Part 5 out of 10
upon only as a madman; but the moment he attempted to make proselytes
he rose into a conspirator against society.
Young, irresistibly prepossessing in his appearance, with great
eloquence, crude but considerable knowledge, an ardent imagination
and a subtle mind, and a generous and passionate soul, under any
circumstances he must have obtained and exercised influence, even if
his Creator had not also bestowed upon him a spirit of indomitable
courage; but these great gifts of nature being combined with accidents
of fortune scarcely less qualified to move mankind, high rank, vast
wealth, and a name of traditionary glory, it will not be esteemed
surprising that Marmion Herbert, at an early period, should have
attracted around him many enthusiastic disciples.
At Christchurch, whither he repaired at an unusually early age,
his tutor was Doctor Masham; and the profound respect and singular
affection with which that able, learned, and amiable man early
inspired his pupil, for a time controlled the spirit of Herbert; or
rather confined its workings to so limited a sphere that the results
were neither dangerous to society nor himself. Perfectly comprehending
and appreciating the genius of the youth entrusted to his charge,
deeply interested in his spiritual as well as worldly welfare, and
strongly impressed with the importance of enlisting his pupil's
energies in favour of that existing order, both moral and religious,
in the truth and indispensableness of which he was a sincere believer,
Doctor Masham omitted no opportunity of combating the heresies of the
young inquirer; and as the tutor, equally by talent, experience, and
learning, was a competent champion of the great cause to which he was
devoted, his zeal and ability for a time checked the development of
those opinions of which he witnessed the menacing influence over
Herbert with so much fear and anxiety. The college life of Marmion
Herbert, therefore, passed in ceaseless controversy with his tutor;
and as he possessed, among many other noble qualities, a high and
philosophic sense of justice, he did not consider himself authorised,
while a doubt remained on his own mind, actively to promulgate those
opinions, of the propriety and necessity of which he scarcely ever
ceased to be persuaded. To this cause it must be mainly attributed
that Herbert was not expelled the university; for had he pursued there
the course of which his cruder career at Eton had given promise, there
can be little doubt that some flagrant outrage of the opinions held
sacred in that great seat of orthodoxy would have quickly removed him
from the salutary sphere of their control.
Herbert quitted Oxford in his nineteenth year, yet inferior to
few that he left there, even among the most eminent, in classical
attainments, and with a mind naturally profound, practised in all the
arts of ratiocination. His general knowledge also was considerable,
and he was a proficient in those scientific pursuits which were then
rare. Notwithstanding his great fortune and position, his departure
from the university was not a signal with him for that abandonment to
the world, and that unbounded self-enjoyment naturally so tempting to
youth. On the contrary, Herbert shut himself up in his magnificent
castle, devoted to solitude and study. In his splendid library he
consulted the sages of antiquity, and conferred with them on the
nature of existence and of the social duties; while in his laboratory
or his dissecting-room he occasionally flattered himself he might
discover the great secret which had perplexed generations. The
consequence of a year passed in this severe discipline was
unfortunately a complete recurrence to those opinions that he had
early imbibed, and which now seemed fixed in his conviction beyond the
hope or chance of again faltering. In politics a violent republican,
and an advocate, certainly a disinterested one, of a complete equality
of property and conditions, utterly objecting to the very foundation
of our moral system, and especially a strenuous antagonist of
marriage, which he taught himself to esteem not only as an unnatural
tie, but as eminently unjust towards that softer sex, who had been
so long the victims of man; discarding as a mockery the received
revelation of the divine will; and, if no longer an atheist,
substituting merely for such an outrageous dogma a subtle and shadowy
Platonism; doctrines, however, which Herbert at least had acquired by
a profound study of the works of their great founder; the pupil of
Doctor Masham at length deemed himself qualified to enter that world
which he was resolved to regenerate; prepared for persecution, and
steeled even to martyrdom.
But while the doctrines of the philosopher had been forming, the
spirit of the poet had not been inactive. Loneliness, after all, the
best of Muses, had stimulated the creative faculty of his being.
Wandering amid his solitary woods and glades at all hours and seasons,
the wild and beautiful apparitions of nature had appealed to a
sympathetic soul. The stars and winds, the pensive sunset and the
sanguine break of morn, the sweet solemnity of night, the ancient
trees and the light and evanescent flowers, all signs and sights and
sounds of loveliness and power, fell on a ready eye and a responsive
ear. Gazing on the beautiful, he longed to create it. Then it was that
the two passions which seemed to share the being of Herbert appeared
simultaneously to assert their sway, and he resolved to call in his
Muse to the assistance of his Philosophy.
Herbert celebrated that fond world of his imagination, which he wished
to teach men to love. In stanzas glittering with refined images, and
resonant with subtle symphony, he called into creation that society of
immaculate purity and unbounded enjoyment which he believed was the
natural inheritance of unshackled man. In the hero he pictured a
philosopher, young and gifted as himself; in the heroine, his idea of
a perfect woman. Although all those peculiar doctrines of Herbert,
which, undisguised, must have excited so much odium, were more or
less developed and inculcated in this work; nevertheless they were
necessarily so veiled by the highly spiritual and metaphorical
language of the poet, that it required some previous acquaintance with
the system enforced, to be able to detect and recognise the esoteric
spirit of his Muse. The public read only the history of an ideal world
and of creatures of exquisite beauty, told in language that alike
dazzled their fancy and captivated their ear. They were lost in a
delicious maze of metaphor and music, and were proud to acknowledge
an addition to the glorious catalogue of their poets in a young and
interesting member of their aristocracy.
In the meanwhile Herbert entered that great world that had long
expected him, and hailed his advent with triumph. How long might have
elapsed before they were roused by the conduct of Herbert to the
error under which they were labouring as to his character, it is
not difficult to conjecture; but before he could commence those
philanthropic exertions which apparently absorbed him, he encountered
an individual who most unconsciously put his philosophy not merely to
the test, but partially even to the rout; and this was Lady Annabel
Sidney. Almost as new to the world as himself, and not less admired,
her unrivalled beauty, her unusual accomplishments, and her pure and
dignified mind, combined, it must be confessed, with the flattering
admiration of his genius, entirely captivated the philosophical
antagonist of marriage. It is not surprising that Marmion Herbert,
scarcely of age, and with a heart of extreme susceptibility, resolved,
after a struggle, to be the first exception to his system, and, as he
faintly flattered himself, the last victim of prejudice. He wooed and
won the Lady Annabel.
The marriage ceremony was performed by Doctor Masham, who had read his
pupil's poem, and had been a little frightened by its indications; but
this happy union had dissipated all his fears. He would not believe in
any other than a future career for him alike honourable and happy; and
he trusted that if any wild thoughts still lingered in Herbert's mind,
that they would clear off by the same literary process; so that
the utmost ill consequences of his immature opinions might be an
occasional line that the wise would have liked to blot, and yet which
the unlettered might scarcely be competent to comprehend. Mr. and Lady
Annabel Herbert departed after the ceremony to his castle, and Doctor
Masham to Marringhurst, a valuable living in another county, to which
his pupil had just presented him.
Some months after this memorable event, rumours reached the ear of the
good Doctor that all was not as satisfactory as he could desire in
that establishment, in the welfare of which he naturally took so
lively an interest. Herbert was in the habit of corresponding with the
rector of Marringhurst, and his first letters were full of details as
to his happy life and his perfect consent; but gradually these details
had been considerably abridged, and the correspondence assumed chiefly
a literary or philosophical character. Lady Annabel, however, was
always mentioned with regard, and an intimation had been duly given
to the Doctor that she was in a delicate and promising situation, and
that they were both alike anxious that he should christen their child.
It did not seem very surprising to the good Doctor, who was a man of
the world, that a husband, six months after marriage, should not
speak of the memorable event with all the fulness and fondness of
the honeymoon; and, being one of those happy tempers that always
anticipate the best, he dismissed from his mind, as vain gossip and
idle exaggerations, the ominous whispers that occasionally reached
Immediately after the Christmas ensuing his marriage, the Herberts
returned to London, and the Doctor, who happened to be a short time
in the metropolis, paid them a visit. His observations were far from
unsatisfactory; it was certainly too evident that Marmion was no
longer enamoured of Lady Annabel, but he treated her apparently with
courtesy, and even cordiality. The presence of Dr. Masham tended,
perhaps, a little to revive old feelings, for he was as much a
favourite with the wife as with the husband; but, on the whole,
the Doctor quitted them with an easy heart, and sanguine that the
interesting and impending event would, in all probability, revive
affection on the part of Herbert, or at least afford Lady Annabel the
only substitute for a husband's heart.
In due time the Doctor heard from Herbert that his wife had gone
down into the country, but was sorry to observe that Herbert did not
accompany her. Even this disagreeable impression was removed by a
letter, shortly after received from Herbert, dated from the castle,
and written in high spirits, informing him that Annabel had made him
the happy father of the most beautiful little girl in the world.
During the ensuing three months Mr. Herbert, though he resumed his
residence in London, paid frequent visits to the castle, where Lady
Annabel remained; and his occasional correspondence, though couched
in a careless vein, still on the whole indicated a cheerful spirit;
though ever and anon were sarcastic observations as to the felicity of
the married state, which, he said, was an undoubted blessing, as it
kept a man out of all scrapes, though unfortunately under the penalty
of his total idleness and inutility in life. On the whole, however,
the reader may judge of the astonishment of Doctor Masham when, in
common with the world, very shortly after the receipt of this letter,
Mr. Herbert having previously proceeded to London, and awaiting, as
was said, the daily arrival of his wife and child, his former tutor
learned that Lady Annabel, accompanied only by Pauncefort and Venetia,
had sought her father's roof, declaring that circumstances had
occurred which rendered it quite impossible that she could live with
Mr. Herbert any longer, and entreating his succour and parental
Never was such a hubbub in the world! In vain Herbert claimed his
wife, and expressed his astonishment, declaring that he had parted
from her with the expression of perfect kind feeling on both sides.
No answer was given to his letter, and no explanation of any kind
conceded him. The world universally declared Lady Annabel an injured
woman, and trusted that she would eventually have the good sense and
kindness to gratify them by revealing the mystery; while Herbert,
on the contrary, was universally abused and shunned, avoided by his
acquaintances, and denounced as the most depraved of men.
In this extraordinary state of affairs Herbert acted in a manner
the best calculated to secure his happiness, and the very worst to
preserve his character. Having ostentatiously shown himself in every
public place, and courted notice and inquiry by every means in his
power, to prove that he was not anxious to conceal himself or avoid
any inquiry, he left the country, free at last to pursue that career
to which he had always aspired, and in which he had been checked by
a blunder, from the consequences of which he little expected that
he should so speedily and strangely emancipate himself. It was in a
beautiful villa on the lake of Geneva that he finally established
himself, and there for many years he employed himself in the
publication of a series of works which, whether they were poetry or
prose, imaginative or investigative, all tended to the same consistent
purpose, namely, the fearless and unqualified promulgation of those
opinions, on the adoption of which he sincerely believed the happiness
of mankind depended; and the opposite principles to which, in his own
case, had been productive of so much mortification and misery.
His works, which were published in England, were little read, and
universally decried. The critics were always hard at work, proving
that he was no poet, and demonstrating in the most logical manner
that he was quite incapable of reasoning on the commonest topic. In
addition to all this, his ignorance was self-evident; and though he
was very fond of quoting Greek, they doubted whether he was capable of
reading the original authors. The general impression of the English
public, after the lapse of some years, was, that Herbert was an
abandoned being, of profligate habits, opposed to all the institutions
of society that kept his infamy in check, and an avowed atheist; and
as scarcely any one but a sympathetic spirit ever read a line he
wrote, for indeed the very sight of his works was pollution, it is not
very wonderful that this opinion was so generally prevalent. A calm
inquirer might, perhaps, have suspected that abandoned profligacy is
not very compatible with severe study, and that an author is seldom
loose in his life, even if he be licentious in his writings. A calm
inquirer might, perhaps, have been of opinion that a solitary sage
may be the antagonist of a priesthood without absolutely denying the
existence of a God; but there never are calm inquirers. The world, on
every subject, however unequally, is divided into parties; and even in
the case of Herbert and his writings, those who admired his genius,
and the generosity of his soul, were not content without advocating,
principally out of pique to his adversaries, his extreme opinions on
every subject, moral, political, and religious.
Besides, it must be confessed, there was another circumstance which
was almost as fatal to Herbert's character in England as his loose and
heretical opinions. The travelling English, during their visits to
Geneva, found out that their countryman solaced or enlivened his
solitude by unhallowed ties. It is a habit to which very young men,
who are separated from or deserted by their wives, occasionally have
recourse. Wrong, no doubt, as most things are, but it is to be hoped
venial; at least in the case of any man who is not also an atheist.
This unfortunate mistress of Herbert was magnified into a seraglio;
the most extraordinary tales of the voluptuous life of one who
generally at his studies out-watched the stars, were rife in English
Hoary marquises and stripling dukes,
who were either protecting opera dancers, or, still worse, making
love to their neighbours' wives, either looked grave when the name of
Herbert was mentioned in female society, or affectedly confused, as if
they could a tale unfold, were they not convinced that the sense of
propriety among all present was infinitely superior to their sense of
The only person to whom Herbert communicated in England was Doctor
Masham. He wrote to him immediately on his establishment at Geneva, in
a calm yet sincere and serious tone, as if it were useless to dwell
too fully on the past. Yet he declared, although now that it was all
over he avowed his joy at the interposition of his destiny, and the
opportunity which he at length possessed of pursuing the career for
which he was adapted, that he had to his knowledge given his wife
no cause of offence which could authorise her conduct. As for his
daughter, he said he should not be so cruel as to tear her from
her mother's breast; though, if anything could induce him to such
behaviour, it would be the malignant and ungenerous menace of his
wife's relatives, that they would oppose his preferred claim to
the guardianship of his child, on the plea of his immoral life and
atheistical opinions. With reference to pecuniary arrangements, as
his chief seat was entailed on male heirs, he proposed that his wife
should take up her abode at Cherbury, an estate which had been settled
on her and her children at her marriage, and which, therefore, would
descend to Venetia. Finally, he expressed his satisfaction that the
neighbourhood of Marringhurst would permit his good and still faithful
friend to cultivate the society and guard over the welfare of his wife
During the first ten years of Herbert's exile, for such indeed it
might be considered, the Doctor maintained with him a rare yet regular
correspondence; but after that time a public event occurred, and
a revolution took place in Herbert's life which terminated all
communication between them; a termination occasioned, however, by such
a simultaneous conviction of its absolute necessity, that it was not
attended by any of those painful communications which are too often
the harrowing forerunners of a formal disruption of ancient ties.
This event was the revolt of the American colonies; and this
revolution in Herbert's career, his junction with the rebels against
his native country. Doubtless it was not without a struggle, perhaps
a pang, that Herbert resolved upon a line of conduct to which it
must assuredly have required the strongest throb of his cosmopolitan
sympathy, and his amplest definition of philanthropy to have impelled
him. But without any vindictive feelings towards England, for he ever
professed and exercised charity towards his enemies, attributing their
conduct entirely to their ignorance and prejudice, upon this step he
nevertheless felt it his duty to decide. There seemed in the opening
prospects of America, in a world still new, which had borrowed from
the old as it were only so much civilisation as was necessary to
create and to maintain order; there seemed in the circumstances of its
boundless territory, and the total absence of feudal institutions and
prejudices, so fair a field for the practical introduction of those
regenerating principles to which Herbert had devoted all the thought
and labour of his life, that he resolved, after long and perhaps
painful meditation, to sacrifice every feeling and future interest to
its fulfilment. All idea of ever returning to his native country, even
were it only to mix his ashes with the generations of his ancestors;
all hope of reconciliation with his wife, or of pressing to his
heart that daughter, often present to his tender fancy, and to whose
affections he had feelingly appealed in an outburst of passionate
poetry; all these chances, chances which, in spite of his philosophy,
had yet a lingering charm, must be discarded for ever. They were
discarded. Assigning his estate to his heir upon conditions, in order
to prevent its forfeiture, with such resources as he could command,
and which were considerable, Marmion Herbert arrived at Boston, where
his rank, his wealth, his distinguished name, his great talents, and
his undoubted zeal for the cause of liberty, procured him an eminent
and gratifying reception. He offered to raise a regiment for the
republic, and the offer was accepted, and he was enrolled among the
citizens. All this occurred about the time that the Cadurcis family
first settled at the abbey, and this narrative will probably throw
light upon several slight incidents which heretofore may have
attracted the perplexed attention of the reader: such as the newspaper
brought by Dr. Masham at the Christmas visit; the tears shed at a
subsequent period at Marringhurst, when he related to her the last
intelligence that had been received from America. For, indeed, it is
impossible to express the misery and mortification which this last
conduct of her husband occasioned Lady Annabel, brought up, as she had
been, with feelings of romantic loyalty and unswerving patriotism.
To be a traitor seemed the only blot that remained for his sullied
scutcheon, and she had never dreamed of that. An infidel, a
profligate, a deserter from his home, an apostate from his God! one
infamy alone remained, and now he had attained it; a traitor to his
king! Why, every peasant would despise him!
General Herbert, however, for such he speedily became, at the head of
his division, soon arrested the attention, and commanded the respect,
of Europe. To his exertions the successful result of the struggle
was, in a great measure, attributed; and he received the thanks of
Congress, of which he became a member. His military and political
reputation exercised a beneficial influence upon his literary fame.
His works were reprinted in America, and translated into French,
and published at Geneva and Basle, whence they were surreptitiously
introduced into France. The Whigs, who had become very factious, and
nearly revolutionary, during the American war, suddenly became proud
of their countryman, whom a new world hailed as a deliverer, and
Paris declared to be a great poet and an illustrious philosopher. His
writings became fashionable, especially among the young; numerous
editions of them appeared, and in time it was discovered that Herbert
was now not only openly read, and enthusiastically admired, but had
founded a school.
The struggle with America ceased about the time of Lord Cadurcis' last
visit to Cherbury, when, from his indignant lips, Venetia first learnt
the enormities of her father's career. Since that period some three
years had elapsed until we introduced our readers to the boudoir
of Lady Monteagle. During this period, among the Whigs and their
partisans the literary fame of Herbert had arisen and become
established. How they have passed in regard to Lady Annabel Herbert
and her daughter, on the one hand, and Lord Cadurcis himself on the
other, we will endeavour to ascertain in the following chapter.
From the last departure of Lord Cadurcis from Cherbury, the health of
Venetia again declined. The truth is, she brooded in solitude over her
strange lot, until her nerves became relaxed by intense reverie and
suppressed feeling. The attention of a mother so wrapt up in her child
as Lady Annabel, was soon attracted to the increasing languor of
our heroine, whose eye each day seemed to grow less bright, and her
graceful form less lithe and active. No longer, fond of the sun and
breeze as a beautiful bird, was Venetia seen, as heretofore, glancing
in the garden, or bounding over the lawns; too often might she be
found reclining on the couch, in spite of all the temptations of the
spring; while her temper, once so singularly sweet that it seemed
there was not in the world a word that could ruffle it, and which
required so keenly and responded so quickly to sympathy, became
reserved, if not absolutely sullen, or at times even captious and
This change in the appearance and demeanour of her daughter filled
Lady Annabel with anxiety and alarm. In vain she expressed to Venetia
her conviction of her indisposition; but Venetia, though her altered
habits confirmed the suspicion, and authorised the inquiry of her
parent, persisted ever in asserting that she had no ailment. Her old
medical attendant was, however, consulted, and, being perplexed with
the case, he recommended change of air. Lady Annabel then consulted
Dr. Masham, and he gave his opinion in favour of change of air for one
reason: and that was, that it would bring with it what he had long
considered Venetia to stand in need of, and that was change of life.
Dr. Masham was right; but then, to guide him in forming his judgment,
he had the advantage of some psychological knowledge of the case,
which, in a greet degree, was a sealed book to the poor puzzled
physician. We laugh very often at the errors of medical men; but if
we would only, when we consult them, have strength of mind enough to
extend to them something better than a half-confidence, we might be
cured the sooner. How often, when the unhappy disciple of Esculapius
is perplexing himself about the state of our bodies, we might throw
light upon his obscure labours by simply detailing to him the state of
The result of these consultations in the Herbert family was a final
resolution, on the part of Lady Annabel, to quit Cherbury for a while.
As the sea air was especially recommended to Venetia, and as Lady
Annabel shrank with a morbid apprehension from society, to which
nothing could persuade her she was not an object either of odium or
impertinent curiosity, she finally resolved to visit Weymouth, then a
small and secluded watering-place, and whither she arrived and settled
herself, it not being even the season when its few customary visitors
were in the habit of gathering.
This residence at Weymouth quite repaid Lady Annabel for all the
trouble of her new settlement, and for the change in her life very
painful to her confirmed habits, which she experienced in leaving for
the first time for such a long series of years, her old hall; for the
rose returned to the cheek of her daughter, and the western breezes,
joined with the influence of the new objects that surrounded her, and
especially of that ocean, and its strange and inexhaustible variety,
on which she gazed for the first time, gradually, but surely,
completed the restoration of Venetia to health, and with it to much of
her old vivacity.
When Lady Annabel had resided about a year at Weymouth, in the society
of which she had invariably made the indisposition of Venetia a reason
for not entering, a great revolution suddenly occurred at this little
quiet watering-place, for it was fixed upon as the summer residence of
the English court. The celebrated name, the distinguished appearance,
and the secluded habits of Lady Annabel and her daughter, had rendered
them the objects of general interest. Occasionally they were met in a
seaside walk by some fellow-wanderer over the sands, or toiler over
the shingles; and romantic reports of the dignity of the mother and
the daughter's beauty were repeated by the fortunate observers to the
lounging circle of the public library or the baths.
The moment that Lady Annabel was assured that the royal family had
positively fixed upon Weymouth for their residence, and were even
daily expected, she resolved instantly to retire. Her stern sense of
duty assured her that it was neither delicate nor loyal to obtrude
before the presence of an outraged monarch the wife and daughter of a
traitor; her haughty, though wounded, spirit shrank from the revival
of her husband's history, which must be the consequence of such a
conjunction, and from the startling and painful remarks which might
reach the shrouded ear of her daughter. With her characteristic
decision, and with her usual stern volition, Lady Annabel quitted
Weymouth instantly, but she was in some degree consoled for the regret
and apprehensiveness which she felt at thus leaving a place that had
otherwise so happily fulfilled all her hopes and wishes, and that
seemed to agree so entirely with Venetia, by finding unexpectedly
a marine villa, some few miles further up the coast, which was
untenanted, and which offered to Lady Annabel all the accommodation
she could desire.
It so happened this summer that Dr. Masham paid the Herberts a visit,
and it was his habit occasionally to ride into Weymouth to read the
newspaper, or pass an hour in that easy lounging chat, which is,
perhaps, one of the principal diversions of a watering-place. A great
dignitary of the church, who was about the King, and to whom Dr.
Masham was known not merely by reputation, mentioned his presence to
his Majesty; and the King, who was fond of the society of eminent
divines, desired that Dr. Masham should be presented to him. Now, so
favourable was the impression that the rector of Marringhurst made
upon his sovereign, that from that moment the King was scarcely ever
content unless he was in attendance. His Majesty, who was happy in
asking questions, and much too acute to be baffled when he sought
information, finally elicited from the Doctor all that, in order to
please Lady Annabel, he long struggled to conceal; but when the King
found that the deserted wife and daughter of Herbert were really
living in the neighbourhood, and that they had quitted Weymouth on his
arrival, from a feeling of delicate loyalty, nothing would satisfy the
kind-hearted monarch but personally assuring them of the interest he
took in their welfare; and accordingly, the next day, without giving
Lady Annabel even the preparation of a notice, his Majesty and his
royal consort, attended only by a lord in waiting, called at the
marine villa, and fairly introduced themselves.
An acquaintance, occasioned by a sentiment of generous and
condescending sympathy, was established and strengthened into
intimacy, by the personal qualities of those thus delicately honoured.
The King and Queen were equally delighted with the wife and daughter
of the terrible rebel; and although, of course, not an allusion was
made to his existence, Lady Annabel felt not the less acutely the
cause to which she was indebted for a notice so gratifying, but
which she afterwards ensured by her own merits. How strange are the
accidents of life! Venetia Herbert, who had been bred up in unbroken
solitude, and whose converse had been confined to two or three beings,
suddenly found herself the guest of a king, and the visitor to a
court! She stepped at once from solitude into the most august circle
of society; yet, though she had enjoyed none of that initiatory
experience which is usually held so indispensable to the votaries
of fashion, her happy nature qualified her to play her part without
effort and with success. Serene and graceful, she mingled in the
strange and novel scene, as if it had been for ever her lot to dazzle
and to charm. Ere the royal family returned to London, they extracted
from Lady Annabel a compliance with their earnest wishes, that
she should fix her residence, during the ensuing season, in the
metropolis, and that she should herself present Venetia at St.
James's. The wishes of kings are commands; and Lady Annabel, who thus
unexpectedly perceived some of the most painful anticipations of her
solitude at once dissipated, and that her child, instead of being
subjected on her entrance into life to all the mortifications she had
imagined, would, on the contrary, find her first introduction under
auspices the most flattering and advantageous, bowed a dutiful assent
to the condescending injunctions.
Such were the memorable consequences of this visit to Weymouth! The
return of Lady Annabel to the world, and her intended residence in the
metropolis, while the good Masham preceded their arrival to receive a
mitre. Strange events, and yet not improbable!
In the meantime Lord Cadurcis had repaired to the university, where
his rank and his eccentric qualities quickly gathered round him a
choice circle of intimates, chiefly culled from his old schoolfellows.
Of these the great majority were his seniors, for whose society
the maturity of his mind qualified him. It so happened that these
companions were in general influenced by those liberal opinions which
had become in vogue during the American war, and from which Lord
Cadurcis had hitherto been preserved by the society in which he
had previously mingled in the house of his guardian. With the
characteristic caprice and impetuosity of youth, Cadurcis rapidly
and ardently imbibed all these doctrines, captivated alike by their
boldness and their novelty. Hitherto the child of prejudice, he
flattered himself that he was now the creature of reason, and,
determined to take nothing for granted, he soon learned to question
everything that was received. A friend introduced him to the writings
of Herbert, that very Herbert whom he had been taught to look upon
with so much terror and odium. Their perusal operated a complete
revolution of his mind; and, in little more than a year from his
flight from Cherbury, he had become an enthusiastic votary of the
great master, for his violent abuse of whom he had been banished from
those happy bowers. The courage, the boldness, the eloquence, the
imagination, the strange and romantic career of Herbert, carried the
spirit of Cadurcis captive. The sympathetic companions studied his
works and smiled with scorn at the prejudice of which their great
model had been the victim, and of which they had been so long the
dupes. As for Cadurcis, he resolved to emulate him, and he commenced
his noble rivalship by a systematic neglect of all the duties and
the studies of his college life. His irregular habits procured him
constant reprimands in which he gloried; he revenged himself on the
authorities by writing epigrams, and by keeping a bear, which he
declared should stand for a fellowship. At length, having wilfully
outraged the most important regulations, he was expelled; and he
made his expulsion the subject of a satire equally personal and
philosophic, and which obtained applause for the great talent which it
displayed, even from those who lamented its want of judgment and the
misconduct of its writer. Flushed with success, Cadurcis at length
found, to his astonishment, that Nature had intended him for a poet.
He repaired to London, where he was received with open arms by the
Whigs, whose party he immediately embraced, and where he published a
poem, in which he painted his own character as the hero, and of which,
in spite of all the exaggeration and extravagance of youth, the genius
was undeniable. Society sympathised with a young and a noble poet;
his poem was read by all parties with enthusiasm; Cadurcis became the
fashion. To use his own expression, 'One morning he awoke, and found
himself famous.' Young, singularly handsome, with every gift of nature
and fortune, and with an inordinate vanity that raged in his soul,
Cadurcis soon forgot the high philosophy that had for a moment
attracted him, and delivered himself up to the absorbing egotism which
had ever been latent in his passionate and ambitious mind. Gifted with
energies that few have ever equalled, and fooled to the bent by the
excited sympathies of society, he poured forth his creative and daring
spirit with a license that conquered all obstacles, from the very
audacity with which he assailed them. In a word, the young, the
reserved, and unknown Cadurcis, who, but three years back, was to have
lived in the domestic solitude for which he alone felt himself fitted,
filled every heart and glittered in every eye. The men envied, the
women loved, all admired him. His life was a perpetual triumph; a
brilliant and applauding stage, on which he ever played a dazzling and
heroic part. So sudden and so startling had been his apparition, so
vigorous and unceasing the efforts by which he had maintained his
first overwhelming impression, and not merely by his writings, but by
his unusual manners and eccentric life, that no one had yet found time
to draw his breath, to observe, to inquire, and to criticise. He had
risen, and still flamed, like a comet as wild as it was beautiful, and
strange is it was brilliant.
We must now return to the dinner party at Lord Monteagle's. When the
Bishop of ---- entered the room, he found nearly all the expected
guests assembled, and was immediately presented by his host to the
lady of the house, who received him with all that fascinating address
for which she was celebrated, expressing the extreme delight which she
felt at thus becoming formally acquainted with one whom her husband
had long taught her to admire and reverence. Utterly unconscious who
had just joined the circle, while Lord Monteagle was introducing his
newly-arrived guest to many present, and to all of whom he was unknown
except by reputation, Lord Cadurcis was standing apart, apparently
wrapt in his own thoughts; but the truth is, in spite of all the
excitement in which he lived, he had difficulty in overcoming the
natural reserve of his disposition.
'Watch Cadurcis,' said Mr. Horace Pole to a fine lady. 'Does not he
'Show me him,' said the lady, eagerly. 'I have never seen him yet; I
am actually dying to know him. You know we have just come to town.'
'And have caught the raging epidemic, I see,' said Mr. Pole, with a
sneer. 'However, there is the marvellous young gentleman! "Alone in a
crowd," as he says in his last poem. Very interesting!'
'Wonderful creature!' exclaimed the dame.
'Charming!' said Mr. Pole. 'If you ask Lady Monteagle, she will
introduce him to you, and then, perhaps, you will be fortunate enough
to be handed to dinner by him.'
'Oh! how I should like it!'
'You must take care, however, not to eat; he cannot endure a woman who
'I never do,' said the lady, simply; 'at least at dinner.'
'Ah! then you will quite suit him; I dare say he will write a sonnet
to you, and call you Thyrza.'
'I wish I could get him to write some lines in my book, said the lady;
'Charles Fox has written some; he was staying with us in the autumn,
and he has written an ode to my little dog.'
'How amiable!' said Mr. Pole; 'I dare say they are as good as his
elegy on Mrs. Crewe's cat. But you must not talk of cats and dogs to
Cadurcis. He is too exalted to commemorate any animal less sublime
than a tiger or a barb.'
'You forget his beautiful lines on his Newfoundland,' said the lady.
'Very complimentary to us all,' said Mr. Horace Pole. 'The interesting
'He looks unhappy.'
'Very,' said Mr. Pole. 'Evidently something on his conscience.'
'They do whisper very odd things,' said the lady, with great
curiosity. 'Do you think there is anything in them?'
'Oh! no doubt,' said Mr. Pole; 'look at him; you can detect crime in
'Dear me, how shocking! I think he must be the most interesting person
that ever lived. I should so like to know him! They say he is so very
'Very,' said Mr. Pole. 'He must be a man of genius; he is so unlike
everybody; the very tie of his cravat proves it. And his hair, so
savage and dishevelled; none but a man of genius would not wear
powder. Watch him to-day, and you will observe that he will not
condescend to perform the slightest act like an ordinary mortal. I
met him at dinner yesterday at Fanshawe's, and he touched nothing but
biscuits and soda-water. Fanshawe, you know, is famous for his cook.
Complimentary and gratifying, was it not?'
'Dear me!' said the lady, 'I am delighted to see him; and yet I hope I
shall not sit by him at dinner. I am quite afraid of him.'
'He is really awful!' said Mr. Pole.
In the meantime the subject of these observations slowly withdrew to
the further end of the saloon, apart from every one, and threw himself
upon a couch with a somewhat discontented air. Lady Monteagle, whose
eye had never left him for a moment, although her attentions had been
necessarily commanded by her guests, and who dreaded the silent rages
in which Cadurcis constantly indulged, and which, when once assumed
for the day, were with difficulty dissipated, seized the first
opportunity to join and soothe him.
'Dear Cadurcis,' she said, 'why do you sit here? You know I am obliged
to speak to all these odious people, and it is very cruel of you.'
'You seemed to me to be extremely happy,' replied his lordship, in a
'Now, Cadurcis, for Heaven's sake do not play with my feelings,'
exclaimed Lady Monteagle, in a deprecating tone. 'Pray be amiable. If
I think you are in one of your dark humours, it is quite impossible
for me to attend to these people; and you know it is the only point on
which Monteagle ever has an opinion; he insists upon my attending to
'If you prefer his guests to me, attend to them.'
'Now, Cadurcis! I ask you as a favour, a favour to me, only for
to-day. Be kind, be amiable, you can if you like; no person can be
more amiable; now, do!'
'I am amiable,' said his lordship; 'I am perfectly satisfied, if you
are. You made me dine here.'
'Have I not dined here to satisfy you?'
'Yes! It was very kind.'
'But, really, that I should be wearied with all the common-places of
these creatures who come to eat your husband's cutlets, is too much,'
said his lordship. 'And you, Gertrude, what necessity can there be in
your troubling yourself to amuse people whom you meet every day of
your life, and who, from the vulgar perversity of society, value you
in exact proportion as you neglect them?'
'Yes, but to-day I must be attentive; for Henry, with his usual
thoughtlessness, has asked this new bishop to dine with us.'
'The Bishop of----?' inquired Lord Cadurcis, eagerly. 'Is he coming?'
'He has been in the room this quarter of an hour?'
'What, Masham! Doctor Masham!' continued Lord Cadurcis.
Lord Cadurcis changed colour, and even sighed. He rose rather quickly,
and said, 'I must go and speak to him.'
So, quitting Lady Monteagle, he crossed the room, and with all the
simplicity of old days, which instantly returned on him, those
melancholy eyes sparkling with animation, and that languid form quick
with excitement, he caught the Doctor's glance, and shook his extended
hand with a heartiness which astonished the surrounding spectators,
accustomed to the elaborate listlessness of his usual manner.
'My dear Doctor! my dear Lord! I am glad to say,' said Cadurcis, 'this
is the greatest and the most unexpected pleasure I ever received. Of
all persons in the world, you are the one whom I was most anxious to
The good Bishop appeared not less gratified with the rencounter than
Cadurcis himself; but, in the midst of their mutual congratulations,
dinner was announced and served; and, in due order, Lord Cadurcis
found himself attending that fine lady, whom Mr. Horace Pole had, in
jest, suggested should be the object of his services; while Mr. Pole
himself was seated opposite to him at table.
The lady, remembering all Mr. Pole's intimations, was really
much frightened; she at first could scarcely reply to the casual
observations of her neighbour, and quite resolved not to eat anything.
But his lively and voluble conversation, his perfectly unaffected
manner, and the nonchalance with which he helped himself to every dish
that was offered him, soon reassured her. Her voice became a little
firmer, her manner less embarrassed, and she even began meditating a
delicate assault upon a fricassee.
'Are you going to Ranelagh to-night?' inquired Lord Cadurcis; 'I think
I shall take a round. There is nothing like amusement; it is the only
thing worth living for; and I thank my destiny I am easily amused. We
must persuade Lady Monteagle to go with us. Let us make a party, and
return and sup. I like a supper; nothing in the world more charming
than a supper,
A lobster salad, and champagne and chat.
That is life, and delightful. Why, really, my dear madam, you eat
nothing. You will never be able to endure the fatigues of a Ranelagh
campaign on the sustenance of a pate. Pole, my good fellow, will you
take a glass of wine? We had a pleasant party yesterday at Fanshawe's,
and apparently a capital dinner. I was sorry that I could not play my
part; but I have led rather a raking life lately. We must go and dine
with him again.'
Lord Cadurcis' neighbour and Mr. Pole exchanged looks; and the lady,
emboldened by the unexpected conduct of her cavalier and the exceeding
good friends which he seemed resolved to be with her and every
one else, began to flatter herself that she might yet obtain the
much-desired inscription in her volume. So, after making the usual
approaches, of having a great favour to request, which, however, she
could not flatter herself would be granted, and which she even was
afraid to mention; encouraged by the ready declaration of Lord
Cadurcis, that he should think it would be quite impossible for any
one to deny her anything, the lady ventured to state, that Mr. Fox had
written something in her book, and she should be the most honoured and
happiest lady in the land if--'
'Oh! I shall be most happy,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'I really esteem your
request quite an honour: you know I am only a literary amateur, and
cannot pretend to vie with your real authors. If you want them, you
must go to Mrs. Montagu. I would not write a line for her, and no the
blues have quite excommunicated me. Never mind; I leave them to Miss
Hannah More; but you, you are quite a different sort of person. What
shall I write?'
'I must leave the subject to you,' said his gratified friend.
'Well, then,' said his lordship, 'I dare say you have got a lapdog or
a broken fan; I don't think I could soar above them. I think that is
about my tether.'
This lady, though a great person, was not a beauty, and very little
of a wit, and not calculated in any respect to excite the jealousy of
Lady Monteagle. In the meantime that lady was quite delighted with the
unusual animation of Lord Cadurcis, who was much the most entertaining
member of the party. Every one present would circulate throughout
the world that it was only at the Monteagle's that Lord Cadurcis
condescended to be amusing. As the Bishop was seated on her right
hand, Lady Monteagle seized the opportunity of making inquiries as to
their acquaintance; but she only obtained from the good Masham that he
had once resided in his lordship's neighbourhood, and had known him as
a child, and was greatly attached to him. Her ladyship was anxious to
obtain some juvenile anecdotes of her hero; but the Bishop contrived
to be amusing without degenerating into gossip. She did not glean
much, except that all his early friends were more astonished at his
present career than the Bishop himself, who was about to add, that
he always had some misgivings, but, recollecting where he was, he
converted the word into a more gracious term. But if Lady Monteagle
were not so successful as she could wish in her inquiries, she
contrived still to speak on the, to her, ever-interesting subject, and
consoled herself by the communications which she poured into a guarded
yet not unwilling ear, respecting the present life and conduct of
the Bishop's former pupil. The worthy dignitary had been prepared by
public fame for much that was dazzling and eccentric; but it must be
confessed he was not a little astonished by a great deal to which he
listened. One thing, however, was clear that whatever might be the
demeanour of Cadurcis to the circle in which he now moved, time, and
the strange revolutions of his life, had not affected his carriage
to his old friend. It gratified the Bishop while he listened to Lady
Monteagle's details of the haughty, reserved, and melancholy demeanour
of Cadurcis, which impressed every one with an idea that some superior
being had, as a punishment, been obliged to visit their humble globe,
to recall the apparently heartfelt cordiality with which he had
resumed his old acquaintance with the former rector of Marringhurst.
And indeed, to speak truth, the amiable and unpretending behaviour of
Cadurcis this day was entirely attributable to the unexpected meeting
with this old friend. In the hurry of society he could scarcely dwell
upon the associations which it was calculated to call up; yet
more than once he found himself quite absent, dwelling on sweet
recollections of that Cherbury that he had so loved. And ever and anon
the tones of a familiar voice caught his ear, so that they almost made
him start: they were not the less striking, because, as Masham was
seated on the same side of the table as Cadurcis, his eye had not
become habituated to the Bishop's presence, which sometimes he almost
He seized the first opportunity after dinner of engaging his old tutor
in conversation. He took him affectionately by the arm, and led him,
as if unintentionally, to a sofa apart from the rest of the company,
and seated himself by his side. Cadurcis was agitated, for he was
about to inquire of some whom he could not mention without emotion.
'Is it long since you have seen our friends?' said his lordship, 'if
indeed I may call them mine.'
'Lady Annabel Herbert?' said the Bishop.
'I parted from her about two months back,' continued the Bishop.
'And Cherbury, dear Cherbury, is it unchanged?'
'They have not resided there for more than two years.'
'They have lived, of late, at Weymouth, for the benefit of the sea
'I hope neither Lady Annabel nor her daughter needs it?' said Lord
Cadurcis, in a tone of much feeling.
'Neither now, God be praised!' replied Masham; 'but Miss Herbert has
been a great invalid.'
There was a rather awkward silence. At length Lord Cadurcis said, 'We
meet rather unexpectedly, my dear sir.'
'Why, you have become a great man,' said the Bishop, with a smile;
'and one must expect to meet you.'
'Ah! my dear friend,' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, with a sigh, 'I would
willingly give a whole existence of a life like this for one year of
happiness at Cherbury.'
'Nay!' said the Bishop, with a look of good-natured mockery, 'this
melancholy is all very well in poetry; but I always half-suspected,
and I am quite sure now, that Cherbury was not particularly adapted to
'You mistake me,' said Cadurcis, mournfully shaking his head.
'Hitherto I have not been so very wrong in my judgment respecting
Lord Cadurcis, that I am inclined very easily to give up my opinion,'
replied the Bishop.
'I have often thought of the conversation to which you allude,'
replied Lord Cadurcis; 'nevertheless, there is one opinion I never
changed, one sentiment that still reigns paramount in my heart.'
'You think so,' said his companion; but, perhaps, were it more than a
sentiment, it would cease to flourish.'
'No,' said Lord Cadurcis firmly; 'the only circumstance in the world
of which I venture to feel certain is my love for Venetia.'
'It raged certainly during your last visit to Cherbury,' said the
Bishop, 'after an interval of five years; it has been revived slightly
to-day, after an interval of three more, by the sight of a mutual
acquaintance, who has reminded you of her. But what have been your
feelings in the meantime? Confess the truth, and admit you have very
rarely spared a thought to the person to whom you fancy yourself at
this moment so passionately devoted.'
'You do not do me justice,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'you are prejudiced
'Nay! prejudice is not my humour, my good lord. I decide only from
what I myself observe; I give my opinion to you at this moment as
freely as I did when you last conversed with me at the abbey, and when
I a little displeased you by speaking what you will acknowledge has
since turned out to be the truth.'
'You mean, then, to say,' said his lordship, with some excitement,
'that you do not believe that I love Venetia?'
'I think you do, at this moment,' replied Masham; 'and I think,' he
continued, smiling, 'that you may probably continue very much in love
with her, even during the rest of the week.'
'You mock me!'
'Nay! I am sincerely serious.'
'What, then, do you mean?'
'I mean that your imagination, my lord, dwelling for the moment with
great power upon the idea of Venetia, becomes inflamed, and your whole
mind is filled with her image.'
'A metaphysical description of being in love,' said Lord Cadurcis,
'Nay!' said Masham, 'I think the heart has something to do with that.'
'But the imagination acts upon the heart,' rejoined his companion.
'But it is in the nature of its influence not to endure. At this
moment, I repeat, your lordship may perhaps love Miss Herbert; you
may go home and muse over her memory, and even deplore in passionate
verses your misery in being separated from her; but, in the course of
a few days, she will be again forgotten.'
'But were she mine?' urged Lord Cadurcis, eagerly.
'Why, you would probably part from her in a year, as her father parted
from Lady Annabel.'
'Impossible! for my imagination could not conceive anything more
exquisite than she is.'
'Then it would conceive something less exquisite,' said the Bishop.
'It is a restless quality, and is ever creative, either of good or of
'Ah! my dear Doctor, excuse me for again calling you Doctor, it is so
natural,' said Cadurcis, in a tone of affection.
'Call me what you will, my dear lord,' said the good Bishop, whose
heart was moved; 'I can never forget old days.'
'Believe me, then,' continued Cadurcis, 'that you misjudge me in
respect of Venetia. I feel assured that, had we married three years
ago, I should have been a much happier man.'
'Why, you have everything to make you happy,' said the Bishop; 'if you
are not happy, who should be? You are young, and you are famous: all
that is now wanted is to be wise.'
Lord Cadurcis shrugged his shoulders. I am tired of this life,' he
said; 'I am wearied of the same hollow bustle, and the same false
glitter day after day. Ah! my dear friend, when I remember the happy
hours when I used to roam through the woods of Cherbury with Venetia,
and ramble in that delicious park, both young, both innocent, lit by
the sunset and guided by the stars; and then remember that it has all
ended in this, and that this is success, glory, fame, or whatever be
the proper title to baptize the bubble, the burthen of existence is
too great for me.'
'Hush, hush!' said his friend, rising from the sofa; 'you will be
happy if you be wise.'
'But what is wisdom?' said Lord Cadurcis.
'One quality of it, in your situation, my lord, is to keep your head
as calm as you can. Now, I must bid you good night.'
The Bishop disappeared, and Lord Cadurcis was immediately surrounded
by several fine ladies, who were encouraged by the flattering bulletin
that his neighbour at dinner, who was among them, had given of his
lordship's temper. They were rather disappointed to find him sullen,
sarcastic, and even morose. As for going to Ranelagh, he declared
that, if he had the power of awarding the punishment of his bitterest
enemy, it would be to consign him for an hour to the barbarous
infliction of a promenade in that temple of ennui; and as for the
owner of the album, who, anxious about her verses, ventured to express
a hope that his lordship would call upon her, the contemptuous bard
gave her what he was in the habit of styling 'a look,' and quitted
the room, without deigning otherwise to acknowledge her hopes and her
We must now return to our friends the Herberts, who, having quitted
Weymouth, without even revisiting Cherbury, are now on their journey
to the metropolis. It was not without considerable emotion that Lady
Annabel, after an absence of nearly nineteen years, contemplated her
return to the scene of some of the most extraordinary and painful
occurrences of her life. As for Venetia, who knew nothing of towns and
cities, save from the hasty observations she had made in travelling,
the idea of London, formed only from books and her imagination, was
invested with even awful attributes. Mistress Pauncefort alone
looked forward to their future residence simply with feelings of
self-congratulation at her return, after so long an interval, to the
theatre of former triumphs and pleasures, and where she conceived
herself so eminently qualified to shine and to enjoy.
The travellers entered town towards nightfall, by Hyde Park Corner,
and proceeded to an hotel in St. James's Street, where Lady Annabel's
man of business had engaged them apartments. London, with its pallid
parish lamps, scattered at long intervals, would have presented but a
gloomy appearance to the modern eye, habituated to all the splendour
of gas; but to Venetia it seemed difficult to conceive a scene of more
brilliant bustle; and she leant back in the carriage, distracted with
the lights and the confusion of the crowded streets. When they were
once safely lodged in their new residence, the tumult of unpacking the
carriages had subsided, and the ceaseless tongue of Pauncefort had
in some degree refrained from its wearying and worrying chatter,
a feeling of loneliness, after all this agitation and excitement,
simultaneously came over the feelings of both mother and daughter,
though they alike repressed its expression. Lady Annabel was lost
in many sad thoughts, and Venetia felt mournful, though she could
scarcely define the cause. Both were silent, and they soon sought
refuge from fatigue and melancholy in sleep.
The next morning, it being now April, was fortunately bright and
clear. It certainly was a happy fortune that the fair Venetia was not
greeted with a fog. She rose refreshed and cheerful, and joined her
mother, who was, however, not a little agitated by an impending visit,
of which Venetia had been long apprised. This was from Lady Annabel's
brother, the former ambassador, who had of late returned to his native
country. The brother and sister had been warmly attached in youth, but
the awful interval of time that had elapsed since they parted, filled
Venetia's mother with many sad and serious reflections. The Earl and
his family had been duly informed of Lady Annabel's visit to the
metropolis, and had hastened to offer her the hospitality of their
home; but the offer had been declined, with feelings, however, not a
little gratified by the earnestness with which it had been proffered.
Venetia was now, for the first time in her life, to see a relative.
The anticipated meeting excited in her mind rather curiosity than
sentiment. She could not share the agitation of her mother, and
yet she looked forward to the arrival of her uncle with extreme
inquisitiveness. She was not long kept in suspense. Their breakfast
was scarcely finished, when he was announced. Lady Annabel turned
rather pale; and Venetia, who felt herself as it were a stranger to
her blood, would have retired, had not her mother requested her to
remain; so she only withdrew to the back of the apartment.
Her uncle was ten years the senior of his sister, but not unlike her.
Tall, graceful, with those bland and sympathising manners that easily
win hearts, he entered the room with a smile of affection, yet with a
composure of deportment that expressed at the same time how sincerely
delighted he was at the meeting, and how considerately determined, at
the same time, not to indulge in a scene. He embraced his sister with
tenderness, assured her that she looked as young as ever, softly
chided her for not making his house her home, and hoped that they
should never part again; and he then turned to his niece. A fine
observer, one less interested in the scene than the only witnesses,
might have detected in the Earl, notwithstanding his experienced
breeding, no ordinary surprise and gratification at the sight of the
individual whose relationship he was now to claim for the first time.
'I must claim an uncle's privilege,' he said, in a tone of sweetness
and some emotion, as he pressed with his own the beautiful lips of
Venetia. 'I ought to be proud of my niece. Why, Annabel! if only for
the honour of our family, you should not have kept this jewel so long
enshrined in the casket of Cherbury.'
The Earl remained with them some hours, and his visit was really
prolonged by the unexpected pleasure which he found in the society of
his relations. He would not leave them until they promised to dine
with him that day, and mentioned that he had prevented his wife from
calling with him that morning, because he thought, after so long a
separation, it might be better to meet thus quietly. Then they parted
with affectionate cordiality on both sides; the Earl enchanted to find
delightful companions where he was half afraid he might only meet
tiresome relatives; Lady Annabel proud of her brother, and gratified
by his kindness; and Venetia anxious to ascertain whether all her
relations were as charming as her uncle.
When Lady Annabel and her daughter returned from their morning drive,
they found the visiting ticket of the Countess on the table, who had
also left a note, with which she had provided herself in case she was
not so fortunate as to meet her relations. The note was affectionate,
and expressed the great delight of the writer at again meeting her
dear sister, and forming an acquaintance with her charming niece.
'More relations!' said Venetia, with a somewhat droll expression of
At this moment the Bishop of----, who had already called twice upon
them unsuccessfully, entered the room. The sight of this old and dear
friend gave great joy. He came to engage them to dine with him the
next day, having already ineffectually endeavoured to obtain them for
permanent guests. They sat chatting so long with him, that they were
obliged at last to bid him an abrupt adieu, and hasten and make their
toilettes for their dinner.
Their hostess received her relations with a warmth which her husband's
praises of her sister-in-law and niece had originally prompted, but
which their appearance and manners instantly confirmed. As all the
Earl's children were married, their party consisted to-day only of
themselves; but it was a happy and agreeable meeting, for every
one was desirous of being amiable. To be sure they had not many
recollections or associations in common, and no one recurred to the
past; but London, and the history of its fleeting hours, was an
inexhaustible source of amusing conversation; and the Countess seemed
resolved that Venetia should have a brilliant season; that she should
be much amused and much admired. Lady Annabel, however, put in a plea
for moderation, at least until Venetia was presented; but that the
Countess declared must be at the next drawing-room, which was early in
the ensuing week. Venetia listened to glittering narratives of balls
and routs, operas and theatres, breakfasts and masquerades, Ranelagh
and the Pantheon, with the same smiling composure as if she had been
accustomed to them all her life, instead of having been shut up in
a garden, with no livelier or brighter companions than birds and
After dinner, as her aunt and uncle and Lady Annabel sat round the
fire, talking of her maternal grandfather, a subject which did not at
all interest her, Venetia stole from her chair to a table in a distant
part of the room, and turned over some books and music that were lying
upon it. Among these was a literary journal, which she touched almost
by accident, and which opened, with the name of Lord Cadurcis on the
top of its page. This, of course, instantly attracted her attention.
Her eye passed hastily over some sentences which greatly astonished
her, and, extending her arm for a chair without quitting the book,
she was soon deeply absorbed by the marvels which rapidly unfolded
themselves to her. The article in question was an elaborate criticism
as well of the career as the works of the noble poet; for, indeed, as
Venetia now learnt, they were inseparably blended. She gathered from
these pages a faint and hasty yet not altogether unfaithful conception
of the strange revolution that had occurred in the character,
pursuits, and position of her former companion. In that mighty
metropolis, whose wealth and luxury and power had that morning so
vividly impressed themselves upon her consciousness, and to the
history of whose pleasures and brilliant and fantastic dissipation she
had recently been listening with a lively and diverted ear, it seemed
that, by some rapid and magical vicissitude, her little Plantagenet,
the faithful and affectionate companion of her childhood, whose
sorrows she had so often soothed, and who in her pure and devoted love
had always found consolation and happiness, had become 'the observed
of all observers;' the most remarkable where all was striking, and
dazzling where all were brilliant!
His last visit to Cherbury, and its strange consequences, then
occurred to her; his passionate addresses, and their bitter parting.
Here was surely matter enough for a maiden's reverie, and into a
reverie Venetia certainly fell, from which she was roused by the voice
of her uncle, who could not conceive what book his charming niece
could find so interesting, and led her to feel what an ill compliment
she was paying to all present. Venetia hastily closed the volume, and
rose rather confused from her seat; her radiant smile was the
best apology to her uncle: and she compensated for her previous
inattention, by playing to him on the harpsichord. All the time,
however, the image of Cadurcis flitted across her vision, and she
was glad when her mother moved to retire, that she might enjoy the
opportunity of pondering in silence and unobserved over the strange
history that she had read.
London is a wonderful place! Four-and-twenty hours back, with a
feeling of loneliness and depression amounting to pain, Venetia had
fled to sleep as her only refuge; now only a day had passed, and
she had both seen and heard many things that had alike startled and
pleased her; had found powerful and charming friends; and laid her
head upon her pillow in a tumult of emotion that long banished slumber
from her beautiful eyes.
Venetia soon found that she must bid adieu for ever, in London, to her
old habits of solitude. She soon discovered that she was never to be
alone. Her aunt called upon them early in the morning, and said that
the whole day must be devoted to their court dresses; and in a few
minutes they were all whirled off to a celebrated milliner's. After
innumerable consultations and experiments, the dress of Venetia was
decided on; her aunt and Lady Annabel were both assured that it would
exceed in splendour and propriety any dress at the drawing-room.
Indeed, as the great artist added, with such a model to work from
it would reflect but little credit on the establishment, if any
approached Miss Herbert in the effect she must inevitably produce.
While her mother was undergoing some of those attentions to which
Venetia had recently submitted, and had retired for a few minutes into
an adjoining apartment, our little lady of Cherbury strolled about the
saloon in which she had been left, until her attention was attracted
by a portrait of a young man in an oriental dress, standing very
sublimely amid the ruins of some desert city; a palm tree in the
distance, and by his side a crouching camel, and some recumbent
followers slumbering amid the fallen columns.
'That is Lord Cadurcis, my love,' said her aunt, who at the moment
joined her, 'the famous poet. All the young ladies are in love with
him. I dare say you know his works by heart.'
'No, indeed, aunt,' said Venetia; 'I have never even read them; but I
should like very much.'
'Not read Lord Cadurcis' poems! Oh! we must go and get them directly
for you. Everybody reads them. You will be looked upon quite as a
little barbarian. We will stop the carriage at Stockdale's, and get
them for you.'
At this moment Lady Annabel rejoined them; and, having made all their
arrangements, they re-entered the carriage.
'Stop at Stockdale's,' said her ladyship to the servant; 'I must
get Cadurcis' last poem for Venetia. She will be quite back in her
'Cadurcis' last poem!' said Lady Annabel; 'do you mean Lord Cadurcis?
Is he a poet?'
'To he sure! Well, you are countrified not to know Lord Cadurcis!'
'I know him very well,' said Lady Annabel, gravely; 'but I did not
know he was a poet.'
The Countess laughed, the carriage stopped, the book was brought; Lady
Annabel looked uneasy, and tried to catch her daughter's countenance,
but, strange to say, for the first time in her life was quite
unsuccessful. The Countess took the book, and immediately gave it
Venetia. 'There, my dear,' said her aunt, 'there never was anything so
charming. I am so provoked that Cadurcis is a Whig.'
'A Whig!' said Lady Annabel; 'he was not a Whig when I knew him.'
'Oh! my dear, I am afraid he is worse than a Whig. He is almost a
rebel! But then he is such a genius! Everything is allowed, you know,
to a genius!' said the thoughtless sister-in-law.
Lady Annabel was silent; but the stillness of her emotion must not be
judged from the stillness of her tongue. Her astonishment at all she
had heard was only equalled by what we may justly term her horror. It
was impossible that she could have listened to any communication at
the same time so astounding, and to her so fearful.
'We knew Lord Cadurcis when he was very young, aunt,' said Venetia, in
a quiet tone. 'He lived near mamma, in the country.'
'Oh! my dear Annabel, if you see him in town bring him to me; he is
the most difficult person in the world to get to one's house, and I
would give anything if he would come and dine with me.'
The Countess at last set her relations down at their hotel. When Lady
Annabel was once more alone with her daughter, she said, 'Venetia,
dearest, give me that book your aunt lent you.'
Venetia immediately handed it to her, but her mother did not open it;
but saying, 'The Bishop dines at four, darling; I think it is time for
us to dress,' Lady Annabel left the room.
To say the truth, Venetia was less surprised than disappointed by this
conduct of her mother's; but she was not apt to murmur, and she tried
to dismiss the subject from her thoughts.
It was with unfeigned delight that the kind-hearted Masham welcomed
under his own roof his two best and dearest friends. He had asked
nobody to meet them; it was settled that they were to be quite alone,
and to talk of nothing but Cherbury and Marringhurst. When they were
seated at table, the Bishop, who had been detained at the House of
Lords, and been rather hurried to be in time to receive his guests,
turned to his servant and inquired whether any one had called.
'Yes, my lord, Lord Cadurcis,' was the reply.
'Our old companion,' said the Bishop to Lady Annabel, with a
smile. 'He has called upon me twice, and I have on both occasions
unfortunately been absent.'
Lady Annabel merely bowed an assent to the Bishop's remark. Venetia
longed to speak, but found it impossible. 'What is it that represses
me?' she asked herself. 'Is there to be another forbidden subject
insensibly to arise between us? I must struggle against this
indefinable despotism that seems to pervade my life.'
'Have you met Lord Cadurcis, sir?' at length asked Venetia.
'Once; we resumed our acquaintance at a dinner party one day; but I
shall soon see a great deal of him, for he has just taken his seat. He
is of age, you know.'
'I hope he has come to years of discretion in every sense,' said Lady
Annabel; 'but I fear not.'
'Oh, my dear lady!' said the Bishop, 'he has become a great man; he is
our star. I assure you there is nobody in London talked of but Lord
Cadurcis. He asked me a great deal after you and Cherbury. He will be
delighted to see you.'
'I cannot say,' replied Lady Annabel, 'that the desire of meeting is
at all mutual. From all I hear, our connections and opinions are very
different, and I dare say our habits likewise.'
'My aunt lent us his new poem to-day,' said Venetia, boldly.
'Have you read it?' asked the Bishop.
'I am no admirer of modern poetry,' said Lady Annabel, somewhat
'Poetry of any kind is not much in my way,' said the Bishop, 'but if
you like to read his poems, I will lend them to you, for he gave me a
copy; esteemed a great honour, I assure you.'
'Thank you, my lord,' said Lady Annabel, 'both Venetia and myself
are much engaged now; and I do not wish her to read while she is in
London. When we return to Cherbury she will have abundance of time, if
Both Venetia and her worthy host felt that the present subject of
conversation was not agreeable to Lady Annabel, and it was changed.
They fell upon more gracious topics, and in spite of this somewhat
sullen commencement the meeting was quite as delightful as they
anticipated. Lady Annabel particularly exerted herself to please, and,
as was invariably the case under such circumstances with this lady,
she was eminently successful; she apparently endeavoured, by her
remarkable kindness to her daughter, to atone for any unpleasant
feeling which her previous manner might for an instant have
occasioned. Venetia watched her beautiful and affectionate parent,
as Lady Annabel now dwelt with delight upon the remembrance of their
happy home, and now recurred to the anxiety she naturally felt about
her daughter's approaching presentation, with feelings of love and
admiration, which made her accuse herself for the recent rebellion of
her heart. She thought only of her mother's sorrows, and her devotion
to her child; and, grateful for the unexpected course of circumstances
which seemed to be leading every member of their former little society
to honour and happiness, she resolved to persist in that career of
duty and devotion to her mother, from which it seemed to her she had
never deviated for a moment but to experience sorrow, misfortune, and
remorse. Never did Venetia receive her mother's accustomed embrace
and blessing with more responsive tenderness and gratitude than
this night. She banished Cadurcis and his poems from her thoughts,
confident that, so long as her mother approved neither of her
continuing his acquaintance, nor perusing his writings, it was well
that the one should be a forgotten tie, and the other a sealed book.
Among the intimate acquaintances of Lady Annabel's brother was the
nobleman who had been a minister during the American war, and who
had also been the guardian of Lord Cadurcis, of whom, indeed, he was
likewise a distant relative. He had called with his wife on Lady
Annabel, after meeting her and her daughter at her brother's, and had
cultivated her acquaintance with great kindness and assiduity, so
that Lady Annabel had found it impossible to refuse his invitation to
This dinner occurred a few days after the visit of the Herberts to the
Bishop, and that excellent personage, her own family, and some others
equally distinguished, but all of the ministerial party, were invited
to meet her. Lady Annabel found herself placed at table between a
pompous courtier, who, being a gourmand, was not very prompt to
disturb his enjoyment by conversation, and a young man whom she found
very agreeable, and who at first, indeed, attracted her attention by
his resemblance to some face with which she felt she was familiar,
and yet which she was not successful in recalling. His manners were
remarkably frank and ingenuous, yet soft and refined. Without having
any peculiar brilliancy of expression, he was apt and fluent, and his
whole demeanour characterised by a gentle modesty that was highly
engaging. Apparently he had travelled a great deal, for he more than
once alluded to his experience of foreign countries; but this was
afterwards explained by Lady Annabel discovering, from an observation
he let fall, that he was a sailor. A passing question from an opposite
guest also told her that he was a member of parliament. While she was
rather anxiously wishing to know who he might be, and congratulating
herself that one in whose favour she was so much prepossessed should
be on the right side, their host saluted him from the top of the
table, and said, 'Captain Cadurcis, a glass of wine.'
The countenance was now explained. It was indeed Lord Cadurcis whom he
resembled, though his eyes were dark blue, and his hair light brown.
This then was that cousin who had been sent to sea to make his
fortune, and whom Lady Annabel had a faint recollection of poor Mrs.
Cadurcis once mentioning. George Cadurcis had not exactly made his
fortune, but he had distinguished himself in his profession, and
especially in Rodney's victory, and had fought his way up to the
command of a frigate. The frigate had recently been paid off, and he
had called to pay his respects to his noble relative with the hope of
obtaining his interest for a new command. The guardian of his
cousin, mortified with the conduct of his hopeful ward, was not very
favourably impressed towards any one who bore the name of Cadurcis;
yet George, with no pretence, had a winning honest manner that made
friends; his lordship took a fancy to him, and, as he could not at the
moment obtain him a ship, he did the next best thing for him in his
power; a borough was vacant, and he put him into parliament.
'Do you know,' said Lady Annabel to her neighbour, 'I have been
fancying all dinner time that we had met before; but I find it is that
you only resemble one with whom I was once acquainted.'
'My cousin!' said the Captain; 'he will be very mortified when I go
home, if I tell him your ladyship speaks of his acquaintance as one
that is past.'
'It is some years since we met,' said Lady Annabel, in a more reserved
'Plantagenet can never forget what he owes to you,' said Captain
Cadurcis. 'How often has he spoken to me of you and Miss Herbert! It
was only the other night; yes! not a week ago; that he made me sit up
with him all night, while he was telling stories of Cherbury: you see
I am quite familiar with the spot,' he added, smiling.
'You are very intimate with your cousin, I see,' said Lady Annabel.
'I live a great deal with him,' said George Cadurcis. 'You know we had
never met or communicated; and it was not Plantagenet's fault, I am
sure; for of all the generous, amiable, lovable beings, Cadurcis is
the best I ever met with in this world. Ever since we knew each other
he has been a brother to me; and though our politics and opinions are
so opposed, and we naturally live in such a different circle, he would
have insisted even upon my having apartments in his house; nor is it
possible for me to give you the slightest idea of the delicate and
unceasing kindness I experience from him. If we had lived together all
our lives, it would be impossible to be more united.'
This eulogium rather softened Lady Annabel's heart; she even observed,
'I always thought Lord Cadurcis naturally well disposed; I always
hoped he would turn out well; but I was afraid, from what I heard, he
was much changed. He shows, however, his sense and good feeling in
selecting you for his friend; for you are his natural one,' she added,
after a momentary pause.
'And then you know,' he continued, 'it is so purely kind of him; for
of course I am not fit to be a companion for Cadurcis, and perhaps, as
far as that, no one is. Of course we have not a thought in common. I
know nothing but what I have picked up in a rough life; and he, you
know, is the cleverest person that ever lived, at least I think so.'
Lady Annabel smiled.
'Well, he is very young,' she observed, 'much your junior, Captain
Cadurcis; and I hope he will yet prove a faithful steward of the great
gifts that God has given him.'
'I would stake all I hold dear,' said the Captain, with great
animation, 'that Cadurcis turns out well. He has such a good heart.
Ah! Lady Annabel, if he be now and then a little irregular, only think
of the temptations that assail him. Only one-and-twenty, his own
master, and all London at his feet. It is too much for any one's head.
But say or think what the world may, I know him better than they do;
and I know there is not a finer creature in existence. I hope his old
friends will not desert him,' added Captain Cadurcis, with a smile
which, seemed to deprecate the severity of Lady Annabel; 'for in spite
of all his fame and prosperity, perhaps, after all, this is the time
when he most needs them.'
'Very possibly,' said her ladyship rather dryly.
While the mother was engaged in this conversation with her neighbour
respecting her former interesting acquaintance, such was the fame of
Lord Cadurcis then in the metropolis, that he also formed the topic of
conversation at another part of the table, to which the daughter was
an attentive listener. The tone in which he was spoken of, however,
was of a very different character. While no one disputed his genius,
his principles, temper, and habits of life were submitted to the
severest scrutiny; and it was with blended feelings of interest and
astonishment that Venetia listened to the detail of wild opinions,
capricious conduct, and extravagant and eccentric behaviour ascribed
to the companion of her childhood, who had now become the spoiled
child of society. A shrewd gentleman, who had taken an extremely
active part in this discussion, inquired of Venetia, next to whom he
was seated, whether she had read his lordship's last poem. He was
extremely surprised when Venetia answered in the negative; but he
seized the opportunity of giving her an elaborate criticism on the
poetical genius of Cadurcis. 'As for his style,' said the critic, 'no
one can deny that is his own, and he will last by his style; as for
his philosophy, and all these wild opinions of his, they will pass
away, because they are not genuine, they are not his own, they are
borrowed. He will outwrite them; depend upon it, he will. The fact is,
as a friend of mine observed the other day, Herbert's writings have
turned his head. Of course you could know nothing about them, but
there are wonderful things in them, I can tell you that.'
'I believe it most sincerely,' said Venetia.
The critic stared at his neighbour. 'Hush!' said he, 'his wife and
daughter are here. We must not talk of these things. You know Lady
Annabel Herbert? There she is; a very fine woman too. And that is his
daughter there, I believe, that dark girl with a turned-up nose. I
cannot say she warrants the poetical address to her:
My precious pearl the false and glittering world
Has ne'er polluted with, its garish light!
She does not look much like a pearl, does she? She should keep in
The ladies rose and relieved Venetia from her embarrassment.
After dinner Lady Annabel introduced George Cadurcis to her daughter;
and, seated by them both, he contrived without effort, and without the
slightest consciousness of success, to confirm the pleasing impression
in his favour which he had already made, and, when they parted, it was
even with a mutual wish that they might meet again.
It was the night after the drawing-room. Lord Cadurcis was at Brookes'
dining at midnight, having risen since only a few hours. Being a
malcontent, he had ceased to attend the Court, where his original
reception had been most gracious, which he had returned by some
factious votes, and a caustic lampoon.
A party of young men entered, from the Court Ball, which in those days
always terminated at midnight, whence the guests generally proceeded
to Ranelagh; one or two of them seated themselves at the table at
which Cadurcis was sitting. They were full of a new beauty who had
been presented. Their violent and even extravagant encomiums excited
his curiosity. Such a creature had never been seen, she was peerless,
the most radiant of acknowledged charms had been dimmed before her.
Their Majesties had accorded to her the most marked reception. A
Prince of the blood had honoured her with his hand. Then they began to
expatiate with fresh enthusiasm on her unparalleled loveliness.
'O Cadurcis,' said a young noble, who was one of his extreme admirers,
'she is the only creature I ever beheld worthy of being one of your
'Whom are you talking about?' asked Cadurcis in a rather listless
'The new beauty, of course.'
'And who may she be?'
'Miss Herbert, to be sure. Who speaks or thinks of any one else?'
'What, Ve----, I mean Miss Herbert?' exclaimed Cadurcis, with no
'Yes. Do you know her?'
'Do you mean to say--' and Cadurcis stopped and rose from the table,
and joined the party round the fire. 'What Miss Herbert is it?' he
added, after a short pause.
'Why _the_ Miss Herbert; Herbert's daughter, to be sure. She was
presented to-day by her mother.
'Presented to-day!' said Cadurcis audibly, yet speaking as it were to
himself. 'Presented to-day! Presented! How strange!'
'So every one thinks; one of the strangest things that ever happened,'
remarked a bystander.
'And I did not even know they were in town,' continued Cadurcis, for,
from his irregular hours, he had not seen his cousin since the party
of yesterday. He began walking up and down the room, muttering,
'Masham, Weymouth, London, presented at Court, and I know nothing. How
life changes! Venetia at Court, my Venetia!' Then turning round and
addressing the young nobleman who had first spoken to him, he asked
'if the ball were over.'
'Yes; all the world are going to Ranelagh. Are you inclined to take a
'I have a strange fancy,' said Cadurcis, 'and if you will go with me,
I will take you in my vis-a-vis. It is here.'
This was an irresistible invitation, and in a few minutes the
companions were on their way; Cadurcis, apparently with no peculiar
interest in the subject, leading the conversation very artfully to
the presentation of Miss Herbert. His friend was heartily inclined to
gratify his curiosity. He gave him ample details of Miss Herbert's
person: even of her costume, and the sensation both produced; how she
was presented by her mother, who, after so long an estrangement from
the world, scarcely excited less impression, and the remarkable
cordiality with which both mother and daughter were greeted by the
sovereign and his royal consort.
The two young noblemen found Ranelagh crowded, but the presence of
Lord Cadurcis occasioned a sensation the moment he was recognised.
Everywhere the whisper went round, and many parties crowded near to
catch a glimpse of the hero of the day. 'Which is he? That fair,
tall young man? No, the other to be sure. Is it really he? How
distinguished! How melancholy! Quite the poet. Do you think he is
really so unhappy as he looks? I would sooner see him than the King
and Queen. He seems very young, but then he has seen so much of the
world! Fine eyes, beautiful hair! I wonder who is his friend? How
proud he must be! Who is that lady he bowed to? That is the Duke
of ---- speaking to him,' Such were the remarks that might be caught in
the vicinity of Lord Cadurcis as he took his round, gazed at by the
assembled crowd, of whom many knew him only by fame, for the charm of
Ranelagh was that it was rather a popular than a merely fashionable
assembly. Society at large blended with the Court, which maintained
and renewed its influence by being witnessed under the most graceful
auspices. The personal authority of the aristocracy has decreased with
the disappearance of Ranelagh and similar places of amusement, where
rank was not exclusive, and luxury by the gratification it occasioned
others seemed robbed of half its selfism.
In his second round, Lord Cadurcis recognised the approach of the
Herberts. They formed the portion of a large party. Lady Annabel was
leaning on her brother, whom Cadurcis knew by sight; Venetia was at
the side of her aunt, and several gentlemen were hovering about them;
among them, to his surprise, his cousin, George Cadurcis, in his
uniform, for he had been to Court and to the Court Ball. Venetia was
talking with animation. She was in her Court dress and in powder. Her
appearance was strange to him. He could scarcely recognise the
friend of his childhood; but without any doubt in all that assembly,
unrivalled in the whole world for beauty, grace, and splendour, she
was without a parallel; a cynosure on which all eyes were fixed.
So occupied were the ladies of the Herbert party by the conversation
of their numerous and brilliant attendants, that the approach of any
one else but Lord Cadurcis might have been unnoticed by them, but
a hundred tongues before he drew nigh had prepared Venetia for his
appearance. She was indeed most anxious to behold him, and though she
was aware that her heart fluttered not slightly as the moment was at
hand, she commanded her gaze, and her eyes met his, although she was
doubtful whether he might choose or care to recognise her. He bowed
almost to the ground; and when Venetia had raised her responsive head
he had passed by.
'Why, Cadurcis, you know Miss Herbert?' said his friend in a tone of
'Well; but it is a long time since I have seen her.'
'Is she not beautiful?'
'I never doubted on that subject; I tell you, Scrope, we must contrive
to join her party. I wish we had some of our friends among them. Here
comes the Monteagle; aid me to escape her.'
The most fascinating smile failed in arresting the progress of
Cadurcis; fortunately, the lady was the centre of a brilliant band;
all that he had to do, therefore, was boldly to proceed.
'Do you think my cousin is altered since you knew him?' inquired
George Cadurcis of Venetia.
'I scarcely had time to observe him,' she replied.
'I wish you would let me bring him to you. He did not know until this
moment you were in town. I have not seen him since we met yesterday.'
'Oh, no,' said Venetia. 'Do not disturb him.'
In time, however, Lord Cadurcis was again in sight; and now without
any hesitation he stopped, and falling into the line by Miss Herbert,
he addressed her: 'I am proud of being remembered by Miss Herbert,' he
'I am most happy to meet you,' replied Venetia, with unaffected
'And Lady Annabel, I have not been able to catch her eye: is she quite
well? I was ignorant that you were in London until I heard of your
triumph this night.'
The Countess whispered her niece, and Venetia accordingly presented
Lord Cadurcis to her aunt. This was a most gratifying circumstance to
him. He was anxious, by some means or other, to effect his entrance
into her circle; and he had an irresistible suspicion that Lady
Annabel no longer looked upon him with eyes of favour. So he resolved
to enlist the aunt as his friend. Few persons could be more winning
than Cadurcis, when he willed it; and every attempt to please from one
whom all emulated to gratify and honour, was sure to be successful.
The Countess, who, in spite of politics, was a secret votary of his,
was quite prepared to be enchanted. She congratulated herself
on forming, as she had long wished, an acquaintance with one so
celebrated. She longed to pass Lady Monteagle in triumph. Cadurcis
improved his opportunity to the utmost. It was impossible for any
one to be more engaging; lively, yet at the same time gentle, and
deferential with all his originality. He spoke, indeed, more to the
aunt than to Venetia, but when he addressed the latter, there was
a melting, almost a mournful tenderness in his tones, that alike
affected her heart and charmed her imagination. Nor could she be
insensible to the gratification she experienced as she witnessed,
every instant, the emotion his presence excited among the passers-by,
and of which Cadurcis himself seemed so properly and so utterly
unconscious. And this was Plantagenet!
Lord Cadurcis spoke of his cousin, who, on his joining the party, had
assisted the arrangement by moving to the other side; and he spoke of
him with a regard which pleased Venetia, though Cadurcis envied him
his good fortune in having the advantage of a prior acquaintance
with Miss Herbert in town; 'but then we are old acquaintances in the
country,' he added, half in a playful, half in a melancholy tone, 'are
'It is a long time that we have known each other, and it is a long
time since we have met,' replied Venetia.
'A delicate reproach,' said Cadurcis; 'but perhaps rather my
misfortune than my fault. My thoughts have been often, I might say
ever, at Cherbury.'
'And the abbey; have you forgotten the abbey?'
'I have never been near it since a morning you perhaps remember,' said
his lordship in a low voice. 'Ah! Miss Herbert,' he continued, with
a sigh, 'I was young then; I have lived to change many opinions, and
some of which you then disapproved.'
The party stopped at a box just vacant, and in which the ladies seated
themselves while their carriages were inquired for. Lord Cadurcis,
with a rather faltering heart, went up to pay his respects to
Venetia's mother. Lady Annabel received him with a courtesy, that
however was scarcely cordial, but the Countess instantly presented
him to her husband with an unction which a little astonished her
sister-in-law. Then a whisper, but unobserved, passed between the Earl
and his lady, and in a minute Lord Cadurcis had been invited to dine
with them on the next day, and meet his old friends from the country.
Cadurcis was previously engaged, but hesitated not a moment in
accepting the invitation. The Monteagle party now passed by; the
lady looked a little surprised at the company in which she found her
favourite, and not a little mortified by his neglect. What business
had Cadurcis to be speaking to that Miss Herbert? Was it not enough
that the whole day not another name had scarcely crossed her ear, but
the night must even witness the conquest of Lord Cadurcis by the
new beauty? It was such bad ton, it was so unlike him, it was so
underbred, for a person of his position immediately to bow before the
new idol of the hour, and a Tory girl too! It was the last thing
she could have expected from him. She should, on the contrary,
have thought that the universal admiration which this Miss Herbert
commanded, would have been exactly the reason why a man like Cadurcis
would have seemed almost unconscious of her existence. She determined
to remonstrate with him; and she was sure of a speedy opportunity, for
he was to dine with her on the morrow.
Notwithstanding Lady Annabel's reserved demeanour, Lord Cadurcis,
supported by the presence of his cousin, whom he had discovered to be
a favourite of that lady, ventured to call upon her the next day, but
she was out. They were to meet, however, at dinner, where Cadurcis
determined to omit no opportunity to propitiate her. The Countess had
a great deal of tact, and she contrived to make up a party to receive
him, in which there were several of his friends, among them his cousin
and the Bishop of----, and no strangers who were not, like herself,
his great admirers; but if she had known more, she need not have given
herself this trouble, for there was a charm among her guests of which
she was ignorant, and Cadurcis went determined to please and to be
At dinner he was seated next to Lady Annabel, and it was impossible
for any person to be more deferential, soft, and insinuating. He spoke
of old days with emotion which he did not attempt to suppress; he
alluded to the present with infinite delicacy. But it was very
difficult to make way. Lady Annabel was courteous, but she was
reserved. His lively reminiscences elicited from her no corresponding
sentiment; and no art would induce her to dwell upon the present. If
she only would have condescended to compliment him, it would have
given him an opportunity of expressing his distaste of the life which
he now led, and a description of the only life which he wished to
lead; but Lady Annabel studiously avoided affording him any opening
of the kind. She treated him like a stranger. She impressed upon him
without effort that she would only consider him an acquaintance. How
Cadurcis, satiated with the incense of the whole world, sighed for one
single congratulation from Lady Annabel! Nothing could move her.
'I was so surprised to meet you last night,' at length he again
observed. 'I have made so many inquiries after you. Our dear friend
the Bishop was, I fear, almost wearied with my inquiries after
Cherbury. I know not how it was, I felt quite a pang when I heard that
you had left it, and that all these years, when I have been conjuring
up so many visions of what was passing under that dear roof, you were
'Yes. We were at Weymouth some time.'
'But do not you long to see Cherbury again? I cannot tell you how
I pant for it. For my part, I have seen the world, and I have seen
enough of it. After all, the end of all our exertions is to be happy
at home; that is the end of everything; don't you think so?'
'A happy home is certainly a great blessing,' replied Lady Annabel;
'and a rare one.'
'But why should it be rare?' inquired Lord Cadurcis.
'It is our own fault,' said Lady Annabel; 'our vanity drives us from
'But we soon return again, and calm and cooled. For my part, I have no
object in life but to settle down at the old abbey, and never to quit
again our woods. But I shall lead a dull life without my neighbours,'
he added, with a smile, and in a tone half-coaxing.
'I suppose you never see Lord ---- now?' said Lady Annabel, mentioning
his late guardian. There was, as Cadurcis fancied, some sarcasm in the
question, though not in the tone in which it was asked.
'No, I never see him,' his lordship answered firmly; 'we differ in our
opinions, and I differ from him with regret; but I differ from a sense
of duty, and therefore I have no alternative.'
'The claims of duty are of course paramount,' observed Lady Annabel.
'You know my cousin?' said Cadurcis, to turn the conversation.
'Yes, and I like him much; he appears to be a sensible, amiable
person, of excellent principles.'
'I am not bound to admire George's principles,' said Lord
Cadurcis, gaily; 'but I respect them, because I know that they are
conscientious. I love George; he is my only relation, and he is my
'I trust he will always be your friend, for I think you will then, at
least, know one person on whom you can depend.'
'I believe it. The friendships of the world are wind.'
'I am surprised to hear you say so,' said Lady Annabel.
'Why, Lady Annabel?'
'You have so many friends.'
Lord Cadurcis smiled. 'I wish,' he said, after a little hesitation,
'if only for "Auld lang syne," I might include Lady Annabel Herbert
'I do not think there is any basis for friendship between us, my
lord,' she said, very dryly.
'The past must ever be with me,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'and I should
have thought a sure and solid one.'
'Our opinions on all subjects are so adverse, that I must believe that
there could be no great sympathy in our feelings.'
'My feelings are beyond my control,' he replied; 'they are, and must
ever be, totally independent of my opinions.'
Lady Annabel did not reply. His lordship felt baffled, but he was
resolved to make one more effort.
'Do you know,' he said, 'I can scarcely believe myself in London
to-day? To be sitting next to you, to see Miss Herbert, to hear Dr.
Masham's voice. Oh! does it not recall Cherbury, or Marringhurst, or
that day at Cadurcis, when you were so good as to smile over my rough
repast? Ah! Lady Annabel, those days were happy! those were feelings
that can never die! All the glitter and hubbub of the world can never
make me forget them, can never make you, I hope, Lady Annabel, quite
recall them with an effort. We were friends then: let us be friends
'I am too old to cultivate new friendships,' said Lady Annabel; 'and
if we are to be friends, Lord Cadurcis, I am sorry to say that, after
the interval that has occurred since we last parted, we should have to
'It is a long time,' said Cadurcis, mournfully, 'a very long time, and
one, in spite of what the world may think, to which I cannot look back
with any self-congratulation. I wished three years ago never to leave
Cadurcis again. Indeed I did; and indeed it was not my fault that I
'It was no one's fault, I hope. Whatever the cause may have been, I
have ever remained quite ignorant of it. I wished, and wish, to
remain ignorant of it. I, for one, have ever considered it the wise
dispensation of a merciful Providence.'
Cadurcis ground his teeth; a dark look came over him which, when
once it rose on his brow, was with difficulty dispelled; and for the
remainder of the dinner he continued silent and gloomy.
He was, however, not unobserved by Venetia. She had watched his
evident attempts to conciliate her mother with lively interest; she
had witnessed their failure with sincere sorrow. In spite of that
stormy interview, the results of which, in his hasty departure, and
the severance of their acquaintance, she had often regretted, she had
always retained for him the greatest affection. During these three
years he had still, in her inmost heart, remained her own Plantagenet,
her adopted brother, whom she loved, and in whose welfare her feelings
were deeply involved. The mysterious circumstances of her birth, and
the discoveries to which they had led, had filled her mind with a
fanciful picture of human nature, over which she had long brooded. A
great poet had become her ideal of a man. Sometimes she had sighed,
when musing over her father and Plantagenet on the solitary seashore
at Weymouth, that Cadurcis, instead of being the merely amiable, and
somewhat narrow-minded being that she supposed, had not been invested
with those brilliant and commanding qualities which she felt could
alone master her esteem. Often had she, in those abstracted hours,
played with her imagination in combining the genius of her father with
the soft heart of that friend to whom she was so deeply attached. She
had wished, in her reveries, that Cadurcis might have been a great
man; that he might have existed in an atmosphere of glory amid the
plaudits and admiration of his race; and that then he might have
turned from all that fame, so dear to them both, to the heart which
could alone sympathise with the native simplicity of his childhood.
The ladies withdrew. The Bishop and another of the guests joined them
after a short interval. The rest remained below, and drank their wine
with the freedom not unusual in those days, Lord Cadurcis among them,
although it was not his habit. But he was not convivial, though he
never passed the bottle untouched. He was in one of those dark humours
of which there was a latent spring in his nature, but which in old
days had been kept in check by his simple life, his inexperienced
mind, and the general kindness that greeted him, and which nothing but
the caprice and perversity of his mother could occasionally develope.
But since the great revolution in his position, since circumstances
had made him alike acquainted with his nature, and had brought all
society to acknowledge its superiority; since he had gained and felt
his irresistible power, and had found all the world, and all the
glory of it, at his feet, these moods had become more frequent. The
slightest reaction in the self-complacency that was almost unceasingly
stimulated by the applause of applauded men and the love of the
loveliest women, instantly took the shape and found refuge in the
immediate form of the darkest spleen, generally, indeed, brooding in
silence, and, if speaking, expressing itself only in sarcasm. Cadurcis
was indeed, as we have already described him, the spoiled child of
society; a froward and petted darling, not always to be conciliated by
kindness, but furious when neglected or controlled. He was habituated
to triumph; it had been his lot to come, to see, and to conquer; even
the procrastination of certain success was intolerable to him; his
energetic volition could not endure a check. To Lady Annabel Herbert,
indeed, he was not exactly what he was to others; there was a spell
in old associations from which he unconsciously could not emancipate
himself, and from which it was his opinion he honoured her in not
desiring to be free. He had his reasons for wishing to regain his old,
his natural influence, over her heart; he did not doubt for an instant
that, if Cadurcis sued, success must follow the condescending effort.
He had sued, and he had been met with coldness, almost with disdain.
He had addressed her in those terms of tenderness which experience
had led him to believe were irresistible, yet to which he seldom had
recourse, for hitherto he had not been under the degrading necessity
of courting. He had dwelt with fondness on the insignificant past,
because it was connected with her; he had regretted, or affected
even to despise, the glorious present, because it seemed, for some
indefinite cause, to have estranged him from her hearth. Yes! he had
humbled himself before her; he had thrown with disdain at her feet all
that dazzling fame and expanding glory which seemed his peculiar and
increasing privilege. He had delicately conveyed to her that even
these would be sacrificed, not only without a sigh, but with cheerful
delight, to find himself once more living, as of old, in the limited
world of her social affections. Three years ago he had been rejected
by the daughter, because he was an undistinguished youth. Now the
mother recoiled from his fame. And who was this woman? The same cold,
stern heart that had alienated the gifted Herbert; the same narrow,
rigid mind that had repudiated ties that every other woman in the
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