The Earl of Beaconsfield
Part 4 out of 11
insinuations are only indulged with an audience on the condition that he
favours the House with an introductory discourse of twenty minutes on
'the divine Author of our faith,' and an éloge of equal length on the
Génie du Christianisme, in a style worthy of Chateaubriand."
"Miserable work, indeed! I have got a pamphlet on the West India
Question sent me this morning. Do you know any raving lawyer, any mad
Master in Chancery, or something of the kind, who meddles in
"Oh! Stephen! a puddle in a storm! He is for a crusade for the
regeneration of the Antilles; the most forcible of feebles, the most
energetic of drivellers; Velluti acting Pietro l'Eremita."
"Do you know, by any chance, whether Southey's Vindiciae is out yet? I
wanted to look it over during the holidays."
"Not out, though it has been advertised some time; but what do you
"Nay, it is an interesting controversy, as controversies go. Not exactly
Milton and Salmasius; but fair enough."
"I do not know. It has long degenerated into a mere personal bickering
between the Laureate and Butler. Southey is, of course, revelling in the
idea of writing an English work with a Latin title! and that, perhaps,
is the only circumstance for which the controversy is prolonged."
"But Southey, after all, is a man of splendid talents."
"Doubtless; the most philosophical of bigots, and the most poetical of
"Apropos to the Catholic Question, there goes Colonial Bother'em trying
to look like Prince Metternich; a decided failure."
"What can keep him in town?"
"Writing letters, I suppose, Heaven preserve me from receiving any of
"Is it true, then, that his letters are of the awful length that is
"True! Oh! they are something beyond all conception! Perfect epistolary
Boa Constrictors. I speak with feeling, for I have myself suffered under
their voluminous windings."
"Have you seen his quarto volume: 'The Cure for the Catholic Question?'"
"If you have it, lend it to me. What kind of thing is it?"
"Oh! what should it be! ingenious and imbecile. He advises the
Catholics, in the old nursery language, to behave like good boys; to
open their mouths and shut their eyes, and see what God will send them."
"Well, that is the usual advice. Is there nothing more characteristic of
"What think you of a proposition of making Jockey of Norfolk Patriarch
of England, and of an ascertained _credo_ for our Catholic
fellow-subjects? Ingenious, is not it?"
"Have you seen Puff's new volume of Ariosto?"
"I have. What could possibly have induced Mr. Partenopex Puff to have
undertaken such a duty? Mr. Puff is a man destitute of poetical powers,
possessing no vigour of language, and gifted with no happiness of
expression. His translation is hard, dry, and husky, as the outside of a
cocoanut. I am amused to see the excellent tact with which the public
has determined not to read his volumes, in spite of the incessant
exertions of a certain set to ensure their popularity; but the time has
gone by when the smug coterie could create a reputation."
"Do you think the time ever existed, Cleveland?"
"What could have seduced Puff into being so ambitious? I suppose his
admirable knowledge of Italian; as if a man were entitled to strike a
die for the new sovereign merely because he was aware how much alloy
might legally debase its carats of pure gold."
"I never can pardon Puff for that little book on Cats. The idea was
admirable; but, instead of one of the most delightful volumes that ever
appeared, to take up a dull, tame compilation from Bingley's Animal
"Yes! and the impertinence of dedicating such a work to the Officers of
His Majesty's Household troops! Considering the quarter from whence it
proceeded, I certainly did not expect much, but still I thought that
there was to be some little esprit. The poor Guards! how nervous they
must have been at the announcement! What could have been the point of
"I remember a most interminable proser, who was blessed with a very
sensible-sounding voice, and who, on the strength of that, and his
correct and constant emphases, was considered by the world, for a great
time, as a sage. At length it was discovered that he was quite the
reverse. Mr. Puff's wit is very like this man's wisdom. You take up one
of his little books, and you fancy, from its titlepage, that it is going
to be very witty; as you proceed, you begin to suspect that the man is
only a wag, and then, surprised at not 'seeing the point,' you have a
shrewd suspicion that he is a great hand at dry humour. It is not till
you have closed the volume that you wonder who it is that has had the
hardihood to intrude such imbecility upon an indulgent world."
"Come, come! Mr. Puff is a worthy gentleman. Let him cease to dusk the
radiancy of Ariosto's sunny stanzas, and I shall be the first man who
will do justice to his merits. He certainly tattles prettily about
tenses and terminations, and is not an inelegant grammarian."
"Our literature, I think, is at a low ebb."
"There is nothing like a fall of stocks to affect what it is the fashion
to style the Literature of the present day, a fungus production which
has flourished from the artificial state of our society, the mere
creature of our imaginary wealth. Everybody being very rich, has
afforded to be very literary, books being considered a luxury almost as
elegant and necessary as ottomans, bonbons, and pier-glasses. Consols
at 100 were the origin of all book societies. The Stockbrokers' ladies
took off the quarto travels and the hot-pressed poetry. They were the
patronesses of your patent ink and your wire-wove paper. That is all
past. Twenty per cent difference in the value of our public securities
from this time last year, that little incident has done more for the
restoration of the old English feeling, than all the exertions of Church
and State united. There is nothing like a fall in Consols to bring the
blood of our good people of England into cool order. It is your grand
state medicine, your veritable Doctor Sangrado!
"A fall in stocks! and halt to 'the spread of knowledge!' and 'the
progress of liberal principles' is like that of a man too late for
post-horses. A fall in stocks! and where are your London Universities,
and your Mechanics' Institutes, and your new Docks? Where your
philosophy, your philanthropy, and your competition? National prejudices
revive as national prosperity decreases. If the Consols were at 60 we
should be again bellowing, God save the King! eating roast beef, and
damning the French."
"And you imagine literature is equally affected, Grey?"
"Clearly. We were literary because we were rich. Amid the myriad of
volumes which issued monthly from the press, what one was not written
for the mere hour? It is all very well to buy mechanical poetry and
historical novels when our purses have a plethora; but now, my dear
fellow, depend upon it, the game is up. We have no scholars now, no
literary recluses, no men who ever appear to think. 'Scribble, scribble,
scribble' as the Duke of Cumberland said to Gibbon, should be the motto
of the mighty 'nineteenth century.'"
"Southey, I think, Grey, is an exception."
"By no means. Southey is a political writer, a writer for a particular
purpose. All his works, from those in three volumes quarto to those in
one duodecimo, are alike political pamphlets."
"We certainly want a master-spirit to set us right, Grey. We want
"There was the man! And that such a man should be lost to us at the very
moment that he had begun to discover why it had pleased the Omnipotent
to have endowed him with such powers!"
"If one thing were more characteristic of Byron's mind than another, it
was his strong, shrewd, common sense; his pure, unalloyed sagacity."
"You knew him, I think, Cleveland?"
"Well, I was slightly acquainted with him when in England; slightly,
however, for I was then very young. But many years afterwards I met him
in Italy. It was at Pisa, just before he left that place for Genoa. I
was then very much struck at the alteration in his appearance."
"Yes; his face was swollen, and he was getting fat. His hair was grey,
and his countenance had lost that spiritual expression which it once
eminently possessed. His teeth were decaying; and he said that if ever
he came to England it would be to consult Wayte about them. I certainly
was very much struck at his alteration for the worse. Besides, he was
dressed in the most extraordinary manner."
"Oh, no, no, no! in the most dandified style that you can conceive; but
not that of an English dandy either. He had on a magnificent foreign
foraging cap, which he wore in the room, but his grey curls were quite
perceptible; and a frogged surtout; and he had a large gold chain round
his neck, and pushed into his waistcoat pocket. I imagined, of course,
that a glass was attached to it; but I afterwards found that it bore
nothing but a quantity of trinkets. He had also another gold chain tight
round his neck, like a collar."
"How odd! And did you converse much with him?"
"I was not long at Pisa, but we never parted, and there was only one
subject of conversation, England, England, England. I never met a man in
whom the maladie du pays was so strong. Byron was certainly at this time
restless and discontented. He was tired of his dragoon captains and
pensioned poetasters, and he dared not come back to England with what he
considered a tarnished reputation. His only thought was of some
desperate exertion to clear himself: it was for this he went to Greece.
When I was with him he was in correspondence with some friends in
England about the purchase of a large tract of land in Colombia. He
affected a great admiration of Bolivar."
"Who, by-the-bye, is a great man."
"Your acquaintance with Byron must have been one of the gratifying
incidents of your life, Cleveland?"
"Certainly; I may say with Friar Martin, in Goetz of Berlichingen, 'The
sight of him touched my heart. It is a pleasure to have seen a
"Hobhouse was a faithful friend to him?"
"His conduct has been beautiful; and Byron had a thorough affection for
him, in spite of a few squibs and a few drunken speeches, which damned
good-natured friends have always been careful to repeat."
"The loss of Byron can never be retrieved. He was indeed a real man; and
when I say this, I award him the most splendid character which human
nature need aspire to. At least, I, for my part, have no ambition to be
considered either a divinity or an angel; and truly, when I look round
upon the creatures alike effeminate in mind and body of which the world
is, in general, composed, I fear that even my ambition is too exalted.
Byron's mind was like his own ocean, sublime in its yesty madness,
beautiful in its glittering summer brightness, mighty in the lone
magnificence of its waste of waters, gazed upon from the magic of its
own nature, yet capable of representing, but as in a glass darkly, the
natures of all others."
"Hyde Park is greatly changed since I was a dandy, Vivian. Pray, do the
Misses Otranto still live in that house?"
"Yes; blooming as ever."
"It is the fashion to abuse Horace Walpole, but I really think him the
most delightful writer that ever existed. I wonder who is to be the
Horace Walpole of the present century? some one, perhaps, we
"Vivida Vis, think you?"
"More than probable. I will tell you who ought to be writing Memoirs;
Lord Dropmore. Does my Lord Manfred keep his mansion there, next to the
"I believe so, and lives there."
"I knew him in Germany; a singular man, and not understood. Perhaps he
does not understand himself. I see our horses."
"I will join you in an instant, Cleveland. I just want to speak one word
to Osborne, whom I see coming down here. Well, Osborne, I must come and
knock you up one of these mornings. I have got a commission for you from
Lady Julia Knighton, to which you must pay particular attention."
"Well, Mr. Grey, how does Lady Julia like the bay mare?"
"Very much, indeed; but she wants to know what you have done about the
"Oh! put it off, sir, in the prettiest style, on young Mr. Feoffment,
who has just married, and taken a house in Gower Street. He wanted a bit
of blood; hopes he likes it!"
"Hopes he does, Jack. There is a particular favour which you can do for
me, Osborne, and which I am sure you will. Ernest Clay; you know Ernest
Clay; a most excellent fellow is Ernest Clay, you know, and a great
friend of yours, Osborne; I wish you would just step down to Connaught
Place, and look at those bays he bought of Harry Mounteney. He is in a
little trouble, and we must do what we can for him; you know he is an
excellent fellow, and a great friend of yours. Thank you, I knew you
would. Good morning; remember Lady Julia. So you really fitted young
Feoffment with the chestnut; well, that was admirable! Good morning."
"I do not know whether you care for these things at all, Cleveland, but
Premium, a famous millionaire, has gone this morning, for I know not how
much! Half the new world will be ruined; and in this old one a most
excellent fellow, my friend Ernest Clay. He was engaged to Premium's
daughter, his last resource, and now, of course, it is all up with him."
"I was at College with his brother, Augustus Clay. He is a nephew of
Lord Mounteney's, is he not?"
"The very same. Poor fellow! I do not know what we must do for him. I
think I shall advise him to change his name to Clay_ville_; and if the
world ask him the reason of the euphonious augmentation, why, he can
swear it was to distinguish himself from his brothers. Too many roués of
the same name will never do. And now spurs to our steeds! for we are
going at least three miles out of our way, and I must collect my senses
and arrange my curls before dinner, for I have to flirt with at least
three fair ones."
These conversations play the very deuce with one's story. We had
intended to have commenced this book with something quite terrific, a
murder or a marriage; and all our great ideas have ended in a lounge.
After all, it is, perhaps, the most natural termination. In life,
surely man is not always as monstrously busy as he appears to be in
novels and romances. We are not always in action, not always making
speeches or making money, or making war, or making love. Occasionally we
talk, about the weather generally; sometimes about, ourselves; oftener
about our friends; as often about our enemies, at least, those who have
any; which, in my opinion, is the vulgarest of all possessions.
But we must get on.
Mr. Cleveland and Mrs. Felix Lorraine again met, and the gentleman
scarcely appeared to be aware that this meeting was not their first. The
lady sighed and remonstrated. She reproached Mr. Cleveland with passages
of letters. He stared, and deigned not a reply to an artifice which he
considered equally audacious and shallow. There was a scene. Vivian was
forced to interfere; but as he deprecated all explanation, his
interference was of little avail; and, as it was ineffectual for one
party and uncalled for by the other, it was, of course, not encouraged.
The presence of Mrs. Cleveland did not tend to assist Mrs. Felix in that
self-control which, with all her wildness, she could appositely
practise. In the presence of the Clevelands she was fitful, capricious,
perplexing; sometimes impertinent, sometimes humble; but always ill at
ease, and never charming.
Peculiar, however, as was her conduct in this particular relation, it
was in all others, at this moment, most exemplary. Her whole soul seemed
concentrated in the success of the approaching struggle. No office was
too mechanical for her attention, or too elaborate for her enthusiastic
assiduity. Her attentions were not confined merely to Vivian and the
Marquess, but were lavished with equal generosity on their colleagues.
She copied letters for Sir Berdmore, and composed letters for Lord
Courtown, and construed letters to Lord Beaconsfield; they, in return,
echoed her praises to her delighted relative, who was daily
congratulated on the possession of "such a fascinating sister in law."
"Well, Vivian," said Mrs. Lorraine, to that young gentleman, the day
previous to his departure from Buckhurst Lodge, "you are going to leave
me behind you."
"Yes! I hope you will not want me. I am very annoyed at not being able
to go to town with you, but Lady Courtown is so pressing! and I have
really promised so often to stay a week with her, that I thought it was
better to make out my promise at once than in six months hence."
"Well! I am exceedingly sorry, for you really are so useful! and the
interest you take in everything is so encouraging, that I very much fear
we shall not be able to get on without you. The important hour
"It does, indeed, Vivian; and I assure you that there is no person
awaiting it with intenser interest than myself. I little thought," she
added, in a low but distinct voice, "I little thought, when I first
reached England, that I should ever again be interested in anything in
Vivian was silent, for he had nothing to say.
"Vivian!" very briskly resumed Mrs. Lorraine, "I shall get you to frank
all my letters for me. I shall never trouble the Marquess again. Do you
know, it strikes me you will make a very good speaker!"
"You flatter me exceedingly; suppose you give me a few lessons."
"But you must leave off some of your wicked tricks, Vivian! You must not
improvise parliamentary papers!"
"Improvise papers, Mrs. Lorraine! What can you mean?"
"Oh! nothing. I never mean anything."
"But you must have had some meaning."
"Some meaning! Yes, I dare say I had; I meant; I meant; do you think it
will rain to-day?"
"Every prospect of a hard frost. I never knew before that I was an
"Nor I. Have you heard from papa lately? I suppose he is quite in
spirits at your success?"
"My father is a man who seldom gives way to any elation of mind."
"Ah, indeed! a philosopher, I have no doubt, like his son."
"I have no claims to the title of philosopher, although I have had the
advantage of studying in the school of Mrs. Felix Lorraine."
"What do you mean? If I thought you meant to be impertinent, I really
would; but I excuse you; I think the boy means well."
"The boy 'means nothing; he never means anything.'"
"Come, Vivian! we are going to part. Do not let us quarrel the last day.
There, there is a sprig of myrtle for you!
What! not accept my foolish flower?
Nay, then, I am indeed unblest!
and now you want it all! Unreasonable young man! If I were not the
kindest lady in the land I should tear this sprig into a thousand pieces
sooner; but come, my child! you shall have it. There! it looks quite
imposing in your button-hole. How handsome you look to-day!"
"How agreeable you are! I love compliments!"
"Ah, Vivian! will you never give me credit for anything but a light and
callous heart? Will you never be convinced that, that; but why make this
humiliating confession? Oh! no, let me be misunderstood for ever! The
time may come when Vivian Grey will find that Amalia Lorraine was--"
"Was what, madam?"
"You shall choose the word, Vivian."
"Say, then, my friend."
"'Tis a monosyllable full of meaning, and I will not quarrel with it.
And now, adieu! Heaven prosper you! Believe me, that my first thoughts
and my last are for you and of you!"
"This is very kind of you, Grey! I was afraid my note might not have
caught you. You have not breakfasted? Really I wish you would take up
your quarters in Carabas House, for I want you now every moment."
"What is the urgent business of this morning?"
"Oh! I have seen Bromley."
"And everything most satisfactory, I did not go into detail; I left that
for you: but I ascertained sufficient to convince me that management is
now alone required."
"Well, my Lord, I trust that will not be wanting."
"No, Vivian; you have opened my eyes to the situation in which fortune
has placed me. The experience of every day only proves the truth and
soundness of your views. Fortunate, indeed, was the hour in which
"My Lord, I do trust that it was a meeting which neither of us will live
"Impossible! my dear friend, I do not hesitate to say that I would not
change my present lot for that of any Peer of this realm; no, not for
that of His Majesty's most favoured counsellor. What! with my character
and my influence, and my connections, I to be a tool! I, the Marquess of
Carabas! I say nothing of my own powers; but, as you often most justly
and truly observe, the world has had the opportunity of judging of them;
and I think I may recur, without vanity, to the days in which my voice
had some weight in the Royal Councils. And, as I have often remarked, I
have friends, I have you, Vivian. My career is before you. I know what I
should have done at your age; not to say what I did do. I to be a tool!
The very last person that ought to be a tool. But I see my error: you
have opened my eyes, and blessed be the hour in which we met. But we
must take care how we act, Vivian; we must be wary; eh! Vivian, wary,
wary. People must know what their situations are; eh! Vivian?"
"Exceedingly useful knowledge; but I do not exactly understand the
particular purport of your Lordship's last observation."
"You do not, eh?" asked the Peer; and he fixed his eyes as earnestly and
expressively as he possibly could upon his young companion. "Well, I
thought not. I was positive it was not true," continued the Marquess
in a murmur.
"What, my Lord?"
"Oh! nothing, nothing; people talk at random, at random, at random. I
feel confident you quite agree with me; eh! Vivian?"
"Really, my Lord, I fear I am unusually dull this morning."
"Dull! no, no; you quite agree with me. I feel confident you do. People
must be taught what their situations are; that is what I was saying,
Vivian. My Lord Courtown," added the Marquess, in a whisper, "is not to
have everything his own way; eh! Vivian?"
"Oh, oh!" thought Vivian; "this, then, is the result of that admirable
creature, Miss Felix Lorraine, staying a week with her dear friend, Lady
Courtown." "My Lord, it would be singular if, in the Carabas party, the
Carabas interest was not the predominant one."
"I knew you thought so. I could not believe for a minute that you could
think otherwise: but some people take such strange ideas into their
heads, I cannot account for them. I felt confident what would be your
opinion. My Lord Courtown is not to carry everything before him in the
spirit that I have lately observed; or rather, in the spirit which I
understand, from very good authority, is exhibited. Eh! Vivian; that is
your opinion, is not it?"
"Oh! my dear Marquess, we must think alike on this, as on all points."
"I knew it. I felt confident as to your sentiments upon this subject. I
cannot conceive why some people take such strange ideas into their
heads! I knew that you could not disagree with me upon this point. No,
no, no; my Lord Courtown must feel which is the predominant interest, as
you so well express it. How choice your expressions always are! I do not
know how it is, but you always hit upon the right expression, Vivian.
The predominant interest, the pre-do-mi-nant in-te-rest. To be sure.
What! with my high character and connections, with my stake in society,
was it to be expected that I, the Marquess of Carabas, was going to make
any move which compromised the predominancy of my interests? No, no, no,
my Lord Courtown; the predominant interest must be kept predominant;
"To be sure, my Lord; explicitness and decision will soon arrange any
"I have been talking to Lady Carabas, Vivian, upon the expediency of her
opening the season early. I think a course of parliamentary dinners
would produce a good effect. It gives a tone to a political party."
"Certainly; the science of political gastronomy has never been
"Egad! Vivian, I am in such spirits this morning. This business of
Bromley so delights me; and finding you agree with me about Lord
Courtown, I was confident as to your sentiments on that point. But some
people take such strange ideas into their heads! To be sure, to be sure,
the predominant interest, mine, that is to say ours, Vivian, is the
predominant interest. I have no idea of the predominant interest not
being predominant; that would be singular! I knew you would agree with
me; we always agree. 'Twas a lucky hour when we met. Two minds so
exactly alike! I was just your very self when I was young; and as for
you, my career is before you."
Here entered Mr. Sadler with the letters.
"One from Courtown. I wonder if he has seen Mounteney. Mounteney is a
very good-natured fellow, and I think might be managed. Ah! I wish you
could get hold of him, Vivian; you would soon bring him round. What it
is to have brains, Vivian!" and here the Marquess shook his head very
pompously, and at the same time tapped very significantly on his left
temple. "Hah! what, what is all this? Here, read it, read it, man; I
have no head to-day."
Vivian took the letter, and his quick eye dashed through its contents in
a second. It was from Lord Courtown, and dated far in the country. It
talked of private communications, and premature conduct, and the
suspicious, not to say dishonourable, behaviour of Mr. Vivian Grey: it
trusted that such conduct was not sanctioned by his Lordship, but
"nevertheless obliged to act with decision, regretted the necessity,"
&c. &c. &c. &c. In short, Lord Courtown had deserted, and recalled his
pledge as to the official appointment promised to Mr. Cleveland,
"because that promise was made while he was the victim of delusions
created by the representations of Mr. Grey."
"What can all this mean, my Lord?"
The Marquess swore a fearful oath, and threw another letter.
"This is from Lord Beaconsfield, my Lord," said Vivian, with a face
pallid as death, "and apparently the composition of the same writer; at
least, it is the same tale, the same refacimento of lies, and treachery,
and cowardice, doled out with diplomatic politesse. But I will off
to ----shire instantly. It is not yet too late to save everything. This
is Wednesday; on Thursday afternoon I shall be at Norwood Park. Thank
God! I came this morning."
The face of the Marquess, who was treacherous as the wind, seemed
already to indicate "Adieu! Mr. Vivian Grey!" but that countenance
exhibited some very different passions when it glanced over the contents
of the next epistle. There was a tremendous oath and a dead silence. His
Lordship's florid countenance turned as pale as that of his companion.
The perspiration stole down in heavy drops. He gasped for breath!
"Good God! my Lord, what is the matter?"
"The matter!" howled the Marquess, "the matter! That I have been a vain,
weak, miserable fool!" and then there was another oath, and he flung the
letter to the other side of the table.
It was the official congé of the Most Noble Sydney Marquess of Carabas.
His Majesty had no longer any occasion for his services. His successor
was Lord Courtown!
We will not affect to give any description of the conduct of the
Marquess of Carabas at this moment. He raved, he stamped, he
blasphemed! but the whole of his abuse was levelled against his former
"monstrous clever" young friend; of whose character he had so often
boasted that his own was she prototype, but who was now an adventurer, a
swindler, a scoundrel, a liar, a base, deluding, flattering, fawning
villain, &c. &c. &c. &c,
"My Lord," said Vivian.
"I will not hear you; out on your fair words! They have duped me enough
already. That I, with my high character and connections! that I, the
Marquess of Carabas, should have been the victim of the arts of a young
Vivian's fist was once clenched, but it was only for a moment. The
Marquess leant back in his chair with his eyes shut. In the agony of the
moment a projecting tooth of his upper jaw had forced itself through his
under lip, and from the wound the blood was flowing freely over his dead
white countenance. Vivian left the room.
He stopped one moment on the landing-place, ere he was about to leave
the house for ever.
"'Tis all over! and so, Vivian Grey, your game is up! and to die, too,
like a dog! a woman's dupe! Were I a despot, I should perhaps satiate my
vengeance upon this female fiend with the assistance of the rack, but
that cannot be; and, after all, it would be but a poor revenge in one
who has worshipped the Empire of the Intellect to vindicate the agony I
am now enduring upon the base body of a woman. No! 'tis not all over.
There is yet an intellectual rack of which few dream: far, far more
terrific than the most exquisite contrivances of Parysatis. Jacinte,"
said he to a female attendant that passed, "is your mistress at home?"
"She is, sir."
"'Tis well," said Vivian, and he sprang upstairs.
"Health to the lady of our love!" said Vivian Grey, as he entered the
elegant boudoir of Mrs. Felix Lorraine. "In spite of the easterly wind,
which has spoiled my beauty for the season, I could not refrain from
inquiring after your prosperity before I went to the Marquess. Have you
heard the news?"
"News! no; what news?"
"'Tis a sad tale," said Vivian, with a melancholy voice.
"Oh! then, pray do not tell it me. I am in no humour for sorrow to-day.
Come! a bon-mot, or a calembourg, or exit Mr. Vivian Grey."
"Well, then, good morning! I am off for a black crape, or a Barcelona
kerchief. Mrs. Cleveland is dead."
"Dead!" exclaimed Mrs. Lorraine.
"Dead! She died last night, suddenly. Is it not horrible?"
"Shocking!" exclaimed Mrs. Lorraine, with a mournful voice and an eye
dancing with joy. "Why, Mr. Grey, I do declare you are weeping."
"It is not for the departed!"
"Nay, Vivian! for Heaven's sake, what is the matter?"
"My dear Mrs. Lorraine!" but here the speaker's voice was choked with
grief, and he could not proceed.
"Pray compose yourself."
"Mrs. Felix Lorraine, can I speak with you half an hour, undisturbed?"
"By all means. I will ring for Jacinte. Jacinte! mind I am not at home
to anyone. Well, what is the matter?"
"O! madam, I must pray your patience; I wish you to shrive a penitent."
"Good God! Mr. Grey! for Heaven's sake be explicit."
"For Heaven's sake, for your sake, for my soul's sake, I would be
explicit; but explicitness is not the language of such as I am. Can you
listen to a tale of horror? can you promise me to contain yourself?"
"I will promise anything. Pray, pray proceed."
But in spite of her earnest solicitations her companion was mute. At
length he rose from his chair, and leaning on the chimney-piece, buried
his face in his hands and wept.
"Vivian," said Mrs. Lorraine, "have you seen the Marquess yet?"
"Not yet," he sobbed; "I am going to him, but I am in no humour for
business this morning."
"Compose yourself, I beseech you. I will hear everything. You shall not
complain of an inattentive or an irritable auditor. Now, my dear Vivian,
sit down and tell me all." She led him to a chair, and then, after
stifling his sobs, with a broken voice he proceeded.
"You will recollect, madam, that accident made me acquainted with
certain circumstances connected with yourself and Mr. Cleveland. Alas!
actuated by the vilest of sentiments, I conceived a violent hatred
against that gentleman, a hatred only to be equalled by my passion for
you; but I find difficulty in dwelling upon the details of this sad
story of jealousy and despair."
"Oh! speak, speak! compensate for all you have done by your present
frankness; be brief, be brief."
"I will be brief," said Vivian, with earnestness: "I will be brief. Know
then, madam, that in order to prevent the intercourse between you and
Mr. Cleveland from proceeding I obtained his friendship, and became the
confidante of his heart's sweetest secret. Thus situated, I suppressed
the letters with which I was entrusted from him to you, and, poisoning
his mind, I accounted for your silence by your being employed in other
correspondence; nay, I did more; with the malice of a fiend, I boasted
of--; nay, do not stop me; I have more to tell."
Mrs. Felix Lorraine, with compressed lips and looks of horrible
earnestness, gazed in silence.
"The result of all this you know; but the most terrible part is to come;
and, by a strange fascination, I fly to confess my crimes at your feet,
even while the last minutes have witnessed my most heinous one. Oh!
madam. I have stood over the bier of the departed; I have mingled my
tears with those of the sorrowing widower, his young and tender child
was on my knee, and as I kissed his innocent lips, me thought it was but
my duty to the departed to save the father from his mother's rival--"
"Yes, yes, yes," said Mrs. Felix Lorraine, in a low whisper.
"It was then, even then, in the hour of his desolation, that I mentioned
your name, that it might the more disgust him; and while he wept over
his virtuous and sainted wife, I dwelt on the vices of his rejected
Mrs. Lorraine clasped her hands, and moved restlessly on her seat.
"Nay! do not stop me; let me tell all. 'Cleveland,' said I, 'if ever you
become the husband of Mrs. Felix Lorraine, remember my last words: it
will be well for you if your frame be like that of Mithridates of
Pontus, and proof against ---- poison.'"
"And did you say this?" shrieked the woman.
"Even these were my words."
"Then may all evil blast you!" She threw herself on the sofa; her voice
was choked with the convulsions of her passion, and she writhed in
Vivian Grey, lounging in an arm-chair in the easiest of postures, and
with a face brilliant with smiles, watched his victim with the eye of a
She slowly recovered, and, with a broken voice, poured forth her sacred
absolution to the relieved penitent.
"You wonder I do not stab you; hah! hah! hah! there is no need for that!
the good powers be praised that you refused the draught I once
proffered. Know, wretch, that your race is run. Within five minutes you
will breathe a beggar and an outcast. Your golden dreams are over, your
cunning plans are circumvented, your ambitious hopes are crushed for
ever, you are blighted in the very spring of your life. Oh, may you
never die! May you wander for ever, the butt of the world's malice; and
may the slow moving finger of scorn point where'er you go at the ruined
"Hah, hah! is it so? Think you that Vivian Grey would fall by a woman's
wile? Think you that Vivian Grey could be crushed by such a worthless
thing as you? Know, then, that your political intrigues have been as
little concealed from me as your personal ones; I have been acquainted
with all. The Marquess has himself seen the Minister, and is more firmly
established in his pride of place than ever. I have myself seen our
colleagues, whom you tampered with, and their hearts are still true, and
their purpose still fixed. All, all prospers; and ere five days are
passed 'the Charlatan' will be a Senator."
The shifting expression of Mrs. Lorraine's countenance, while Vivian was
speaking, would have baffled the most cunning painter. Her complexion
was capricious as the chameleon's, and her countenance was so convulsed
that her features seemed of all shapes and sizes. One large vein
protruded nearly a quarter of an inch from her forehead, and the dank
light which gleamed in her tearful eye was like an unwholesome meteor
quivering in a marsh. When he ended she sprang from the sofa, and,
looking up and extending her arms with unmeaning wildness, she gave one
loud shriek and dropped like a bird shot on the wing; she had burst a
Vivian raised her on the sofa and paid her every possible attention.
There is always a medical attendant lurking about the mansions of the
noble, and to this worthy and the attendant Jacinte Vivian delivered
Had Vivian Grey left the boudoir a pledged bridegroom his countenance
could not have been more triumphant; but he was labouring under
unnatural excitement; for it is singular that when, as he left the
house, the porter told him that Mr. Cleveland was with his Lord, Vivian
had no idea at the moment what individual bore that name. The fresh air
of the street revived him, and somewhat cooled the bubbling of his
blood. It was then that the man's information struck upon his senses.
"So, poor Cleveland!" thought Vivian; "then he knows all!" His own
misery he had not yet thought of; but when Cleveland occurred to him,
with his ambition once more baulked, his high hopes once more blasted,
and his honourable soul once more deceived; when he thought of his fair
wife, and his infant children, and his ruined prospects, a sickness came
over his heart, he grew dizzy, and fell.
"And the gentleman's ill, I think," said an honest Irishman; and, in the
fulness of his charity, he placed Vivian on a door-step.
"So it seems," said a genteel passenger in black; and he snatched, with
great sang-froid, Vivian's watch. "Stop thief!" hallooed the Hibernian.
Paddy was tripped up. There was a row, in the midst of which Vivian Grey
crawled to an hotel.
In half an hour Vivian was at Mr. Cleveland's door.
"My master is at the Marquess of Carabas', sir; he will not return, but
is going immediately to Richmond, where Mrs. Cleveland is staying."
Vivian immediately wrote to Mr. Cleveland. "If your master have left the
Marquess', let this be forwarded to him at Richmond immediately."
"You know all. It would be mockery were I to say that at this moment I
am not thinking of myself. I am a ruined man in body and in mind. But
my own misery is nothing; I can die, I can go mad, and who will be
harmed? But you! I had wished that we should never meet again; but my
hand refuses to trace the thoughts with which my heart is full, and I am
under the sad necessity of requesting you to see me once more. We have
been betrayed, and by a woman; but there has been revenge. Oh,
When Vivian left Mr. Cleveland's he actually did not know what to do
with himself. Home, at present, he could not face, and so he continued
to wander about, quite unconscious of locality. He passed in his
progress many of his acquaintance, who, from his distracted air and
rapid pace, imagined that he was intent on some important business. At
length he found himself in one of the most sequestered parts of
Kensington Gardens. It was a cold, frosty day, and as Vivian flung
himself upon one of the summer seats the snow drifted from off the
frozen board; but Vivian's brow was as burning hot as if he had been an
inhabitant of Sirius. Throwing his arms on a small garden table, he
buried his face in his hands and wept as men can but once weep in
O, thou sublime and most subtle philosopher, who, in thy lamp-lit cell,
art speculating upon the passions which thou hast never felt! O, thou
splendid and most admirable poet, who, with cunning words, art painting
with a smile a tale of woe! tell me what is Grief, and solve me the
mystery of Sorrow.
Not for himself, for after the first pang he would have whistled off his
high hopes with the spirit of a Ripperda; not even for Cleveland, for at
this moment, it must be confessed, his thoughts were not for his friend,
did Vivian Grey's soul struggle as if it were about to leave its fleshy
chamber. We said he wept as men can weep but once in this world, and yet
it would have been impossible for him to have defined what, at that
fearful moment, was the cause of his heart's sorrow. Incidents of
childhood of the most trivial nature, and until this moment forgotten,
flashed across his memory; he gazed on the smile of his mother, he
listened to the sweet tones of his father's voice, and his hand
clenched, with still more agonised grasp, his rude resting-place, and
the scalding tears dashed down his cheek in still more ardent torrents.
He had no distinct remembrance of what had so lately happened; but
characters flitted before him as in a theatre, in a dream, dim and
shadowy, yet full of mysterious and undefinable interest; and then there
came a horrible idea across his mind that his glittering youth was gone
and wasted; and then there was a dark whisper of treachery, and
dissimulation, and dishonour; and then he sobbed as if his very heart
were cracking. All his boasted philosophy vanished; his artificial
feelings fled him. Insulted Nature reasserted her long-spurned
authority, and the once proud Vivian Grey felt too humble even to curse
himself. Gradually his sobs became less convulsed and his brow more
cool; and, calm from very exhaustion, he sat for upwards of an hour
At this moment there issued, with their attendant, from an adjoining
shrubbery, two beautiful children. They were so exceedingly lovely that
the passenger would have stopped to gaze upon them. The eldest, who yet
was very young, was leading his sister hand in hand with slow and
graceful steps, mimicking the courtesy of men. But when his eye caught
Vivian's the boy uttered a loud cry of exultation, and rushed, with the
eagerness of infantile affection, to his gentle and favourite playmate.
They were the young Clevelands. With what miraculous quickness will man
shake off the outward semblance of grief when his sorrow is a secret!
The mighty merchant, who knows that in four-and-twenty hours the world
must be astounded by his insolvency, will walk in the front of his
confident creditor as if he were the lord of a thousand argosies; the
meditating suicide will smile on the arm of a companion as if to breathe
in this sunny world were the most ravishing and rapturous bliss. We
cling to our stations in our fellow-creatures' minds and memories; we
know too well the frail tenure on which we are in this world great and
considered personages. Experience makes us shrink from the specious
sneer of sympathy; and when we are ourselves falling, bitter Memory
whispers that we have ourselves been neglectful.
And so it was that even unto these infants Vivian Grey dared not appear
other than a gay and easy-hearted man; and in a moment he was dancing
them on his knee, and playing with their curls, and joining in their
pretty prattle, and pressing their small and fragrant lips.
It was night when he paced down--. He passed his club; that club to
become a member of which had once been the object of his high ambition,
and to gain which privilege had cost such hours of canvassing, such
interference of noble friends, and the incurring of favours from so many
people, "which never could be forgotten!"
A desperate feeling actuated him, and he entered the Club-house. He
walked into the great saloon and met some fifty "most particular
friends," all of whom asked him "how the Marquess did," or "have you
seen Cleveland?" and a thousand other as comfortable queries. At length,
to avoid these disagreeable rencontres, and indeed to rest himself, he
went to a smaller and more private room. As he opened the door his eyes
lighted upon Cleveland.
He was standing with his back to the fire. There were only two other
persons in the room; one was a friend of Cleveland's, and the other an
acquaintance of Vivian's. The latter was writing at the table.
When Vivian saw Cleveland he would have retired, but he was bid to "come
in" in a voice of thunder.
As he entered he instantly perceived that Cleveland was under the
influence of wine. When in this situation, unlike other men, Mr.
Cleveland's conduct was not distinguished by any of the little
improprieties of behaviour by which a man is always known by his friends
"to be very drunk." He neither reeled, nor hiccuped, nor grew maudlin.
The effect of drinking upon him was only to increase the intensity of
the sensation by which his mind was at the moment influenced. He did not
even lose the consciousness of identity of persons. At this moment it
was clear to Vivian that Cleveland was under the influence of the
extremest passion; his eyes rolled wildly, and seemed fixed only upon
vacancy. As Vivian was no friend to scenes before strangers he bowed to
the two gentlemen and saluted Cleveland with his wonted cordiality; but
his proffered hand was rudely repelled.
"Away!" exclaimed Cleveland, in a furious tone; "I have no friendship
The two gentlemen stared, and the pen of the writer stopped.
"Cleveland!" said Vivian, in an earnest whisper, as he came up close to
him; "for God's sake contain yourself. I have written you a letter which
explains all; but--"
"Out! out upon you. Out upon your honied words and your soft phrases! I
have been their dupe too long;" and he struck Vivian.
"Sir John Poynings!" said Vivian, with a quivering lip, turning to the
gentleman who was writing at the table, "we were school-fellows;
circumstances have prevented us from meeting often in after-life; but I
now ask you, with the frankness of an old acquaintance, to do me the sad
service of accompanying me in this quarrel, a quarrel which I call
Heaven to witness is not of my seeking."
The Baronet, who was in the Guards, and although a great dandy, quite a
man of business in these matters, immediately rose from his seat and led
Vivian to a corner of the room. After some whispering he turned round to
Mr. Cleveland, and bowed to him with a very significant look. It was
evident that Cleveland comprehended his meaning, for, though he was
silent, he immediately pointed to the other gentleman, his friend, Mr.
"Mr. Castleton," said Sir John, giving his card, "Mr. Grey will
accompany me to my rooms in Pall Mall; it is now ten o'clock; we shall
wait two hours, in which time I hope to hear from you. I leave time, and
place, and terms to yourself. I only wish it to be understood that it is
the particular desire of my principal that the meeting should be as
speedy as possible."
About eleven o'clock the communication from Mr. Castleton arrived. It
was quite evident that Cleveland was sobered, for in one instance Vivian
observed that the style was corrected by his own hand. The hour was
eight the next morning, at ---- Common, about six miles from town.
Poynings wrote to a professional friend to be on the ground at half-past
seven, and then he and Vivian retired.
Did you ever fight a duel? No? nor send a challenge either? Well! you
are fresh, indeed! 'Tis an awkward business, after all, even for the
boldest. After an immense deal of negotiation, and giving your opponent
every opportunity of coming to an honourable understanding, the fatal
letter is at length signed, sealed, and sent. You pass your mornings at
your second's apartments, pacing his drawing-room with a quivering lip
and uncertain step. At length he enters with an answer; and while be
reads you endeavour to look easy, with a countenance merry with the most
melancholy smile. You have no appetite for dinner, but you are too brave
not to appear at table; and you are called out after the second glass by
the arrival of your solicitor, who comes to alter your will. You pass a
restless night, and rise in the morning as bilious as a Bengal general.
Urged by impending fate, you make a desperate effort to accommodate
matters; but in the contest between your pride and your terror you at
the same time prove that you are a coward and fail in the negotiation.
You both fire and miss, and then the seconds interfere, and then you
shake hands: everything being arranged in the most honourable manner and
to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. The next day you are seen
pacing Bond Street with an erect front and a flashing eye, with an air
at once dandyish and heroical, a mixture at the same time of Brummell
and the Duke of Wellington.
It was a fine February morning. Sir John drove Vivian to the ground in
"Nothing like a cab, Grey, for the business you are going on: you glide
along the six miles in such style that it actually makes you quite
courageous. I remember once going down, on a similar purpose, in a post
and pair, and 'pon my soul, when I came to the ground, my hand shook so
that I could scarcely draw. But I was green then. Now, when I go in my
cab, with Philidor with his sixteen-mile-an-hour paces, egad! I wing my
man in a trice; and take all the parties home to Pall Mall, to celebrate
the event with a grilled bone, Havannahs, and Regent's punch. Ah! there!
that is Cleveland that we have just passed, going to the ground in a
chariot: he is a dead man, or my name is not Poynings."
"Come, Sir John; no fear of Cleveland's dying," said Vivian, with a
"What? You mean to fire in the air, and all that sort of thing?
Sentimental, but slip-slop!"
The ground is measured, all is arranged. Cleveland, a splendid shot,
fired first. He grazed Vivian's elbow. Vivian fired in the air. The
seconds interfered. Cleveland was implacable, and, "in the most
irregular manner," as Sir John declared, insisted upon another shot. To
the astonishment of all, he fired quite wild. Vivian shot at random, and
his bullet pierced Cleveland's heart. Cleveland sprang nearly two yards
from the ground and then fell upon his back. In a moment Vivian was at
the side of his fallen antagonist, but the dying man "made no sign;" he
stared wildly, and then closed his eyes for ever!
When Vivian Grey remembered his existence he found himself in bed. The
curtains of his couch were closed; but as he stared around him they were
softly withdrawn, and a face that recalled everything to his
recollection gazed upon him with a look of affectionate anxiety.
"My father!" exclaimed Vivian; but the finger pressed on the parental
lip warned him to silence. His father knelt by his side, and then the
curtains were again closed.
Six weeks, unconsciously to Vivian, had elapsed since the fatal day, and
he was now recovering from the effects of a fever from which his medical
attendants had supposed he never could have rallied. And what had been
the past? It did indeed seem like a hot and feverish dream. Here was he
once more in his own quiet room, watched over by his beloved parents;
and had there then ever existed such beings as the Marquess, and Mrs.
Lorraine, and Cleveland, or were they only the actors in a vision? "It
must be so," thought Vivian; and he jumped up in his bed and stared
wildly around him. "And yet it was a horrid dream! Murder, horrible
murder! and so real, so palpable! I muse upon their voices as upon
familiar sounds, and I recall all the events, not as the shadowy
incidents of sleep, that mysterious existence in which the experience of
a century seems caught in the breathing of a second, but as the natural
and material consequences of time and stirring life. O, no! it is too
true!" shrieked the wretched sufferer, as his eye glanced upon a
despatch-box which was on the table, and which had been given to him by
Lord Carabas; "It is true! it is true! Murder! murder!" He foamed at the
mouth, and sank exhausted on his pillow.
But the human mind can master many sorrows, and, after a desperate
relapse and another miraculous rally, Vivian Grey rose from his bed.
"My father, I fear that I shall live!"
"Hope, rather, my beloved."
"Oh! why should I hope?" and the sufferer's head sank upon his breast.
"Do not give way, my son; all will yet be well, and we shall all yet be
happy," said the father, with streaming eyes.
"Happy! oh, not in this world, my father!"
"Vivian, my dearest, your mother visited you this morning, but you were
asleep. She was quite happy to find you slumbering so calmly."
"And yet my dreams were not the dreams of joy. O, my mother! you were
wont to smile upon me; alas! you smiled upon your sorrow."
"Vivian, my beloved! you must indeed restrain your feelings. At your age
life cannot be the lost game you think it. A little repose, and I shall
yet see my boy the honour to society which he deserves to be."
"Alas! my father, you know not what I feel. The springiness of my mind
has gone. O, man, what a vain fool thou art! Nature has been too
bountiful to thee. She has given thee the best of friends, and thou
valuest not the gift of exceeding price until the griefs are past even
friendship's cure. O, my father! why did I leave thee?" and he seized
Mr. Grey's hand with convulsive grasp.
Time flew on, even in this house of sorrow. "My boy," said Mr. Grey to
his son one day, "your mother and I have been consulting together about
you; and we think, now that you have somewhat recovered your strength,
it may be well for you to leave England for a short time. The novelty of
travel will relieve your mind without too much exciting it; and if you
can manage by the autumn to settle down anywhere within a thousand miles
of England, why we will come and join you, and you know that will be
very pleasant. What say you to this little plan?"
In a few weeks after this proposition had been made Vivian Grey was in
Germany. He wandered for some months in that beautiful land of rivers,
among which flows the Rhine, matchless in its loveliness; and at length
the pilgrim shook the dust off his feet at Heidelberg, in which city
Vivian proposed taking up his residence. It is, in truth, a place of
surpassing loveliness, where all the romantic wildness of German scenery
is blended with the soft beauty of the Italian. An immense plain, which,
in its extent and luxuriance, reminds you of the fertile tracts of
Lombardy, is bordered on one side by the Bergstrasse Mountains, and on
the other by the range of the Vosges. Situate on the river Neckar, in a
ravine of the Bergstrasse, amid mountains covered with vines, is
Heidelberg; its ruined castle backing the city, and still frowning from
one of the most commanding heights. In the middle of the broad plain may
be distinguished the shining spires of Mannheim, Worms, and Frankenthal;
and pouring its rich stream through this luxuriant land, the beautiful
and abounding Rhine receives the tribute of the Neckar. The range of the
Vosges forms the extreme distance.
To the little world of the little city of which he was now an habitant
Vivian Grey did not appear a broken-hearted man. He lived neither as a
recluse nor a misanthrope. He became extremely addicted to field sports,
especially to hunting the wild boar; for he feared nothing so much as
thought, and dreaded nothing so much as the solitude of his own chamber.
He was an early riser to escape from hideous dreams; and at break of
dawn he wandered among the wild passes of the Bergstrasse; or, climbing
a lofty ridge, was a watcher for the rising sun; and in the evening he
sailed upon the star-lit Neckar.
Thou rapid Aar! thy waves are swollen by the snows of a thousand hills;
but for whom are thy leaping waters fed? Is it for the Rhine?
Calmly, O placid Neckar! does thy blue stream glide through thy
vine-clad vales; but calmer seems thy course when it touches the
How fragrant are the banks which are cooled by thy dark-green waters,
thou tranquil Maine! but is not the perfume sweeter of the gardens of
Thou impetuous Nah! I lingered by thine islands of nightingales, and I
asked thy rushing waters why they disturbed the music of thy groves?
They told me they were hastening to the Rhine!
Red Moselle! fierce is the swell of thy spreading course; but why do thy
broad waters blush when they meet the Rhine?
Thou delicate Meuse! how clear is the current of thy limpid wave; as the
wife yields to the husband do thy pure waters yield to the Rhine!
And thou, triumphant and imperial River, flushed with the tribute of
these vassal streams! thou art thyself a tributary, and hastenest even
in the pride of conquest to confess thine own vassalage! But no superior
stream exults in the homage of thy servile waters; the Ocean, the
eternal Ocean, alone comes forward to receive thy kiss! not as a
conqueror, but as a parent, he welcomes with proud joy his gifted child,
the offspring of his honour; thy duty, his delight; thy tribute, thine
Once more upon thy banks, most beauteous Rhine! In the spring-time of my
youth I gazed on thee, and deemed thee matchless. Thy vine-enamoured
mountains, thy spreading waters, thy traditionary crags, thy shining
cities, the sparkling villages of thy winding shores, thy antique
convents, thy grey and silent castles, the purple glories of thy radiant
grape, the vivid tints of thy teeming flowers, the fragrance of thy sky,
the melody of thy birds, whose carols tell the pleasures of their sunny
woods; are they less lovely now, less beautiful, less sweet?
The keen emotions of our youth are often the occasion of our estimating
too ardently; but the first impression of beauty, though often
overcharged, is seldom supplanted: and as the first great author which
he reads is reverenced by the boy as the most immortal, and the first
beautiful woman that he meets is sanctified by him as the most adorable;
so the impressions created upon us by those scenes of nature which first
realise the romance of our reveries never escape from our minds, and are
ever consecrated in our memories; and thus some great spirits, after
having played their part on the theatre of the world, have retired from
the blaze of courts and cities to the sweet seclusion of some spot with
which they have accidentally met in the earliest years of their career.
But we are to speak of one who had retired from the world before his
Upwards of a year had elapsed since Vivian Grey left England. The mode
of life which he pursued at Heidelberg for many months has already been
mentioned. He felt himself a broken-hearted man, and looked for death,
whose delay was no blessing; but the feelings of youth which had misled
him in his burning hours of joy equally deceived him in his days of
sorrow. He lived; and in the course of time found each day that life was
less burdensome. The truth is, that if it be the lot of man to suffer,
it is also his fortune to forget. Oblivion and sorrow share our being,
as Darkness and Light divide the course of time. It is not in human
nature to endure extremities, and sorrows soon destroy either us or
themselves. Perhaps the fate of Niobe is no fable, but a type of the
callousness of our nature. There is a time in human suffering when
succeeding sorrows are but like snow falling on an iceberg. It is indeed
horrible to think that our peace of mind should arise, not from a
retrospection of the past, but from a forgetfulness of it; but, though
this peace be produced at the best by a mental opiate, it is not
valueless; and Oblivion, after all, is a just judge. As we retain but a
faint remembrance of our felicity, it is but fair that the smartest
stroke of sorrow should, if bitter, at least be brief. But in feeling
that he might yet again mingle in the world, Vivian Grey also felt that
he must meet mankind with different feelings, and view their pursuits
with a different interest. He woke from his secret sorrow in as changed
a state of being as the water nymph from her first embrace; and he woke
with a new possession, not only as miraculous as Undine's soul, but
gained at as great a price, and leading to as bitter results. The nymph
woke to new pleasures and to new sorrows; and, innocent as an infant,
she deemed mankind a god, and the world a paradise. Vivian Grey
discovered that this deity was but an idol of brass, and this garden of
Eden but a savage waste; for, if the river nymph had gained a soul, he
had gained Experience.
Experience, mysterious spirit! whose result is felt by all, whose nature
is described by none. The father warns the son of thy approach, and
sometimes looks to thee as his offspring's cure and his own consolation.
We hear of thee in the nursery, we hear of thee in the world, we hear of
thee in books; but who has recognised thee until he was thy subject, and
who has discovered the object of so much fame until he has kissed thy
chain? To gain thee is the work of all and the curse of all; thou art at
the same time necessary to our happiness and destructive of our
felicity; thou art the saviour of all things and the destroyer of all
things; our best friend and our bitterest enemy; for thou teachest us
truth, and that truth is, despair. Ye youth of England, would that ye
could read this riddle!
To wake from your bright hopes, and feel that all is vanity, to be
roused from your crafty plans and know that all is worthless, is a
bitter, but your sure, destiny. Escape is impossible; for despair is the
price of conviction. How many centuries have fled since Solomon, in his
cedar palaces, sung the vanity of man! Though his harp was golden and
his throne of ivory, his feelings were not less keen, and his conviction
not less complete. How many sages of all nations have, since the monarch
of Jerusalem, echoed his sad philosophy! yet the vain bubble still
glitters and still allures, and must for ever.
The genealogy of Experience is brief; for Experience is the child of
Thought, and Thought is the child of Action. We cannot learn men from
books, nor can we form, from written descriptions, a more accurate idea
of the movements of the human heart than we can of the movements of
nature. A man may read all his life, and form no conception of the rush
of a mountain torrent, or the waving of a forest of pines in a storm;
and a man may study in his closet the heart of his fellow-creatures for
ever, and have no idea of the power of ambition, or the strength
It is when we have acted ourselves, and have seen others acting; it is
when we have laboured ourselves under the influence of our passions, and
have seen others labouring; it is when our great hopes have been
attained or have been baulked; it is when, after having had the human
heart revealed to us, we have the first opportunity to think; it is then
that the whole truth lights upon us; it is then that we ask of ourselves
whether it be wise to endure such anxiety of mind, such agitation of
spirit, such harrowing of the soul, to gain what may cease to interest
to-morrow, or for which, at the best, a few years of enjoyment can alone
be afforded; it is then that we waken to the hollowness of all human
things; it is then that the sayings of sages and the warnings of
prophets are explained and understood; it is then that we gain
Vivian Grey was now about to join, for the second time, the great and
agitated crowd of beings who are all intent in the search after that
undiscoverable talisman, Happiness. That he entertained any hope of
being the successful inquirer is not to be imagined. He considered that
the happiest moment in human life is exactly the sensation of a sailor
who has escaped a shipwreck, and that the mere belief that his wishes
are to be indulged is the greatest bliss enjoyed by man.
How far his belief was correct, how he prospered in this his second
venture on the great ocean of life, it is our business to relate. There
were moments when he wished himself neither experienced nor a
philosopher; moments when he looked back to the lost paradise of his
innocent boyhood, those glorious hours when the unruffled river of his
Life mirrored the cloudless heaven of his Hope!
Vivian pulled up his horse as he ascended through the fine beechwood
which leads immediately to the city of Frankfort from the Darmstadt
road. The crowd seemed to increase every moment, but as they were all
hastening the same way, his progress was not much impeded. It was
Frankfort fair; and all countenances were expressive of that excitement
which we always experience at great meetings of our fellow-creatures;
whether the assemblies be for slaughter, pleasure, or profit, and
whether or not we ourselves join in the banquet, the battle, or the
fair. At the top of the hill is an old Roman tower, and from this point
the flourishing city of Frankfort, with its picturesque Cathedral, its
numerous villas, and beautiful gardens in the middle of the fertile
valley of the Maine, burst upon Vivian's sight. On crossing the bridge
over the river, the crowd became almost impassable, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that Vivian steered his way through the old narrow
winding streets, full of tall ancient houses, with heavy casements and
notched gable ends. These structures did not, however, at the present
moment, greet the traveller with their usual sombre and antique
appearance: their outside walls were, in most instances, covered with
pieces of broad cloth of the most showy colours, red, blue, and yellow
predominating. These standards of trade were not merely used for the
purpose of exhibiting the quality of the article sold in the interior,
but also of informing the curious traveller the name and nation of their
adventurous owners. Inscriptions in German, French, Russian, English,
Italian, and even Hebrew, appeared in striking characters on each
woollen specimen; and, as if these were not sufficient to attract the
attention of the passenger, an active apprentice, or assistant,
commented in eloquent terms on the peculiar fairness and honesty of his
master. The public squares and other open spaces, and indeed every spot
which was secure from the hurrying wheels of the heavy old-fashioned
coaches of the Frankfort aristocracy and the spirited pawings of their
sleek and long-tailed coach-horses, were covered with large and showy
booths, which groaned under the accumulated treasures of all countries.
French silks and French clocks rivalled Manchester cottons and Sheffield
cutlery, and assisted to attract or entrap the gazer, in company with
Venetian chains, Neapolitan coral, and Vienna pipe-heads: here was the
booth of a great book-seller, who looked to the approaching Leipsic fair
for some consolation for his slow sale and the bad taste of the people
of Frankfort; and there was a dealer in Bologna sausages, who felt quite
convinced that in some things the taste of the Frankfort public was by
no means to be lightly spoken of. All was bustle, bargaining, and
business: there were quarrels and conversation in all languages; and
Vivian Grey, although he had no chance either of winning or losing
money, was amused.
At last Vivian gained the High Street; and here, though the crowd was
not less, the space was greater; and so in time he arrived at the grand
hotel of "the Roman Emperor," where he stopped. It was a long time
before he could be informed whether Baron Julius von Konigstein at
present honoured that respectable establishment with his presence; for,
although Vivian did sometimes succeed in obtaining an audience of a
hurrying waiter, that personage, when in a hurry, has a peculiar habit
of never attending to a question which a traveller addresses to him. In
this dilemma Vivian was saluted by a stately-looking personage above the
common height. He was dressed in a very splendid uniform of green and
gold, covered with embroidery, and glittering with frogs. He wore a
cocked hat adorned with a flowing parti-coloured plume, and from his
broad golden belt was suspended a weapon of singular shape and costly
workmanship. This personage was as stiff and stately as he was
magnificent. His eyes were studiously preserved from the profanation of
meeting the ground, and his well-supported neck seldom condescended to
move from its perpendicular position. His coat was buttoned to the chin
and over the breast, with the exception of one small aperture, which was
elegantly filled up by a delicate white cambric handkerchief, very
redolent of rich perfumes. This gorgeous gentleman, who might have been
mistaken for an elector of the German Empire, had the German Empire been
in existence, or the governor of the city at the least, turned out to be
the chasseur of the Baron von Konigstein; and with his courtly
assistance Vivian soon found himself ascending the staircase of the
Vivian was ushered into an apartment, in which he found three or four
individuals at breakfast. A middle-aged man of distinguished appearance,
in a splendid chamber robe, sprung up from a many-cushioned easy-chair,
and seized his hand as he was announced.
"My dear Mr. Grey! I have left notes for you at the principal hotels.
And how is Eugene? wild blood for a student, but an excellent heart, and
you have been so kind to him! He feels under such particular obligations
to you. Will you breakfast? Ah! I see you smile at my supposing a
horseman unbreakfasted. And have you ridden here from Heidelberg this
morning? Impossible! Only from Darmstadt! I thought so! You were at the
Opera then last night. And how is the little Signora? We are to gain
her though! trust the good people of Frankfort for that! Pray be
seated, but really I am forgetting the commonest rules of breeding. Next
to the pleasure of having friends is that of introducing them to each
other. Prince, you will have great pleasure in being introduced to my
friend, Mr. Grey: Mr. Grey! Prince Salvinski! my particular friend,
Prince Salvinski. The Count von Altenburgh! Mr. Grey! my very particular
friend, the Count von Altenburgh. And the Chevalier de Boeffleurs! Mr.
Grey! my most particular friend, the Chevalier de Boeffleurs."
Baron Julius von Konigstein was minister to the Diet of Frankfort from a
first-rate German power. In person he was short, but delicately formed;
his head a little bald, but as he was only five-and-thirty, this could
scarcely be from age; and his remaining hair, black, glossy, and
curling, proved that their companion ringlets had not been long lost.
His features were small, but not otherwise remarkable, except a pair of
liquid black eyes, of great size, which would have hardly become a
Stoic, and which gleamed with great meaning and perpetual animation.
"I understand, Mr. Grey, that you are a regular philosopher. Pray who is
the favourite master? Kant or Fichte? or is there any other new star who
has discovered the origin of our essence, and proved the non-necessity
of eating? Count, let me help you to a little more of these saucisses
aux choux. I am afraid, from Eugene's account, that you are almost past
redemption; and I am sorry to say that, although I am very desirous of
being your physician and effecting your cure, Frankfort will supply me
with very few means to work your recovery. If you could but get me an
appointment once again to your delightful London, I might indeed produce
some effect; or were I even at Berlin, or at your delicious Vienna,
Count Altenburgh! (the Count bowed); or at that Paradise of women,
Warsaw, Prince Salvinski!! (the Prince bowed); or at Paris, Chevalier!!!
(the Chevalier bowed); why, then, indeed, you should have some
difficulty in finding an excuse for being in low spirits with Julius von
Konigstein! But Frankfort, eh! de Boeffleurs?"
"Oh! Frankfort!" sighed the French Chevalier, who was also attached to a
mission in this very city, and who was thinking of his own gay
Boulevards and his brilliant Tuileries.
"We are mere citizens here!" continued the Baron, taking a long pinch of
snuff, "mere citizens! Do you snuff?" and here he extended to Vivian a
gold box, covered with the portrait of a crowned head, surrounded with
diamonds. "A present from the King of Sardinia, when I negotiated the
marriage of the Duke of ---- and his niece, and settled the
long-agitated controversy about the right of anchovy fishing on the left
shore of the Mediterranean.
"But the women," continued the Baron, "the women; that is a different
thing. There is some amusement among the little bourgeoises, who are
glad enough to get rid of their commercial beaus; whose small talk,
after a waltz, is about bills of exchange, mixed up with a little
patriotism about their free city, and some chatter about what they call
'the fine arts;' their awful collections of 'the Dutch school:' school
forsooth! a cabbage, by Gerard Dowl and a candlestick, by Mieris! And
now will you take a basin of soup, and warm yourself, while his Highness
continues his account of being frozen to death this spring at the top of
Mont-Blanc: how was it, Prince?"
"Your Highness has been a great traveller?" said Vivian.
"I have seen a little of most countries. These things are interesting
enough when we are young; but when we get a little more advanced in
life, the novelty wears off, and the excitement ceases. I have been in
all quarters of the globe. In Europe I have seen everything except the
miracles of Prince Hohenlohe. In Asia, everything except the ruins of
Babylon. In Africa, I have seen every thing but Timbuctoo; and, in
America, everything except Croker's Mountains."
Next to eating, music is the business in which an Austrian is most
interested, and Count von Altenburgh, having had the misfortune of
destroying, for the present, one great source of his enjoyment, became
now very anxious to know what chance there existed of his receiving some
consolation from the other. Pushing his plate briskly from him, he
demanded with an anxious air, "Can any gentleman inform me what chance
there is of the Signora coming?"
"No news to-day," said the Baron, with a mournful look; "I am almost in
despair. What do you think of the last notes that have been
"Very little chance," said the Chevalier de Boeffleurs, shaking his
head. "Really these burghers, with all their affected enthusiasm, have
managed the business exceedingly bad. No opera can possibly succeed that
is not conducted by a committee of noblemen."
"Certainly!" said the Baron; "we are sure then to have the best singers,
and be in the Gazette the same season."
"Which is much better, I think, Von Konigstein, than paying our bills
and receiving no pleasure."
"But," continued the Baron, "these clumsy burghers, with their affected
enthusiasm, as you well observe; who could have contemplated such
novices in diplomacy! Whatever may be the issue, I can at least lay my
head upon my pillow and feel that I have done my duty. Did not I, de
Boeffleurs, first place the negotiation on a basis of acknowledged
feasibility and mutual benefit? Who drew the protocol, I should like to
know? Who baffled the intrigues of the English Minister, the Lord
Amelius Fitzfudge Boroughby? Who sat up one whole night with the
Signora's friend, the Russian Envoy, Baron Squallonoff, and who was it
that first arranged about the extra chariot?" and here the
representative of a first-rate German Power looked very much like a
resigned patriot, who feels that he deserves a ribbon.
"No doubt of it, my dear Von Konigstein," echoed the French Chargé
d'Affaires, "and I think, whatever may be the result, that I, too, may
look back to this negotiation with no ungratified feelings. Had the
arrangement been left as I had wished, merely to the Ministers of the
Great Powers, I am confident that the Signora would have been singing
this night in our Opera House."
"What is the grand point of difference at present?" asked the Austrian.
"A terrific one," said the Baron; "the lady demanded twenty covers, two
tables, two carriages, one of which I arranged should be a chariot; that
at least the town owes to me; and, what else? merely a town mansion and
establishment. Exerting myself day and night, these terms were at length
agreed to by the municipality, and the lady was to ride over from
Darmstadt to sign and seal. In the course of her ride she took a cursed
fancy to the country villa of a great Jew banker, and since that moment
the arrangement has gone off. We have offered her everything; the
commandant's country castle; his lady's country farm; the villa of the
director of the Opera; the retreat of our present prima donna; all in
vain. We have even hinted at a temporary repose in a neighbouring royal
residence; but all useless. The banker and the Signora are equally
intractable, and Frankfort is in despair."
"She ought to have signed and sealed at Darmstadt," said the Count, very
"To be sure! they should have closed upon her caprice, and taken her
when she was in the fancy."
"Talking of Opera girls," commenced the Polish Prince, "I remember the
"Your Highness has nothing upon your plate," quickly retorted the Baron,
who was in no humour for a story.
"Nothing more, I thank you," continued the Prince: "as I was saying, I
remember the Countess Katszinski--" but just at this moment the door
opened, and Ernstorff entered and handed a despatch to the Baron,
recommending it to his Excellency's particular attention.
"Business, I suppose," said the Plenipotentiary; "it may wait till
"From M. Clarionet, your Excellency."
"From M. Clarionet!" eagerly exclaimed the Baron, and tore open the
epistle. "Gentlemen! congratulate me, congratulate yourselves,
congratulate Frankfort;" and the diplomatist, overcome, leant back in
his chair. "She is ours, Salvinski! she is ours, Von Altenburgh! she is
ours, my dear de Boeffleurs! Mr. Grey, you are most fortunate; the
Signora has signed and sealed; all is arranged; she sings to-night! What
a fine-spirited body is this Frankfort municipality! what elevation of
soul! what genuine enthusiasm! eh! de Boeffleurs?"
"Most genuine!" exclaimed the Chevalier, who hated German music with all
his heart, and was now humming an air from La Dame Blanche.
"But mind, my dear friend, this is a secret, a cabinet secret; the
municipality are to have the gratification of announcing the event to
the city in a public decree; it is but fair. I feel that I have only to
hint to secure your silence."
At this moment, with a thousand protestations of secresy, the party
broke up, each hastening to have the credit of first spreading the
joyful intelligence through the circles, and of depriving the Frankfort
senate of their hard-earned gratification. The Baron, who was in high
spirits, ordered the carriage to drive Vivian round the ramparts, where
he was to be introduced to some of the most fashionable beauties,
previous to the evening triumph.
Vivian passed a week very agreeably at Frankfort. In the Baron and his
friends he found the companions that he had need of; their conversation
and pursuits diverted his mind without engaging his feelings, and
allowed him no pause to brood. There were moments, indeed, when he found
in the Baron a companion neither frivolous nor uninstructive. His
Excellency had travelled in most countries, and had profited by his
travels. His taste for the fine arts was equalled by his knowledge of
them; and his acquaintance with many of the most eminent men of Europe
enriched his conversation with a variety of anecdotes, to which his
lively talents did ample justice. He seemed fond at times of showing
Vivian that he was not a mere artificial man of the world, destitute of
all feelings, and thinking only of himself: he recurred with
satisfaction to moments of his life when his passions had been in full
play; and, while he acknowledged the errors of his youth with candour,
he excused them with grace. In short, Vivian and he became what the
world calls friends; that is to say, they were men who had no objection
to dine in each other's company, provided the dinner were good; assist
each other in any scrape, provided no particular personal responsibility
were incurred by the assistant; and live under the same roof, provided
each were master of his own time. Vivian and the Baron, indeed, did more
than this; they might have been described as particular friends, for his
Excellency had persuaded our hero to accompany him for the summer to the
Baths of Ems, a celebrated German watering-place, situate in the duchy
of Nassau, in the vicinity of the Rhine.
On the morrow they were to commence their journey. The fair of
Frankfort, which had now lasted nearly a month, was at its close. A
bright sunshiny afternoon was stealing into twilight, when Vivian,
escaping from the principal street and the attractions of the Braunfels,
or chief shops under the Exchange, directed his steps to some of the
more remote and ancient streets. In crossing a little square his
attention was excited by a crowd which had assembled round a conjuror,
who, from the top of a small cart, which he had converted into a stage,
was haranguing, in front of a green curtain, an audience with great
fervency, and apparently with great effect; at least Vivian judged so
from the loud applauses which constantly burst forth. The men pressed
nearer, shouted, and clapped their hands; and the anxious mothers
struggled to lift their brats higher in the air that they might early
form a due conception of the powers of magic, and learn that the
maternal threats which were sometimes extended to them at home were not
mere idle boasting. Altogether, the men with their cocked hats, stiff
holiday coats, and long pipes; the women with their glazed gowns of
bright fancy patterns, close lace caps, or richly-chased silver
headgear; and the children with their gaping mouths and long heads of
hair, offered quaint studies for a German or Flemish painter. Vivian
became also one of the audience, and not an uninterested one.
The appearance of the conjuror was peculiar. He was not much more than
five feet high, but so slightly formed that he reminded you rather of
the boy than the dwarf. The upper part of his face was even delicately
moulded; his sparkling black eyes became his round forehead, which was
not too much covered by his short glossy black hair; his complexion was
clear, but quite olive; his nose was very small and straight, and
contrasted singularly with his enormous mouth, the thin bluish lips of
which were seldom closed, and consequently did not conceal his large
square teeth, which, though very white, were set apart, and were so
solid that they looked almost like double teeth. This enormous mouth,
which was supported by large jawbones, attracted the attention of the
spectator so keenly that it was some time before you observed the
prodigious size of the ears, which also adorned this extraordinary
countenance. The costume of this being was not less remarkable than his
natural appearance. He wore a complete under dress of pliant leather,
which fitted close up to his throat and down to his wrists and ankles,
where it was clasped with large fastenings, either of gold or some gilt
material. This, with the addition of a species of hussar jacket of green
cloth, which was quite unadorned with the exception of its vivid red
lining, was the sole covering of the conjuror; who, with a light cap and
feather in his hand, was now haranguing the spectators. The object of
his discourse was a panegyric of himself and a satire on all other
conjurors. He was the only conjuror, the real one, a worthy descendant
of the magicians of old.
"Were I to tell that broad-faced Herr," continued the conjuror, "who is
now gaping opposite to me, that this rod is the rod of Aaron, mayhap he
would call me a liar; yet were I to tell him that he was the son of his
father, he would not think it wonderful! And yet, can he prove it? My
friends, if I am a liar, the whole world is a liar, and yet any one of
you who'll go and proclaim that on the Braunfels will get his skull
cracked. Every truth is not to be spoken, and every lie is not to be
punished. I have told you that it is better for you to spend your money
in seeing my tricks than in swigging schnaps in the chimney corner; and
yet, my friends, this may be a lie. I have told you that the profits of
this whole night shall be given to some poor and worthy person in this
town; and perhaps I shall give them to myself. What then! I shall speak
the truth; and you will perhaps crack my skull. Is this a reward for
truth? O generation of vipers! My friends, what is truth? who can find
it in Frankfort? Suppose I call upon you, Mr. Baker, and sup with you
this evening; you will receive me as a neighbourly man should, tell me
to make myself at home, and do as I like. Is it not so? I see you smile,
as if my visit would make you bring out one of the bottles of your best
Here the crowd laughed out; for we are always glad when there is any
talk of another's hospitality being put to the test, although we stand
no chance of sharing in the entertainment ourselves. The baker looked
foolish, as all men singled out in a crowd do.
"Well, well," continued the conjuror, "I have no doubt his wine would
be as ready as your tobacco, Mr. Smith; or a wafila from your basket, my
honest cake-seller;" and so saying, with a long thin wand the conjuror
jerked up the basket of an itinerant and shouting pastry-cook, and
immediately began to thrust the contents into his mouth with a rapidity
ludicrously miraculous. The laugh now burst out again, but the honest
baker joined in it this time with an easy spirit.
"Be not disconcerted, my little custard-monger; if thou art honest, thou
shalt prosper. Did I not say that the profits of this night were for the
most poor and the most honest? If thy stock in trade were in thy basket,
my raspberry-puff, verily thou art not now the richest here; and so,
therefore, if thy character be a fair one, that is to say, if thou only
cheat five times a day, and give a tenth of thy cheatery to the poor,
thou shalt have the benefit. I ask thee again, what is truth? If I sup
with the baker, and he tells me to do what I like with all that is his,
and I kiss his wife, he will kick me out; yet to kiss his wife might be
my pleasure, if her breath were sweet. I ask thee again, what is truth?
Truth, they say, lies in a well; but perhaps this is a lie. How do we
know that truth is not in one of these two boxes?" asked the conjuror,
placing his cap on his head, and holding one small snuff-box to a tall,
savage-looking, one-eyed Bohemian, who, with a comrade, had walked over
from the Austrian garrison at Mentz.
"I see but one box," growled the soldier.
"It is because thou hast only one eye, friend; open the other, and thou
shalt see two," said the conjuror, in a slow, malicious tone, with his
neck extended, and his hand with the hateful box outstretched in it.
"Now, by our black Lady of Altoting, I'll soon stop thy prate,
chitterling!" bellowed the enraged Bohemian.
"Murder! the protection of the free city against the Emperor of Austria,
the King of Bohemia, Hungary, and Lombardy!" and the knave retreated to
the very extremity of the stage, and affecting agitating fear, hid
himself behind the green curtain, from a side of which his head was
alone visible, or rather an immense red tongue, which wagged in all
shapes at the unlucky soldier, except when it retired to the interior of
his mouth, to enable him to reiterate "Murder!" and invoke the
privileges of the free city of Frankfort.
When the soldier was a little cooled, the conjuror again came forward,
and, having moved his small magical table to a corner, and lit two
tapers, one of which he placed at each side of the stage, he stripped
off his hussar jacket, and began to imitate a monkey; an animal which,
by the faint light, in his singular costume, he very much resembled. How
amusing were his pranks! He first plundered a rice plantation, and then
he cracked cocoa-nuts; then he washed his face and arranged his toilet
with, his right paw; and finally he ran a race with his own tail, which
humorous appendage to his body was very wittily performed for the
occasion by a fragment, of an old tarred rope. His gambols were so
diverting that they even extracted applause from his enemy the one-eyed
serjeant; and, emboldened by the acclamations, from monkeys the conjuror
began to imitate men. He first drank like a Dutchman, and having reeled
round with a thousand oaths, to the manifold amusement of the crowd, he
suddenly began to smoke like a Prussian. Nothing could be more admirable
than the look of complacent and pompous stolidity with which he
accompanied each puff of his pipe. The applause was continued; and the
one-eyed Bohemian serjeant, delighted at the ridicule which was heaped
on his military rival, actually threw the mimic some groschen.
"Keep thy pence, friend," said the conjuror; "thou wilt soon owe me
more; we have not yet closed accounts. My friends, I have drank like a
Dutchman; I have smoked like a Prussian; and now I will eat like an
Austrian!" and here the immense mouth of the actor seemed distended even
a hundred degrees bigger, while with gloating eyes and extended arms he
again set to at the half-emptied wafila basket of the unhappy
"Now, by our black Lady of Altoting, thou art an impudent varlet!"
growled the Austrian soldier.
"You are losing your temper again," retorted the glutton, with his mouth
full; "how difficult you are to please! Well, then, if the Austrians may
not be touched, what say you to a Bohemian! a tall one-eyed Bohemian
serjeant, with an appetite like a hog and a liver like a lizard?"
"Now, by our black Lady of Altoting, this is too much!" and the soldier
sprang at the conjuror.
"Hold him!" cried Vivian Grey; for the mob, frightened at the soldier,
"There is a gentle's voice under a dark cloak!" cried the conjuror; "but
I want no assistance;" and so saying, with a dexterous spring the
conjuror leaped over the heads of two or three staring children, and
lighted on the nape of the serjeant's gigantic neck; placing his
forefingers behind each of the soldier's ears, he threatened to slit
them immediately if he were not quiet. The serjeant's companion, of
course, came to his rescue, but Vivian engaged him, and attempted to
arrange matters. "My friends, surely a gay word at a fair is not to meet
with military punishment! What is the use of living in the free city of
Frankfort, or, indeed, in any other city, if jokes are to be answered
with oaths, and a light laugh met with a heavy blow? Avoid bloodshed, if
possible, but stand by the conjuror. His business is jibes and jests,
and this is the first time that I ever saw Merry Andrew arrested. Come,
my good fellows!" said he to the soldiers, "we had better be off; men so
important as you and I should not be spectators of these mummeries." The
Austrians, who understood Vivian's compliment literally, were not sorry
to make a dignified retreat; particularly as the mob, encouraged by
Vivian's interference, began to show fight. Vivian also took his
departure as soon as he could possibly steal off unnoticed; but not
before he had been thanked by the conjuror.
"I knew there was gentle blood under that cloak. If you like to see the
Mystery of the Crucifixion, with the Resurrection, and real fireworks,
it begins at eight o'clock, and you shall be admitted gratis. I knew
there was gentle blood under that cloak, and some day or other, when
your Highness is in distress, you shall not want the aid of
It was late in the evening when a britzska stopped at the post-house at
Coblentz. The passage-boat from Bingen had just arrived; and a portly
judge from the Danube, a tall, gaunt Prussian officer, a sketching
English artist, two University students, and some cloth-merchants,
returning from Frankfort fair, were busily occupied at a long table in
the centre of the room, at an ample banquet, in which sour-crout,
cherry-soup, and savoury sausages were not wanting. So keen were the
appetites of these worthies, that the entrance of the new comers, who
seated themselves at a small table in the corner of the room, was
scarcely noticed; and for half-an-hour nothing was heard but the sound
of crashing jaws and of rattling knives and forks. How singular is the
sight of a dozen hungry individuals intent upon their prey! What a noisy
silence! A human voice was at length heard. It proceeded from the fat
judge; a man at once convivial, dignified, and economical: he had not
spoken for two minutes before his character was evident to every person
in the room, although he flattered himself that his secret purpose was
concealed from all. Tired with the thin Moselle gratuitously allowed to
the table, the judge wished to comfort himself with a glass of more
generous liquor; aware of the price of a bottle of good Rudesheimer, he
was desirous of forming a copartnership with one or two gentlemen in the
venture; still more aware of his exalted situation, he felt it did not
become him to appear in the eyes of any one as an unsuccessful
"This Moselle is very thin," observed the judge, shaking his head.
"Very fair table-wine, I think" said the artist, refilling his tumbler,
and then proceeding with his sketch, which was a rough likeness, in
black chalk, of the worthy magistrate himself.
"Very good wine, I think," swore the Prussian, taking the bottle. With
the officer there was certainly no chance.
The cloth-merchants mixed even this thin Moselle with water, and
therefore they could hardly be looked to as boon companions; and the
students were alone left. A German student is no flincher at the bottle,
although he generally drinks beer. These gentry, however, were no great
favourites with the magistrate, who was a loyal man, of regular habits,
and no encourager of brawls, duels, and other still more disgraceful
outrages; to all which abominations, besides drinking beer and chewing
tobacco, the German student is remarkably addicted; but in the present
case what was to be done? He offered the nearest a pinch of snuff, as a
mode of commencing his acquaintance and cultivating his complacency. The
student dug his thumb into the box, and, with the additional aid of the
forefinger sweeping out half its contents, growled out something like
thanks, and then drew up in his seat, as if he had too warmly encouraged
the impertinent intrusion of a Philistine to whom he had never been
The cloth-merchant, ceasing from sipping his meek liquor, and taking out
of his pocket a letter, from which he tore off the back, carefully
commenced collecting with his forefinger the particles of dispersed
snuff in a small pyramid, which, when formed, was dexterously slided
into the paper, then folded up and put into his pocket; the prudent
merchant contenting himself for the moment with the refreshment which
was afforded to his senses by the truant particles which had remained
in his nail.
"Waiter, a bottle of Rudesheimer!" bellowed the judge; "and if any
gentleman or gentlemen would like to join me, they may," he added, in a
more subdued tone. No one answered, and the bottle was put down. The
judge slowly poured out the bright yellow fluid into a tall bell glass,
adorned with a beautiful and encircling wreath of vine leaves; he held
the glass a moment before the lamp, for his eye to dwell with still
greater advantage on the transparent radiancy of the contents; and then
deliberately pouring them down his throat, and allowing them to dwell a
moment on his palate, he uttered an emphatic "bah!" and sucking in his
breath, leaned back in his chair. The student immediately poured out a
glass from the same bottle, and drank it off. The judge gave him a look,
and then blessed himself that, though his boon companion was a brute,
still he would lessen the expense of the bottle, which nearly amounted
to a day's pay; and so he again filled his glass, but this was merely to
secure his fair portion. He saw the student was a rapid drinker; and,
although he did not like to hurry his own enjoyment, he thought it most
prudent to keep his glass well stored by his side.
"I hope your Lordships have had a pleasant voyage," exclaimed a man,
entering the room rapidly as he spoke; and, deliberately walking up to
the table, he pushed between two of the cloth-merchants, who quietly
made way; and then placing a small square box before him, immediately
opened it, and sweeping aside the dishes and glasses which surrounded
him, began to fill their places with cups, balls, rings, and other
mysterious-looking matters, which generally accompany a conjuror.
"I hope your Lordships have had a pleasant voyage. I have been thinking
of you all the day. (Here the cups were arranged.) Next to myself, I am
interested for my friends. (Here the rice was sprinkled.) I came from
Fairy-land this morning. (Here the trick was executed.) Will any
gentleman lend me a handkerchief? Now, sir, tie any knot you choose:
tighter, tighter, tight as you can, tight as you can: now pull! Why,
sir, where's your knot?" Here most of the company good-naturedly
laughed at a trick which had amused them before a hundred times. But
the dignified judge had no taste for such trivial amusements; and,
besides, he thought that all this noise spoilt the pleasure of his wine,
and prevented him from catching the flavour of his Rudesheimer.
Moreover, the Judge was not in a very good humour. The student appeared
to have little idea of the rules and regulations of a fair partnership:
for not only did he not regulate his draughts by the moderate example of
his bottle companion, but actually filled the glass of his University
friend, and even offered the precious green flask to his neighbour, the
cloth-merchant. That humble individual modestly refused the proffer. The
unexpected circumstance of having his health drank by a stranger seemed
alone to have produced a great impression upon him; and adding a little
more water to his already diluted potation, he bowed reverently to the
student, who, in return, did not notice him. All these little
circumstances prevented the judge from laughing at the performances of
our friend Essper George; for we need hardly mention that the conjuror
was no other. His ill-humour did not escape the lord of the cups and
balls, who, as was his custom, immediately began to torment him.
"Will you choose a card?" asked the magician of the judge, with a most
Essper George looked very penitent, as if he felt he had taken a great
liberty by his application; and so, to compensate for his incorrect
behaviour, he asked the magistrate whether he would have the goodness to
lend him his watch. The judge was irate, and determined to give the
intruder a set down.
"I am not one of those who can be amused by tricks that his grandfather
"Grandfather!" shrieked Essper; "what a wonderful grandfather yours must
have been! All my tricks are fresh from Fairyland this morning.
Grandfather, indeed! Pray, is this your grandfather?" and here the
conjuror, leaning over the table, with a rapid catch drew out from the
fat paunch of the judge a long grinning wooden figure, with great
staring eyes, and the parrot nose of a pulcinello. The laugh which
followed this sleight-of-hand was loud, long, and universal. The judge
lost his temper; and Essper George took the opportunity of the confusion
to drink off the glass of Rudesheimer which stood, as we have
mentioned, ready charged, at the magistrate's elbow.
The waiter now went round to collect the money of the various guests who
had partaken of the boat-supper; and, of course, charged the judge extra
for his ordered bottle, bowing at the same time very low, as was proper
to so good a customer. These little attentions at inns encourage
expenditure. The judge tried at the same time the bottle, which he found
empty, and applied to his two boon companions for their quota; but the
students affected a sort of brutal surprise at any one having the
impudence to imagine that they were going to pay their proportion; and
flinging down the money for their own supper on the table, they retired.
The magistrate, calling loudly for the landlord, followed them out
of the room.
Essper George stood moralising at the table, and emptying every glass
whose contents were not utterly drained, with the exception of the
tumblers of the cloth-merchants, of whose liquor he did not approve.
"Poor man! to get only one glass out of his own bottle! Ay! call for M.
Maas; threaten as you will. Your grandfather will not help you here.
Blood out of a wall and money out of a student come the same day. Ah! is
your Excellency here?" said Essper, turning round to our two travellers
with affected surprise, although he had observed them the whole time.
"Is your Excellency here? I have been looking for you through Frankfort
this whole morning. There! it will do for your glass. It is of chamois
leather, and I made it myself, from a beast I caught last summer in the
valley of the Rhone." So saying, he threw over Vivian's neck a neat
chain, or cord, of curiously-worked leather.
"Who the devil is this, Grey?" asked the Baron.
"A funny knave, whom I once saved from a thrashing, or something of the
kind, which I do him the justice to say he well deserved."
"Who the devil is this?" said Essper George. "Why, that is exactly the
same question I myself asked when I saw a tall, pompous, proud fellow,
dressed like a peacock on a May morning, standing at the door just now.
He looked as if he would pass himself off for an ambassador at least;
but I told him that if he got his wages paid he was luckier than most
servants. Was I right, your Excellency?"
"Poor Ernstorff!" said the Baron, laughing. "Yes; _he_ certainly gets
paid. Here, you are a clever varlet; fill your glass."
"No; no wine. Don't you hear the brawling, and nearly the bloodshed,
which are going on upstairs about a sour bottle of Rudesheimer? and here
I see two gentles who have ordered the best wine merely to show that
they are masters and not servants of the green peacock, and lo! cannot
get through a glass. Lord! lord! what is man? If my fat friend and his
grandfather would but come down stairs again, here is liquor enough to
make wine and water of the Danube; for he comes from thence by his
accent. No, I'll have none of your wine; keep it to throw on the sandy
floor, that the dust may not hurt your delicate shoes, nor dirt the hand
of the gentleman in green and gold when he cleans them for you in
Here the Baron laughed again, and, as he bore his impertinence, Essper
George immediately became polite.
"Does your Highness go to Ems?"
"We hardly know, my friend."
"Oh! go there, gentlemen. I have tried them all; Aix-la-Chapelle, Spa,
Wiesbaden, Carlsbad, Pyrmont, every one of them; but what are these to
Ems? There we all live in the same house and eat from the same table.
When there I feel that you are all under my protection; I consider you
all as my children. Besides, the country, how delightful! the mountains,
the valleys, the river, the woods, and then the company so select! No
sharpers, no adventurers, no blacklegs: at Ems you can be taken in by no
one except your intimate friend. To Ems, by all means. I would advise
you, however, to send the gentleman in the cocked hat on before you to
engage rooms; for I can assure you that you will have a hard chance. The
baths are very full."
"And how do you get there, Essper?" asked Vivian.
"Those are subjects on which I never speak," answered the conjuror, with
a solemn air.
"But have you all your stock-in-trade with you, my good fellow? Where is
"Sold, sir; sold! I never keep to anything long. Variety is the mother
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