother! my own brother! see,
I kneel to you; Venetia kneels to you! your own Venetia! Venetia that
you love! Oh! if you knew the load that is on my spirit bearing me
down to a grave which I would almost welcome, you would speak to me;
you would tell me all. I have sighed for this; I have longed for this;
I have prayed for this. To meet some one who would speak to me of my
father; who had heard of him, who knew him; has been for years the
only thought of my being, the only object for which I existed. And
now, here comes Plantagenet, my brother! my own brother! and he knows
all, and he will tell me; yes, that he will; he will tell his Venetia
'Is there not your mother?' said Lord Cadurcis, in a broken tone.
'Forbidden, utterly forbidden. If I speak, they tell me her heart will
break; and therefore mine is breaking.'
'Have you no friend?'
'Are not you my friend?'
'I have applied to him; he tells me that he lives, and then he shakes
'You never saw your father; think not of him.'
'Not think of him!' exclaimed Venetia, with extraordinary energy. 'Of
what else? For what do I live but to think of him? What object have I
in life but to see him? I have seen him, once.'
'I know his form by heart, and yet it was but a shade. Oh, what a
shade! what a glorious, what an immortal shade! If gods were upon
earth they would be like my father!'
'His deeds, at least, are not godlike,' observed Lord Cadurcis dryly,
and with some bitterness.
'I deny it!' said Venetia, her eyes sparkling with fire, her form
dilated with enthusiasm, and involuntarily withdrawing her arm from
her companion. Lord Cadurcis looked exceedingly astonished.
'You deny it!' he exclaimed. 'And what should you know about it?'
'Nature whispers to me that nothing but what is grand and noble could
be breathed by those lips, or fulfilled by that form.'
'I am glad you have not read his works,' said Lord Cadurcis, with
increased bitterness. 'As for his conduct, your mother is a living
evidence of his honour, his generosity, and his virtue.'
'My mother!' said Venetia, in a softened voice; 'and yet he loved my
'She was his victim, as a thousand others may have been.'
'She is his wife!' replied Venetia, with some anxiety.
'Yes, a deserted wife; is that preferable to being a cherished
mistress? More honourable, but scarcely less humiliating.'
'She must have misunderstood him,' said Venetia. 'I have perused the
secret vows of his passion. I have read his praises of her beauty.
I have pored over the music of his emotions when he first became a
father; yes, he has gazed on me, even though but for a moment, with
love! Over me he has breathed forth the hallowed blessing of a parent!
That transcendent form has pressed his lips to mine, and held me with
fondness to his heart! And shall I credit aught to his dishonour? Is
there a being in existence who can persuade me he is heartless or
abandoned? No! I love him! I adore him! I am devoted to him with all
the energies of my being! I live only on the memory that he lives,
and, were he to die, I should pray to my God that I might join him
without delay in a world where it cannot be justice to separate a
child from a father.'
And this was Venetia! the fair, the serene Venetia! the young, the
inexperienced Venetia! pausing, as it were, on the parting threshold
of girlhood, whom, but a few hours since, he had fancied could
scarcely have proved a passion; who appeared to him barely to
comprehend the meaning of his advances; for whose calmness or whose
coldness he had consoled himself by the flattering conviction of her
unknowing innocence. Before him stood a beautiful and inspired Moenad,
her eye flashing supernatural fire, her form elevated above her
accustomed stature, defiance on her swelling brow, and passion on her
Gentle and sensitive as Cadurcis ever appeared to those he loved,
there was in his soul a deep and unfathomed well of passions that had
been never stirred, and a bitter and mocking spirit in his brain, of
which he was himself unconscious. He had repaired this hopeful morn to
Cherbury to receive, as he believed, the plighted faith of a simple
and affectionate, perhaps grateful, girl. That her unsophisticated and
untutored spirit might not receive the advances of his heart with an
equal and corresponding ardour, he was prepared. It pleased him
that he should watch the gradual development of this bud of sweet
affections, waiting, with proud anxiety, her fragrant and her
full-blown love. But now it appeared that her coldness or her
indifference might be ascribed to any other cause than the one to
which he had attributed it, the innocence of an inexperienced mind.
This girl was no stranger to powerful passions; she could love, and
love with fervency, with devotion, with enthusiasm. This child of joy
was a woman of deep and thoughtful sorrows, brooding in solitude over
high resolves and passionate aspirations. Why were not the emotions
of such a tumultuous soul excited by himself? To him she was calm and
imperturbable; she called him brother, she treated him as a child. But
a picture, a fantastic shade, could raise in her a tempestuous swell
of sentiment that transformed her whole mind, and changed the colour
of all her hopes and thoughts. Deeply prejudiced against her father,
Cadurcis now hated him, and with a fell and ferocious earnestness that
few bosoms but his could prove. Pale with rage, he ground his teeth
and watched her with a glance of sarcastic aversion.
'You led me here to listen to a communication which interested me,' he
at length said. 'Have I heard it?'
His altered tone, the air of haughtiness which he assumed, were
not lost upon Venetia. She endeavoured to collect herself, but she
hesitated to reply.
'I repeat my inquiry,' said Cadurcis. 'Have you brought me here only
to inform me that you have a father, and that you adore him, or his
'I led you here,' replied Venetia, in a subdued tone, and looking on
the ground, 'to thank you for your love, and to confess to you that I
'Love another!' exclaimed Cadurcis, in a tone of derision. Simpleton!
The best thing your mother can do is to lock you up in the chamber
with the picture that has produced such marvellous effects.'
'I am no simpleton, Plantagenet,' rejoined Venetia, quietly, 'but one
who is acting as she thinks right; and not only as her mind, but as
her heart prompts her.'
They had stopped in the earlier part of this conversation on a little
plot of turf surrounded by shrubs; Cadurcis walked up and down this
area with angry steps, occasionally glancing at Venetia with a look of
mortification and displeasure.
'I tell you, Venetia,' he at length said, 'that you are a little fool.
What do you mean by saying that you cannot marry me because you love
another? Is not that other, by your own account, your father? Love him
as much as you like. Is that to prevent you from loving your husband
'Plantagenet, you are rude, and unnecessarily so,' said Venetia. 'I
repeat to you again, and for the last time, that all my heart is my
father's. It would be wicked in me to marry you, because I cannot love
you as a husband should be loved. I can never love you as I love my
father. However, it is useless to talk upon this subject. I have not
even the power of marrying you if I wished, for I have dedicated
myself to my father in the name of God; and I have offered a vow, to
be registered in heaven, that thenceforth I would exist only for the
purpose of being restored to his heart.'
'I congratulate you on your parent, Miss Herbert.'
'I feel that I ought to be proud of him, though, alas I can only feel
it. But, whatever your opinion may be of my father, I beg you to
remember that you are speaking to his child.'
'I shall state my opinion respecting your father, madam, with the most
perfect unreserve, wherever and whenever I choose; quite convinced
that, however you esteem that opinion, it will not be widely different
from the real sentiments of the only parent whom you ought to respect,
and whom you are bound to obey.'
'And I can tell you, sir, that whatever your opinion is on any subject
it will never influence mine. If, indeed, I were the mistress of my
own destiny, which I am not, it would have been equally out of my
power to have acted as you have so singularly proposed. I do not wish
to marry, and marry I never will; but were it in my power, or in
accordance with my wish, to unite my fate for ever with another's, it
should at least be with one to whom I could look up with reverence,
and even with admiration. He should be at least a man, and a great
man; one with whose name the world rung; perhaps, like my father, a
genius and a poet.'
'A genius and a poet!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, in a fury, stamping
with passion; 'are these fit terms to use when speaking of the most
abandoned profligate of his age? A man whose name is synonymous with
infamy, and which no one dares to breathe in civilised life; whose
very blood is pollution, as you will some day feel; who has violated
every tie, and derided every principle, by which society is
maintained; whose life is a living illustration of his own shameless
doctrines; who is, at the same time, a traitor to his king and an
apostate from his God!'
Curiosity, overpowering even indignation, had permitted Venetia to
listen even to this tirade. Pale as her companion, but with a glance
of withering scorn, she exclaimed, 'Passionate and ill-mannered boy!
words cannot express the disgust and the contempt with which you
inspire me.' She spoke and she disappeared. Cadurcis was neither able
nor desirous to arrest her flight. He remained rooted to the ground,
muttering to himself the word 'boy!' Suddenly raising his arm and
looking up to the sky, he exclaimed, 'The illusion is vanished!
Farewell, Cherbury! farewell, Cadurcis! a wider theatre awaits me! I
have been too long the slave of soft affections! I root them out of my
heart for ever!' and, fitting the action to the phrase, it seemed that
he hurled upon the earth all the tender emotions of his soul. 'Woman!
henceforth you shall be my sport! I have now no feeling but for
myself. When she spoke I might have been a boy; I am a boy no longer.
What I shall do I know not; but this I know, the world shall ring with
my name; I will be a man, and a great man!'
The agitation of Venetia on her return was not unnoticed by her
mother; but Lady Annabel ascribed it to a far different cause than the
real one. She was rather surprised when the breakfast passed, and Lord
Cadurcis did not appear; somewhat perplexed when her daughter seized
the earliest opportunity of retiring to her own chamber; but, with
that self-restraint of which she was so complete a mistress, Lady
Annabel uttered no remark.
Once more alone, Venetia could only repeat to herself the wild words
that had burst from Plantagenet's lips in reference to her father.
What could they mean? His morals might be misrepresented, his opinions
might be misunderstood; stupidity might not comprehend his doctrines,
malignity might torture them; the purest sages have been accused
of immorality, the most pious philosophers have been denounced as
blasphemous: but, 'a traitor to his king,' that was a tangible, an
intelligible proposition, one with which all might grapple, which
could be easily disproved if false, scarcely propounded were it
not true. 'False to his God!' How false? Where? When? What mystery
involved her life? Unhappy girl! in vain she struggled with the
overwhelming burden of her sorrows. Now she regretted that she had
quarrelled with Cadurcis; it was evident that he knew everything and
would have told her all. And then she blamed him for his harsh and
unfeeling demeanour, and his total want of sympathy with her cruel and
perplexing situation. She had intended, she had struggled to be so
kind to him; she thought she had such a plain tale to tell that he
would have listened to it in considerate silence, and bowed to her
necessary and inevitable decision without a murmur. Amid all these
harassing emotions her mind tossed about like a ship without a rudder,
until, in her despair, she almost resolved to confess everything to
her mother, and to request her to soothe and enlighten her agitated
and confounded mind. But what hope was there of solace or information
from such a quarter? Lady Annabel's was not a mind to be diverted from
her purpose. Whatever might have been the conduct of her husband, it
was evident that Lady Annabel had traced out a course from which she
had resolved not to depart. She remembered the earnest and repeated
advice of Dr. Masham, that virtuous and intelligent man who never
advised anything but for their benefit. How solemnly had he enjoined
upon her never to speak to her mother upon the subject, unless she
wished to produce misery and distress! And what could her mother tell
her? Her father lived, he had abandoned her, he was looked upon as a
criminal, and shunned by the society whose laws and prejudices he had
alike outraged. Why should she revive, amid the comparative happiness
and serenity in which her mother now lived, the bitter recollection of
the almost intolerable misfortune of her existence? No! Venetia was
resolved to be a solitary victim. In spite of her passionate and
romantic devotion to her father she loved her mother with perfect
affection, the mother who had dedicated her life to her child, and at
least hoped she had spared her any share in their common unhappiness.
And this father, whoso image haunted her dreams, whose unknown voice
seemed sometimes to float to her quick ear upon the wind, could he be
that abandoned being that Cadurcis had described, and that all around
her, and all the circumstances of her life, would seem to indicate?
Alas! it might be truth; alas! it seemed like truth: and for one so
lost, so utterly irredeemable, was she to murmur against that pure
and benevolent parent who had cherished her with such devotion, and
snatched her perhaps from disgrace, dishonour, and despair!
And Cadurcis, would he return? With all his violence, the kind
Cadurcis! Never did she need a brother more than now; and now he was
absent, and she had parted with him in anger, deep, almost deadly:
she, too, who had never before uttered a harsh word to a human being,
who had been involved in only one quarrel in her life, and that almost
unconsciously, and which had nearly broken her heart. She wept,
bitterly she wept, this poor Venetia!
By one of those mental efforts which her strange lot often forced her
to practise, Venetia at length composed herself, and returned to the
room where she believed she would meet her mother, and hoped she
should see Cadurcis. He was not there: but Lady Annabel was seated as
calm and busied as usual; the Doctor had departed. Even his presence
would have proved a relief, however slight, to Venetia, who dreaded at
this moment to be alone with her mother. She had no cause, however,
for alarm; Lord Cadurcis never appeared, and was absent even from
dinner; the day died away, and still he was wanting; and at length
Venetia bade her usual good night to Lady Annabel, and received
her usual blessing and embrace without his name having been even
Venetia passed a disturbed night, haunted by painful dreams, in which
her father and Cadurcis were both mixed up, and with images of pain,
confusion, disgrace, and misery; but the morrow, at least, did not
prolong her suspense, for just as she had joined her mother at
breakfast, Mistress Pauncefort, who had been despatched on some
domestic mission by her mistress, entered with a face of wonder,
and began as usual: 'Only think, my lady; well to be sure, who have
thought it? I am quite confident, for my own part, I was quite taken
aback when I heard it; and I could not have believed my ears, if John
had not told me himself, and he had it from his lordship's own man.'
'Well, Pauncefort, what have you to say?' inquired Lady Annabel, very
'And never to send no note, my lady; at least I have not seen one come
up. That makes it so very strange.'
'Makes what, Pauncefort?'
'Why, my lady, doesn't your la'ship know his lordship left the abbey
yesterday, and never said nothing to nobody; rode off without a word,
by your leave or with your leave? To be sure he always was the oddest
young gentleman as ever I met with; and, as I said to John: John, says
I, I hope his lordship has not gone to join the gipsies again.'
Venetia looked into a teacup, and then touched an egg, and then
twirled a spoon; but Lady Annabel seemed quite imperturbable, and only
observed, 'Probably his guardian is ill, and he has been suddenly
summoned to town. I wish you would bring my knitting-needles,
The autumn passed, and Lord Cadurcis never returned to the abbey,
and never wrote to any of his late companions. Lady Annabel never
mentioned his name; and although she seemed to have no other object in
life but the pleasure and happiness of her child, this strange mother
never once consulted Venetia on the probable occasion of his sudden
departure, and his strange conduct.
Party feeling, perhaps, never ran higher in England than during the
period immediately subsequent to the expulsion of the Coalition
Ministry. After the indefatigable faction of the American war, and the
flagrant union with Lord North, the Whig party, and especially Charles
Fox, then in the full vigour of his bold and ready mind, were stung to
the quick that all their remorseless efforts to obtain and preserve
the government of the country should terminate in the preferment and
apparent permanent power of a mere boy.
Next to Charles Fox, perhaps the most eminent and influential member
of the Whig party was Lady Monteagle. The daughter of one of the
oldest and most powerful peers in the kingdom, possessing lively
talents and many fascinating accomplishments, the mistress of a great
establishment, very beautiful, and, although she had been married
some years, still young, the celebrated wife of Lord Monteagle found
herself the centre of a circle alike powerful, brilliant, and refined.
She was the Muse of the Whig party, at whose shrine every man of wit
and fashion was proud to offer his flattering incense; and her house
became not merely the favourite scene of their social pleasures, but
the sacred, temple of their political rites; here many a manoeuvre was
planned, and many a scheme suggested; many a convert enrolled, and
many a votary initiated.
Reclining on a couch in a boudoir, which she was assured was the exact
facsimile of that of Marie Antoinette, Lady Monteagle, with an eye
sparkling with excitement and a cheek flushed with emotion, appeared
deeply interested in a volume, from which she raised her hand as her
husband entered the room.
'Gertrude, my love,' said his lordship, 'I have asked the new bishop
to dine with us to-day.'
'My dear Henry,' replied her ladyship, 'what could induce you to do
anything so strange?'
'I suppose I have made a mistake, as usual,' said his lordship,
shrugging his shoulders, with a smile.
'My dear Henry, you know you may ask whomever you like to your house.
I never find fault with what you do. But what could induce you to ask
a Tory bishop to meet a dozen of our own people?'
'I thought I had done wrong directly I had asked him,' rejoined his
lordship; 'and yet he would not have come if I had not made such a
point of it. I think I will put him off.'
'No, my love, that would be wrong; you cannot do that.'
'I cannot think how it came into my head. The fact is, I lost my
presence of mind. You know he was my tutor at Christchurch, when poor
dear Herbert and I were such friends, and very kind he was to us both;
and so, the moment I saw him, I walked across the House, introduced
myself, and asked him to dinner.'
'Well, never mind,' said Lady Monteagle, smiling. 'It is rather
ridiculous: but I hope nothing will be said to offend him.'
'Oh! do not be alarmed about that: he is quite a man of the world,
and, although he has his opinions, not at all a partisan. I assure you
poor dear Herbert loved him to the last, and to this very moment has
the greatest respect and affection for him.'
'How very strange that not only your tutor, but Herbert's, should be a
bishop,' remarked the lady, smiling.
'It is very strange,' said his lordship, 'and it only shows that it is
quite useless in this world to lay plans, or reckon on anything. You
know how it happened?'
'Not I, indeed; I have never given a thought to the business; I only
remember being very vexed that that stupid old Bangerford should not
have died when we were in office, and then, at any rate, we should
have got another vote.'
'Well, you know,' said his lordship, 'dear old Masham, that is his
name, was at Weymouth this year; with whom do you think, of all people
in the world?'
'How should I know? Why should I think about it, Henry?'
'Why, with Herbert's wife.'
'What, that horrid woman?'
'Yes, Lady Annabel.'
'And where was his daughter? Was she there?'
'Of course. She has grown up, and a most beautiful creature they say
she is; exactly like her father.'
'Ah! I shall always regret I never saw him,' said her ladyship.
'Well, the daughter is in bad health; and so, after keeping her shut
up all her life, the mother was obliged to take her to Weymouth; and
Masham, who has a living in their neighbourhood, which, by-the-bye,
Herbert gave him, and is their chaplain and counsellor, and friend of
the family, and all that sort of thing, though I really believe he has
always acted for the best, he was with them. Well, the King took the
greatest fancy to these Herberts; and the Queen, too, quite singled
them out; and, in short, they were always with the royal family. It
ended by his Majesty making Masham his chaplain; and now he has made
him a bishop.'
'Very droll indeed,' said her ladyship; 'and the drollest thing of all
is, that he is now coming to dine here.'
'Have you seen Cadurcis to-day?' said Lord Monteagle.
'Of course,' said her ladyship.
'He dines here?'
'To be sure. I am reading his new poem; it will not be published till
'Is it good?'
'Good! What crude questions you do always ask, Henry!' exclaimed Lady
Monteagle. 'Good! Of course it is good. It is something better than
'But I mean is it as good as his other things? Will it make as much
noise as his last thing?'
'Thing! Now, Henry, you know very well that if there be anything I
dislike in the world, it is calling a poem a thing.'
'Well, my dear, you know I am no judge of poetry. But if you are
pleased, I am quite content. There is a knock. Some of your friends.
I am off. I say, Gertrude, be kind to old Masham, that is a dear
Her ladyship extended her hand, to which his lordship pressed his
lips, and just effected his escape as the servant announced a visitor,
in the person of Mr. Horace Pole.
'Oh! my dear Mr. Pole, I am quite exhausted,' said her ladyship; 'I am
reading Cadurcis' new poem; it will not he published till to-morrow,
and it really has destroyed my nerves. I have got people to dinner
to-day, and I am sure I shall not be able to encounter them.'
'Something outrageous, I suppose,' said Mr. Pole, with a sneer. 'I
wish Cadurcis would study Pope.'
'Study Pope! My dear Mr. Pole, you have no imagination.'
'No, I have not, thank Heaven!' drawled out Mr. Pole.
'Well, do not let us have a quarrel about Cadurcis,' said Lady
Monteagle. 'All you men are jealous of him.'
'And some of you women, I think, too,' said Mr. Pole.
Lady Monteagle faintly smiled.
'Poor Cadurcis!' she exclaimed; 'he has a very hard life of it. He
complains bitterly that so many women are in love with him. But then
he is such an interesting creature, what can he expect?'
'Interesting!' exclaimed Mr. Pole. 'Now I hold he is the most
conceited, affected fellow that I ever met,' he continued with unusual
'Ah! you men do not understand him,' said Lady Monteagle, shaking her
head. 'You cannot,' she added, with a look of pity.
'I cannot, certainly,' said Mr. Pole, 'or his writings either. For my
part I think the town has gone mad.'
'Well, you must confess,' said her ladyship, with a glance of triumph,
'that it was very lucky for us that I made him a Whig.'
'I cannot agree with you at all on that head,' said Mr. Pole. 'We
certainly are not very popular at this moment, and I feel convinced
that a connection with a person who attracts so much notice as
Cadurcis unfortunately does, and whose opinions on morals and religion
must be so offensive to the vast majority of the English public, must
ultimately prove anything but advantageous to our party.'
'Oh! my dear Mr. Pole,' said her ladyship, in a tone of affected
deprecation, 'think what a genius he is!'
'We have very different ideas of genius, Lady Monteagle, I suspect,'
said her visitor.
'You cannot deny,' replied her ladyship, rising from her recumbent
posture, with some animation, 'that he is a poet?'
'It is difficult to decide upon our contemporaries,' said Mr. Pole
'Charles Fox thinks he is the greatest poet that ever existed,' said
her ladyship, as if she were determined to settle the question.
'Because he has written a lampoon on the royal family,' rejoined Mr.
'You are a very provoking person,' said Lady Monteagle; 'but you do
not provoke me; do not flatter yourself you do.'
'That I feel to be an achievement alike beyond my power and my
ambition,' replied Mr. Pole, slightly bowing, but with a sneer.
'Well, read this,' said Lady Monteagle, 'and then decide upon the
merits of Cadurcis.'
Mr. Pole took the extended volume, but with no great willingness, and
turned over a page or two and read a passage here and there.
'Much the same as his last effusion, I think' he observed, as far as
I can judge from so cursory a review. Exaggerated passion, bombastic
language, egotism to excess, and, which perhaps is the only portion
that is genuine, mixed with common-place scepticism and impossible
morals, and a sort of vague, dreamy philosophy, which, if it mean
anything, means atheism, borrowed from his idol, Herbert, and which he
himself evidently does not comprehend.'
'Monster!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle, with a mock assumption of
indignation, 'and you are going to dine with him here to-day. You do
not deserve it.'
'It is a reward which is unfortunately too often obtained by me,'
replied Mr. Pole. 'One of the most annoying consequences of your
friend's popularity, Lady Monteagle, is that there is not a dinner
party where one can escape him. I met him yesterday at Fanshawe's. He
amused himself by eating only biscuits, and calling for soda water,
while we quaffed our Burgundy. How very original! What a thing it is
to be a great poet!'
'Perverse, provoking mortal!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle. 'And on what
should a poet live? On coarse food, like you coarse mortals? Cadurcis
is all spirit, and in my opinion his diet only makes him more
'I understand,' said Mr. Pole, 'that he cannot endure a woman to eat
at all. But you are all spirit, Lady Monteagle, and therefore of
course are not in the least inconvenienced. By-the-bye, do you mean to
give us any of those charming little suppers this season?'
'I shall not invite you,' replied her ladyship; 'none but admirers of
Lord Cadurcis enter this house.'
'Your menace effects my instant conversion,' replied Mr. Pole. 'I will
admire him as much as you desire, only do not insist upon my reading
'I have not the slightest doubt you know them by heart,' rejoined her
Mr. Pole smiled, bowed, and disappeared; and Lady Monteagle sat down
to write a billet to Lord Cadurcis, to entreat him to be with her at
five o'clock, which was at least half an hour before the other guests
were expected. The Monteagles were considered to dine ridiculously
Marmion Herbert, sprung from one of the most illustrious families in
England, became at an early age the inheritor of a great estate, to
which, however, he did not succeed with the prejudices or opinions
usually imbibed or professed by the class to which he belonged. While
yet a boy, Marmion Herbert afforded many indications of possessing a
mind alike visionary and inquisitive, and both, although not in an
equal degree, sceptical and creative. Nature had gifted him with
precocious talents; and with a temperament essentially poetic, he
was nevertheless a great student. His early reading, originally by
accident and afterwards by an irresistible inclination, had fallen
among the works of the English freethinkers: with all their errors,
a profound and vigorous race, and much superior to the French
philosophers, who were after all only their pupils and their
imitators. While his juvenile studies, and in some degree the
predisposition of his mind, had thus prepared him to doubt and finally
to challenge the propriety of all that was established and received,
the poetical and stronger bias of his mind enabled him quickly to
supply the place of everything he would remove and destroy; and, far
from being the victim of those frigid and indifferent feelings
which must ever be the portion of the mere doubter, Herbert, on the
contrary, looked forward with ardent and sanguine enthusiasm to a
glorious and ameliorating future, which should amply compensate and
console a misguided and unhappy race for the miserable past and
the painful and dreary present. To those, therefore, who could not
sympathise with his views, it will be seen that Herbert, in attempting
to fulfil them, became not merely passively noxious from his example,
but actively mischievous from his exertions. A mere sceptic, he would
have been perhaps merely pitied; a sceptic with a peculiar faith of
his own, which he was resolved to promulgate, Herbert became odious. A
solitary votary of obnoxious opinions, Herbert would have been looked
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