The Earl of Beaconsfield
Part 2 out of 11
one jot he would have married the Princess Caraboo to-morrow. But of all
wives in the world, a young and handsome one was that which he most
dreaded; and how a statesman who was wedded to a beautiful woman could
possibly perform his duties to the public, did most exceedingly puzzle
him. Notwithstanding these sentiments, however, Vivian began to think
that there really could be no harm in talking to so beautiful a creature
as Julia, and a little conversation with her would, he felt, be no
unpleasing relief to the difficult duties in which he was involved.
To the astonishment of the Honourable Buckhurst Stanhope, eldest son of
Lord Beaconsfield, Mr. Vivian Grey, who had never yet condescended to
acknowledge his existence, asked him one morning, with the most
fascinating of smiles and with the most conciliating voice, "whether
they should ride together." The young heir-apparent looked stiff and
assented. He arrived again at Château Desir in a couple of hours,
desperately enamoured of the eldest Miss Courtown. The sacrifice of two
mornings to the Honourable Dormer Stanhope and the Honourable Gregory
Stanhope sent them home equally captivated by the remaining sisters.
Having thus, like a man of honour, provided for the amusement of his
former friends, the three Miss Courtowns, Vivian left Mrs. Felix
Lorraine to the Colonel, whose moustache, by-the-bye, that lady
considerably patronised; and then, having excited an universal feeling
of gallantry among the elders, Vivian found his whole day at the service
of Julia Manvers.
"Miss Manvers, I think that you and I are the only faithful subjects in
this Castle of Indolence. Here am I lounging on an ottoman, my ambition
reaching only so far as the possession of a chibouque, whose aromatic
and circling wreaths, I candidly confess, I dare not here excite; and
you, of course, much too knowing to be doing anything on the first of
August save dreaming of races, archery feats, and county balls: the
three most delightful things which the country can boast, either for
man, woman, or child."
"Of course, you except sporting for yourself, shooting especially, I
"Shooting, oh! ah! there is such a thing. No, I am no shot; not that I
have not hi my time cultivated a Manton; but the truth is, having, at an
early age, mistaken my intimate friend for a cock pheasant, I sent a
whole crowd of fours into his face, and thereby spoilt one of the
prettiest countenances in Christendom; so I gave up the field. Besides,
as Tom Moore says, I have so much to do in the country, that, for my
part, I really have no time for killing birds and jumping over ditches:
good work enough for country squires, who must, like all others, have
their hours of excitement. Mine are of a different nature, and boast a
different locality; and so when I come into the country, 'tis for
pleasant air, and beautiful trees, and winding streams; things which, of
course, those who live among them all the year round do not suspect to
be lovely and adorable creations. Don't you agree with Tom Moore,
"Oh, of course! but I think it is very improper, that habit, which every
one has, of calling a man of such eminence as the author of 'Lalla
Rookh' _Tom_ Moore."
"I wish he could but hear you! But, suppose I were to quote Mr. Moore,
or Mr. Thomas Moore, would you have the most distant conception whom I
meant? Certainly not. By-the-bye, did you ever hear the pretty name they
gave him at Paris?"
"No, what was it?"
"One day Moore and Rogers went to call on Denon. Rogers gave their names
to the Swiss, Monsieur Rogers et Monsieur Moore. The Swiss dashed open
the library door, and, to the great surprise of the illustrious
antiquary, announced, Monsieur l'Amour! While Denon was doubting whether
the God of Love was really paying him a visit or not, Rogers entered. I
should like to have seen Denon's face!"
"And Monsieur Denon did take a portrait of Mr. Rogers as Cupid, I
"Come, madam, 'no scandal about Queen Elizabeth.' Mr. Rogers is one of
the most elegant-minded men in the country."
"Nay! do not lecture me with such a laughing face, or else your moral
will be utterly thrown away."
"Ah! you have Retsch's 'Faust' there. I did not expect on a drawing-room
table at Château Desir to see anything so old, and so excellent, I
thought the third edition of Tremaine would be a very fair specimen of
your ancient literature, and Major Denham's hair-breadth escapes of your
modern. There was an excellent story about, on the return of Denham and
Clapperton. The travellers took different routes, in order to arrive at
the same point of destination. In his wanderings the Major came unto an
unheard-of Lake, which, with the spirit which they of the Guards surely
approved, he christened 'Lake Waterloo.' Clapperton arrived a few days
after him; and the pool was immediately re-baptized 'Lake Trafalgar.'
There was a hot quarrel in consequence. Now, if I had been there, I
would have arranged matters, by proposing as a title, to meet the views
of all parties, 'The United Service Lake.'"
"That would have been happy."
"How beautiful Margaret is," said Vivian, rising from his ottoman, and
seating himself on the sofa by the lady. "I always think that this is
the only Personification where Art has not rendered Innocence insipid."
"Do you think so?"
"Why, take Una in the Wilderness, or Goody Two Shoes. These, I believe,
were the most innocent persons that ever existed, and I am sure you will
agree with me, they always look the most insipid. Nay, perhaps I was
wrong in what I said; perhaps it is Insipidity that always looks
innocent, not Innocence always insipid."
"How can you refine so, when the thermometer is at 100°! Pray, tell me
some more stories."
"I cannot, I am in a refining humour: I could almost lecture to-day at
the Royal Institution. You would not call these exactly Prosopopeias of
Innocence?" said Vivian, turning over a bundle of Stewart Newton's
beauties, languishing, and lithographed. "Newton, I suppose, like Lady
Wortley Montague, is of opinion, that the face is not the most beautiful
part of woman; at least, if I am to judge from these elaborate ankles.
Now, the countenance of this Donna, forsooth, has a drowsy placidity
worthy of the easy-chair she is lolling in, and yet her ankle would not
disgrace the contorted frame of the most pious faquir."
"Well! I am an admirer of Newton's paintings."
"Oh! so am I. He is certainly a cleverish fellow, but rather too much
among the blues; a set, of whom, I would venture to say, Miss Manvers
knoweth little about."
"Oh, not the least! Mamma does not visit that way. What are they?"
"Oh, very powerful people! though 'Mamma does not visit that way.' Their
words are Ukases as far as Curzon Street, and very Decretals in the
general vicinity of May Fair; but you shall have a further description
another time. How those rooks bore! I hate staying with ancient
families; you are always cawed to death. If ever you write a novel, Miss
Manvers, mind you have a rookery in it. Since Tremaine, and Washington
Irving, nothing will go down without."
"By-the-bye, who is the author of Tremaine?"
"It is either Mr. Ryder, or Mr. Spencer Percival, or Mr. Dyson, or Miss
Dyson, or Mr. Bowles, or the Duke of Buckingham, or Mr. Ward, or a young
officer in the Guards, or an old Clergyman in the North of England, or a
middle-aged Barrister on the Midland Circuit."
"Mr. Grey, I wish you could get me an autograph of Mr. Washington
Irving; I want it for a particular friend."
"Give me a pen and ink; I will write you one immediately."
"There! now you have made me blot Faustus."
At this moment the room-door suddenly opened, and as suddenly shut.
"Who was that?"
"Mephistopheles, or Mrs. Felix Lorraine; one or the other, perhaps
"What do you think of Mrs. Felix Lorraine, Miss Manvers?"
"Oh! I think her a very amusing woman, a very clever woman a
"But I cannot exactly make her out."
"Nor I; she is a dark riddle; and, although I am a very Oedipus, I
confess I have not yet unravelled it. Come, there is Washington Irving's
autograph for you; read it; is it not quite in character? Shall I write
any more? One of Sir Walter's, or Mr. Southey's, or Mr. Milman's or Mr.
Disraeli's? or shall I sprawl a Byron?"
"I really cannot sanction such unprincipled conduct. You may make me one
of Sir Walter's, however."
"Poor Washington!" said Vivian, writing. "I knew him well. Be always
slept at dinner. One day, as he was dining at: Mr. Hallam's, they took
him, when asleep, to Lady Jersey's: and, to see the Sieur Geoffrey, they
say, when he opened his eyes in the illumined saloons, was really quite
admirable! quite an Arabian tale!"
"How delightful! I should have so liked to have seen him! He seems quite
forgotten now in England. How came we to talk of him?"
"Forgotten! Oh! he spoilt his elegant talents in writing German and
Italian twaddle with all the rawness of a Yankee. He ought never to have
left America, at least in literature; there was an uncontested and
glorious field for him. He should have been managing director of the
Hudson Bay Company, and lived all his life among the beavers."
"I think there is nothing more pleasant than talking over the season, in
the country, in August."
"Nothing more agreeable. It was dull though, last season, very dull; I
think the game cannot be kept going another year. If it were not for the
General Election, we really must have a war for variety's sake. Peace
gets quite a bore. Everybody you dine with has a good cook, and gives
you a dozen different wines, all perfect. We cannot bear this any
longer; all the lights and shadows of life are lost. The only good thing
I heard this year was an ancient gentlewoman going up to Gunter and
asking him for 'the receipt for that white stuff,' pointing to his Roman
punch. I, who am a great man for receipts, gave it her immediately: 'One
hod of mortar to one bottle of Noyau.'"
"And did she thank you?"
"Thank me! ay, truly; and pushed a card into my hand, so thick and sharp
that it cut through my glove. I wore my arm in a sling for a month
"And what was the card?"
"Oh, you need not look so arch. The old lady was not even a faithless
duenna. It was an invitation to an assembly, or something of the kind,
at a place, somewhere, as Theodore Hook or Mr. Croker would say,
'between Mesopotamia and Russell Square.'"
"Pray, Mr. Grey, is it true that all the houses in Russell Square are
"Quite true; the Marquess of Tavistock has given up the county in
consequence. A perfect shame, is it not? Let us write it up."
"An admirable plan! but we will take the houses first, at a pepper-corn
"What a pity, Miss Manvers, the fashion has gone out of selling oneself
to the devil."
"Good gracious, Mr. Grey!"
"On my honour, I am quite serious. It does appear to me to be a very
great pity. What a capital plan for younger brothers! It is a kind of
thing I have been trying to do all my life, and never could succeed. I
began at school with toasted cheese and a pitchfork; and since then I
have invoked, with all the eloquence of Goethe, the evil one in the
solitude of the Hartz, but without success. I think I should make an
excellent bargain with him: of course I do not mean that ugly vulgar
savage with a fiery tail. Oh, no! Satan himself for me, a perfect
gentleman! Or Belial: Belial would be the most delightful. He is the
fine genius of the Inferno, I imagine, the Beranger of Pandemonium."
"I really cannot listen to such nonsense one moment longer. What would
you have if Belial were here?"
"Let us see. Now, you shall act the spirit, and I, Vivian Grey. I wish
we had a short-hand writer here to take down the Incantation Scene. We
would send it to Arnold. Commençons: Spirit! I will have a fair castle."
The lady bowed.
"I will have a palace in town."
The lady bowed.
"I will have a fair wife. Why, Miss Manvers, you forget to bow!"
"I really beg your pardon!"
"Come, this is a novel way of making an offer, and, I hope, a successful
"Julia, my dear," cried a voice in the veranda, "Julia, my dear, I want
you to walk with me."
"Say you are engaged with the Marchioness," whispered Vivian, with a low
but distinct--voice; his eyes fixed on the table, and his lips not
appearing to move.
"Mamma, I am--"
"I want you immediately and particularly, Julia," cried Lady Louisa, in
an earnest voice.
"I am coming, I am coming. You see I must go."
"Confusion on that old hag! Her eye looked evil on me, at the very
moment! Although a pretty wife is really the destruction of a young
man's prospects, still, in the present case, the niece of my friend, my
patron, high family, perfectly unexceptionable, &c. &c. &c. Such blue
eyes! upon my honour, this must be an exception to the general rule,"
Here a light step attracted his attention, and, on turning round, he
found Mrs. Felix Lorraine at his elbow.
"Oh! you are here, Mr. Grey, acting the solitaire in the park! I want
your opinion about a passage in 'Herman and Dorothea.'"
"My opinion is always at your service; but if the passage is not
perfectly clear to Mrs. Felix Lorraine, it will be perfectly obscure, I
am convinced, to me."
"Ah! yes, of course. Oh, dear! after all my trouble, I have forgotten my
book. How mortifying! Well, I will show it to you after dinner: adieu!
and, by-the-bye, Mr. Grey, as I am here, I may as well advise you not to
spoil all the Marquess's timber, by carving a certain person's name on
his park trees. I think your plans in that quarter are admirable. I have
been walking with Lady Louisa the whole morning, and you cannot think
how I puffed you! Courage, Cavalier, and we shall soon be connected, not
only in friendship, but in blood."
The next morning, at breakfast, Vivian was surprised to find that the
Manvers party was suddenly about to leave the Castle. All were
disconsolate at their departure: for there was to be a grand
entertainment at Château Desir that very day, but particularly Mrs.
Felix Lorraine and Mr. Vivian Grey. The sudden departure was accounted
for by the arrival of "unexpected," &c. &c. &c. There was no hope; the
green post-chariot was at the door, a feeble promise of a speedy return;
Julia's eyes were filled with tears. Vivian was springing forward to
press her hand, and bear her to the carriage, when Mrs. Felix Lorraine
seized his arm, vowed she was going to faint, and, ere she could recover
herself, or loosen her grasp, the Manvers were gone.
The gloom which the parting had diffused over all countenances was quite
dispelled when the Marquess entered.
"Lady Carabas," said he, "you must prepare for many visitors to-day.
There are the Amershams, and Lord Alhambra, and Ernest Clay, and twenty
other young heroes, who, duly informed that the Miss Courtowns were
honouring us with their presence, are pouring in from all quarters; is
it not so, Juliana?" gallantly asked the Marquess of Miss Courtown: "but
who do you think is coming besides?"
"Who, who?" exclaimed all.
"Nay, you shall guess," said the Peer.
"The Duke of Waterloo?" guessed Cynthia Courtown, the romp.
"Prince Hungary?" asked her sister Laura.
"Is it a gentleman?" asked Mrs. Felix Lorraine.
"No, no, you are all wrong, and all very stupid. It is Mrs. Million."
"Oh, how delightful!" said Cynthia.
"Oh, how annoying!" said the Marchioness.
"You need not look so agitated, my love," said the Marquess; "I have
written to Mrs. Million to say that we shall be most happy to see her;
but as the castle is very full, she must not come with five
carriages-and-four, as she did last year."
"And will Mrs. Million dine with us in the Hall, Marquess?" asked
"Mrs. Million will do what she likes; I only know that I shall dine in
the Hall, whatever happens, and whoever comes; and so, I suppose, will
Miss Cynthia Courtown?"
Vivian rode out alone, immediately after breakfast, to cure his
melancholy by a gallop.
Returning home, he intended to look in at a pretty farm-house, where
lived one John Conyers, a great friend of Vivian's. This man had, about
a fortnight ago, been of essential service to our hero, when a vicious
horse, which he was endeavouring to cure of some ugly tricks, had nearly
terminated his mortal career.
"Why are you crying so, my boy?" asked Vivian of a little Conyers, who
was sobbing bitterly at the floor. He was answered only with
"Oh, 'tis your honour," said a decent-looking woman, who came out of the
house; "I thought they had come back again."
"Come back again! why, what is the matter, dame?"
"Oh! your honour, we're in sad distress; there's been a seizure this
morning, and I'm mortal fear'd the good man's beside himself."
"Good heavens! why did not you come to the Castle?"
"Oh! your honour, we a'nt his Lordship's tenants no longer; there's been
a change for Purley Mill, and now we're Lord Mounteney's people. John
Conyers has been behind-hand since he had the fever, but Mr. Sedgwick
always gave time: Lord Mounteney's gem'man says the system's bad, and so
he'll put an end to it; and so all's gone, your honour; all's gone, and
I'm mortal fear'd the good man's beside himself."
"And who is Lord Mounteney's man of business?"
"Mr. Stapylton Toad," sobbed the good dame.
"Here, boy, leave off crying, and hold my horse; keep your hold tight,
but give him rein, he'll be quiet enough then. I will see honest
"I'm sure your honour's very kind, but I'm mortal fear'd the good man's
beside himself, and he's apt to do very violent things when the fits on
him. He hasn't been so bad since young Barton behaved so wickedly to
"Never mind! there is nothing like a friend's face in the hour of
"I wouldn't advise your honour," said the good dame. "It's an awful hour
when the fit's on him; he knows not friend or foe, and scarcely knows
me, your honour."
"Never mind, I'll see him."
Vivian entered the house; but who shall describe the scene of
desolation! The room was entirely stripped; there was nothing left, save
the bare whitewashed walls, and the red tiled flooring. The room was
darkened; and seated on an old block of wood, which had been pulled out
of the orchard, since the bailiff had left, was John Conyers. The fire
was out, but his feet were still among the ashes. His head was buried in
his hands, and bowed down nearly to his knees. The eldest girl, a fine
sensible child of about thirteen, was sitting with two brothers on the
floor in a corner of the room, motionless, their faces grave, and still
as death, but tearless. Three young children, of an age too tender to
know grief, were acting unmeaning gambols near the door.
"Oh! pray beware, your honour," earnestly whispered the poor dame, as
she entered the cottage with the visitor.
Vivian walked up with a silent step to the end of "the room, where
Conyers was sitting. He remembered this little room, when he thought it
the very model of the abode of an English husbandman. The neat row of
plates, and the well-scoured utensils, and the fine old Dutch clock, and
the ancient and amusing ballad, purchased at some neighbouring fair, or
of some itinerant bibliopole, and pinned against the wall, all gone!
"Conyers!" exclaimed Vivian.
There was no answer, nor did the miserable man appear in the slightest
degree to be sensible of Vivian's presence.
"My good John!"
The man raised his head from his resting-place, and turned to the spot
whence the voice proceeded. There was such an unnatural fire in his
eyes, that Vivian's spirit almost quailed. His alarm was not decreased,
when he perceived that the master of the cottage did not recognize him.
The fearful stare was, however, short, and again the sufferer's face
The wife was advancing, but Vivian waved his hand to her to withdraw,
and she accordingly fell into the background; but her fixed eye did not
leave her husband for a second.
"John Conyers, it is your friend, Mr. Vivian Grey, who is here," said
"Grey!" moaned the husbandman; "Grey! who is he?"
"Your friend, John Conyers. Do you quite forget me?" said Vivian
advancing, and with a tone "which Vivian Grey could alone assume.
"I think I have seen you, and you were kind," and the face was again
"And always will be kind, John. I have come to comfort you. I thought
that a friend's voice would do you good. Come, cheer up, my man!" and
Vivian dared to touch him. His hand was not repulsed. "Do you remember
what good service you did me when I rode white-footed Moll? Why, I was
much worse off then than you are now: and yet, you see, a friend came
and saved me. You must not give way so, my good fellow. After all, a
little management will set everything right," and he took the
husbandman's sturdy hand.
"I do remember you," he faintly cried. "You were always very kind."
"And always will be, John; always to friends like you. Come, come, cheer
up and look about you, and let the sunbeam enter your cottage:" and
Vivian beckoned to the wife to open the closed shutter.
Conyers stared around him, but his eye rested only on bare walls, and
the big tear coursed down his hardy cheek.
"Nay, never mind, man," said Vivian, "we will soon have chairs and
tables again. And as for the rent, think no more about that at present."
The husbandman looked up, and then burst into weeping. Vivian could
scarcely hold down his convulsed frame on the rugged seat; but the wife
advanced from the back of the room, and her husband's head rested
against her bosom. Vivian held his honest hand, and the eldest girl rose
unbidden from her silent sorrow, and clung to her father's knee.
"The fit is over," whispered the wife. "There, there, there's a man, all
is now well;" and Vivian left him resting on his wife's bosom.
"Here, you curly-headed rascal, scamper down to the village immediately,
and bring up a basket of something to eat; and tell Morgan Price that
Mr. Grey says he is to send up a couple of beds, and some chairs here
immediately, and some plates and dishes, and everything else, and don't
forget some ale;" so saying, Vivian flung the urchin a sovereign.
"And now, dame, for Heaven's sake, light the fire. As for the rent,
John, do not waste this trifle on that," whispered Vivian, slipping his
purse into his hand, "for I will see Stapylton Toad, and get time. Why,
woman, you'll never strike a light, if your tears drop so fast into the
tinder-box. Here, give it me. You are not fit to work to-day. And how is
the trout in Ravely Mead, John, this hot weather? You know you never
kept your promise with me. Oh! you are a sad fellow! There! there's a
spark! I wonder why old Toad did not take the tinder-box. It is a very
valuable piece of property, at least to us. Run and get me some wood,
that's a good boy. And so white-footed Moll is past all recovery? Well,
she was a pretty creature! There, that will do famously," said Vivian,
fanning the flame with his hat. "See, it mounts well! And now, God bless
you all! for I am an hour too late, and must scamper for my very life."
Mrs. Million arrived, and kept her promise; only three
carriages-and-four! Out of the first descended the mighty lady herself,
with some noble friends, who formed the most distinguished part of her
suite: out of the second came her physician, Dr. Sly; her toad-eater,
Miss Gusset; her secretary, and her page. The third carriage bore her
groom of the chambers, and three female attendants. There were only two
men servants to each equipage; nothing could be more moderate, or, as
Miss Gusser said, "in better taste."
Mrs. Million, after having granted the Marquess a private interview in
her private apartments, signified her imperial intention of dining in
public, which, as she had arrived late, she trusted she might do in her
travelling dress. The Marquess kotooed like a first-rate mandarin, and
vowed "that her will was his conduct."
The whole suite of apartments were thrown open, and were crowded with
guests. Mrs. Million entered; she was leaning on the Marquess' arm, and
in a travelling dress, namely, a crimson silk pelisse, hat and feathers,
with diamond ear-rings, and a rope of gold round her neck. A train of
about twelve persons, consisting of her noble fellow-travellers,
toad-eaters, physicians, secretaries, &c. &c. &c. followed. The entree
of Her Majesty could not have created a greater sensation than did that
of Mrs. Million. All fell back. Gartered peers, and starred ambassadors,
and baronets with blood older than the creation, and squires, to the
antiquity of whose veins chaos was a novelty; all retreated, with eyes
that scarcely dared to leave the ground; even Sir Plantagenet Pure,
whose family had refused a peerage regularly every century, now, for the
first time in his life, seemed cowed, and in an awkward retreat to make
way for the approaching presence, got entangled with the Mameluke boots
of my Lord Alhambra.
At last a sofa was gained, and the great lady was seated, and the
sensation having somewhat subsided, conversation was resumed; and the
mighty Mrs. Million was not slightly abused, particularly by those who
had bowed lowest at her entree; and now the Marquess of Carabas, as was
wittily observed by Mr. Septimus Sessions, a pert young barrister, "went
the circuit," that is to say, made the grand tour of the suite of
apartments, making remarks to every one of his guests, and keeping up
his influence in the county.
"Ah, my Lord Alhambra! this is too kind; and how is your excellent
father, and my good friend? Sir Plantagenet, yours most sincerely! we
shall have no difficulty about that right of common. Mr. Leverton, I
hope you find the new plough work well; your son, sir, will do the
county honour. Sir Godfrey, I saw Barton upon that point, as I promised.
Lady Julia, I am rejoiced to see ye at Château Desir, more blooming than
ever! Good Mr. Stapylton Toad, so that little change was effected: My
Lord Devildrain, this is a pleasure indeed!"
"Why, Ernest Clay," said Mr. Buckhurst Stanhope, "I thought Alhambra
wore a turban; I am quite disappointed."
"Not in the country. Stanhope; here he only sits cross-legged on an
ottoman, and carves his venison with an ataghan."
"Well, I am glad he does not wear a turban; that would be bad taste, I
think," said Fool Stanhope. "Have you read his poem?"
"A little. He sent me a copy, and as I am in the habit of lighting my
pipe or so occasionally with a leaf, why I cannot help occasionally
seeing a line: it seems quite first-rate."
"Indeed!" said Fool Stanhope; "I must get it."
"My dear Puff! I am quite glad to find you here," said Mr. Cayenne, a
celebrated reviewer, to Mr. Partenopex Puff, a small author and smaller
wit. "Have you seen Middle Ages lately?"
"Not very lately," drawled Mr. Partenopex, "I breakfasted with him
before I left town, and met a Professor Bopp there, a very interesting
man, and Principal of the celebrated University of Heligoland, the model
of the London."
"Ah, indeed! talking of the London, is Foaming Fudge to come in for
"Doubtless! Oh! he is a prodigious fellow! What do you think Booby
says? He says that Foaming Fudge can do more than any man in Great
Britain; that he had one day to plead in the King's Bench, spout at a
tavern, speak in the House, and fight a duel; and that he found time for
everything but the last."
"Excellent!" laughed Mr. Cayenne.
Mr. Partenopex Puff was reputed, in a certain set, a sayer of good
things, but he was a modest wit, and generally fathered his bon mots on
his valet Booby, his monkey, or his parrot.
"I saw you in the last number," said Cayenne. "From the quotations from
your own works, I imagine the review of your own book was by yourself?"
"What do you think Booby said?"
"Mr. Puff, allow me to introduce you to Lord Alhambra," said Ernest
Clay, by which means Mr. Puff's servant's last good thing was lost.
"Mr. Clay, are you an archer?" asked Cynthia Courtown.
"No, fair Dian; but I can act Endymion."
"I don't know what you mean. Go away."
"Aubrey Vere, welcome to ----shire. Have you seen Prima Donna?"
"No; is he here? How did you like his last song in the Age?"
"His last song! Pooh! pooh! he only supplies the scandal."
"Groves," said Sir Hanway Etherington, "have you seen the newspaper this
morning? Baron Crupper has tried fifteen men for horse-stealing at York,
and acquitted every one."
"Well then, Sir Hanway, I think his Lordship's remarkable wrong; for
when a man gets a horse to suit him, if he loses it, 'tisn't so easy to
suit himself again. That's the ground I stand upon."
All this time the Marquess of Carabas had wanted Vivian Grey twenty
times, but that gentleman had not appeared. The important moment
arrived, and his Lordship offered his arm to Mrs. Million, who, as the
Gotha Almanack says, "takes precedence of all Archduchesses, Grand
Duchesses, Duchesses, Princesses, Landgravines, Margravines,
Palsgravines, &c. &c. &c."
In their passage to the Hall, the Marquess and Mrs. Million met Vivian
Grey, booted and spurred, and covered with mud.
"Oh! Mrs. Million--Mr. Vivian Grey. How is this, my dear fellow? you
will be too late."
"Immense honour!" said Vivian, bowing to the ground to the lady. "Oh! my
Lord I was late, and made a short cut over Fearnley Bog. It has proved a
very Moscow expedition. However, I am keeping you. I shall be in time
for the guava and liqueurs, and you know that is the only refreshment I
"Who is that, Marquess?" asked Mrs. Million.
"That is Mr. Vivian Grey, the most monstrous clever young man, and
nicest fellow I know."
"He does, indeed, seem, a very nice young man," said Mrs. Million.
Some steam process should be invented for arranging guests when they are
above five hundred. In the present instance all went wrong when they
entered the Hall; but, at last, the arrangements, which, of course, were
of the simplest nature, were comprehended, and the guests were seated.
There were three tables, each stretching down the Hall; the dais was
occupied by a military band. The number of guests, the contrast between
the antique chamber and their modern costumes, the music, the various
liveried menials, all combined to produce a whole, which at the same
time was very striking, and "in remarkable good taste."
In process of time, Mr. Vivian Grey made his entrance. There were a few
vacant seats at the bottom of the table, "luckily for him," as kindly
remarked Mr. Grumbleton. To the astonishment and indignation, however,
of this worthy squire, the late comer passed by the unoccupied position,
and proceeded onward with undaunted coolness, until he came to about the
middle of the middle table, and which was nearly the best situation
in the Hall.
"Beautiful Cynthia," said Vivian Grey, softly and sweetly whispering in
Miss Courtown's ear, "I am sure you will give up your place to me; you
have nerve enough, you know, for anything, and would no more care for
standing out than I for sitting in." There is nothing like giving a
romp credit for a little boldness. To keep up her character she will
"Oh! Grey, is it you? certainly, you shall have my place immediately;
but I am not sure that we cannot make room for you. Dormer Stanhope,
room must be made for Grey, or I shall leave the table immediately. You
men!" said the hoyden, turning round to a set of surrounding servants,
"push this form down and put a chair between."
The men obeyed. All who sat lower in the table on Miss Cynthia
Courtown's side than that lady, were suddenly propelled downwards about
the distance of two feet. Dr. Sly, who was flourishing a carving-knife
and fork, preparatory to dissecting a gorgeous haunch, had these fearful
instruments suddenly precipitated into a trifle, from whose sugared
trellis-work he found great difficulty in extricating them; while Miss
Gusset, who was on the point of cooling herself with some exquisite iced
jelly, found her frigid portion as suddenly transformed into a plate of
peculiarly ardent curry, the property, but a moment before, of old
Colonel Rangoon. Everything, however, receives a civil reception from a
toad-eater, so Miss Gusset burnt herself to death by devouring a
composition, which would have reduced anyone to ashes who had not fought
"Now that is what I call a sensible arrangement; what could go off
better?" said Vivian.
"You may think so, sir," said Mr. Boreall, a sharp-nosed and
conceited-looking man, who, having got among a set whom he did not the
least understand, was determined to take up Dr. Sly's quarrel, merely
for the sake of conversation. "You, I say, sir, may think it so, but I
rather imagine that the ladies and gentlemen lower down can hardly think
it a sensible arrangement;" and here Boreall looked as if he had done
his duty, in giving a young man a proper reproof.
Vivian glanced a look of annihilation. "I had reckoned upon two deaths,
sir, when I entered the Hall, and finding, as I do, that the whole
business has apparently gone off without any fatal accident, why, I
think the circumstances bear me out in my expression."
Mr. Boreall was one of those unfortunate men who always take things to
the letter: he consequently looked amazed, and exclaimed, "Two
"Yes, sir, two deaths; I reckoned, of course, on some corpulent parent
being crushed to death in the scuffle, and then I should have had to
shoot his son through the head for his filial satisfaction. Dormer
Stanhope, I never thanked you for exerting yourself: send me that
fricandeau you have just helped yourself to."
Dormer, who was, as Vivian well knew, something of an epicure, looked
rather annoyed, but by this time he was accustomed to Vivian Grey, and
sent him the portion he had intended for himself. Could epicure do more?
"Whom are we among, bright Cynthia?" asked Vivian.
"Oh! an odd set," said the lady, looking dignified; "but you know we can
"Exclusive! pooh! trash! Talk to everybody; it looks as if you were
going to stand for the county. Have we any of the millionaires near us?"
"The Doctor and Toady are lower down."
"Where is Mrs. Felix Lorraine?"
"At the opposite table, with Ernest Clay."
"Oh! there is Alhambra, next to Dormer Stanhope. Lord Alhambra, I am
quite rejoiced to see you."
"Ah! Mr. Grey, I am quite rejoiced to see you. How is your father?"
"Extremely well; he is at Paris; I heard from him yesterday. Do you ever
see the Weimar Literary Gazette, my Lord?"
"There is an admirable review of your poem in the last number I have
The young nobleman looked agitated. "I think, by the style," continued
Vivian, "that it is by Goëthe. It is really delightful to see the oldest
poet in Europe dilating on the brilliancy of a new star on the
This was uttered with a perfectly grave voice, and now the young
nobleman blushed. "Who is _Gewter_?" asked Mr. Boreall, who possessed
such a thirst for knowledge that he never allowed an opportunity to
escape him of displaying his ignorance.
"A celebrated German writer," lisped the modest Miss Macdonald.
"I never heard his name," persevered the indefatigable Boreall; "how do
you spell it?"
"GOETHE," re-lisped modesty.
"Oh! _Goty_!" exclaimed the querist. "I know him well: he wrote the
Sorrows of Werter."
"Did he indeed, sir?" asked Vivian, with the most innocent and inquiring
"Oh! don't you know that?" said Boreall, "and poor stuff it is!"
"Lord Alhambra! I will take a glass of Johannisberg with you, if the
Marquess' wines are in the state they should be:
The Crescent warriors sipped their sherbet spiced,
For Christian men the various wines were _iced_.
I always think that those are two of the best lines in your Lordship's
poem," said Vivian.
His Lordship did not exactly remember them: it would have been a wonder
if he had: but he thought Vivian Grey the most delightful fellow he ever
met, and determined to ask him to Helicon Castle for the
"Flat! flat!" said Vivian, as he dwelt upon the flavour of the Rhine's
glory. "Not exactly from the favourite bin of Prince Metternich, I
think. By-the-bye, Dormer Stanhope, you have a taste that way; I will
tell you two secrets, which never forget: decant your Johannisberg, and
ice your Maraschino. Ay, do not stare, my dear Gastronome, but do it."
"O, Vivian! why did not you come and speak to me?" exclaimed a lady who
was sitting at the side opposite Vivian, but higher in the table.
"Ah! adorable Lady Julia! and so you were done on the grey filly."
"Done!" said the sporting beauty with pouting lips; "but it is a long
story, and I will tell it you another time."
"Ah! do. How is Sir Peter?"
"Oh! he has had a fit or two, since you saw him last."
"Poor old gentleman! let us drink his health. Do you know Lady Julia
Knighton?" asked Vivian of his neighbour. "This Hall is bearable to dine
in; but I once breakfasted here, and I never shall forget the ludicrous
effect produced by the sun through the oriel window. Such complexions!
Every one looked like a prize-fighter ten days after a battle. After
all, painted glass is a bore; I wish the Marquess would have it knocked
out, and have it plated."
"Knock out the painted glass!" said Mr. Boreall; "well, I must confess,
I cannot agree with you."
"I should have been extremely surprised if you could. If you do not
insult that man, Miss Courtown, in ten minutes I shall be no more. I
have already a nervous fever."
"May I have the honour of taking a glass of champagne with you, Mr.
Grey?" said Boreall.
"Mr. Grey, indeed!" muttered Vivian: "Sir, I never drink anything but
"Allow me to give _you_ some champagne, Miss," resumed Boreall, as he
attacked the modest Miss Macdonald: "champagne, you know," continued he,
with a smile of agonising courtesy, "is quite the lady's wine."
"Cynthia Courtown," whispered Vivian with a sepulchral voice, "'tis all
over with me: I have been thinking what would come next. This is too
much: I am already dead. Have Boreall arrested; the chain of
circumstantial evidence is very strong."
"Baker!" said Vivian, turning to a servant, "go and inquire if Mr.
Stapylton Toad dines at the Castle to-day."
A flourish of trumpets announced the rise of the Marchioness of Carabas,
and in a few minutes the most ornamental portion of the guests had
disappeared. The gentlemen made a general "move up," and Vivian found
himself opposite his friend, Mr. Hargrave.
"Ah! Mr. Hargrave, how d'ye do? What do you think of the Secretary's
"A magnificent composition, and quite unanswerable. I was just speaking
of it to my friend here, Mr. Metternich Scribe. Allow me to introduce
you to Mr. Metternich Scribe."
"Mr. Metternich Scribe, Mr. Vivian Grey!" and here Mr. Hargrave
introduced Vivian to an effeminate-looking, perfumed young man, with a
handsome, unmeaning face and very white hands; in short, as dapper a
little diplomatist as ever tattled about the Congress of Verona, smirked
at Lady Almack's supper after the Opera, or vowed "that Richmond Terrace
was a most convenient situation for official men."
"We have had it with us some time before the public received it," said
the future under-secretary, with a look at once condescending and
"Have you?" said Vivian: "well, it does your office credit. It is a
singular thing that Canning and Croker are the only official men who can
The dismayed young gentleman of the Foreign Office was about to mince a
repartee, when Vivian left his seat, for he had a great deal of business
to transact. "Mr. Leverton," said he, accosting a flourishing grazier,
"I have received a letter from my friend, M. De Noé. He is desirous of
purchasing some Leicestershires for his estate in Burgundy. Pray, may I
take the liberty of introducing his agent to you?"
Mr. Leverton was delighted.
"I also wanted to see you about some other little business. Let me see,
what was it? Never mind, I will take my wine here, if you can make room
for me; I shall remember it, I dare say, soon. Oh! by-the-bye: ah! that
was it. Stapylton Toad; Mr. Stapylton Toad; I want to know all about Mr.
Stapylton Toad. I dare say you can tell me. A friend of mine intends to
consult him on some parliamentary business, and he wishes to know
something about him before he calls."
We will condense, for the benefit of the reader, the information of Mr.
Stapylton Toad had not the honour of being acquainted with his father's
name; but as the son found himself, at an early age, apprenticed to a
solicitor of eminence, he was of opinion that his parent must have been
respectable. Respectable! mysterious word! Stapylton was a diligent and
faithful clerk, but was not so fortunate in his apprenticeship as the
celebrated Whittington, for his master had no daughter and many sons; in
consequence of which, Stapylton, not being able to become his master's
partner, became his master's rival.
On the door of one of the shabbiest houses in Jermyn Street the name of
Mr. Stapylton Toad for a long time figured, magnificently engraved on a
broad brass plate. There was nothing however, otherwise, in the
appearance of the establishment, which indicated that Mr. Toad's
progress was very rapid, or his professional career extraordinarily
prosperous. In an outward office one solitary clerk was seen, oftener
stirring his office fire than wasting his master's ink; and Mr. Toad was
known by his brother attorneys as a gentleman who was not recorded in
the courts as ever having conducted a single cause. In a few years,
however, a story was added to the Jermyn Street abode, which, new
pointed and new painted, began to assume a mansion-like appearance. The
house-door was also thrown open, for the solitary clerk no longer found
time to answer the often agitated bell; and the eyes of the entering
client were now saluted by a gorgeous green baize office door; the
imposing appearance of which was only equalled by Mr. Toad's new private
portal, splendid with a brass knocker and patent varnish. And now his
brother attorneys began to wonder "how Toad got on! and who Toad's
A few more years rolled over, and Mr. Toad was seen riding in the Park
at a classical hour, attended by a groom in a classical livery. And now
"the profession" wondered still more, and significant looks were
interchanged by "the respectable houses:" and flourishing practitioners
in the City shrugged up their shoulders, and talked mysteriously of
"money business," and "some odd work in annuities." In spite, however,
of the charitable surmises of his brother lawyers, it must be confessed
that nothing of even an equivocal nature ever transpired against the
character of the flourishing Mr. Toad, who, to complete the
mortification of his less successful rivals, married, and at the same
time moved from Jermyn Street to Cavendish Square. The new residence
of--Mr. Toad had previously been the mansion of a noble client, and one
whom, as the world said, Mr. Toad "had got out of difficulties." This
significant phrase will probably throw some light upon the nature of the
mysterious business of our prosperous practitioner. Noble Lords who have
been in difficulties will not much wonder at the prosperity of those who
get them out.
About this time Mr. Toad became acquainted with Lord Mounteney, a
nobleman in great distress, with fifty thousand per annum. His Lordship
"really did not know how he had got involved: he never gamed, he was not
married, and his consequent expenses had never been unreasonable: he was
not extraordinarily negligent; quite the reverse: was something of a man
of business, remembered once looking over his accounts; and yet in spite
of his regular and correct career, found himself quite involved, and
must leave England."
The arrangement of the Mounteney property was the crowning stroke of Mr.
Stapylton Toad's professional celebrity. His Lordship was not under the
necessity of quitting England, and found himself in the course of five
years in the receipt of a clear rental of five-and-twenty thousand per
annum. His Lordship was in raptures; and Stapylton Toad purchased an
elegant villa in Surrey, and became a Member of Parliament. Goodburn
Park, for such was the name of Mr. Toad's country residence, in spite of
its double lodges and patent park paling, was not, to Mr. Toad, a very
expensive purchase; for he "took it off the hands" of a distressed
client who wanted an immediate supply, "merely to convenience him," and,
consequently, became the purchaser at about half its real value.
"Attorneys," as Bustle the auctioneer says, "have _such_ opportunities!"
Mr. Toad's career in the House was as correct as his conduct out of it.
After ten years' regular attendance, the boldest conjecturer would not
have dared to define his political principles. It was a rule with
Stapylton Toad never to commit himself. Once, indeed, he wrote an able
pamphlet on the Corn Laws, which excited the dire indignation of the
Political Economy Club. But Stapylton cared little for their subtle
confutations and their loudly expressed contempt. He had obliged the
country gentlemen of England, and ensured the return, at the next
election, of Lord Mounteney's brother for the county. At this general
election, also, Stapylton Toad's purpose in entering the House became
rather more manifest; for it was found, to the surprise of the whole
country, that there was scarcely a place in England; county, town, or
borough; in which Mr. Stapylton Toad did not possess some influence. In
short, it was discovered, that Mr. Stapylton Toad had "a first-rate
parliamentary business;" that nothing could be done without his
co-operation, and everything with it. In spite of his prosperity,
Stapylton had the good sense never to retire from business, and even to
refuse a baronetcy; on condition, however, that it should be offered
to his son.
Stapylton, like the rest of mankind, had his weak points. The late
Marquess of Almack's was wont to manage him very happily, and Toad was
always introducing that minister's opinion of his importance. "'My time
is quite at your service, General,' although the poor dear Marquess used
to say, 'Mr. Stapylton Toad, your time is mine.' He knew the business I
had to get through!" The family portraits also, in ostentatious frames,
now adorned the dining-room of his London mansion; and it was amusing to
hear the worthy M.P. dilate upon his likeness to his respected father.
"You see, my Lord," Stapylton would say, pointing to a dark, dingy
picture of a gentleman in a rich court dress, "you see, my Lord, it is
not in a very good light, and it certainly is a very dark picture, by
Hudson; all Hudson's pictures were dark. But if I were six inches
taller, and could hold the light just there, I think your Lordship would
be astonished at the resemblance; but it's a dark picture, certainly it
is dark; all Hudson's pictures were."
The Cavaliers have left the ancient Hall, and the old pictures frown
only upon empty tables. The Marquess immediately gained a seat by Mrs.
Million, and was soon engrossed in deep converse with that illustrious
lady. In one room, the most eminent and exclusive, headed by Mrs. Felix
Lorraine, were now winding through the soothing mazes of a slow waltz,
and now whirling, with all the rapidity of Eastern dervishes, to true
double Wien time. In another saloon, the tedious tactics of quadrilles
commanded the exertions of less civilised beings: here Liberal Snake,
the celebrated political economist, was lecturing to a knot of alarmed
country gentlemen; and there an Italian improvisatore poured forth to an
admiring audience all the dulness of his inspiration. Vivian Grey was
holding an earnest conversation in one of the recesses with Mr.
Stapylton Toad. He had already charmed that worthy by the deep interest
which he took in everything relating to elections and the House of
Commons, and now they were hard at work on the Corn Laws. Although they
agreed upon the main points, and Vivian's ideas upon this important
subject had, of course, been adopted after studying Mr. Toad's "most
luminous and convincing pamphlet," still there were a few minor points
on which Vivian "was obliged to confess" that "he did not exactly see
his way." Mr. Toad was astonished, but argumentative, and, of course, in
due time, had made a convert of his companion; "a young man," as he
afterwards remarked to Lord Mounteney, "in whom he knew not which most
to admire, the soundness of his own views, or the candour with which he
treated those of others." If you wish to win a man's heart, allow him to
"I think, Mr. Grey, you must admit that my definition of labour is the
correct one?" said Mr. Toad, looking earnestly in Vivian's face, his
finger just presuming to feel a button.
"That exertion of mind or body which is not the involuntary effect of
the influence of natural sensations," slowly repeated Vivian, as if his
whole soul was concentrated in each monosyllable. "Y-e-s, Mr. Toad, I do
"Then, my dear sir, the rest follows of course," triumphantly exclaimed
the member; "don't you see it?"
"Although I admit the correctness of your definition, Mr. Toad, I am not
free to confess that I am ex-act-ly convinced of the soundness of your
conclusion," said Vivian, in a musing mood.
"But, my dear sir, I am surprised that you don't see that--"
"Stop, Mr. Toad," eagerly exclaimed Vivian; "I see my error. I
misconceived your meaning: you are right, sir; your definition
"I was confident that I should convince you, Mr. Grey."
"This conversation, I assure you, Mr. Toad, has been to me a peculiarly
satisfactory one. Indeed, sir, I have long wished to have the honour of
making your acquaintance. When but a boy, I remember, at my father's
table, the late Marquess of Almack's--"
"Yes, Mr. Grey."
"One of the ablest men, Mr. Toad, after all, that this country ever
"Oh, poor dear man!"
"I remember his observing to a friend of mine, who was at that time
desirous of getting into the House: 'Hargrave,' said his Lordship, 'if
you want any information upon points of practical politics;' that was
his phrase; you remember, Mr. Toad, that his Lordship was peculiar in
"Oh! yes, poor dear man; but you were observing, Mr. Grey--"
"Ay, ay! 'If you want any information,' said his Lordship, 'on such
points, there is only one man in the kingdom whom you should consult,
and he is one of the soundest heads I know, and that is Stapylton Toad,
the member for Mounteney;' you know you were in for Mounteney then,
"I was, and accepted the Chilterns to make room for Augustus Clay,
Ernest Clay's brother, who was so involved, that the only way to keep
him out of the House of Correction was to get him into the House of
Commons. But the Marquess said so, eh?"
"Ay, and much more, which I scarcely can remember;" and then followed a
long dissertation on the character of the noble statesman, and his views
as to the agricultural interest, and the importance of the agricultural
interest; and then a delicate hint was thrown out as to "how delightful
it would be to write a pamphlet together" on this mighty agricultural
interest; and then came a panegyric on the character of country
gentlemen, and English yeomen, and the importance of keeping up the old
English spirit in the peasantry, &c. &c. &c. &c.; and then, when Vivian
had led Mr. Toad to deliver a splendid and patriotic oration on this
point, he "just remembered (quite apropos to the sentiments which Mr.
Toad had just delivered, and which, he did not hesitate to say, 'did
equal honour to his head and heart') that there was a little point,
which, if it was not trespassing too much on Mr. Toad's attention, he
would just submit to him;" and then he mentioned poor John Conyers'
case, although "he felt convinced, from Mr. Toad's well-known benevolent
character, that it was quite unnecessary for him to do so, as he felt
assured that it would be remedied immediately it fell under his
cognisance; but then Mr. Toad had really so much business to transact,
that perhaps these slight matters might occasionally not be submitted to
him," &c. &c. &c.
What could Stapylton Toad do but, after a little amiable grumbling about
"bad system and bad precedent," promise everything that Vivian
"Mr. Vivian Grey," said Mrs. Felix Lorraine, "I cannot understand why
you have been talking to Mr. Toad so long. Will you waltz?"
Before Vivian could answer, a tittering, so audible that it might almost
be termed a shout, burst forth from the whole room. Cynthia Courtown had
stolen behind Lord Alhambra, as he was sitting on an ottoman a la
Turque, and had folded a cashmere shawl round his head with a most
Oriental tie. His Lordship, who, notwithstanding his eccentricities, was
really a very amiable man, bore his blushing honours with a gracious
dignity worthy of a descendant of the Abencerrages. The sensation which
this incident occasioned favoured Vivian's escape from Mrs. Felix, for
he had not left Mr. Stapylton Toad with any intention of waltzing.
But he had hardly escaped from the waltzers ere he found himself in
danger of being involved in a much more laborious duty; for now he
stumbled on the Political Economist, and he was earnestly requested by
the contending theorists to assume the office of moderator. Emboldened
by his success. Liberal Snake had had the hardihood to attack a
personage of whose character he was not utterly ignorant, but on whom
he was extremely desirous of "making an--impression." This important
person was Sir Christopher Mowbray, who, upon the lecturer presuming to
inform him "what rent was," damned himself several times from sheer
astonishment at the impudence of the fellow. I don't wish to be coarse,
but Sir Christopher is a great man, and the sayings of great men,
particularly when they are representative of the sentiment of a species,
should not pass unrecorded.
Sir Christopher Mowbray is member for the county of ----; and member for
the county he intends to be next election, although he is in his
seventy-ninth year, for he can still follow a fox with as pluck a heart
and with as stout a voice as any squire in Christendom. Sir Christopher,
it must be confessed, is rather peculiar in his ideas. His grandson,
Peregrine Mowbray, who is as pert a genius as the applause of a
common-room ever yet spoiled, and as sublime an orator as the cheerings
of the Union ever yet inspired, says "the Baronet is not up to the
nineteenth century;" and perhaps this phrase will give the reader a more
significant idea of Sir Christopher Mowbray than a character as long and
as laboured as the most perfect of my Lord Clarendon's. The truth is,
the good Baronet had no idea of "liberal principles," or anything else
of that school. His most peculiar characteristic is a singular habit
which he has got of styling political economists French Smugglers.
Nobody has ever yet succeeded in extracting a reason from him for this
singular appellation, and even if you angle with the most exquisite
skill for the desired definition, Sir Christopher immediately salutes
you with a volley of oaths, and damns French wines, Bible Societies, and
Mr. Huskisson. Sir Christopher for half a century has supported in the
senate, with equal sedulousness and silence, the constitution and the
corn laws; he is perfectly aware of "the present perilous state of the
country," and watches with great interest all "the plans and plots" of
this enlightened age. The only thing which he does not exactly
comprehend is the London University. This affair really puzzles the
worthy gentleman, who could as easily fancy a county member not being a
freeholder as an university not being at Oxford or Cambridge. Indeed to
this hour the old gentleman believes that the whole business is "a
hoax;" and if you tell him that, far from the plan partaking of the
visionary nature he conceives, there are actually four acres of very
valuable land purchased near White Conduit House for the erection, and
that there is little apprehension that, in the course of a century, the
wooden poles which are now stuck about the ground will not be as fair
and flourishing as the most leafy bowers of New College Gardens, the old
gentleman looks up to heaven, as if determined not to be taken in, and
leaning back in his chair, sends forth a sceptical and smiling "No! no!
no! that won't do."
Vivian extricated himself with as much grace as possible from the toils
of the Economist, and indeed, like a skilful general, turned this little
rencontre to account in accomplishing the very end for the attainment of
which he had declined waltzing with Mrs. Felix Lorraine.
"My dear Lord," said Vivian, addressing the Marquess, who was still by
the side of Mrs. Million, "I am going to commit a most ungallant act;
but you great men must pay a tax for your dignity. I am going to disturb
you. You are wanted by half the county! What could possibly induce you
ever to allow a Political Economist to enter Château Desir? There are.
at least, three baronets and four squires in despair, writhing under the
tortures of Liberal Snake. They have deputed me to request your
assistance, to save them from being defeated in the presence of half
their tenantry; and I think, my Lord," said Vivian, with a serious
voice, "if you could possibly contrive to interfere, it would be
desirable. That lecturing knave never knows when to stop, and he is
actually insulting men before whom, after all, he ought not to dare open
his lips. I see that your Lordship is naturally not very much inclined
to quit your present occupation, in order to act moderator to a set of
brawlers; but come, you shall not be quite sacrificed to the county. I
will give up the waltz in which I was engaged, and keep your seat until
The Marquess, who was always "keeping up county influence," was very
shocked at the obstreperous conduct of Liberal Snake. Indeed he had
viewed the arrival of this worthy with no smiling countenance, but what
could he say, as he came in the suit of Lord Pert, who was writing, with
the lecturer's assistance, a little pamphlet on the Currency?
Apologising to Mrs. Million, and promising to return as soon as possible
and lead her to the music-room, the Marquess retired, with the
determination of annihilating one of the stoutest members of the
Political Economy Club.
Vivian began by apologising to Mrs. Million for disturbing her progress
to the Hall by his sudden arrival before dinner; and then for a quarter
of an hour poured forth the usual quantity of piquant anecdotes and
insidious compliments. Mrs. Million found Vivian's conversation no
disagreeable relief to the pompous prosiness of his predecessor.
And now, having succeeded in commanding Mrs. Million's attention by that
general art of pleasing which was for all the world, and which was, of
course, formed upon his general experience of human nature, Vivian began
to make his advances to Mrs. Million's feelings by a particular art of
pleasing; that is, an art which was for the particular person alone whom
he was at any time addressing, and which was founded on his particular
knowledge of that person's character.
"How beautiful the old Hall looked to-day! It is a scene which can only
be met with in ancient families."
"Ah! there is nothing like old families!" remarked Mrs. Million, with
all the awkward feelings of a parvenue.
"Do you think so?" said Vivian; "I once thought so myself, but I confess
that my opinion is greatly changed. After all, what is noble blood? My
eye is now resting on a crowd of nobles; and yet, being among them, do
we treat them in a manner differing in any way from that which we should
employ to individuals of a lower caste who were equally uninteresting?"
"Certainly not," said Mrs. Million.
"The height of the ambition of the less exalted ranks is to be noble,
because they conceive to be noble implies to be superior; associating in
their minds, as they always do, a pre-eminence over then equals. But to
be noble among nobles, where is the preeminence?"
"Where indeed?" said Mrs. Million; and she thought of herself, sitting
the most considered personage in this grand castle, and yet with
sufficiently base blood flowing in her veins.
"And thus, in the highest circles," continued Vivian, "a man is of
course not valued because he is a Marquess or a Duke; but because he is
a great warrior, or a great statesman, or very fashionable, or very
witty. In all classes but the highest, a peer, however unbefriended by
nature or by fortune, becomes a man of a certain rate of consequence;
but to be a person of consequence in the highest class requires
something else besides high blood."
"I quite agree with you in your sentiments, Mr. Grey. Now what
character or what situation in life would you choose, if you had the
power of making your choice?"
"That is really a most metaphysical question. As is the custom of all
young men, I have sometimes, in my reveries, imagined what I conceived
to be a lot of pure happiness: and yet Mrs. Million will perhaps be
astonished that I was neither to be nobly born nor to acquire nobility,
that I was not to be a statesman, or a poet, or a warrior, or a
merchant, nor indeed any profession, not even a professional dandy."
"Oh! love in a cottage, I suppose," interrupted Mrs. Million.
"Neither love in a cottage, nor science in a cell."
"Oh! pray tell me what it is."
"What if is? Oh! Lord Mayor of London, I suppose; that is the only
situation which answers to my oracular description."
"Then you have been joking all this time!"
"Not at all. Come then, let us imagine this perfect lot. In the first
place, I would be born in the middle classes of society, or even lower,
because I would wish my character to be impartially developed. I would
be born to no hereditary prejudices, no hereditary passions. My course
in life should not be carved out by the example of a grandfather, nor my
ideas modelled to a preconceived system of family perfection. Do you
like my first principle, Mrs. Million?"
"I must hear everything before I give an opinion."
"When, therefore, my mind was formed, I would wish to become the
proprietor of a princely fortune."
"Yes!" eagerly exclaimed Mrs. Million.
"And now would come the moral singularity of my fate. If I had gained
this fortune by commerce, or in any other similar mode, my disposition,
before the creation of this fortune, would naturally have been formed,
and been permanently developed; and my mind would have been similarly
affected, had I succeeded to some ducal father; for I should then, in
all probability, have inherited some family line of conduct, both moral
and political. But under the circumstances I have imagined, the result
would be far different. I should then be in the singular situation of
possessing, at the same time, unbounded wealth, and the whole powers and
natural feelings of my mind unoppressed and unshackled. Oh! how splendid
would be my career! I would not allow the change in my condition to
exercise any influence on my natural disposition. I would experience
the same passions and be subject to the same feelings, only they should
be exercised and influential in a wider sphere. Then would be seen the
influence of great wealth, directed by a disposition similar to that of
the generality of men, inasmuch as it had been formed like that of the
generality of men; and consequently, one much better acquainted with
their feelings, their habits, and their wishes. Such a lot would indeed
be princely! Such a lot would infallibly ensure the affection and
respect of the great majority of mankind; and, supported by them, what
should I care if I were misunderstood by a few fools and abused by a
Here came the Marquess to lead the lady to the concert. As she quitted
her seat, a smile, beaming with graciousness, rewarded her youthful
companion. "Ah!" thought Mrs. Million, "I go to the concert, but leave
sweeter music than can possibly meet me there. What is the magic of
these words? It is not flattery; such is not the language of Miss
Gusset! It is not a rifacimento of compliments; such is not the style
with which I am saluted by the Duke of Doze and the Earl of Leatherdale!
Apparently I have heard a young philosopher delivering his sentiments
upon an abstract point in human life; and yet have I not listened to a
brilliant apology for my own character, and a triumphant defence of my
own conduct. Of course it was unintentional; and yet how agreeable to be
unintentionally defended!" So mused Mrs. Million, and she made a
thousand vows not to let a day pass over without obtaining a pledge from
Vivian Grey to visit her on their return to the metropolis.
Vivian remained in his seat for some time after the departure of his
companion. "On my honour, I have half a mind to desert my embryo faction
and number myself in her gorgeous retinue. Let me see. What part should
I act? her secretary, or her toad-eater, or her physician, or her cook?
or shall I be her page? Me-thinks I should make a pretty page, and hand
a chased goblet as gracefully as any monkey that ever bent his knee in a
lady's chamber. Well! at any rate, there is this chance to be kept back,
as the gambler does his last trump, or the cunning fencer his
He rose to offer his arm to some stray fair one; for crowds were now
hurrying to pineapples and lobster salads: that is to say, supper was
ready in the Long Gallery.
In a moment Vivian's arm was locked in that of Mrs. Felix Lorraine.
"Oh, Mr. Grey, I have got a much better ghost story than even that of
the Leyden Professor for you; but I am so wearied with waltzing that I
must tell it you to-morrow. How came you to be so late this morning?
Have you been paying many calls to-day? I quite missed you at dinner. Do
you think Ernest Clay handsome? I dare not repeat what Lady Scrope said
of you! You are an admirer of Lady Julia Knighton, I believe? I do not
much like this plan of supping in the Long Gallery; it is a favourite
locale of mine, and I have no idea of my private promenade being invaded
by the uninteresting presence of trifles and Italian creams. Have you
been telling Mrs. Million that she was very witty?" asked Vivian's
companion, with a significant look.
Sweet reader! you know what a Toadey is? That agreeable animal which you
meet every day in civilised society. But perhaps you have not speculated
very curiously upon this interesting race. So much the worse! for you
cannot live many lustres without finding it of some service to be a
little acquainted with their habits.
The world in general is under a mistake as to the nature of these
vermin. They are by no means characterised by that similarity of
disposition for which your common observer gives them credit. There are
Toadeys of all possible natures.
There is your Common-place Toadey, who merely echoes its feeder's
common-place observations. There is your Playing-up Toadey, who,
unconscious to its feeder, is always playing up to its feeder's
weaknesses; and, as the taste of that feeder varies, accordingly
provides its cates and confitures. A little bit of scandal for a dashing
widow, or a pious little hymn for a sainted one; the secret history of a
newly discovered gas for a May Fair feeder, and an interesting anecdote
about a Newgate bobcap or a Penitentiary apron for a charitable one.
Then there is your Drawing-out Toadey, who omits no opportunity of
giving you a chance of being victorious in an argument where there is no
contest, and a dispute where there is no difference; and then there
is--but we detest essay writing, so we introduce you at once to a party
of these vermin. If you wish to enjoy a curious sight, you must watch
the Toadeys when they are unembarrassed by the almost perpetual presence
of their breeders; when they are animated by "the spirit of freedom;"
when, like Curran's Negro, the chain bursts by the impulse of their
swelling veins. The great singularity is the struggle between their
natural and their acquired feelings: the eager opportunity which they
seize of revenging their voluntary bondage, by their secret taunts, on
their adopted task-masters, and the servility which they habitually mix
up even with their scandal. Like veritable Grimalkins, they fawn upon
their victims previous to the festival; compliment them upon the length
of their whiskers and the delicacy of their limbs prior to excoriating
them, and dwelling on the flavour of their crashed bones. 'Tis a
beautiful scene, and ten thousand times more piquant than the humours of
a Servants' Hall, or the most grotesque and glorious moments of high
life below stairs.
"Dear Miss Graves," said Miss Gusset, "you can't imagine how terrified I
was at that horrible green parrot flying upon my head! I declare it
pulled out three locks of hair."
"Horrible green parrot, my dear madam! Why, it was sent to my Lady by
Prince Xtmnprqtosklw, and never shall I forget the agitation we were in
about that parrot. I thought it would never have got to the Château, for
the Prince could only send his carriage with it as far as Toadcaster.
Luckily my Lady's youngest brother, who was staying at Desir, happened
to get drowned at the time; and so Davenport, very clever of him! sent
her on in my Lord Dormer's hearse."
"In the hearse! Good heavens, Miss Graves! How could you think of green
parrots at such an awful moment? I should have been in fits for three
days; eh! Dr. Sly?"
"Certainly you would, madame; your nerves are very delicate."
"Well! I, for my part, never could see much use in giving up to one's
feelings. It is all very well for commoners," rather rudely exclaimed
the Marchioness' Toadey; "but we did not choose to expose ourselves to
the servants when the old General died this year. Everything went on as
usual. Her Ladyship attended Almack's; my Lord took his seat in the
House; and I looked in at Lady Doubtful's where we do not visit, but
where the Marchioness wishes to be civil."
"We do not visit Lady Doubtful either," replied Miss Gusset: "she had
not a card for our fête champêtre. I was so sorry you were not in town.
It was so delightful!"
"Do tell me who was there? I quite long to know all about it. I saw some
account of it. Everything seemed to go off so well. Do tell me who
"Oh! there was plenty of Royalty at the head of the list. Really I
cannot go Into particulars, but everybody was there who is anybody;
eh! Dr. Sly?"
"Certainly, madam. The pines were most admirable. There are few people
for whom I entertain a higher esteem, than Mr. Gunter."
"The Marchioness seems very fond of her parrot, Miss Graves; but she is
a sweet woman!"
"Oh, a dear, amiable creature! but I cannot think how she can bear the
eternal screaming of that noisy bird."
"Nor I, indeed. Well, thank goodness, Mrs. Million has no pets; eh! Dr.
"Certainly. I am clearly of opinion that it cannot be wholesome to have
so many animals about a house. Besides which, I have noticed that the
Marchioness always selects the nicest morsels for that little poodle;
and I am also clearly of opinion, Miss Graves, that the fit it had the
other day arose from repletion."
"I have no doubt of it in the world. She consumes three pounds of
arrowroot weekly and two pounds of the finest loaf sugar, which I have
the trouble of grating every Monday morning. Mrs. Million appears to be
a most amiable woman, Miss Gusset?"
"Quite perfection; so charitable, so intellectual, such a soul! It is a
pity, though, her manner is so abrupt; she really does not appear to
advantage sometimes; eh! Dr. Sly?"
The Toadey's Toadey bowed assent as usual. "Well," rejoined Miss Graves,
"that is rather a fault of the dear Marchioness, a little want of
consideration for another's feelings; but she means nothing."
"Oh, no! nor Mrs. Million, dear creature! She means nothing; though I
dare say, not knowing her so well as we do; eh! Dr. Sly? you were a
little surprised at the way in which she spoke to me at dinner."
"All people have their oddities, Miss Gusset. I am sure the Marchioness
is not aware how she tries my patience about that little wretch Julie. I
had to rub her with warm flannels for an hour and a half before the fire
this morning; that is that Vivian Grey's doing."
"Who is this Mr. Grey, Miss Graves?"
"Who, indeed! Some young man the Marquess has picked up, and who comes
lecturing here about poodles and parrots, and thinking himself quite
Lord Paramount, I can assure you. I am surprised that the Marchioness,
who is a most sensible woman, can patronise such conduct a moment; but
whenever she begins to see through him the young gentleman has always
got a story about a bracelet, or a bandeau, and quite turns her head."
"Very disagreeable, I am sure."
"Some people are so easily managed! By-the-bye, Miss Gusset, who could
have advised Mrs. Million to wear crimson? So large as she is, it does
not at all suit her. I suppose it's a favourite colour."
"Dear Miss Graves, you are always so insinuating. What can Miss Graves
mean; eh! Dr. Sly?"
A Lord Burleigh shake of the head.
"Cynthia Courtown seems as lively as ever," said Miss Gusset.
"Yes, lively enough; but I wish her manner was less brusque."
"Brusque, indeed! you may well say so. She nearly pushed me down in the
Hall; and when I looked as if I thought she might have given me a little
more room, she tossed her head and said, 'Beg pardon, never saw you!'"
"I wonder what Lord Alhambra sees in that girl?"
"Oh! those forward misses always take the men."
"Well," said Miss Graves, "I have no notion that it will come to
anything; I am sure, I, for one, hope not," added she, with all a
"The Marquess seems to keep a remarkably good table," said the
physician. "There was a haunch to-day, which I really think was the
finest haunch I ever met with; but that little move at dinner; it was,
to say the least, very ill-timed."
"Yes, that was Vivian Grey again," said Miss Graves, very indignantly.
"So you have got the Beaconsfields here, Miss Graves! nice, unaffected,
"Yes, very quiet."
"As you say, Miss Graves, very quiet, but a little heavy."
"Yes, heavy enough."
"If you had but seen the quantity of pineapples that boy Dormer Stanhope
devoured at our fête champêtre! but I have the comfort of knowing that
they made him very ill; eh! Dr. Sly?"
"Oh! he learnt that from his uncle," said Miss Graves; "it is quite
disgusting to see how that Vivian Grey encourages him."
"What an elegant, accomplished woman Mrs. Felix Lorraine seems to be,
Miss Graves! I suppose the Marchioness is very fond of her?"
"Oh, yes; the Marchioness is so good-natured that I dare say she thinks
very well of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. She thinks well of everyone; but I
believe Mrs. Felix is rather a greater favourite with the Marquess."
"O--h!" drawled out Miss Gusset with a very significant tone. "I suppose
she is one of your playing-up ladies. I think you told me she was only
on a visit here."
"A pretty long visit, though, for a sister-in-law, if sister-in-law she
be. As I was saying to the Marchioness the other day, when Mrs. Felix
offended her so violently by trampling on the dear little Julie, if it
came into a court of justice I should like to see the proof; that's all.
At any rate, it is pretty evident that Mr. Lorraine has had enough of
"Quite evident, I think; eh! Dr. Sly? Those German women never make good
English wives," continued Miss Gusset, with all a Toadey's patriotism.
"Talking of wives, did not you think Lady Julia spoke very strangely of
Sir Peter after dinner to-day? I hate that Lady Julia, if it be only for
petting Vivian Grey so."
"Yes, indeed, it is quite enough to make one sick; eh! Dr. Sly?"
The doctor shook his head mournfully, remembering the haunch.
"They say Ernest Clay is in sad difficulties, Miss Gusset."
"Well, I always expected his dash would end in that. Those wild
harum-scarum men are monstrous disagreeable. I like a person of some
reflection; eh! Dr. Sly?"
Before the doctor could bow his usual assent there entered a pretty
little page, very daintily attired in a fancy dress of green and silver.
Twirling his richly chased dirk with one tiny white hand, and at the
same time playing with a pet curl which was picturesquely flowing over
his forehead, he advanced with ambling gait to Miss Gusset, and, in a
mincing voice and courtly phrase, summoned her to the imperial presence.
The lady's features immediately assumed the expression which befitted
the approaching interview, and in a moment Miss Graves and the physician
were left alone.
"Very amiable young woman Miss Gusset appears to be, Dr. Sly?"
"Oh! the most amiable being in the world; I owe her the greatest
"So gentle in her manners."
"O yes, so gentle."
"So considerate for everybody."
"Oh, yes! so considerate," echoed the Aberdeen M.D.
"I am afraid, though, she must sometimes meet with people who do not
exactly understand her character; such extraordinary consideration for
others is sometimes liable to misconstruction."
"Very sensibly remarked, Miss Graves. I am sure Miss Gusset means well;
and that kind of thing is all very admirable in its way; but, but--"
"But what, Dr. Sly?"
"Why, I was merely going to hazard an observation, that according to my
feelings, that is, to my own peculiar view of the case, I should prefer
some people thinking more about their own business, and, and, but I
"Oh, no, of course not, Dr. Sly! You know we always except our own
immediate friends, at least when we can be sure they are our friends;
but, as you were saying, or going to say, those persons who are so very
anxious about other people's affairs are not always the most agreeable
persons in the world to live with. It certainly did strike me that that
interference of Miss Gusset's about Julie to-day was, to say the least,
"Oh, my dear madam! when you know her as well as I do, you will see she
is always ready to put in a word."
"Well! do you know, Dr. Sly, between ourselves, that was exactly my
impression; and she is then very, very, I do not exactly mean to say
meddling or inquisitive; but, but you understand me, Dr. Sly?"
"Perfectly; and if I were to speak my mind, which I do not hesitate to
do in confidence to you, Miss Graves, I really should say that she is
the most jealous, irritable, malicious, meddling, and at the same time
fawning, disposition that I ever met with in the whole course of my
life, and I speak from experience."
"Well, do you know, Dr. Sly, from all I have seen, that was exactly my
impression; therefore I have been particularly careful not to commit
myself to such a person."
"'Ah! Miss Graves! if all ladies were like you' O--h!"
"My dear Dr. Sly!"
Vivian had duly acquainted the Marquess with the successful progress of
his negotiations with their intended partisans, and Lord Carabas had
himself conversed with them singly on the important subject. It was
thought proper, however, in this stage of the proceedings, that the
persons interested should meet together; and so the two Lords, and Sir
Berdmore, and Vivian were invited to dine with the Marquess alone, and
in his library.
There was abundance of dumb waiters and other inventions by which the
ease of the guests might be consulted, without risking even their secret
looks to the gaze of liveried menials. The Marquess' gentleman sat in an
ante-chamber, in case human aid might be necessary, and everything, as
his Lordship averred, was "on the same system as the Cabinet Dinners."
In the ancient kingdom of England it hath ever been the custom to dine
previously to transacting business. This habit is one of those few which
are not contingent upon the mutable fancies of fashion, and at this day
we see Cabinet Dinners and Vestry Dinners alike proving the correctness
of our assertion. Whether the custom really expedites the completion or
the general progress of the business which gives rise to it, is a grave
question, which we do not feel qualified to decide. Certain it is that
very often, after the _dinner_, an appointment is made for the
transaction of the _business_ on the following morning: at the same time
it must be remembered that, had it not been for the opportunity which
the banquet afforded of developing the convivial qualities of the
guests, and drawing out, by the assistance of generous wine, their most
kindly sentiments and most engaging feelings, it is very probable that
the appointment for the transaction of the business would never have
been made at all.
There certainly was every appearance that "the great business," as the
Marquess styled it, would not be very much advanced by the cabinet
dinner at Château Desir. For, in the first place, the table was laden
"with every delicacy of the season," and really, when a man is either
going to talk sense, fight a duel, or make his will, nothing should be
seen at dinner save cutlets and the lightest Bordeaux. And, in the
second place, it must be confessed, that when it came to the point of
all the parties interested meeting, the Marquess' courage somewhat
misgave him. Not that any particular reason occurred to him which would
have induced him to yield one jot of the theory of his sentiments, but
the putting them in practice rather made him nervous. In short, he was
as convinced as ever that he was an ill-used man, of great influence and
abilities; but then he remembered his agreeable sinecure and his
dignified office, and he might not succeed. The thought did not please.
But here they were all assembled; receding was impossible; and so the
Marquess took a glass of claret, and felt more courageous.
"My Lords and Gentlemen," he began, "although I have myself taken the
opportunity of communicating to you singly my thoughts upon a certain
subject, and although, if I am rightly informed, my excellent young
friend has communicated to you more fully upon that subject; yet, my
Lords and Gentlemen, I beg to remark that this is the first time that we
have collectively assembled to consult on the possibility of certain
views, upon the propriety of their nature, and the expediency of their
adoption." (Here the claret passed.) "The present state of parties," the
Marquess continued, "has doubtless for a long time engaged your
attention. It is very peculiar, and although the result has been
gradually arrived at, it is nevertheless, now that it is realised,
startling, and not, I apprehend, very satisfactory. There are few
distinctions now between the two sides of the House of Commons, very
different from the times in which most, I believe all, of us, my Lords
and Gentlemen, were members of that assembly. The question then
naturally arises, why a certain body of individuals, who now represent
no opinions, should arrogate to themselves the entire government and
control of the country? A second question would occur, how they contrive
to succeed in such an assumption? They succeed clearly because the
party who placed them in power, because they represented certain
opinions, still continue to them their support. Some of the most
influential members of that party, I am bold to say, may be found in
this room. I don't know, if the boroughs of Lord Courtown and Lord
Beaconsfield were withdrawn at a critical division, what might be the
result. I am quite sure that if the forty country gentlemen who follow,
I believe I am justified in saying, our friend Sir Berdmore, and wisely
follow him, were to declare their opposition to any particular tax, the
present men would be beaten, as they have been beaten before. I was
myself a member of the government when so beaten, and I know what Lord
Liverpool said the next morning. Lord Liverpool said the next morning.
'Forty country gentlemen, if they choose, might repeal every tax in the
Budget.' Under these circumstances, my Lords and Gentlemen, it becomes
us, in my opinion, to consider our situation. I am far from wishing to
witness any general change, or indeed, very wide reconstruction of the
present administration. I think the interests of the country require
that the general tenor of their system should be supported; but there
are members of that administration whose claims to that distinction
appear to me more than questionable, while at the same time there are
individuals excluded, personages of great influence and recognised
talents, who ought no longer, in my opinion, to occupy a position in the
background. Mr. Vivian Grey, a gentleman whom I have the honour to call
my particular friend, and who, I believe, has had already the pleasure
of incidentally conversing with you on the matters to which I have
referred, has given great attention to this important subject. He is a
younger man than any of us, and certainly has much better lungs than I
have. I will take the liberty, therefore, of requesting him to put the
case in its completeness before us."
A great deal of "desultory conversation," as it is styled, relative to
the great topic of debate, now occurred. When the blood of the party was
tolerably warmed, Vivian addressed them. The tenor of his oration may be
imagined. He developed the new political principles, demonstrated the
mistake under the baneful influence of which they had so long suffered,
promised them place, and power, and patronage, and personal
consideration, if they would only act on the principles which he
recommended, in the most flowing language and the most melodious voice
in which the glories of ambition were ever yet chaunted. There was a
buzz of admiration when the flattering music ceased; the Marquess smiled
triumphantly, as if to say, "Didn't I tell you he was a monstrous clever
fellow?" and the whole business seemed settled. Lord Courtown gave in a
bumper, _"Mr. Vivian Grey, and success to his maiden speech!"_ and
Vivian replied by proposing _"The New Union!"_ At last, Sir Berdmore,
the coolest of them all, raised his voice: "He quite agreed with Mr.
Grey in the principles which he had developed; and, for his own part, he
was free to confess that he had perfect confidence in that gentleman's
very brilliant abilities, and augured from their exertion complete and
triumphant success. At the same time, he felt it his duty to remark to
their Lordships, and also to that gentleman, that the House of Commons
was a new scene to him; and he put it, whether they were quite convinced
that they were sufficiently strong as regarded talent in that assembly.
He could not take it upon himself to offer to become the leader of the
party. Mr. Grey might be capable of undertaking that charge, but still,
it must be remembered that in that assembly he was as yet untried. He
made no apology to Mr. Grey for speaking his mind so freely; he was sure
that his motives could not be misinterpreted. If their Lordships, on the
whole, were of opinion that this charge should be entrusted to him, he,
Sir Berdmore, having the greatest confidence in Mr. Grey's abilities,
would certainly support him to the utmost."
"He can do anything," said the Marquess.
"He is a surprising clever man!" said Lord Courtown.
"He is a surprising clever man!" echoed Lord Beaconsfield.
"Stop, my Lords," said Vivian; "your good opinion deserves my gratitude,
but these important matters do indeed require a moment's consideration.
I trust that Sir Berdmore Scrope does not imagine that I am the vain
idiot to be offended at his most excellent remarks, even for a moment.
Are we not met here for the common good, and to consult for the success
of the common cause? Whatever my talents are, they are at your service,
and in your service will I venture anything; but surely, my Lords, you
will not unnecessarily entrust this great business to a raw hand! I need
only aver that I am ready to follow any leader who can play his great
part in a becoming manner."
"Noble!" said the Marquess.
But who was the leader to be? Sir Berdmore frankly confessed that he
had none to propose; and the Viscount and the Baron were quite silent.
"Gentlemen!" exclaimed the Marquess, "Gentlemen! there is a man who
could do our bidding," The eyes of every guest were fixed on the
"Gentlemen, fill your glasses, I give you our leader, Mr. Frederick
"Cleveland"' every one exclaimed. A glass of claret fell from Lord
Courtown's hand; Lord Beaconsfield stopped as he was about to fill his
glass, and stood gaping at the Marquess with the decanter in his hand;
and Sir Berdmore stared on the table, as men do when something
unexpected and astounding has occurred at dinner which seems past all
"Cleveland!" exclaimed the guests.
"I should as soon have expected you to have given us Lucifer!" said Lord
"Or the present Secretary!" said Lord Beaconsfield.
"Or yourself," said Sir Berdmore.
"And does any one maintain that Frederick Cleveland is not capable of
driving out a much stronger Government than he will have to cope with?"
demanded the Marquess with a rather fierce air.
"We do not deny Mr. Cleveland's powers, my Lord; we only humbly beg to
suggest that it appears to us that, of all the persons in the world, the
man with whom Mr. Cleveland would be least inclined to coalesce would be
the Marquess of Carabas."
The Marquess looked somewhat blank.
"Gentlemen," said Vivian, "do not despair; it is enough for me to know
that there is a man who is capable of doing our work. Be he animate man
or incarnate fiend, provided he can be found within this realm, I pledge
myself that within ten days he is drinking my noble friend's health at
this very board."
The Marquess said, "Bravo," the rest smiled, and rose from the table in
some confusion. Little more was said on the "great business." The guests
took refuge in coffee and a glass of liqueur. The pledge was, however,
apparently accepted, and Lord Carabas and Vivian were soon left alone.
The Marquess seemed agitated by Vivian's offer and engagement. "This is
a grave business," he said: "you hardly know, my dear Vivian, what you
have undertaken; but, if anybody can succeed, you will. We must talk of
this to-morrow. There are some obstacles, and I should once have
thought, invincible. I cannot conceive what made me mention his name;
but it has been often in my mind since you first spoke to me. You and he
together, we might carry everything before us. But there are some
obstacles; no doubt there are some obstacles. You heard what Courtown
said, a man who does not make difficulties, and Beaconsfield, a man who
does not say much. Courtown called him Lucifer. He is Lucifer. But, by
Jove, you are the man to overcome obstacles. We must talk of it
to-morrow. So now, my dear fellow, good night!"
"What have I done?" thought Vivian; "I am sure that Lucifer may know,
for I do not. This Cleveland is, I suppose, after all, but a man. I saw
the feeble fools were wavering, and, to save all, made a leap in the
dark. Well! is my skull cracked? Nous verrons. How hot either this room
or my blood is! Come, for some fresh air (he opened the library window).
How fresh and soft it is! Just the night for the balcony. Hah! music! I
cannot mistake that voice. Singular woman! I will just walk on till I am
beneath her window."
Vivian accordingly proceeded along the balcony, which extended down one
whole side of the Château. While he was looking at the moon he stumbled
against some one. It was Colonel Delmington. He apologised to the
militaire for treading on his toes, and wondered "how the devil he
Fredrick Cleveland was educated at Eton and at Cambridge; and after
having proved, both at the school and the University, that he possessed
talents of a high order, he had the courage, in order to perfect them,
to immure himself for three years in a German University. It was
impossible, therefore, for two minds to have been cultivated on more
contrary systems than those of Frederick Cleveland and Vivian Grey. The
systems on which they had been educated were not, however, more
discordant than the respective tempers of the pupils. With that of
Vivian Grey the reader is now somewhat acquainted. It has been shown
that he was one precociously convinced of the necessity of managing
mankind, by studying their tempers and humouring their weaknesses.
Cleveland turned from the Book of Nature with contempt, and although his
was a mind of extraordinary acuteness, he was, at three-and-thirty, as
ignorant of the workings of the human heart as when, in the innocence of
boyhood, he first reached Eton.
Although possessed of no fortune, from his connections and the
reputation of his abilities, he entered Parliament at an early age. His
success was eminent. It was at this period that he formed a, great
intimacy with the present Marquess of Carabas, then Under Secretary of
State. His exertions for the party to which Mr. Under Secretary Lorraine
belonged were unremitting; and it was mainly through their influence
that a great promotion took place in the official appointments of the
party. When the hour of reward came, Mr. Lorraine and his friends
unfortunately forgot their youthful champion. He remonstrated, and they
smiled: he reminded them of private friendship, and they answered him
with political expediency. Mr. Cleveland went down to the House, and
attacked his old comates in a spirit of unexampled bitterness. He
examined in review the various members of the party that had deserted
him. They trembled on their seats, while they writhed beneath the
keenness of his satire: but when the orator came to Mr. President
Lorraine, he flourished the tomahawk on high like a wild Indian
chieftain; and the attack was so awfully severe, so overpowering, so
annihilating, that even this hackneyed and hardened official trembled,
turned pale, and quitted the House, Cleveland's triumph was splendid,
but it was only for a night. Disgusted with mankind, he scouted the
thousand offers of political connections which crowded upon him; and
having succeeded in making an arrangement with his creditors, he
accepted the Chiltern Hundreds.
By the interest of his friends he procured a judicial situation of
sufficient emolument, but of local duty; and to fulfil this duty he was
obliged to reside in North Wales. The locality, indeed, suited him well,
for he was sick of the world at nine-and-twenty; and, carrying his
beautiful and newly-married wife from the world, which without him she
could not love, Mr. Cleveland enjoyed all the luxuries of a cottage
ornée in the most romantic part of the Principality. Here were born unto
him a son and daughter, beautiful children, upon whom the father
lavished all the affection which Nature had intended for the world.
Four years had Cleveland now passed in his solitude, an unhappy man. A
thousand times during the first year of his retirement he cursed the
moment of excitement which had banished him from the world; for he found
himself without resources, and restless as a curbed courser. Like many
men who are born to be orators, like Curran and like Fox, Cleveland was
not blessed, or cursed, with the faculty of composition; and indeed, had
his pen been that of a ready writer, pique would have prevented him from
delighting or instructing a world whose nature he endeavoured to
persuade himself was base, and whose applause ought, consequently, to be
valueless. In the second year he endeavoured to while away his time by
interesting himself in those pursuits which Nature has kindly provided
for country gentlemen. Farming kept him alive for a while; but, at
length, his was the prize ox; and, having gained a cup, he got wearied
of kine too prime for eating, wheat too fine for the composition of the
staff of life, and ploughs so ingeniously contrived that the very
ingenuity prevented them from being useful. Cleveland was now seen
wandering over the moors and mountains, with a gun over his shoulder and
a couple of dogs at his heels; but ennui returned in spite of his patent
percussion: and so, at length, tired of being a sportsman, he almost
became what he had fancied himself in an hour of passion, a misanthrope.
After having been closeted with Lord Carabas for a considerable time the
morning after the cabinet dinner, Vivian left Château Desir.
He travelled night and day, until he arrived in the vicinity of Mr.
Cleveland's abode. What was he to do now? After some deliberation, he
despatched a note to Mr. Cleveland, informing him "that he (Mr. Grey)
was the bearer to Mr. Cleveland of a 'communication of importance.'
Under the circumstances of the case, he observed that he had declined
bringing any letters of introduction. He was quite aware, therefore,
that he should have no right to complain if he had to travel back three
hundred miles without having the honour of an interview; but he trusted
that this necessary breach of etiquette would be overlooked."
The note produced the desired effect, and an appointment was made for
Mr. Grey to call at Kenrich Lodge on the following morning.
Vivian, as he entered the room, took a rapid glance at its master. Mr.
Cleveland was tall and distinguished, with a fare which might have been
a model for manly beauty. He came forward to receive Vivian with a
Newfoundland dog on one side and a large black greyhound on the other;
and the two animals, after having elaborately examined the stranger,
divided between them the luxuries of the rug. The reception which Mr.
Cleveland gave our hero was cold and constrained; but it did not appear
to be purposely uncivil, and Vivian flattered himself that his manner
was not unusually stiff.
"I do not know whether I have the honour of addressing the son of Mr.
Horace Grey?" said Mr. Cleveland, with a frowning countenance, which was
intended to be courteous.
"I have that honour."
"Your father, sir, is a most amiable and able man. I had the pleasure of
his acquaintance when I was in London, many years ago, at a time when
Mr. Vivian Grey was not entrusted, I rather imagine, with missions 'of
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